ISBN: 9780745336398 (hc), 9780745336343 (pb)

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich

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The main arguments in Eriksen’s new book center on the concepts of ‘overheating’ and ‘scale’. Overheating stands for various consequences of globalization. Scale is geographic and organizational concept (ranging from local to global) as well as a cognitive concept (from specific to abstract, with varying temporal horizons). The author sheds light on several key challenges of our time, including energy, cities, mobility, waste, information, in order to understand how large-scale events, structures, and processes impact on smaller scales (communities, individuals). He also looks at how those affected respond to rapid large scale changes, often in unforeseen ways. He describes various types of responses, scaling up or down or sideways, as well as problems and challenges associated with each. In other words, the book examines local perceptions, impacts, and management of what can be regarded as global crises pertaining to the environment, the economy, and identity. Scholars who have studied globalization primarily from a macroscopic perspective will find this book worthwhile reading, as it adds interesting qualitative insights from an anthropological perspective. One challenge is that the book does not end with clear-cut analytical conclusions – in the sense of ‘what exactly have we learned above and beyond what prior research on globalization in anthropology and other social sciences has already shown’. For instance, one may wonder when and why local communities are able to respond effectively, and in what sense, to impacts emanating from rapid large scale changes. Also, the reader is left wondering what might be done to better cope with a world that, in the view of Eriksen, is characterized by ’runaway globalization’ (overheating) and ‘large scale impinging on and dominating small scale’ (p. 150).