Global Civics documentary

Produced by Hakan Altinay of the Brookings Institution and directed by Jian Yi, this film is probably the first documentary on the development or lack of development of ‘global civics’. That’s an ugly phrase, but it basically concerns the idea of global rights and responsibilities for all individuals on Earth.

The film tries to debate whether there is such a thing as global citizenship or a global community. Can people on one side of the world owe a responsibility to, and demand respect for their rights from, others on the other side of the world? I’d say that a positive response to that question  shows the development of a ‘Globopolis’ – this should definitely be a word. You heard it here first.

What’s great about the film, nice photography aside, is that it was made simultaneously in seven or so locations around the world. It is itself quite cosmopolitan. And it helped knock down some of my lazy assumptions – I always hope that if people really think about it, they agree that we owe rights and responsibilities to everyone, no matter where they are – but the film demonstrates some other views. Particularly on the idea of proximity, family, nationality etc.

The concept of Ubuntu makes it in, and I liked the quote from a guy in India: ‘let us not look at the world as one market, but as one family.’ Kemal Dervis, the former Administrator of UNDP, cools things a little, saying that an ethos of global family will take some time to develop.

There’s also a good evaluation of the ultimatum game by Hakan Altinay – the evidence shows that people reject unfairness, even if it costs them personally to do so. This is why eventually we’ll start doing something about unfairness at the global level.

The sound recording is a bit dodgy, but bear with it. I hope that the producers look at translating  the film via Amara, or a similar tool.

And finally, I’ve written on the potential for civics to grow via digital channels as part of my MA paper here, although Ethan Zuckerman did a better job here.


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