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Postmodernism has caught up with all of us in one way or another. We are all decentered to some degree. Advances in education and increased exposure to a globalized media have corroded traditions everywhere and challenged monistic worldviews and belief systems in the remotest corners of the globe. While we are becoming more and more aware of Others everywhere, we can rely less and less on those traditional values and guiding systems passed on to us from the past. Th e postmodern condition, as Jean-Francois Lyotard (1979) has argued, is one of uncertainty and of disconnection, as traditional bonds, both vertical and horizontal, are losing their strength. Th e physical, or bodily, component of this loss of traditional value systems and ways to make sense of the world is one of increased mobility. Some of us can now be everywhere, but when doing so risk being nowhere at all. Others remain stuck in their localities while being increasingly aware of their being stuck—not at least due to the international visitors they now receive. Zygmunt Bauman has described this phenomenon better than I could. He writes: “Some can now move out of the locality— any locality—at will. Others watch helplessly the sole locality they inhabit moving away from under their feet” (Bauman 1998, 15). Bauman further explains that “Being local in a globalized world is a sign of social deprivation and degradation. Th e discomforts of localized existence are compounded by the fact that with public spaces removed beyond the reaches of localized life, localities are losing their meaning-generating and meaning-negotiating capacity and are increasingly dependent on sense-giving and interpreting actions which they do not control—so much for the communitarianist dreams/consolations of the globalized intellectuals” (3).

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Of Academic Embeddedness: Communities of Choice and How to Make Sense of Activism and Research Abroad, in B. Reiter & U. Oslender (Eds.), Bridging Activism and Scholarship: Reflections from the Frontlines of Collaborative Research, Michigan State University Press, p. 3-14