Neutral Accent: How Language, Labor, and Life Become Global
A. Aneesh is Director of the Institute of World Affairs and Associate Professor of Sociology and Global Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He is the author of Virtual Migration: the Programming of Globalization, also published by Duke University Press.
Prologue: One World, Diverse Itineraries
This chapter introduces the book’s main theme: dysfunctions of global integration based on functional differentiation. Informed by the ethnography of India’s call centers as sites for studying global transformations, the chapter brings up the problem of systemic neutrality among globally differentiating realms. Separations of cultural and neutral accents; of social, bureaucratic, and system identities; of diurnal body and nocturnal work; and of economic, social, and physical knowledge production are briefly discussed to illuminate divergent tracks and independent itineraries of different realms. The author’s employment at a call center offers a fresh view of globalization by showing how the realms are not merely differentiating but also increasingly neutral to each other. He analyzes neutrality as both an abstract notion and an experienced event, moving simultaneously between the specific landscape of call centers and their global context and connection.