Truth Behind the Trade at the Penn Museum

by Sabirah Mahmud


On February 26, the Penn Museum will be hosting its second Teen Science Cafe for high school students in Philadelphia. It will be on Globalization and the effects of this phenomenon. Additionally, this event will be lead by Dr. Douglas Smitt, Assistance Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania with the help of the Teen Ambassadors.

So why would someone like you be interested in an event like this? Well, let me tell you why.  Are you a fan of KPop or Hip Hop? If so, did you know Hip-hop is actually a byproduct of Globalization? Well, it is! During the event, we will be looking to find examples of Globalization in our very own clothes, in the music around us, and much more. I promise you by the end of this event, you will be aware of the impact Globalization has on our very own daily lives!

Globalization hasn’t just taken the form to impact our lives, but also countries as a whole. In the United States initially, turkey tails were just thrown away because of their fat and meatiness. However, Samoa and other Polynesian Islands soon took interests in them, and this soon became apart of their daily cultural meals as a result. This impacted their culture drastically as obesity rates soon went up and the majority of their people started to gain weight rapidly. However, we never connect the United States to this shift in their people. Nonetheless, with this said, we can actually now say that this shift in culture is actually a byproduct on Globalization not by it always being among their people.

We just don’t see this with recent stories of Samoan culture, but we can connect Globalization with foods in our daily lives such as chocolate, sugar, tea, and coffee. These were all taken from their initial countries due to the fact these products make people feel something that they don’t feel usually. This can be shown as chocolate, because of it’s great sweetness, can make someone happier than they already are, or when we have tea or coffee, it can usually give you a greater feeling of endurance or energy due to the fact it may include caffeine and sugar. But we always tend to think these products to be western but would you be surprised when I say these products are almost all from Latin America and even more specifically, Brazil. Consequently, due to the effects of Globalization, Americans had adopted this and brought into our country to reclaim it as our own.

Globalization can’t just be shown on goods and music, but it can be shown through even dress and hair. Have you ever heard of cultural appropriation? Well, this is globalization to a sense but in a pretty extreme way. When we think of dreads or corn-rows now, we tend to think of possibly rap culture or hip-hop culture, but secretly, this transformation is actually a result of globalization. We tend to group these things that groups have claimed, and associate it with them. However, dreads and corn-rows belong to the African American population. These are the social implications of globalization; when we think of a country or group to have a claim on something, but it’s actually from somewhere else.

Leading to the social implications, we can see this in things that we associate with things that have been around a bit longer. In your head, name the first country or people that you think of when I tell you tomatoes? Do you think of Italy? If so, the social implications from Globalization, actually do apply to you. Tomatoes actually didn’t even exist until trade was brought from Central America was brought back to Europe. This included many other goods as well as tomatoes being one of them. You must think I’m crazy for telling you this, but it is true! We can also see this when we ask ourselves, what do we think about when we think of potatoes? Other than our holy french fries, we probably think of the Irish or the Irish Potato Famine. If so, I would hope to surprise you but like tomatoes, potatoes didn’t even exist in Ireland until trade allowed it to travel there.

These examples are some of the many surprising examples we will talk about at the event on February 26 at the Penn Museum. So come and join and learn about the great effects of Globalization that you have never heard. Bring your friends and families; refreshments are offered!

Sabirah Mahmud is a sophomore at the Academy At Palumbo as well as a Teen Ambassador for Philly STAMP representing the Mutter Museum, and the Penn Museum. She enjoys doing Congressional Debate and Declamation Oratory at her school as well as playing the Oboe and Clarinet in her spare time.