Week 10: Workers’ Protest and New(?) forms of State Violence

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s blog post, I will be responding to the work of Peter Alexander, Thapelo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope, Luke Sinwell, and Bongani Xezwi in the book, “Marikana: Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre.” This work was published in 2013 and provides reliable insight into the massacre that took the lives of many mine workers on strike in August of 2012. By providing insight into the thoughts and feelings of those directly involved, we are exposed to the raw and real accounts as presented by the interviews and testimonies.

In the beginning we read, “Chapter 1: Encounters in Marikana” which provided us with background information on the preceding events that lead up to the tragedy in Marikana. After numerous attempts to set a meeting with Lonmin, approx. 3000 workers walked off the job and began the strike. The workers were protesting poor condition and unfair wages, in a manner described as relatively peaceful in protests. Initially armed with sticks, machetes and spheres, their physical threat against authorities was minimal. In the coming days, 9 people were killed and this furthered the tensions on both sides. On August 16th, the South African Police Service was responsible for the deaths of 34 people and injuring 78 more. This event was significant as it was one of the greatest uses of force used against civilians, in post-apartheid Africa. Why are the encounters described in this chapter crucial to the events that lead up to the Marikana massacre? Were you surprised as to the rapid increase of violent events that occurred just days after the initial protest?

The next chapter required from this work was, “Chapter 2: A Narrative Account Based on Workers’ Testimonies”. Here we learn of the struggles associated with this line of work and the minimal rights that the miners were entitled to. In the days following the protests workers were warned that if they did not return to work they would be immediately dismissed from the company. Additionally there were threats regarding the ‘torching’ of their homes and physical threats of harm. The shooting was a controversial topic covered by many news sources and this chapter accounts for this in an investigative manner, examining the events in great detail. By compiling and comparing the roles of each actor (the African National Congress, the mine company and the National Union of Mineworkers), we can see the media was responsible for alienating the protesters by means of creating a narrative where they were ruthless savages- when in reality they were striking with hopes for a brighter future for their families. Why is recognizing the role of each actor important in establishing a full and clear picture of how the events played out? What was the role of each and how did they further support or refute the cause? How did the media play an important role in this cause; did it work to hinder the campaign or make it stronger?

“Chapter 5: Interviews with Mineworkers”, presents us with first hand and conclusive sense of what the leading events and after affects of the massacre. The unedited accounts provide the reader and literature with a sense of real justifications where workers emotions and feelings towards events are concerned. Gaining insight into the shooting and the events that preceded and followed it, we are able to conclude in creating a larger more in depth understanding of the roles of each actors and the opinions of each. Some of the most important that are touched on throughout the duration of this work are as follows: the government, opposition parties and politicians outside the government, trade unions, mine owners, strikers families, religious leaders, media, and the international community.

In doing further research into the legal implications of this event it is interesting to see that the of the miners arrested, 270 were charged with public violence- which was then later redefined as murder, regardless of the fact that the opposing forces shot at them. Here it is relevant to consider the biases present and how this has played out in the judicial system. Why is this relevant to the events that occurred? How is this a display of intentional bias in sentencing? Is systematic oppression a construction here; how does the narrative counter this or perpetuate it (consider the place of the union)? Where have we seen this occur before and what has the public opinion been on this type of action? Is this similar or different to the publics view on the charges seen in this case? By providing an emotional and personal insight into the events, the authors conclusively presented the events in a way that we are able to empathize with all those affected.

This image is interesting as it physically maps out each of the important sections of the events. In looking at this we are able to gain a more conclusive and insightful understanding as to the proximity of each occurrence.

This image is interesting as it physically maps out each of the important sections of the events. In looking at this we are able to gain a more conclusive and insightful understanding as to the proximity of each occurrence.

For a more current account, read the work published by Time Magazine in August of 2013: http://world.time.com/2013/08/16/south-africas-marikana-massacre-a-year-later-workers-and-unions-still-up-in-arms/ . This article takes a comprehensive look at how the events have continued to unfold and how worker and union relations are still strained.


Week 9: Changing Landscapes- Dams, Degradation and Displacement

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s blog post, I have read the work of Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman, in the book entitled “Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965-2007.’ In this work we learn of the Zambezi river in Mozambique, Africa, and the role of the Portuguese in creating one of the worlds most impressive dams in the 1970’s. To see how the effects of this project played out both throughout history and over social landscapes, it will prove to be beneficial to respond to chapters 3-7 of this work.


Chapter 3 entitled, Harnessing the River: High Modernism and Building the Dam, 1965–75speaks specifically initial stages of the project and the implications felt by the local community. Here we learn about the planning and management structures, and how they play out in the local context. Like others have mentioned, learning that, “‘local Africans communities were forced to abandon their homes in the Songo highlands to make way for the construction of a segregated town for white workers recruited from abroad,” poses a real sense of confliction when it comes to the benefits of the project (Isaacman, 2013, pg. 57). In the initial pages of this work we learn about the dam and how it is supposed to be an economic stronghold that will improve the lives of Africans who are involved- but here we see the harsh reality that the short-term pains are often associated with a shift in the place of the local- both in the hierarchical sense, and through physically shifting land rights. In reading this work were you surprised to learn about the level of displacement felt by the basin-based communities? Do you think that this a common event in many major water-related development projects? Prior to reading the long-term effects of this project, did you think that the theoretical set-up of the dam could have positively impacted the communities- or was the project faulty from the start?

Chapter 4, Displaced People: Forced Eviction and Life in the Protected Villages, 1970–75,” seeks to assess the second phase of the project, specifically in the time five year time period noted in the title. Here we read about the officials of the project and how they framed the process to locals who were forced off of their land and into protected villages. In response to the forced move, many locals were compensated with a specific new plot of land that was ready for cultivation upon their arrival. We often see this ‘remedy’ or reward for forced migration, but do you think this was a fair trade for the local people? Was the redistribution and collective outside action in the assessment of land used for the greater benefit of the most amount of people, or did people unnecessarily have their livelihoods impacted to support a ‘few’?

In Chapter 5, “The Lower Zambezi: Remaking Nature, Transforming the Landscape, 1975–2007”we read about the last major segment of the project and how the completion and all of its implications have affected both local peoples and Mozambique’s place in the world. Issacman writes, “While researchers studying similar mega-dam projects have documented the devastating eviction of millions of rural poor from their homelands, the radical transformation of physical landscapes around dams, and the inundation of treasured cultural sites, they have often ignored the less visible, but often more deleterious, consequences for downriver communities,” (Issacman, 2013, pg. 122). Here we learn of a major gap in the research that does not give enough attention to downriver communities. Why is important to recognize the effects thata major project like this can have on downriver communities? Can you think of examples from other nature and development classes where these groups of people are included? What does your answer to the previous question prove about Issacman’s opinion- are you backing up the existing literature that states downriver communities are underrepresented in the world of academia, or is there something to be said about the knowledge that you have?

In Chapter 6, Displaced Energy” we learn about the now seen effects of the project, which have had little benefit in the overall improvement of and quality of life for families who were displaced and then later relocated to construct and complete the dam. Issacman argues here that “Rather than promoting national economic development or sustainable livelihoods for the people living adjacent to the river, the dam instead robbed Mozambique of precious energy,” (Issacman, 2013, pg. 151). In this chapter we learn of howthe river and its dam is being used to unequally distribute the wealth that could have been felt by the local people in country. The energy has been rerouted and ‘displaced’ in a way that directly benefits South Africa while leaving the counter effects of deprivation to be felt by the local population. If the foreign investment was not used in this project and the building of the dam never occurred, what do you speculate would be the current fait of the people in the Cahora Bassa area? Do think it is fair to exploit the vulnerable place of a state in order to control its natural resources? Where else are we seeing this happening? What about foreign investment at home- do we see similar things happening in Northern Canada with the collective action towards the ownership of oil and land based rights, forcing Indigenous peoples off their land?

The work ends with Chapter 7 “Legacies” which seeks to explain the current state of Mozambique today. Issacman writes, “Almost fifty years after its completion, the Cahora Bassa Dam continues to impoverish the more than half a million residents of the lower Zambezi valley and to devastate the region’s local ecosystems and wildlife,”(Issacman, 2013, pg. 167). After reading this work we now have a clear picture as to the reality of the situation in Mozambique in relation to the dam and its Portuguese ownership. In conclusion, Issacman raised some important ideas about the extent of displacement and the cultural, political and historical implications of natural resource ownership.

Week 8: Emerging Powers- India in Africa

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s blog post, I will be responding to the readings of Ian Taylor in “India’s Rise in Africa,” Renu Modi’s, “Offshore Healthcare Management: Medical Tourism between Kenya, Tanzania and India,” and lastly Luke Patey’s, “Fragile Fortunes: India’s Oil Venture into War-torn Sudan”. Over the last two weeks we have assessed the place of China and USA in Africa, and we further the discussion this week with the addition of India in Africa. Before diving into the required readings, it is interesting to view this image:

In this image we can see the size of economic invested, as presented by data from some of the largest countries involved. Note the place of USA, China and India in Africa.

In this image we can see the size of economic investment, as presented by data from some of the largest countries involved. Note the place of USA, China and India in Africa.

Ian Taylor wrote the work “India’s Rise in Africa,” where we learn about the emerging and growing relationship between India within the whole of Africa. Taylor puts specific emphasis on the place of policy within the context of historical analysis to show just how relations have grown and changed over time. This is important to note as it helps to explain the shifting partnerships, business endeavours, as well as various political power structures. Last week we studied how China does business in Africa, assessing the place of nation-to-nation development strategies, where as here we are seeing the emergence of commercially driven private investment strategies. In seeing this scale of investment and trade, the image mentioned above sheds light on the size of this partnership. What is important to note about India however, is the shift from a country that relied heavily on foreign aid, to one of the largest growing aid donors of the 21st century. In reading this work were you aware of the global order that is presented in terms of who and what are the driving forces of economic investment in Africa? Were you surprised that India was on the list, with a different strategy than China? How do the two compare, and in your opinion what relationship has the potential for longevity?

The second work this week was written by Renu Modi’s, entitled “Offshore Healthcare Management: Medical Tourism between Kenya, Tanzania and India”. In this work we are exposed to a different form of investment, one that is based in a form of medical ‘tourism’, rooted in heath care management. Modi speaks to the growing wave of people who travel from Kenya and Tanzania in search of healthcare. These people make their way to India in hoped of receiving a better standard of health care than what can be found in their own countries. In this work we learn of methods used to obtain peoples, such as advertising campaigns and other problematic strategies that boast the Indian healthcare system. Modi’s work raises much attention to an often-unknown trend that is emerging in Africa. Prior to reading this work were you aware of medical tourism? How does this compare to other forms of tourism such as eco-tourism or volun-tourism? What would you conclude the long-term effects of this process would be-consider both the African states affected and the Indian healthcare system as a whole? Is this action warranted as a self-less action, or do you think that the Indo-African relations are created with a sense of hidden agenda?

The last article entitled “Fragile Fortunes: India’s Oil Venture into War-torn Sudan” written by Luke Patey. In this reading we learn about yet another form of Indian investment in Africa. Rather than being health care based, this investment is rooted in the acquisition of oil in Sudan. In this work we learn of the historical shift of investments in Sudan over the recent years. We learn that India’s investment decisions came after the exit of many western groups and that the completion for oil was in many ways directly against Chinese investments. Patey explains the correlation between oil and conflicts in Sudan and how the human rights based violations are affecting both the people of Sudan and the OVL. After reading this work and learning more background on the oil-based conflict in Sudan, do you believe that India did the right thing by seeing the opportunity to invest and doing so after the exit of western investors- or should they have followed the trend and not gotten involved in Sudan? As one of the biggest oil investors in Sudan do you think India has a responsibility to ensure its investments are not indirectly affecting the stability of local peoples? What should be done to ensure human-rights violations are addressed promptly?

Week 7: Emerging Powers- China in Africa/Africa in China

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s blog post, I will be responding to the readings of Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, in “The Africa-China relationship: challenges and opportunities,” Chris Alden and Cristina Alves, in “History & Identity in the Construction of China’s Africa Policy,” (2008), and Bodomo and Grace’s work “From Guangzhou to Yiwu: Emerging facets of the African Diaspora in China.” (2010).

The first work read by Zeleza entitled “The Africa-China relationship: challenges and opportunities,” works to present us the ever changing and emerging relations between China and Africa as a whole. Over the last few years China has begun to see the value that can be found in the processing and extraction of cheap resource goods, and a center of investment where Chinese exports are concerned. Like every major shift in global political economy, there are two distinct sides emerging as a result of the ‘partnership’. Those in favor believe that China’s foreign direct investment has been working to promote localized development projects and eventually lead to power found in its collective ability to bargain. In contrast to this, critics believe that this relationship has the potential to limit Africa’s competitive emergence in the global economy. By providing us with historical background, and a brief trajectory of future relations, Zeleza has actively constructed both sides of the debate- leaving us with lots to think about. Is it possible for all African nation-states to work together through forms of collective bargaining? Is this feasible given the current state of differentiating civil affairs in each state? In theory the creation of a collective union could lead to he growing importance of the continent as a whole. Zeleza sums this up best in stating, “Most critically, African countries must articulate more clearly, coherently, and collectively what their fundamental interests are in this crucial relationship. These interests must be rooted in the historic and humanistic agendas of African nationalism for self-determination, sustainable development, democratization, and regional integration,” (Zeleza, 2014, pg. 166).

The second reading this week is written by Chris Alden and Cristina Alves, entitled “History & Identity in the Construction of China’s Africa Policy.” Alden and Alves see the importance of history in the creation of polices and regulations pertaining to foreign global investment and development. In seeing the similarities in terms of colonization, historical trajectories and self-determination- the authors argue that China and Africa are not all that different. By using these commonalities in the creation of Africa based strategies, policies are being created that draw on the representation of self-identification. Doing this often leads to the creation a platform for ‘mutual’ partnership relations- while still opposing Western imperialism. Alden and Alves argue that China has ben marketing itself as an ‘alternative’ form of development, and this has emerged out of its lengthy historical relations. Do you believe that China sympathizes with Africa and does want to see it emergence in the global political economy? Or is the relationship more one-sided where there are many forms of underlying exploitation, i.e. taking advantage of their similarities etc.? (Alden & Alves, 2008)

Lastly, the reading from Bodomo and Grace called, “From Guangzhou to Yiwu: Emerging facets of the African Diaspora in China.” In this article we learn about (2010). This work uses a sort of case study, that assesses the palce of Africans in China Yiwu is a central location for African people movement from various states in Africa to the east. Since 1997 their place in Yiwu has become more widely known and their presence has been better received. In this work we learn about the struggles in each major city- Guangzhou and Yiwu, and can see how their treatment is disproportionately better in one city over the other. In Guangzhou there is less understanding for the racial differences found in the city, and law-enforcement protocols often work to create a sense of favoritism towards locals, and against African settlers. Bodomo and Grace state that the importance of local relations in China can be used in contrast, use to counter understand the treatment of Chinese people in Africa. Here we learn that localized relations are just as important as the large-scale creation of development policies. In conclusion we see the need for China to create protectionist legislation that will work towards the fair treatment of Africans in China- thus improving all business relations as a whole.

This map shows Chinese investment offers in Africa since 2010. It is interesting to see the sectors of development in each country- based on the needs China.

This map shows Chinese investment offers in Africa since 2010. It is interesting to see the sectors of development in each country- based on the needs China.

Week 6: The United States in Africa- From Aid to Anti-Terror

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s blog post, I will be responding to the works of Alice Hills, “Trojan Horses? USAID, counter-terrorism and Africa’s police,” Jeremy Prestholdt’s, “Kenya, the United States, and Counterterrorism,” and Jeremy Keenan’s, “The Banana Theory of Terrorism: Alternative Truths and the Collapse of the ‘Second’ (Saharan) Front in the War on Terror.” To begin, I will start with the work of Hills.

Alice Hills wrote the work entitled, “Trojan Horses? USAID, counter-terrorism and Africa’s police,” which seeks to assess that ever-changing scape of foreign assistance in Africa. This work specifically focuses on a case study in Kenya and the proposed transition that could lead to development work transitioning into a ‘policing’ type mission. USAID is the organization at the center of this work, and Hills works to deconstruct the fact that “short-term state security objectives will be pursued at the expense of long-term transformational goals, thereby lessening the chances of … achieving transparent and accountable forms of governance,” (Hills, 2006, pg. 630). Hills suggests that the proposed changes will counter the goals of the campaign, which are to strengthen the counter terrorist capacity of Africa. Kenya is the center of this movement as it has been a central location for USA deemed terrorist activity, and this holds a special place for their involvement. In hopes of creating a counter terrorism policing movement in the country, USAID has invested both financially and through time in pursuit of their interests. Throughout the duration of this work the learn reasons as to why Hills believes that the United States’ self-interest in creating a policing force in Africa, is contrary to desires of African governments and will have little success once implemented. After reading this work do you believe that “using USAID to improve the counter terrorist capacity of Africa’s police in pursuit of US national security objectives if a ‘seriously’ flawed strategy,” or do you think on some levels it could work to improve the overall intelligence insight gathered through primary source participation?

In case you are interested in listening to the speech presented by the then head of state Condoleezza Rice, here is the link:


The second reading for this week is Jeremy Prestholdt’s, “Kenya, the United States, and Counterterrorism,” which assesses the relationship between Kenya, the United States and counterterrorism. Prestholdt uses this work to discuss the push for counterterrorism developments in Kenya as a result of the country being deemed the hub of many terrorist related activities. While the author provides meaningful insight as to the place of convictions and persecutions within local Kenyan authoritative bodies, we can begin to see the problems that arise from this action. Prestholdt states, “recent counterterrorism efforts are unique in that Kenyan forces receive training and direct funding from the United States,” (Prestholdt, 2011, pg. 5). In reading this work we learn that while the initiative had once been centered on a US agenda for counterterrorism, Kenya has since used their strategic location as an economic ‘instrument’ in creating a platform for change within the context of its working relationship with the USA. This article takes us through the historical accounts of localized movements as well as the various forms of US intervention at all points over the last decade. Through accounts of the Bush Administration weighing in on potential legislative passing, and the giving of aid directed as specified regions of counterterrorism development, we can see the invested interest that the USA has in Kenya. In his conclusion Prestholdt states, “The global war on terrorism’s dividends for the government of Kenya may prove minimal, or perhaps significant in the long run, but what has become clear is that ordinary Kenyans with no perceptible link to terrorists regularly bear the cost of counterterrorism,” (Predtholdt, 2011, pg. 20). In reading this conclusionary statement, do you believe that the USA has a place in Kenyan intervention? Based on the lack of evidentiary finding, do you believe that racial profiling and political/economic class targeting’s have actually worked against the agenda of winging the ‘hearts and minds’ of residents?

Lastly, this week we read the work of Jeremy Keenan in “The Banana Theory of Terrorism: Alternative Truths and the Collapse of the ‘Second’ (Saharan) Front in the War on Terror.” In this work Keenan seeks to deconstruct the truth, lies and everything in between. Keenan uses USA and Algeria as the basis for this account. The order: a background account of the Saharan war on terror, an anthropological based truth, evidence for these accounts and the basis of motivation of each the USA and Algeria. In setting out these distinct sections, Keenan is able to frame a debate around the conditions and implications of all levels that have lead to the ‘collapse of the front’. After reading the work of Keenan, do you believe what he says about the distinctly labeled ‘lies’ and ‘truths’ of the USA-Algeria relations? In his conclusion he states that “it certainly provides a good underpinning for the US Secretary of Defense’s next step in militarizing the continent through the creation of a single, unified US African Command,” (Keenan, 2007, pg. 50). After reading this work, do you share the same view that this may be the underlying motive of US aid, investment and intervention in Africa?

Week 5: Digital Media and Emerging Technologies

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s required course work, I independently viewed the film “Linking Africa: The Future Is Digital” by Films Media Group, listened to the podcast “Mass Media and Democracy” by Folu Ogundiumu and read the works “The Media in Social Development in Contemporary Africa” by John Middleton & Kimani Njogu and lastly, “Twittering the Boko Haram Uprising in Nigeria: Investigating Pragmatic Acts in the Social Media” by Innocent Chiluwa and Adetunji Adegoke. I will go through each work independently and pose questions regarding the significance of the work in developing a deeper understanding as to the place of Africa in a changing world.

The film “Linking Africa: The Future Is Digital” by Films Media Group will be watched in lecture this week- but I have additionally chosen to watch and reflect on it my own as I found it to be a moving representation of the transitions to a technological state seen in Africa. This week’s topics of digital media and emerging technologies are especially highlighted in this video. In learning about African innovations like mobile money and the TRAC Net System, we are exposed to the ever-changing landscape of the continent as an IT super center. By working past the common misconceptions of Africa as a ‘stagnant’ and never changing country, we are showed the real truth seen in the emergence of ‘western’ based technology companies looking to Africa for inspiration. Prior to watching this video in class were you aware of the growing size of people involved in projects of technological advancement in Africa? Were you surprised to hear about Rwanda’s Vision 2020 and the interconnectedness of its city centers through ‘blanketed wireless hotspots’? Do you agree with the implementation of computers and computer lessons in schools that are not primarily equip with proper sanitation facilities (i.e. lack washroom systems and do not have running water) or basic electricity?

 To learn more about the SEACOM project that is working to connect the eastern coast of Africa, visit the website: http://seacom.mu/services-solutions/

This map shows the pathway of future communication lines via hand laid cable.  http://seacom.mu/

This map shows the pathway of future communication lines, via hand laid cable.

The podcast “Mass Media and Democracy” by Folu Ogundiumu takes a historical and media based approach to deconstructing the place of ‘modern day’ technology development in Africa. In listening to how media can play a role in changing the political landscapes of countries, we can begin to understand just how important liberal right to freedom of speech are in achieving democracy. Like the example seen in the above noted video, African innovations like the use of SMS Media systems can be used to send out a mass release of information to all subscribers, as if it was an emergency service center. In educating the population about current events, people become more engaged in daily activities and a sense of transparency becomes achieved. In using media as an outlet for free expression, we are seeing the emergence of a more deeply engaged age of people. Even those who live in remote areas are now being given access to information through the use of technology, and no longer have to travel the physical distance to state their opinions or learn about current events. In listening to this podcast did you previously associate technology with the development of democratic states? After listening, do you think that the traditional forms of media release (newspapers and radios) will be lost in the transition to the ‘internet’ age? How have we seen this transition here at home- think of newspapers creating mobile applications rather than cutting their production as a whole.

 Here is the link to the podcast for future reference: http://afripod.aodl.org/tag/folu-ogundimu/.

“The Media in Social Development in Contemporary Africa” by John Middleton and Kimani Njogu works to scrutinize the distinctions and intersectional development that is seen between the implementation of media and its impact on social identities and development in Africa. In reading this work we further learn how media can take on many shapes and roles within society. In using the spreading of information to educate and communicate with groups of people, media is playing a large part in Africa’s contemporary development. Middleton and Njogu distinguish between three main forms of media in this work: mass communication media, interpersonal media and ‘small’ media. In learning about the distinctions and similarities of each, we can learn about the roles that they play in conjunction with the media. The quote, “If communication is the lifeblood of human interaction, the media constitute the veins through which it flows,” represents the true interdependency that communication and media have on one another. Do you agree with this representation that Middleton and Njogu used in stating the impetrative nature of one node on the other? Or do you think that communication and media can stand-alone?

Lastly the work of “Twittering the Boko Haram Uprising in Nigeria: Investigating Pragmatic Acts in the Social Media” by Innocent Chiluwa and Adetunji Adegoke was read. In this article we learn about the affect that the online community has had on adding ‘real-time’ feedback to breaking news type situations. This work specifically focused on Boko Haram and their place within Nigerian Society. By using Twitter as a means of ‘citizen’ journalist reporting, we were able to see how viewing tweets and comments can be used as a platform for determining public engagement and participant views on the situation. This form of ‘micro-blogging’ has proved to be widely informative and the authors have been able to adequately interpret the pragmatic acts present. After reading this work, what were your thoughts about using social media as a stage for citizen based reporting? In a local context, how have we seen Twitter and other forms of social media used to share opinions on news stories?

Week 4: Neoliberalism Revisited- Entrepreneurship, Consumerism and Global Capital

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s blog post, I will be responding to the work of Thomas, Teppo & Houssay-Holzshuch as and Lee. The theme of this week is neoliberalism in Africa. As a global studies class we know neoliberalism to be rooted in the “liberal ideas of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, both of whom view the market as a self-regulating mechanism tending toward equilibrium, of supply and demand, thus securing the most efficient allocation of resources, (Steger, 2009, pg. 40). In knowing this basic definition we are able to see how entrepreneurship, consumerism and global capital play out in this weeks selected readings.

Lynn M. Thomas wrote the work, “Skin Lighteners, Black Consumers and Jewish Entrepreneurs in South Africa,” which speaks to the growing marked of skin lightening products in South Africa. The Krok bothers have capitalized off the growing consumer-based market, since the end of the Second World War. In studying this ‘transnational history of skin lighteners’ we become exposed to political landscapes influenced by gender and race that have come out of this movement. In an attempt to physically demonstrate the internalized pressures of ‘white’ colonizers, the movement towards skin lightening creams and their harmful uses shows just how distorted the image of skin-color as a power symbol has become. The social location of the brothers (white Jewish males), was used to further their place in the market. After the fall of the apartheid, the business venture was under much scrutiny and the brothers sponsored many local movements in hopes of strengthening their place in the community. While there are many justifications around arguments which suggest westernization has benefited various societies, we are also now becoming exposed to the harmful effects felt long after the colonization has slowed. This work has brought to my attention just how influential people in positions of power can be. Outside of Africa, do we see this movement towards an ‘ideal’ state of being here in Canada? What about the influence that the cosmetic industry has had in creating a stereotypical image of what a man or woman should look like? Does plastic surgery and artificial enhancement/ reduction procedures fall under this category of exploitation used for economic gain? Do we make informed choices, or is the neoliberal market base created in a way distorts the type of decisions that we can make- based on how value is allocated? (Thomas 2012)

Rebekah Lee wrote the work “Death ‘On the Move’: Funerals, Entrepreneurs and the Rural-Urban Nexus in South Africa” which speaks to the growing sector associated with burial and funeral practices in South Africa. As innovations change and new technological methods are being introduced, it makes sense that this would begin to influence the space of ‘death’ in society. In this work we begin to see how people do not necessarily fear death, but fear dying away from home. While I had never considered how methods of burials could be enhanced or altered through processes of urbanization. It is interesting to see how Lee explains these people in a way that brings justification to their work, and not as a means of exploitation, as they are working to help aid in the process of mourning and burials- even for those who are on the move (including the folding coffins, transportation- through trucks and trailers etc.). Often these entrepreneurs travel from the rural to the urban centers, thus creating this cultural nexus and mixing; in order to meet the needs of their client base. What other aspects of society do we see innovation and economic gain being created through medium of technological advancement? What makes this type of capitalization exploitative or not?

Annika Teppo and Myriam Houssay-Holzshuch wrote the last article read this week entitled, “Gugulethu: revolution for neoliberalism in a South African Township.” This work speaks to the inherent center of economic gain- the shopping mall found in Guglethu Square. Examined from two levels, the work fully explained the layers that are present within the historical and neo-liberal narrative present in Cape Town. In reflecting on what a shopping mall represents, we can understand what the authors are saying when they speak to the ever growing and diversified consumerist population who would shop at the center. In working to create an environment that appeals to all of the consumers, the social, economic and cultural based planning are all instrumental in achieving a population who receive the structure positively. All moves need to be calculated in a way that localizes and ‘grounds’ a movement towards a neoliberal ‘revolution’. Top-down decision have worked against the local populations and created a space for opposition of development. How do you think businesses structures like those mentioned in this work directly and indirectly affect the lives of local individuals? What types of generational shifts do you think will be felt by the changing neoliberal business models?

Week 3: African Urbanism- The Global City

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s blog post, we were asked to read select chapters from the work entitled “Oxford Street Accra” by Ato Quayson. In combination, the Introduction, chapters 4-6 and the conclusion all proved to be very insightful. As a global scholar and a citizen of Ghanna, Quayson’s social location created meaningful paradigm as he is was able to construct a unique discourse through the sharing of this work.

The introductory section of this book raises important thought-provoking questions and provides a much-needed foundation to aid the reader’s historical knowledge of Accra. Quayson posed the questions best when he asked,

“How does one keep focused on the mundane and the apparently ephemeral and from this construct a viable understanding of the African city?  More pressingly, how does one tie these passing quotidian features to questions of historicity, transition, and agency, all three of which cannot be escaped if a proper counter-discursive corrective is to be made against the current crisis-management understandings?” (Quayson’s Blog, 2009)

These questions in many ways became the base to which Quayson wrote about and studied Oxford Street in Accra. After reading the above stated inquiries and completing this week’s required text, do you believe that Quayson adequately developed new ways around the past methods that were used to study Accra? Do you think that studying the social and urban history of Accra from a single street is the best way to get a sense of the development that has occurred, or would you do it differently?

“Chapter 4: The Beautyful Ones” focuses on the distinct themes of transportation and mobility, the place and role of advertising within the streets of Accra. Quayson raises interesting points regarding the creation of delocalized campaigns that are designed to depict cosmopolitan desires. This representation is used to encourage locals to participate in business through the invoking of a particular lifestyle. While each campaign is designed from a place of strategy, it is interesting to review the statistics regarding the market size and the registered rates of consumer consumption. Quayson writes, “To put these figures in proper perspective it has to be recalled that the current population of Ghana is estimated and twenty-five million. With an overall subscriber base of 24,884,195, it is considered one of the fastest growing cell phone markets in Africa,” (Quayson, 2014, pg. 146). In reading this we can see the success story that is economically present in Ghana. In terms of the type of market in existence, we can see that it is a highly competitive, and rightfully so.

In the confirmation of these rates of contractual participation, were you surprised about the inherently Western influence that has been added to Ghanaian society? How do the rates of cellphone subscribers in this case compare to that of our own country? Do you think they compare, is it a globally felt generational shift towards dependence on technology?

“Chapter 5: Este loco, loco” explores the historical and cultural place of Salsa dancing in Accra and confronts the conversational narratives that have consumed the place of Ghanaian society since the emergence of the transnational Spanish inspirations. As someone who is not particularly familiar with cultural influences in Africa as a whole, I was surprised to see the emphasis and place of Salsa as a type of ‘lifestyle choice’ in Accra.Quayson writes about the instrumental and positive effect that the emergence of Salsa has had on the local people- in terms of communication, community building and a means of economic success for local business. Prior to engaging in this week’s material, did you realize the impact that globalization has had on the transformational history of Ghana? Do you think that the addition of Salsa dancing to the Ghanaian culture is an example of Western influential practices, why or why not? Consider the local movement that spread as community members became engaged on their own.

"Lonely Planet Publications: Photobook"

“Lonely Planet Publications: Photobook”


I went on to do further research and found that during the initial stages of writing this work Quayson was a contributing writer to “Arcade: Literature. The Humanities and the World”. This is a blog founded by Stanford University. Here Quayson wrote about his interpretations, emotions and larger themes that were all contributed to his book. I found this resource to be particularly helpful in creating a sense of clarity as to the types of questions that he was working to get answers to.

Feel free to check out the following link to the blog: http://arcade.stanford.edu/blogs/user/ato-quayson

Week 2: The Political Economy of Disease in Africa- AIDS to Ebola

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s blog post, we engaged in material that specifically focused on the political economy of disease in Africa. We views the film “Ebola war the nurses of Gulu” by Alethia Productions and read the three articles “The politics and anti-politics of social movements: religion and HIV/AIDS in Africa,” by Marian Burchardt & Amy Patterson, and Notes from Case Zero: Anthropology in the time of Ebola,” by Almudena Sáez, Ann Keyy & Hannah Brown, and lastly “Ten things that Anthropologists can do to fight the West African Ebola epidemic,” by Sharon Abramowitz.

Ebola war the nurses of Gulu” by Alethia Productions can be found at: http://vimeo.com/39885512

The work “The politics and anti-politics of social movements: religion and HIV/AIDS in Africa,” by Marian Burchardt & Amy Patterson works to deconstruct the place of Ebola in Africa and how the international community- namely religious organizations have responded to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. By using a broad scope to assess the situation, we learn how health issues are framed in the context of foreign aid and the process of donating. In this work we are able to see the benefits of short-term gain and the potential for long-term pain, where western aid is the primary source of monetary compensation for programs lacking funding. What do you think about international investment in times of chaos? Is the Band-Aid type solution worth it, or is there another way to combat crisis?

The second article this week is entitled, Notes from Case Zero: Anthropology in the time of Ebola,” by Almudena Sáez, Ann Keyy & Hannah Brown. In this work we learn about the place of anthropologist individually as well as the community of anthropology and the role that they can play in working to decrease the spread of Ebola. In using methods of anthropological analysis, workers argue that their knowledge is improperly being used in combat of the disease. In time of crisis often sectors of development aid can be overlooked if deemed not immediately useful. In this case, we can see how one may value the place of a western trained doctor or contamination prevention specialist first. This is not to say that there is not a place for anthropologists in the midst of all of this- because I believe that there is. I am merely just examining the repose from the local community and the value that is place on people based on their professions. After reading this work do you believe that the anthologists could have been better utilize? What is the solution to aid workers who are unable to find their place in the international community, is their place necessary or are some situations better without them?

Lastly, the work “Ten things that Anthropologists can do to fight the West African Ebola epidemic,” by Sharon Abramowitz, has proved to be an interesting read that bares witness to the direct actions that can be carried out by global and local anthropological figures. In a change from many other forms of modern literature, this work seems to provide positivity in terms of Western involvement in crisis and seeks to examine what workers can do to aid in the Ebola epidemic. By using their trained skills- such as ethnographic research, we learn that anthropologists can play an important role as actors in crisis. In doing this, the gap between the global and local communities will inherently be made smaller, resulting in the development of more transparent and localized structures of aid. Prior to reading this work did you ever consider the place of anthropologists as the linking factor between global and local organizations?