Week 10: Marikana Massacre

This week’s reading was on the book Marikana: Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre which attempts to understand the massacre at the South African Marikana mine on August 16th, 2012 in which the police intervened against three thousand miners on strike. This event has become a well-known atrocity due to the many deaths that occurred. Media has portrayed this event as something inevitable or to “control populations” but the authors seem to draw different conclusions.

This book is written by both an academic and political standpoint along with a narrative style through the lens of the workers and their specific experience within the massacre. This specific strike has gathered a lot of international attention due to the many deaths especially since many of the victims were said to be shot either in the back or far from the picket line. The media had claimed that the strikers were unruly and dangerous but Alexander seemed to portray that they always remained peaceful. This book which is based on qualitative research specifically in chapter 5, displayed many original interview transcripts, the book offers more data than many dissertations. It claims that, “merciless and bloody massacre had been planned in advance and was a sober undertaking by powerful agents of the state and capital who consciously organized to kill workers.” The authors seemed to view the three culprits of this atrocity as the police, the ANC government, the mining company and the National Union of Mineworkers. The authors suggest that the deployment of the units were not justified that the miners did not attack the police. Suspecting labour leaders of corruption, miners had rejected their representation, elected their own strike committees and demanded higher wage.

The descriptions are quite normative, depicting the workers has remarkably brave, mine bosses as cruel, the unions’ indifference as depressing and the police brutality awful. Many times in academia the true accounts and testimonies of the victims in incidents such as these are left out. I think this book was a crucial part to truly gather insight into what really went on during the massacre. Though the real meaning and goal of this book was to understand what really happened in Marikana and why? This is question was not thoroughly answered. After reading this book the conspiracy of what truly happened seems to be unsolved. The great first person experiences and data provided in this book are perfect for such academia in African studies along with a great read for social avidities. This book leaves room for more research into the cause of the Massacre.

  1. The Massacre in Marikina demonstrates that the state can simply gun down dozens of black workers with little or no backlash from civil society. Why is the state getting away with mass murder?
  2. Would the outcome be different if the miners had not used weapons as a defense mechanism? What could have changed if they took a strictly non-violent approach?

Week 8: Emerging Powers: India in Africa

This week’s readings discuss the rise of India of Africa. Historical relations concerned with the India-Africa relations have developed into a close tie. The first reading, by Ian Taylor, “India’s Rise in Africa” discusses the rise in India and how it has been largely overlooked. Today, India is providing much needed capital and investments and has said to constitute a middle ground between China’s profit maximizing and largely statist approach. As discussed in last week readings, China has been criticized greatly due to them taking a very westernized approach. India on the other hand has the ability to provide Africa with the appropriate technology, skills and advice for economic development. Taylor urges that if the negotiation within the Indian-Africa relations is not successful it could result in India just becoming another actor in the long quest to better Africa. China seemed to have high hopes for Africa, but why is India better? Today, India is the fifth-largest investor in Africa, and has a cultural advantage that the Chinese lack which is shared history. India has potential in places such as Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa which, like India, were once part of the British Empire.

The chapter by Renu Modi, “Offshore healthcare management” discusses the thriving medical tourism industry that has been emerging between India and Africa. This industry has the potential to provide affordable, high-quality healthcare for those who can afford to pay for treatment abroad. Such a simple proposal can make one wonder why this has not been done before but similar to Taylor’s article, the critical issue is whether African governments can negotiate terms of contracts. They worry that medical facilities would not be doing their job of reaching both the rich and poor but could end up only benefiting the upper class. This article also helps understand why India could do more for Africa then China has been attempting. Today India is emerging as a global healthcare provider because of its ability to offer-world class expertise at developing world costs.

The chapter by Luke Patey discusses the decision by India’s natural oil company to invest in Sudan due to the exit of western companies in 2002-2003 and how it seemed like a very easy task to carry out; it did not become a straightforward venture to carry out. The risk of entering Sudan was high especially from the competition from the Chinese and Malaysian oil companies. Over the past few years India has seemed to pass China as the leading investor. Partnerships between India and Africa could potentially mean could things for Africa in the future.

  1. Do you think that exit of Western companies in 2003 is the sole reason why the market opened up for countries to enter such as Indian and Africa
  2. Do you think ‘medical tourism’ can actually take place in Africa or will it essentially be another outside country attempting to provide adequate healthcare

J Flood 110271250

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

The readings this week discussed the involvement of Africa in China and the very multi-dimensional and complex history that is involved. I found that these three readings all complimented each other well because each article took on a different approach to Africa in China. For example, the article “The Africa-China relationship: challenges and opportunities” discussed the ‘cheerleaders’ of Africa in china along with its critics. Some of these benefits include representing a strong relationship between Africa and China which is rooted in the struggles against Western imperialism and humanistic aspirations for development. Though, its critics suggest that due to the history of Africa with providing cheap raw materials the Chinese could be exploiting the export market and could result in surplus capital. This article takes an economic and political stance to properly examine the challenges and opportunities that these relations face on a larger scale. The second article takes a different approach by examining the Africa-China relations at a local level. The article, “From Guangzhou to Yiwu: Emerging facets of the African Diaspora in China” compares how Africans are received in Guangzhou and Yiwu and that due to the treatment of Africans by law-enforcement there has been a negative reception of Africans, specifically how Yiwu is now the most predominant places for Africans because the law-enforcement officers are less corrupt and ore racially tolerant.  In reaching their conclusion of research they conducted ethnographic first person interviews including one where the interviewee explained, “The verbal brutality was shocking! It was like a flashback to apartheid south Africa”  The issues on the Africa-China relation stem from the local level and is not just about adopting a Western ideology through a political stand point. On the other hand, the third article “History & Identity in the Construction of China’s Africa Policy” emphasizes on the historical context that has brought Africa into China. This topic which is extremely important to fully understand the impact that Africa in China truly possesses because of the controversy of China using a “Western” approach

Today though there is still much tension between Africa and China, where as there is an idea of “neo-colonial China”. Since 2013, China’s trade with Africa topped $166 billion and both governments are hoping that there eventually can become a no strings attached trade system between Asia and Africa. Though moving forward, Chinese people have argued that Asia modernity cannot be judged through Western intrusions and following the narrative history of the West cannot work for Asia because they are so different. In the article “History & Identity in the Construction of China’s Africa Policy” explains that there is an underlying purpose that marks Chinese foreign policy out from western approaches which have by and large been content to avoid in the past. This leads to

  1. Why does China deserve such respect when it systematically views the African World from a European viewpoint?
  2. Can China be the leader of developing underdeveloped countries

J. Flood 110271250

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

This week’s readings focus on the terrorism and anti-terrorism policies within Africa specifically involving the United States. The article, Trojan Horses? USAID, counter-terrorism and Africa’s police talks about the impact policy shifts in the United States foreign assistance has, specifically after the September 11 attacks. USAID’s strategy for Kenya provides the ability to higher Kenyan security forces, with particular focus on counter-terrorism. Bush’s administration allocated $100 million to the East Africa Counter – Terrorism. USAID has increased focus in Sub-Saharan areas but not everyone including Kenya has taken to USAID’s shift. Some found parts of program useful but would purposely ignore others which is evidently detrimental to the program. The Bush administration has obviously again brought problems such as the inadequate policing, and under-development into Africa. An ongoing issue that arises from any outsider intervention is the lack of resources that places such as Africa poses. It is difficult to implement an anti-terrorism program in a country that lacks simple necessities such as infrastructure.

In the article, Kenya the United States and Counterterrorism, Prestholdt discusses the U.S. counterterrorism strategy as well and how the strategy ultimately puts more diplomatic pressure and aid-related incentives through the growing Muslim communities in Kenya. Presthodlt argues that the evidence from Kenya suggests that unless United States policymakers and their African allies address the social tensions that the anti-terrorism programme has created, security aid may produce few results and could ultimately create an alienation of Muslim communities. Prestholdt uses many examples where the counterterrorism has provided persecutions and convictions but he then goes on to show that this is not necessarily a good a thing. He believes that the global war on terrorism in Kenya will not prove maximum results and that for Kenyans who do not directly relate with counterterrorism, it is useless.

The third article, The Banana Theory of Terroism: Alternative Truths and the Collapse of the ‘Second’ Front in the War on Terror examines the truth, lies and disinformation about the US war on terror across the Sahara-Sahel region of Africa. The author talks about the United States in Algeria specifically and the motive behind them while attempting to separate the disinformation from the truth. Similar to both articles, the US policy in Africa along with USAID is not exactly accepted at local or governmental levels. Each article had a varying thesis but the background behind it all is the same. Though, something left out is maybe the other side of this. Again, these three articles are scholarly articles completely against the United States administration but they are not doing all badly. As of 2012, the US Foreign Aid reported that despite the 17, 222.00 millions USAID spent on Total Economic and Military Assistance, 6405 million of that was spent on Global Health and Child Survival. Out of the 19 categories USAID spends, this was the highest amount. Security support was 5306.90 million. For a country that prides themselves on essentially the ‘best’ many are quick to jump to conclusion involving foreign aid and assistance. Yes, the US does not always have the most purist forms of intentions, but what would Africa really be without their help?

  • All three articles illustrated that the implementation of this programme is not greatly accepted. Do you think if money was no longer spent on counterterrorism and security control there would be a significant difference?
  • Is the United States programme getting backlash just because it is the United States or would this programme be greater accepted through another channel

J. Flood 110271250

Week 5: Digital Media and Emerging Technologies

Usually on the topic of Africa, the media and technology are not generally discussed but only recently has the issue of social media been bought up within many world conflicts. These weeks’ articles investigate online feedback through media outlets such as Twitter. The article twittering the Boko Haram Uprising in Nigeria, looks at activities of Boko Haram, and a terrorist group in Nigeria while Muslims and non-Muslims as they express varied feelings and opinions mostly condemning the activities of the terrorist sector.  From Iran to Tunisia and Egypt and beyond, Twitter and Facebook are the power tools of civic upheaval – but social media is only one factor in the spread of democratic revolution. In the podcast ‘Mass Media and Democracy’ the rise of technology in Africa recently is discussed. It was very fascinating to learn that the rise of media actually contributes significantly to democracy. The access to technology is allowing citizens of Africa to express their feelings in a very diplomatic and protected way. The freedom of expression is encouraged at a local level. Personally, I find social media to be a very liberating thing for the citizens of Africa as well as the rest of the world. It is something that has allowed the world to be connected on many different levels and enables rapid formation of networks and ideas are shared.

Previously with Arab spring, social media proved to be something that can facilitate rebellion and even topple regimes.  The effect of social media specifically the global reaction to Libya would not have been so fast and would have been very much delayed. Two years ago, Iranian pro-democracy activists protested against the re-election of the Iranian President, as the world watched its Twitter feeds. In a country with so few foreign journalists on the ground, and where information was so tightly managed, the Green Revolution was quickly dubbed, “The Twitter Revolution.” It was not until recently the online media outlets were used so vicariously. In reference to the Boko Haram, the tweets allowed citizens to express emotions through informal means of communication. Whether it is similar to Arab spring where the social media was used mainly to report the events taking place or Boko Haram where citizens were given the opportunity to express their emotions in times of stress, the media has helped significantly. Though, times such as the Kony movement which was one of the biggest social movements experiment, the movement was criticized for oversimplifying the events in the region and providing misleading information. Despite the problems with the movement, it still allowed the world to become more aware of the issues and brought this to many people’s attention.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Can social media help contribute to building a new government?
  2. The people who use social media have deep social divisions and with the constant changing of social media access, could this ever produce a significant social divide between the worlds

J. Flood 110271250

Week 4: Neoliberalism Revisited

This weeks articles were on the relationship between consumerism, capitalism, and entrepreneurship and how neo-liberalism interconnects with each topic. Each article brings a different element of each topic. The article by Rebekah Lee talks about funerals in South Africa. African funerals are large scale, often expensive and are shared throughout the community. The idea is to be able to give your loved ones an expensive funeral. This symbolizes the love that you had for them. Lee is interested in migration and the impact that it has on both the dead and alive. Entrepreneurs in South Africa specially bring value from when they were young with them into the urbanized areas. Lee does a good job at using a case study to analyze the affect and impact that funerals have in South Africa. Though, she does not seem to have a direct argument or opinion on whether the funeral ceremonies were something that is positive to have in South Africa. The article was great at giving explanations but I felt it lacked a clear message.

The article on Cape Town, and the Gugulethu shopping centre was very intriguing. The author did a good job at incorporating the the history of Cape town post-apartheid and explaining how the new Neo-liberalism take on the township fit together. Similar to the readings of last week on Oxford Street, Gugulethu Square is a urbanized area dead smack in the middle of a township surrounded by match box houses, poverty, crime and death. This article took a different approach than Oxford Street: Accra, where implementing westernized shopping malls and attracting tourism was not a good thing.
The mall is said to be there to represent the struggle. Though not everything in this township is about inequalities and suffrage and that is apparent through the new ideas and practices. Though, the author seems to think that, “selling African revolution to white people with whiteness shows the multidimensional plasticity of neoliberalismization process.” I seem to agree with the author in a sense that through neo-liberalism, we are attempting to sell as Westernized view. Especially because all of the outside investments made towards the shopping square are from white powerful investment companies. Though a question that was thought of a lot throughout these three readings were,is this truly that bad? Yes, the two Jewish brothers are bringing an almost racist practice to South Africa, but could the global capital be benefiting? As mentioned in the article, The Gugulethu mall raised concerns for locals because it was supposed to provide many jobs as well as house local stores and local sellers inside the mall but instead has brought in outside vendors.
I think that bringing entrepreneurship and capitalism into South Africa, in the right context could potentially be a good thing. Starting a funeral business has brought a lot of rich to South Africa, and the mall has provided a booming urbanized area. Does consumerism, specifically in Africa countries have to always be considered a negative? Do typical imposed “Western” ideologies have to always be a negative impact?
J. Flood

Week 3 Post: Urbanism: The Global City

The book Oxford Street: City Life and the itineraries of Transnationalism provide a very insightful look into the history and dynamics of Ghana, specifically “Oxford Street” which is one of Accra’s busiest streets. It is filled with shopping, people and urban development and has become known as one of the most globalized streets. Perspectives on this issue include insights from a philosophy, social theory and an economic background. Ato Quayson is one of Africa’s most prominent literary and cultural critics which were refreshing to be reading his work. Articles from last week especially along with many provided in Global Studies are written by Euro-Western scholars/anthropologists performing ethnographic research in Countries such as Ghana. I found that I was able to read these chapters much more impartially compared to other pieces on Ghana. He outlines a hopeful future of the urbanization of Western Africa.

A term used quite often within this book is African Urbanism. In the introduction Quayson wrote about the street in a geographical sense but also about spatial characteristics of Oxford Street specifically. An example he used was describing different meanings that viewing a sidewalk can bring. When discusses the implications of the sidewalk, he writes, “the first a signal of urban planning crisis and the second a signifier of local entrepreneurial drive.” The vibrant globalization of Accra has done well for the country but when uncovering the true implications which this has brought, is it similar to a revolution? He also discusses the importance and rise of fitness training as well as dancing. The cultural meaning behind dancing can differ greatly between races, culture, countries etc. but I think what Quayson is attempting to is allowing the reader to mend the gap between the West and Accra specifically. The higher class locals of Accra are the ones who are enjoying this type of experience which is easily relatable to places such as New York or Toronto. Though I understand that he is attempting to observe similarities but in hindsight everything is much different.

Reading his approaches on space and culture within Globalization were very interesting to me. His ethnographic method of approaching these issues of documenting and interacting with locals and stripping down the layers of African Urbanism was unique to readings that I have been exposed to in the past. It seemed to be a genuine firsthand experience and despite the certain times that it was obvious the book was made a for an educated Western reason, he did a good job at remaining impartial to Accra.

Discussion: Last week we talked about the involvement of Anthropologists, if this was a Western anthropologist author, would the book have the same impact? Or would it be seen as a tourist experience? Are his comparisons of dancing and fitness training in Chapter 4 essential to the central message of this book or just another way to “mend the gap”?

J Flood

Week 2 Post

The readings this week draw an almost linear connection between the epidemics of aids to the epidemic of Ebola and the social movements involved in both. All three articles examine and unravel the underlying issues of why diseases such as these become such an epidemic. A common theme throughout is the role of an Anthropologist and the idea that just the death rate, or the rapid spread of a disease should not be the only concerning attribute. At many times the approach the world takes to the help mend this crisis is culturally insensitive and all three articles do a good job at helping the reader understand why. Burchardt especially emphasizes that effect social literature has and is continuing to be very heavily rooted in Western media, experience and academia. Many times the social movements and religion within Africa are completely ignored because the country lacks the legitimacy due to being a third world country.

The article ‘Ten things that Anthropologists’ can do to fight the West Africa Ebola Epidemic I found to be particularly interesting because of what the author is trying to articulate. After reading all the ways Anthropologists are able to address epidemics such as Ebola it seemed to be providing a solution to mend the gap between the local and global. I think this article does both of what it was intended to – empower anthropologists to continue their involvement in the Ebola epidemic especially and alerting organizations such as WHO that they bring great knowledge and ethnographic experience to the table. Especially when explaining the instead of “blaming the system” anthropologists are able to make sense of the local through ethnographic research. At times during both aids and the Ebola outbreak they were the only actors physically involved in talking to the local and understanding their social movements. In the article ‘The Politics and Anti-Politics of Social Movements: Religion and HIV/AIDS in Africa’ the author expresses that because of the local understanding of the religion and power structures of Africa, their own movements are lost in translation. On the other hand, it makes sense that even though the religion and a local level is important can Anthropologists really make a distract difference. The conversation between the WHO representatives may almost be warranted. Everyone always seems to have a better way to fix something and the two articles explaining the ways Anthropologists can fix things seems a bit pretentious. Africa already relies heavily on foreign aid and since the Ebola breakout the aid and support system has increased I can’t seem to believe that the interstation of Anthropologists is going to make a drastic change.

When it comes to the idea of religion within Africa and the movements such as Neo-Pentecostal and how these things have had such a positive effect on the Aids outbreak I wonder if there is any type of way Anthropologists could coincide with the local social movements? Also if Anthropologists have such great experience and knowledge with outbreaks such as these, why are there not more active organizations?