Week 10

Mary Crawford

On August 16th 2012, a horrendous inhumane crime was committed, reminding the world of just how much cruelty there still is in this world. Many are quick to say “well that was a long time ago” when reflecting on the atrocities of the world, and yet only 3 years ago, innocent people were murdered in front of the international community. Despite South Africa being under a watchful eye since the apartheid, it seems as if there is little concern being taken or interventions being done. In the book, Marikana: Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre, it is made clear that when those men were killed in the mines, their families’ chance of survival was also now dead.  Strikes in North America are seen as annoying and an inconvenience that is solved quickly in order to improve the work or pay of a group of people or union. Take York University as an example, professors and students have joined in unity to support the teaching assistants in their fight for improved support and pay. This was not the case in South Africa when a group a miners went on strike for higher pay. Police forces stepped in a killed 44 people and injuring 78 more, even though reports say that the workers ran and surrendered. This unnecessary use of force seriously invades the respects for one’s human rights which technically should call for an United Nations inquiry, holding the police responsible for their actions.

Unfortunately, media took hold of the story and changed it to meet the needs of the country. The events turned into a success in which the police were able to control a large angry mob that had become “out of hand” making it difficult to uncover the truth and punish those who were out of line. The workers have now armed themselves out of fear creating even more tension between them and the police. It seems as though South Africa claims to be past the apartheid stage, there is continuous infringements on human rights and injustices. This book challenges the reader to see that there is still on going cruelties being done all over the world and that little is being done to stop it. It is difficult now to say “well that was a long time ago” when it is happening right now, in their lifetime. Since the book includes personal accounts from various perspectives, the reader is able to formulate their own view on the issue, but many of the stories are difficult to process and can traumatize the reader as if the author was hoping to get a certain response.

Discussion Questions:

– Is there a way to bring this to the International Criminal Court and punish those responsible for the deaths?

– Could the workers have chosen another way to ask for higher pay or was the strike their last straw?


Week 9

Mary Crawford

The colonial powers of the world seem to still be using developing nations and their resources to benefit themselves. The focus of their work in Mozambique is to build and maintain a dam that will provide power to a country so they can continue to develop. The idea is that the country is not controlled by Portugal, but rather an extension of them but an independent state. Unfortunately for Portugal, Europe has a negative reputation as they colonized a majority of the world and abused the resources of what they deemed “weaker” nations. It is difficult to imagine that Portugal is supporting another country with such an expensive project when a majority of their country is poverty stricken and their economy is struggling. Although they claim to be investing in a prosperous country and are helping build infrastructure, there is clearly a hidden motive despite what they might say. It seems difficult to believe their seemingly-innocent efforts when locals from nearby communities have had to make huge sacrifices for this project. Forced to abandon their homes and relocate, there seems to be little involvement with the locals when the project is promoted to help them. This hypocrisy continues when the author describes the gap and racism between the local workers versus the Portuguese workers. This demonstrates the type of work Portugal truly intends to do and just how they see the people of Mozambique. They even go as far as creating a segregated town for the european workers instead of integrating with the other local workers. This only worsens the populations opinion of the West and reflects poorly on humanitarian efforts as “white people” are grouped together. The people of Mozambique are tired of being used and treated poorly, but unfortunately despite activists efforts, much of the world was unaware of what was happening. The displacement of the locals was crudely executed and the people were forced into small communities that impeded on both their lifestyles and religions.  Trapped in unsanitary living conditions and stripped of their agency, the locals were unable to speak out about the problems they were facing. When reading about the suffering of the people of Mozambique, it seemed difficult to believe that this was not that long ago and yet, the international community did nothing to intervene despite human rights being disrespected. it makes the reader question how is it that a country such as Portugal is able to get away with such criminal-like activity and why is it that the locals had so little say or agency to prevent the project from happening. Despite what politicians say about how far we have come, this book proves that there is still a long way to go and the fact that the dam is still in use proves that the international community still struggles with respecting basic human rights.

Week 8

Mary Crawford

There are few countries that have come from being considered a “developing” nation to a completely developed and economically booming country. In India’s Rise in Africa, it becomes clear that despite being a country abused, colonized and poverty-sticken, they have begun “paying it forward” and providing aid to the African continent. However, like most countries, there seems to be a hidden agenda with a lot of the help offered. Unfortunately it seems as if India is trying to catch up to the other wealthily nations on the international platform by abusing the unused resources and cheap labour of Africa rather than working in partnership to build a stable economy in the same way they did for themselves. This article seemed to pull many parallels with the topic from last week, again, a relationship with a newly developed country such as China, using African resources for their benefit. It is interesting that a country who is still dealing with a great deal of inequality and poverty within its own boarders is so quick to make the transition from recipient of aid to giver of aid. It is easy to question their motives but when it comes down to the support they offer, the money goes into the right hands rather than risking it to a corrupt government. Despite this positive spin on India’s investment in Africa, their motives become clear when analyzing the the fight for oil in Sudan between China and India. Luke Patey breaks down this on-going battle in his article, Fragile Fortunes: India’s Oil Venture into War-Torn Sudan. The idea is that India will support the UN soldiers to ensure peace and yet, Sudan remains in shambles and war-torn and India is taking all their oil. India remains in Sudan despite other countries being forced out by the violence. This has caused a rift in the relationship India has with China. Rather than supporting one another as they are both nations finally taking part in the world’s economy, they are fighting over the resources of another country. Both articles force the reader to see both the pros and cons of the situation at hand. India has finally become an actor with agency in the international community but have taken on some of the negative ways of other power houses such as the United States. Despite being a country that was considered part of the “third world”, India has joined the group of countries sucking Africa dry of its resources and taking advantage of its vulnerable state.

Question: Should India step back from the situation in Sudan or is there work preventing further conflict?

Week 6

Mary Crawford

This week’s articles focused in on the relationship between Africa and the United States of America and the fight to end terrorism. In the article by Alice Hills “Trojan Horses? USAID, counter-terrorism and Africa’s police”, presents the issue with the way aid is changing and becoming a method of control rather than a way to help those in need. The author points out that the United States seems to have become very interested in the terrorist activity in Kenya and is using its humanitarian efforts in order to enforce new anti-terror prevention. She points out that USAID’s strategy is flawed and improving Africa’s police will not diffuse any terrorist activity in Kenya. It is disheartening to see a humanitarian organization so controlled and unable to help in ways that is beneficial for the African people rather than improving the United States national security. This demonstrates how the United States perceives the African people and believes that it is just a continent filled with malnourished, diseases filled, poverty stricken population that somehow put them at risk. This patronizing position will not help and leaves one to asking whether this type of aid is even worth it? It seems as if this is just one more way the United States is becoming the world police, gaining more and more control over countries. Continuing to blame everyone else for their problems and pumping fear into their people when they are one of the most powerful forces in the world. (Seriously, who would pick a fight with the US?) Pointing fingers at a country with more than their share of problems seems unfair and in the end will only hurt their foreign support since people will be less willing to give now that they have been identified as “dangerous” or “terrorists”. This article however would have benefited from discussing the issue with neutrality within a humanitarian organization and how aid is supposed to be for everyone with no underlying goals from the donor country. This new strategy by USAID openly breaks that rule and make their support accessible if those in need agree to play by their rules. This runs parallel to the article by Prestholdt and the pressure the United States’ government is placing on Arab Kenyans in their counter terrorism efforts. These articles created an image of a big bully beating up the scrawny little kid in the playground than telling the teacher that the scrawny kid was threatening him and picking on him.

Discussion Question:

– Should the United States be allowed to enforce this new counter-terrorism strategy despite that the fact that it breaks the USAID moral of neutrality?

Week 5

Mary Crawford – 110209140

The podcast assigned for the week introduced the transformation of mass media in Africa and how it has empowered the population to speak out and demand change. Mass Media and Democracy was hosted by Folu Ogundimu on Africa Past and Present to discuss social media creating a platform for the public to express themselves and voice their opinions. This ties in with the article by Chiluwa about Nigeria and its role on the social media network, Twitter. This has backfired as many terrorist groups and extremists have begun using this opportunity to spread hate and recruit others to join them. For example, Boko Haram has a twitter account and regularly posts confusing but aggressive tweets to induce terror onto the public and demonstrate their power. They attach videos posted on youtube to show off their stock pile of weapons and growing numbers of “soldiers”.  This easily can get out of hand as others from around the world can chose to retweet, favourite, hashtag or tweet at them only encouraging the behaviour and extends the reach of their posts.

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Although there are negatives to the fast growing media sources in Africa, there are some positive aspects as well. Ogundimu believes it has provided the African people with a freedom that would otherwise be non-existent without this new created outlet but there is still a great need for stability in order for this to gain some political influence on an international scale. The introduction of digital media gives a voice to those who would otherwise not have one, but not all voices are positive ones.

Through globalization the world has become a much smaller place and mobile technology has made the world accessible. In the article Linking Africa, the author ties the growth of mobile money to the development of Africa and provides agency to the people. Western companies now turn to Africa for inspiration and look to invest in many of the technological projects all over the continent. With this accessibility to the internet comes the growing awareness of the international community which will than lead to the more aid and partnerships with developed nations. Creating a way in which the world can build relationships and connections with others in Africa, could create a more prosperous and stabilized economy for the countries within and improve the already existing investments. Projects such as SimbiHaiti are a good example of design and manufacturing done in one country and marketing and sales done in another works well and can create a prosperous business. SimbiHaiti creates small bracelets and head bands in which the materials are made in Haiti, providing jobs and income to the people and than sold in North America for a profit in which the partner shares with the Haitian-based company. Through websites such as Etsy, Ebay and Amazon, it is easy for mobile money and small business to grow with the large international market. This than stimulates the economy and brings money into Africa.

Discussion Question:

– Should Twitter monitor and control what is posted in order to prevent the spread of terror despite it being an infringement on freedom of speech?

Week 4 Blog Post

Mary Crawford – 110209140

The gap between the wealthy and powerful and the poor and powerless can be measured in the opportunities available to them and the success rate within the two groups. The gap remains unable to shrink due to the out of control capitalism in which they are marketing “to the poor”. Western companies such as Unilever and Avon, are benefiting from the poverty experienced by the people in Africa and continue to reinforce the segregation between the rich and the poor. It seems as if large brand name companies such as Coca-Cola are doing all they can to suck Africa dry of all it is worth and utilizing capitalism in order to offer cheap labour in Africa and therefore cheap prices for the western world.  They pride themselves on stimulating the government through the creation of jobs by moving their manufacturing stations to Africa but in reality only make breaking free of the poverty cycle that much harder. Although the marketing is geared towards the low income population, most of their advertisement consists of white european/westerners rather than a face they would more likely relate too. This could connect with the article about South Africa and the continuing racism and this idea that white means wealthy. It could be possible that the “poor of Africa” will feel compelled to buy these companies products because of the wealthy image it creates. This is parallel to the skin lightener and how over time, more and more of the population has become more inclined with the “white wealth” and appearing as if they are apart of it. This demonstrates how neoliberalism plays a role in the development of Africa. Furthermore, in the article by Dolan, “Capital’s New Frontier: From ‘Unusable’ Economies to Bottom-of-the-Pyramid Markets in Africa” presents a similar problem Canada is facing right now. The Conservative government has attempted to stimulate the economy and create jobs through the “trickle-down” theory that by giving financial support to the wealthy elite, it will eventually make its way down to the lower class. More often than not, the support never ends up getting all the way down to those who need it and job creation is normally not on a large scale. Considering our government cannot even figure out how to provide jobs to those who need it and maintaining a stable economy within our own country, we are in no position to begin suggesting anything to anyone else. When the recession hit, the American and Canadian governments assisted many car manufacturers and other large companies out of bankruptcy but thousands were still being laid off. The trickle-down theory has proven not to work well, so why should we expect the Botton-of-the-Pyramid method to work any better?

Discussion Questions:

– How does colonialism play a role in the way capitalism is abusing the poor?

– What alternatives are there to the Botton-of-the-Pyramid method?

– Should there be limits or regulations for large companies about manufacturing in poverty-stricken countries?

Blog Post – Week 3

Mary Crawford – 110209140

This week we were assigned to read an article on Accra, a bustling city in Ghana that has had an urban explosion despite being in a post-colonial area. Although this has become a hip place for international travellers to visit, very few are aware of the underlying problems in the city. This truly reminded me of the Dominican Republic and its ever growing resort town, Punta Cana. It has become one of the most visited vacation destinations in the western hemisphere and yet is also one of the poorest countries, struck with corrupt government. Despite its beautiful white beaches and exotic animals, it is a city ready to crumble. Surrounded with batayes (dominican slums) and Haitians desperately trying to find work across the boarder, the resorts have created an illusion of luxury to all those who come to visit. The similarity between these two cities continue even with the segregation of the people. In attempt to blur the lines and shrink the gap between the wealthy and the poor, salsa classes and gyms have opened their doors to the public. Unfortunately, dancing is normally associated with the upper class and “gym rats” are normally the middle to lower class. In the Dominican Republic, Haitians are considered the scum of the earth (not my words) and often treated poorly by the Dominicans. In attempt to welcome Haitians, they created small communities working on the sugar plantations. In the end, this has only created them to be more isolated and working long back breaking hours in the field. There is little a government can try in order to eradicate the gap or merge two groups of people, this has to come from the population. Over time, cultures will blend and hopefully opinions will change. This can only be done by the people, not through dance classes and jobs.

I believe the author, Quayson, wants the reader to view Accra as a booming and lively city such as New York or Paris but unfortunately has to realize even in these large popular cities, there are huge gaps between the people. The more important issue is dealing with the real problems rather than attempting to cover them up. By presenting an honest telling of the situation, large companies may be more likely to invest in the city knowing that they can provide employment and have plenty of room to grow. Globalization is a wonderful thing but if it is not done properly or put through by a corrupt government, it does not always turn out for the better.

Week 2 Blog Post

Mary Crawford – 110209140

The material covered in the second week of class only triggered one response from me: frustration. The article “Ten things that Anthropologists can do to fight Ebola in the West” caused a mix of feelings as I could understand their point of view but wrestled with whether not it was necessary. It seemed futile to send anthropologists from euro-centric countries to gawk at the sick in order to provide reports when the true reality is that MDs are needed not PhDs. There does need to be a middle ground between the local communities and the international community but why can’t the anthropologist employed for this project be FROM AFRICA? Locals who know the customs and cultures not because they have studied it but because they have lived it. Locals are a lot less likely to trust foreigners than someone who grew up in the next town over who speak their language, rather than someone speaking through a translator. There are circumstances in which there is a need for someone to help with communication and understanding such as in Haiti when the purification tablets were not used due to fear. In this situation, elders and community leaders were educated by the doctors and were than sent to pass on this information to the people, therefore proving there is no need for outsiders to attempt to intervene. Anthropologists back home have also played a role in educating the Canadian population. Advertisements have popped up on my own Facebook account and twitter. This is clearly an attempt to convince the public that they are not at risk since most of the posts have been statistics about cases in North America, how many have been cured, chances are of catching it, etc. Although this calm, assertive voice is not the case in the United States (have you seen Fox News lately?!). This call to arms from the author should not be for the armchair professors of anthropology in North America but rather an encouragement to organizations working in the field to hire locals to improve communication and build trust.

Furthermore, the third article covers religion and HIV/AIDS but lacked any historical context or background information on the topic. There could have been much more discussion on the stigmatization about AIDS and how that in itself has caused for the spread of mental health issues and a rise in depression. Still to this day, questionnaires must be filled out prior to donating blood and your sexual orientation and whether or not you have had sexual intercourse with and “African gay man” determines whether or not you can give. Why is it that secular organizations still stigmatize against homosexuals? If anthropologists want to help, they can start within their own communities and improve how people are educated on the disease. Overall the article seemed to be an over-generalization of the problem and pushed a western methodology rather than one that would work within African cultures.