Week 10

The reading for this week on South Africas mining massacre is an eye opening reading. Here in Canada, we never think these things will happen; we could never imagine cops and locals killing those who work in a mine because they are on a strike. However, this is the sad reality for many families who were involved in the South African mining massacre. When the researchers from the University were speaking with the woman whose husband was killed in the massacre, she explained that her husband was the one who was providing for the family, and without him her children barely had breakfast, while the polices children ate much better food (pg, 20). Since the police played a large part in the massacre and got paid more (and also didnt die so they could continue to support their families), the polices children were better off than the woman whose husband had died in the massacre. She was worried about what her childrens future would be like, and if they would have less opportunities now that they had much less of an income. This is the sad reality that these people needed to face during the massacre. The basis for the grounds of the strike were very simple: the people wanted better pay for the long and hard hours of  work they were doing. The workers stated that they got paid so little, and often did get lunch breaks at work, were treated poorly for superiors, and had to work on weekends, as this was mandatory. When the workers went the head office in order to talk to the management about getting more money, the guards at the building open fired on them, badly injuring a few people. I think this shows how many corporations, even in North America but especially in this case, do not care about the well being of their workers. They see their workers as low life people who do not deserve respect or dignity and who will work for nearly no money without complaining. However this was not the case in South Africa, and many people lost their lives due to thinking the company would think rationally and would give the workers a raise. The actual massacre killed many workers, and left so many African families without any income to help raise and feed their children. When reading this book, I was shocked by what I read.  I did not still think issues like this were happening in the world, and I did not think that companies in 2012 would deny workers a fair wage. I think it is important for more people here to be aware of what happened on August 16 2012, as we often put these action past companies, but should we? When reading these chapters, I found that people here need to be more educated of these issues happening still today around the world, as this is something I would think many people would expect to happen in the 1920s, but not today. How can we make people more aware of this issue? If I had not read this book, I would even be unaware of this issue? How can people in North America become more aware of this issue today when such few people know about it? What would happen if everyone knew about this issue? Would situations like these continue to happen?

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Week 9

In this weeks readings on Dams and Displacement, after reading these chapters, I found my biggest issue was with the social implications that the dam caused local Africans in the community. In the very beginning of chapter three, the authors state 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’ (pg, 57). With this begin the first page of the third chapter, I began to think about how, throughout the novel, I would see much more displacement of local Africans, probably with no where else to go. No only this, but later on in the book the authors talk about how African chibalo workers were forced to provide labour for the creation of the dam in the form of constructing the roads to the work site. The authors talk about how the chibalo workers worked hard, but they would sometimes get hurt, lose a leg or an eye, and the local police would just keep beating them to do a better job. This illustrates how when we think of dams here, we think of large corporations setting up dams and preparing construction for them, however this is not the case most of the time. Often there is worker abuse that we would never be able to see unless we read it in the book such as this one or saw it on TV. However, even after we read these books or possibly see the harm these dams are doing to the locals on the news, why do we still not do anything about it? Why do we feel that since we are so far away from what is happening that we are not responsible for improving the situation? One of the few positives in this situation that the text highlights is that the local people received remittances for their taken land. “Each family would receive five hectares of grazing land and one hectare of cleared and graded land that they would cultivate immediately’ (pg, 98). Although this was stated that the locals would get a good plot of land, I find it very difficult to believe that the locals received such a good deal out of their displacement form the dam. Often governments and companies advertise the land as good, however down the line locals come to realize that the land was not as good as they were promised, which I am sure was the case here. Not only have the citizens of Mozambique most likely not received good land, but the energy the dam is generated is not being used for the Mozambique people. The energy is being exported to South Africa, as this means that the local people can no longer use the water from the river, live on the river, nor do they reap any benefits from the dam displacing them. ‘Additionally, peasants and the urban poor had no access to either the electricity the dam produced or the revenues it generated because, until 2007, the dam remained in Portuguese hands’ (pg, 150). I find this fact appalling, however this is often the case when dams are built in local areas with a very rural population and weak government. After reading about all the tragedy that his befallen the local people in Mozambique during the creation of the dam, I ask why do companies feel the need to displace and even kill locals for the creation of a dam? Why do companies force workers to help in the creation of a dam they dont even want? Whose fault is this? How can we try to change this in the future?

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Week 8

The article by Taylor looks at India’s rise in Africa, and its predicted dominance over future years. In the beginning of the article, the author states that in the future New Delhi wants to gain a seat on the UN Security Council. This was the first fact Taylor stated that surprised me. With only 5 permanent members on the Security Council and only 10 more which are non-permanent, the fact that New Delhi wants to emerge to be a member was surprising to me. The author continues to state that India’s economy is the fastest growing today in the world, and in the future it will surpass the US as the worlds second largest economy, behind China (p. 780). Before reading this article I knew that India was an upcoming economy, however I did not know that it was soon projected to be the second largest in the world. The facts the author provides in the beginning about India is informative and also good to bring because it illustrates to the reader how important India’s economy will be in the future. Later in the article Taylor looks at Indian aid in Africa. I find this important to look at when he is trying to prove the point that India is an emerging economic superpower. The process India has taken from receiving donations from other countries to being the donor country is important to analyze in this context because it shows the transition India has been through in the past few decades. When reading this article, I wondered to what means India had to go through to make this transition? The article focuses on how India is now a more developed economy, however it fails to look at how this change was made and when. The article by Patey looks at India coming into a war torn Sudan in order to gain profit from their native oil. This article stated that it was due to the exit of western oil companies in the early 2000s which opened the doors for India to come into Sudan. However, I feel like this would not be the case, for even if the west was still extracting oil from Sudan, I think that India would still have come in and also used Sudan’s oil. I think this is an important and overlooked point in the article because dominant and rich countries, such as the west and soon to be India, feel that they can exploit any country for their profit. I think this is something that deserves more attention in the article, for the author only provides facts about India coming into Sudan for oil, but it does not address how Sudan is being continuously exploited for their resources. When viewing this article, I wondered why this was the case and why often times authors choose to not focus on why the issues are happening but instead they simply focus on what is happening? I think for the future the why question will become more important as resources deplete and incoming countries taking from other, poorer, countries, are questioned.

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Week 7

The readings for this week regard Africa and China and emerging powers in both these countries. The readings are interesting as they all interrelate, and I found all of them in some way focused on aid which China has granted Africa. The first reading, by Alden and Alves, looks at China’s relationship with Africa, as in one section of the text it states that China is often still seen as a ‘third world’ country, however China views Africa as the ‘largest developing country with the continent with the largest number of developing countries’ (page 45). I found this quote to be somewhat demeaning to Africa, as China is giving aid to Africa and trying to help them, however they also seem to be putting them down as well because China does not want to seem like the least developed country. When reading this article, I thought: is this the reason as to why China provides Africa with aid? To make themselves not look like the least developed country? The next article by Bodomo and Ma looked at the Yiwu commodity market, and how this market was helping China’s economy boom and also bringing African citizens to China. The one interview that I found interesting was the interview with Wufei, a Ghanian who came to China in 2007 to learn the language. He knew if he learnt the language well, he could profit from a business in China and could even export it back to Ghana. He marketed his language skills and offered translation skills for fellow Africans in China, and made a good business out of this. He also ships different items back home to Ghana, and makes a large profit from his business in China now. I find this story of interest because it illustrates how even with Chinas financial help to Africa, it is still more rewarding to move to China and give up a life in Africa in order to have a thriving business in China. I think in this case, China should stop financially helping Africa and should model an economy similar to China’s in Africa, as I think this would be of more help in the long run to Africa than throwing money at them will do. This article also however talks about China’s hosting of the 2008 Olympics, and how since then Africans have been complaining of difficulties in securing a Chinese visa. I think this is another issue China needs to resolve, as this would greatly help out African citizens, maybe even more than giving the African governments aid. This would be beneficial because it directly helps the citizens of Africa, instead of giving the government money and hoping they use it for the right purpose, as we can see from the past, the African government does not always use aid for the right purposes. In the third article by Zeleza, the author again looks at the development of economic relations and discourses between China and Africa. Here, he analyzes the connotation that China provides foreign aid or assistance to Africa, but that this aid is often considered charity. He then states that ‘Chinese economic cooperation practices reflect China’s own development experience and realities as a developing country’ (page 150-1). I think is an accurate point to bring up because each country that develops will certainly develop differently, and Africa may not develop the way that China developed. This is an important point to bring up, as it is often not brought up because once one country has developed it is assumed others will go through similar processes in order to reach development. However this is often not the case, and if China continues to provide assistance and aid to Africa in order to help them develop, it is important that China recognizes this difference and focuses on Africa’s development goals, not their own.

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Week 6 discussion

The articles for this week focused on the United States and Africa together and how aid and anti-terror has been present in both the US and Africa. The article by Alice Hills argues that USAID (US Agency for International Development) tries to improve terrorist protection in Africa, however the idea that Africa is modelling its security objectives after that of the US’s is a flawed idea of what security should look like and this model needs to be changed. Hills’ article demonstrates how the Bush administration looks down on Africa as only a poverty stricken continent” ‘disease, war and poverty in Africa threaten US core values and the Bush administrations’ strategic priority of ‘combating global terrorism’ (Hills, 631). This quote later goes on to explain that Africa is such a weakened state that it needs the help of the US and ‘European allies’ in order to ‘strengthen Africa’s fragile states’, and that strengthening African laws will deny terrorists a haven. First, the idea of Africa having a more US-like security system would more likely promote terrorists to target Africa than back away from it, as many terrorists will see a security system similar to the US’s a threat. Secondly, the US should not be giving Africa a security system that is the same as theirs, they should focus on implementing a security system in which would be fully African based and geared towards the need of the continent instead of simply implementing another countries security system there. The Keenan article focused on alternative truths of The Saharan War on Terror and the ‘official’ truth versus the ‘alternative’ truth. A case in the article looked at The Saharan War on Terror and how 32 German tourists in Algeria were kidnapped or reported ‘missing’. The article shows how there is a constructed official and alternative truth which can be constructed by those who view or are outside the situation. This article was useful in that sense, as it illustrated how different stories are produced over the same conflict for various reasons. I found this interesting because in global issues there will always be the side dominated by the western forces and then usually an opposing story which is dominated by the opposite side. The article by Prestholdt looked at Kenya and its relationship with the United States and counterterrorism. The article looked at how Kenya responded to American pressure to intensify counter-terrorism acts (Prestholdt). The article states that since attacks in 2002, the Us has presumed terrorism in Kenya to be a ‘home-grown’ problem. This however, is not the case and this was a point in the article which I largely contested. The fact that the US, one of the worlds most weapons possessing countries, tries to put the blame on Kenya for terrorism coming from within their country outward was appealing to me. This point was important to me in the article because the other articles also focus on how the US often puts blame for wars and conflict onto other countries, and this article specifically does the same. I found this context interesting as all articles were written from this viewpoint and had similar views and arguments, where an article with an opposing view from a non dominant western perspective also would have been interesting.

week 5

week 5 discussion

This week we looked at the role of media in Africa through the article and the podcast. The podcast was interesting shed light on the situation with the role the media plays in the democratization of Africa. In the podcast, the speaker stated that media has played an important role in both the revival of the African sector as well as in the democratization of most African countries. He stated that since 1991, there has been a large transformation in the media sector in Africa which has helped many African countries get out of authoritarian control and become a democracy. I think this is important to understand because often time we do not realize how big of a role the media can play in gaining freedom for a country or region. We also see this as an example in the article by Chiluwa and Adegoke. This article reflects on conflict in Nigeria and how the social media site Twitter was used to fuel a conflict and reject Nigerian government along with rejecting western education systems. In this article Twitter was a major factor for sources of conflict, as Tweets came from sides of the conflict. One of the tweets seen in the article stated ‘new colonizers are already destroying and ripping our countries apart, as the authorities look idly… never attempting to confront and destroy this evil cancer called Islam’ (pg 91). This quote shows how extreme Tweets from both sides of the spectrum are posted on Twitter in order for government officials to view, which then helps fuel the conflict. This article is a case study which shows the extremity in which as conflict can be, and how social media can fuel the conflict so much more. From viewing both the podcast and the article for this week, it is evident to see how social media and media and the press can either help build a country and rise it out of democracy, as seen in the podcast, or how it can create even more conflict in a country, as is seen from the use of Twitter in Chiluwa’s article. In this podcast, the speaker also mentioned that the rise of the freedom of press in Africa is attributed to and led by indigenous African capital ownership and not foreign ownership. I though that this showed huge developments on Africa’s part, as this is a big advancement and it is excellent that Africa is leading this advancement themselves and not letting it be led by the west or their colonizers.

Nicole V

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Week 4 discussion post

The articles for this week revolved around neoliberalism and the global city, with articles looking from the funeral business to urban planning of cities. The article by Dolan and Roll looked at businesses in Africa which were implemented throughout the continent, where a company could sell products to ‘poor’ consumers through the BoP model. I found this article interesting because it analyzed many western companies such as Avon, Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, ect, and focused on how these companies are beginning to implement the idea of capitalism into the African culture. From this article, there are both good and bad aspects to this. Obviously the creation of jobs and as the author quotes ‘making markets for the poor’ (pg 126), is a positive, however the inclusive business idea and ‘making capitalism’, is a negative aspect of the this bottom of the pyramid economy. I found I could closely relate this article to Thomas’s article on Skin Lighteners, as this article also focused on using Africa as a target market for consumerism. Thomas’ article looked at the skin lightening industry in Africa, and viewed the progression of skin lighteners were first big in Europe, then as pale skin became to be seen as a sign of working indoors in a factory, having tanned skin was more popular for Europeans, and this was the time when skin lighteners became popular for Africans. As the author quotes ‘among black South Africans, skin-lightener sales did not peak until the 1970s’ (pg 264). I found this concept interesting because it appears to be what is rejected in the European market is then brought over to the African market as an afterthought because it was originally rejected in Europe. These two articles for me seemed similar because they both analyzed the market and economy in Africa and how since profits could not be made elsewhere or were already stable elsewhere, Africa was an after thought as to sell more products. The article by Lee looking at death and the business of death in Africa as well as Teppo and Houssay-Holzschuch’s article on spatial and neoliberal construction of townships brought together this weeks concept of consumerism and the global city for me through the urban planning of South Africa and the funeral business of South Africa. Although these concepts may be fairly new in South Africa, these concepts have been used for decades in other countries or continents, with a validity in their practices. The idea of a funeral ‘as a business’ was interesting to me because the author stated that funerals are ‘a good form of entertainment as anything’ (pg 227). This was an interesting idea to me because funerals are clearly a time of mourning, however in South Africa, clearly they provide a sort of entertainment for the citizens who attend the funeral. These concepts intrigued me, as often funerals are not thought of in this way. This article made me question that if funerals were a form of social gathering, what other forms of social gathering take place in South Africa which make a funeral seem like a somewhat joyous time to be social and reunite with friends and family? The article by Dolan and Roll also made me question western companies coming into Africa, as an obvious profit can be made for companies in Africa, so why is it that Africa is seen as a ‘last resort’ for companies to make profits on?

Week 3 blog post

This week when reading chapters 3 and 4 of Oxford Street Accra, I found various points the authors brought up interesting. First, the title interested me, as the only Oxford Street I know is the one in London. This title makes the reader relate both the Oxford streets together, making one think that perhaps the Oxford street in Ghana is meant in some way to possibly be modelled after the prestigious one in London? When we get into the chapters, a large portion of chapter 3 is dedicated to cell phones and their advertising on Oxford Street, Accra. Quayson gives the reader much knowledge about the increasing use in cell phones in the country, stating facts such as ‘with an overall subscriber base of 24,884,195, it is considered one of the fastest growing cell phone markets in Africa’ (pg 146). I think the aspect of cell phones in this chapter really brings out the point that the author is trying to make of how Ghana is becoming more globalized through their use of more developed technologies. I think it is important that the author includes this aspect and uses cell phones to represent the development of the country. I find it interesting however how Quayson focuses only on Oxford Street, Accra, and not on any other developing streets in Ghana or any other country to contrast the development happening on Oxford Street. My question for this chapter then is why do you think that the author only analyzes the one street in the one country to show the development of the country of Ghana, instead of contrasting the street to possibly another street in Africa or the world, possibly Oxford Street in London? Wouldnt a contrast illustrate the development of Oxford Street in Accra more?

The 4th chapter of the book analyzes salsa dancing on Oxford Street in Accra. I found this analysis interesting in various ways as well and again took the meaning for writing about salsa to show a modernization or development of the culture, as if showing to readers that their culture in Ghana is also globalized. I found the point Quayson brings up during his interviews with those who have grown to love salsa dancing interesting. He states that before these people did salsa dancing they partook in regular leisure activities, but after doing salsa dancing, they lived and preached salsa, often trying to get their friends to join and taking on the role of salsa ‘evangelists’ (pg 169). I found this point interesting because from my perspective, since salsa dancing is clearly not from the Ghanian culture, these people embrace the dance more, as a means to show that their culture too is hybridized and globalized. when viewing both these chapters, I find it interesting that the author chooses to look at various aspects, here focusing on salsa dancing and cell phones, which are clearly not from Africa, and he finds a way to show how they have been integrated into the culture. To me, it seems as if the author is trying to prove a point. Why does the author in these chapters choose to focus on aspects of the culture which are not originally African, is he using this to make a point or to make Ghana seem a bit more developed than it is?

Week 2 blog post

The readings and visual material for this week pertained largely to the virus Ebola and current issues surrounding the disease. In the article Notes from Case Zero, links the virus to anthropology. In comparison with this article to the next article, Ten things that Anthropologists can do to fight Ebola in the West, I found the first article to sufficiently lack an anthropological view, as I found it took on a more medical and also cultural view of the virus. This article tended to look more at where the virus originated from and the views of the WHO rather than bringing a purely anthropological view of the virus into discussion. One point that I did find interesting in this article was the quote where the author states that the prevailing rumour of Ebola is that the virus is ‘not real’, as it is the idea that communities have been living with the animals that originated the virus for centuries with no consequence (pg 2 &3). I found this to be an excellent point to bring up it is addresses the mentality that may be prevalent in a more developed nation where these issues do not occur. Bringing up this point addresses concerns that a foreign reader may have. However it may also seek to tell the reader discreetly that these African countries are not as ‘simple’ as one may think, and although they may be more conjoined with nature than our culture, the issue of Ebola is one that still needs much attention. The next article, ‘Ten things that Anthropologists can do to fight the West Africa Ebola Epidemic’ I found to be more based on anthropology, and to bring up some valid questions of concern. One point of issue I had while reading this article as I am sure many others also did was the phone call illustrated in the beginning of the article where the author offers her services to Doctors Without Borders. They kindly reject the medical services which are clearly needed, and tell the author that if they wish to help Doctors Without Borders, they will have to go through a 12 month application and waiting process, and even then may not get placed into a country they wish. This call illustrates the gap between organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, and anthropology, as in doing fieldwork many anthropologists would have learned skills that could be useful to help fight the virus. In this article as well, the author addresses different actions anthropologists can take to help fight Ebola. Some of the points the author brings up are valid, although some of them can be seen as degraded towards African people. Some of the points, such as teaching how to count bodies, may seem degrading to an African, as if we are imposing on their society and saying that ‘you cant do this properly, here, let us do it for you.’ This is not the mentality that should ever used when regarding another society, as each society and culture has a different, but equally effective way of going about things. As for the video, I found this video very basic and straightforward, but also very informative in regards to what is happening at the front lines of the virus in Africa. The video gave a good look at how quickly the disease can spread, and even how the virus can survive in a dead body, so why precautions must be used.

Nicole Vilaca

Blog post week 2

The readings and visual material for this week pertained largely to the virus Ebola and current issues surrounding the disease. In the article Notes from Case Zero, links the virus to anthropology. In comparison with this article to the next article, Ten things that Anthropologists can do to fight Ebola in the West, I found the first article to sufficiently lack an anthropological view, as I found it took on a more medical and also cultural view of the virus. This article tended to look more at where the virus originated from and the views of the WHO rather than bringing a purely anthropological view of the virus into discussion. One point that I did find interesting in this article was the quote where the author states that the prevailing rumour of Ebola is that the virus is ‘not real’, as it is the idea that communities have been living with the animals that originated the virus for centuries with no consequence (pg 2 &3). I found this to be an excellent point to bring up it is addresses the mentality that may be prevalent in a more developed nation where these issues do not occur. Bringing up this point addresses concerns that a foreign reader may have. However it may also seek to tell the reader discreetly that these African countries are not as ‘simple’ as one may think, and although they may be more conjoined with nature than our culture, the issue of Ebola is one that still needs much attention. The next article, ‘Ten things that Anthropologists can do to fight the West Africa Ebola Epidemic’ I found to be more based on anthropology, and to bring up some valid questions of concern. One point of issue I had while reading this article as I am sure many others also did was the phone call illustrated in the beginning of the article where the author offers her services to Doctors Without Borders. They kindly reject the medical services which are clearly needed, and tell the author that if they wish to help Doctors Without Borders, they will have to go through a 12 month application and waiting process, and even then may not get placed into a country they wish. This call illustrates the gap between organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, and anthropology, as in doing fieldwork many anthropologists would have learned skills that could be useful to help fight the virus. In this article as well, the author addresses different actions anthropologists can take to help fight Ebola. Some of the points the author brings up are valid, although some of them can be seen as degraded towards African people. Some of the points, such as teaching how to count bodies, may seem degrading to an African, as if we are imposing on their society and saying that ‘you cant do this properly, here, let us do it for you.’ This is not the mentality that should ever used when regarding another society, as each society and culture has a different, but equally effective way of going about things. As for the video, I found this video very basic and straightforward, but also very informative in regards to what is happening at the front lines of the virus in Africa. The video gave a good look at how quickly the disease can spread, and even how the virus can survive in a dead body, so why precautions must be used.