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Lecture 3

ANTB20H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: The Beach Boys, Informal Sector, Social Relation

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Girish Daswani

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ANTB20 Culture, Politics, Globalization
Lecture 3 The Politics of Livelihood and the Culture of Politics
January 21, 2013
Appadurai and Said are the most important readings for the 1st and 2nd week.
WB and IMF have the means and power to direct the way capital flows, whose money comes in, and
whose money is able to make a profit.
What is the difference between image, imaginary, and imagined?
o Image- the picture, portrait, or reflection that is disseminated and distributed by media
o Imaginary- idea that there is an imagined global economy that is a part of shared community
of ideas and pictures. Some idea we consciously believe that we are a part of a global world,
people we have never encountered are a part of this world that we share.
o Imagined- a phrase that means the power of the collective, the power of the collective in
sharing or in imagining something that is real but as the same time outside of them. It is
about how individuals have the ability to consciously create the world in which they live in
by coming together.
Examples of places students have been that includes an all-inclusive beach resort- Bahamas, Jamaica,
Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Thailand, and Kenya. Part of the developing world and focus on tourism
attracts a certain kind of customer, most of these people you encounter, come from different parts of
the developed world, whether western or eastern, people with a certain amount of flexible income,
able to purchase a holiday at a beach resort.
Beach Resorts
o water sports, comfortable, excess of food, isolated (space), artificial, beach boys
(prostitutes), safer, exploitation, natives, cultural segregation, economic divisions (currency
in Cuba, one is for tourists, whereas the locals have their own currency.
o Professor’s experience was all the people who were serving and working behind the counter
were very good looking and very fair looking, none looked native or very dark. One of the
workers was from Argentina, and another was from another Spanish speaking country, they
travelled to work in Mexico. Not encouraged to leave the resort. Those who are cleaning
were basically Mayan. There was a different look to the people doing the work behind the
scenes and one never truly communicates with them.
The Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo is the major municipality that includes two cities where author worked.
Largely dependent on crops such as sugar, tobacco, as well as global markets such as sugar exports.
Tourist resorts
What do these pictures promise?
What do these same pictures hide?
o Hide exploitation involved, how space is fixed in a certain way that only some people can get
in and not everyone can get out, how space is political (politics to that space going back to
who is qualified to work there), there is hierarchy within that space (certain kinds of jobs for
certain people). Do not see the whole spectrum of the people of the country, or the country
for that matter. There was displacement of locals of the land, to produce resorts. Beach land
can become private, so it was once public land and those who had access to the beach, no
longer do.
What is behind the surface?
Is an illegal tour guide who works outside of the resort.
‘Tourism is not helping the country. The rich people want to keep it all for themselves’
Looks at the advertisements- Burger King, Nokia- and says, ‘You see all this shit?... It does nothing for
the country. It’s only a mirror on the other side. And the devil on the other side’ (p. 3)
The devil shows you what you want to do, what you don’t see is the other side, the exploitive side.
The devil behind the mirror how Alberto phrases it, is up to the reader to interpret, how Gregory
refers to it, is an metaphor to all that is happening in DR, seductive layer to the commodity, the things
that you see being advertised, you are seduced by the commodities, the other side of this picture is
the only people are there to benefit are the big companies who are there to make more money from
you so you (the tourist) are the one being exploited and taken advantage of. It is the tourist being
absorbed into the reflection of these invented desires and these desires are being bounced off the
mirror, you see what you think you want and what you desire, you do not see that you are also being
exploited as well as others.
The metaphor is also an example the dissonance or separation between transnational capital, what is
promised and what is actually delivered. There is this idea that I see something I want but I can’t get
it. Exploitative aspect of desire built by global markets, there is a gap; there is a dissonance and
separation between what the promises are of these flows of capital and what you actually receive.
While some benefit, there are many more that do not benefit. It isn’t that more money isn’t coming in,
it is who benefits from this flow.
Devil Behind the Mirror
Metaphor used by one of Gregory’s informants- Alberto, an illegal tour-guide- for what is happening
to the DR
About the economic, social, and cultural processes of change.
Also about how working people and communities respond to and contest these developments (e.g.
tourism, privatization, new technologies).
‘Deterritorialization’ is Exaggerated
Too much focus on ‘movement’, ‘border crossings’ and how capital and culture are free from spatial
Less important of place-based (or spatial) politics and sovereignty of nation-states.
What about the differences and inequalities created within the borders of a country?
By focusing on global and movement across borders, what is happening within the borders?
People are affected by globalization that limit their access to movement and limit access to travel.
Nightmare face of Globalization
We need to think about how people are not just free to move and cross boundaries, but also how
people are contained in a place because of changes in policies, and because of what globalization has
brought the economic changes.
The restrictions include where one can move to, whether you can work, whether you can walk into a
certain part of the country, and whether you can earn a living wage.
Struggles for Livelihood
Struggles over definitions of what constitutes productive labor.
‘Division of labour’ is a distinction between those who own means of production and those who sell
their labour time to survive.
There are people who hold the ability to invest in large scale products such as the beach resorts and
there are those that are working for them. There is a huge gap between those who have the money
and those who don’t.
The relationship those who can work and those paid to work are reflected through other distinctions
such as gender, race, and access to certain qualification papers.
Karl Marx
Marx was interested in the conflict between two groups.
There is the idea that the joke is on the people. It is an accurate portrayal. In this globalized world,
there are those who spend a lot of time trying to keep and accumulate their wealth vs. trying to share
Structural Adjustment Policies
By lending you money, the IMF and WB, should allow private capital to be invested, asking
government to privatize things that were once free, by doing thing you force people to pay more.
Once privatization occurs, people must pay private companies for things they had a low price for.
Private companies want to make as much profit as they can from the people.
What happens is more and more people are unable to pay their bills.
These policies benefited the rich and disadvantaged the poor.
Informed by neoliberal economic theory.
Assumes that only an unregulated capitalist system (free market system) can achieve optimum
Less social welfare spending (education, health care, water and electricity).
The Informal Economy
Sustains the formal economy, sustains the livelihoods of millions of people who do not have access to
employment in the formal sector.
Labour that exists outside the formal wage-labour relations and outside state regulation.
‘Informal’ suggests that it is outside the ‘formal’ economy, but it needs to be looked at as an intrinsic
part of people’s livelihood.
People who participate face routine conflict with the state authoritiesdisciplining of labour and
policing of boundaries.
‘Delinquents’ in the Dominican Republic
Orientalism referring to delinquents in the DR is one in which people of certain socio-economic
background of a certain race and social background are seen to be trouble makers (sell drugs to
tourists, have sex with tourists, lure tourists outside tourist zones and into settler colonies.
Labels such as ‘delinquents’ used on unlicensed workers and other in the informal economy.
These delinquent groups were deemed unworthy of full citizenship.
Problems of prostitution and youth crime were seen as hurting tourism.
Weakening of Dominican values, culture, morals to be met with further policing.
People are benefitting from those going to resorts and spending money there. People benefit because
they are employed to the resorts. Not everyone equally benefits from the market economy. There are
other ways of thinking about the way we live our life. There are structural constraints that keep
people in certain fixed positions where the promise of change is that everyone should benefit.
Policing of Citizenship
Non-Dominicans, especially Haitians, were the most targeted by the tourist police.
Many involved in the informal economy or without ‘papers’ were described by the police as
‘Haitians’, foreigners or delinquents/trouble-makers.
Those without legal documents become racial-ized and criminal-ized.
The Hustler
Find a way to manipulate the system to snack on the profits of the resorts. To exploit the
circumstance to which they are a part. Find a means to make money by providing a service that they
can provide.
This is sometimes called weapons of the weak.
‘Weapons of the Weak’
Hustlers form their own group.
Hustlers have their main trade to sell crafts, but then also have other ways to make money by selling
drugs or having sex.
New hierarchies within informal economy.
Produces social relation and forms of consciousness that call into question the social division of
About creating a life and livelihood that take them outside the limitations of their social and
economic situation.
Whether they manage to escape is an open question.
How does informal economy support the formal economy?
o What is earned is being spent on food, clothing, and shelter.
o People employed by the formal company, do not have the proper legal papers, and are
working for very low wage.