ANT204H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Spice Trade, Eurocentrism, Jeffrey Sachs

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4 Feb 2013
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January 23, 2013.
Lecture 3 Is Progress Inevitable? (Part 1): Transitioning
Cultures and “Developing” People
The Thaba-Tseka Development Project
Lesotho: small landlocked county in Southern Africa
Population of about 2 million
Received development assistance from 26 different countries
72 international non-government organizations (including CIDA)
Example of “failed development
o Obviously the definition of “failed” is rather subjective
1975 World Bank Issues a report on Lesotho to justify a series of loans to the country
The World Bank Report
o “Virtually untouched by modern economic development, Lesotho was, and still is,
basically, a traditional subsistence peasant society. But rapid population growth
resulting in extreme pressure on the land, deteriorating soil and declining agricultural
yields led to a situation in which the country was no longer able to produce enough food
for its people.”
The Oxford History of South Africa
o “In 1837 the Sotho of Basutoland…had grain stored for four to eight years: in 1844 white
farmers “flocked” to them to buy grain. During 1872 (after the loss of their most fertile
land west of the Caledon) the Sotho exported 100,000 muids [185-lb bags] of grain…and
in 1877 when the demand for grain on the diamond fields had fallen, ‘large quantities’
were held by producers and shopkeepers in Basutoland.”
Discrepancy between these two descriptions, if the World Bank Report was correct in Lesotho
having always been a “subsistence peasant society” then the Oxford History report would have
said otherwise
o Inaccurate information in the WBreport
o People from the WB are trained to see what they see and only see what they were
trained to
o In the World Bank version there is only a summary that “naturalizes” their poverty and
lacks in personalizing the community whereas the Oxford version gives a rich
background to their agricultural life
Poverty is NATURALIZED
Ideas of Progress
On one end of the spectrum there is the “primitive” label; on the other is the “civilized” label
o Similar to “pre-modern” vs. “modern”
o “Uneducated” vs. “educated
o “rural” vs. “urban”
o “poor” vs. “rich”
o “backward” vs. “modern”
Attempting to discern or even create a difference between people
“So poor and hungry I certainly was. But underdeveloped? I never thought nor did anyone else
that being poor meant being ‘underdeveloped’ and lacking human dignity.” (Shrestha)
People “closer to nature” see “progress” as a negative thing
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