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Ch 2.docx

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Gabrielle Sauter

Ch. 2: representing the South Representation -Representation: refers to the ways in which languages, symbols, signs and images stand for objects, people, events, processes, ro things -representation is made up of two processes called “systems of representation” -the first involves principles of organization through which objects, people, etc. are conceptualized and represented in our minds -for example, identifying an object as a ‘table’ relies on the individual understanding the concept to the object that they see. These concepts are shared, but in order to share, we need a language to communicate. -the second is language as the second representation. Language does not refer purely to written or spoken words, but also images, signs, symbols, and sounds for example -**shared meanings about objects and the language used to communicate are not fixed. This is because the meaning is not inherent in the object, event, etc. but is rather contructed in particular social context which vary spatially and temporally. -**the meanings associated with particular objects, people, or practices and the language used to communicate about them will reflect and reinforce forms of language used to communicate about them will reflect and reinforce forms of power Discourse -not just what is said or written, but the wider framing of what is meaningful and how particular topics should be approached -the exercise of power is clearly relevant in shaping discourse as not everyone or all groups will have the same agency. Eurocentrism -a term used to describe the belief that the European experience is the nrom against which non- European experiences are evaluated. -Europe is constructed as the core and the rest of the world is “periphery” -THUS progress and modernity develop autonomously in Europe and then diffuse to other parts of the world Orientalism -a term which encompasses the ways in which the “west” views the “east”. -in particular the countries and peoples of the Middle East Viewing the South from the North -4 common types of Northern representation of the South: exoticism and eroticicism ; the peoples of the south as ‘noble savages’ ; the South as a place of poverty and in need of help; and the South as a dangerous place that threatens the North. -In all 4 cases, the construction of the south is based on Eurocentric assumptions 1. Exoticism and Eroticism -Europe comparing other countries outside of Europe to themselves (see orientalism and eurocentrism above) -Labeling other people and and parts of the world with the representation of exotic and different. - common tropes (a common or dominant theme within description or narratives) were used to describe what Europeans perceived as societies lacking civilization, particularly due to types of clothing, housing and the absence of Christian beliefs. -savage nations. Describing barabarism, human sacrifice, and cannibalism -insatiable sexual appetites of the females. Public fornication -Forms of globalization have allowed greater opprotunities for travel for some and a growing awareness of different cultures. However, ideas of the exotic still abound in ways which the South is represented -magazines such as National Geographic and travel programs have tended to highlight areas of difference and present images of traditional culture. 2. First Nations and noble savages -some European commentators at this time saw indigenous peoples of these places as ‘noble savages’, possessing traits of simplicity, honesty, and above all coleness to nature that they themselves had lost -the ‘positive Orientalism’ of these views was often overshadowed by far more negative aspects of European contact which were often disastrous in human and ecological terms for many indigenous groups -this representation (just like all representations) affect how people act towards them. See below with ^ sign -noble savages primarily refers to their closeness and love of nature -^such tropes may, however, be mobilized by Southern populations in order to gain support from the North, as with environmental protest movements that have opposed the massive hydroelectric power projects in India’s Narmada Valley 3. Poverty and Pathos -while discourses of ‘civilization’ may not be used in the same way today, there are other ways of representing the South which have similar connotations of inferiority, or passivity, These representations are also based on normative ideas of how people should live which are grounded on an idea of the South lacking something, whether that is material goods, or particular social or political structure. -peoples of the South are represented as unable to do anything for themselves to make their lives better; rather the only way improvements can be made is through assistance from the North. A paternalistic relationship is thus implied -such representations can be most easily seen in advertisements and campaigns for public assistance for aid. -not denying that famine and disease don’t exist but reinforces ideas of Northern agency and Southern passivity -this said development organizations have become increasingly aware of the impacts of the images that they use and there have been significant changes among many. -development practice which recognize the agency, resource and capacities of people in the south (ex. Advertisements moving away from starving children to women bettering their lives and helping themselves 4. Barbarism and threats -a way of imagining the South that continues into the present day is or a place that is dangerous, not only for the intrepid explorers or travelers who venture there, but also by directly threatening lives and lifestyles of the North -threats from 1. overpopulation (voiced either ecological or environmental threat to the planet. Malthusian way of thinking) 2.politcal instability and war (ex. Many americans assumed Iraq was an immediate threat even though the UN showed they had no weapons of mass destruction or links with al-Qaeda) 3. health risks and disease (view them as carrying and transferring diseases to the north) Malthus and (neo-) Malthusianism -argued that humanity faced a crisis of overpopulation. If unchecked by famine, disease, or war, he saw human populations as naturally increasing geometrically (1,2,4,8,…), whereas food production could at best increase arithmetically (1,2,3,4…) -said that poor should have children later in life (“exercise moral restraint”) -blamed poor laws -Looking back from the vantage point of the twenty first century (on some realted work following Malthus but not Malthus himslef), some of this neo-Malthusian work may at first sight seemed to have got the detail wrong (oil to run out in in the 1990’s), but the big picture is right. After all, human induced climate change is now accepted as fact by most people, and perhaps provides evidence that current global population levels have disastrously outstripped our resource base -Neo-Malthusianism is, however, questionable on various grounds, not least for its simplistic links between population increase and resrouce use. -a focus on population growth, and particularly on the fertility of the poor, detracts attention from the inequality of resource usage between countries
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