1467 Chapters
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8. Opening the Distribution of the Sensible: Kimberly Rivers and Trouble the Water

Kenneth W. Harrow Indiana University Press ePub

What does trash look like? It depends on where you stand when you are looking: the site of enunciation as site of subjectivity. If standpoint epistemology requires us to see the world through the eyes of oppressed women, what would a trashy epistemology look like?

Feminist standpoint epistemology calls for social change and activism based on seeing and understanding the world through the eyes and experiences of oppressed women—women treated like trash and called trashy. The common language focuses on what signifies the lack of value in material terms as well as figuratively.

Trash is what is discarded, what one averts one’s gaze from, what repels and stinks, what is the last resort for people who have nothing, what animals scavenge through, what people who become scavengers rely upon as their last resort, so it is the last resort for those who are last. It is also collected and abjected to the edges of town, to the margins of society, to the borders of our consciousness. It is, in film, associated with melodrama and Nollywood, genres that persist in returning for popular audiences, for “common” taste, to commercial cinemas that refuse the rejections of the scions of culture.

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Medium 9780253012296

2 Modernization Theory and the Figure of Blindness: Filial Reflections

PETER JASON BLOOM Indiana University Press ePub

Andrew Apter

  For David E. Apter. In memoriam.

Every poem is a misinterpretation of a parent poem.

—Harold Bloom

However negative it may sound, deconstruction implies the possibility of rebuilding.

—Paul de Man

How does one read a text, or an oeuvre? How does one reread modernization theory? In my own case the answers to these questions are linked by Freud’s family romance and “the anxiety of influence” (Bloom 1973), which together guarantee a radical misreading of an intellectual father-figure who was also my father. David E. Apter (1924–2010), a modernization theorist of the 1960s, worked in the Gold Coast and Uganda in the 1950s before turning to issues of comparative development. His Africanist case studies of institutional transfer (1955) and of bureaucratic nationalism (1961) represent two of the four developmental trajectories that he formalized and systematized in The Politics of Modernization (1965). This latter text, translated into several languages (Japanese, Spanish, Indonesian, and Mandarin), represents a period of high modernism in American social science, an expansive moment in U.S. liberal empire associated with the wave of decolonization that swept across the postwar globe, and which was particularly associated with “development” in Africa. Motivated by the optimism of postcolonial possibilities in the 1960s, this moment was also shaped by the polarizing pressures of the Cold War (Bandung notwithstanding) and the predicaments these created for emerging new nations.1

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1 After Modernization: Globalization and the African Dilemma

PETER JASON BLOOM Indiana University Press ePub

Percy C. Hintzen

I recall a meeting that I attended at a time when media reports were circulating raising concerns about South Asia as a cheap location for computer programming and software development. The value of the U.S. dollar was falling on international currency markets, which was having a negative effect on industry profits in South Asia. Increasingly the region was being rendered less competitive relative to the United States. In response, high-tech companies began shifting their operations back to the United States, generating increasing demand for programmers and computer engineers. With increasing U.S. demand came rising salaries and compensation packages driving costs in an upward spiral. The solution, discussed and proposed, was to shift computer programming and software engineering functions to Africa—the last bastion of cheap production in an increasingly competitive globalized economy. This is a particular case of a general trend where foreign direct investments in Africa are seen as a solution to a current crisis of global capitalism that demands reallocation in global production to areas where remuneration and transaction costs are cheapest and where there is rising consumer demand for global products and services.

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7 Negotiating Modernization: The Kariba Dam Project in the Central African Federation, ca. 1954–1960

PETER JASON BLOOM Indiana University Press ePub

Julia Tischler

On the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, about 240 miles downstream from the Victoria Falls, you can see a “gracefully curved mass of concrete,” “a colossus” which has tamed the “moods of violence” of the Zambezi River (South African News Agencies 1959, 5).1 The Kariba Dam was built in the second half of the 1950s to meet the growing energy needs of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, creating what was, at the time, the biggest artificial lake in the world. Newspapers around the world did not tire of telling “the romantic and adventurous story of how the dark jungle was opened up to provide light and power for a nation.”2 The Kariba Dam and the massive reservoir are a monument to the great expectations that coincided with the establishment of the Federation in 1953.

The dead trees which still stick out at the fringes of the lake remind us, however, that there is another side to the story. High-tech development came at a cost and Kariba has remained notorious for the catastrophic resettlement which its building entailed, as the rising waters submerged the homes of 57,000 Gwembe Tonga north and south of the Zambezi. Moreover, the hydroelectricity project monopolized the Federation’s credits for years, channeling vast resources into infrastructural development, which could have been used elsewhere. Hence, Kariba has been interpreted as the epitome of the Federation, for both its aspirations—of becoming a “powerful,” “multiracial” nation—and its flaws, seen in white settlers’ racist politics.

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12 Building Institutions for the New Africa: The Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana

PETER JASON BLOOM Indiana University Press ePub

  Takyiwaa Manuh

In the volume African Intellectuals, Thandika Mkandawire (2005) and his coauthors contend that Pan-Africanism has been an enduring framework that has shaped several generations of African intellectuals and nationalists in their imaginings of the nation. This embrace of Pan-Africanism formed an intrinsic component of the struggle against foreign domination and underdevelopment on the one hand, and the desire, on the other, to put Africa on par with other modern nations, expressed by the nationalists’ dual track of nation-building and economic development. Crucially, African nationalists and intellectuals linked Africa’s domination to its technoeconomic backwardness (see Rodney 1972). The demand for independence was therefore to bring material progress to African people and to end the deprivations and extortions that had characterized colonial rule. Presaging later demands for a “New International Economic Order” by the global South (United Nations 1974; Bagwati 1977), nationalists viewed “the right to industrialization” as part of the self-assertion and freedom that was to accompany independence, famously expressed by the noted Pan-Africanist Edward Wilmot Blyden, as the imperative of “modernization,” in order for Africa to escape the domination and humiliation it had suffered at the hands of the West and attain “self-reliance and independence.”1

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