Development and Structural Violence

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    • 00:01

      [MUSIC PLAYING][Devolepment & Structural Violence]

    • 00:11

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA: Hello, I'm Jessica Srikantia,the assistant professor in the School of Policy Governmentand International Affairs in the program on OrganizationDevelopment and Knowledge Management at George MasonUniversity. [Jessica Srikantia, PhD, AssistantProfessor, School of Policy, Government & InternationalAffairs, George Mason University]This case study is entitled Development and StructuralViolence.This is a case study and additional vignettesthat illustrate how development serves special interests

    • 00:34

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: while undermining sustainable communitiesthrough structural violence.This is important because development ideologyand practice generate the very problemsthey claim to alleviate.Real solutions cannot come from more or better development,only from a paradigm shift.I'll cover the following points.What is development?

    • 00:55

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: What is structural violence?The case scenario, summary of actors and interests,key challenges, variations on a theme-- the use of debt,possible responses, and questions for reflection.[What is development?] Development is two things

    • 01:16

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: together-- an ideology and a way of seeing the world on the onehand, and a paradigm of interventions on the other.And it turns out that both the ideology and the interventionsimpose a Western lens and then transformthe world in that image.So Wolfgang Sachs edited The Development Dictionary 2010.

    • 01:37

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: And he talks about, for example, quote,"The development discourse is made upof a web of key concepts."Quote, "Each of them crystallizesa set of tacit assumptions which reinforcethe occidental worldview."And quote, "From the start, developments hidden agendawas nothing else than the westernization of the world."

    • 01:57

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: So Wolfgang Sachs talks about how under this view,diverse cultures such as the Zapotecs and the Rajasthanisare seen not in their actual diversity on their own terms,but rather as impoverished lesserversions of the so-called advanced countries.

    • 02:20

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: So development, for example, miscasts abundant, sustainablesocieties as if they were poor and in need of development.Sustainable communities living in materialclarity are called poor.So for example, the first peoplesof the Kalahari in Botswana live a nomadic life,

    • 02:40

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: the kind that they've lived for thousands of years.Under the development paradigm, they would be called poor.And yet they themselves value their way of lifeso much that they're fighting to preserve it.And Botswana is trying to displace them and force theminto homes and settlements in orderto take their lands for ironically ecotourism

    • 03:03

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: and diamond mines.And the first peoples of the Kalahariare fighting to be able to live in their traditional wayon their lands.So that shows that to them, their way of life is not poor.It's the way that they want to live.So real poverty is what happens after these societies

    • 03:23

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: are destabilized, often through development,and rendered dependent and or vulnerable.This can be seen in the definition of poverty as percapita income of less than $1.00 a day.So these kinds of definitions entrench developmentas the false solution to an illusory problem.For example, you can tell that if this community,

    • 03:46

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: the first peoples of the Kalahari,are able to live without being part of the global economy,they don't need any money.So they make less than $1.00 a day.If they're displaced and forced to buy their food, buy water,buy all their necessities, they will have to get a job

    • 04:08

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: somewhere for, say, they make $1.50 a day.That would count as their elevationeven though it's clear that that is actuallya worsening of their situation.Gross domestic product works in the same wayat a national level.So it takes anything that runs the money economy as a benefiteven if in fact what is running through is causing a worsening

    • 04:31

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: of well being.[Development Discourse] So as shownby Gustavo Esteva, Truman's inaugural addressin 1949 recast diverse lifeways as poor versions of the West.In addition, Truman's inaugural address frames development

    • 04:53

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: as a whitewashed version of the quoteunquote "old imperialism."So development is actually designedto create market investment and resource opportunitiesfor the US as World War II and its massive consumptionends, thus requiring new destinations for USgoods, new markets, new resource opportunities, while sounding

    • 05:17

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: beneficent.This is apparent in Truman's quotationsas follows, "All countries, including our own,will greatly benefit from a constructive programfor the better use of the world'shuman and natural resources.Experience shows that our commerce with other countriesexpands as they progress industrially and economically.Guarantees to the investor must be

    • 05:38

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: balanced by guarantees in the interest of the people whoseresources and whose labor go into these developments."This shows the emphasis.Guarantees of the investor are balancedby considerations for the other people in communities.[Designed Development] So in summary,development actually entails the following-- a Eurocentric view

    • 06:02

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: of the world's cultures and societies,lofty language of beneficence, and a refashioning of societiesto serve industrial economies, especiallywith regard to markets, investments, and resources.So in particular, this serves the interests of USand multinational corporations, capital investors,and governments.

    • 06:22

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: There's PR to convert people into consumers and corestrategies, including development leading to greatermarkets and development leading to debt-- country debtand other debt-- that opens up those countriesfor foreign control of their resources, assets, et cetera.

    • 06:43

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: [What is structural violence?] Paul Farmer and colleagues hasdefined structural violence as quote,"Social arrangements that put individuals and populationsin harm's way."The arrangements are structural because they'reembedded in the political and economic organizationof our social world.And they're violent because they cause injury to people,

    • 07:05

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: typically not those responsible for perpetuatingsuch inequalities.Social arrangements that create systematic harms and risksfor some people also accumulate disproportionate resourcesand protections for others who benefitfrom those arrangements.In other words, where there is structural violence,there's also its opposite, structural privilege.

    • 07:25

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: Examples of structural violence and structural privilegeare, for example, the Belo Monte Dam in the Brazilian Amazon.So in this case, Brazil is tryingto construct an enormous dam in the middle of the Amazonwhich will destroy the ecosystems, lifeways,and sustainability for multiple indigenous nations

    • 07:47

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: that have lived along the Xingu River for thousands of yearsand have maintained their sustainable autonomous wayof life throughout that period.So this dam doesn't in any way benefit those communities.In fact, it destroys them and serves outsider interestssuch as industrial and urban interest for power.

    • 08:08

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: The institutions protecting the indigenous nationsand other marginalized groups are structurallydisempowered relative to the powerful economic and politicalinterests that are pushing the project.So for example, in the Organizationof American States, the human rights bodythat is trying to protect the indigenous nations

    • 08:31

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: can be threatened and bullied by Brazil threateningto withdraw their financial support and representativesfrom that body as part of the larger Organizationof American states membership design.So we can see here the structural designof the system enables the powerful to continue

    • 08:53

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: with their plans, even at the cost of entire culturesand ecosystems.[Case Study Background] So the case study is as follows.First, the background.In this case study, colluding licit and illicit actorsundermine a sustainable community

    • 09:14

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: through structural violence in the interests of development.In this scenario, there is a self-sufficient Afro-Colombiancommunity that is recognized in the Constitution of Columbiaas having its own autonomy and its own culturethat has special protections.And yet outsiders' development projects are being threatened

    • 09:37

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: and some have already been implemented against the willof the community.So already there's a dam that hasbeen created that required military and private securityto protect the dam in its constructionand threatened the community from the start.The community, as a result of the dam,has had their rivers and water sourcesflooded as a result of the damming up of the large river.

    • 10:00

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: Their best agricultural fields havebeen submerged as have their gold mines whichwere-- actually they were able to get goldjust by sifting from the river while they were fishing.So as a result of this, they haveto spend much more of their time actually getting food, gettingwater, and acquiring the little bit of gold

    • 10:22

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: that they mine in a very sustainable wayfor the long term.Right now they're facing a plan to augment the damnby rerouting the river and also a corporation wantingto come in and do industrial scale mining.Now, the effects of the community of thiswould be disastrous.It would be massive contamination

    • 10:43

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: of their water sources.Their environment-- they would no longer be sustainable.And they would no longer live the lifethat they value on their land.However, there are many actors involvedin making these development projects happen.And these actors have aligned interests and in fact actually

    • 11:05

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: collude.So these actors include the Colombian governmentin the executive branch of both the national and municipallevels, which benefits from tax revenues,for example, that come from the mass infusion of cashwhen the gold is taken out of the ground in a rapid way,as well as the services that have

    • 11:27

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: to go into trying to clean up and restore the environment,even though it's not truly possible to do that.At the municipal level, again, taxesare a huge source of incentive for the local municipalgovernment to support the outside interestsover the community.The paramilitaries that operate in the area

    • 11:50

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: are actually oftentimes tipped offby people in the government about whothe leaders are in resistance to these mega projects.And then the paramilitaries respond with death threats.Often those death threats explicitly mentionthe community's resistance to quote unquote"development and progress."Also, the multinational corporationsthat are involved in creating the dam and in mining

    • 12:15

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: have an interest in colluding these dynamics.And foreign governments, includingthe US that signed free trade agreements with Colombiadespite the human rights abuses, so that corporationscan come in and have access to the landsdespite the ways in which these plans becomesopened up for exploitation.And of course, urban and industrial power users

    • 12:35

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: benefit from cheaper and more abundant electricityeven while the community who has been affectedgets inconsistent and very expensive electricity.Actors and organizations that are protecting the communityinclude the community itself, whichat times has had to take its own direct action, for example,seizing control of large scale industrial mining machinery

    • 12:56

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: when nothing was being done to stop that machinery from beingused illegally.Allied and solidarity groups, the Constitutional Courtof Columbia, which despite upholdingthe right to the community, is being sidelined,and human rights bodies, again, sidelined.[Challenges & Problems] So challenges and problems include

    • 13:22

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: the collusions among licit and illicit actors that have vestedinterests in development, the systems, norms,and institutions that generally support expropriation overcommunity sovereignty.And these include the fact that individual and collectiverights, even though those are alreadya pale shadow of sovereignty, aredisempowered relative to the interest in expropriation.

    • 13:47

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: So here we see an example of outright violence, deaththreats, actual assassinations, and in one caseactually, the military came to displace the communitybut was stopped as a result of international solidarityin that case.The displacement was postponed.The threat remains.

    • 14:07

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: These kinds of dynamics operate in many different ways.And just briefly, another variation on the themeis through debt.So research done with two of my colleagues-- Supriya Bailyand Leslie Dwyer-- in Bali reveals that microfinance alsois a means to undermining the traditional culture and ways

    • 14:29

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: of life of previously autonomous and sustainable communities.So for example, microfinance claims to emancipate women,and does the opposite.It uses social pressure and shame to enforce repayments.It creates debt traps.Because rather than people being able to reciprocatein a multiplicity of ways depending

    • 14:51

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: on what their abundant in, microfinanceinsists on one form of repayment money.And then if people don't have that,then all kinds of consequences areused-- the shame, the social pressure,and other kinds of coercion.This also entrenches new and sometimes existing power

    • 15:11

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: differentials through the ways that microfinance operates.And some people become brokers within that system.The microfinance also dispossessesthe traditional cultures.So for example, repayment structuresare used to transform the traditional economy.Whereas in Bali, they have local native pigs

    • 15:32

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: and hens and roosters that are actually renowned.They're very hardy.They're a good source of food.And they are able to live on what's in the environment,and often scraps.And they often live in the housesof the people who live there.These are being replaced through the repayment structure.

    • 15:55

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: Because hybrid pigs and the chickens grow faster.And so by making the repayments of the debts happen sooner,only the hybrid pigs and chickensare able to come to maturity and be soldin time to repay the debts.But this shift in animal creates a corporate control of food.

    • 16:16

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: Because for example, the chickenshave beaks that don't allow them to eat the normal foodthat wild chickens can eat.And so when the avian flu hit, the corporationstopped selling the seed.And many of these hybrid chickens died.

    • 16:38

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: The pigs, for example, also take much more resources.So there's greater expenses and greater insecurity and risk.They require their own houses.They require temperature control.And they require corporate food also.So in lieu of pigs that are able to run around the houseand eat table scraps, these requires substantial investmentand put the peasants at greater risk.

    • 17:00

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: In Haiti, the peasants' pigs actuallywere eliminated by the US military.And in post-coup Indonesia, after the US sponsored a coupin the mid '60s, the Indonesian military actuallyforcibly pulled up the native riceand replanted it with hybrid price.So actions that have been achieved

    • 17:22

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: through direct violence, in this case,they're being achieved through debt.[Solutions] Solutions involve, for example,changing or marginalizing the global operating systems,engaging in solidarity actions for particular communities,changing our own consciousness and awareness,

    • 17:44

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: and changing our own lifeways so that our lives do notdepend on and fuel structurally violent systems.[Conclusion] So in summary, the case study and variationson a theme show the structural violence of developmentand the collusion of illicit an licit actorsagainst sustainable communities.

    • 18:06

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: So some questions for reflection include the following--to end structural violence, what might yourecommend changing in development ideologyand practice?And how would you transform it?What might you recommend changing and transformingin the global system?And how?How might you transform your own life and awareness?

    • 18:26

      JESSICA SRIKANTIA [continued]: And what might be some ways to support specific communities?[MUSIC PLAYING]

Development and Structural Violence

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Abstract

Dr. Jessica Srikantia explains how the ideology of development works within institutions of power to destabilize nonconsumer communities and privilege outsider interests. She focuses primarily on an Afro-Colombian community that is fighting against the construction and expansion of a dam that is damaging its ecosystem and way of life.

SAGE Video Cases
Development and Structural Violence

Dr. Jessica Srikantia explains how the ideology of development works within institutions of power to destabilize nonconsumer communities and privilege outsider interests. She focuses primarily on an Afro-Colombian community that is fighting against the construction and expansion of a dam that is damaging its ecosystem and way of life.

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