Urban Anthropology

Human Trafficking: a growing epidemic

Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking


Some sources claim that one out of every 236 people becomes a victim of human trafficking. Even more startling, sources state that every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim of trafficking. Now, most people already know that the drug trade is probably the most lucrative illegal commerce in the world. But how many people know that human trafficking is running close to the drug trade – very close. Continue reading

The Cultural Incongruence of Democracy

Cultural Incongruence of Democracy

Cultural Incongruence of Democracy

Countries throughout the world are struggling to throw off their traditional forms of government and acquire the democratic way of life. For some, the idea of having the freedom to choose one’s destiny is something they never experienced. Free thought, free expression and free inquiry is something they never had the opportunity to enjoy. Having one’s life and activities dictated by a government that focuses on exploiting and plundering its people for the purpose of personal economic gain someday inevitably reaches a point of critical meltdown. People can take only so much before they strike back. The Foucauldian idea of the “contradictory complexity” of mankind makes it an outcome that all too often results in conflict and destruction. Then on the other hand, there are those that seek democracy solely for the purpose of enjoying the imagined benefits of capitalism that comes along with it. Most people throughout the world understand that one comes with the other – they are an inseparable pair. But many of the countries that seek democracy and capitalism do not understand them, or how they work, or even have the cultural background that can enable them to assimilate these concepts.
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Urbanization in Brazil

Urbanization

Urbanization

Although many developing countries are currently in the early stages of their urban transitions, Brazil has largely completed its urban transitional process. In fact, Brazil urbanized rather quickly in comparison to countries in places such as Asia and Africa. However, this accomplishment has been exhausting and disruptive in many ways leaving Brazil with severe economic, social and environmental problems.

Failure on the part of policymakers to foresee and plan for intensive urban growth and massive population growth has damaged its urbanization process in a variety of ways. Through their inability to grasp the social composition of the urban growth process and with the persistence of policies aimed at promoting class interests, the spread of severe shelter poverty, fiscal inadequacy and environmental degradation has handicapped Brazil’s ability to take advantage of its full potential.

It is well-know that the concept of urban transition coincides with demographic transition theory. The original theory is by Skeldon, and it suggests that as countries move from rural-agricultural to urban-industrial and from high levels of mortality and fertility to lower levels, they achieve economic success. Thus today, the majority of Brazilian citizens live in urban areas and large cities, levels of mortality and fertility have dropped dramatically, and its urban growth rate has slowed from its previous rate. All these considerations are indications that its urbanization process has peaked and that Brazil is in the later stages of this process.


Although in the later stages of its urban transition, cities still face significant urban growth particularly in the outlining areas. These areas are known as “suburbana”  or peripheries of large metropolitan cities. Since the 1950s, these areas have experienced rapid growth due to migrations from the interior regions rather than from natural increase due to births. The majority of the residents in these areas are poor or low-income, living in single-family houses or apartment buildings. For the most part, governmental programs to relocate inhabitants have failed because inhabitants resist moving from areas that are in close proximity to their places of work.

Nevertheless, Brazil’s urban transitional process and its significance for present-day social and environmental analysis is a substantially important factor. What is most striking about its urbanization process is the rapid and advanced development that it has undergone. For example, a process that took centuries for North America and Europe to accomplish, – that is, to shift from being 10 per cent urban to 52 per cent urban between 1750 to 1950, by the time the first comprehensive demographic census was taken in 1940, Brazil moved from 31 per cent urban to 81.1 per cent urban in just 60 years. Thus, Brazil’s substantial urban growth process is unique and one of the underlining factors contributing to its present-day rapid economic growth.

Sources: Martine, G. and George McGranahan (2010).Brazil’s early urban transition: what can it teach urbanizing countries? London; New York: Brazilian Association of Population Studies and the International Institute for Environment and Development; Skeldon, R. (1990). Population Mobility in Developing Countries. London and New York: Belhaven Press.


For more information see: Neil Turner – Brazil: Settlement, immigration and urbanization; Ethnology/Cultural Anthropology; Grin Publishing http://www.grin.com

Christina H Kim

This is a course description for my class at the New School for Fall 2014.

Wanda Model for Dandong China. Wanda Model for Dandong China.

The course explores the emergence and processes of urbanization in Asia through ethnographies. The course will examine urban development of specific Asian cities by focusing on urban problems and challenges including poverty, housing, sustainability and civil society as well as the ways in which city-dwellers, developers and organizations are working to address them. World-class cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul are hubs of global economy that emerging cities around the world are trying to emulate. There are also cities like South Korea’s Paju Book city and the Song Do Ubiquitous city, as well as China’s Huang Baiyu Eco-city each organized and built from scratch based on a single idea. Lastly, recent events like the 3.11 Tohoku Earthquake and Typhoon Hai Yan have destroyed entire cities raising further…

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Landless Workers Movement (MST)

Landless Workers Movements Photo

Photo: Courtesy of Gibby Zobel

Recently, I witnessed for the second time a demonstration by the Landless Worker’s Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra, or MST). As I watched and filmed the demonstration, I could not help wondering about the complex play of relations that unite and oppose people that still exist in Brazil left over from its period of colonial rule. I wondered about the differences between those people that continue to hold on to sovereignty and rule and those fighting to attain some simulacrum of decent living conditions. Clearly, these differences are born of colonial history – that is, the history of aristocrats keeping puppet administrators in their pay, creating a native bourgeoisie, and fashioning classes of peoples beaten down, undernourished, sick and terrified for the sole purpose of exploitation and profit-taking.
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Odunde Festival in Philadelphia

The annual Odunde Street Festival, held every second Sunday in June, brings a genuine taste of Africa to South Street, one of Philadelphia’s oldest, historically African-American neighborhoods. The festival, initiated in 1975 by Lois Fernandez and Ruth Arthur, has gained a national reputation as one of Philadelphia’s brightest cultural jewels. Odunde celebrates the coming of another year for African-Americans and Africanized people around the world. It was during a pilgrimage to Nigeria in 1972 that Fernandez first imagined the festival as Philadelphia’s celebration of African culture. Continue reading