Awareness Is Power: Tactics For Staying Safe In Violent Spaces

Unfinished Structure – Photo by author

Violence is everywhere (Lindiwe, Hector Peterson Residence).

In order to understand the concept ‘awareness’, Hastrup’s (1995) explanation of consciousness is invaluable, especially to identify with people’s behaviour in violent situations. She explains that our patterns of thinking are not subject to paths of practical reason, but that we rather constantly reformulate our whole existence through our actions; a reconsideration of our ideas of consciousness is thus necessitated (ibid.: 99). Hastrup reminds us that we are inarticulate and that expression is not limited to the verbal. Expression, rather, takes place in various forms (ibid.).

Given Hastrup’s suggestion to understand consciousness from multiple angles, we approach a field within which questions of ontology and methodology join: how do people think and how do we know? (ibid.; Ross 2004: 35). What tools should anthropologists use to access these forms of consciousness that are so intertwined in social space, affecting it, being affected by it and being its defining capacity? In an environment of violence, students are affected, they can potentially have an influence on this through the tactics they use to stay safe and, at the same time, can become the defining capacity of such an environment. These are among the dynamics involved in conceptualising ‘awareness’ of potential danger in potentially dangerous areas. This awareness is positioned on various levels.

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From The Web – University of Oxford – Podcasts from The School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography

Podcasts from the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. The School is renowned for its contributions to anthropological theory, its commitment to long-term ethnographic fieldwork, and its association with the Pitt Rivers Museum and the anthropology of visual and material culture. Home to over forty academic staff, over a hundred doctoral students, twelve Master’s programmes, and two undergraduate degrees (Human Sciences; Archaeology and Anthropology), Oxford anthropology is one of the world’s largest and most vibrant centres for teaching and research in the discipline. It came top of the Power (research excellence + volume) rankings for anthropology in the UK in RAE 2008.



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Efficacy of Tourism as a Tool for Local Community Development: A Case Study of Mombassa, Kenya

Mombassa Market Hall

Having unique indigenous cultures, nature-based attractions, beautiful landscapes, and pleasant weather conditions, local communities in Africa, and other Third World countries, are increasingly being promoted and marketed in major tourist generating countries, particularly in Europe and North America, as offering immense touristic and recreational opportunities. Particularly, indigenous communities in the Third World are perceived as providing abundant opportunities for rich tourists from the North who have got the financial resources to spend in adventure and exotic recreational activities. As a consequence, an increasing number of international tourists are travelling to different tourist destinations in Africa and other less developed regions of the world. In 2001 for instance, over 28 million international tourists, mainly from Europe and North America, travelled to different destinations in Africa. It is further estimated that with the current international growth rate of the tourism industry, over 77 million international tourists will visit Africa by the year 2020 (WTO 2004).

Neo-classical economists and development experts contend that unlike factor driven technology based development, local communities in Africa and other parts of the Third World have a comparative advantage in the development of tourism and other non-technology based economic sectors. The development of tourism amongst local communities is, therefore, perceived as fitting quite well with the ‘natural process of development based on comparative advantage’ (Brohman 1996). This argument is based on the premise that local communities, particularly in Africa, should mainly specialise in primary exports, including tourism, where they have comparative advantage rather than depending on technology based economic sectors that do not conform with the principles of comparative advantage in the global market demand.

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Walking Stories

Cover 'Walking Stories'Lisa, a fragile Indonesian woman, walked along the paths of Saint Anthony’s park. Saint Anthony is a mental hospital. Lisa was dressed in red, yellow and blue; I was looking at a painting of Mondriaan, of which the colours could cheer someone up on a grey Dutch day. She had put on all her clothes and she carried the rest of her belongings in a grey garbagebag. She looked like she was being hunted, mumbling formulas to avert the evil or the devils. I could not understand her words, but she repeated them with the rustling of her garbage bag on the pebbles of the path.

When she arrived at an intersection of two paths where low rose hips were blossoming, she stopped and went into the bushes. She lifted all her skirts and urinated; standing as a colourful flower amidst the green of the bushes and staring into the sky. A passer-by from the village where Saint Anthony’s has its headquarters would probably have pretended not to see her, knowing that Lisa was one of the ‘chronic mental patients’ of the wards. Or, urinating so openly in the park may be experienced as a ‘situational improperty’, but as many villagers told me: ‘They do odd things, but they cannot help it.’ The passer-by would not have known that Lisa was a ‘walking story’, that she had ritualised her walks in order to control the powers that lie beyond her control. Lisa was diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia’ and she suffered from delusions. When she had an acute psychosis, she needed medication to relieve her anxiety. Her personal story was considered as a symptom of her illness. That was, in a nutshell, the story of the psychiatrists of the mental hospital. Her own story was different. Lisa was the queen of the Indies and she had to have offspring to ensure that her dynasty would be preserved. She believed at that day that she was pregnant and that the magicians would come and would take away her unborn baby with a needle. To prevent the abortion, she had to take refuge in the park and carry all her belongings with her.

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When Congo Wants To Go To School – Educational Organisation In The Belgian Congo (1908-1958)

Classroom rear view, Nsona Mbata (Matadi), 1920

Classroom rear view, Nsona Mbata (Matadi), 1920

The first part of this study will concentrate on the wider environment within which daily practice of colonial education is situated. It progresses in three stages in accordance with the aim of the research. Three chapters correspond with these three stages. The general, macro-institutional context of the phenomenon of colonial education is considered in the first chapter. This includes a discussion of the organisational development and politico-strategic factors that influenced this phenomenon. The development of the educational structures is indicated from the angle of the interaction between state intervention and the Catholic initiative. Within that framework the major themes in the content and emphasis of colonial lesson plans are also considered, as are the opinions on these subjects. Finally, figures are given to allow an estimate of the quantitative development of education in the colony. The second chapter shifts the focus to Belgium. The preparation, training, ideas and worldview with which the missionaries left for the Belgian Congo will be considered more closely. This chapter is divided into two parts. The first part considers a number of broad social and historical factors that played a part in the formation of the missionaries’ general intellectual baggage. Mainly results of existing research are presented and discussed in this part. The second part takes a closer look at the people who are of specific interest to us, covering the preparation and training given to the Sacred Heart Missionaries in Belgium and using specific source material. In the third chapter we make the journey to the Congo together with these missionaries. A number of elements are given in a short outline that also constitute the direct context of their work. Firstly, a description is given of the creation and growth of the mission region in which they were active. Then follows the introduction of the other missionary congregations, with which the Sacred Heart Missionaries cooperated. Finally, quantitative data are brought together with regard to the development of education, both for the mission region as a whole and for the various mission posts separately. Read more

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When Congo Wants To Go To School – The Missionaries And The Belgian Congo: Preparation, Ideas And Conceptions Of The Missionaries

Primitive School, Mission area MSC, location and date unknown

I have been interested in the Congo all my life, because I always wanted to be a missionary in the Congo, even as a little child. And so in a way I paid some attention to it, but only the achievements of my heroes at the time – a number of family members were missionaries  and the mission exhibitions, the missionary action. The Congo came to us through missionary work and it was very heroic. …I remember the moment to the minute when I discovered the background or the ‘depths’ of the colonisation of the Belgian Congo. And then I got the feeling, which I still have today, that during my training, my education, I had been deceived about the Congo.“[1]

Flemish and, by extension, Belgian missionaries left for the Belgian Congo in droves. The Statistical Yearbook of the N.I.S., which had a separate section for the colony, recorded a few tables with data about the ‘white’ population. As well as divisions on the basis of nationality, gender and place of residence, for a number of years it also included a “class division“. In this table, the population was divided into three categories: ‘civil servant’, ‘missionaries’ and ‘general public’. The presence of a separate category for missionaries points to the fact that they were very important in colonial society. On the basis of the available figures it can be posited that during the interbellum period, religious workers comprised 10 to 15% of the white population. This percentage was certainly not only men, the proportion of female religious workers was fairly stable throughout the colonial period and amounted to over 40%.[2]

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