Cities and the Environment

With this lecture on the environment, the discussion surrounded the environmental history of the 20th century, the dangers of the anthropocene and changes in the environment in the 20th century.I learnt that for man to act on his environment, he does not place himself outside it because nature conversely intervenes to modify the existence of human societies.

Humans sometimes behave like rats and other times sharks which means that they have the ability to get addicted to substances and form large groups to have dominance over others which forms competition. They can also be predatory. In the 20th century alone, global population rose from 1.6 billion to about 6 billion in 2000. Major energy usage by humans, animals to biomass, crude wind and water. There is economic growth with cheap health food and accessible water.

With the Planet of Slums reading, I found interesting at the very beginning of the reading on the 1st page where Davis says ” For the first time the urban population on earth will out number the rural”. This was very striking for me due to the fact that it is something I have observed especially in my hometown. There has been a lot of urban planning to improve health especially for women and children. In Professor Bonk’s lecture he discussed urban planning which involves legibility and standardization, hygiene and efficient movement which is something being campaigned for in my hometown and is essentially crucial for a sanitary awakening.

Migration of my family and connection to class lectures

My parents migrated to the United Kingdom to attend college in the 1980s. Due to this migration, my sisters and I were born in the UK but have lived in Ghana most of our whole lives. The 1980s in Ghana was a decade with a spur events and social developments. There were two coups; one successful and one attempted in that decade alone. More than one million Ghanaians returned to Ghana after being expelled from Nigeria. There were also a lot of widespread bushfires that badly effected crop production. Ghana was in its Third Republic led by a military coup leader who was infamous for eliminating opposition. That environment was rendered unsafe, however my parents also used it as an opportunity to achieve higher education abroad.

Linking their story to this week’s lectures, my parents migration story can be referred to the reversal migration due to the fact that they immigrated to Europe from Ghana, an ex British colony. Ghana was still largely used as an economic system in the 1980s due to the successful harvests of the fruit cocoa and other spices. Cocoa prices on the world market were not high at the time and therefore did not favour Ghanaian farmers. At that time also, there were a lot of semi-skilled workers in Ghana who wanted to expand their work skills and they . knew that could be done abroad. This was the case of my parents who were not married at the time. My father was the first to migrate in 1982 and then my mother followed in 1984. Research shows that males were likely to migrate more than females due to their educational level being higher than women so this could explain why my father went first.

A Comparison and Contrast of The Declaration of Independence of Israel and Palestine

Religion in both documents are used as a utility of identity. In the Israeli Declaration of Independence the Tanakh is mentionedthree times: “…the Jews gave to the world the eternal Book of Books…” “…Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.…” And finally “…placing our trust in the Rock of Israel…” Israel is described as a safe place for Jews as in a factual and historical aspect it provides evidence for this reason.  ” The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people and “here their  spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped”. With regards to the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, religion serves as a reminder of their nation state as it just serves as an extended kinship unit. It is also intertwined with the Palestinian culture. However, in the document, The Palestinians are looking to develop their independent statehood; trying to find a means of tracing their identity of their people to the land as it says “The Palestinian Arab people forged its national identity”, “Yet the undying connection between Palestine and its people secured for the land its character and for the people its national genius”

Israel in its document describes itself as safe place for Jews due to the trials and tribulations in Europe. It would also say that its values originated from Hebrew Prophets. It would also say that it stands up for the rights of Arab inhabitants of Israel even though its main religion is Judaism. Palestine describes itself in the document as a nation that has strong sense of its people and the land but a strong connection has to be made between them

Israel defines Palestine as during The Zionist occupation and the dispersal of the Palestinian Arab people, through the disasters, which befell them, do not make them lose their Palestinian identity and their membership in the Palestinian community, nor do they negate them but the seem to suffer more than Israelis.  Palestine would define Israel as the people who took our land . However are accepting of arab inhabitants.

South Asia and Post colonial and Independent India

From Monday’s lecture, South Asia makes about 1/4 of the world’s population. It consists of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India was the valuable colony for the British as it was even termed as the ‘jewel in the crown’. This is because India provided a lot of the manpower of British military as well as a lot of cash crops . and goods that favored them.

In 1600,  the British East India Company is . established .In 1707- Mughal Empire collapsing; Indian states begin breaking away from Mughal control. In 1757- Robert Clive leads victory at Battle of Plassey; begins East India Company (British) leading power in India. In 1800s- Many Indians begin thinking more modernly, changing traditional ideas. Some take ideas wanting to govern themselves. On May 10, 1857- Indian Rebellion of 1857 (Sepoy Mutiny) starts. Challenges East India Company as fierce fighting breaks out. In 1858- British government takes direct command of India, from East India Company.

In the article, “Colonialism and its forms of knowledge”, by Bernard Cohn, he provides a philosophic stance on how and why the British colonized India in terms of modalities namely; historiography, observational, survey, enumerative, museological, surveillance and investigative. He argues that the colonial experience was mutual stating on page 10 that “Everyone-rulers and ruled-had proper roles to play in the colonial sociological theater.” suggesting that the blame of imperialism or colonialism should also face the colonized.

The  articles by Gilmartin and Pankaj both state the fact that the independence of India was a very significant moment in India’s history after 350 years of British presence in the country. They both acknowledge the fact that the trigger of independence was due to religious tensions especially between the Hindus and the Muslims.

Pankaj in “India at 70, and the Passing of Another Illusion”, demonstrates disillusionments of India’s political, social and economic development since 1947 giving an example of the declining relationship between India and Africa due to ‘xenophobic and racial attacks’ inflicted upon them.

Gilmartin talks about the partition of India which incidentally occurred on the day of Independence. India was divided into India and Pakistan. He discusses the long term and short term causes of the partition which he claims are largely religious. Muslim conquest of northern India began as far back as the 1100s.British Imperialism cause for nationalism which leads to the formation of the Indian National Congress as well as the muslim League. WW2 weakens European colonial empires and paves the way for independence. Pressure from Indian nationalists increases insistence by Jinnah and the Muslim League that Muslims have their own state. Later on, Gandhi is assassinated by Hindu extremists and India and Pakistan become centers of Cold war rivalry.

The Partition was so significant that it has connections to today. There is a continuing clash between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.There is also Nuclear arms race as India and Pakistan  refuse to sign Non-Proliferation Treaty.


Group 2

Essential concept- Colonialism is the relationship of domination of indigenous by foreign invaders where the latter rule in pursuit of their interests. The motives were not purely economic and can actually be argued to be strategic for example America in the Philippines.

Significance- It shaped the tensions in the colonial territories in the 21st century/ modern age in terms of their economy, culture

essay question that cuts across regions and time in the 20th-21st century

Colonialism was a driving force to creating the geopoliticalenvironment of the 21st century. What are two regions that experienced colonialism? How do  these two countries or regions compare in their experience of colonialism, and how did colonialism imprint on their country today?

Colonialism is a running theme that is prevalent across regions especially in Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia

Latin America

This week’s lectures by Professor Holt were on Latin America. The main focus was the colonial legacies of Latin America; economic, political and social factors that set the stage for the entrenched structural inequalities that characterize Latin America today. She discussed the ‘logic’ of colonialism one point being Disease after contact with Latin America. This is well elaborated in an article on Epidemics in the Americas where they describe how disease provided the avenue for easier colonization in Latin America. “Similar catastrophes unfolded across the hemisphere. The most precipitous decline is thought to have occurred in the Caribbean, where the precontact indigenous population of several millions had been all but exterminated by the 1550s.

Such diseases spread rapidly in all directions, preceding and accompanying military incursions, weakening indigenous polities, and facilitating the process of conquest and colonization in the Caribbean, Mexico, the Andes, Brazil, New England, and beyond. This process of demographic catastrophe, an unintended consequence of the European encounter with the Western Hemisphere, affected every aspect of the subsequent history of the Americas.”

Another Logic of Colonialism is the Atlantic Slave trade where she discussed how slaves were more profitable especially in areas like Southeast Brazil because of the climate; the climate was suitable enough for working and harvesting on a plantation for crops such as sugar cane which was a very crucial crop at the time due to its major use in food items.

There is also discussion on tools of colonial control. These included casta paintings which were to demonstrate racial hierarchy and the relationship between race and parentage even though the white population was relatively smaller than the Africans. There is also use of the Catholic Church to sort of tame the Africans from their ‘uncivilized’ ways and used as the key to heaven; if the Africans resorted to Christianity they could go to heaven.

Emphasis was also placed on three Latin American countries namely: Cuba, Chile and Venezuela. For Venezuela, a major turning point was in 1808 when Napoleon occupied the Iberian Peninsula, deposed the French Bourbon dynasty and appointed his brother Joseph Bonaparte King of Spain. Two years later they would declare independence. In Cuba and Chile, there was no exact type of ideology or government but rather a modeled form of  democracy.

In ‘Upside Down’ by Eduardo Galeano, he gives a snapshot of the modern world as we know it as he says ” A desolate, de-souled world that practices the superstitious worship of machines and idolatry of arms.” There was global hope that the World would reach an equilibrium of peace, freedom and progress but according  to Galeano it was all a facade