Li, Tania Murray. “Indigeneity, capitalism, and the management of dispossession.” Current Anthropology 51.3 (2010): 385-414.
Li’s article is a great read. Abstract:
Focusing mainly on Asia, this article tracks a link between the collective, inalienable land-tenure regimes currently associated with indigeneity and attempts to prevent piecemeal dispossession of small-scale farmers through land sale and debt. Collective landholding is sometimes imposed by local groups on their own members as they act to defend their livelihoods and communities. More often, however, it has been imposed from outside, first by paternalistic officials of the colonial period and now by a new set of experts and advocates who assume responsibility for deciding who should and who should not be exposed to the risks and opportunities of market engagement. From the perspective of their proponents, however, attempts to institutionalize collective landholdings are not impositions at all. They simply confirm a culturally distinct formation naturally present among “tribal” or “indigenous” people. Yet rural populations have repeatedly failed to conform to the assumptions embedded in schemes designed for their protection. They cross social and spatial boundaries. Some demand recognition of individualized land rights as they respond to market opportunities. Others are unable to escape the extractive relations that visions of cultural alterity and harmonious collectivity too often overlook. Meanwhile, dispossessory processes roll on unrecognized or unobserved.
In 1982, the legacy of plantation agriculture resulted in the near-total dismantling of Oahu’s dairy industry when high levels of heptachlor were found in locally produced milk and in the breast milk of nursing mothers. The toxin’s presence in the milk supply traced to the use of heptachlor in the pineapple industry, which sold chopped pineapple leaves tainted with the hazardous chemical as cattle feed.
When the milk was recalled in March ‘82, some studies suggested that it had been contaminated since the fall of 1980. There is clearly some danger. Heptachlor causes cancer in laboratory animals, and it affects unborn children, because it passes through the placenta to the fetus.
Broder has won a $1 million settlement from Foremost and another $3 million from Meadow Gold. The $4 million will be used for a medical monitoring program designed to discover what effects drinking contaminated milk had on Hawaii’s population. (Feb 1987)
I think about how an issue like GMOs is not just about GMOs, but about the persistent looming presence of industrial agriculture on these islands. While I am not comfortable with relying on GMO as a proxy for the larger questions about corporate agriculture, people’s mistrust of corporation’s promises re: food safety has a back story. The creation of new products and the expansion of markets for those products, even “whole foods” like pineapple, have ramifications for land and labor.
Gary Y. Okihiro. Pineapple Culture: A History of the Tropical and Temperate Zones, University of California Press, 2009
Reviewed by Hiroshi Kitamura in the journal Labor: Studies in Working Class Histories of the Americas
Presumed to have been first discovered and domesticated by hunter-gatherer communities in the Amazon rain forests, the pineapple caught the fancy of European explorers, aristocrats, plant collectors, and artists who cherished the rare tropical fruit as a symbol of wealth and privilege. As the pineapple circulated widely through mercantile and colonial networks, it soon reached the shores of Hawai’i. Originally settled by Polynesian voyagers centuries ago, this island community was gradually taken over by European, and more decisively, US expansionists, who erected government offices, missions, and sugar mills to solidify their rule over these strategically valued islands. The pineapple became a mainstay in their plantation fields following the annexation of 1898. Owing in no small measure to James Dole’s Hawaiian Pineapple Company and its streamlined production techniques, the treasured fruit quickly turned into the second largest commodity (next to sugarcane) in the Hawaiian economy.
The rise of the Hawaiian pineapple helped transform the once uncommon fruit into an affordable middle-class commodity. Okihiro shows how this transition inspired the creation of a “new” pineapple culture in the United States. In the colonial era, the pineapple was already more than an edible fruit, as its image graced the wealthy’s doorways, teapots, lamps, oil paintings, laces, and other material possessions. The Hawaiian pineapple of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was more widely spread; available both fresh and canned, it penetrated upper- and middle-class cultures via cookbooks, women’s magazines (such as Ladies’ Home Journal), and dinner menus on cruise lines. Colored with tropes of tropical exoticism, ecological fecundity, healthfulness, and feminine seduction, from its alienating conditions.
These commercial and cultural formulations have reinforced the hegemonic authority of the white middle-class and power elites, but the portability and mobility of the pineapple, Okihiro contends, has also diffused established boundaries. As a result, the now-popular fruit “advances a global, material culture … that qualifies and diminishes the contrived distances between the polarities of West and East, continents and islands, temperate and tropical zones” (180).
[This book] is born from the strong belief that any real solution to our current environmental and sustainability challenges will by necessity be local. Designing, redesigning, and building communities that work for residents, that respect and strengthen unique qualities of place, and that acknowledge extralocal connections and obligations must be at the core of any future global environmental strategy.
I started this compilation of coverage of anti-Roma policies in the E.U. after attending Mathilde Costil’s talk on Roma resettlement in Saint-Denis at the Urban Affairs Association in April. There are some parallels with mainstream perceptions of the homeless in the U.S.
Costil had conducted two years of ethnographic research on the Roma migrant shantytown and the city of St. Denis’ resettlement project. Activists had sought to provide housing for the Roma but needed to counter public stereotypes with arguments that the Roma are legitimate beneficiaries of government support. Advocates included an explanation on migration/living conditions (their visibility as street vendors and recyclers of scrap metal) and the need to create an upgraded image of St. Denis as welcoming to the working class (a former industrial city with 50% foreign/foreign origin). Many residents nevertheless opposed the housing project, afraid of the devaluation of their property values. Costil noted that the fact that the project specifically targeted Roma beneficiaries further stigmatized the migrants as programs for specific ethnic groups are very unusual and very unpopular in France.
Roma are a group that almost all French, including many immigrants, have agreed to despise. “They are dirty, they steal, they don’t pick up their trash, they don’t respect the law, they don’t assimilate,” a young Malian immigrant told me in conversation yesterday.
One of the reasons that the case of Leonarda has stirred up such strong, contradictory emotion is that her story both confuses and confirms the stereotypes. Leonarda was attending school, showing signs of wanting to integrate into French life. At the same time, her father is unemployed and acknowledges having lied to try to get asylum. Leonarda reportedly missed twenty days of school this year and at one point was placed in protective custody because of concerns about her father’s violence. The Dibranis did not live in a hovel but in a form of temporary public housing. (“The scandal here is that the French people have housed and fed this family for four years,” said one right-wing politician, voicing a widely held sentiment.)
Many Roma do live in unspeakable conditions in improvised shantytowns on the periphery of various towns and cities. (A case this week in Greece, of a small blonde girl found in a Roma camp with several other children whose births were unregistered, plays into this picture.) And yet, “the classic stereotype is largely untrue,” Fassin said. “When you go to Roma camps, you find people trying to clean and you find children trying to go to school.”
Atlantic Cities: Faces of a Madrid slum clearance: 34 Roma people have been removed from their makeshift homes outside Spain’s capital
The neighborhood of “El Gallinero,” nine miles away from Madrid’s city center, is mostly occupied by Roma people who live in makeshift structures without running water or proper sewage systems. The community has an estimated 700 residents, many of whom survive by begging or collecting garbage.
A boy reacts as he stands next riot policemen while an excavator demolishes a relative’s shack in the shanty town settlement of “El Gallinero”, in the outskirts of Madrid June 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Susana Vera)
A police operation in which Roma gipsies were carted off from an illegal camp outside Paris in a specially-requisitioned tram has been denounced as reminiscent of the deportation of Jews in wartime France.