I’ve never done well with labels, whether personal or more global in nature. The whole notion of the 3rd world has always bothered me a bit. How are some countries better at being countries than other countries? I didn’t know it was a competition.
I’ll never forget being in a Pacific Island Studies class, reading “the africanization of the south pacific” and discussing the arc of instability. I remember classmates being all up in arms about the Pacific being compared to Africa. I remember being pissed that some of them couldn’t see how screwed up it was that Africa was being put out there as some kind of worst case development/democratic scenario – just another opportunity to reinforce stereotypes, delve into racism and deny the impact of colonization (you guys know I can work that discussion into almost anything, right?) Haha.
The longer that I’m in any place that is considered “developing” I am always reminded at how much more I like myself in that setting. That I’m not distracted by a bunch of stuff. That I have more time to focus on people, not work or things. That I sleep better. That I don’t need to compulsively check my email. That I am reminded of what is important. That I’m not caught up in the rat race and could give a shit about publishing or perishing.
People make all kinds of assumptions about Africa and the “developing world”, myself included. Sweeping generalizations – whether it’s about AIDS, famine, instability, corruption, or whatever else. (I also have some assumptions/fears about the spiders there, but that’s a later post.) These assumptions and generalizations are not fair, to anyone – but it seems like they’ve been made about the countries that make up the continent of Africa more often and longer than anywhere else. As with most of my travels, I always try to go in open-minded, but usually get handed an ass kicking pretty quickly, which is good for me. It’s humbling and reminds me that I wasn’t being as open-minded as I was supposed to.
I wonder when we’ll finally get over this need to categorize everything and everyone. A comic, below, to show how the 3rd world is often portrayed. I wonder if globalization and capitalism is ever brought into the discussion, if blame will ever be placed where it should…?