A Place for Poor People?

Issues presented in the blog post A Place for Poor People? Peri-Urban Land and “Development” in Lesotho by Charles Fogelman and the anthropological article Vulnerability and Place: Flat Land and Uneven Risk in New Orleans by Craig Colton emphasized the importance of social stratification. Both accounts highlighted the unequal social repercussions experienced by the poor due to disparities caused by “economic growth” (i.e., the changes that impact the rich, but do not “trickle-down” to the poor). Interestingly, both authors seem to have alluded to individuals being able to help themselves. Fogelman emphasized the latter by stating, “the poor need to truly be at the forefront of planning and execution”. Though this appears to be a feasible approach, Colton presents a real world issue, which stems from the divergence between the wealthy and the poverty stricken.

Structural violence is oppressive and can be underscored in both accounts. In general, the social limitations, which are placed upon the poor, inhibit them from accessing their basic needs. In Vulnerability and Place, the individuals of New Orleans are prevented from remaining safe via their topographical location (i.e., below, at, or above sea level). Where as in A Place for Poor People the individuals of Lesothlo are unable to achieve social and economic growth based on the government’s decision to develop a golf course on land used for small-scale agriculture.

In general, cycles repeat themselves and the tendencies that form each cycle are difficult to change, especially when entrenched in a static and/or steadfast social setting. Would changing these stagnant environments be feasible or are there specific places that the poor do not belong?



Vulnerability and Place: Flat Land and Uneven Risk in New Orleans by Craig Colton.