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Adhrita Roy on Seen From The South
27 June, 2023
The course “Seen from the South” curated by Cathelijne Nuijsink (chair of Professor Avermaete, ETH Zürich) aimed at investigating the relationship of the western world to its Global South counterparts. As Jean Comaroff says – the Global South – the ‘non-West’ has always been seen as the area of raw, unprocessed data so what if we reverse this perspective? A simple idea but also very radical. What if we reinvestigate the relations that define the position of the countries of the West and the Global South to see and to know whether the Global South can be seen as a place which could possibly give a better understanding of the complex urban networks which define the global cityscapes of the world. The course – a series of lectures by professionals in different fields – tried to subtly interweave the different narratives to allow students to draw their own interpretations of these tangible (yet sometimes intangible) relations. Starting with Soraya El Kahlaoui’s tales of eviction that progressing urbanity brought to the ancestral lands of Guich Oudaya Tribe, to Rita Velloso’s take on how geographical locations influence a ‘person’s value’; to how information and technology is power to Hannah le Roux’s take on how the trend of modernisation often seems to attack the seemingly informal, transient commercial and social spaces in a city – different perspectives from around the world allowed the students to understand how these relations shape the situation of the ‘Global South’ in different ways.
The lecture by Sucharita Sen also touched on the idea of how these trends are also evident in the financial relations between countries and how it in turn affects the labour masses of these developing nations. Focusing on how labour is just another commodity in the market and how it hampers the overall economic development of the country she focused on the plight of the masses who get left behind by the progressing urbanity. Each lecture, introduced conceptually by Cathelijne Nuijsink – while giving the students a brief peek into the content and creating a base by the suggested readings – always gave enough room for students to critically examine these situations themselves and make their own conclusions. With a new take on examining these dynamics and the concluding lecture by Tom Avermaete addressing how education plays a role in these factors and perceptions of the countries – it was refreshing to examine these relations in a non-pre perceived and unbiased environment.