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Unformatted text preview: The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Scarcity, Abundance, and Conflict: A Complex New World by Ravi Bhavnani M emories of Lagos from the early 1980s are replete with striking contrasts. Private tennis lessons, a dip in the Ikoyi Clubs vast side-by-side pools, and the grilled red-pepper crusted Suya treat that followed are pitted against the burned image of a rotting corpse on the Badagary expressway, the eerie silence and emptiness which characterized the coup overthrowing Shagharis civilian regime, and the chaos accompanying the expulsion of over a million migrant workers from the country in 1983our entire Ghanaian household staff included. These contradictions resonate even more powerfully today, as the countrys abundant oil wealth is siphoned and squandered, leaving Lagos millions to eke out an existence in slum-dwelling depravity. With its contradictions, Lagos is hardly unique. In Dharavi, Asias largest slum located across the Bandra-Kurla complex in Mumbai, a long-time resident recounted to me: If it can be made in China, we can make it better and cheaper in Dharavi. This emerging industrial powerhouse, home to over 5,000 home-based manufacturing units, has a product line that includes export-quality leather goods, textiles, shoes, woodwork, pottery, and jewelry. In addition, it also houses vast reprocessing and recycling units, beauty parlors, bars, and clothing boutiques. Estimates place Dharavis annual economic output at roughly USD 500 million. 1 Increasingly, Dharavi is becoming home to merchants and people working in Mumbais booming IT sector. Amid the filth and squalor, the daily toil of Dharavis some one million residents reflects mastery of the art of turning scarcity into abundance. Heading further east, the Porega Gold mine, located in Papua New Guineas Enga province about 600km north west of Port Moresby, illustrates just the reverse: the unpleasant but highly practiced trade of turning abundance into scarcity. Open pit and underground mining methods for ore extraction, in which cyanide is used to treat the gold ore, go hand in hand with the dumping of toxic tailings and other mine debris into the local river system. The resulting decline in safe water is accompanied by the loss of agricultural land and food security, attributed largely to mine encroachment. And the absence of adequate information on mining-related sources of contamination has taken a profound toll on the communitys health. 2 Barrick Ravi Bhavnani is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University. His current research focuses on the micro-foundations of mass participation in ethnic violence, rebellion, and civil war....
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course INTERNATIO 101 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '09 term at Boise State.
- Fall '09
- An Essay on the Principle of Population