Ethiopia: Bringing Ecology Back In: Terminating the Myth of the Economy-Society Quagmire
Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
Instructor: Dr. Mehretab Assefa and Florence Molk
Dates: May 22 - June 10
Cost: $4,800 + airfare
Listing: SOC/AFS/ANTH/GS 248
Units: 1 SLU Unit/3.6 Credits
Course Description: Ethiopia, like all countries in the modern world-system, is trapped in a paradox; between the Modernity of Technology, which calls for Development or endless economic growth and Modernity of Liberation which is devoted to stable Liberal Democracy. While Development is founded on changeability, Liberation gives primacy to stability. To the casual observer, economic growth and social justice are two complementary things and their incompatibility with each other is normal requiring political/ideological resolution. To the critical mind however the antagonism is not a result of their mutual discreteness, but a function of their violent isolation. Their divergent rationales are symptoms of the contradiction of capitalist relational processes. Unending economic growth perpetually disrupts social stability inducing protective measures. Conversely, fixed social security undermines economic growth prompting economic liberalization, deregulation, etc. The history of the modern world-system is that growth and democracy are not only relatively sustained in the wealthy parts of the world, but also at the expense of their poor counterparts. Technological innovation is nothing but the transfer of production input (raw material and labor) and surplus value from peripheral to core regions of the world, and democratic entitlements are nothing but the redistribution of wealth in rich countries to the detriment of poor ones. Hence, students will see that for the world in general and poor countries in particular the choice should not be between economic growth and liberal democracy, it should instead be in forging alternative angle of vision of environmental justice based on ecological principle. Growth and welfare are in constant contradiction pitting nature against society. Environmental justice informed by ecological principle stresses the interrelation between economic sustainability and social harmony.