Economics, Literature and Scepticism

Powered by Blogger.

About Me

My photo
I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Posted by Simon Halliday | Saturday, January 31, 2009 | Category: , |

I am currently reading Ryszard Kapscinki's collection of essays on living in and and reporting from Africa called The Shadow of the Sun. As many of you know, I am intrigued by parochialism and in-group and out-group preferences. Kapuscinski (2001, 188-89) captures the idea perfectly in his essay 'The Black Crystals of the Night,'

Our contemporary suspicion of and antipathy for the Other, the Stranger, goes back to the fear our tribal ancestors felt towards the Outsider, seeing him as the carrier of evil, the source of misfortune. Pain, fire, disease, drought, and hunger did not come from nowhere. Someone must have brought them, inflicted them, disseminated them. But who? Not my people, not those closest to me - they are good. Life is possible only among good people, and I am alive, after all. The guilty are therefore ther Others, the Strangers. That is why, seeking retribution for our injuries and setbacks, we quarrel with them, enter into conflicts, conduct wars. In a word, if unhappiness has befallen us, its source is not within us, but elsewhere, outside, beyond us and our community, far away, in Others.
Does this not capture the notions well? Parochialism, war, altruism towards our in-group, distrust of the out-group all of these ideas are illustrated. Reading is such a pleasure.

Currently have 4 comments:

  1. "The Other"? EEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww........

  2. Dude, don't worry so much. It's a more robust notion than poststructuralist thinking would have it be. Or would you not consider parochialism and what some people consider as 'othering' similar?

  3. I was being facetious... :-)

  4. Ahh... sometimes I can't tell if you're worries about the use of semi-pomo terms, or whether you're just being funny. Silly me :-)