Culture and Transformation

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Cultureand Transformation

Theworld constitutes of developed, developing, and undevelopedcountries. The existence of these three types of countries isattributed to environmental, economic, and political factors. Thepaper aims at expounding how these factors change cultures as well asresult in marginalization. In addressing this, the paper will expoundon Mike Davis’ analysis of “Lake Victorian Holocausts” aboutthe contributions of environmental catastrophe, the global capitalisteconomy as well as colonial policies to the emergence of the thirdworld.

Inanalyzing “Lake Victorian Holocausts,” David noted that the“great drought” as a result of the delayed arrival of the monsoonand occurrence of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation also referred toas ENSO, affected many lives in India (Davis 25). According to him,people from southern as well as central India depended greatly on themonsoon winds since it brought rain. In 1876, the life-savingsouthwest monsoon failed a great portion of India. According toDavis, the monsoon that used to provide people with adequate raincombined with ENSO and caused a severe drought in India. ENSO was“the elusive great white whale of tropical meteorology for almost acentury” (Davis 213). The El Nino of the ENSO, caused a series offloods together with droughts all over the world, affecting theclimates of many regions including India (Davis 13). Although Davisassociates ENSO with the great drought in India, it is apparent thatit was not the main cause of the famines experienced in the thirdworld during the Victorian period. According to him, socialvulnerability factors also influenced the problems in the thirdworld.

Socialvulnerability in the third world is well described by theimplementation of the free market by western imperial states on localsociety. Davis learned that the actions of the western imperialstates, as well as the free market in undeveloped countries of theVictorian period, resulted in marginalization and change of cultures.According to Davis, small subsistence farmers were compelled toreplace their subsistence farming with the growth of cash crops andbuy all their foods from the large-scale market. The new cultureexposed Indians to more problems since food prices escalated whilethe price for cash crops dropped due to the introduction of freetrade by the Europeans (Davis 27). The inability of the poor Indiansto purchase foods led to the marginalization of the poor. Accordingto Davis, the price explosion due to the introduced internationalGold Standard led to the death of many poor Indians in districts suchas Thanjavur within India (Davis 27).

Theanalysis by Davis shows that the term “third world,” whichmarginalizes undeveloped countries from developed countries, emergedfrom the western imperialism. Before the influence of the westernculture, the natives produced food crops that sustained themthroughout the period including periods of drought. The colonistsforced small-scale farmers to produce cash crops instead of foodcrops, affecting their means of survival. Apart from controlling theavailability of food crops to the natives, the colonists controlledthe price of both imports and exports. In India, for instance, “smallproducers made the apparently surprising choice of substitutingcotton for millet. For land short peasants, its higher returns peracre provided a better chance of approaching subsistence targets thangrain cultivation itself” (Davis 316). Adoption of this farming andtrading culture increased the risk for small-scale farmers since theylost control of their means of production. Apart from the price ofcrops, the amount of food exchanged for the cash crops they producedwas determined by the global market instead of their labor andclimate. Since the majority of the farmers in India and other thirdworld countries ventured in producing mainly cash crops, the value ofcash crops dropped forcing the poor into debt to purchase food. Inaddition to this, the imperial power regulated the amount of supportindigenous governments gave to their people during famines. Moreover,the control of third world governments’ debts by western statesprevented local powers from funding construction and maintenance ofimportant infrastructure to minimize susceptibility to climate shockssuch as those caused by ENSO. For instance, public works in MutinyIndia were controlled by the demand of military control and export ofagriculture. Food security of poor farmers was given the lastpriority (Davis 332). Such practices clearly demonstratemarginalization of the people from third world countries.

Theanalysis of the “Lake Victorian Holocausts” by Davis makes methink of President Trump’s “Immigration Agenda” as a war of thedisadvantaged in the society. Prior to going through Davis work, Iconcurred with Trump that deporting immigrants was the only solutionto the insecurity issue in the United States of America (Rosenfeld2017). According to Trump, a good number of terrorists who havemanaged to attack the citizens of the U.S. constitute persons whomoved into the country as immigrants. The claim by Trump is solid.However, there is a great possibility that Trump is implementing thispolicy to pursue personal interests. From the look of things,President Trump is a racist who can do anything to exploit people ofdifferent color for his own advantage. Just like the imperials in theVictorian Period, Trump encourages racism and exploitation of otherpeople. The immigrants in the U.S. contribute significantly to theeconomic development by not only paying taxes but also providingworkforce in different areas (Rosenfeld 2017).According to Trump’simmigration agenda, the immigrants have lost value today. In fact, hesupported his call for deportation of immigrants with the creation ofproblems in the U.S. by immigrants. As a result of Trump’s agenda,marginalization of immigrants in the U.S. will increase. People aregoing to be classified based on where they come from and access toemployment opportunities is likely to be restricted to specificcitizens.

Inconclusion, environmental, economic, and political factors changecultures and enhance marginalization. The term third world emergedfrom the westerners who described undeveloped countries as thirdworld nations. The characteristics of third world countries, as wellas the problems experienced in these countries, are as a result ofenvironmental catastrophes as well as human influences. The analysisof the “The Victorian Holocausts” by Davis shows that problemsexperienced in third world countries in the Victorian period werecaused by severe drought. It also shows imperial policies fueled theproblems. Introduction and implementation of new policies barred thenatives from making their own decisions. The economic practice by theEuropeans also denied the natives the opportunity to develop. Apartfrom controlling the economic activities of the natives, westernpowers sold their commodities to the natives at higher prices.


Davis,Mike. LateVictorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the ThirdWorld. New York: Verso Books, 2002.

Rosenfeld,Steven. AlterNet. Trump`sAttack on Immigrants Fuels Right-Wing Agenda to Destroy the SafetyNet.2017. Web. 15 March 2017. 2016/trumps-attack-immigrants-fuels-right-wing-agenda-destroy-safety-net