Understanding Impoverishment: The Consequences of Development-Induced Displacement

By Christopher McDowell | Go to book overview

5
Fighting for a Place
THE POLICY IMPLICATIONS OF RESISTANCE TO
DEVELOPMENT-INDUCED RESETTLEMENT

Anthony Oliver-Smith


Introduction

In Goethe's Faust, in the conflict between the protagonist and Philemon and Baucis, an aged couple who refuse to be relocated to make way for Faust's triumphant final project, the author evokes the modern images of the developer and the 'people in the way' who must be moved for the greater glory of the projects that will supposedly benefit humankind ( Berman 1982:68). To entice them to move from their coastal homesite so that he can build an observation tower for people to gaze out into the new world he has made, Faust offers the aged couple a cash settlement or resettlement to a new home, but they refuse his offers, preferring to remain where they can continue to live meaningful lives, providing service to shipwrecked sailors and wanderers. To this persistent resistance and refusal to be moved, Faust ultimately says: 'Resistance and such stubbornness/ Thwart the most glorious success,/ Till in the end, to one's disgust,/ One soon grows tired of being just.' (11,269-72) ( Berman 1982:67) In the end, the power of the developer is served, the resistance of the elderly couple is overcome and they are destroyed.

There is an undeniable Faustian quality in development projects that transform environments and overwhelm people's lives for the benefit of 'society'. In my lectures in anthropology courses I have often, in part facetiously, referred to political power as 'the ability to

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