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CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Tale of Two Worlds Unpacking the Power of the Global North Over the Global South GOWRI PARAMESWARAN Author’s note: While this essay attempts to provide a picture of exploitation transnationally, as with other forms of exploitation and privilege , it is important to acknowledge that there are intersections among communities based on class, race, and gender in terms of who benefits the most from the exploitation of the Global South by the Global North and who loses in this relationship. Colonialism and racism have an intertwined history, and White colonizers from the Global North richly reward some individuals and families in the Global South for acting as intermediaries in the process of colonizing the South. The latter live in opulence in the South, relegating the majority of the South to destitution and poverty. Similarly, there are communities here who have been relegated to the lowest social class, as jobs are moved to the Global South because of the corporate quest for lower wages and fewer government regulations. Men and women in the North are recruited to fight in wars aimed at furthering corporate interests even though they do not get to enjoy the fruits of the war and may even have to give up their lives for the privileged in their own nations. The countries colored blue in the map below are collectively referred to as the Global North, while the countries in red form the Global South. The nations of the Global North are located in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere (except for Australia and New Zealand), while the nations of the Global South are located in the 297 298 Gowri Parameswaran tropical regions of the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere . The terms were coined by activists from the Global South who by giving themselves a name, wanted to forge a collective political and economic identity. The aim was to facilitate a struggle for more equal distribution of resources. Most of the world’s population lives in regions that can be termed the Global South. Since about the 1500s, countries in the Global North colonized much of the South, thereby establishing dominion over its lands and resources. In the early years after nations in the Global South obtained independence from the North, the countries belonging to the North came together to create rules for world governance that kept power and resources in their own hands. They thus ensured an unequal distribution of wealth, resources, materials, and privileges that continues into the present day. Mainstream social sciences reinforced notions of superiority of European societies by classifying cultures in the Global South as backward and in need of civilizing influences, just like male scientists had argued a century earlier that women were not as capable as men. I first read the article on unpacking racism by Peggy McIntosh when I was in graduate school, and have used it in my own classes as an instructor over the years. Readers cannot but be inspired by the simplicity of McIntosh’s message and the deep truths that her list of privileges as a White person reveals about racism in our society . The privileges of the Global North over the Global South are Figure 14.1. Map of the Global North (black) and the Global South (gray). 299 The Tale of Two Worlds much harder to perceive than racism, sexism, and classism within our society, because many of us do not come across people or communities from the nations of the Global South except through the products we consume and the occasional news stories about the horrors of living there. I was born in India, part of the Global South. My family was advantaged within the context we lived in because we were Brahmin, one of the upper castes in a highly hierarchical society. I moved to the United States when I was 21, and since then have returned often to my native town in South India. When one travels across boundaries, the invisible privileges that one takes for granted become more visible. Being a woman of color in the United States, and therefore marginalized, allows me to understand the many oppressions that communities from the lower castes experience in India. However, even though as a woman and as an Asian I am disadvantaged in some ways, I am conferred an important privilege as a result of my moving and settling down in the United States. I have become a citizen of the Global North. It is not...


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