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289 Gray Areas: The War on Poverty at Home and Abroad Ananya Roy, Stuart Schrader, and Emma Shaw Crane Poverty abroad leads to unrest, to internal upheaval, to violence, and to the escalation of extremism. . . . It does the same within our own borders. —Robert S. McNamara, August 23, 1966, Speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars In 1961 John K. Galbraith, then U.S. Ambassador to India, published an essay in Foreign Affairs titled “A Positive Approach to Economic Aid.” In it, he argued, “clearly, economic development can occur only in a context of law and order, where persons and property are reasonably secure.” The statement is important on its own terms, but it is also significant because it appears as an epigraph on a 1961 summary of the Public Safety Program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (aid). The text begins: “In this simple statement Ambassador Galbraith has concisely identified a truism which is so fundamental, it is frequently overlooked or neglected. At the same time he has indicated the basic rationale and purpose of the aid Public Safety Program.” In pencil at the top of the page, written by a high-ranking reviewer, it says “Summary wonderful” (No Author 1961). The Public Safety Program’s template originated in occupied Japan; under President John F. Kennedy, it became the Office of Public Safety, as part of the newly organized aid, where it lasted until 1974. It extended training, logistical, and technical assistance to police and paramilitary forces in approximately forty countries across the global South for the prevention of subversion and revolution . It was, in essence, the key U.S. civilian organizer of counterinsurgency on a global scale. This fragment from the archives of American government speaks to the central proposition of this essay: the yoking of economic development and security in the context of the turbulent 1960s. The mandate of security was of course not new to the mission of foreign aid and development. Under President Harry Truman’s (1949) Point Four vision, American development interventions were described as “weaving a world fabric of international security and growing pros- 290 • Ananya Roy, Stuart Schrader, and Emma Shaw Crane perity.” But beginning in the early 1960s, this geopolitical concept had given way to a quite different territorialization of security, one fundamentally concerned with the fate of cities and ultimately with a territorial unit that was to be the locus of programs of government: the community. In this essay we study the emergence of poverty as both a domestic and an international public policy issue in the 1960s. We are interested in how the theme of poverty came to be closely linked to widespread anxieties about racialized violence in American cities and wars of insurgency in the global South. In particular, we examine one program: Gray Areas, an ambitious Ford Foundation experiment of neighborhood intervention that was implemented in six metropolitan regions across the United States. Imagined as a comprehensive solution to juvenile delinquency and social disorder in urban neighborhoods of migration and racial transition, Gray Areas is a program of government, specifically designed to govern territories of poverty. We refer here to Rose and Miller’s (2010: 279) analysis of government as a “problematizing activity,” such that programs of government are elaborated around “difficulties and failures.” Programs of government, which consist of the exercise of political power beyond the state, as Rose and Miller (2010: 280) note, “provide a kind of intellectual machinery for government.” They render “the world thinkable.” In this sense, Gray Areas must also be understood as a theory of poverty, of poverty’s ongoing problematization for intervention, and thus as the precursor to the War on Poverty and the invention of community of development as a field of practice. As a theory of poverty, Gray Areas conjoined programs of government and “poor people’s movements.” We borrow the latter term from Piven and Cloward ’s (1977) classic text to indicate the social mobilizations that also shaped this historical conjuncture. From Alinsky’s community organizing to the rise of the Black Panther Party (bpp), Gray Areas and programs like it were shaped by the possibilities of radical action, as they also shaped, in turn, the horizons and imaginations of radical movements. This essay also intervenes in the methodologies of poverty studies and its geographic jurisdictions. We place the Gray Areas program in a global context to reveal important interconnections between the wars on poverty at home and abroad. As Goldstein (2012: 3) argues, “Cold...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780820348445
Related ISBN
9780820348421
MARC Record
OCLC
930760342
Pages
336
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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