Friday, November 11, 2005

Ghetto

Patrick Belton continues his most interesting reportage from Paris. He notes that
What lingers for me was the pride the rioters express in the toughness of their neighbourhood - referring to it as 'ghetto' and 'south Bronx', and offering to take you to caches of molotov cocktails, drugs and arms - which seems to tap into a performative identity of images provided by American media of anger and power.
Given the popularity of a song about the American ghetto in Dakar this summer, I got into occasional discussions of comparisons of the toughness of Dakar to random American cities. Not being much a ghetto-boy, I wasn't able to offer much insight. But people clearly had the impression that American ghettos are much more serious affairs than Dakar ghettos. This supports Belton's point. It is also entertaining to contrast with Robert Kaplan's assertion that West African cities represent our (terrible) future. Yet in those same cities, people look to America for their notion of toughness.

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