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Abuse and westernisation. A few thoughts on strategies of power

Abstract : Using Foucault's concepts of power relations, discourse and internalization, this article uncovers some basic dissemination and internalization strategies of power relations on several levels. First, it looks at power at the individual level, with an analysis of family abuse and torture. It then applies this analysis to Westernization in Africa, arguing that the basic strategies by which power is disseminated and internalized into the bodies, psyches and cultures of Africans are the same as in abuse. The internalization of the Western discourse at the individual and small-community levels was studied through field research, undertaken in Ghana, that included participant observation and interviews. The research shows that even in the case of small, local, sustainable development projects, one sees a Westernization of power relations between men and women, chiefs and population, and elders and youth, with changes in related values. The field research reveals that actors are not merely passive victims of changes in discourses: they resist it, cooperate, disseminate and adapt it to their needs, but within the rules of the Western regime of discourse. The general conditions, processes and actors' strategies in this process of discursive change go further than a mere analogy to abuse and torture. The article shows that the process by which an initially violent, dominant discourse is transformed into a 'normal' way of living, into beliefs and wishes, is the same in these different cases, suggesting that there exist some general strategies by which power is disseminated at the international and individual levels and by which it is propagated and internalized by individuals.
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Contributor : Hélène Tisserand <>
Submitted on : Thursday, June 26, 2008 - 4:16:43 PM
Last modification on : Friday, October 23, 2020 - 10:42:05 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00290980, version 1




Stéphane La Branche. Abuse and westernisation. A few thoughts on strategies of power. Journal of Peace Research, SAGE Publications, 2005, 42, pp.219-235. ⟨halshs-00290980⟩



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