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Approche anthropologique de la violence structurelle en vue du développement économique des territoires

Abstract : The title of this paper is somehow provocative both in the link between violence and the territorial development, and in the anthropological and geographical approach. By anthropology, I mean the link between violence and competition between firms within a territory. The anthropology as a social science and sibling of the geography permits to use an approach on a long run term and permits to take the human factor into account on a territory. So, the anthropological approach will enable the scientist to offset a lack of consideration for the long run which is not taken into account by the economy. Besides the idea of taking into account the notion of time, anthropology linked to geography covers the human aspect and the natural resources of a given territory. In addition to geography, anthropology reveals the notions of the effects of the economic violence on a territory among several populations, between firms and populations. As a result, anthropology will show how ethnocentrism is a source of violence as we tend to use an economic pattern on a given territory with different habits and customs, without any notions of anthropology and geography. This lack of consideration leads to a shortage of resources, wars, corruption and high pollution. We will give you examples. The caucasian range of mountains is a land of oil and institutional conflicts between Russia, the USA, and the local populations. Another example is the conflict about Greenland and the Arctic ocean where the Russians, the Canadians, the Danes fight for oil, fish, drinking water resources on a territory complying with international laws, thereby forcing the Inuit populations to move away. A further example is the introduction of the Nil perch into the waters of the Victoria lake which has totally altered the local environment and economy following foreign and partly european investments. Consequently, we will first raise the problem of violence on its historical and current aspect through the anthropology in a competitive market. We will see that a sound competition is not possible ! This evidence has been revealed by famous anthropologists like (Franz BOAS, Claude LEVI-STRAUSS). Then, we will raise a second aspect, the theory of the “gift and counter-gift” explained by Marcel MAUSS (1924) , through the example of the potlatch culture, a common practice in ancient tribes from America and in Pacific islands or India. MAUSS has noticed that the capitalism-based exchange on profit is wiped out by the potlatch culture. The economic principle is simple: you necessarily have a winner and a loser. And as a consequence an action of violence since an unbalanced situation is created. As opposed to it, the potlatch system necessarily brings about a mutual exchange within a given territory, an absence of violence (if the rule is respected) as the anthropologists put it. This is what they call the “exchange theory”. Along with, it can be noticed that the link between the territory and the firm is somehow similar. You have a loser (the Caucasian territory via a shortage of oil resources and the conflicts between the populations) and the world of the firms making profit by the abuse of oil drilling. May we remind that these peoples do not use any currency, any money at all to live in that system. The example of the potlatch system is finally relevant to the notion “pure expense” which has been developed by Georges BATAILLE and Marcel MAUSS. This process nevertheless may drive to some confrontation since “counter-gift” must exceed the “gift” itself. This culture of “gift and counter-gift” is left aside by a business environment run by firms on a territory and economists who have their own vision of the economy. The scientific debate gathers on the one hand, theorists and economists, on the other hand, observers such as anthropologists and geographers whose hypothesis are based on observation. Therefore, we will point out that observation on a long run is essential (that of the populations, resources, religions, history, culture) and that the economic science has its limits (the current economic crisis are an example). The economy has forgotten that time and history have played a major role in the development of a territory, too. As a conclusion, we can say that the firms increase tensions, cause violence for they rely on economic patterns forgetting about the cultural and human dimensions which are also necessarily part of a territory.
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Anthony Tchékémian, Richard Gauthier. Approche anthropologique de la violence structurelle en vue du développement économique des territoires. Revue de Géographie de l'Est, 2010, Firmes, géopolitique et territoires - vol. 1, 50 (1-2). ⟨halshs-01848942⟩

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