The On The Development Of Underdevelopment Essay

The On The Development Of Underdevelopment Essay

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Within the metropole of the United States, can sites of environmental injustice-- that is, those areas in which U.S. residents face severe environmental burdens and relatively few environmental goods--be seen as satellites to the richer, more powerful corporatist (Mitchell, p. 406) metropoles? If so, do efforts among environmental justice organizers to plan and invest in a transition to community energy independence through distributed generation offer a promising developmental solution? Following Gunder-Frank 's work on the development of underdevelopment, I will focus on the first question, to determine whether-- and if so, how-- low-income communities of color who are “overburdened by pollution” (CEJA) relate to the more economically and administratively powerful structures within cities-- namely, multinational corporations, empowered by lack of federal anti-trust law enforcement (Sager, Lecture 8)-- in a way consistent with Gunder-Frank’s satellite-metropole dynamic. Weaving in Gunnar Myrdal 's institutional economics approach to development, I will specifically look at the case of the low-income communities of color in Richmond, California and their relationship with Chevron-- which is not unilateral but features decolonizing efforts by said communities.
How can a California city be a site of neocolonialism?
Although Gunder-Frank introduces his theories of underdevelopment with an initial emphasis on international relations, he then extends it to the relations between provinces within countries. Specifically, he focuses on how each provincial metropolis within a satellite country enacts the same power relations between its respective regions, to “suck capital or economic surplus out of its own satellites and to channel part o...


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...sources, emphasizing the role of local communities in leading this transition and ensuring its equitable adoption within their communities. Of course, communities will face challenges and limitations in such a process, which is a topic deserving an essay-length analysis unto itself.
Altogether, Chevron as a transnational corporation has wielded tremendous economic power as the main employer for Richmond, California-- a site of much environmental racism. However, this relation, which can be deemed both internal and neocolonial in its character, is neither unilateral nor unchallenged. Indeed, environmental justice organizations have fought and succeeded in battles against Chevron for political control of Richmond, and they continue to strive toward a more democratic, equitable, community-led energy system. Whether they will succeed in this endeavor, only time will tell.

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