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Growing Up Global: Economic Restructuring and Children’s Everyday Lives
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on February 13, 2011
'Growing Up Global' presents a lucid reading into the multiple processes that perpetuate global capitalism across various scales of the everyday.

I found this book an excellent read and an insightful guide into the complexities behind social production and reproduction of place and space.

Cindi Katz's notion of counter-topographies is an extremely potent concept -- it unfolds throughout the book as a sharp analytic tool to help deconstruct and re-bridge the different worlds of children in Sudan and in the US through the social, political and cultural intersections of land, nature and place.

Written with such poetic delicacy, this book is an excellent foray into the kind of theoretical analysis that's only possible through elaborate research and fieldwork. 'Growing Up Global' provides innovative and relevant insights to the literature on globalization.
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on February 13, 2011
Growing Up Global is a beautiful book. Cindi Katz shows us the best that scholarship can be: deeply caring at the same time that it is intellectually incisive. Out of these two commitments - to people (those she got to know in the field but also you get the sense that the rest of us are also important to her in this story), and to telling the story of a development project in which they are embroiled - comes a richly descriptive monograph that gets us inside what it means to live before, during and after economic restructuring. The process at the heart of the book is a state-sponsored agricultural development project that displaced a traditional subsistence practice of dryland agriculture on communal land to create an export-focused agriculture on the same land, subdivided and allotted to the villagers as tenancies. The Project also brought with it new technologies: irrigation, chemical fertilization and pesticides which shifted farming away from traditional environmental knowledge.
The parallel processes of the commodification of food and the proletarianization of farmers threatened access to food, to land for new households, and to the cash required by an increasingly monetized economy. As agriculture was rendered less ecologically sustainable and less able to provide the means of subsistence, practices of growing up were no longer able to provide the next generation with the knowledge base for securing a livelihood.
It is the sensitivity to this reality - that the "playful work" and "workful play" in which she observed children engage would be increasingly ineffective at sustaining their families and communities into the future - that Katz draws into the book's methodological contribution to her discipline of geography. `Countertopography' is a ethnographic method that draws analytical lines of comparison between detailed studies of places that are physically distant. In Growing Up Global, Katz traces the processes of economic restructuring by which children in a rural Sudanese village and East Harlem are both deskilled - in East Harlem by the disinvestment of public education even as the economy moved away from manufacturing and towards a knowledge economy.
Katz's writing is closely detailed, wonderful to read, and thought provoking.
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on February 5, 2011
Cindi Katz is a well-known intellectual in the fields of geography, anthropology and critical theory. She has a much-deserved reputation for telling things as they are, but with a poetry of expression that makes her talks exceptionally engaging and her writing a pleasure to read--even when what she tells may include much that makes us angry. I have had the pleasure of reading parts of Katz's longitudinal work with children and young people of Howa in the Sudan and Harlem, New York. Finally, the whole story has been written in Growing up Global, which brings Katz's work full-circle as she returns to Sudan to meet the children of her 1970s study as adults in the 1990s.

This is a book for anyone who wants to try to make sense of what globalization is doing to states, regions, rural farming communities and inner-city residential areas. This book explores what global processes, in particular the relentless march of economic restructuring, mean in different spaces and places and what they can do to young people and their families. It provides powerful insight into the machinery of globalization as it works its way through the so-called "poor South" and the "rich North," and provides detailed critiques of "development" and "(dis)investment" practices in Sudan and New York City, respectively.

What Katz elegantly shows is that for the young people in these two geographies, the differences are not nearly as great as might have been imagined. The eroded ecologies of Howa and New York City (specifically Harlem), created by the particular forms of capitalism and development strategies that form part of the current neo-liberal hegemony, impact heavily on children's lives and life chances. In Sudan, the agricultural development project named Suki was, among other negative practices, bringing a monetary economy to Howa and thus dissolving older community relations of reciprocity and exchange. The very land that children were learning about as places to farm in their adult futures was being eroded and damaged, put beyond use or access. In Harlem, children faced intense overcrowding and poor resources in schools that could provide them with little of value in their local economies. This lack of space to learn was replicated in the outside areas as reduced investment resulted in possible play spaces becoming no-go danger zones. In discussion about the book, Katz pointed out that the money flowing into Sudan that created the problematic development programs was the same money flowing out of New York that left the poor of that city in a form of structural poverty (Katz 2005).

One of the great strengths of this book is the way in which elegant description of everydayness is interwoven with critical and analytical commentary on economic structures and globalization processes. Drawing upon anthropological methodologies of being in a community, Katz spent hours and hours with the children in Sudan. She provides a fascinating insight into their game playing, their mimicry of adult lives and the ways in which they use their time--sometimes in conflict with adult expectations. Chapter 1, "A Child's Day in Howa," is wonderful read. Chapter 6, "New York Parallax; or You Can't Drive a Chevy through a Post-Fordist Landscape," is equally rich in detail but will incite anger for those concerned about global social justice. In Harlem and New York City, Katz's methodology is based on a structural analysis of global economic restructuring, urban disinvestment and the erosion of educational resources and open/ green spaces. Her description of what city authorities can do to their own children is harrowing and is epitomized by the story of the bulldozing of the Children's Garden of Love in full view of the children in their classrooms.

Despite the devastation wrought by development projects that destroy local water and land ecologies (Howa) and disinvestment and greed for land that denudes educational and green spaces (Harlem), Katz determinedly talks of people's responses. She examines the ways in which young people and their communities are involved in resilience, reworking and resistance (the three Rs) to make sure their lives continue and that there are positive opportunities for children both in the here and now and when they grow up. This three-way analysis is an excellent approach to examining the diverse and inventive ways that ordinary people cope with the intrusions of different forms of capitalist structures into their everyday lives. An examination of the "fleshy, messy, and indeterminate stuff of everyday life" (p. x) that constitutes social reproduction is placed in a useful dialectic relation with production. In this way, space is created for an insight into children's lives, experiences and geographies in particular.

This is book of despair, but also of hope. Katz describes a "fourth R"--revanchism--as "the vengeful social, cultural and political-economic policies and practices of ruling groups and nations" (p. 241) that are very largely responsible for the situations the book describes. This is the despair. However, there are stories of hope, namely those of the lives of the young adults who had been children in Howa in 1971. They have learned and adapted and are living their adult lives in ways similar and yet different from their parents. Their lives are far from easy, but they cope by demonstrating aspects of resilience, reworking and resistance. Similarly, direct community action in Harlem has created some better and enduring open and green spaces for children and adults. This is not to romanticize the three R's; utilizing and participating in such practices is extremely hard work. The book shows that there are spaces of hope but that a great deal of work still has to be done (through theory, research, policy and practice) in order to capture and secure some degree of social justice in a globalized world.

Reference:

Katz, C.(2005). Response to "Critics Meet Author" panel. Association of American Geographers Annual Conference, Denver, April 5.

(review published in Children, Youth and Environments Vol. 17 No. 1 (2007) - written by Tracey Skelton)
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on February 13, 2011
Provocative. Looks at lives of children as lens to complicate and enrich our understanding of global capitalist development.

"The cultural forms and practices of children's learning and knowledge form one of the fault lines that traverse social reproduction and transformation." (p151)

The importance of these ideas only grows as the hidden sphere of reproduction becomes more and more obviously in need of analysis and comprehension in our crisis-wracked moment....

This book is also the birthplace of Katz's theory of 'time-space expansion' - a corrective to the assumption that all capital does is compress (see D. Harvey's "time-space compression"). Katz highlights the contradictions experienced by the children she came to know

"children were not being prepared for any future they were likely to face. They were learning the skills and knowledge associated with agriculture, but they were unlikely to have access to land as they came of age" (xii)

For those interested in social reproduction, environmental knowledge, marxist debates around production/reproduction, the study of every day life in capitalism...

"As I began to see in this study, capitalism works more like Darwin's worms than a deluge. But it doesn't have the earth to itself." (p22)
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on February 14, 2011
Growing Up Global is a powerful read in many ways. It is not a light read because the depth of the ideas it offers the reader; it is an exciting read because of the ingenuity of Katz's new reading of the world which alters your own ways of understanding and thinking about everything from everyday life to globalization; and it is an important read because it extends the possibilities to change and improve the world from your imagination to your practices. You are taken along on a trip to a small town in 1970s Sudan first, experiencing everyday life in the remote town of Howa (fictional name). Katz articulates the complicated and messy outcomes of early neoliberal economic restructuring through an on-the-ground description of children's everyday lives. Suddenly everything becomes illuminated as Katz works her way through some clever and charged analysis: the increased distances kids ride to fetch firewood are more than just the way children operate. These practices have changed and are continuing to change as the poor are forced to go farther for less resources. Responding to Harvey's (1990) concept of "time-space compression" that globalization and technology are making us closer and more connected than ever, Katz argues for "time-space expansion." Time-space expansion shows the other side of globalization that splits less powerful and monied people from the resources they need to get by and greater and greater distances. It is an important contribution to the literature and I argue that many who use Harvey's exciting and useful idea are ignoring a significant part of the population denied such connectivity in that both happen simultaneously. Look at Stephen Graham's (2005) arguments that the type of code, software, and hardware offered different people in San Francisco with different resources is (obviously) not the same or equal, then we can see both time-space compress and expansion happening side-by-side in the urban technological infrastructure. There are countless other examples and I encourage others to connect their own dots.

Then--not one to finish with one major theoretical contribution--Katz comes back from Howa to spend some years on a project in Harlem in New York City. Working with urban-bound disadvantaged youth in the Harlem neighborhood on a project with colleagues, she found that children were displaying the same effects of time-space expansion she saw in Howa, namely needing to go farther from home to find healthy foods or support services as the social welfare state abandoned Harlem and its residents. Thousands of miles apart, Katz then presents us with the concept of "countertopographies." A `countertopography' draws contour lines between places that do not represent elevation, but instead unpacks connections through relations to global and systemic processes in the specifics of everyday life between specific places. In other words, Katz argues that the greater distances kids' had to go from their homes in both places could be connected to all similar places like a topographical line tracing the effects of capital in the most unusual places, showing us how much we have in common even apart. This concept is already extended in important directions, helping us to see the other ways capitalism alters everyday life in all-too-similar ways around the globe. In fact, I'd be remiss to say that countertopographies is one of the coolest, most exciting, and most thoughtful concept in the geographer's pocket today.

Who should read this book? Those intrigued by the 'spatial turn' across the disciplines should turn here. Feminists everywhere will gripped and inspired. You are probably someone who digs David Harvey, Neil Smith, Don Mitchell, Edward Said, Walter Benjamin, Michel de Certeau, Michel Foucault, Karl Marx, or Doreen Massey's work and you find yourself wanting so much more. In fact, you may be someone who feels you are walking around with a missing piece of yourself, clicking through page after page of Amazon for another piece of greater understanding. Well, here you are, found. Read and surely enjoy.

CITED
Graham, Stephen D.N. 2005. Software-sorted geographies. Progress in Human Geography, 29(5), pp. 562-580.
Harvey, David. 1990. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
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on February 13, 2011
Through telling the story of people living in a Sudanese village, this book manages to lay out a number of compelling theories addressing people and place in the context of global capitalism. Particularly intriguing are the ideas about space-time expansion, counter-topographies, and playful-work/workful-play.

Space-time expansion suggests that our experience of space and time is not fixed (or being compressed by evolving technologies as David Harvey suggests), but subject to forces which may cause us to travel further and/or spend more time to accomplish the same goals.

Counter-topography is the idea that in working against exploitation and capitalist domination, people in different places (and times) are connected and can find common interests that may not be immediately apparent.

Workful play and playful work are two ways of describing the same thing: children growing up and learning through doing things that are necessary to support their families. It can be seen as work or as play, but the point is that children are subject to exploitation and also able to find delight.

These theories, and the story of the Sudanese villagers, are used to outline three ways in which we might struggle against global capitalism: resilience, reworking and resistance.

I certainly have not done these ideas justice, but the other reviewers have done a good job elucidating them further. All together, this book is undoubtedly useful for anyone interested in thinking or acting against global capitalism.

P.S. Anyone who has had Cindi as a teacher or adviser will tell you how smart, funny, and caring she is--and these all come across in her writing. Her work--and this book--has established her as one of the leading and most original scholars on people, place and space.
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on February 12, 2011
This book is a rich resource for anyone interested in geography, social theory, 'global' development, anthropology, and then some. Katz outlines a complex and sometimes challenging argument--like any truly rigorous scholar should--but readers will come away with a visceral understanding of how ostensibly 'macro' structures intersect with life in strikingly similar ways across space and social distance. Those arguments are grounded in ethnographic writing that overflows with grace, care, and intelligence, embodying the best of what ethnography as a genre is capable of. I have used parts of this text in classes about everyday life, urban studies, and social theory, and students respond very well if you, the lecturer, are willing to spend some time situating the concepts/context for them first. For all these reasons, highly recommended!
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on December 4, 2013
Cindi Katz , another intellectual fooled by the Globalists and the Lamaism of the Dalai Lama. 'Cindi is quite please to be billed along with the Dalai Lama, such a scholar and a 'feminist' that she has hooked onto Lamaism's mumbo jumbo, under yet another disguise, along with his masks of 'feminism' , ecumenicalism, 'secular ethics' 'gender equality' 'peace' , all masks to spread his massive Lamaism now on the world.

Cindi, who claims to be a scholar intellectual and 'feminist' and a gender studies expert, yet has clearly never bothered to study or 'investigate' who the Dalai Lama is ,this fundamentalist theocrat who kept his own people mentally enslaved and women at the bottom of their Hindustani caste system of preistly brahmiism, and by whom she is so easily duped , as most 'feminists' these days are, , is very proud of herself for being so duped apparently. I suggest she start investigating the people she is so happy to associate with, another intellectual duped by a fairy tale of a 'future utopia ' and a New World of Globalist Shangri Lai. While she is so concerned about children, how about the children , the boys that were taken from their families to escape poverty or as a tax in Tibet, where pedophilia was rampant as they were sexually used by the monks , just as these rinpoches grow up to use women sexually in the tantric rituals. She also ought to start studying why totalitarian countries, right and left, were so enamored of the Dalai Lama, before she feels so please to be 'billed' along with the Dalai at the Global "Scholars" Symposium. Scholars? Are you kidding me, they are so dazzled by being with billionaires and the Dalai Lama that they are like children at a fair, eating 'cotton candy' . These are our scholars in this country? These are our experts on feminism? Cindy? Writing books about children in the world? These are people clueless.

Here's Cindi Katz at her Global Scholars Symposium ( symposium of Corporate leaders and 'bright scholars' that's how they bill themselves (in some venues they call themselves the 'luminaries' I kid you not. These are the most duped 'scholars on earth'! Global Scholars Symposium, funded by the McCall MacBain Foundation, another multimillionaire that wants to 'give back' and join the billionaires club o that 'know what is best for the world ' as they all connect with a medieval repressive theocrat, the Dalai Lama, as their 'currency' , to lead the way to bringing the whole world into a 'third world' like Old Tibet, while calling it the 'key to happiness." so here is the Global Scholars Symposium (google it) to decide on what the next 30 years will look like for the rest of us along with , of course, the ubiquitous Dalai Lama, he is all over every Globalist agenda these days, the Dalai Lama top billed at these Global Symposiums, the head of the most misogynistic, repressive patriarchal , tyrannical 'regime' using all the masks that dupe westerners into believing that black is white, out 'pimping' his theocratic repressive , misogynistic totalitarianism, calling it 'secular ethics for a new millenium' and now an arm of the corporate elite, (and why not? it was the longest lasting kleptocracy that owned all the wealth for a 1000 years in Tibet) while calling it a Global 'Peace'. Initiative. Maybe Cindi, scholar that she is, needs to investigate the scandals in Tibetan Lamaism and the rampant pedophilia in the monasteries, children that were given over to these old tyrants, and 'grease for the wheels ' for their 1000 year old 'debt slavery.' Quite the 'flag ship ' for helping children of the world.

[...]

Anything that has Bill Gates and George Soros's and Prince Charles Imprimatur? Or the minor multimillionaire utopians like McMillan MacBain supporting it, should be immediately suspect and a red flag. You know they don't do their 'homework' and neither does Cindy. She feels very please to be part of the Multi Billionaire Utopianists club , and hooked up with the oldest and longest lasting misogynistic and repressive theocracy, Lamaism, that still keeps its people mentally enslaved and burning themselves up for their "Kundun" who SAYS NOTHING STILL against it as it is 'political currency' for him, are NOT going to help the world or its children, its going to plunge us all into austerity and misery.

[...]

Save the world from these 'intellectuals' and billionaire Utopians, who have their heads in the stars and their critical reasoning asleep. These are the faces of corporate fascism, these are the vanguards, all I am sure , "well-meaning".
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