Tag Archives: Europe

Guest Roast: Why all borders are man-made: A response to DevRoast

In historical narratives encouraged by nation states and internalized by most of us, borders often take a natural character, enforcing the nation state as a ‘natural’ and ‘inevitable’ fact. However, these narratives obscure the fact that it is the state itself that drives the process of creating, defining and consolidating borders and their adjacent areas. This article explains how and why, using examples from Europe and Latin America. 

On March 28, Tracey Li wrote on the origin of borders here on the Development Roast. While the piece is both well-researched and well-written, it fails to elaborate on the centrality of states in driving the process that creates and defines national borders. Instead, agency is implicitly attributed to the (‘natural’) borders themselves: “the existence of natural borders in Europe and their absence in Africa is what makes the difference between multi-ethnic polities and ethnically homogenous ones.”

The Pyrenees between France and Spain is held up as an example of such a natural border that discourages migration and more or less naturally creates two national communities. This is incorrect: migration across the Pyrenees and around the region was common for centuries before the national border was determined. The evidence of this is clear: the Occitan language spoken in the south of France and Catalan spoken on the “Spanish side” of the mountains are closer to each other than either is to French or Spanish (or Castellano, as the Catalans call it) respectively. Read More »

Where Does This Western Capitalist Mentality Come From?

In the career of political leadership, history shows the ease with which persons, facts, and even words are sanctified or demonized. Anything goes in the race to conquer people’s hearts! In this game of seduction, valuable discussion gatherings have been done away with, much to the frustration of unbelievers, specialists, and intellectuals. This is without doubt the case of the so-called ‘western capitalist mentality’ that is currently demonized in Bolivia.

It is known that the capitalist system brings about levels of (long-term) economic growth that were never seen by the world before the mid-eighteenth century. The darker side of the system is also well documented, where in many cases unfairness between social groups perpetuated compared to the previous feudal system. However, the development root of the system is little known. This root spawned in response to the mindset of middle and lower class Englishmen and their survival strategies. Read More »

Live Research Bulletin: Accounting for the Environment in Europe—Progress and Lessons.

Throughout November Development Roast is bringing you live research updates on an INESAD working paper currently in progress that is investigating national environmental accounting efforts around the world. Today, Carolynn Looks sums up the European experience.

A kilo of tomatoes in Spain typically costs around €1.99. This price includes the efforts of the farmer who grew the tomatoes, transportation costs, and the work of the retailer. What it does not include is the cost of emissions as these tomatoes make their way across Europe, or of water usage, deforestation and loss of biodiversity as monoculture plantations spread across Spain’s rural landscapes. Because of an increasing recognition of such detrimental effects, economists and governments have started to realize that air, water and forests are not in fact free and have asked themselves: What is the price of an old Cypress tree? How much does a clean river cost? How do you place a value on a gulp of unpolluted air, or on an entire habitat?

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