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I Am Canadian and I Am Sorry

Dependency, Development and the Psychological Landscape


Written by Nadia Secreto

Co-edited with Samantha Terry





Have you ever taken the moment to hear the urban whispers that leave a trace in the space you live in? Have you ever observed certain patterns in particular countries that speak of its character? What I mean is have you ever indulged in the concept of development and sustainability through the lens of the psychological landscape? There is certain spatial and behavioral patterns in space that is seemingly visible (conscious) in Canada and becomes invisible (unconscious) to most. How people habitually speak and behave in space in a way that goes unnoticed for them is imperative to understand the issues around development and sustainability between the Global North and the Global South today. You could say through popularity, Canada’s personality is considered to be too nice and generally speaking, characterized through these three simple words; “I am sorry”. Well, if this statement is true than according to Descartes, he bluntly describes this in a quote; “I think, therefore I am”. This philosophical concept lends itself to analysis of the time and speaks critically of the themes and concepts brought up in class and in the articles. It hinges the relationship between the environmental and sustainable avenues of dependency, development, and culture within the realm of our psychological dysfunction in our landscapes. It brings forth the question of whether these relationships unveil the discourse between difference and diversity.


Dependency and the ‘development of underdevelopment’


According to Rist, understanding history of development and the relationship between the Global North and the Global South is a complex one. This relationship must also be understood as an established bond towards dependency. Environmentally, politically, and economically speaking, if we are striving to achieve equality, then are we looking at the relationship in the wrong way? Have globalization methods and processes actually contributed to the dependency of the Global North, rather than promote interdependency with each other. If so, how does urban mobility processes such as colonialism and industrialism perform shadowing effects to overdevelop on underdeveloped land? Porter speaks of development and in terms of ideological views that essentially form the periphery between dependency and development. What is academically frustrating is through political and economic methods, and propagating policies, we use assuming one kind of development fits all for every other space.


According to Professor James, this can be realized through examples of policy design making in an attempt to establish ethical and lawful distribution percentage for foreign aid. However, what needs to be critically addressed is not only the attempt to help your fellow neighbor, but to acknowledge the individual profiles of those whom are making such decisions in the United Nations group. This is critical to discussion because motive must be examined. Help versus hierarchal methods, used in order to sustain structural power through ongoing colonial ideologies, methods and processes, leave one to wonder what the desired result is. Is it truly aid, or placation of sorts, to keep the established “order” of things? By reviewing and reflecting the ratio of human diversity within United Nations, this may provide insight to the ongoing issues of who classifies under ‘foreign aid’. The concept of who qualifies is another portion begging analysis because by making and framing spaces as the ‘other’, the difference is amplified; exclusion is practiced, and is dependent through the psychological landscape of sustaining colonial egos, developing on the ‘other’. Conceptually speaking, if the original meaning of the ‘third world’ was to be ideologically understood as a form neutral in space, then how does neutrality shift to being last in line?


The Industrial Revolution, and specifically the assembly line development for efficiency, could influence and reflect this shift and put the Global South as third world as we know it today. However, ironically and metaphorically speaking, if the assembly line symbolizes and begins with the hierarchy of the idea (Colonial efforts) then the last step— which is the result— is the image of the result reflecting the advantage and refinement of something that is not produced but becomes new and processed? Just like the Global South, because it is untouched and considered last in line; does fear from the Global North shadow over itself, realizing it is fearful of its own space? The Global North has consumed its process enough to realize their resources are limited, fueling that fear. How does fear replicate itself into the urban and environmental psychological arena? Can this replication of fear and development take over the Global South, and if so, what emotional and manipulative tactics are used by the Global North in order to continue suppressing the Global South’s assumed insecurities?


Development as the ‘belief in progress’


Can the practice of development be an emotional issue in order to compensate the states ego and produce a false sense of growth? Moreover, “ What might superficially be interpreted as the expanding out of the dimension of gender can thus also be interpreted as evidence of the influence of ecofeminism on mainstream sustainable development though” (Williams and Millington, pg 103) thus, (belief in progress is exactly what it states; belief could speak of the emotional and psychological assumption in continuing Colonial efforts by certain economic ideologies, so does certain genders make the system weaker or stronger? Capitalism becomes the primary example of this progress that is raised, which gives consideration that perhaps capitalism is personality form of the urban imitation between growth and development. However, if there is growth in production and if the system can be looked upon as imitation, then whom are we imitating? If it is natural for human beings to develop, then is it natural to mimic and control nature and natural process of production? One must wonder if the process of imitation is an example the insecurity from the character of the Global North. And if so, how do they control it? An example is the unethical practices indicated, for testing birth control to the women in the Global South.


By psychologically implementing the space as an urban laboratory, does a testing site reduce the self-esteem for the space in the Global South? This can lead to many effects, including those on long-term population growth for the Global South. It begs the question, between private and public industries and government, whose side are they on? Agyeman quotes,“This unequal distribution of environmental “bads’ is of course, compounded by the fact that globally and nationally the poor are not the major polluters. Most environmental pollution and degradation is caused by the actions of those in the rich high-consumption nations, especially by the more affluent groups within those societies”. So in terms of the Global North, especially referencing Canada—if the human declaration of rights has been so fought over to be recognized as the pride and joy of the Global North, why is designed only for white privilege? Psychologically speaking, is treating another race differently a reflection of the Global North’s polluted personality? Are we then, essentially, bullies? All humans are part of society. Newell refers to Chavis, and depicts environmental racism to: Racial discrimination in environmental policy making and the unequal enforcement of the environmental laws and regulations. It is the deliberate targeting of people-of-color- communities for toxic waste facilities and the official sanctioning of a life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in people-of-color communities” (Newell pg 75) Moreover, there is no valid reason one is better than another and the way we design the community must reflect that.


Through industrial and capitalistic methods, we have indirectly produced control of the growth of the Global South. Progress can be seen not as a belief, but as a process and method to sustain colonial efforts and perhaps expand into a new kind of colonial behaviors. Could globalization processes and methods be the new attempts to think bigger than just territory? Technology fuels accessibility, not only for the circulating knowledge, but circulating power of knowledge for the Global North to expand its own ideological network of development, thus consuming and producing itself until in floods itself into its own difference. If we didn’t take “blackness’ so literally, but instead see the reflection of the darkness as the personality aspect of the Global North’s attempts to strategize in sprawling itself horizontally, then we see the true character of the Global North and question establishments such as the United Nations and the Human Rights Declaration. Environmentally speaking, it is argued that such development in a sprawl behavior leaves no room for growth. So when space is over consumed can you look upwards for a new kind development? Development is understood as progress, however in the example given by the progressing women in Africa to try out pills they are not fully aware of then, is human sustainability a new strategy for progress to contain and compartmentalize the Global South? What boundary limits define difference and diversity from the birth control pill to the state? Growth and progress are natural of the human condition; But does that mean it is unnatural to attempt control of human population based on differences and categories?


Community, Culture, and Sustainable Development


“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise” (Robinson, pg 959) According to the online etymology dictionary, “Culture comes from mid-15c French culture and it means ‘the tilling of land’.” Sustainable development is a term that contradicts the agent of change associated to growth and progress. But culture is defined by the land, and not the diversity of the people. The issues speak of the dysfunctions related to Colonial efforts of land culture on a human scale. So if Colonial behaviours were based on establishing territory and sustaining ego, what place or emphasis do we place today in terms of “Culture”? Emotional and psychological manipulation is placed on how capital flows are produced and consumed in space for cute and pretty things that are endangered. “ The North has always used Third World germplasm as a freely available resource and treated it as valueless.


The advanced capitalist nations wish to retain free access to the developing world’s storehouse of genetic diversity, while the South would like to have the proprietary varieties of the North’s industry declared a similarly “public” good”.( Schroeder and Pogge, pg,268) This speaks of the role of objectifying the environment to sustain Capitalism and amplifying a god/inferior complex is part of the human ego and is directly from the Colonial establishments of yesteryear. But the key point here is to acknowledge our societies values on beautiful things, like protecting the polar bear zebra versus advocating protecting our waters and essential bacteria. Industrialization and Capitalism packages our environmental ethics based on aesthetics and emotionally seduces us to produce capital flows through the animal aesthetic. So is our cultural framework shifted from the preparation of the land to preparing the design of our bodies? Communities in the landscape can be spoken of a mobile communication tool between exclusion and grouping from the ‘other’ or the ‘common good’. If we are aesthetically drawn to whom we look like or if we look the same as each other, in nature animal groups tend to look the same and cluster together, but does this challenge our notion of diversity and do we cluster and isolate ourselves from the other because we think we are different or have we become animalistic and who is endangered? Sustainable Development is oxymoron because one element is fixed and the other is fluid.




Article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reads:

Everyone [the who] has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well- being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control [the what]


And so it returns to the previous quote “ I think, therefore I am”. (Descartes) By critically comparing and analyzing the Global North and the Global South to the metaphor of Canada’s spatial characteristic by saying I am sorry, it speaks of the confusing and perhaps misleading concept of rights, inclusion and diversity. Could this concept of diversity be turned into an environmental, political and economic strategy, for actualizing difference and exclusion for the marginalized groups? If difference is an inherent vehicle to suppress development and growth in order to achieve equality, then manipulating the psychological landscape allow cultures to logistically feel welcomed while simultaneously manipulating them to say ‘sorry’ as they do not ‘belong’. It appears the Global North has just become an indirect, egotistical bully with the fixed illusion of inclusivity, sustainability, and positive development to situate hierarchal growth. One must realize the residues of colonial behaviours are in fact, not just residues but a habitual embodiment of emotional abuse in order to claim territory in both physical and psychological space. Can we really think of ourselves out of the physical space in order to make room for changing the established concepts of sustainability? To sustain something we would have to preserve what has already been established, but what is already here, limits growth. All things considered, one can only conclude; I am Canadian, and I’m not sorry.




Agyeman, Julian, R. D. Bullard and Bob Evans (eds.) (2003) Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World (London: Earthscan) Introduction and Conclusion.

Doris Schroeder and Thomas Pogge (2009), “Justice and the Convention on Biological Diversity,” Ethics and International Affairs, 23, 3: 267-280

Jonnalagadda Rajeswar (2000), “Population Perspectives and Sustainable Development,” Sustainable Development, 8: 135–141 Nelson, Paul (2007) “Human Rights, the MDGs, and the future of Development Cooperation,” World Development, 35, 12: 2041–2055

Newell, Peter (2005), “Race, Class, and the Global Politics of Environmental Inequality,” Global Environmental Politics, 5, 3: 70-94 Parris, Thomas M. and Kates Robert W., (2003) “Characterizing and Measuring Sustainable Development,” Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 28: 559-586 Porter, Philip W. and Eric S. Sheppard (1998). Chapter 5 “Views from the Core: Propagating Development”, and Chapter 6, “Views form the Periphery: Encountering Development,” in Porter and Sheppard, A World of Difference: Society, Nature, Development. (New York: Guilford Press). Ralph Luken and F. Castellanos-Silveria (2011) “Industrial Transformation and Sustainable Development in Developing Countries, Sustainable Development 19, 167– 175 Rist, G. (2008). The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith, (London: Zed) Ch 1 and Conclusion. Robinson, John G. (2011) “Ethical Pluralism, Pragmatism and Sustainability in Conservation Practice,” Biological Conservation, 144: 958–965

United Nations (2011) Millennium Development Goals Report 2011 (New York: United Nations)

Williams, C.C. and Millington, A.C., (2004) “The Diverse and Contested Meanings of Sustainable Development”, The Geographical Journal, 170 (2): 99-104.

World Bank (2012) World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality & Development