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Ausgabe 18

Enjoy Poverty

Episode III

Directed by Renzo Martens

Seite 129
Cecilia Pennacini

The Millennium Summit held in 2000 in New York indicated the struggle for the eradication of poverty and hunger as the first Millennium Development Goal, encouraging actions and projects aimed at halving the number of people living below one dollar per day by 2015. But how can we defi ne poverty from an anthropological perspective? Widely used in economic sciences and development studies as a universalistic and quantitative tool for globally measuring and comparing the welfare of people, the concept of «poverty» remains a highly ambiguous concept, raising a number of problems when referring to societies where monetary systems have not fully developed. That is the case of many African nations where the universalistic idea of poverty and the statistical evidence produced on its basis (actually determining the amount and type of donor interventions) contrast strikingly with local conceptions as well as with wider approaches to the problem. Anthropology consequently adopted a critical view on poverty considering it as a social, relative construction, often embedded in the same logic used to fight it (Green 2006, Ossipow 2006).