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Technology - Modernization

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Modernization

In the western industrialized society that we live in today, with modern technology and medicine, it is easy for us to get caught in the trap of superiority. We assume that our way is the "right" way and that others need to follow. Frantz Fanon, in his essay, "A Dying Colonialism", argues from his experience with French dominance in Algeria, that modern medicine in third world countries is difficult to impose due to various psychological and cultural barriers. In Margaret McCord's The Calling of Katie Makanya, and in Pang-Mei Natasha Chang's Bound Feet and Western Dress, the authors promote views that both support and slightly object Fanon's views. Modernization, due to its constraints and pressures on the natives or colonized people groups, should not occur when the cultural makeup and identity of those groups are forced to change.

From the South African example, we see, in McCord's character, Katie Makanya, that Fanon's ideas of psychological and cultural barriers are highlighted. Katie, although she has a very strong sense of self and her identity, has to face the cultural reality of race throughout her life. While in England, "Katie was embarrassed. She thought of the children in London calling out and pointing their fingers, 'Come look at the darkies'"(McCord 56). The British are the ones that are the "colonizers" of South Africa. This idea of racism is a strong barrier in the way of the modernity of the native people. When these race tensions arise in society, as Fanon puts it, "it is hard for the natives to separate the wheat from the chaffs"; i.e. the good intensions of modernity are shot down in the eyes of the natives when racial issues arise. How are the benefits of modernization and technology suppose to help the native people when there is strong cultural opposition?

Fanon's ideas of psychological difficulties in modernity is stated in this instance: "The Algerian's refusal to be hospitalized is always more or less related to the lingering doubt as to the colonial doctor's essential humanity". This idea is shown perfectly in the South African example when Katie refuses to see Dr. Edwards, as recommended by Mrs. McCord. In response to the recommendation, Katie states, "'your child is white. And these doctors-they are all the same... they don't bother about us until they have taken their money from everyone else'"(McCord 149). Katie's perception of Dr. Edwards and her generalization of other white doctors is exactly what Fanon states is a psychological barrier withstanding modernity. The natives see medicine tied into white dominance and the system of modernized medicine in third world countries is not accepted on a large scale because of it.

While McCord is filled with support on Fanon's view, they also conflict in certain areas. Fanon later states that even though there are psychological barriers that need to be crossed, modern practices should be installed and should not be mixed with traditional ways of doing things. Dr. McCord says that the natives can view western medicine as another supplement to their traditional practices. Based on the presumption made by his native patients, Dr. McCord would change up his ways of helping them, to keep them from not coming to get treatment. Fanon opposes this method when stating, "My son has meningitis and it really needs to be treated as meningitis should be treated"(Fanon). Katie Makanya lives a lifestyle that is mixed and integrated. She has her native African roots but is clearly under the influence of her westernized society. This is shown in the everyday interaction with people, the way she dresses, the social classes of her time, etc. Based on Fanon's view, which pertains specifically to medicine, tradition and modernity should not be mixed; it is either one or the other. In a culture with such deep history and tradition, the harsh "either/or" choice of modernity vs. tradition leads to rejection of the modern system and ways of life by the native people. What typically ends up happening is that the native group ends up blending the two cultures and the richness and identity of that original culture is lost. Again, I do not believe that modernity is wrong. However, when modernity crosses the boundary of cultural preservation and the colonized are forced to completely change their traditional makeup, it is unethical.

In Chang's book Bound Feet & Western Dress, the main character, Chang Yu-i, portrays a great example of, at her core, keeping her traditional Chinese identity and ways of life. This goes against Fanon's argument of a separation of modernity and tradition and shows that contentment can be found even when modernity and tradition are intertwined. When Chang talks about women's role in the Chinese culture and filial piety, she states, "in China, a woman is nothing. When she is born, she must obey her father. When she is married, she must obey her husband. And when she is widowed,

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