Created Image: Razors in the Milk of Development

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Creative Commons Licence

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Created date

November 23, 2018

Critical Commentary

This image shows a typical outdoor kitchen in Uganda, complete with the ubiquitous plastic bins, used for everything from fishing to baby bathing to dishwashing to collecting herbs, to holding placentas. In the image transposed over, you see another plastic bin full of milk, a product with heavy symbolism in this region of Ankole people, cattle-keepers of Southwestern Uganda who take great pride in their milk production as cultural capital. The razor in the milk is also a common material icon in this part of the world. The Eagle-brand razors are, like the plastic bins, made in China and are used widely for everything from shaving heads to cutting umbilical chords to scarification practices to sharpening pencils. Both of these manufactured items undoubtedly makes life a bit easier, but I question at the expense of what. The combination of these pieces suggests that intervention, development, and aid are dangers in their unsustainable or destructive approaches. Particularly in regards to development projects that utilize important cultural resources in order to reach people only to leave harmful residues and trails of dependency, pollution, or violence, which happens through feeble neo-colonialism.