Community development in wounded communities: seductive schemes or un-veiling and healing?

Community development in wounded communities: seductive schemes or un-veiling and healing? Abstract Communities all over the world have been wounded by oppression, conflict and geopolitical arrangements. The field of community development is ideally positioned to facilitate healing, but engagement with and reflection on the complex layers of woundedness appears to be limited in this field. It focuses on the economic through service delivery and poverty reduction projects, often with disappointing results. These failures may inflict new wounds. The article brings the field of community development into conversation with the theory on communal wounding and healing. Wounding is explored as a series of losses through subjugation and oppression, ultimately resulting in the loss of the authentic self. Healing is theorized as a process of conscientization and the liberation from false perceptions of self, through which the authentic self can emerge. I found the origin of the word ‘develop’ in the Latin verb velo: to veil, cover or conceal. Develo is to undo these: un-veil or un-cover. However, current interpretations of development seem to be aligned to how development is explained in modern dictionaries: amend, change, complicate or increase. If we understand wounding as a process of ‘veiling’ or loss, healing would imply un-veiling. Is community development engaging deliberately with the wounding, through a slow process of un-veiling/conscientization? Or is it applying quick fixes to amend the so-called ‘underdeveloped’ – and thereby adding yet another layer of veils and wounds? The article encourages reflection on how unconscious and self-indulgent actions through community development can damage and compound the wounding of our communities. Introduction My experience as a community development practitioner in South Africa brought me to an understanding of how we, community development workers, activists and educators, move into deeply wounded communities with our plans, promises, frameworks and enthusiasm – and seduce the leaders and community members to participate in even the most unrealistic schemes and projects. Do we heed the consequences of our interventions and actions, especially those that promise material gain (which is often the case)? Do we leave behind transformation, healing and development – or failed schemes, conflict and deeper wounds? Since the dawn of democracy in South Africa in 1994 leaders such as Nelson Mandela insisted that the wounds of our unfortunate past be healed. In governmental documents I could not find in-depth analyses of what this wounding implies, what healing means or how it could be facilitated. Developmental policies and implementation strategies appear to focus on the material and economic without engaging deliberately with this woundedness. This leaves us with the question: can a deeply wounded community achieve the developmental objectives envisaged by the policy makers and planners, if there is no acknowledgement of or engagement with this woundedness in all its complexity? The aim of this article is to explore the concepts of communal woundedness and healing, with specific focus on the multiple losses experienced over generations of oppression and deprivation. It further looks at how the development agenda engages with this wounding. It is a conceptual article and does not present empirical findings. The article starts with a discussion of the complexity of communal woundedness and the nature of communal healing. This is followed by a reflection on the concept of development in global context and a review of mainstream community development. This is understood as the grassroots implementation arm of the global development project, operating in allegiance with the United Nations’ funding affiliates, corporate donors and national governments. The article closes with a discussion of the possible implications when the nexus between community development and communal wounding/healing is not explored. The cunning and complexity of communal wounding He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down This Igbo proverb is a useful metaphor for understanding the complexity of communal wounding and the reality that we ‘cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own’ (Achebe, 2011). Communal wounding is not only about physical and material oppression, deprivation and poverty; the psychological losses may be more debilitating and lasting, because they poison the very essence of our humanity. Atkinson discerns a common pattern in the wounding of communities. It starts with the arrival of the colonist or invader and the violent cut that disrupts the assumptive world of the local populations. Through decimation and dispossession they are forced into dependence on the perpetrator/settler. This is followed by a phase of well-meaning and philanthropic interventions and reassessment by the new authority, which mostly results in deepened inequality, dependence and dysfunction (Atkinson, 2011). These interventions are further embedded in various forms of oppression. Oppression Oppression can be defined as the process through which some groups of people are targeted as inferior to others, while the non-target group is perceived as superior. The message is enforced through the invalidation, denial and/or the non-recognition of the complete humanness of those who are members of the target group. This group is systematically mistreated and disadvantaged, while the members of the non-target group enjoy unearned privileges. The emphasis here is on the word ‘unearned’ (Sherover-Marcuse, [n.d.]; ELRU, 1997; Batts, 2002; Maluleke and Pheko, 2015). Oppression is established on four levels: personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural. Personal prejudice, bias and misinformation lead to interpersonal acts of dehumanization, subordination and objectification (e.g. through derogative terms). If there is sufficient power (legal, military, political, economic and educational) the oppression is institutionalized and becomes systemic. The cultural level is reached when the values of the non-target group are accepted as the norm (Biko, 1987; ELRU, 1997; Batts, 2002). Common types of oppression are indicated in Table 1. Table 1 Common types of oppression Type of oppression  Target group  Non-target group  Racism  Black people  White people  Sexism  Women  Men  Classism  The poor; working class  Middle and upper class; professional people  Elitism  Informally educated; low/no literacy; labourers, clerks, students  Formally educated; managers  Literacism  The illiterate or those with low literacy levels  The literate/educated  Adult-ism/ageism  Children; young people elders  Adults middle-aged people  Able-ism  Differently abled; people with disabilities  Temporarily abled people  Heterosexism  Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexual groups  Heterosexuals  Linguicism  Non-English (e.g. African and indigenous languages); depending on context  English context related  Religious oppression  This varies in different contexts  This varies in different contexts  Tribalism  Depending on the context  Context related  Type of oppression  Target group  Non-target group  Racism  Black people  White people  Sexism  Women  Men  Classism  The poor; working class  Middle and upper class; professional people  Elitism  Informally educated; low/no literacy; labourers, clerks, students  Formally educated; managers  Literacism  The illiterate or those with low literacy levels  The literate/educated  Adult-ism/ageism  Children; young people elders  Adults middle-aged people  Able-ism  Differently abled; people with disabilities  Temporarily abled people  Heterosexism  Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexual groups  Heterosexuals  Linguicism  Non-English (e.g. African and indigenous languages); depending on context  English context related  Religious oppression  This varies in different contexts  This varies in different contexts  Tribalism  Depending on the context  Context related  (Adapted from: Batts, 2002, p. 5; ELRU, 1997, p. 12.) Table 1 Common types of oppression Type of oppression  Target group  Non-target group  Racism  Black people  White people  Sexism  Women  Men  Classism  The poor; working class  Middle and upper class; professional people  Elitism  Informally educated; low/no literacy; labourers, clerks, students  Formally educated; managers  Literacism  The illiterate or those with low literacy levels  The literate/educated  Adult-ism/ageism  Children; young people elders  Adults middle-aged people  Able-ism  Differently abled; people with disabilities  Temporarily abled people  Heterosexism  Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexual groups  Heterosexuals  Linguicism  Non-English (e.g. African and indigenous languages); depending on context  English context related  Religious oppression  This varies in different contexts  This varies in different contexts  Tribalism  Depending on the context  Context related  Type of oppression  Target group  Non-target group  Racism  Black people  White people  Sexism  Women  Men  Classism  The poor; working class  Middle and upper class; professional people  Elitism  Informally educated; low/no literacy; labourers, clerks, students  Formally educated; managers  Literacism  The illiterate or those with low literacy levels  The literate/educated  Adult-ism/ageism  Children; young people elders  Adults middle-aged people  Able-ism  Differently abled; people with disabilities  Temporarily abled people  Heterosexism  Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexual groups  Heterosexuals  Linguicism  Non-English (e.g. African and indigenous languages); depending on context  English context related  Religious oppression  This varies in different contexts  This varies in different contexts  Tribalism  Depending on the context  Context related  (Adapted from: Batts, 2002, p. 5; ELRU, 1997, p. 12.) Table 1 clearly illustrates the complexity and cunning of the mud in our society. Some individuals and groups find themselves in multiple target group positions, such as an unemployed black woman without education. She deals with the realities of (at least) five types of oppression: racism, sexism, classism, elitism and literacism. Then there is the confusing problem of those who are the target in some forms of oppression and the non-target in other. An example is the black man, whose identity and wounding as target in racism may be subsumed by his non-target identity as a man oppressing a woman. And then there are those who find themselves in no target group, such as educated white men, for whom it might be hard to grasp the complexity and impact of oppression. The stereotypes and inequalities are subsequently compounded through an infinite number of strategies. Most obvious are mainstream global economic and educational arrangements. More subtle are state interventions intended to ‘help and support’ the oppressed and the poor. Brent (2009, p. 248) talks about ‘welfare colonialism’, which for Freire (1996, p. 133) are mere ‘instruments of manipulation’ aimed at distracting attention from the real problem and preventing the search for lasting solutions. The hegemony is also compounded by one-dimensional and stereotyped representations of the oppressed and the poor in maps, reports, social studies, policy documents, cinema, novels, the media, songs and scientific/academic research (Walker, 2001; Brent, 2009; Edemariam, 2009; Atkinson, 2011; Zvomuya, 2013). These ‘snapshots without historical depth’ (Brent, 2009, pp. 87–88) freeze groups and even whole continents (as is the case with Africa) into a frame from which they cannot escape. The role of the oppressor in the current dilemma is seldom highlighted (Moyo in Edemariam, 2009). The loss of an authentic image of self Colonialism and oppression lead to tremendous and multiple layers of loss (Biko, 1978; Erikson, 1994; ELRU, 1997; Atkinson, 2011; Maathai, 2009; Watkins and Shulman, 2010). These include the loss of a sense of time: stripped of the past and a future, the wounded is doomed to an ‘endless present’ (Herman, 1997, p. 89). There is the loss of soil and land, traditional systems and structures, trust, relationships, hopes and dreams, spirituality and certainty, visibility and a history. The destruction of culture results in a loss of the assumptive world and a ‘linguistic or cultural default drive’ (Keet, Zinn and Porteus, 2009, p. 110). The loss of ways to channel emotions constructively often results in self-destructive behaviour and horizontal violence (Freire, 1996; Atkinson, 2011). The ultimate loss, and thus the ultimate victory of the oppressor, is when the oppressed lose an authentic image of self and start to see themselves through the eyes of the oppressor. When this false picture is absorbed, reality becomes fictitious. Consciousness of self as a person is lost (Freire, 1996). Maathai sees Africans as obscured from themselves, as if they look at themselves through the mirror of another person: the colonial administrator, the missionary, teacher, collaborator or political leader. What they see is ‘their own cracked reflection or distorted images, if they see themselves at all’ (Maathai, 2009, p. 34). Similarly, Du Bois (2006, p. 9) notes how black people are constantly looking at judging themselves with the measuring tape of whites. Similarly, Luke (1996, pp. 12–13) warns that women have yielded to the old message pronouncing the feminine as inferior, by becoming caught in ‘an unconscious imitation of men or identification with the inferior masculinity in her unconsciousness’. Eventually, the oppressed start to take the boss/oppressor ‘inside’ and become ‘hosts’ of the oppressor. The oppressed thus become trapped ‘in the duality in which to be is to be like, and to be like is to be like the oppressor’ (Freire, 1996, pp. 28, 30). Such distorted assumptions limit insight and openness to other ways of seeing the self and other, which in turn prevents change and empowerment (Van der Merwe and Albertyn, 2010). The cunning of oppression is that its message is believed and ultimately internalized by both oppressor and oppressed (Rosenwasser, 2002; Kaufka, 2009). The message is compounded when ‘new generations of human beings [are conditioned] into the role of being oppressed and the role of being oppressive’ (Sherover-Marcuse, [n.d.]). In this way oppression becomes ‘a worldwide, airborne virus’ (Watts-Jones, 2002: p. 592) and it lives on from generation to generation. The problem is aggravated by what I call ‘forced and frustrated remedies’, which include: False or empty liberation: leaders drive the struggle from out of the false self and/or trap the oppressed after liberation in perennial loyalty to the past and the organization (Olivier, 2011; Mpondo, 2014; Dlanga, 2016) Good intentions: these manifest as charity, volunteerism and foreign aid (normally by the privileged), justified as efforts to help ‘them’. Trapman points out how the classification of people as ‘innocent’ and ‘victims’ not only triggers the help-reflex of the West, but forces the so-called victims to comply with this role. The latter thus need to ‘re-arrange their identity as to be innocent’ (Trapman, 2001). I see this as further falsification of the self. Overly simplistic solutions: the many complex layers of wounding are glossed over and ignored This is poignantly described by Cabrera, who realized the futility of one-day workshops on self-esteem and empowerment for the ‘multiply wounded, multiply traumatized, multiply mourning’ people of Nicaragua (Cabrera, 2003, pp. 1–6). There is concern that national and international interventions, intended to bring about peace, reconciliation and justice, are often superficial, once-off and over-optimistic. Not only is this unsustainable; it is downright dangerous and results in the recycling of conflict (Nathan, 1998; Weinstein and Stover, 2004). There is also the danger that these efforts only focus on the sensational cases, e.g. those who suffered at the hands of security and military forces. The broad community – those ‘whose lives were mutilated in the day-to-day web of regulations that was apartheid’ – are excluded from initiatives such as truth and reconciliation commissions (Mamdani in Watkins and Shulman, 2010, p. 318). These are usually the lives touched by community development programmes. The dismantling of institutionalized oppression in progressive democracies can drive oppression in its internalized form underground, from where it exerts immense power in subtle and covert ways (ELRU, 1997). This is when we hear calls for colour-blindness, how we are ‘all the same’ and that we should just move on. I perceive this as deeply insulting to everybody faced with a history of oppression and deprivation and also to those from the non-target group who have become aware of their privilege and struggle consciously to regain their humanity. We can refer to this subtle form of oppression as ‘modern-isms’. Modern-isms and internalized oppression Modern-isms are difficult to recognize and are as detrimental to change as old-fashioned oppression (Batts, 2002). It is simply ‘the same poison, but packaged in new bottles’ (DeRosa, 2001, p. 2). Modern racism, e.g. has created white liberals who claim to ‘have black souls wrapped up in white skins’ (Biko, 1987, p. 20). Modern-isms interact directly with the manifestations of internalized oppression in what I see as some type of complicated dance: each movement from the one invites an almost predictable movement from the other (Table 2). An example is when a member of a target group, e.g. a black person, ‘plays the system’ by requesting help for a task that is within his/her ability and designated work description. The modern racist helps (‘rescues’), anxious not to be seen as a racist. Even though all of this might indicate good relationships, the old message is not confronted: the white person’s effort is perceived superior. Table 2 Manifestations of modern-isms and internalized oppression Manifestations of modern-isms  Manifestations of internalized oppression  Dysfunctional rescuing: helping in an unhelpful way  Playing/beating the system  Blaming the victim  Blaming the system  Avoiding contact and engaging as equals  Avoiding contact  Denying differences (the claim of ‘colour-blindness’)  Denying own heritage  Denying political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of differences  Lack of understanding or minimization of the political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of racial oppression  Manifestations of modern-isms  Manifestations of internalized oppression  Dysfunctional rescuing: helping in an unhelpful way  Playing/beating the system  Blaming the victim  Blaming the system  Avoiding contact and engaging as equals  Avoiding contact  Denying differences (the claim of ‘colour-blindness’)  Denying own heritage  Denying political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of differences  Lack of understanding or minimization of the political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of racial oppression  (Adapted from: Batts, 2002, p. 14–19; ELRU, 1997, p. 21.) Table 2 Manifestations of modern-isms and internalized oppression Manifestations of modern-isms  Manifestations of internalized oppression  Dysfunctional rescuing: helping in an unhelpful way  Playing/beating the system  Blaming the victim  Blaming the system  Avoiding contact and engaging as equals  Avoiding contact  Denying differences (the claim of ‘colour-blindness’)  Denying own heritage  Denying political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of differences  Lack of understanding or minimization of the political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of racial oppression  Manifestations of modern-isms  Manifestations of internalized oppression  Dysfunctional rescuing: helping in an unhelpful way  Playing/beating the system  Blaming the victim  Blaming the system  Avoiding contact and engaging as equals  Avoiding contact  Denying differences (the claim of ‘colour-blindness’)  Denying own heritage  Denying political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of differences  Lack of understanding or minimization of the political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of racial oppression  (Adapted from: Batts, 2002, p. 14–19; ELRU, 1997, p. 21.) The loss of an authentic self poses a serious challenge to the oppressed: how do you face the task of liberation and healing with a false consciousness and as ‘divided, unauthentic beings’ (Freire, 1996, p. 30)? The struggle of the oppressed might ultimately become an aspiration not to liberation, but to identification with the oppressor, who is seen as the norm (Freire, 1996). For Luke, the battle of women against the message of inferiority is not to strive to live like men, but to affirm ‘the equal value of the specifically feminine’ (1996, p. 12). The same challenge faces the oppressor, who is living with the false image of superiority – and thus in as much need of liberation from the false message as the oppressed. Ignoring the pain of the past has dire consequences: it will haunt us while it remains unaddressed and unrecognized. The need to name and understand the wounding is widely acknowledged. However, it is also clear that this is counterintuitive: it is natural to deny, suppress and banish the unspeakable to the unconscious. If nothing is done or if the action is superficial, the wounds will fester from generation to generation (Erikson, 1994; Hoffman, 2005; Watkins and Shulman, 2010). Again, this is true for both oppressed and oppressor. Is there a community that is not wounded – or, to return to the metaphor of the mud: can any community claim to be mud-free? I do not believe so, as we all have had histories shaped in the mud. Considering the matrix of oppression, it is clear that those held down in the mud by various other groups over prolonged periods are multiply wounded and in need of priority attention. At the same time, there are those who find it necessary to push others down – thereby continuing to soil themselves ‘beyond recognition’ (Biko, 1987, p. 77). This self-inflicted wounding highlights the urgency to liberate the oppressor from the false message of superiority and from the desire to hold others down. Apart from the reality that mainstream community development seldom goes beyond poverty reduction and service delivery, which per definition excludes wealthier communities from any intervention. The manifestations of oppression thus remain a non-discourse in this field. The next section investigates the nature of communal healing. Communal healing: consciousness and a new state of being From the literature I deduce that there is no state that can be called ‘healed’. Instead, healing is described as an ‘ever-deepening knowledge of the deep structure of the self and the layered and multiple parts of who the person is’ (Atkinson, 2011, p. 100). Westoby (2009, p. 32) sees social healing as a process of ‘unfreezing’ from the private to the public, from lack of control to control, from shame to dignity and from the past to the future. Healing is also not about a return to the past, however much we might yearn for it. What had been lost cannot be replaced, certainly not in an unaltered from within the current context. I posit that we need to be sceptical about the seductive prefix re-. How do you re-turn, re-pair or re-concile what has been lost through the original violent cut and subsequently through generations of oppression and dispossession? Instead, we have to start imagining a new state of being, in which the past has to be seen as the past and be separated from the present. Mpondo talks about an African imagination free from a preoccupation with the oppressor, the Black Messiah and the prevention of white domination (2014). I want to suggest that the essence of what has been lost, is identified, so that new ways can be found to fulfil the essential need. If emotional insulation was lost through the loss of culture, it might be more useful to seek a new form of insulation, instead of trying to restore the old culture. Avoiding the temptation to re-turn, however, does not absolve us from the difficult work of facing and engaging with the past. It is through dipping into the past that we can contain it and separate it from the present and future (Hoffman, 2005; Westoby, 2009). This is movingly illustrated by a participant in a healing process, who described herself as a whole jigsaw puzzle when she was born. The puzzle got shattered when she was raped at the age of three. Throughout her life, puzzle pieces with negative messages, such as bad, dirty and unlovable, were added by unloving parents and an abusive husband. She accepted all of these as authentic pieces of herself. The healing workshop gave her an opportunity to sift through the different pieces of the jigsaw. She found ‘the real me again’ as she started to ‘discard those bits that don’t fit, and find and give value to those bits of the picture that do fit and I want to keep’ (Atkinson, 2011: pp. 179–180). Healing thus implies consciously facing the wounds and messages of the past. Without consciousness we will continue to wound ourselves and others repeatedly (Hollis, 1994). Consciousness Freire (1996) suggests that through the process of conscientização or conscientization the oppressed can reflect on how they continue to act as ‘hosts’ of the oppressor and live according to the prescription of the oppressor – thus accepting false puzzle pieces. Only through consciousness can the oppressed ‘see himself as a being, entire in himself’ (Biko, 1987, p. 68). Similarly, the oppressors have to discover that they live in the dehumanized and dehumanizing illusion of superiority. It requires of individuals to acknowledge the existence and power of oppression and give up the need to deny (ELRU, 1997; Batts, 2002). The process of conscientization guides the wounded from the naïve stage of perceiving problems as inevitable and action as futile to a stage where what had previously been experienced as personal problems can now be understood as community, class or racial problems and as part of an unjust and oppressive sociopolitical system. This is when the ‘perception of the inevitability of one’s fate crumbles’ (Guishard, 2009, p. 93). The oppressor inside can be ejected and the authentic self can start to emerge. An anti-bias framework Over the past few decades a discourse on social healing started to emerge, which in essence challenges hegemonic theories and practices in various disciplines. Amongst these is an approach for anti-bias, diversity and identity work suggested by scholars, organizations and practitioners such as Batts (2002), ELRU (1997) and Watts-Jones (2002). It suggests that oppression can only be challenged when ‘individuals become aware and acknowledge that racism and internalized oppression still exist’ (ELRU, 1997, p. 25). It proposes a process of conscientization regarding all forms of oppression, which has to be undertaken by both the target and non-target groups. This work starts with within-group work, which offers the safety needed to look at the self, internalized messages and the resulting life strategies without shame and without ‘the other’ as witness. The next step is to move on to cross-barrier work. Here an opportunity is created to learn to ‘host the unhomely within oneself while in dialogue with people from other communities’ (Watkins and Shulman, 2010, p. 231). Anti-bias work is complex and requires empathy, insight and sensitivity from the facilitator. One of the biggest challenges is to manage strong emotions, especially fear, guilt and shame, which are often denied or projected. An example is withdrawal by the oppressed in order to avoid anxiety and anger in the dominant group. Over generations, the oppressed have learnt to avoid the oppressor from getting upset as they know the consequences of this anger – after all, oppressor and oppressed have been ‘old acquaintances’ (Fanon, 1990, p. 28). Suddenly, in this type of work, the oppressed are expected to share intimate feelings and thereby face the dominant group’s anxiety. While the latter has to learn to work through this emotion, the target group has to learn to sustain their position in relation to others ‘without attacking, defending, or cutting off’ – in other words, to ‘tolerate the anxiety of difference’ (Watts-Jones, 2002, p. 599). A useful tool to keep all involved is to continuously explore the potential benefits of this work (ELRU, 1997). Another challenge is to recognize the subtle manifestations of modern-isms, such as the tendency of ‘liberal’ members of the non-target group to become engaged in the struggle of the target group. This is dangerous, especially if they have not yet done the difficult work of facing their own bias. In addition, the message can easily be conveyed that the target group’s problems can only be solved with the support of the ‘superior’ ability of the non-target group. True conscientization is not about superficial actions, such as cultural events aimed at sharing and showcasing ‘exotic’ customs. It is about facing the self, inter-generational privilege, stereotypes and bias. The foremost task of the non-target group is thus to understand how they have been damaged by the myth of superiority (ELRU, 1997; DeRosa, 2001). This links to the quest for a ‘melting pot’, a monoculturalism that can be juxtaposed with the pluralistic metaphor of the ‘salad bowl’ (Batts, 2002). Monoculturalism does not constitute the unlearning of bias, but results (again) from the domination of the ‘superior’ culture, either through exclusion or through assimilation. The ‘salad bowl’ strives towards the ‘[a]cceptance, appreciation, utilization and celebration of similarities and differences’ (Batts, 2002, p. 4). Whereas the ‘melting pot’ ideal takes the easy but untenable route of ‘forget and forgive and let’s all move happily along’, the journey of creating consciousness and of humanizing both oppressor and oppressed is the harder but more sustainable route (ELRU, 1997). Oppression has to be undone on all the levels through which it has been established in the first place: the personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural (Hope and Timmel, 1988). After liberation, progressive governments tend to focus on institutional and legislative reform, but neglect the other levels. The result is simmering tension and recycled conflict. It is also essential to deal with all types of oppression simultaneously, to cater for those identifying with multiple target groups and those finding themselves in both target and non-target groups. Szymanski and Stewart (2010) suggest that the woundedness increases exponentially with each additional target group that a person identifies with. Significant work on anti-bias has been done with children as young as three years old and this work could be included in curricula from preschool to university level (ELRU, 1997; Tatum, 1999; DeRosa, 2001; Rosenwasser, 2002; Watts-Jones, 2002; Derman-Sparks and Edwards, 2010). An anti-bias process requires the facilitator to have a high level of self-knowledge. This work can only be done when there is consciousness about one’s own bias and internalized messages. The availability of specific and appropriate tools and techniques to recognize and fight bias is essential. Tables 1 and 2 provide guidelines to explore oppression and Table 3 on how to act in an alternative way. Table 3 Suggested strategies to fight bias and modern-isms Alternatives to modern-isms  Alternatives to internalized oppression  Helping in a functional way and creating space for target groups  Being assertive: clearly express needs, wants, opinions and ideas  Acknowledging system’s responsibility and own privilege  Owning responsibility  Being willing to initiate mutual and equal contact  Sharing information from own and different cultures; choosing to initiate contact (not just accommodating the non-target group)  Owning own culture/heritage; recognizing differences; affirming self and other  Acknowledging differences and owning cultural heritage  Recognising political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of systemic oppression; seeing, understanding and accepting the information/data  Knowing and sharing information on the impact of systemic oppression  Alternatives to modern-isms  Alternatives to internalized oppression  Helping in a functional way and creating space for target groups  Being assertive: clearly express needs, wants, opinions and ideas  Acknowledging system’s responsibility and own privilege  Owning responsibility  Being willing to initiate mutual and equal contact  Sharing information from own and different cultures; choosing to initiate contact (not just accommodating the non-target group)  Owning own culture/heritage; recognizing differences; affirming self and other  Acknowledging differences and owning cultural heritage  Recognising political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of systemic oppression; seeing, understanding and accepting the information/data  Knowing and sharing information on the impact of systemic oppression  (Adapted from: ELRU, 1997, p. 28.) Table 3 Suggested strategies to fight bias and modern-isms Alternatives to modern-isms  Alternatives to internalized oppression  Helping in a functional way and creating space for target groups  Being assertive: clearly express needs, wants, opinions and ideas  Acknowledging system’s responsibility and own privilege  Owning responsibility  Being willing to initiate mutual and equal contact  Sharing information from own and different cultures; choosing to initiate contact (not just accommodating the non-target group)  Owning own culture/heritage; recognizing differences; affirming self and other  Acknowledging differences and owning cultural heritage  Recognising political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of systemic oppression; seeing, understanding and accepting the information/data  Knowing and sharing information on the impact of systemic oppression  Alternatives to modern-isms  Alternatives to internalized oppression  Helping in a functional way and creating space for target groups  Being assertive: clearly express needs, wants, opinions and ideas  Acknowledging system’s responsibility and own privilege  Owning responsibility  Being willing to initiate mutual and equal contact  Sharing information from own and different cultures; choosing to initiate contact (not just accommodating the non-target group)  Owning own culture/heritage; recognizing differences; affirming self and other  Acknowledging differences and owning cultural heritage  Recognising political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of systemic oppression; seeing, understanding and accepting the information/data  Knowing and sharing information on the impact of systemic oppression  (Adapted from: ELRU, 1997, p. 28.) It is important to note some concerns about the theory of internalized oppression and anti-bias work. This include the potential exclusion of people identified as multi-racial; the danger that internalized oppression might imply complicity in one’s own oppression; and that this work is too slow and reflective (Akili, 2011; Pyke, 2010; Szymanski and Stewart, 2010). The counter-argument is that individuals determine dominant identities within different contexts and in relation to others. Since internalized oppression results from protracted external mistreatment and misinformation, complicity is hardly possible. Freire (1996) points out that the time spent on reflection and analysis is not ‘inaction’: critical reflection is one form of action. It is within this complex context that community development engages with communities. The next sections look at the meaning of development and mainstream community development’s mindfulness regarding woundedness. Development: dangerous schemes or a journey of un-veiling? What does the term development mean? I traced it back to the Latin root velo: to veil, cover up, enfold, hide, conceal or clothe in. De-velo/de-velop is the verb for undoing this: un-veil, un-cover and so forth (Online Etymology Dictionary; Thefreedictionary.com). Conversely, modern dictionaries explain development as growth, expansion, increase, teach, change, modify, acquire, complicate, start or amend. Only a few explanations hint towards the original meaning, such as explicate and transpire (Online Etymology Dictionary; Synonym.com; Thefreedictionary.com). It is important to reflect on which of these meanings guides the global development project and the field of community development and has the potential to bring about healing. Are we embarking with communities on a journey to un-veil the complicated forms of mud that have seeped into our bones and souls? Or do we attempt to increase, change and complicate, or even worse, to amend or modify those targeted for our interventions? To answer these questions, I bring into conversation the concepts of communal wounding, healing and development. Based on the original meaning of development we can liken the process of wounding to that of veiling and the concealing of parts of the self. Healing then becomes the process of undoing this, through which the authentic self can be un-veiled – and developed. The modern interpretation of development, however, can become a process of new wounding and veiling as carefully planned strategies and programmes are applied to amend and modify the ‘underdeveloped’ – into yet another veiled version of self. This appeared to be the stated objective of the global development project, announced by President Truman in his inaugural speech in 1949: the intention was to help the ‘underdeveloped’ to catch up with the ‘developed’ nations of the West (Truman, 1949; Sachs, 1990; Rist, 2008; Easterly, 2010). Scholars like Rahnema and Kothari suggest that this view of development hardly differs from the West’s geopolitical ambitions since colonial times (Kiely, 1999). To what extent does it differ from the missionary drive, intended to change indigenous peoples to become more civilized and acceptable like ‘us’? How does it differ from the essential message of oppression: inferior and superior? To what extent has community development, essentially the implementation arm of the global development project, managed to break away from this paradigm? Community development in wounded communities Community development approaches since the 1980s are closely aligned to the global development project, not only regarding approaches (e.g. capabilities, rights, assets and sustainability), but as conduit of development aid. It eventually became trapped in supply/funding-driven and linear activities, bound by timeframes, predetermined outcomes, standardized training, the availability of resources, a quest for replicability and corporate-style monitoring and evaluation. The urge to understand through analysis and to reduce the most profound concepts to boxes, tables and brief one-line responses resulted in the loss of a sense of the complex. Packaged frameworks, models, toolkits and manuals are mechanically applied in unrelated contexts and measured against standard outcomes (Kaplan, 2002; Wilson and Taylor, 2004; Wheatley and Frieze, 2011; De Beer, 2014). This does not allow for the slow and careful process required to liberate oppressed communities from the negative messages about self. It also does not allow honest reflection – or failure: programmes need to report successes or face the loss of funding (Norwood-Young, 2014). There are alternative voices in the field who suggest a new way of thinking about community development. They emphasize the importance of deliberate engagement with complexity; searching instead of planning; embracing of uncertainty and doubt; a focus on reflection, with accepts periods of inaction and just being; a horizontal approach which does not allow for subject-versus-object; intense dialogue and slow processes (more than three-year cycles) deemed necessary to work in complex spaces (Kaplan, 2002; Balfour, 2003; Brent, 2009; Gilchrist, 2009; Westoby and Dowling, 2009; Burkett, 2011; Ledwith, 2011; Wheatley and Frieze, 2011). Examples of such initiatives or approaches include work by Cabrera (2003), the Berkana Institute ([n.d.]), Capacitar ([n.d].), Healing of Memories (Lapsley, 2010), ‘Men and boys’, addressing intergenerational wounding in men (Abrams and Van Niekerk, 2010) and anti-bias work in education by ELRU (1997), Visions Inc ([n.d.]) and Unlearning racism ([n.d.]). Community development in South Africa is currently dominated by the state, either directly through its own programmes or through subsidized/contracted NGOs. Espoused theories, which support in-depth work with communities, are not reflected in implementation strategies. Instead, community development has become a tool for service delivery and poverty reduction strategies through support grants, cooperatives and income-generating projects (DPSA, 2007; DSD, 2011). The failure rate of cooperatives is staggering – up to 88 percent (DTI, 2012). Programme reports acknowledge the high failure rate of their poverty reduction strategies (DSD, 2011). However, I found no evidence of conscious reflection on how the woundedness, manifesting as a fear to risk, could limit the chances of success. It is also not considered what impact the collapse of the projects might have on the psyche of the community. I propose that it is internalized as personal failure, which confirms old messages of inferiority and the inevitability of failure, whenever the oppressed risk taking action. Another veil is added. It further impacts negatively on the community’s courage to try again. It is not only the spinach that dies in the community garden; it is also the hope of this community that their efforts can ever yield success or that it is worth the risk to try again. Another layer of mud is added. Conclusion Colonialism and systemic oppression, dispossession and deprivation over many generations have left communities in South Africa and all over the world fragile and deeply wounded. Amongst the many losses experienced is the critical loss of the true self. We are thus faced with the challenge to find ways of allowing the authentic self to emerge, in both the oppressor and the oppressed. In spite of the acknowledged need for healing, the complex layers of woundedness remain largely unexplored and unrecognized. The global development project and mainstream community development continue to focus on the material and economic without deliberate engagement with the woundedness. The result is that development can (and often has) become yet another way in which communities are wounded. This article sought to elucidate the nexus between mainstream community development and communal healing. 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Mail & Guardian [online], 28 March 2013, accessed at: http://mg.co.za/article/2013-03-28-00-chinua-achebe-without-the-story-we-are-blind (28 March 2013). © Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal 2017. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Community Development Journal Oxford University Press

Community development in wounded communities: seductive schemes or un-veiling and healing?

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Abstract

Abstract Communities all over the world have been wounded by oppression, conflict and geopolitical arrangements. The field of community development is ideally positioned to facilitate healing, but engagement with and reflection on the complex layers of woundedness appears to be limited in this field. It focuses on the economic through service delivery and poverty reduction projects, often with disappointing results. These failures may inflict new wounds. The article brings the field of community development into conversation with the theory on communal wounding and healing. Wounding is explored as a series of losses through subjugation and oppression, ultimately resulting in the loss of the authentic self. Healing is theorized as a process of conscientization and the liberation from false perceptions of self, through which the authentic self can emerge. I found the origin of the word ‘develop’ in the Latin verb velo: to veil, cover or conceal. Develo is to undo these: un-veil or un-cover. However, current interpretations of development seem to be aligned to how development is explained in modern dictionaries: amend, change, complicate or increase. If we understand wounding as a process of ‘veiling’ or loss, healing would imply un-veiling. Is community development engaging deliberately with the wounding, through a slow process of un-veiling/conscientization? Or is it applying quick fixes to amend the so-called ‘underdeveloped’ – and thereby adding yet another layer of veils and wounds? The article encourages reflection on how unconscious and self-indulgent actions through community development can damage and compound the wounding of our communities. Introduction My experience as a community development practitioner in South Africa brought me to an understanding of how we, community development workers, activists and educators, move into deeply wounded communities with our plans, promises, frameworks and enthusiasm – and seduce the leaders and community members to participate in even the most unrealistic schemes and projects. Do we heed the consequences of our interventions and actions, especially those that promise material gain (which is often the case)? Do we leave behind transformation, healing and development – or failed schemes, conflict and deeper wounds? Since the dawn of democracy in South Africa in 1994 leaders such as Nelson Mandela insisted that the wounds of our unfortunate past be healed. In governmental documents I could not find in-depth analyses of what this wounding implies, what healing means or how it could be facilitated. Developmental policies and implementation strategies appear to focus on the material and economic without engaging deliberately with this woundedness. This leaves us with the question: can a deeply wounded community achieve the developmental objectives envisaged by the policy makers and planners, if there is no acknowledgement of or engagement with this woundedness in all its complexity? The aim of this article is to explore the concepts of communal woundedness and healing, with specific focus on the multiple losses experienced over generations of oppression and deprivation. It further looks at how the development agenda engages with this wounding. It is a conceptual article and does not present empirical findings. The article starts with a discussion of the complexity of communal woundedness and the nature of communal healing. This is followed by a reflection on the concept of development in global context and a review of mainstream community development. This is understood as the grassroots implementation arm of the global development project, operating in allegiance with the United Nations’ funding affiliates, corporate donors and national governments. The article closes with a discussion of the possible implications when the nexus between community development and communal wounding/healing is not explored. The cunning and complexity of communal wounding He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down This Igbo proverb is a useful metaphor for understanding the complexity of communal wounding and the reality that we ‘cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own’ (Achebe, 2011). Communal wounding is not only about physical and material oppression, deprivation and poverty; the psychological losses may be more debilitating and lasting, because they poison the very essence of our humanity. Atkinson discerns a common pattern in the wounding of communities. It starts with the arrival of the colonist or invader and the violent cut that disrupts the assumptive world of the local populations. Through decimation and dispossession they are forced into dependence on the perpetrator/settler. This is followed by a phase of well-meaning and philanthropic interventions and reassessment by the new authority, which mostly results in deepened inequality, dependence and dysfunction (Atkinson, 2011). These interventions are further embedded in various forms of oppression. Oppression Oppression can be defined as the process through which some groups of people are targeted as inferior to others, while the non-target group is perceived as superior. The message is enforced through the invalidation, denial and/or the non-recognition of the complete humanness of those who are members of the target group. This group is systematically mistreated and disadvantaged, while the members of the non-target group enjoy unearned privileges. The emphasis here is on the word ‘unearned’ (Sherover-Marcuse, [n.d.]; ELRU, 1997; Batts, 2002; Maluleke and Pheko, 2015). Oppression is established on four levels: personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural. Personal prejudice, bias and misinformation lead to interpersonal acts of dehumanization, subordination and objectification (e.g. through derogative terms). If there is sufficient power (legal, military, political, economic and educational) the oppression is institutionalized and becomes systemic. The cultural level is reached when the values of the non-target group are accepted as the norm (Biko, 1987; ELRU, 1997; Batts, 2002). Common types of oppression are indicated in Table 1. Table 1 Common types of oppression Type of oppression  Target group  Non-target group  Racism  Black people  White people  Sexism  Women  Men  Classism  The poor; working class  Middle and upper class; professional people  Elitism  Informally educated; low/no literacy; labourers, clerks, students  Formally educated; managers  Literacism  The illiterate or those with low literacy levels  The literate/educated  Adult-ism/ageism  Children; young people elders  Adults middle-aged people  Able-ism  Differently abled; people with disabilities  Temporarily abled people  Heterosexism  Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexual groups  Heterosexuals  Linguicism  Non-English (e.g. African and indigenous languages); depending on context  English context related  Religious oppression  This varies in different contexts  This varies in different contexts  Tribalism  Depending on the context  Context related  Type of oppression  Target group  Non-target group  Racism  Black people  White people  Sexism  Women  Men  Classism  The poor; working class  Middle and upper class; professional people  Elitism  Informally educated; low/no literacy; labourers, clerks, students  Formally educated; managers  Literacism  The illiterate or those with low literacy levels  The literate/educated  Adult-ism/ageism  Children; young people elders  Adults middle-aged people  Able-ism  Differently abled; people with disabilities  Temporarily abled people  Heterosexism  Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexual groups  Heterosexuals  Linguicism  Non-English (e.g. African and indigenous languages); depending on context  English context related  Religious oppression  This varies in different contexts  This varies in different contexts  Tribalism  Depending on the context  Context related  (Adapted from: Batts, 2002, p. 5; ELRU, 1997, p. 12.) Table 1 Common types of oppression Type of oppression  Target group  Non-target group  Racism  Black people  White people  Sexism  Women  Men  Classism  The poor; working class  Middle and upper class; professional people  Elitism  Informally educated; low/no literacy; labourers, clerks, students  Formally educated; managers  Literacism  The illiterate or those with low literacy levels  The literate/educated  Adult-ism/ageism  Children; young people elders  Adults middle-aged people  Able-ism  Differently abled; people with disabilities  Temporarily abled people  Heterosexism  Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexual groups  Heterosexuals  Linguicism  Non-English (e.g. African and indigenous languages); depending on context  English context related  Religious oppression  This varies in different contexts  This varies in different contexts  Tribalism  Depending on the context  Context related  Type of oppression  Target group  Non-target group  Racism  Black people  White people  Sexism  Women  Men  Classism  The poor; working class  Middle and upper class; professional people  Elitism  Informally educated; low/no literacy; labourers, clerks, students  Formally educated; managers  Literacism  The illiterate or those with low literacy levels  The literate/educated  Adult-ism/ageism  Children; young people elders  Adults middle-aged people  Able-ism  Differently abled; people with disabilities  Temporarily abled people  Heterosexism  Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexual groups  Heterosexuals  Linguicism  Non-English (e.g. African and indigenous languages); depending on context  English context related  Religious oppression  This varies in different contexts  This varies in different contexts  Tribalism  Depending on the context  Context related  (Adapted from: Batts, 2002, p. 5; ELRU, 1997, p. 12.) Table 1 clearly illustrates the complexity and cunning of the mud in our society. Some individuals and groups find themselves in multiple target group positions, such as an unemployed black woman without education. She deals with the realities of (at least) five types of oppression: racism, sexism, classism, elitism and literacism. Then there is the confusing problem of those who are the target in some forms of oppression and the non-target in other. An example is the black man, whose identity and wounding as target in racism may be subsumed by his non-target identity as a man oppressing a woman. And then there are those who find themselves in no target group, such as educated white men, for whom it might be hard to grasp the complexity and impact of oppression. The stereotypes and inequalities are subsequently compounded through an infinite number of strategies. Most obvious are mainstream global economic and educational arrangements. More subtle are state interventions intended to ‘help and support’ the oppressed and the poor. Brent (2009, p. 248) talks about ‘welfare colonialism’, which for Freire (1996, p. 133) are mere ‘instruments of manipulation’ aimed at distracting attention from the real problem and preventing the search for lasting solutions. The hegemony is also compounded by one-dimensional and stereotyped representations of the oppressed and the poor in maps, reports, social studies, policy documents, cinema, novels, the media, songs and scientific/academic research (Walker, 2001; Brent, 2009; Edemariam, 2009; Atkinson, 2011; Zvomuya, 2013). These ‘snapshots without historical depth’ (Brent, 2009, pp. 87–88) freeze groups and even whole continents (as is the case with Africa) into a frame from which they cannot escape. The role of the oppressor in the current dilemma is seldom highlighted (Moyo in Edemariam, 2009). The loss of an authentic image of self Colonialism and oppression lead to tremendous and multiple layers of loss (Biko, 1978; Erikson, 1994; ELRU, 1997; Atkinson, 2011; Maathai, 2009; Watkins and Shulman, 2010). These include the loss of a sense of time: stripped of the past and a future, the wounded is doomed to an ‘endless present’ (Herman, 1997, p. 89). There is the loss of soil and land, traditional systems and structures, trust, relationships, hopes and dreams, spirituality and certainty, visibility and a history. The destruction of culture results in a loss of the assumptive world and a ‘linguistic or cultural default drive’ (Keet, Zinn and Porteus, 2009, p. 110). The loss of ways to channel emotions constructively often results in self-destructive behaviour and horizontal violence (Freire, 1996; Atkinson, 2011). The ultimate loss, and thus the ultimate victory of the oppressor, is when the oppressed lose an authentic image of self and start to see themselves through the eyes of the oppressor. When this false picture is absorbed, reality becomes fictitious. Consciousness of self as a person is lost (Freire, 1996). Maathai sees Africans as obscured from themselves, as if they look at themselves through the mirror of another person: the colonial administrator, the missionary, teacher, collaborator or political leader. What they see is ‘their own cracked reflection or distorted images, if they see themselves at all’ (Maathai, 2009, p. 34). Similarly, Du Bois (2006, p. 9) notes how black people are constantly looking at judging themselves with the measuring tape of whites. Similarly, Luke (1996, pp. 12–13) warns that women have yielded to the old message pronouncing the feminine as inferior, by becoming caught in ‘an unconscious imitation of men or identification with the inferior masculinity in her unconsciousness’. Eventually, the oppressed start to take the boss/oppressor ‘inside’ and become ‘hosts’ of the oppressor. The oppressed thus become trapped ‘in the duality in which to be is to be like, and to be like is to be like the oppressor’ (Freire, 1996, pp. 28, 30). Such distorted assumptions limit insight and openness to other ways of seeing the self and other, which in turn prevents change and empowerment (Van der Merwe and Albertyn, 2010). The cunning of oppression is that its message is believed and ultimately internalized by both oppressor and oppressed (Rosenwasser, 2002; Kaufka, 2009). The message is compounded when ‘new generations of human beings [are conditioned] into the role of being oppressed and the role of being oppressive’ (Sherover-Marcuse, [n.d.]). In this way oppression becomes ‘a worldwide, airborne virus’ (Watts-Jones, 2002: p. 592) and it lives on from generation to generation. The problem is aggravated by what I call ‘forced and frustrated remedies’, which include: False or empty liberation: leaders drive the struggle from out of the false self and/or trap the oppressed after liberation in perennial loyalty to the past and the organization (Olivier, 2011; Mpondo, 2014; Dlanga, 2016) Good intentions: these manifest as charity, volunteerism and foreign aid (normally by the privileged), justified as efforts to help ‘them’. Trapman points out how the classification of people as ‘innocent’ and ‘victims’ not only triggers the help-reflex of the West, but forces the so-called victims to comply with this role. The latter thus need to ‘re-arrange their identity as to be innocent’ (Trapman, 2001). I see this as further falsification of the self. Overly simplistic solutions: the many complex layers of wounding are glossed over and ignored This is poignantly described by Cabrera, who realized the futility of one-day workshops on self-esteem and empowerment for the ‘multiply wounded, multiply traumatized, multiply mourning’ people of Nicaragua (Cabrera, 2003, pp. 1–6). There is concern that national and international interventions, intended to bring about peace, reconciliation and justice, are often superficial, once-off and over-optimistic. Not only is this unsustainable; it is downright dangerous and results in the recycling of conflict (Nathan, 1998; Weinstein and Stover, 2004). There is also the danger that these efforts only focus on the sensational cases, e.g. those who suffered at the hands of security and military forces. The broad community – those ‘whose lives were mutilated in the day-to-day web of regulations that was apartheid’ – are excluded from initiatives such as truth and reconciliation commissions (Mamdani in Watkins and Shulman, 2010, p. 318). These are usually the lives touched by community development programmes. The dismantling of institutionalized oppression in progressive democracies can drive oppression in its internalized form underground, from where it exerts immense power in subtle and covert ways (ELRU, 1997). This is when we hear calls for colour-blindness, how we are ‘all the same’ and that we should just move on. I perceive this as deeply insulting to everybody faced with a history of oppression and deprivation and also to those from the non-target group who have become aware of their privilege and struggle consciously to regain their humanity. We can refer to this subtle form of oppression as ‘modern-isms’. Modern-isms and internalized oppression Modern-isms are difficult to recognize and are as detrimental to change as old-fashioned oppression (Batts, 2002). It is simply ‘the same poison, but packaged in new bottles’ (DeRosa, 2001, p. 2). Modern racism, e.g. has created white liberals who claim to ‘have black souls wrapped up in white skins’ (Biko, 1987, p. 20). Modern-isms interact directly with the manifestations of internalized oppression in what I see as some type of complicated dance: each movement from the one invites an almost predictable movement from the other (Table 2). An example is when a member of a target group, e.g. a black person, ‘plays the system’ by requesting help for a task that is within his/her ability and designated work description. The modern racist helps (‘rescues’), anxious not to be seen as a racist. Even though all of this might indicate good relationships, the old message is not confronted: the white person’s effort is perceived superior. Table 2 Manifestations of modern-isms and internalized oppression Manifestations of modern-isms  Manifestations of internalized oppression  Dysfunctional rescuing: helping in an unhelpful way  Playing/beating the system  Blaming the victim  Blaming the system  Avoiding contact and engaging as equals  Avoiding contact  Denying differences (the claim of ‘colour-blindness’)  Denying own heritage  Denying political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of differences  Lack of understanding or minimization of the political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of racial oppression  Manifestations of modern-isms  Manifestations of internalized oppression  Dysfunctional rescuing: helping in an unhelpful way  Playing/beating the system  Blaming the victim  Blaming the system  Avoiding contact and engaging as equals  Avoiding contact  Denying differences (the claim of ‘colour-blindness’)  Denying own heritage  Denying political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of differences  Lack of understanding or minimization of the political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of racial oppression  (Adapted from: Batts, 2002, p. 14–19; ELRU, 1997, p. 21.) Table 2 Manifestations of modern-isms and internalized oppression Manifestations of modern-isms  Manifestations of internalized oppression  Dysfunctional rescuing: helping in an unhelpful way  Playing/beating the system  Blaming the victim  Blaming the system  Avoiding contact and engaging as equals  Avoiding contact  Denying differences (the claim of ‘colour-blindness’)  Denying own heritage  Denying political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of differences  Lack of understanding or minimization of the political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of racial oppression  Manifestations of modern-isms  Manifestations of internalized oppression  Dysfunctional rescuing: helping in an unhelpful way  Playing/beating the system  Blaming the victim  Blaming the system  Avoiding contact and engaging as equals  Avoiding contact  Denying differences (the claim of ‘colour-blindness’)  Denying own heritage  Denying political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of differences  Lack of understanding or minimization of the political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of racial oppression  (Adapted from: Batts, 2002, p. 14–19; ELRU, 1997, p. 21.) The loss of an authentic self poses a serious challenge to the oppressed: how do you face the task of liberation and healing with a false consciousness and as ‘divided, unauthentic beings’ (Freire, 1996, p. 30)? The struggle of the oppressed might ultimately become an aspiration not to liberation, but to identification with the oppressor, who is seen as the norm (Freire, 1996). For Luke, the battle of women against the message of inferiority is not to strive to live like men, but to affirm ‘the equal value of the specifically feminine’ (1996, p. 12). The same challenge faces the oppressor, who is living with the false image of superiority – and thus in as much need of liberation from the false message as the oppressed. Ignoring the pain of the past has dire consequences: it will haunt us while it remains unaddressed and unrecognized. The need to name and understand the wounding is widely acknowledged. However, it is also clear that this is counterintuitive: it is natural to deny, suppress and banish the unspeakable to the unconscious. If nothing is done or if the action is superficial, the wounds will fester from generation to generation (Erikson, 1994; Hoffman, 2005; Watkins and Shulman, 2010). Again, this is true for both oppressed and oppressor. Is there a community that is not wounded – or, to return to the metaphor of the mud: can any community claim to be mud-free? I do not believe so, as we all have had histories shaped in the mud. Considering the matrix of oppression, it is clear that those held down in the mud by various other groups over prolonged periods are multiply wounded and in need of priority attention. At the same time, there are those who find it necessary to push others down – thereby continuing to soil themselves ‘beyond recognition’ (Biko, 1987, p. 77). This self-inflicted wounding highlights the urgency to liberate the oppressor from the false message of superiority and from the desire to hold others down. Apart from the reality that mainstream community development seldom goes beyond poverty reduction and service delivery, which per definition excludes wealthier communities from any intervention. The manifestations of oppression thus remain a non-discourse in this field. The next section investigates the nature of communal healing. Communal healing: consciousness and a new state of being From the literature I deduce that there is no state that can be called ‘healed’. Instead, healing is described as an ‘ever-deepening knowledge of the deep structure of the self and the layered and multiple parts of who the person is’ (Atkinson, 2011, p. 100). Westoby (2009, p. 32) sees social healing as a process of ‘unfreezing’ from the private to the public, from lack of control to control, from shame to dignity and from the past to the future. Healing is also not about a return to the past, however much we might yearn for it. What had been lost cannot be replaced, certainly not in an unaltered from within the current context. I posit that we need to be sceptical about the seductive prefix re-. How do you re-turn, re-pair or re-concile what has been lost through the original violent cut and subsequently through generations of oppression and dispossession? Instead, we have to start imagining a new state of being, in which the past has to be seen as the past and be separated from the present. Mpondo talks about an African imagination free from a preoccupation with the oppressor, the Black Messiah and the prevention of white domination (2014). I want to suggest that the essence of what has been lost, is identified, so that new ways can be found to fulfil the essential need. If emotional insulation was lost through the loss of culture, it might be more useful to seek a new form of insulation, instead of trying to restore the old culture. Avoiding the temptation to re-turn, however, does not absolve us from the difficult work of facing and engaging with the past. It is through dipping into the past that we can contain it and separate it from the present and future (Hoffman, 2005; Westoby, 2009). This is movingly illustrated by a participant in a healing process, who described herself as a whole jigsaw puzzle when she was born. The puzzle got shattered when she was raped at the age of three. Throughout her life, puzzle pieces with negative messages, such as bad, dirty and unlovable, were added by unloving parents and an abusive husband. She accepted all of these as authentic pieces of herself. The healing workshop gave her an opportunity to sift through the different pieces of the jigsaw. She found ‘the real me again’ as she started to ‘discard those bits that don’t fit, and find and give value to those bits of the picture that do fit and I want to keep’ (Atkinson, 2011: pp. 179–180). Healing thus implies consciously facing the wounds and messages of the past. Without consciousness we will continue to wound ourselves and others repeatedly (Hollis, 1994). Consciousness Freire (1996) suggests that through the process of conscientização or conscientization the oppressed can reflect on how they continue to act as ‘hosts’ of the oppressor and live according to the prescription of the oppressor – thus accepting false puzzle pieces. Only through consciousness can the oppressed ‘see himself as a being, entire in himself’ (Biko, 1987, p. 68). Similarly, the oppressors have to discover that they live in the dehumanized and dehumanizing illusion of superiority. It requires of individuals to acknowledge the existence and power of oppression and give up the need to deny (ELRU, 1997; Batts, 2002). The process of conscientization guides the wounded from the naïve stage of perceiving problems as inevitable and action as futile to a stage where what had previously been experienced as personal problems can now be understood as community, class or racial problems and as part of an unjust and oppressive sociopolitical system. This is when the ‘perception of the inevitability of one’s fate crumbles’ (Guishard, 2009, p. 93). The oppressor inside can be ejected and the authentic self can start to emerge. An anti-bias framework Over the past few decades a discourse on social healing started to emerge, which in essence challenges hegemonic theories and practices in various disciplines. Amongst these is an approach for anti-bias, diversity and identity work suggested by scholars, organizations and practitioners such as Batts (2002), ELRU (1997) and Watts-Jones (2002). It suggests that oppression can only be challenged when ‘individuals become aware and acknowledge that racism and internalized oppression still exist’ (ELRU, 1997, p. 25). It proposes a process of conscientization regarding all forms of oppression, which has to be undertaken by both the target and non-target groups. This work starts with within-group work, which offers the safety needed to look at the self, internalized messages and the resulting life strategies without shame and without ‘the other’ as witness. The next step is to move on to cross-barrier work. Here an opportunity is created to learn to ‘host the unhomely within oneself while in dialogue with people from other communities’ (Watkins and Shulman, 2010, p. 231). Anti-bias work is complex and requires empathy, insight and sensitivity from the facilitator. One of the biggest challenges is to manage strong emotions, especially fear, guilt and shame, which are often denied or projected. An example is withdrawal by the oppressed in order to avoid anxiety and anger in the dominant group. Over generations, the oppressed have learnt to avoid the oppressor from getting upset as they know the consequences of this anger – after all, oppressor and oppressed have been ‘old acquaintances’ (Fanon, 1990, p. 28). Suddenly, in this type of work, the oppressed are expected to share intimate feelings and thereby face the dominant group’s anxiety. While the latter has to learn to work through this emotion, the target group has to learn to sustain their position in relation to others ‘without attacking, defending, or cutting off’ – in other words, to ‘tolerate the anxiety of difference’ (Watts-Jones, 2002, p. 599). A useful tool to keep all involved is to continuously explore the potential benefits of this work (ELRU, 1997). Another challenge is to recognize the subtle manifestations of modern-isms, such as the tendency of ‘liberal’ members of the non-target group to become engaged in the struggle of the target group. This is dangerous, especially if they have not yet done the difficult work of facing their own bias. In addition, the message can easily be conveyed that the target group’s problems can only be solved with the support of the ‘superior’ ability of the non-target group. True conscientization is not about superficial actions, such as cultural events aimed at sharing and showcasing ‘exotic’ customs. It is about facing the self, inter-generational privilege, stereotypes and bias. The foremost task of the non-target group is thus to understand how they have been damaged by the myth of superiority (ELRU, 1997; DeRosa, 2001). This links to the quest for a ‘melting pot’, a monoculturalism that can be juxtaposed with the pluralistic metaphor of the ‘salad bowl’ (Batts, 2002). Monoculturalism does not constitute the unlearning of bias, but results (again) from the domination of the ‘superior’ culture, either through exclusion or through assimilation. The ‘salad bowl’ strives towards the ‘[a]cceptance, appreciation, utilization and celebration of similarities and differences’ (Batts, 2002, p. 4). Whereas the ‘melting pot’ ideal takes the easy but untenable route of ‘forget and forgive and let’s all move happily along’, the journey of creating consciousness and of humanizing both oppressor and oppressed is the harder but more sustainable route (ELRU, 1997). Oppression has to be undone on all the levels through which it has been established in the first place: the personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural (Hope and Timmel, 1988). After liberation, progressive governments tend to focus on institutional and legislative reform, but neglect the other levels. The result is simmering tension and recycled conflict. It is also essential to deal with all types of oppression simultaneously, to cater for those identifying with multiple target groups and those finding themselves in both target and non-target groups. Szymanski and Stewart (2010) suggest that the woundedness increases exponentially with each additional target group that a person identifies with. Significant work on anti-bias has been done with children as young as three years old and this work could be included in curricula from preschool to university level (ELRU, 1997; Tatum, 1999; DeRosa, 2001; Rosenwasser, 2002; Watts-Jones, 2002; Derman-Sparks and Edwards, 2010). An anti-bias process requires the facilitator to have a high level of self-knowledge. This work can only be done when there is consciousness about one’s own bias and internalized messages. The availability of specific and appropriate tools and techniques to recognize and fight bias is essential. Tables 1 and 2 provide guidelines to explore oppression and Table 3 on how to act in an alternative way. Table 3 Suggested strategies to fight bias and modern-isms Alternatives to modern-isms  Alternatives to internalized oppression  Helping in a functional way and creating space for target groups  Being assertive: clearly express needs, wants, opinions and ideas  Acknowledging system’s responsibility and own privilege  Owning responsibility  Being willing to initiate mutual and equal contact  Sharing information from own and different cultures; choosing to initiate contact (not just accommodating the non-target group)  Owning own culture/heritage; recognizing differences; affirming self and other  Acknowledging differences and owning cultural heritage  Recognising political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of systemic oppression; seeing, understanding and accepting the information/data  Knowing and sharing information on the impact of systemic oppression  Alternatives to modern-isms  Alternatives to internalized oppression  Helping in a functional way and creating space for target groups  Being assertive: clearly express needs, wants, opinions and ideas  Acknowledging system’s responsibility and own privilege  Owning responsibility  Being willing to initiate mutual and equal contact  Sharing information from own and different cultures; choosing to initiate contact (not just accommodating the non-target group)  Owning own culture/heritage; recognizing differences; affirming self and other  Acknowledging differences and owning cultural heritage  Recognising political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of systemic oppression; seeing, understanding and accepting the information/data  Knowing and sharing information on the impact of systemic oppression  (Adapted from: ELRU, 1997, p. 28.) Table 3 Suggested strategies to fight bias and modern-isms Alternatives to modern-isms  Alternatives to internalized oppression  Helping in a functional way and creating space for target groups  Being assertive: clearly express needs, wants, opinions and ideas  Acknowledging system’s responsibility and own privilege  Owning responsibility  Being willing to initiate mutual and equal contact  Sharing information from own and different cultures; choosing to initiate contact (not just accommodating the non-target group)  Owning own culture/heritage; recognizing differences; affirming self and other  Acknowledging differences and owning cultural heritage  Recognising political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of systemic oppression; seeing, understanding and accepting the information/data  Knowing and sharing information on the impact of systemic oppression  Alternatives to modern-isms  Alternatives to internalized oppression  Helping in a functional way and creating space for target groups  Being assertive: clearly express needs, wants, opinions and ideas  Acknowledging system’s responsibility and own privilege  Owning responsibility  Being willing to initiate mutual and equal contact  Sharing information from own and different cultures; choosing to initiate contact (not just accommodating the non-target group)  Owning own culture/heritage; recognizing differences; affirming self and other  Acknowledging differences and owning cultural heritage  Recognising political, historical, economic, psychological and social significance of systemic oppression; seeing, understanding and accepting the information/data  Knowing and sharing information on the impact of systemic oppression  (Adapted from: ELRU, 1997, p. 28.) It is important to note some concerns about the theory of internalized oppression and anti-bias work. This include the potential exclusion of people identified as multi-racial; the danger that internalized oppression might imply complicity in one’s own oppression; and that this work is too slow and reflective (Akili, 2011; Pyke, 2010; Szymanski and Stewart, 2010). The counter-argument is that individuals determine dominant identities within different contexts and in relation to others. Since internalized oppression results from protracted external mistreatment and misinformation, complicity is hardly possible. Freire (1996) points out that the time spent on reflection and analysis is not ‘inaction’: critical reflection is one form of action. It is within this complex context that community development engages with communities. The next sections look at the meaning of development and mainstream community development’s mindfulness regarding woundedness. Development: dangerous schemes or a journey of un-veiling? What does the term development mean? I traced it back to the Latin root velo: to veil, cover up, enfold, hide, conceal or clothe in. De-velo/de-velop is the verb for undoing this: un-veil, un-cover and so forth (Online Etymology Dictionary; Thefreedictionary.com). Conversely, modern dictionaries explain development as growth, expansion, increase, teach, change, modify, acquire, complicate, start or amend. Only a few explanations hint towards the original meaning, such as explicate and transpire (Online Etymology Dictionary; Synonym.com; Thefreedictionary.com). It is important to reflect on which of these meanings guides the global development project and the field of community development and has the potential to bring about healing. Are we embarking with communities on a journey to un-veil the complicated forms of mud that have seeped into our bones and souls? Or do we attempt to increase, change and complicate, or even worse, to amend or modify those targeted for our interventions? To answer these questions, I bring into conversation the concepts of communal wounding, healing and development. Based on the original meaning of development we can liken the process of wounding to that of veiling and the concealing of parts of the self. Healing then becomes the process of undoing this, through which the authentic self can be un-veiled – and developed. The modern interpretation of development, however, can become a process of new wounding and veiling as carefully planned strategies and programmes are applied to amend and modify the ‘underdeveloped’ – into yet another veiled version of self. This appeared to be the stated objective of the global development project, announced by President Truman in his inaugural speech in 1949: the intention was to help the ‘underdeveloped’ to catch up with the ‘developed’ nations of the West (Truman, 1949; Sachs, 1990; Rist, 2008; Easterly, 2010). Scholars like Rahnema and Kothari suggest that this view of development hardly differs from the West’s geopolitical ambitions since colonial times (Kiely, 1999). To what extent does it differ from the missionary drive, intended to change indigenous peoples to become more civilized and acceptable like ‘us’? How does it differ from the essential message of oppression: inferior and superior? To what extent has community development, essentially the implementation arm of the global development project, managed to break away from this paradigm? Community development in wounded communities Community development approaches since the 1980s are closely aligned to the global development project, not only regarding approaches (e.g. capabilities, rights, assets and sustainability), but as conduit of development aid. It eventually became trapped in supply/funding-driven and linear activities, bound by timeframes, predetermined outcomes, standardized training, the availability of resources, a quest for replicability and corporate-style monitoring and evaluation. The urge to understand through analysis and to reduce the most profound concepts to boxes, tables and brief one-line responses resulted in the loss of a sense of the complex. Packaged frameworks, models, toolkits and manuals are mechanically applied in unrelated contexts and measured against standard outcomes (Kaplan, 2002; Wilson and Taylor, 2004; Wheatley and Frieze, 2011; De Beer, 2014). This does not allow for the slow and careful process required to liberate oppressed communities from the negative messages about self. It also does not allow honest reflection – or failure: programmes need to report successes or face the loss of funding (Norwood-Young, 2014). There are alternative voices in the field who suggest a new way of thinking about community development. They emphasize the importance of deliberate engagement with complexity; searching instead of planning; embracing of uncertainty and doubt; a focus on reflection, with accepts periods of inaction and just being; a horizontal approach which does not allow for subject-versus-object; intense dialogue and slow processes (more than three-year cycles) deemed necessary to work in complex spaces (Kaplan, 2002; Balfour, 2003; Brent, 2009; Gilchrist, 2009; Westoby and Dowling, 2009; Burkett, 2011; Ledwith, 2011; Wheatley and Frieze, 2011). Examples of such initiatives or approaches include work by Cabrera (2003), the Berkana Institute ([n.d.]), Capacitar ([n.d].), Healing of Memories (Lapsley, 2010), ‘Men and boys’, addressing intergenerational wounding in men (Abrams and Van Niekerk, 2010) and anti-bias work in education by ELRU (1997), Visions Inc ([n.d.]) and Unlearning racism ([n.d.]). Community development in South Africa is currently dominated by the state, either directly through its own programmes or through subsidized/contracted NGOs. Espoused theories, which support in-depth work with communities, are not reflected in implementation strategies. Instead, community development has become a tool for service delivery and poverty reduction strategies through support grants, cooperatives and income-generating projects (DPSA, 2007; DSD, 2011). The failure rate of cooperatives is staggering – up to 88 percent (DTI, 2012). Programme reports acknowledge the high failure rate of their poverty reduction strategies (DSD, 2011). However, I found no evidence of conscious reflection on how the woundedness, manifesting as a fear to risk, could limit the chances of success. It is also not considered what impact the collapse of the projects might have on the psyche of the community. I propose that it is internalized as personal failure, which confirms old messages of inferiority and the inevitability of failure, whenever the oppressed risk taking action. Another veil is added. It further impacts negatively on the community’s courage to try again. It is not only the spinach that dies in the community garden; it is also the hope of this community that their efforts can ever yield success or that it is worth the risk to try again. Another layer of mud is added. Conclusion Colonialism and systemic oppression, dispossession and deprivation over many generations have left communities in South Africa and all over the world fragile and deeply wounded. Amongst the many losses experienced is the critical loss of the true self. We are thus faced with the challenge to find ways of allowing the authentic self to emerge, in both the oppressor and the oppressed. In spite of the acknowledged need for healing, the complex layers of woundedness remain largely unexplored and unrecognized. The global development project and mainstream community development continue to focus on the material and economic without deliberate engagement with the woundedness. The result is that development can (and often has) become yet another way in which communities are wounded. This article sought to elucidate the nexus between mainstream community development and communal healing. 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Community Development JournalOxford University Press

Published: May 8, 2017

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