World Sociology

Underdevelopment and the Origins of Dependency

A ‘developing’ country or an ‘underdeveloped’ country is one where there is an underdeveloped economic base as well as a low Human Development Index (HDI) when compared to other countries.

This has led some nations to become dependent or reliant on others for help in the form of aid. But it is important that students understand the origins of this dependency – slavery and colonialism.

Between 1650 and 1850, around nine million Africans were shipped across the Atlantic as slaves to work on plantations in America and the West Indies (the West Indies plantations were owned mainly by British settlers). This one hour BBC documentary is one half of a short series that examined ‘Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners’ and provides an unsettling account of the role that Britain played in slavery:

Britain's Forgotten Slave Owners - 1 - Profit... by thecouchtripper

After watching this and making their own notes, students could work in groups to consider whether Britain should make reparations to countries like Jamaica for the slave trade. A good starting point presenting a range of opinions on the matter can be found in this Guardian article:

Discover More Should Britain pay reparations for slavery?

Students could analyse which view they most agree with and provide a written justification of why.
Following on from this, students could read the following article

Discover More Colonialism must be taught through view of oppressed

and formulate a response to the question, To what extent do you agree with the assertion that British colonialism should be an embedded part of the National Curriculum?. Explain to students that their answers should consider whether this would help young people learn about power imbalances.

An open-ended question that students could look with the aim of bringing all of their material and notes together on this topic could be, Assess the view that underdevelopment is a consequence of cultural, rather than economic factors.

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