Flashcards in July 30 Lecture 8 Modernity and High Modernity Deck (19):
• Define modernity.
• Define High Modernity: Why did high modernist projects so
• What were some of the features that helped create High
Modernity as a development ideology in the 1950s and
• What were some of the environmental and social impacts of
hydro-development in Canada?
• Why did High Modernity decline?
note hydropower is one more resource that Canada is working with.
what is modernity?
• Modernity represents the loss of old systems of authority
and order and the attempt to replace them with new
systems of order.
• Europe in the 17th century had based authority on the crown and the church and a belief that everyone’s in the ordering of life was preordained. French called it the great chain of being.
What are the three key steps to modernity
• The European enlightenment in the eighteenth century held up the individual and reason as the pillars of society. Religion and old forms of hierarchy didn’t end but alternative ways of seeing the role of people and their place in universe emerge.
• The rise of the nation-state as the primary organizer and
authority over human life. The managers of a state are
focused on organizing the people within their terrain.
• The industrial revolution in the nineteenth century
untethers people from old ways of life: it introduces new
forms of hierarchy and imposes new forms or order and
rationalization on people’s lives. It changed environments and sped up the timeline of life. people felt their lives were being rationalized by being put into a system. we find a faith in human reason. in the 20th century, sense of modernity encompasses most of America.
What is high modernity?
James C. Scott on High Modernity:
• The almost muscle-bound belief, in the ongoing advance of science and technology and their combined power to deliver the social benefit, largely by facilitating the domination of nature, something high modernists believed was humanity's destiny. Convinced of the need for and the benefits of systematic change, high modernists around the world sought to deliver them on an unprecedented scale, beginning in the late nineteenth century, but particularly in the period between the 1950s and 1960s.
• High modernity was practiced by regimes of all political
stripes: it harnessed scientific knowledge and technology to the apparatus of the state, giving birth to "mega-projects" like city planning, collectivization, and scientific agriculture.
• Part of high modernity's power was its seemingly apolitical character: by embracing the apparent rationality, objectivity, and neutrality of science and technology, high modernists could present and defend their plans for change as impartial and pragmatic, while characterizing any opposition as self-interested and political.
It was not just a Canada or a capitalist thing. gave birth to megaprojects like city planning. High modernists could defend their plans because it was "rational". often seen as looking down from above. nature is seen in utilitarian terms. eg Bennet looked down at a river and imagined everything that could be planned. All the projects we look at today are high modernist in passion.
Talk about The “postwar liberal consensus,” 1945 to 1975,
demonstrated the value of state intervention.
Ingredients for high modernism:
• In the nineteenth century, liberalism had meant freedom
from state intervention: it endorsed such principles as
freedom of trade, freedom of speech, and freedom of
worship. The new liberalism added an emphasis on freedom from want. The Great Depression had shown the need for the state intervention to create a better standard of living. The business community accepted this intervention. From 1945 to 1975, the business, state, and labor were getting along. so state intervention became the essence rather than the enemy of liberalism
• Rather than being the enemy of liberalism, state intervention
became its essence.
Talk about how the war created powerful state
Ingredients for high modernism:
• The Canadian state that emerged after the Second World War had the technological prowess and organization to pull off mega-projects.
• During the war the Canadian state grew substantially:
extending state planning and control.
• A bureaucratic class headed by experts, known as
Mandarins, emerged to manage and define government
Talk about Emergence of the Welfare state:
Ingredients for high modernism:
• Welfare programs that emerged during and after the war in Canada were designed to give cradle to grave security to citizens, including minimum wages and programs for
employment creation, farm subsidies, and public education.
• During the 1950s we also see the rise of "behavioral
sciences" in areas such as sociology and psychology, which brings new forms of expertise into government.
• The emergence of the welfare state is a good thing but it also seeded the state with experts who felt they could improve the human condition.
Talk about nationalism and how it drives Canada
Ingredients for high modernism:
• As Canada fretted about the amount of control the United States had over its economy in the 1950s, mega projects were areas where Canada could develop its own economy, or in the case artic relocation, protect its sovereignty.
• The Trans-Canada highway was launched in 1948 in an effort to pull Canada together. The Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1954, as both a hydro project and a transportation project. The Quebec Government saw hydro projects such as the James Bay Project as a critical tool for state building.
Talk about gender roles
Ingredients for high modernism:
Finally gender roles matter as well:
• As Chris Dummit suggests high modernism was also
gendered masculine. It was based on ideas of the rational control, order, and authority which were seen as masculine attributes.
But the effort to establish order could also be emasculating:
• The effort to create social discipline also created the widespread feeling that something primal, some integral
part of life was missing. There is tension in these high modernist projects.
talk about experts vs local knowledge.
• The effort to carry out mega-projects or mass movements of people creates a tension between the planners, the social scientists, and the engineers on one side and local knowledge on the other.
• High modernity projects usually fail because they are not
able to read the relationship between people and the world around them that created the local social environment. The high modernists couldn’t recreate a community, because they never understood that community, to begin with.
give examples of high modernist projects.
• The St. Lawrence Seaway: Rebuilding a community.
• The James Bay Project and the Cree: learning the language of
• High Arctic Relocation: Relocating people to serve Canada.
• Africville: Managing people.
The St. Lawrence Seaway (1954-1959):
• The Saint Lawrence seaway was a megaproject that
reworked the environment, but when we zoom in and look
at Iroquois, Ontario, one of the communities relocated
during the project, we can see how planners could rebuild a town, but they couldn’t rebuild the embodied relationship that people had had with their former community.
• (Despite the name Iroquois was a primarily English Canadian community.)
The Saint Lawrence Seaway project went ahead in 1954: The project cost about $1 billion and was completed in 1959.
• To make the Great Lakes accessible to ocean going crafts that were up to 225.5 meters long and 23.8 meters wide.
• The construction of the 2,090 megawatt Moses-Saunders Powerhouse near Cornwall, Ontario.
The creation of Lake St Lawrence flooded 15,400 hectares of land and required the relocation of nine small communities, and parts of the towns of Iroquois and Morrisburg, Ontario. In all over 525 dwellings and 6,500 people, were relocated.
Iroquois prior to being moved hugged the river, people could hear and interact with the river. The soundlines, sitelines etc are framed by the river. The St. Lawrence Seaway (1954-1959)
Iroquois before 1954: a walkable community.
Iroquois after move: the lightcoloured area is where buildings have been removed.
The New Iroquois orientates are the highway and away
from the St. Lawrence River
Talk about the old vs new iroqouis
• Historian Joy Parr has researched Iroquois and she sums up the transformation this way: “In three years—the time it
took to relocate the community—the habits, memories, and tacit knowledge accrued over six generations of bodily encounters with the river lost their anchors in the physical and social space of the village.”
• The planners could move the community, but they couldn’t recreate the social experience of being within the
community. People had to retune their bodies to the new
setting, to the silence of the river, and those that had fished or swam along the river had to relearn the environment.
Talk about the James Bay Project.
James Bay Project, (1971-1975):
• The James Bay hydro-development was carried out by the Quebec government and reworked the environment around James Bay, and similar to Iroquois it forced the Cree and Inuit people into having to relearn their local environment. But it also forced the Cree and Inuit to use the language of high modernity to defend their land and negotiate their treaties.
• This was a $13.7 billion project.
• It involved the diversion of water from the Eastmain,
Opinaca and Caniapiscau rivers to reservoirs on La Grande Rivière, increasing the average flow of La Grande Rivière to drive a power generation station capable of producing 7,722 megawatts of electric power.
• The project flooded 11,500 square-km of wilderness land
that was home to the James Bay Cree and Inuit.
• Forced the town of Fort George (population 2,373) at the
mouth of La Grande Rivière to be uprooted and moved
upstream. 10k carribou died . James Bay agreement was settled in 1975 and the cree and inuit were payed. the cree people and inuit people identified with this land in language that was not of high modernists
• The project also required that Quebec negotiate a treaty
with the Cree and the Inuit.
• The James Bay Agreement was completed in 1975. In the
agreement the Cree and Inuit surrendered their land claims for $225 million, retaining special hunting and fishing rights. The treaty also included royalties on Quebec’s power generation over the next 50 years.
• James Bay agreement forced the Cree and Inuit to use the language of high modernity.
• The Cree and Inuit perspective on land had been based on a subjective relationship that integrated them into the land at a cultural, spiritual, and embodied level.
• The court discussions leading to the treaty forced them to speak in the language of Western modernity; they needed to put an economic-based measure on their traditional territory. That territory needed to become a commodity of exchange that could be monetized and measured.
Talk about high arctic relocation.
• High artic relocation deployed people as tools to bolster
Canada’s sovereignty in the Artic. The forcible movement
disrupted local knowledge entirely.
• The federal government forcibly relocated several Inuit
families from Inukjuak, Quebec, in 1953. The families, along with a single RCMP constable, were sent to Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord in the Northwest Territories. Three other families from Pond Inlet were sent to teach the Inukjuak families to survive in the High Arctic.
• It wouldn’t be until the 1996, under the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples that it was revealed the families were relocated for tactical reasons; to assert sovereignty in the north during the Cold War, to centralize the Inuit in a community that could provide labour for the Royal Canadian Airforce.
• It was also imagined that the move would improve the
lifestyle of the Inuit by removing them from an area that was believed to be hunted out but in fact they were far more resource poor in their new home.
Talk about Africville, Nova Scotia (1964-1967)
• Halifax relocated Africville, a segregated community, in an
effort to improve the living conditions of the people and
desegregate the community.
• In the end, the community was moved, but it was destroyed
in the process.
• As Tina Loo suggests the effort to relocate Africville emerged
from the belief that planners could create a solution for
inequality. But the project failed because it wasn’t able to
create a new community and it did nothing to solve the
broader racism that had helped create Africville in the first
Is high modernity gone?
• No. Mega-projects remain, planners are still attempting to manipulate the world from above, and they still imagine that they can create a better world.
• BUT the idea that state-driven authority from above knows best has been challenged.
Talk about challenging high modernity
• Africville, High Artic relocation and other projects
demonstrated how damaging attempting to social engineer communities could be.
• The experience in James Bay also demonstrates how the forces impacted by high modernity grew politically stronger and politically savvier.
• The environmental damage caused by high modernist
projects helped spark the environmental movement at the
beginning of the 1970s