Academics, Our World UN

#001

OF POO AND PEOPLE:
SANITATION AND DIFFERENCIATION IN URBAN CHINA
Deljana Iossifova, University of Manchester

Childish to start a blog with a post about poop? That is quite possible. But reading this article made me realize that sociology knows no limit. I tell myself several times a day that to be a good sociologist, I have to look beyond our everyday life, in order to see the invisible (this is some heavyscholartaintedbrainwashingcrap). But this is another example of me failing as a baby researcher.

What is more normal than using toilets? And if you live in Japan, what is surprising about using washlets? Then some people would say “Oh, you know, when I was in India…” and start talking about how they had to use their left hand. (Is this a myth?) But here, the author shows how the existence or the non-existence of Western-style toilets can change social bounds.

Mrs. Wong : ”You know how it is, (…) after two hours or so one will have to go to the toilet. But they’re scared and disgusted. They don’t know how to use a night pot anymore. And I can’t afford a modern toilet. So they don’t come. They call, but they won’t visit.” (Talking about her children.)

“(In China) Just like in India, the lack of a Western-style flush toilet can be a major hindrance with regards to romantic relationships and marriage.”

Revelation! A few years ago, I read an article about how flush toilets could impact local societies in Africa, where rules existed around sanitation issues. The wise white man was bringing amazing technology to make sure that the less developed man could access hygiene but didn’t think about the social effects. (I don’t know if I could find that article… Should try.) Since flush toilets are part of our daily life, we cannot imagine living without it. Who could deny that it is far more comfortable to just push a little button than having to go out with a night pot to throw away wastes into a common (odorant) gigantic pot? But now, this amazing technology is creating inequalities…

Anyway, to whoever has time, I would highly recommend this disturbing article. Life will never stop surprising you.

***

Listening to: 장범준 (Jang Bum Joon) – 내 마음이 그대가 되어 (내마그)

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