A billion people live under conditions of extreme poverty.
UC Berkeley Professor Ananya Roy calls them the “bottom billion,” but she sees hope. As more people become aware about the nature of poverty, the bottom billion are starting to benefit from poverty alleviation efforts and market forces reaching them. While inequality is at an historic high, Roy sees a new common sense growing around these issues which is reason for optimism.
According to Roy, it is important to develop a more relational view of poverty – that inequity is an issue for all of us, regardless of our economic standing. “I’d like us to move further from asking, how can we help the poor? to asking how’s poverty produced? and how are wealth, power, and privilege produced? When we get to that last set of questions, we’re adopting… a relational understanding of poverty. It’s about our dependencies on the labor of the poor… and how we think about ourselves and our place in the world.”
Mark Juergensmeyer, Director of the Orfalea Center at UCSB talks with Ananya Roy about her path from her upbringing in Calcutta, India to her current position as Professor of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley. She is an expert in global poverty, particularly in urban centers, and shares her experiences with the undergraduate program in Global Poverty and Practice which she founded at Berkeley. As a teacher, she uses social and digital media in the classroom to engage and motivate her students. (You can watch Roy’s animated videos on poverty on GlobalPOV.)