Monday, March 22, 2010

Top ten "unliveable" cities: not my kind fun facts!

I was in my local coffee shop the other day when I spotted the above 'fun facts' style "article" in the glossy magazine that comes with the weekend national paper. I looked around the page and found no related article dealing with the issues raised by this set of 'fun facts'. I found this disturbing, cynical, and in a way macabre.
The Economist magazine makes a big deal of it's yearly liveability rankings with most attention given to the top ten most liveable cities. The article published by the The Economist does not list the top unliveable cities just the liveable top ten. The Economist links you to the Economist Intelligence Unit where the top ten and bottom ten are provided. If you want any more from the list you will have to buy the information.
This list is made offensive by the lack of attention paid to the human experience of living in these cities and the historical colonial contexts that have delivered them to us in such a parlous state. The list reeks of British and French colonial exploits. Some of these cities represent hot beds of cultural production and adaption with their denizens being shining examples of resilience amid catastrophic circumstances. There is much that is fascinating, important, and eminently readable about these cities. It would have been quite possible to put a positive spin on the list but it seems that the fashion for 'fun facts' and the apparent cynicism of editorial staff put a stop to that.
I am fascinated by these cities and take a keen interest in their culture, and history. Every part of their tortuous existence has helped to create peoples and cultures that celebrate survival. It is a sad shame that some editors living in the rarefied air of their office blocks feel that the experience of so many struggling and suffering people can be over looked. They say these places are unliveable, but for whom? Certainly not the people who live there!

Check this link for an article on Port Moresby

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