Normal Exploitation, Normal Resistance Analysis

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Cambridge, Massachusetts is a vibrant city of enormous wealth. It has two of the most prestigious institutions in the world: Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Both universities have staggering endowment funds and own a considerable size of the city’s land. Their renowned names invoke images of a pristine campus with august buildings surrounded by enthusiastic college students. In November 1987, MIT was brought to the forefront of media attention with sensational photographs of University Park, a tract of land under the prospect of development by the Institute.
However, the photographs depicted a scenario on the MIT campus vastly different from the norm. One image portrayed Evelyn Parks, a 34-year-old homeless
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In his essay, “Normal Exploitation, Normal Resistance,” Scott explains several observations with regards to the methods of resistance used by the powerless (28). First, he draws a clear distinction between the relatively few intermittent “large-scale peasant uprisings” and the smaller “everyday forms of peasant resistance – the prosaic but constant struggle” of the weak against their oppressors above (29). Scott’s premise for his argument is that the gains from these large-scale revolts are “uncertain” compared to “the carnage, the repression, and the demoralization of defeat that are all too certain and real” (29). Instead, Scott extols the effectiveness of using small-scale strategies such as “foot dragging, dissimulation, false compliance, pilfering, feigned ignorance, slander, arson, sabotage, and so forth,” which can have a significant effect when multiplied many times (29). Some aspects of Scott’s analysis definitely apply to Tent City in Cambridge since the conflict was a clash of interests between the powerful and the underprivileged, a situation representative of the large-scale “peasant rebellion” termed by Scott. On the other hand, we also see in Tent City features of the subtle, everyday forms of resistance identified by

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