Final Discussion

For our final cafe group discussion we talked about our classmates presentations and how interesting it was to see theory applied to such a range of topics. For example, we were intrigued by how Derrida’s “Differance” could be applied to such an array of case studies from Savannah’s presentation on the injustices of our prison system to Pipe’s discussion on the cultural appropriation of dread locks to my own presentation on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I’m sure Derrida’s “Differance” was being used by several other students as well, all of whom are able to use the same principles of deconstruction in a number of different ways.

We also discussed how theory could be applied to similar topics in very different ways. Alex and Rochi both have case studies about reality television; however, the range of theorists we studied over the semester allowed them to take different approaches on their discussion of reality television. While an obvious choice for Rochi was Judith Butler and to use her ideas on performing gender to analyze the Real Housewives, Alex took a completely different approach to reality television that did not focus on gender stereotypes but rather stereotypes based on where one lives which she was able to do with the help of Barthes and Althusser.

Our discussion also focused heavily on how difficult these theories were for us to grasp initially. For the most part, when first reading Althusser, Derrida, Foucault etc. we were at a loss which made us all the more impressed at how far our class came over the course of the semester. Seeing our classmates presentations and researching our own case studies made the seemingly dry theories become much more interesting and showed us why it is important to study them.

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I forgot about Ariel!

All of the Disney princesses were detailed, except Ariel, who slipped my mind…yikes! She is a mermaid and the daughter of king Triton. She is adventurous and curious about the world outside the sea. One day she ventures to the surface and catches a glimpse of prince Eric, who she instantly falls in love with. She makes a deal with Ursula, the sea witch, and exchanges her voice for legs to walk on land. While Disney initially made her atypically of Snow, Cinderella, and Aurora, they spoil her progress by making her give up basically her self expression, her family, and her natural appearance all because she wants to stay with her prince on land. What the hell? I thought relationships were about compromise. Ariel (or rather Disney) clearly don’t believe so. Apparently women have to change everything for their man, not the other way around. Such a pity.

I have to say, even though watching and writing about Disney films and looking at all the stereotypes and binaries between man and woman are a little depressing, I find that if I ignore them, which after my second global studies class was impossible, Disney movies can be quite good in terms of humor and certain lessons. But once my eyes have been opened, it is very difficult for me to shut them. So knowledge is indeed power.

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Disney’s latest addition to the princess line

Brave came out in 2012 and with it came a feisty, independent, and adventurous young lady, Merida. Peter Debruge of Variety gave a positive review of the film, remarking that the film “offers a tougher, more self-reliant heroine for an era in which princes aren’t so charming, set in a sumptuously detailed Scottish environment where her spirit blazes bright as her fiery red hair.” Debruge also said that “Adding a female director [Brenda Chapman] to its creative boys’ club, the studio [Pixar] has fashioned a resonant tribute to mother-daughter relationships that packs a level of poignancy on par with such beloved male-bonding classics as Finding Nemo.” Yet despite this, there were also others who despaired at her not having a love interest and remarking that she may have been lesbian. Why is it that when Disney finally releases a super cool, super strong female character, people are quick to say: “woah! She is not normal!”? This shows the strength discourse has in embedding truth and knowledge and how difficult it is to create counter-discourses.

But when I saw the movie I was very excited for Merida because she was her own person and decided not to conform to what her mother expected of her and ended up changing tradition itself. If that’s not impressive, then I don’t know what is. Here is a pretty badass scene of Merida fighting her father. She is a far cry from the helplessly domesticated Snow White!

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Though my focus was on women in Disney, I did notice that male stereotypes were still very prevalent. Most scenes of Merida’s father are of him fighting or telling stories about how he fought a bear and lost his leg to it. It seems that he has a passive role in how his daughter is to be raises, leaving Merida’s mother, Elinor to effectively teach and raise her on her own. I thought this was interesting because now Disney may have to continue working on their female characters and begin to question the traditional roles of men.


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Rapunzel is the last princess before Merida, having been released in 2010. I thought she was AWESOME!! Resourceful, witty, helpful, she makes watching the movie Tangled a delight. However, upon closer inspection Flynn takes the reigns and controls much of their journey when she asks him to take her to see the lights that light up the night sky every year on her birthday. Further, her journey to these lanterns is hinged upon Flynn, who she absolutely needs to take her. Why can’t she just make her own way there? Will Disney ever make a princess whose narrative is not juxtaposed to that of a man? Stay tuned for Merida! Here are some funny moments from Tangled  to ease the depression of a dependent female character

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Jasmine, Pocahantas, Mulan, and Tiana: The ethnic princesses

These four princesses were disney’s attempts at diversifying the princess brand to include princesses children other than  blonde, white girls with big blue eyes. Unlike the “first wave” of princesses, they were a lot more idenependent, a lot less passive, and they could stand up for themselves and for what they believed in. Mulan and Pocahantas actually save their love interests.

While these princesses showed a shift in the princess discourse, there were still blatant gender stereotypes in the movies. Jasmine’s story was completely narrated by Aladdin, thus taking control from her. Pocahantas was afraid of John Smith when she first met him, and in Mulan, the major songs have to do with what a proper wife should be (Matchmaker and a girl worth fighting for), and how to be a man (I’ll make a man out of you).

Tiana, Disney’s first black princess is just as independent as the rest and aspires to own her own restaurant. Even after she marries prince Naveen, she secures her restaurant by her own means. Much better than previous princesses. Yet of course Disney avoids the race issue completely by not addressing the racism a black woman in the 1920s south and making her green (as a frog) for the majority of the movie. Talk about mishandling.

Despite this, Disney did ok with these girls. I will leave you with clips of the Mulan songs (A girl worth fighting for and the matchmaker song)

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Bajeko Sekuwa- local fast food chain

I came across this fast food chain called Bajeko Sekuwa which literally means Grandfather’s Sekuwa (a dish that consist of roasted meat with traditional Nepali spices and its prepared in a Nepali country style on a open fire). The closest dish that I have seen here is BBQ kabab. Bajeko Sekuwa has several chains in Kathmandu and its specialty is sekuwa. I see this chain as a restaurant that has used a western concept of a what it means to be a fast food restaurant chain but with traditional Nepali dish. This relates back to Patterson’s analysis reggae music although influenced by other types of music (e.g. blues, country and soul), it developed into a new genre of music in Jamaica. In the same way, although a lot of the fast food restaurants like Bajeko Sekuwa are inspired by western fast food chains, they still carry local dishes and traditions. In this way, “Nepali” fast food style restaurants developing and creating their own space especially in Kathmandu.

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Asian Influence of the West:

I recently watched this video clip on Asian influence of the West. The video was called America In The 21st Century’s View Of Asia. This was at an Ethics Matters conference. The speaker Kishore Mahubani, in the video first started out by saying Asians admires “American University’s, and American Enterprises.” And how individuals see this and are inspired to make it big in the U.S.

He states how this is the positive, but then gets into the negative perception of America. He states, the word “torture”. He explains how U.S was the first modern world to introduce torture. The U.S statement writes a human rights report on the rest of the world, yet he states they should first write one for themselves, before they judge us. He further states that the U.S needs to be aware how they present themselves to Islamic countries. And this can be presented in the Israel/Palestinian conflict.

He talks about specific examples of corn subsidies, causing hunger on the rest of the world. And how the U.S is mostly unaware, but now its time for the U.S to become aware and see how they are hurting the rest of the world.

America is #1 is violating law, and refuses to adhere to the rules in the International Criminal Court. He then examines our freedom, and liberty, and how we can express freedom. Yet he states how we have used that freedom to remain ignorant. That the press in the U.S does not tell its citizens the truth and knowledge of what is going on in the rest of the world.

American policy makers are inclined to go to Europe, instead of Asia. American businesses have incredible opportunities in Asia. The only way to understand cultures is by understanding language. He encourages the youth to become bilingual. The U.S in one of the only countries in the world that is monolingual. So in these ways the U.S falls behind the rest of the worlds.


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Differing Perspectives

The production of palm oil is a topic of great debate and dispute in Colombia. On the one side, it is an economically viable business that is bringing in a lot of international money and is boosting Colombia’s economy. On the other side, it is very destructive to the environment and has destroyed the lives of many people who have been pushed off their land to make room for palm plantations. Palm oil is one of Colombia’s biggest industries and President Uribe is behind it 100%. He wants to make Colombia the world’s biggest producer of palm oil and he plans do that by more than doubling the acreage of palm trees planted. Economically, this would be good for Colombia since it gives them a foothold in the global market, which helps to stimulate more business internally as well as externally. This would also politically benefit Colombia. If Colombia becomes the biggest producer of palm oil, many companies and countries will depend on Colombia and have to curry favor with the government.
Palm oil production isn’t really good for the Colombian environment or its people. Other trees have to be cut down in order to plant the palm trees and make room for factories as well as build roads to reach the trees and the factories. This decreases the diversity of plant and animal life in Colombia, which isn’t a good thing since diversity in the world is decreasing at an extremely fast pace already. The people in Colombia are also suffering from the expanding palm oil industry. Many of them are being pushed off their lands so that big companies can plant palm trees and get all the benefits from palm oil. More than 3.8 million people have been internally displaced as a result of huge palm plantations being established. Not only does it affect these people economically, but also culturally. They have to find a new way of life than the one they’ve lived for hundreds of years in a country that doesn’t want them around.
I found an article that talks about many of the negative effects the palm oil industry has had on Colombia. They name one company in particular as an example of one that has destroyed the lives of many people, as well as contributed to environmental degradation. The company is called the Daabon company and they sell palm oil to cosmetics companies like The Body Shop. The article talks about how the Daabon group convinced police and a judge to illegally evict campesinos from their land in order to plant palm trees. Obviously this company is up to no good and people it’s a shame that the wants of the global north are the driving force behind this kind of activity, according to the article.
While I was looking for videos to put in my presentation, I stumbled upon a video that talks about sustainable palm oil production in Colombia. Ironically enough, the star of the video was the Daabon group. The video talked about how the Daabon group worked towards sustainable agriculture by not cutting down many trees and leaving 9% of their land palm tree free. Also, according to the video, local farmers are included in the process and work for the company and/or sell their own palm to the company to be processed. The Daabon group seems like a great company since it’s trying its best to reduce the nasty side effects of being a big company while still making a relatively good profit.
I think the two opposing perspectives are interesting and it makes me take a step back and look at my notes a bit. It’s a good lesson at taking everything with a grain of salt. The article and video portray two completely opposite opinions so if I wanted to find out which one is closer to the truth, I’d have to do more research and gather a few more articles and/or videos to come to a conclusion.
Here are links to the article and the video:

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So Much Hype

Whenever I’ve learned about the Green Revolution in school, I’ve mostly heard about India and a little bit about China. We learn about how great the Green Revolution was and how rice technology spread throughout India and China. India had been on the edge of a huge famine until high yielding varieties of rice and wheat were introduced. Even with India’s growing population, the country was able to fight its way back from a famine and grow so much food that it was eventually able to begin exporting food.
We learn about some of the negative effects the Green Revolution had as well, on India. With the new varieties, farmers were required to purchase seeds from big companies every year, they couldn’t save any seeds. Also, they had to buy very powerful fertilizers for the plants since they couldn’t survive without them. The seeds and fertilizer were very expensive and only the rich farmers could afford to buy them on a yearly basis. This caused many small farms to go under, benefitting big farms/agribusiness because then they were able to purchase the small farms for cheap. In India especially, there were reports of many farmers committing suicide because they couldn’t afford to provide for their families anymore and couldn’t face the disgrace.
Until I started researching for this paper, I had never really thought about the Green Revolution being anywhere else but Asia. I knew that it had benefitted other countries, including the US, but it wasn’t something I really thought about. During the course of my research though, I learned that the Green Revolution had started in Mexico and if it weren’t for experiments done there on wheat, rice, and corn, the Green Revolution probably wouldn’t have taken off. In the early 1940s, Mexico was in trouble because its population was growing and couldn’t afford to keep importing enough corn and wheat for everyone. The Mexican Ministry of Agriculture reached out to the Rockefeller Foundation for help and together the two organizations essentially started the Green Revolution. They developed a very sturdy, high-yield variety of Mexican dwarf wheat that could grow almost anywhere, with a lot of fertilizer. This wheat was grown all over Mexico as well as sold elsewhere in the world until 94% of the high yield variety wheat was planted in Asia, hence why people focus on Asia when talking about the Green Revolution.
I understand why Asia is the main focus of the Green Revolution since it had a very big impact on the people there. But what I don’t understand is why there’s almost no mention of Mexico and the fact that basically all the technology that made the green revolution possible was developed there. I wonder if the reason credit wasn’t given to Mexico was because the Rockefeller Foundation took the credit. Even if that was the case, I think Mexico’s role in the Green Revolution should be taught.

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Links for validation

So for this blog post I really need to get organized what specific cases I can use in my paper as a basis for gang validation and subsequent neo-racism. Here’s an article entitled “7 Surprising Items that Get Prisoners Thrown in Solitary” on the Mother Jones news web site. “Political books and writing from black sources: Officials from Centinela State Prison informed inmate Ricky Gray in May 2005 that his possession of the following literature was jeopardizing “the safety and security of the institution” and represented his “continued association with the Black Guerilla Family [BGF] and their beliefs.” Most of the titles mentioned in the report are written by or relate to the experiences of black prisoners, like the late George Jackson.”   George Jackson: “(September 23, 1941 – August 21, 1971) was an African-American left-wing activist, Marxist, author, a member of the Black Panther Party, and co-founder of the Black Guerrilla Family while incarcerated” – published Soledad Brother, a collection of Prison letters (I’m just using Wikipedia here for general knowledge background)

Just found this lovely link: “Gangs or Us” REally?! I’m not sure what to take away from that site. I probs should have done this project on “Gang identifiers.” They have identifiers listed like certain baseball team jerseys or nike shoes. Is that really valid or relevant?! I feel like this project could go on for ever and I’m starting to confuse myself.

Mumia Abu Jamal: Riverside Church

Copies of The San Fransico Bay View are also used to validate prisoners and move them into the SHU. Does this fall under any  first amendment freedoms?  This is an example I really want to look at in my paper. How can a proper newspaper be used against prisoners? Only because its a ‘Black’ newspaper?!

Ok blog: (whoever’s reading this) I may seem disorganized but I think I’ve got it kind of! “Its all too much!”

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