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  • 11:07 pm on January 28, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    aphasic narrative in Spanglish 

    Independent Project Paper
    January 28, 2005
    Yongho Kim

    In this paper I argue that the recently premiered film Spanglish, a documentary about the “integration” of a Mexican single mother into white U.S. society through the eyes of her daughter, represents a form of an essentialist reading of their social texts that can be analyzed using the notion of double consciousness.

    Spanglish is the story of Flor, a single household mother, and Cristina, her daughter, who come to the U.S. via the migrant trail and get established in California. The story progresses as a narrative in the past tense from Cristina’s perspective as she writes her college admissions essay to Princeton. (The essay is read aloud in the admissions office by an employee)

    The film starts off with an image of Mexico that self-consciously works around breaking the overused image of realismo mágico, a literary device in Latin American literature that emphasizes the supernatural in everyday life. The film shows some clear examples of such device (such as a big and long tear scene with Cristina), ridicules it, and the single family moves over the border to California.

    Once Flor starts working in California, she realizes that the pay is never enough, and decides to start working for a white family as a nanny. Pay is great, and the white family is full of little middle class problems – unmotivated children, weight-complexed daughter, combative husband-wife relationships – that Flor helps solve with her “Mexican wisdom”, a remix of age old European desires regarding the good old customs that can probably be traced back to Rousseau’s noble savage.

    It could be argued that Spanglish is just a comedy film, and that none of the stereotypes herein presented intend to represent the reality of white middle class family crises nor Latina nannys. The response is twofold: first, the director already presents us with well known truisms from White America towards Latin America, which is magical realism, and crosses it out after playing with it a while, as if saying: “this is what you have been hearing all along – now let me tell you what the real thing is like”. Second, the film takes on a documentary quality insofar as it takes the voice of Cristina, the daughter, looking back at the past.

    The second essentialist reading of social realities in the U.S. is through the main theme of Spanglish, which deals with the affectionate relationship between Flor and John, the white family’s father (whether this was a deep friendship or a love affair has been purposefully hidden from the public). The main point made regarding love in the film is that white women talk too much. Naturally, for the dialectical relationship to occur, brown women ought not to talk. And so it happens. Flor cannot talk, because she cannot speak English.

    The director, James L. Brooks, portrays the scene with tact, but what remains in the center is that what awakens a sense of longing and/or loving in John towards Flor is the fact that she is quiet and yet gets the job done (i.e. making children happy, “discussing” house problems with monosyllables and gestures, housecleaning). Although there is a crucial moment in the middle where Flor recourses to Cristina as her interpreter to settle down some misunderstandings between her and John, the occasion is an eventful scene focused around the viewer’s pleasure of seeing two women ramble in Spanish (and English)

    The point might be to suggest that relationships can develop without language, and the brown woman in her quality of undocumented immigrant might be simply a device for that rhetoric. It is of noting, however, that even giving this definition (that things go smooth when problems are not talked about) is given by the enligsh speaker, John, the master signifier, who claims that “we [John and Flor] have been communicating so well through silence all this time” in the movie itself. Thus, the film gives its viewers the sense that what Mexican immigrant women want is for the English speaking male, to speak for them, and tells them that former misconceptions such as magical realism were wrong.

    Finally, the entire narrative of the film takes place in Princeton’s admissions office, where at the end of the essay, after telling how Flor was fired from her nanny work by John’s wife after she found out about the relationship and Cristina was unwilling to let go the white privileges of going to a private school, Cristina decided her primary identity was being the daughter of her mother, a Mexican single household immigrant mother, but in front of white admissions office workers, in order to get herself accepted in another stronghold of whitedom in academia. Thus identity formation is used to please and reaffirm white expectations of how minorities should perform or self-identify in the United States.

    (some references, I ended up never using for lack of sleep)
    Dávila, Arlene
    2001 Latinos, Inc: the Marketing and Making of a People. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press
    Dibango, Manu
    1994 “The Shortest Way Through”: Strategic Anti-essentialism in Popular Music. In Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism, and the Poetics of Place. Pp. 51-66 New York: Verso
    DuBois, W.E.B
    1994 The Souls of Black Folk. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.
    Fiske, John
    2004 Understanding Popular Culture. New York: Routledge
    Lipsitz, George
    2001 The Lion and the Spider: Mapping Sexuality, Space, and Politics in Miami Music. In American Studies in a Moment of Danger. Pp 139-67

  • 11:35 pm on January 27, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    Contested Bodies: Immigrants as a Singularity in Minnesota's Political Terrain 

    Contested Bodies: Immigrants as a Singularity in Minnesota’s Political Terrain
    Minnesota Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Internship Paper
    January 27, 2004
    Yongho Kim

    The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride of 2003 was a national movement aimed at claiming immigrants’ rights in the legislative branches of the United States. It gathered a critical mass of religious, labor, progressive and other political organizations and individuals to actively demonstrate and lobby in the Congress and the streets of New York City, and strategically located towns positioned along the path from the twelve departure cities to Washington, a move that intentionally followed the path laid by the freedom rides from the civil rights era.

    The Minnesota Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride (MN IWFR), planned by the two organizers who took a leading role during the national ride, Mariano Espinosa and Quito Ziegler, came together as a state-wide initiative that consisted of thirty immigrant riders and allies riding a bus that connected various key cities for voter mobilization and immigration law reform. Riders made connections with local organizers, contributed to voter registration efforts, and lobbied with representatives to have them support pro-immigrant legislation, symbolically marketed through AgJobs and the DREAM Act.

    In this paper, leaving the effectiveness of the movement aside (as the process is still ongoing), I argue that pro-immigrant efforts such as the MN IWFR injected a dose of instability and self-doubt in Minnesota’s political arena prior to and after various Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives, and the U.S. presidential, elections.
    (More …)

  • 12:52 pm on January 27, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    anth490 negoatiating the course 

    Assignment: Bring in a list of at least 5 topics or skills you would like covered in the course.

    • spotting statistical exaggerations and issues of overinterpretation

    as a student who had at most two weeks of training doing linear regressions, I want to learn the basics of faulty statistical analyses.

    • macro phenomenoms

    as anthropologists mainly trained to study the observable, how do we deal with the big stuff? is there a big stuff? when can we say that the NYT is “wrong” in this and that?

    • simplifying anthro

    when people ask me what anthropology is, I usually give them the british social functionalist definition, because it sounds most “social scientific”. what could be a non biased explanation of what anthropology is for nonanthros?

    • is there a way to deal with workplace stress that doesn’t sound like another bourgeios urban advice?
    • i’ll improvise #5
  • 12:27 am on January 27, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    how to browse this site 

    this site can be browsed in different languages. to do so, click any of the languages under “por categorías”, and onc you are in that language, you may use the « and » buttons to navigate through.

    본 사이트는 여러 언어를 고를수 있습니다. 일단 “por categorías” 하단에 나오는 언어중 하나를 고르신 후 « 와 » 버튼을 이용해서 옮겨다니시면 됩니다.

    quick references is mostly some links for myself.

    streaming links is a live feed of sites I link as I read them or mark stuff to read in the future (or to browse back, if they have useful information)

    there is a guestbook under “contacts”

  • 8:07 pm on January 26, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    a decommodification agenda by capturing state power? 

    so after reading Patrick Bond’s Strategies for Social Justice Movements from Southern Africa to the United States fpif.org/papers/0501movements_body.html

    Bond is thinking about circular state measures that eventually weaken local communities, and talks about fundamental change that doesn’t rely on state power, when he writes:

    …South Africa’s independent left fully understands the need to transcend national-scale capitalism. One step along the way is the strategy of decommodification.

    The South African decommodification agenda is based on interlocking, overlapping campaigns to turn basic needs into genuine human rights including: free anti-retroviral medicines to fight AIDS, at least 50 liters of free water and 1 kilowatt hour of free electricity for each individual every day, extensive land reform(…..)

    so I think, if Rachleff is sending out something, there’s gotta be something new in there. The “measures”, as I reade them, of decommodifying services into basic human rights seems to require state intervention, and as he describes local movements in environmental justice, I thought he would provide some sort of theoretical framework to understand these processes. But then., the conclusion comes back with a reliance on state-administered reform:

    The latter [change that advances a nonreformist agenda] would include, for example, social policies stressing more generous and universal state services, controls on capital flows and imports/exports, and inward- oriented industrialization strategies allowing democratic control of finance and production in order to meet social needs.
    We must capture state power through elections in which a democratic political party amasses community/worker/peasant support by generalizing the sorts of struggles discussed above, eventually contending with those elites who remain locked into neocolonial power relationships.

    so I have never taken a polisci course, and so I have always trouble figuring out the influences of macrogroups, hierarchies, and unequal relationships. In other words, when dealing with historic processes, I always started with the little practices and observable phenomenom. am I missing something in Bond’s analysis of how to materialize a “nonreformist agenda”? at least when put into words, doesn’t it look like another developmental rhetoric?


    also: what was this NEPAD business? Because the new president of Kenya about a year ago had made some strong statements about NEPAD that made the party of the outgoing president rave. It’s been a while since the news went out, thoguh

  • 10:31 am on January 26, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    MN Department of Education ESL programs evaluation: age field correlation 

    A 16-18
    B 19-24
    C 25-44
    D 45-59
    E 60-older

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