ENTRY 1: 3/2/18
It is midnight and I am in Hatters Hostel and just arrived from the Manchester airport. Note to self – never again arrive to a country for the first time in the dark. I can actually see nothing in this group suite. My phone is near dead and I have to keep it on the charger which is below my lofted dorm bed. I have so much to write but can literally see nothing. I more or less feel like I’m in a women’s prison. There are literally women having sex all around me and it is rather loud. The wifi in this building also does not work, rather unfortunate. I am also very hungry but damn England currency. Note to self – exchange a small amount of currency immediately upon arriving to a new country. Adventure is not as glamorous as they told me it would be. Until I arrived at the airport, my dumbass assumed I could use euros. I have a feeling a lot of struggles such as not exchanging currency will come of this last minute planned trip.
I am so excited to see MiguelAndres! Any familiar face from home. However, I am very apprehensive about continuing to travel alone. It’s really cool but much harder than cool. Challenging most of the time, it is really pushing my comfort levels in ways I could have never anticipated. It would be really amazing to meet other solo female travellers. Highlight of Manchester so far was definitely the Iranian taxi driver Abi who was astounded I knew the difference between Arabic and Farsi. He said I was clever, and upon sensing my nervousness when dropping me off at the hostel at 10:00pm on a Saturday night surrounded by drunk youngsters, he shared with me that he was “sure I was going to be just fine” :).
ENTRY 2: 4/2/18
Good morning! I love Manchester!! At first I thought it was a bit unwelcoming, which it sure is in some places. It is very dark and wet. However, it’s wonderfully walkable and maybe I’ve just been having good luck post-hostel moderately traumatizing experience. Currently sitting at this adorable healthy food café called Eat and the soup I’m having (chicken caska) is maybe the best I’ve ever had, and super cheap! I adore how solo traveling highlights the tiniest things that bring you the greatest amount of joy. In pursuit of random free activities, I wandered around a gorgeous old historic library. At the info center of the library, I went into a corner of the room to pick a wedgie… and stumbled upon pamphlets full of community events happening this weekend. The most promising event I found was at a music school hosting a free student showcase all day! About to go watch piano and cello performances, could not be more perfect! Hope it lives up to the rest of this lucky day.
ENTRY 2: 4/2/18 PART II: ~5 hours later
Well the day took a bit of a turn. The music showcase was beautiful but I’m currently sitting in my moderately smelly hostel bed by myself crying. Writing and crying. Truly cannot remember the last time I cried like this. For some reason what triggered it was when the front desk guy couldn’t help me with wifi, and wouldn’t give me the password to the office one. I think I just feel really lonely right now and just want to talk to Mom or Tulshi. Yup, crying harder right now so that’s definitely it. I hope I feel better when MiguelAndres gets here.
After watching stangers perform for a couple hours, I was trying to use public transportation and go to this stinking waterfront fancy shopping center but I got very lost and no one could help me, none of the bus drivers knew what I was talking about. Spending so much time alone in totally brand new surroundings and the anxiety that comes with that was taking its toll on me. Today, I almost expected a magical stranger to come and befriend me or help me, but that didn’t happen. I feel like that’s what always happens when people travel alone, right? Magical new friends? I got really sad about the bus thing. I was stuck on this Route 1 looking area for multiple hours, hopping between bus stops trying to figure out where the hell to go. I don’t want to end my day like this but I feel so in the middle of the world without anyone I know anywhere near me at all.
I can’t let the negative overpower the positive, because most of today was really great. I’m going to try and finish it great by going to watch the SuperBowl. That will either make am feel more alone and sad or maybe proud that I kept pushing and pushing and shattering my comfort zone. Either way, better to say I tried.
Not having internet is hard. I depend on my phone for way way way too much. Traveling alone is the most up and down experience I’ve ever had. I slightly remember feeling this scared when I was alone in Uganda, but then it went away and I wasn’t there enough time for it to come back. I love the feeling of self accomplishment I get from being alone and the loneliness is not exactly because I don’t have anyone with me it’s more like it only makes me miss those closest to me in those exact moments. It makes me feel anxious and vulnerable in a scary way and the size of the world around me all of a sudden seems incredible intimidating. Hopefully this is good for me? Honestly not really sure. Just telling myself that it’s all part of a bigger self-development journey.
I’m also struggling so much with spending money! I get so worked up about it. Conversion rates throw me off so much and this weekend trip in general was insanely expensive. Then when I get lost on a bus for two hours I feel like I’m throwing my money away by wasting that time. Or when I come back to my hostel sobbing, I wonder what the hell I’m doing this for. I miss familiarity. I miss Alexandria. I miss my sisters and Ajax. I miss my ex boyfriend (what the hell). My brain just wants to go to what is most comforting because I feel so uncomfortable and out of place. I miss Arabic squad. I just want to be snuggled up in a blanket in Newman library at my university, how weird.
Okay, ahora seguimos adelante. Relax for a little bit. Let phone charge. Get changed, feel pretty. Go to watch the SuperBowl for at least an hour. If I don’t feel good, I will come back to the hostel and rest up tomorrow to see my good friend! I should be so excited to see someone that I love so much, just have to get through tonight and I can call Mom and Tulshi from the airport or in Murcia. This too shall pass. Focus on the positive and try to embrace Manchester.
ENTRY 2: 4/2/18 PART III: ~6 hours later
Manchester got SO MUCH better. While I forgot about the time difference and arrived to the bar 2 hours early to the start time of the SuperBowl, a kind bartender who kept checking on me made me feel comfortable waiting it out like an idiot until the game started. I ran into a couple rambunctious borrachos (drunk folk) that made it one of the most unforgettable nights of my life. We started chatting at the bar and I had no idea there were so many excited Brits that were fans of American football. They couldn’t believe that I was in “shithole Manchester” on the greatest day of the year! They were also very shocked at everything I was doing. “You’re in Manchester?! Stayin by yourself?! In a hostel?!” they genuinely inquired. “Yes…” I replied hesitantly, thinking about how I was not trying to emphasize exactly how alone I was to these men I did not know. “You must have a death wish! You’re bloody brave… this is how you Americans won your independence… you said fuck you Brits! And fuck your bloody tea party!” We all laughed. The restaurant was completely filled so I was sure that I was going to spend the night at a bar stool, but the borracho Brits invited me to their booth with about 6 or 8 other borrachos. The kind bartender assured that he would keep an eye out for me when he noticed my hesitation. I figured why the hell not.
They bought me so many chicken wings and expensive mojitos. One of the old guys did start feeling up my leg but he was easily shrugged off and there was no more of it, I can deal with that. I left the game around half time before they all got too drunk. It was the most glorious evening. My first time going to a bar by myself, trusted my gut, and did not give up on the day!
Lessons learned: In the future, trust when hostel reviews are shitty. Have more guided plans for when traveling alone. I love Manchester!
ENTRY 1: 16/1/18
Murcia, España ~ Arriving
I’m not sure in which way I will write these entries… Spanish or English?! Spanglish?! Creo que si. Maybe I can set the goal to write more and more in Spanish as I go on and see how I improve. Today is my fifth day in Murcia, I love this place. I traveled around the city solo today and it was awesome. On the first day I arrived in Spain, I spent a night on my own in Madrid. My Madrid solo travel day was much more stressful, but that makes sense since I already know Murcia much better and Madrid es mucho más grande y intimidante. In Madrid, the hostel I stayed in was so comfortable and private, I spent a little extra money knowing that the first night was going to be hard and that I wanted to feel safe alone across the world for the first time. Today in Murcia, I went to the catedral which was STUNNING. It blows my mind how humans have created such insane dedications to their Gods. Even I was feeling spiritual in there, said a prayer or two.
I was really proud of myself today when I was walking home and I heard the sound of flamenco castañuelas and I followed them into this building, a school for arts. I asked this guy in Spanish about a class for beginners, I was so nervous but so happy that I even had the nerve to ask. They had nothing for me, but he recommended other places for me. That is another new objective for this trip. I hope I learn so much about traveling alone while I’m here and how to fearlessly be myself in a new place where there is very minimal english and I know no one.
I have already met some of my future classmates and my roommates through school orientation and moving into my apartment on calle ronda de levante. I already have many feelings about so many people on this trip, just affirms to me how incredible my friends at home are. Not going to be too quick to depend on anyone.
ENTRY 2: 1/2/18
Murcia, España ~ First impressions about university life and fellow international students
Woah it’s February! So many thoughts and things happening I don’t know if I can write them all.
It’s so true that nothing could have prepared me for this experience, I already feel myself growing in ways I couldn’t have imagined and ways I can’t articulate. The changes are subtle and massive at the same time. More than anything, I feel as though I am constantly being tested. My sense of self, my confidence, my independence, my passion for different cultures, and my language proficiency are all challenged on a daily basis. Today, I began writing because I finally found the spark of inspiration that the last several days have been lacking. This journey never stops going up and down. This, I have noticed in myself is often impacted by the people I surround myself with. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. I’m trying to control when negative people hurt me and not give them that power, or not let uninspiring people diminish my inspiration.
For example, sometimes I am exceptionally vulnerable when I am speaking Spanish because I feel anxious about not being understood or making mistakes that make me look dumb. I try not to let myself fear failure but I find it hard to control my anxiety when I walk into the city by myself and everything around me is so unfamiliar. I love that feeling, but sometimes when I don’t have energy to exert, I get nervous. In this state of nervousness, all it can take is a store clerk treating me like an idiot or being bothered by my inability to communicate, that can make me want to curl into a hole where everyone only speaks English and never come out again. There is also the opposite; when someone smiles at me and asks where I’m from and how I like Spain. That small bit of kindness can help carry me through even the hardest days.
Staying in the American bubble of unmotivated borrachos gets me down, and I need to make sure to seek out things and individuals that inspire me. I find it strange that study abroad programs attract the most interesting individuals trying to challenge themselves and learn while also attracting so many that are just looking to party. I need to practice mental control over what does and doesn’t affect me. As Lucy said, this is my study abroad experience, do what I need to do to be happy. Lucy is another American that I met in our advanced Spanish language class, she is from Vermont. She is my favorite. Before our university classes began, we did a two week Spanish class with a very sweet Murcian professor and about 8 Americans were accompanied by students from Italy and Portugal that had hardly taken any formal Spanish previously. However, those Italian and Portugese students well surpassed our Spanish skills by using a strange mix of their languages with Spanish and emphasis on a Spanish accent.
When I did have my first week of university classes, my first revelation was that Spaniards are wild. Please tell me any other university in the world that spends entire class periods debating the class schedule in order to work around partying on Thursday nights. Mind blowing. A bit uncomfortable being only one of six Erasmus students (what they call all international students) in the class, and hindering the other 70 Spaniards from changing their horarios (schedules). However, it is also a great bonding experience for those six Erasmus students. Professors are hard to understand, but basically all say they are here to help us and were once Erasmus themselves. My new Arabic class, after changing from the easiest one, is absurdly hard. Thankfully I have been in this position before with scary Arabic classes where I am the farthest behind and I know I am capable of making it through. It is exactly like Arabic my sophomore year when I thought I would die of embarrassment every time I opened my mouth. Except now, when students try to help me out, they translate the Arabic sentence for me into Spanish, and then of course sometimes I’m still confused. I know I’m going to grow so much in all of my classes. I just need to get my act together and study my butt off.
Highlight of the day: When I went to the bathroom after Español de América (a class on the various forms of Spanish used across Latin America and the United States), I ran into those two sweet girls from my old Arabic class who remembered my name, complimented it, and said they want to visit me in DC. We bonded over our mutual creepy love for the Arabic teaching assistant that participates in all of the class levels. He is easily the most gorgeous man I may have ever laid eyes on. The amount I could go into it is borderline embarrassing.
My romance with ****, this sweet boy from the north of Italy, was short lived. He speaks extremely minimal English and is just getting comfortable with Spanish, as am I. At least I leave with the language experience of trying to break it off with someone in a second language, hard enough in the first. He is wonderful and romantic and I really hope that we can be friends once time does its thing. He is a special person but I know I made the right decision about not getting involved. I prefer to not to let a boy distract me from this journey. Cheers today for finding inspiration to write!
ENTRY 3: 14/2/18
Águilas, España ~ Drunken Carnival de Águilas and romance
Happy dumb Valentine’s Day, I’m dumb and back on with that Italian boy. I’m anxiously waiting to see what **** left in my house for me and debating what the hell I want to say. I am literally hiding in my Canadian roommate’s room waiting for him to leave me chocolates because I don’t want to confront him and it was supposed to be a surprise that my roommate was “helping to orchestrate”. I really confused this poor boy at Carnival of Alguilás this weekend. It really got the best of me, not in too terrible of a way, but a little bit wasn’t like myself. In this circumstance, I think it’s a good thing and a bad thing.
The Erasmus Student Network from La Universidad de Murcia arrived to Aguilás around 5pm with costumes on and alcohol in hand. We brought with us: multiple large bottles of sangria from Mercadona, a 5 gallon empty water jug filled with suspicious jungle-sangria, and a water bottle of vodka. The event security would not let us bring that many filled containers inside of the event, so we of course had to sit by the beach and all chug all of them. The Americans taught everyone else how to play what are the odds to get the job done and the Mexicans shared a game where you had to go around the circle and count. Each person going around the circle had to chug for longer than the person before them.
When I tried to stand up to now enter the carnival, I ate shit immediately, never done that after drinking before. I was wandering around carnival with these friends that I now felt very close to. When I first entered, I thought to myself that I was too intoxicated to be in such a large crowd. Anyways, I didn’t mean to get that drunk, but that tends to happen with a very excited group of Mexican, Italian, and American international new-found friends. It truly was a fantastic time surrounded by incredible people, so maybe not regrettable actually.
Anyways, I will now explain why I am hiding on the floor of my roommates room waiting for **** to leave. Somewhat regret dancing with **** in front of all of our friends and making out with him on the beach at this carnival. Only because I’ve now confused him and given him hope. I get mad at myself for not wanting to be with him but then when I think about him saying “puedo cambiar tu vida…” makes me sure in my choice, joder. I don’t need a boyfriend to take care of me or make me feel better when I’m sad on this venture and when I’m having a bad day. This is what he promised he can save me from.
I want someone to talk about music with, to inspire more adventure, I think those are the reasons to seek love, and he just isn’t that for me. I don’t need someone to save me from sadness, I’m already pretty good at that. Of course a sweet human being to provide emotional support would make me happy, but if that is all that I am getting, I’m better off alone. When I feel alone and want a companion, quiero un electric spark, algo especial. I’ve never experienced that type of love. My ex boyfriend was pretty damn close, maybe that’s the closest I’ll ever get. But part of me hopes for more, if it exists. My biggest fear is if I’m asking too much. Oh well, only time will tell. Time for Arabic class, the only class I actually can’t be late for. Cheers!
Entry 4: 16/2/18
Murcia, España ~ A date night
I went on a date with **** tonight, I really do learn so much from trying to engage romantically with someone as we both stumble through our second language. It is a challenge that I am hesitant about but enjoying and growing from. I do care for him, but am just playing that American back and forth commitment game, his Italian intentions cannot exactly understand what I am trying to accomplish through our time together.
Nonetheless, tonight we went to a really good movie for five euros a ticket on Tuesdays that was in a mix of basque, Spanish, French, and English. Wowza. I will never forget or conversation about bidets where he was trying to understand how I could possibly wipe my butt after shitting without one. Again, I am trying to understand this question in Spanish and he is trying to gracefully phrase it in Spanish. He was so confused, and said “oh, so I think I understand. American girls are just very dirty then, like the French.” Um, no. I didn’t really know how to tackle that one.
Entry 5: 24/2/18
Ronda, España ~ The fairytale trip: cross-country road trip through Southern Spain
“You can sleep when you’re dead!” I hear my Mom’s voice in my head. Sleep is a wonderful thing, but she is not wrong. Tomorrow I WILL wake up at 6:30am and go on a sunrise run. Please give me strength to get up that early! If I will it I can do it!
Ronda is exactly like a fairytale. There are rolling green and flower spotted hills, walls decorated in white flowers, stone bridges, constant sunset lighting, and deep valleys that look straight out of a fantasy novel. Two American friends and I, after much research of whether or not we should, decided to rent a car (even though we may or absolutely may not have had international drivers’ licenses) and drove from Murcia through five of southern Spain’s famous pueblos blancos – Ronda, Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, and Setenil de las Bodegas. I have a feeling this is going to be one of the best risky decisions I will every make in my life.
Driving through Andalusia today was beyond surreal. I need to road trip through the United States more often. I should always seek adventure no matter where I am in the world. I loved seeing the signs written in Spanish and Arabic along our roads, the most perfect blend of my learning passions. I think I picked the most wonderful place to study; with my Spanish major, Arabic minor, and forever desire to explore the culture of Southern Spain. I got so excited when I could read the sign that said Almería in Arabic, I mean I actually flipped out a lot of immediately bragged about my insane intelligence to my two travel companions; Lucy and Emma. The terrain in this part of the south is much different than Murcia. On this one drive, we have seen dry dessert mountains, green fields (very few), and mysterious snowcapped mountains. All on our way to our destination.
Again, Ronda is an insane fairytale, the cliche word that everyone uses to describe southern Spain for a very legitimate reason, because that is exactly what it is like. The streets are white and cobblestoned and tranquila and dare I say magical. The views are breathtaking, one day I should walk with my love through these streets. I already feel this love exploring with Emma and Lucy! They are such sweet positive girls and incredibly refreshing to be around. I am so thankful for this perfect weekend. I will try all in my power to treasure it.
Entry 6: 25/2/18 ~ Ronda -> Grazalema -> Zahara -> Setenil -> Ronda
It is day number two of our road trip adventure. The intention of the day was to live in el presente. I think I did a great job. I never feel like I succeed at taking in the moment no matter how hard I try, but maybe trying so hard defeats the purpose. Andalusia has called to me for a long time and now I know why. Some of the most calm and natural beauty I have ever seen. This reminded me of mountains and houses in Blacksburg, which made me more appreciate of where I live… and inspired me to explore more. It reminded me of gorgeous mountains in Ecuador.
Tragically I did not meet my goal of waking up early in the morning, I really did try. Take two will be attempted in 5 hours! I want to get one last look at the main bridge in Ronda. But I did accomplish another awesome goal I set today! I had a conversation in one of the pueblos (Zahara) with locals! An adorable and beautiful family from Cadiz talked to us for a bit. They also tried to get us to change our route like the guys at the gas station (they tried to get us to come to the feria they were going to, also more to the West), Spaniards are some of the best hosts on the globe, I’m convinced.
All the colors, animals, temperatures, vegetation, narrow streets, and people I saw today were so life-changing and made me feel so thankful and so much joy to be alive. That coupled with my first actual jamón, vino, great conversations with Emma and Luc about love, parents, siblings, where we were… all of this made for a truly unforgettable day. One of the best of my life.
I cannot wait until I return to this gorgeous spot on earth one day with more loved ones.
Entry 7: 26/2/18 ~ The baddest flamenco bitch
This week, I successfully woke up early and explored Ronda alone before we had to drive back to Murcia. We successfully avoided a crisis situation during our cross-country adventure. I attended my FIRST FLAMENCO CLASS IN SPAIN. I am now officially a bad ass fearless travel bitch. I could not possibly be more proud of myself! This was such a successful week and I just cannot believe I had the courage to walk into class with those beautiful Spanish women only speaking in Spanish with their rapid fire clicking heals and be as awesome as I was. I am now enrolled in flamenco classes once a week at a dance studio near my neighborhood, it is expensive for my minimal euro budget. I think this class, along with this weekend will be some of my absolute favorite experiences ever in life. No exaggeration.
Entry 8: 28/2/18 ~ This week’s inspiration
I had a long conversation with my landlord Luis who talks incredibly fast for someone that always interacts with the many international students that he houses. He also has the thickest Murcian accent on the Costa Calida. We are going to make a fancy ham and seafood feast. I absolutely need to practice Spanish more, in every single step of my life while I am here. El tiempo es ahora, no puedo esperar más!! I had an incredible conversation with the receptionist at my dance studio, se llama Pilar. Successful conversations in Spanish still, no matter how many times they happen, still make my entire day and fill me with so much pride that I have arrived at this step in my language journey. I worked so hard to get here and I wanted to be proficient for so long, it was the first career aspiration I ever had before realizing that was what it was. Another success point this week: I got lost and didn’t freak out – I bought some snacks. Lesson learned: when stressed about getting lost and dying in the streets of Murcia, or just stressed in general, find and purchase the closest crackers and cookies. I am currently on a video call with Hannah (my sister), that is why I am writing down shorter sentences, but had to write down some notes about all of the things that have inspired me over the last couple days.
Entry 9: 8/3/18 ~ I am a woman.
Happy International Women’s Day!! Today, I am feeling many things. Because of the holiday, because I am on my period, and because I am in Spain. My period emotions are making me feel lonely, in need of anyone to give me attention – how annoying of me. When I drink tonight, I cannot let that emotion flare up – I need to let my other feelings take over! The feelings I’m having about being a woman are honor, pride, and confidence. Today, I am honored to be born with my intuition, my femininity, the ability to create life, and live this life as a woman and everything that that brings. I am proud at how I have grown into the woman I am today. And confident in who that strong woman is – physically, mentally, and towards others. I love women!! So much thankfulness that I am not a stinky boy.
The last couple of days have been a rollercoaster most likely due to my period. I got lost in my thoughts about International Women’s Day and wanted to post on my Fitsta. Now I have to get ready to go to Gabriele’s for our weekly family dinner of international students, and to help our Italian friends deal with their depression every Sunday evening that they are not having dinner with their actual families. Goals for tonight: Be happy, get wasted, dance a lot, speak in Spanish, stop getting in my head about things that don’t matter.
Entry 10: 11/3/18 ~ Friends becoming international family
Buenas. I am currently sitting outside on a beautiful Sunday in Murcia at a park called Jardín de Isaac Peral. I found it while running one day. I went to the left of my apartment instead of my normal route to the right towards campus and the catedral. If I go much farther to the left it is a bit of a rough neighborhood with construction sights, gas stations, trash in the streets, broken class, buildings under intense constructions, parked cars, and other fairly obvious signs that I shouldn’t run too much farther in that direction. Thankfully, I found this lovely part during that excursion! There are not many spots of green in Murcia, at least none that I have found yet. Per usual, I am laying out with tiny shorts pulled up and just a bikini top while my Murcian friends all have their jackets with hoods and jeans on. Lucy and her friend, Will, from Vermont will soon join me.
This little park has an interesting cement archway that looks like a wave. My favorite thing about this park is the palm trees, talls ones and short shady ones. If I look in some directions I feel like I’m somewhere tropical. There is also a tall cement structure with three pillars that have water cascading down the sides, also beautiful. When I thought of myself in Spain when I was back in the States, of course I couldn’t picture exactly this, but laying down in this park feels like Spain to me. I love my perfectly sized Murcia and thankful for weekends I can spend here, when I am not traveling. My goal for the next weekend I am here is to find another park like this one, a new restaurant, a new bar, or some type of live music.
My flamenco class also makes me feel like I am in Spain. When I walk by myself to class at night with my phones in playing my Estrella Morena playlist, I can’t help but dance as I walk and swing myself around poles that I see. Those evenings of flamenco class are exactly what I dreamed of. I am so fortunate. With my beautiful instructor, Leo, who weirdly reminds me of Mari Carmen with her piercing blue eyes, dark black hair, inviting smile, and the way you can’t stop watching her when she dances, and even when she speaks really.
Tuesday/Sunday night dinners at Gabriele’s make me feel at home, in the best way possible. I love the Italian way of gathering for dinner like family and including everyone and talking for hours on end. I know I will miss that a lot. Maybe it is a tradition I can bring back to the U.S. and share with friends. Being with Marrión and Ornella also makes me feel like home, the two sweet French girls that I met in my orientation Spanish class. We connected instantly though our struggled not being Italian or Portugese learning Spanish and Ornella’s ability to rap in English. Whenever the girls some from San Javier and we eat together(the beach town about 45 minutes outside of the city, they drive together, Ornella is one of the only international friends with a car), I am so happy. It is like home because it is such a strong friendship with beautiful people in a place where I do not have my normal family and friends that are like family. Again, how lucky am I. When I am lonely here I need to seek out these moments that don’t just make me feel happy, but make me feel like me. I will miss talking in our broken Spanish together so much. When I get back to the U.S., I have to be so obnoxious about making all my friends continue to speak with me in Spanish.
Entry 12: //
Entry 13: //
Street gangs are prevalent throughout regions all over the world. The young, violent groups form as a result of bias, racism, poverty, and class distinction (Al Valdez iv). Gang membership becomes a way to survive or find belonging for teens that lose their families, lose their identities, have no home, or feel displaced. The functions of these local street gangs have evolved due to politicization and globalization. Their purposes have changed from protecting themselves and their homes to expanding geographically in order to distribute drugs to gain economic power. Throughout the age of globalization, they have grown in sophistication in their leadership structures and have even obtained connections with local government officials in especially corrupt regions. To keep up with the demands in the drug market, they go across borders and gain substantial international influence and financial acquisition (Al Valdez 422). This is how the concept of transnational gangs came about.
Transnational gangs are any criminal organization with the intent of supplying drug trafficking operations and that are criminally active and operational in more than one country (Franco). Other gangs around the world are being inspired by these powerful gangs with connections in multiple countries. I predict that there could be a movement towards gang expansion and development if the problem is not examined now. Current transnational gang operations and activities need to be studied now in order to prevent others from rising to power. The United States government is responsible for labeling MS-13 as the first, and only, street gang to be considered a transnational criminal organization (Morse). This is why I selected MS-13 for the subject of my case study on how globalization has impacted transnational gangs and their recruitment of vulnerable populations. Today, they are mainly active through the United States, Mexico, and the Northern Triangle.
El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras make up the region that became known as the Northern Triangle after civil wars raged throughout the region in the 1980s. The self-destructive battles made these countries infamous for corrupted government systems, drug trade, detrimental exploitation of youth, and other horrific violence. Most notably, is the violence caused by the Sinaloa Cartel, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), and Barrio 18 gangs. They leave many families with no other option but to flee their homes. Gang activity is the main contributor to the migrant crisis occurring in the region as thousands of citizens flee to the United States-Mexican border on a daily basis (Lakhani). These countries have been called the world’s most dangerous region for much of the last decade. It was only in recent years that their homicide rate was surpassed by the areas of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria (Renwick).
MS-13 is arguably the world’s most notorious street gang. The gang is infamous for its crime network, secret sign language, tattoo covered bodies, merciless acts of revenge and random cruelty. My research addresses the following questions: What is the history of MS-13 and how did they come to be and rise to power so rapidly? What ultimately makes teens join MS-13? How has globalization impacted the youth in the United States? How has globalization impacted the youth in Central America? How did westernization contribute to the spread of gang lifestyles? What is the impact of the media on youth populations? What is the impact of the media on gang activity? My paper will be divided into four sections; Poverty, Westernization, Technology, and Media. Through exploration of the history of the region, an examination into the West’s involvement with the poverty in the region, and my studies on the effects of global technological expansion, I content that globalization has led to the rise of Mara Salvatrucha in the Northern Triangle and the United States. They came to power through the increase of poverty in the Global South, westernization in the Northern Triangle, the manipulation of vulnerable youth populations who lose touch with their identities by the means of the media, and rapid advancements in communication technology.
Current news outlets, scholarly articles, personal narratives, books, and government released sources were all necessary in providing me with the information needed to answer my research questions. The Washington Post, The Guardian, and CNN provided me with updates on current events surrounding the topic and encouraged me to pursue my research for its pressing significance. In the last three months, there have been seven murders in Northern Virginia’s Fairfax County by members of the gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). The displacement of people from the Northern Triangle to the United States has been increasing in the last several years and is considered by some to be a migrant crisis (Lakhani). Until about two years ago, the gang went through years of relative quiet. Since leaders in El Salvador are facing a crackdown by police in their own country, they began sending members to Metro Washington, with orders to increase the gang’s power, make money, and send the money back to Central America (Morse). As gang recruitment increases inside Fairfax County Public Schools, assaults and other violent acts also increase (Olivo).
Throughout my research I used Defining Globalisation, The Rise of the Network Society, and The No-Nonsense Guide to International Development as texts that defined some of the key terms of my topic, such as globalization, networks, and development. For the context of this paper, globalization is defined in four different parts based on readings from Jan Aart Scholte. By far, this was the most complete definition out of any of the sources that I read. Manuel Castells says that a network is “a set of interconnected nodes” and that they are “open structures, able to expand without limits, integrating new nodes as long as they are able to communicate within the network” (Castells 501). Maggie Black discusses the politics of development and its impacts on countries that suffer in “circumstances of gross inequality” and defines globalization with a bit more bias than Scholte does, but offers an interesting perspective and explanation of the politics surrounding the topic (Black 119). The rest of my sources were more directly applicable to the region and network that I am studying.
El Salvador in the Age of Globalization: Discerning Violence, Manifesting Peace was unique because it provided a perspective of someone from El Salvador and spoke about the current situation there and the perspective from a citizen on how the country arrived at their current state, historically. More notable pieces are Humanitarian Protection for Children Fleeing Gang-Based Violence in the America and The Gang’s All Here: The Globalization of Gang Activity, they both provided similar information but from the perspective of the United States and gave a much more in depth history of not just El Salvador, but all of the Northern Triangle. The source that I looked to the most was A Guide to Understanding Street Gangs as it provided a little bit of everything that I needed to know on many different topics related to my project. I believe that my paper will culminate all of these sources in a way that has not been done yet. No other source connects all the ideas in the same way that I do in order to come to the conclusion of how globalization has led to the growth of transnational gangs.
It all began in the country of El Salvador, where a painful and violent civil war lasted 12 years, from 1980 – 1992. A massive military reprisal called ‘la matanza’ (meaning ‘the slaughter’) killed more than 30,000 citizens who were marked for death by their traditional dress. It began the conflict between the left and the right wings while the assassination of human rights defender Archbishop Oscar Romero was the tipping point of the war (The Center for Justice and Accountability). “The military four-decades-long dictatorships were repressive…and attacked citizens mercilessly. Anyone who questioned the government, asked for justice, or demanded a stop to the repression of impoverished peasants, factory workers, and Indigenous peoples were disappeared, imprisoned, or murdered” (Benavides 162). An Amnesty law of May 20th, 1993 excuses all human rights violations committed during the Civil War, so in many ways the crimes have not been addressed and there is still tension between the government forces and the citizenry (The Center for Justice and Accountability). This war led to many citizens fleeing the region, to the North, and left the economy in a very disproportionate state.
MS-13 began in Los Angeles in the 1980s as the flood of Salvadorian immigrants fled the Civil War. They arrived as very poor immigrants with no resources or connections to anyone in the region. They faced extreme racial oppression when they arrived to the big cities in the United States. They were also present in San Francisco and Chicago (Benavides). These children and families found themselves alone and had no knowledge of the streets or any sense of life in the United States. In order to protect themselves from other gangs that targeted them, knowing their vulnerability, the Salvadorian immigrants banded together and created their own gang (Kopan and Morse). This is where their name came from, ‘maras’. This translates to ‘ocean wave,’ representing the wave of children that came into the United States all at once.
Once the gang and the violence they represented became a problem for the United States, there were mass deportations of these immigrants back to El Salvador. Most of these young people are citizens or legal residents of the United States (Benavides). “It was not until these gang members were deported from the United States back to their home country that the gang took off in Central America” (Kopan). They were unifed and able to grow in the United States, as the United States is one of the top consumers of drugs in the world (National Institute of Drug Abuse, Cruz, and Vitorri). When they returned to El Salvador’s weak government system, it was easy for the gang to corrupt the system and essentially take over. The vulnerable poor population was also very easily dominated. “Much of the violence in Central America and flight of Central Americans north is the consequence of long-term social inequality and poverty throughout the region” (Carlson and Gallagher).
These deportations also did not help the situation in the United States. “US politicians mistakenly believed that deportation of gang members would remedy the gang problem in the United States” (Carlson and Gallagher). These deportations are what started the transnational link between Central America and US gangs. With the political and economical instability in the rest of the Northern Triangle, it was easy for MS-13 to recruit in those other countries. For example, “children from the urban areas of Guatemala are amongst the most vulnerable to the long-lasting problems of food insecurity, targeting and recruitment by gang members, and the rise in the use of force and violence on the part of state militarized security forces” (Carlson and Gallagher). However, poverty is not the only thing that has made the Northern Triangle so vulnerable nor is the fault solely in the hands of those that live in the region.
First, I would like to elaborate on the previously mentioned definition of globalization I selected for my writing purposes. Globalization can be interpreted as internationalization, liberalization, universalization, and westernization. As internationalization, it “refers to a growth of transactions and interdependence between countries” (Scholte 1474). As liberalization, it “denotes a process of removing officially imposed restrictions on movements of resources between countries in order to form an ‘open’ and ‘borderless’ world economy” (Scholte 1475). As universalization, “globalization is taken to describe a process of dispersing various objects and experiences to people at all inhabited parts of the earth” (Scholte 1476). Lastly, and most applicable to my findings, was globalization as westernization which is “regarded as a particular type of universalization, one in which social structures of Western modernity (capitalization, industrialism, etc.) are spread across all of humanity, in the process of destroying pre-existent cultures and local self-determination” (Scholte 1476-7). All four parts of the definition are necessary when trying to explain the dynamic concept of globalization. In the region where MS-13 wreaks the most havoc, it is argued that westernization has been an extreme contributor to the extreme poverty and corruption (Al Valdez, Benavidez, Cruz and Carlson and Gallagher).
Westernization deliberately contributed to the suppression of minority groups through the support of government movements and also diminished the Central American identity. “Violence in the region grew and spread in large part due to US support of wars against popular movements seeking social change in Northern Triangle countries in the 1970s and 1980s” (Carlson and Gallagher). Maggie Black discusses how development was launched in a geo-political context, saying that in the end it is meant to benefit the Western world (Black 116) and that when “introduced in circumstances of gross inequality, it too will suffer from gross inequality” (Black 119). This is applicable to the United States’ involvement in Central American affairs throughout the last 500 years of colonial conquests. “The history of the ‘maras’, are rooted in the time of conquest and colonialism, in the 1500s… And this story is the same for all the nations who have suffered and lived through… colonial practices, which really have never been left behind. These situations are present, nowadays… for [El Salvadorians] continue to face hunger, malnutrition, lack of education, housing, unemployment, and the denial of our right to determine our lives” (Benavides 162). This Westernization has led to poverty, taken away a base identity in the region, and therefore contributed to the mass displacement of people from Central America.
This mass displacement is also responsible for stripping the identities of citizens and has left them easily susceptible to gang influence. “Identity is a very dynamic product of historical practices, it is constructed through everyday practice, identities are dialogic and relational, and they involve ethical commitments” and they are “a form of self-understanding” (Escobar 200-216). If this sense of self-understanding is taken away, particularly for a young person, all that person knows of who they are is lost.
By the end of 2011, the US Customs and Border Protection saw a rise in the number of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) from the Northern Triangle countries (Carlson and Gallagher). Researchers MacHarg and Cruz advise that “it is the effects of poverty along with social stigma and being ostracized that fuels gang membership and the growth of street gangs” (Al Valdez 418). Undocumented immigrants in the United States tend to lack stable family or work in their communities, are often paid in cash, and fear reporting crimes to the police for fear of deportation. “MS-13 preys on that vulnerability, targeting immigrants for extortion and manipulating minors into joining their ranks” (Kopan). Then in countries in Central America, parents often leave behind their children to go to the United States so that they can make money to send back to their families, leaving the children feeling abandoned. “That sense of alienation, has left thousands of unaccompanied minors susceptible to MS-13” (Miller) in the Northern Triangle. In both regions, some incoming children face hardship either through their poor neighborhoods in Central America or their out-casting in the United States due to their ethnic differences, they find it hard to fit in. In these scenarios, gang membership becomes a way to survive and find belonging (Thale).
The liberalization and universalization of technology in the recently globalized world has made MS-13 into an international network and has made their operations much easier to facilitate across state borders. Networks, as previously defined by Manuel Castells, dominate functions and processes in the Information Age. “Networks constitute the new social morphology of our societies, and the diffusion of networking logic substantially modifies the operation and outcomes in processes of production, experience, power, and culture… The new information technology paradigm provides the material basis for its pervasive expansion throughout the entire social structure” (Castells 501). MS-13 has developed their network largely through social media. “Few teenagers affiliated with MS-13 wear identifying colors or hang out in the same spots the way previous generations of gangs did… Most of them communicate with one another on social-media websites, where the bulk of the recruiting occurs” (Olivo). The social websites, like Facebook, are difficult to track, highly accessible to the younger generation, and difficult to prevent. MS-13 has shown to have “an increased mobility of their goods, services, and transfer money throughout the world” (Al Valdez 417). The gang is now reported as being active in Canada, Mexico, Nicuaragua, Spain, and Italy. The access to these types of technology is allowing MS-13 to inspire individuals across the globe. However, this is not the first time that this influence has been spread. Researchers argue that United States’ street gang culture is the original influence that inspired MS-13 in the first place, through similar methods of communication technologies and media outlets.
Some feel that American street gang behaviors appear to be the standard for gangs across the world. The United States entertainment industry and media are some of the most influential sources in the developing and developed worlds. “It has been suggested… that American type street gangs were a new phenomenon in Central America just a few years ago” (Al Valdez 143) and that “the internet indirectly has been used to globalize the American gang culture” (427). United States pop culture has always been a leader in trends, and once gang culture became a part of movies and music, it became almost a movement. “Some argue that the entertainment industry has glorified the gang lifestyle with movies and through music.” “To them, the fictional movies are a reflection of their lives, a sort of unauthorized biography” (Al Valdez 12). There is also research that supports how influential these images and types of media are on the young mind. “Research on media violence and its relationship to real-life aggression is substantial and convincing. Young persons learn their attitudes about violence at a very young age and, once learned, those attitudes are difficult to modify” (Starsburger 2265). Studies show that music can affect attitude and behavior in the same way and is a type of propaganda tool for younger generations (Al Valdez 13). Once again, the United States is indirectly impacting the lives and minds of citizens amongst the vulnerable youth populations in their own country and in the Northern Triangle.
After examining the history of El Salvador, learning about the West’s involvement with the poverty throughout Central America, and discovering the effects of social media and the entertainment industry I believe it is clear that globalization has led to the rise of MS-13 in the Northern Triangle and the United States. MS-13 came to power through the destructive societies in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, westernization, and by manipulating vulnerable youth populations who lose touch with their identities. Their strategies were purposeful and highly effective.
There are many factors that make the location of the next transnational gang operation very predictable. These include “a large population of young males, high levels of juvenile delinquency, drug use, high numbers of criminals in the population, high poverty rates, and a large number of single parent, mother-led families” (Vittori 1). Researchers have already forecasted the countries of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Israel, Sierra Leone, Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela as having this predictable potential to host the world’s next dangerous street gang (Vittori). The research I have conducted can hopefully contribute to hindering this development of transnational gangs. MS-13 is a remarkably horrific example of how easily a powerful network can develop in the current globalized world. Internationally, the acknowledgement of the effects of colonialism can help to correct the corruption of the past. Domestically in the United States, ceasing media that promotes violence and by intervening into school systems vulnerable youth populations can be protected and the recruitment methods of transnational gangs can be hindered.
Benavides, Marta. “El Salvador in the Age of Globalization.” Canadian Woman Studies 27.1 (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 06 May 2017.
Black, Maggie. “Chapter 6, Development Is Political.” The No-Nonsense Guide to International Development. Oxford: New Internationalist, 2013. N. pag. Print.
Carlson, Elizabeth, and Anna Marie Gallagher. “Humanitarian Protection for Children Fleeing Gang-Based Violence in the Americas.” Journal on Migration and Human Security 3.2 (2015): 129-58. Web. 06 May 2017.
Castells, Manuel. “The Rise of the Network Society.” The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture 1 (2009): n. pag. Web. 06 May 2017.
“El Salvador: 12 Years of Civil War.” CJA. The Center for Justice and Accountability, n.d. Web. 08 May 2017.
Escobar, Arturo. “Chapter 5, Identity.” Territories of Difference: Place, Movements, Life, Redes. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2008. N. pag. Print.
Franco, Celinda. “MS-13 and 18th Street Gangs: Emerging Transnational Gang Threats.” Domestic Social Policy Division, 30 Jan. 2008. Web. 06 May 2017.
Kopan, Tal. “MS-13 Is Trump’s Public Enemy No.1, But Should It Be?” CNN. Cable News Network, 29 Apr. 2017. Web. 06 May 2017.
Lakhani, Nina. “Surge in Central American Migrants at US Border Threatens Repeat of 2014 Crisis.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 13 Jan. 2016. Web. 06 May 2017.
Miller, Michael E. “She Thought She’d Saved Her Daughter from MS-13 by Smuggling Her to the U.S. She Was Wrong.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 20 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 May 2017.
Morse, Dan. “Behind the Rise in Seemingly Chaotic MS-13 Violence: A Structured Hierarchy.”The Washington Post. WP Company, 19 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 May 2017.
Olivo, Antonio. “With Gang Recruitment Increasing, Fairfax Police Say Crime Is Up in Every District.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 21 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 May 2017.
Renwick, Danielle. “Central America’s Violent Northern Triangle.” Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 07 Sept. 2016.
Scholte, Jan Aart. “Defining Globalisation.” The World Economy (2008): n. pag. Web. 06 May 2017.
Strasburger, Victor C. “Media and Children.” Jama 301.21 (2009): 2265-266. Web. 06 May 2017.
“Trends & Statistics.” NIDA. National Institute on Drug Abuse, 24 Apr. 2017. Web. 06 May 2017.
Valdez, Al. Gangs: A Guide to Understanding Street Gangs. San Clemente, CA: Law Tech Pub., 2005. Print.
Vittori, Jodi. “The Gang’s All Here: The Globalization of Gang Activity.” Journal of Gang Research 14.3 (2007): n. pag. Web. 06 May 2017.
“La mujer de verde” fue escrito por una mujer española se llama Cristina Fernández Cubas. Ella pasó su niñez y una parte de su vida adulta en España, entonces se mudó a latino america. Sus temas más fuerte son la subjetividad y la perspectiva. Sus obras se reflejan algunos aspectos de la cultura de España que fue afectados después del reinado del dictador Francisco Franco y sus acciones muy violentos. Por ejemplo, los papeles de los hombres y las mujeres en la sociedad que es democrático ahora. En su cuento, Cubas dijo la historia de una ejecutiva sin nombre que tiene un obsesión con su idea de la perfección que ella nunca puede igualar que es Dina Dachs o la mujer de verde. A través de la narración de la primera persona, el simbolismo, y la ironía circunstancial, se critica el papel ideal e imposible construido para mujeres españolas en un país supuestamente moderno y mostrar el criterio y el etiqueta de las mujeres en la sociedad.
La primera técnica que el autor utiliza es la manipulación de la primera persona. Esta técnica se permite el oyente a ver la mente de la mujer y no de los ojos del otra persona, porque alguien diferente de la mujer representa la sociedad y las interpretaciones de la sociedad. El autor quiere que el oyente dé se cuenta esta perspectiva de la mujer para exponerla. Si el narrador tiene la perspectiva de la tercera persona, la fuente no sería tan directo ni fuerte y también tiene la parcialidad. La primera persona se expone pensamientos muy reales como “pero lo que importa no son los vecinos ni tampoco el casero ni mi cansancio, sino el extraño espejismo que, por lo visto, he debido de sufrir hace apenas media hora.” (Cubas, 75) Específicamente con este tipo de personaje, porque en su mente hay una lucha constante y muestra la inseguridad de las mujeres y el facto que piensan que necesitan verificar todos sus acciones para la aprobación de la sociedad. La mujer muéstralo cuando dijo,”porque ahora me doy cuenta de que no siento el menor apetito y dentro de media hora me veré obligada a comer. Conozco este martirio desde que me he convertido en una ejecutiva respetada.” (Cubas, 77) El uso de la primera persona tiene que ver con el objetivo del autor. El objetivo es mostrar el papel idea e imposible y esto requiere acceso a los pensamientos de la protagonista del cuento.
Para explicar más las normas establecidas para las mujeres es el uso del simbolismo del color verde en el cuento. Dina Dachs fue una personaje muy sofisticada con sus “Tres idiomas a la perfección, excelentes referencias, una notable habilidad a la hora de rellenar el cuestionario de la casa” (Cubas, 81) y la mujer de verde con “su vestido verde, el collar violeta, la mirada fría y enigmática” (Cubas, 80). Conjuntos, los dos personajes representan la perfección absoluta. Aunque las personajes fueron personas diferentes, eran casi intercambiables y se complementan el uno al otro. El verde es un símbolo de la perfección como la pureza, la naturaleza, y la fertilidad, como los dos personajes eran representaciones de la perfección. La pureza y los demás son aspectos femeninos y ideales en los ojos de la sociedad. El color de verde sirve como un objeto concreto que encarnar la perfección de esta mujer ideal con que el protagonista estaba tan obsesionado.
La obsesión de la mujer de verde y Dina Dachs era percibido como loco a varias lectores antes de darse cuenta de la conclusión de la historia, esta ironía circunstancial se permiten los lectores a demostrar los juicios interiorizados que se hizo para las mujeres. La ironía circunstancial ocurrió cuando los lectores supieron que la mujer sin nombre estaba en un hospital mental y estaba experimentando los flashbacks de cuando ella asesinó a Dina Dachs. Este final era una trampa. Porque antes de la audiencia supieron el giro de la trama, ya hacían suposiciones sobre la protagonista. Es un ejemplo de la tendencia natural a pensar que una mujer es loca si es envidiosa o deja que sus emociones se consumen. La locura y los sentimientos son cosas que se utilizan contra las mujeres para derribarlos. Los hombres no están sujetos a las mismas normas y no se ven de la misma manera cuando se trate de perder la compostura. La oportunidad de hacer supuestos al principio de cuento releva la etiqueta de las mujeres en la sociedad.
Al igual que en la mayoría de lugares del mundo, en España hay mucho progreso para ser completado para la gente y sus percepciones. El reino de Franco obviamente le quitó algunos avances de las relaciones de género de la sociedad. Con los usos de la primera persona, el simbolismo, y la ironía circunstancial el autor crea los personajes increíbles para escaparte la mujer “moderno.” Muestra el peligro y la locura de las expectaciones de la perfección y como afecta una mujer y como la sociedad permite que esto ocurrir.
In the analytical essay, How to Save Globalization From its Cheerleaders, Dani Rodrick reflects on the time period after the 1950s during an incredible world economic transformation. He believed that it would be wise to learn from the successes and failures of that time period moving forward in the economic system. Through his essay, he examines the reasons for this economic boom. Rodrick attempts to eliminate the common belief that the whole thing can all be attributed to globalization. Historically, the trade-offs that countries make when they turn to globalization, the failure of the first wave of globalization due to the expansion of finance and trade, and the increase in conflict among countries after their introduction to globalization should all be dually noted. The argument of his essay centers around globalization being paradoxical and that blanket policies cannot be applied to the international economic system. Rodrick presents “a forward-looking evaluation of globalization.” “I accept as my premise that globalization, in some appropriate form, is a major engine of economic growth. However, I will argue that several paradoxical features require us to rethink its rules.” (Rodrick 2) In three points he elaborates on that statement, “first… globalization’s chief beneficiaries are not necessarily those with the most open economic policies. Second, globalization has come with frequent financial crises and considerable amount of instability, which are both costly and in principle avoidable. Third, globalization remains unpopular among large segments of the people it is supposed to benefit.” (Rodrick 3) Through examples, Rodrick shows how deep integration of open markets in trade and finance is not compatible with all global entities.
A danger of this globalization paradox is how some benefit at the suffering of others. An example of this would be China versus certain Latin-American countries. China, despite its lack of open market status was actually the country that benefitted most from globalization. “Countries that have benefited the most from globalization are those that did not play by the rules.” (Rodrick 5) “By contrast, Latin America, which tried harder than any other part of the world to live by the orthodox rules, experienced on the whole a dismal performance since the early 1990s.” (Rodrick 5) This contradicts all that globalization promises. A second paradox of globalization is international finance. Globalization is supposed to increase investment and growth but it has caused financial crashes in developing nations across the world. This has only increased economic disparity, “in order to protect themselves from the whiplash of financial crisis, developing countries have been forced not only to shun its benefits, but to make transfers to rich countries on top. (Rodrik 8)” Globalization is helping these countries to make profit by having the opportunity to sell these goods, but leads them into financial crisis. Rodrick says that “we need to recognize these frictions and focus our efforts on devising rules that can manage them, instead of proceeding with a market-opening agenda as if they were of little consequence.” (Rodrick 24) In order to improve these frictions, the global economy needs to strive for better public policy rather than market access.
Policy spaces need to be developed to handle the issues created by openness and caused by the weakness of current institutions. It is very clear that “Globalization is indeed contributing to rising inequality, stagnant median wages, and the growing sense of insecurity in the advanced economies.” (Rodrick 9) Trade and financial openness are rarely capable to “lead to economic growth on their own” and have the possibility of “backfire.” (Rodrick 10) Rodrick is clearly calling for more from those with degrees in public policy and international relations which is a switch from the usual. Typically, those with degrees in liberal arts or the human sciences are not as valued as those with business or technical science degree. This article provides evidence that that is not the case. Being a student of international public policy in this time period is also helpful as the current generation represents what the future looks like, which gives these students an advancement over other older scholars in the field. With the unequal results from globalization, an analysis of all regions is requires to determine what is best needed where. Some markets may need openness where others should remain more domestic. “Rich nations [should] address issues of social insurance and concerns about the labor, environmental, and health consequences of trade and poor nations [should] position themselves better for globalization through economic restructuring and diversification.” (Rodrick 19) The needs of the developing versus the developed world are very different. To avoid the suffering of one, careful consideration needs to be taken. Parts of Latin America again serve as a prime example for how policy spaces can benefit those suffering at the hands of globalization.
The contrast of Mexico and El Salvador serves as alarming evidence. “If Mexico and El Salvador had first-world institutions, they would be as rich as the advanced countries. Successful growth strategies are based on making the best of what you have, not on wishing you had what you lack” (Rodrick 15) In El Salvador, reforms needed to be taken in order to make globalization work. The Asian countries such as Vietnam and China did have those institutions and that is what made the difference in their success.
Rodrick seemed to be greatly influenced by the work of modern genius John Maynard Keyes, the father of modern macroeconomics. Rodrick reflects a lot of Keynes in his suggestions as a moderate. Rodrick says that globalization and open markets should be encouraged internationally but with such and such exceptions and says don’t “push it too hard.” (Rodrick 31) This much like how Keynes was with many of his economic policies. He believed in the people’s ability to operate a capitalist system but never argued for an entirely free market because he knew that a strong and reliable government system was needed for regulation just in case. “The Bretton Woods system broadly reflected the Keysian view that an international economy needed strong political and institutional supports if it was to be acceptably stable” (Skidelsky 115). Just like Rodrick, Keynes notes the extreme importance of institutions. When it came to Bretton Woods, Rodrick was especially inspired by Keynes. Though Keynes played a role that relates more to banking and finance, he had a vision of what the macroeconomics of a globally integrated system might look like with a balanced amount of government regulation. Rodrik proposes the Bretton Woods compromise as an alternative to the incompatibility of deep integration of globalization in the market.
Rodrick’s basic political priorities were that he wanted a less harsh political system that left room for citizens to pursue their own desires. This is also very similar to Keynes. He believed that “the pursuit of wealth was a means, not an end – the end being to live wisely, agreeably, and well” (Skidelsky 55). Keynes strove for full employment as the sign of a successful economic system, showing that he desired the best and equality for all citizens. They both put a lot of value in giving people freedom to pursue all that free market capitalism had to offer them. They saw government as a facilitator for the global stage. These beliefs were challenged as they both tried to have happiness and opportunity for all and when this precedent could not be equally applied to the developing world. They both acknowledged that special assistance was needed to support those communities and that it would require sacrifice from the wealthy to support the poor.
As previously mentioned, this is especially relevant to students of this course studying political science and international studies. Now more than ever, those with knowledge of the globalized world will be needed to assist in many fields. Knowledge of policy is required when making investments, particularly long-term investments. Knowledge of how something that could be harmful to the environment, such as new forms of renewable energy sources is necessary when implementing those new forms of energy. As students in this field, that is what we are taught to do. We are taught to think about the global implications of everything. Another example would be if one were trying to stop gang related crime in the United States, knowledge of where the gang came from and what led them to commit acts of violence is all essential when trying to prevent that violence. Context of the developed versus the developing world were very crucial thoughout all of Rodrick’s essay. Beyond global economics, an understanding of the international system is going to be very beneficial to students of international relations in this ever-increasingly globalized world.
Rodrik, D. (2007). How to Save Globalization from its Cheerleaders. The Journal of International Trade and Diplomacy, 1(2), 1-33. doi:10.2139/ssrn.1019015
Skidelsky, R. (2005). Keynes, Globalisation and the Bretton Woods Institutions in the Light of Changing Ideas about Markets. World Economics, 6(1), 1-30. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
Sudan and Egypt are host to Naguib Mahfouz’s and Tayeb Salih’s popular Arab novels that not only share insight into the Arab world, but are also applicable to all cultures across the world. Season of Migration to the North takes the reader through village life in Sudan to the Western world in Britain while Midaq Alley shows the lives of timeless characters in a poor Cairo community. In both novels, the themes of marriage, lust, and gender are portrayed in contrasting ways. Midaq Alley delves into marriage as a necessity for women to succeed in life through the colored narrative of Hamida. Season of Migration to the North showcases a different type of relationship between men and women, through plain narrative, that is more lustful and where women are often sexually objectified. Colored narrative is when the reader is told something that a character thinks but it is usually from the third person point of view. Plain narrative is simply telling the facts of something that happens in the text often from the third person point of view and no inner thoughts are revealed. By using these literary devices, the authors use their characters to demonstrate unique aspects of life in the Arab world.
In Midaq Alley, Hamida’s envious attitude, obsession with wealth, and manipulation of men showcases her rebelling against her culture that forces women to depend upon a husband as an anchor to be successful in their own lives. Hamida would see the factory girls and would “envy their freedom and obvious prosperity” (Mahfouz 40) because they were born into wealth when she was born into poverty and had to fight harder for the same thing that they were given. She also had a strong longing for power and control over men, particularly Ibrahim Faraj and Abbas. With Abbas, when they kissed on the staircase “she knew his financial state was not impressive,” (Mahfouz 43) but he promised to work his entire life to provide for her, and that is what satisfied her in the end. Ibrahim really drove her insane as the only man to not entirely be under her seductive control. When it came to him, “[her] dreams of clothes, jewelry, money, and men were now fulfilled and she enjoyed all the power and authority they gave her.” However, “she longed for emotional power” (Mahfouz 255) over him.
Some feminist scholars suggest that Mahfouz was a patriarchal novelist who attempted to tarnish Hamida’s identity. One article suggests that he attempted to “transform her into a rebellious whore dismantling foundations of a patriarchal society” and that the novel “promotes the masculine narrative advocated by the domineering patriarchal community” (Saddik Gohar). The novel does make the reader dislike Hamida in many situations and she is extremely rebellious in her community, but her rebellion can be interpreted as the complete opposite. Marriage is an easy solution to poverty for her and she had many options for a husband, but she purposefully avoided it, “I am not the one who is chasing marriage, but marriage is chasing me. I will give it a good run, too!” (Mahfouz 26). She instead chooses to go against what is expected of her in order to sabotage the tradition and challenge her own community’s views on the role of women in relationships. Although she is oppressed in her society, Hamida still has a very strong voice in Midaq Alley, she is the protagonist and therefore has a lot of influence over other characters in the novel, particularly other men. Season of Migration to the North does not have this same women’s voice for the main character.
The narrator uses plain narrative to describe all the female characters in the book and when these characters are described it is always without their thoughts, they are the object of sex or marriage, and it is normally from a man’s perspective. Most of the women are mentioned in passing or do not have much development to their roles, but two of the strongest female characters are Bint Majzoub and Hosna. Bint Majzoub is often heard through dialogue, but she is know for being “uninhibited in her conversation” (Salih 64) and she speaks degradingly about other women. When surrounded by a group of men, she speaks very crassly about female circumcision arguing that sex is better if the woman is only doing it to please the man, “The infidel women aren’t so knowledgeable about this business as our village girls … They’re uncircumcised and treat the whole business like having a drink of water. The village girl gets herself rubbed all over with oil and perfumed and puts on a silky night-wrap, and when she lies down on the red mat after the evening prayer and opens her thighs, a man feels like he’s Abu Zeid El-Hilali” (Salih, 67). Then Hosna, who is one of the only females in the novel to receive respect and admiration from a man, meets a tragic fate after she promised “If they force me to marry [Wad Rayyes], I’ll kill him and kill myself” (Salih 80), and that is exactly what she did. Wad Rayyed was a man that was extremely physically infatuated with her and insisted he have her hand in marriage and all of the men in her life also supported this declaration. The narrator was the only one who detested, however, he did not heed Hosna’s threat when she said she would commit murder and suicide. It is arguable that he failed her just as much as the rest of the men in her life did. There is irony in the fact that the loudest woman degrades other women and that the most treasured one met death when she refused to conform to a forced marriage.
All portrayals of the wives of Mustafa are surrounded by what they offered him sexually. An example of this would be, Isabella Seymour, who worshiped Mustafa as an “African demon… you black god” (Salih 106). Then there is another strong female character in the book, Jean Morris, but she is murdered by Mustafa while they were having sex. The less developed or mentioned characters, such as Mrs. Robinson or Mabrouka, are only referred to as wives or known because they arouse other male characters in the book. Eliminating these characters from the text represents their forced silence in this portrayed culture.
These two novels are applicable to many different cultures and do not represent all Arab men or women, but they do act as a glance into certain scenes of misogyny and submission of women in some Arab communities. The representations in the novel are also representative of how traditions and attitudes have changed over time. Just as parallels of sexism were drawn from Darraj’s text, parallels can be drawn from these novels in comparison to American culture. Just as Hamida valued wealth in a husband, there are American mothers who encourage their daughters to marry into rich families and there are daughters who aspire to do that on their own. An example from Darraj is how Arab parents are often referred to as the name of their eldest son, imposing that daughters are not as valuable and should not carry the family name. However, this is “no different than American boys being named David, Jr. or Jonathan So-and-So” (Darraj 302). Darraj’s text reveals how similar many American traditions are to Arab traditions, and somehow the Arab traditions are labeled as oppressive to women or inferior in some other way. Although very different, the people of the East and the West, and those from different religions have more in common than they do not, as is evident in the relatable stories told by Tayeb Salih and Naguib Mahfouz.
Darraj, Susan Muaddi. “It’s Not an Oxymoron: The Search for an Arab Feminism.”
Gohar, Saddik. “Orientalizing the female protagonist in Mahfouz’s Midaq Alley.” Forum for World Literature Studies, vol. 7, no. 4, 2015, p. 568+. Academic OneFile, ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=viva_vpi&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA445750315&sid=summon&asid=095a3a15e5178b62400905038233d094. Accessed 17 Oct. 2017.
Maḥfouẓ, Najib, and Humphrey T. Davies. Midaq Alley. The American University in Cairo Press, 2011.
Salih, Al-Tayyib, et al. Season of migration to the north. New York Review of Books, 2009.
One of the greatest challenges faced by not only refugees, but the service providers trying to assist them upon arrival in a new host country, is the language barrier. No matter where in the world, lack of a shared common language creates a disconnect and misunderstanding between those of different nations and cultures. It has created a divide amongst Latino migrants in the United States, Cambodian refugees in the United States, refugees fleeing from Europe during World War II, refugees of different dialects throughout Northern Africa, and many more populations today and throughout history. Particularly during the beginning stages of refugees being integrated into their new host countries, or even in refugee camps, there is a heavy reliance upon interpreters to bridge the language gap between the two parties speaking different languages. Sometimes these interpreters are hired professionals who are trained and sometimes it is members of the refugee community interpreting for other refugees. This paper will examine the problems that exist in translation and interpretation in general and more specifically the power dynamics and hindrances that emerge between migrants and interpreters due to migrants’ required reliance upon these services.
The research conducted shows evidence of these power dynamics in refugee and migrant communities, specifically touching on children that serve as interpreters. It also examines how language proficiency serves as an indicator for integration into a host community or how it can cause migrants to be seen as the “other”. Lastly, my studies extend to how translation impacts the first-hand narratives that come directly from these regions in which turmoil leads to the displacement of its citizens.
Emerging Power Dynamics
The UNHCR (The United Nations Refugee Agency) is responsible for the protection of refugees all over the world. Their main purpose is to guard the rights and well-being of refugees. One of the most important and first steps that the UNHCR has to take when working with refugees is declaring or denying refugee status to those seeking asylum. This status has a huge impact on the lives and futures of the interviewees and is a heavy responsibility placed on the interviewer. The interview seeks to find out whether or not the applicant meets the four main criteria for refugee status: they are outside their country of origin, there is a well-founded fear, they are facing persecution, and for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. These interviews often require an interpreter to mindfully and authentically evaluate the consistency and legitimacy of the responses from the asylum-seeker.
There are four different types of interpretation as defined by the UNHCR. But first, to clear up a common misconception of people using “interpretation” and “translation” interchangeably. Interpretation is “rendering spoken or signed language into another spoken or signed language” while translation is the verbatim transcription of written texts or pre-recorded audio. The four types of interpretation are consecutive, summary, simultaneous, and verbatim. Consecutive interpretation is most commonly used during refugee status interviews, it includes the interviewee pausing while the interpreter explains those small segments and they continue alternating. During summary interpretation, the interpreter listens to a longer segment and paraphrases to the best of their ability, it requires more judgement on the interpreter’s behalf to decide what is and is not necessary to say. Verbatim interpretation is often used for legal documents or hearings and requires the interpreter to repeat word-for-word translations of what is said. Similarly, is simultaneous interpretation, but the interpreter listens to the speaker and translates at the same time, which usually requires equipment and technical support staff. The interpreters for UNHCR are advised specifically for how to interact with women and children, they are told to keep in mind unique trauma experienced by these populations and gender dynamics between interviewer and interviewee. They are also recommended to remain as neutral as possible and to refrain from abusing their power.
A qualitative survey was conducted in 2016 from the University of Aberta and Gallaudet University that examined the constructs of power and power dynamics that emerge in interpreted interactions. “The theme of power and privilege was the most frequent major theme as it emerged in 32.7% of the data set.” It was concluded that the interpreter is extremely aware of their power and this awareness influences how they conceptualize their job of interpretation and how they make their conscious decisions.
Children as Interpreters
A unique circumstance that presents many challenges and unique power relations is the use of children as interpreters. Most sources suggest that children are far too young to handle the stress that interpreting presents to them   . However, children are often more quickly immersed into the English language through schools and are just mentally more capable at picking up a new language more quickly than adults. Therefore, children are often used as interpreters in doctor’s offices, amongst their parents and teachers, and other scenarios.
In 2006, California legislators wanted to ban the practice of minors being used as interpreters. “So often the information is translated inaccurately. The child themselves may not have the full grasp of the English language and therefore may not fully understand the information that has been shared with them.” However, this problem can work both ways as although professional interpreters have certifications and trainings, their language skills may not be at the proficiency levels that they should and there are always dialect languages that present themselves as challenging to interpret. Children know their parents and ones that have close relationships with their parents “speak similar terms, so parents feel more confident with [their children] translating,” says the daughter of a Spanish-speaking immigrant Mother.
Other literature suggests that interpreting could damage the development of children as they are not equipped to be exposed to some of the trauma that being exposed to these adult situations could lead to. In an article from the Royal Society of Medicine it is not recommended that children get involved with issues that are “beyond the scope of their stage of development.” This type of recommendation only considers the situation from a Western lens. As a refugee that does not speak the language of their host country and that is in need of medical assistance, I think that the least of their worries is traumatizing their child and shielding them from these serious issues when their children have most likely been previously exposed to much more severe trauma. Sheltering living a more sheltered life is simply not a reality in some of the lives of these families.
There is a danger presented when children get old enough to realize that they have the power to manipulate their parents in these situations where the parents have no idea what is being said. For example, “I once told my mother that the F on my report card stood for fabuloso,” said Sandino Sanchez, now an adult, whose Dominican parents eventually caught on to the real meaning of an F”. Hopefully, children would not take advantage of situations where their own parents are vulnerable, but as children, they cannot be not-expected to act out in this way, particularly due to the stress that always acting as an interpreter can cause them. This pressure can permeate in many ways, as children not only often serve and language interpreters, but informing their parents on cultural norms and serving as “liaisons between the old world and new”. All of this can be overwhelming. “Children’s practice as translators across these domains may be a source of both skill development and stress as they bear the responsibility of the well-being of their parents and siblings. Moreover, as children assume the responsibility for context interpretation, they also contribute to a shift in parent-child power relations.” (324) Due to this, it is important to understand the importance of historical context for the constructions of childhood in different regions and how these norms of childhood are shifting for certain migrant populations.
Language as a Measurement of Integration
“Historically, language has been used as a way to mark certain ethnic and cultural groups as others.” The “other” is an individual that is perceived to not belong to the majority group and is subordinated by their “other” status. The resettlement of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal demonstrates how language barriers hinder social acceptance and integration of migrant populations into new host societies.
The minimally populated and landlocked region of Bhutan is very ethnically diverse, with four main ethnicities: Ngalong, central Bhutanese, the Sharchop, and the Lhotshampas or Nepali Bhutanese. The Ngalong’s language, Dzongkha, was established as the national language. In 1958, the Bhutanese government granted citizenship to ethnic Nepalese under the Nationality Law Electronic document. However, according to Human Rights Watch, Bhutan began to see the growing numbers of ethnic Nepalese as a threat to their political order. Out of fear, the government introduced repressive laws and “Bhutanization” policies in the late 70s and 80s, which led to the economic and cultural exclusion of the Nepali-Bhutanese people. Then, “in 1989, the government introduced a “one nation, one people” policy that forced the practice of the Drukpa culture”. It required all Bhutanese to embrace Drukpa culture, which included a national dress code and the end to all Nepali language instructions.
Flash forward to present day United States and the author, Christie Shrestha from the University of Kentucky, compares this exclusion of the other and cultural hierarchy to Bhutanese refugees continued efforts to integrate into American culture today. In an interview with an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher working with a Bhutanese refugee, the teacher expresses the recommendation of “accent reduction” classes. This illustrates the “ESL teacher’s unawareness of how historically language has been used to marginalize and discriminate minority groups and how language-learning practices are linked with the politics of belonging.” The ability to speak English seems to be a requirement for refugees and migrants in the United States to prove themselves as citizens. They must also speak the language in a way that is most convenient and similar to the way in which other native-born Americans speak. Not being able to speak English fluently becomes a sign of “un-Americanness” and possibly lazy or disrespectful towards the country that these migrants are supposed to be indebted to.
Interpreting First-Hand Accounts
Novels are an art form and offer a unique retelling of a person’s life, often through the use of personal narrative. For many refugees and migrants this power to share personal narrative is often taken away due to language barriers. However, with the recent introduction of the modern Arabic novel in translation, voice is given to some narratives from the Arab world, “Arabic novels offer a marvelous array of answers to questions we did not know we wanted to ask”. Arabic novels present the chance to read through a retelling of the massacre in the Shatila refugee camp in 1982, or Ghassan Kanafani’s, Men in the Sun, which tells the story of three Palestinian refugees being smuggled across a swath of the Iraqi dessert to Kuwait. The recent emergence of the Arabic novel in translation allowed for this Palestinian voice to be heard. According to Kanafani, “politics and the novel are an indivisible case,” and he is right as many novels give insight into current and past events in a region and how events still linger in the daily lives of inhabitants of the region. Translation takes away from the power of entirely first-hand narrative but the introduction of the Arabic novel in translation provides for accurate insight than ever before. However, “there is some fear that the lure of English translation and American publication is a corrupting force” and that “[English-speaking readers] would end up reading only versions of what [they] want to hear” (8).
Another example of a refugee’s voice coming to life in another language is Lucky Child by Loung Ung. From 1975 until 1979, through violence, death, and forced labor, the Khmer Rouge systemically killed almost one fourth of Cambodia’s population in the Cambodian genocide. This novel depicts the story of Loung who comes to the United States with her brother Meng, and the sister that is left behind in Cambodia. Loung is chosen as the lucky one because she is the youngest sibling. The novel is split into two sections in order to tell the story of Loung’s journey and Chou’s journey. As Loung is fluent in English, she writes her own narrative but has to translate her sister’s. “As the author, I have had to translate Chou’s Khmer and Chinese words to tell her story in English… Here are our stories: mine as I remember it and Chou’s as she told it to me.” The difference between the chapters is very clear as Chou’s lacks a certain level of fluency in the writing, since it is translated directly from another language. The power to share her story is taken away due to her lack of English language skills. Although Loung allows for her narrative to be shared with a larger audience, Chou’s voice is taken away through her sister interpreting her words.
This paper showcased evidence of power dynamics, and setbacks caused by need interpreters in refugee and migrant communities. Translation and interpretation have given voice to the refugee and migrant community in some respects but taken away their voice and hindered them in other aspects. A problem that has been historically prevalent since the first documentations of refugees is difficult to conquer, but with awareness of the power dynamics and hindrances presented by language barriers, migrants and host communities can work harder to understand one another. Hopefully this awareness with decrease negative sentiments and “othering” of migrant populations due to the disconnect caused by language barriers.
 UNHCR, Interpreting in a Refugee Context (UNHCR, June 1993).
 UNHCR, What is a Refugee? (UNHCR, 2017).
 National Language Service Corps, Understanding Interpretation and Translation (National Language Service Corps, 2014).
 UNHCR, Interpreting.
Debra Russell and Risa Shaw, Power and Privilege: An Exploration of Decision-Making of Interpreters (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc., 2016), 8.
Antony Jauregui, Kids Interpreting Medical Information to Parents (npr, 2006).
 B. Jacobs, J. Green, L. Kroll, and T.J. David, The hazards of using a child as an interpreter (Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1994), 474P.
 Lizette Alvarez, Interpreting New Worlds for Parents (The New York Times, 1995).
Lynn M. Nybell, Jeffrey J. Shook, and Janet L. Finn, Childhood, Youth, and Social Work in Transformation: Implications for Policy and Practice (Columbia University Press, 2009), 324.
 Jauregui, Kids Interpreting.
 Jacobs, Green, Kroll, and David, The hazards, 474P.
 Alvarez, Interpreting New Worlds.
 Nybell, Shook, and Finn, Childhood, Youth, and Social Work, 324.
Christie Shrestha, Power & Politics in Resettlement: A Case Study of Bhutanese Refugees (University of Kentucky, 2011), 60.
 Shrestha, Power & Politics in Resettlement, 6.
 Shrestha, Power & Politics in Resettlement, 61.
 Dina Nayeri, The ungrateful refugee: ‘We have no debt to repay’ (Guardian, 2017).
 Claudia Roth Pierpont, Found in Translation: The contemporary Arabic novel (The New Yorker, 2010), 1.
 Ghassan Kanafani, Men in the Sun (American University in Cairo Press, 1991).
 Loung Ung, Lucky Child (HarperCollins Publisher, 2005), xiv.
Cristina Fernández Cubas es una autora contemporánea de Barcelona, España y es famosa por sus novelas, una obra de teatro, y varias colecciones de cuentos cortos. Algunas criticas dicen que sus temas más escritos incluyen los “postmodern psychological concerns for the other,” self-identity” (Bellver, 52), la vida como extranjera, o su “woman-centered perspective” (Zatlin, 36). Su colección de obras Los parientes pobres del diablo se publicó en el año 2006 que se llama “the Year of Historical Memory” porque es un año que representa la lucha de los españoles con la identidad y la alteridad (Folkart, 3). Debajo de una dictadura con mucha represión y a causa del control de la iglesia católica en España históricamente, la narrativa de una España única, fuerte, y unida todavía persigue hoy en día cuando la nación encuentra confrontaciones de la diferencia. Pero los problemas con la diferencia étnica y religiosa empezaron en año 711 con la expulsión de los árabes, siguió en 1492 con la expulsión de los judíos en España, y existe hoy en día con eventos como los bombardeos en tren en M-11. Los conceptos e ideas de los cuerpos físicos, idiomas extranjeros, o las varias religiones del otro en España a través de la historia es una parte muy profunda en la identidad española. Con respecto a su posición como un país europeo y del mundo oeste, su posición hegemónica en el mundo siempre ha contribuido a la discriminación, violencia, y dificultad de entender y aceptar varias formas del otro religioso y el otro étnica como parte de la identidad española. En “Los parientes pobres del diablo” la autora refleja en la formación de la historia, la historia de España como colonizador, debajo de una dictadura y como todo contribuye a la tendencia de repasar y rechazar formas del otro en la España contemporánea. Por medio de la posicionalidad de la narradora, la caracterización de Claudio, el simbolismo de las varias formas del diablo, Fernández Cubas critica el sentimiento de la superioridad
adentro de la identidad en la cultura española con respecto a las antiguas colonias.
El papel de la narradora en el cuento muestra una reacción de España en contra de la alteridad y varias técnicas retoricas de la narradora también muestra su habilidad de manipular el cuento y el lector. La narradora es el personaje principal, es anónima, viaja a través de muchos partes del mundo, utiliza la primera persona singular, y es de Barcelona. Cuando viaja en México justo antes de reconocer a Claudio y ve un hombre por la calle quién aparece como un diablo. Los pensamientos de la narradora, una mujer desde el mundo oeste muestra el exotismo de un hombre mexicano quien es desde el mundo este y colonizado por España, “Era guapo. Aunque todo en él me repeliera, aunque su visión me provocara el rechazo físico más grande que he sentido en toda mi vida, debo reconocer que respondía a las características de lo que se puede entender por un hombre guapo. Parecía arrancado de una película mexicana de los cincuenta…” (Fernández Cubas, 77). El hombre le da miedo, pero su reacción es mucho mas complejo que solamente el miedo.
La apariencia del hombre es lo que la narradora considera hermoso, pero le da ansiedad y apunta su estatus económico, pero todavía es un objeto de su atracción, pero a la misma vez es como un monstruo. Se ve muchos ejemplos del exotismo de la gente de países lejanos y místicos como la gente del mundo árabe en el mundo oeste y también los gitanos en España. También las acciones de la viajera representan este cuando ella es una española en México. Así que, todas las escenas del cuento son de la perspectiva de la narradora con focalización interior desde adentro y pasan por la lente de la narradora.
Fernández Cubas intenta replicar la dominación de la “una España” (Constenla) encima del otro y refleja como esa técnica colono elimina las narrativas y voces de las poblaciones marginadas y indígenas cuando se cuenta la historia. La narradora manipula la discursa narrativa con solo una voz y una fuente de interpretaciones de los eventos en el cuento, es la única interpretación que puede ver el lector. En la historia global siempre, como estudiantes en el mundo oeste, escuchamos a las versiones europeos y estadounidense en como funciona la historia. Los quién llevan el poder y quién ganan las guerras tienen la oportunidad de contar sus interpretaciones de la historia y la gente expulsado, matado, o subordinado nunca tienen esa oportunidad. Es un mensaje principal en este cuento por medio de la primera persona en la narradora. Es una técnica que usa Fernández Cubas con mucha frecuencia, esa idea de una narradora poco fidedigno (Bellver, 53). También en adición al tipo de narradora, el uso de pasado es otra manera de desacreditar a la narradora. Mucho de la historia son las memorias pasados de la narradora y las memorias no son concretas, hay algunas imágenes que se destacan y algunos que se pierden. Está representado con la imagen del dry Martini, que es un sabor y objeto muy destacado en su memoria para recodar a su amigo, pero todos los detalles no son así y el lector recuerde otra vez que hay varias perspectivas del cuento que nunca vamos a escuchar.
Con su estilo narrativa en todas las maneras domina las ideas y reflexiones de Claudio en el cuento. Por ejemplo, en las entradas del diario la audiencia ve un poco más de las ideas de Claudio sobre el diablo y de su trabajo en su tesis, pero todavía lo que vemos es un resumen de la narradora (Férnandez Cubas, 96-99) quién puede tomar la oportunidad de incluir lo que piensa que es importante o ignora lo que quiera. Aunque es una obra de ficción la narradora le hace pensar la audiencia en como se forma todas las historias a través del tiempo, de la misma manera porque siempre debemos tener en cuenta que un narrador, particularmente en la primera persona, es poco fiable y normalmente es la persona más poderosa.
Antes de pasó tanto tiempo y pidió tanto a Claudio sobre el concepto del diablo, la narradora no creía en el infierno, pero después de su confrontación con los conceptos del diablo se aprendía y le daba cuenta que también es una forma del diablo. Claudio es el amigo muerto de la narradora y la mayoría del cuento es un flashback a su amistad y cómo se encontraron en un país tan extranjero. Fernández Cubas hace algunas cosas para separar los personajes porque están destinados a contrastar entre sí como dos españoles muy diferentes. Un ejemplo de eso es cuando la narradora le pidió a Claudio “Sería más cómodo que me tutearas – propuse ¿No te parece? -No -dijo.” Es un momento un poquito incomodo para los dos amigos, pero contribuye a la distancia entre ellos que la autora quiere enfatizar. Al final, la relación entre esos personajes del cuento es que permite la narradora a llegar a sus pensamientos finales de la confrontación con el otro, “Y, en una inverosímil inversión de fechas y recuerdos, entendí finalmente la razón por la que nunca ni siquiera de pequeña, sintiera el menor asomo de temor ante la palabra, <<infierno>>” (Fernández Cubas, 125). La narradora va a un bar para brindar con un dry Martini en honor de Claudio, pero se ve imágenes del infierno, y da cuenta que también es una pariente pobre del diablo.
Claudio tiene varias fuentes de la identidad y representa un español, pero a la misma vez el otro con respeto a sus exploraciones, estudios, y reflexiones interiores. La relación entre la narradora y Claudio representa otro tipo de confrontación con el otro y la diferencia. Cuando la narradora tiene la oportunidad de escuchar a un representante del diablo, aprende mucho que no era posible cuando actualmente estaba en frente de un ejemplo. La posicionalidad único de Claudio permite que la narradora puede tener sus revelaciones que la diferencia entre ella y el diablo no son tan diferentes, que tiene más en común con este objeto del otro.
Su posicionalidad como español, pero como académico y un aliado de los diablos permite esta confrontación entre la española y la diferencia. Su representación de alguien marginado se dio cuenta cuando Claudio se dio cuenta que también es un pariente pobre del diablo y decidió cometer suicidio y ir al infierno en vez de seguir manipulando las vidas de los humanos a su alrededor. Siguieron reunir durante sus viajes después de salieron de México, las ultimas veces en que se vieron Claudio estaba un poquito más triste que normal. Cuantas más conversaciones tengan en varias ciudades y a lo largo de su tiempo juntos, Claudio se vuelve más loco y más fuera de control de su identidad y es parte de su transición completa al otro lado de su identidad. Su carácter define y rompe estas fronteras de la igualdad y la diferencia (Folkart, 141). Además, teniendo en cuenta la voz de la narradora en la historia, simplemente el diálogo en su mente domina la voz de Claudio, mostrando de nuevo estos temas de superioridad interior por parte de la narradora y el silenciamiento de Claudio. Incluso, para entender aún más el simbolismo de Claudio como un pariente pobre del diablo, el lector debe examinar qué representan exactamente las diversas figuras del diablo.
El diablo y sus parientes pobres representan el otro étnico y religioso. En el catolicismo se enseña protegerse del diablo y tener miedo ir al infierno y las imágenes del diablo se asocia con la sangre, la muerte, la violencia, los pecados, y casi todas las cosas malas en el mundo. Fernández Cubas intenta da una critica también a la presencia de la iglesia católica en la cultura española con el símbolo del diablo. Muchas de las expulsiones de la diferencia vienen de la iglesia católica y por medios muy cruel y violenta normalmente. Por mucha parte de su historia, la iglesia controlaba la identidad de los españoles por la fuerza y las diferencias entres diversas religiones coincide con los idiomas o las étnicas. Además, la narradora duda la existencia del infierno y esa representa una duda en todas las enseñanzas de la iglesia. No es el punto principal del simbolismo del diablo, pero sigue siendo una objeción oculta a las regulaciones y las enseñanzas encomendadas de la iglesia históricamente en España.
Hay muchas técnicas físicas y sociales que han echado a un otro fuera de la sociedad y esto está representado en “Parientes pobres del diablo” con mucha frecuencia. El hecho de que el hombre por la calle quien parece como un diablo también venden muñecas y me hace pensar en los gitanos en España hoy en día. Cuando alguien va a España en la plaza mayor o esperando en línea por entrar en la giralda se puede ver gente vestido en ropa tradicional de los bailaores flamencos y venden flores, accesorios, o algo místico. Adoptan su diferencia y reconocen que es un objeto de deseo, ya que es exótico. Aunque puede no ser respetado como su verdadera cultura o incluso si no es lo que se identifican con él, se dan cuenta de que pueden vender estas ideas a los turistas. Fernández Cubas rinde homenaje a esto a través de la descripción del hombre en la calle porque es una representación de su propio estereotipo.
La historia de Claudio y la narradora se iniciaba en México para resaltar un contraste entre los mundos antiguos y los mundos colonizados. La posicionalidad de la narradora es de primera persona, con la voz principal del cuento, la perspectiva española, y la estudiante del Claudio y a través de su posicionalidad la autora muestra como alguien debe reconocer su propia diferencia, rechazo, y humanidad en relación con el otro. Pero a fuera del desarrollo del personaje, la autora desafía al lector a cuestionar nuestra fe en la narradora, reflejando lo que los lectores y los estudiantes deben hacer cada vez que estudian historias ficticias o historia real. La caracterización de Claudio es necesario tomar la narradora en su viaje a la autorrealización, al igual que el viaje de Claudio. Es la confrontación más importante y largo del cuento, lo que permite la narradora cambiar por su amigo, pero también entender y confrontar a si misma. El diablo es una imagen del otro marginado en España desde los antiguos colonias y que persiguió todavía en otros eventos como la dictadura, y España es único por eso porque han tenido una historia con muchos contratiempos. Con un final no concluyente, la autora invita al lector a decidir si el viaje de la narradora ha tenido éxito o no, ¿se está convirtiendo en el diablo también por hacer que se envíe a si misma al infierno o cómo se ocupa de este conocimiento? Puede ser posible que esa sea la pregunta que ella está pidiendo a todos sus compatriotas españoles durante el año de la memoria histórica después de sentimientos muy fuertes anti-musulmanes y árabes después de M-11.
Bellver, Catherine G. “Spectatoris and Spectable: The Theatrical Dimension in the Works of Cristina Fernández Cubas.” Vol. 90, No. 1, American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, March 2007.
Constenla, Tereixa. “Los tiempos de una, grande, y libre.” El país, abril 2015. https://elpais.com/cultura/2015/04/16/actualidad/1429199802_674536.html.
Fernández Cubas, Cristina. “Parientes pobres del diablo.” 1ª edición, colección andanzas, 2006, 71-125.
Folkart, Jessica. “Liminal Fiction at the Edge of the Millennium: The Ends of Spanish Identity.” Bucknell University Press, 2014, chapter 1.
Folkart, Jessica. “Liminal Fiction at the Edge of the Millennium: The Ends of Spanish Identity.” Bucknell University Press, 2014, chapter 5.
Zatlin, Phyllis. “Amnesia, Strangulation, Hallucination and Other Mishaps: The Perils of being Female in Tales of Cristina Fernández Cubas.” Vol. 79, No. 1, American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, March 1996.
Frantz Fanon begins by not shouting as he manipulates his own personal narrative and thoughts as a black Antilles man to show his lived truths to an audience that did not ask him to share. His audience is man, the black man, black men who wish to be white, the man who adores the negro, and those that despise it, and several other varying groups. In our discussion I will dissect the topics of objectification, colonial stripping of self-worth, inferiority complex, and highlight the author’s use of style to convey key messages, and I will conclude with several discussion questions.
Fanon proves why the black man is not a man at all in chapter five and how he comes to learn this. “I was an object in the midst of other objects… sealed into that objecthood” as a young child on a train and other white people say “Look, a Negro!”. He did not see himself as an object until he was made to feel that way, and even if he internally fought against those negative characteristics place upon him, the repetition of all the people around him seeing him that way made it too difficult. When people see him, they think; cold, ugly, and scary. He struggled to understand how he is hated, and wants to deny it but cannot, he then questions if he should hate himself, but by default does not. His role as a doctor does not matter as a black man, because what is more significant is his blackness. His blackness becomes almost synonymous to his name, the primary label a person have is their name, and a black man is described by others and introduced with their name followed by “a black man” or “Negro”. This dehumanizing makes the Negro feel distant from society but also from himself, “I occupied space. I moved toward the other… and the evanescent other, hostile but not opaque, transparent, not there, disappeared” and the dehumanization also stripping away the black man’s self-worth and internalizing inferiority.
Black culture and history are taken away by force and left to be re-created by a non-black people, this loss of self, loss of origin, and loss of history contributed to internalized inferiority and even creates a space for competition within the black community against one another. In chapter five Fanon describes the Negro’s customs as “wiped out because they were in conflict with a civilization that he did not know and that imposed itself on him”. That space is then replaced by whatever the colonizing power sees it to be, which is why the black man cannot look beyond the image the man places on him, it is all he knows. This is perhaps the white mask. Fanon often makes distinctions between blacks that want to sleep with white women, whites that stand up for Negros, and the ones that yell at them that are Negros, saying that some or worse than the other, this seems like he is trying to mix up the distinctions between color. When these white customs or attitudes and the acceptance of the categories of inferiority and superiority dominate over “colour prejudice” they are overpowering the direct implications of color itself. The domination of white perspective over the black’s self-identity is so powerful that their blackness becomes whiteness because the black man doesn’t exist.
This lack of self-worth is then also projected throughout the black community to one another. Chapter 7 talks about how “the Antillean is characterized by his desire to dominate the other”, and here the definition for who the other is becomes challenged and they apply their inferiority to one another and compete for that superiority. This is then continued as Fanon investigates Hegel’s master-slave dialectic where they both validate the other in their relationship. Fanon emphasized the importance of these historical constructions but then moves on to suggest that it is important to move beyond this past in order to advance to the future. In the quote used by Karl Marx, “revolution… cannot draw on its poetry from the past, but only from the future” Fanon is perhaps supporting an erasure of this past and “going beyond the historical” that is often left out of historical narrative, and this is surprising as he carefully tiptoes the line of erasure of black history and still recognizing that past to apply it to the future. In a quote that is repeated twice in the text “For the black man there is only one destiny. And it is white” does he mean this literally, that the black man’s destiny will forever have a white filter over it? That their customs and beliefs have been completely bleached and that their culture therefore becomes white? Or is this a reference that their destiny is controlled by white, and therefore never free, similarly to where he states “Liberty and Justice… always white liberty and white justices”. I argue that the author blurs this line a bit too much and that the clear distinction of not forgetting about black history for the sake of progression should be further emphasized. Another aspect of the text that was challenging to navigate was the author’s alternating between his personal thoughts in a specific moment, his interjections of dialogue, and then returning the analytical thought. However challenging, it made the book more relatable, understandable, and admirable.
Fanon brilliantly uses stylistic elements such as point of view, themes, tone, capitalization, and punctuation to not just show his positionality, but reveal how it changes throughout his life experiences. One prevalent theme throughout his stories is the use of laughter versus anger and how that shows control over a situation or the lack thereof. From the beginning of the book, he highlights that he is going to not shout his story because he is often too guilty of that and says that “fervor is the weapon of choice of the impotent” and that he had to wait to write his book in order to appropriately deliver his findings and avoid “burning” himself. Over and over throughout the book we see examples such as “I made up my mind to laugh myself to tears, but laughter had become impossible” or “Shame flooded her face… I identified my enemies and I made a scene… Now one would be able to laugh.” Fanon is going in and out of control of how he is perceived and how he reflects that in himself. His capitalization and exclamation points throughout the dialogues increase the strength of the blows of other people’s words and how they affect him. One of the examples of this that sticks out the most is “when I should have been begged, implored, I was denied the slightest recognition? I resolved, since it was impossible for me to get away from an inborn complex, to assert myself as a BLACK MAN” or one of the many names yelled at him “Why, it’s a Negro!”. The inclusion of the dialogue itself is also there to have the reader feel the impact of the exact words verbatim. The author is also very aware of his point of view in his critiques and how he can use that positionality and how it could limit him.
In his unique writing style and balancing narrative with the psychological and philosophical is important to note for a reader’s discussion, how does the narrator, a black man himself, develop his self-identity throughout the book? How does he struggle through it? What are the effects of him advancing and being set back repeatedly? Through his narration, does Fanon accomplish what he advices to his audience at the very end of his book, “always make me a man who questions!” and that the world recognizes “the open door of every consciousness”. Then returning to the beginning of the book and thinking about the audience, Fanon clearly states that “And this future is not the future of the cosmos but rather the future of my century, my country, my existence. In no fashion should I undertake to prepare the world that will come later”. However, here we are, the reader, still exploring Fanon’s theory and narrative, in what specific ways is this text still relevant to our generation despite the author’s intentions, and is it “still necessary” for our society?
Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto Press, 1952 (Introduction, 1-7, The Fact of Blackness, 82-109, The Negro and Recognition, 163-172, and Conclusion, 174-181).