Monday, April 18, 2011

4.18 Possible Solutions

           When I first considered this topic, I only thought of the treatment of Mexican individuals by Americans.   Mexican workers are an important part of America’s economy.  They are assimilated into our culture as needed to perform necessary work.  In many cases they are looked down upon and treated less than human, which is dehumanization. As I began my research the solution I came up with was that there was a misunderstanding between people.  If people thought of the conditions that they were working in and the reasons behind it the situation would improve.  The idea being every job and person completing it is important to the society and should be respected.
Unfortunately, the situation or solution is not that simple. There are many reasons behind the condition of Mexico’s economy, which has driven the Mexican people to a position of assimilation and dehumanization.  After Mexico’s independence from Spain, the country went through a period of Neocolonialism.  During this time the country produced mainly raw materials which were traded with the United States and Britain.  Being a producer of only raw materials gave little incentive for industrial development and made Mexico dependent on other economies.  
If this is considered a solution may be to help further develop Mexico’s economy. If there was a better job market in Mexico than there wouldn’t be as many immigrant workers in the United States. This is a solution to assimilation into the American economy, but does not completely resolve the problem of dehumanization.  I am not sure that there is a solution to dehumanization since a combination of a viewpoint as well as action of people.  The conditions of treatment would improve if the Mexican people were not in the position that they are in, but this does not necessarily mean that the general perceptions would improve.  
            This is not a completely practical solution because even if more job opportunities became available in Mexico the United States would probably still have a need for foreign labor.  Therefore the Mexican workers would still be a part of society.  This brings me back to the idea of the solution being the change in American’s attitude toward Mexico.  The countries are dependent on each other and this will probably never change.

Monday, April 11, 2011

4.11 Terms that apply to the situation and how they apply

As I research the situation of Mexican immigration into the United States for job opportunities, I find that more terms apply to the situation than I had originally considered. The terms that are most prevalent so far are othering, assimilation, and dehumanization.
The most recent part of my research has been watching the videos recommended by Dr. Barnard.  In the film, A Day Without a Mexican there are numerous examples of each of these terms. In the film all of the Latino individuals suddenly disappear.  This causes mass confusion and chaos. Even though this film is somewhat a comedy many aspects of it apply to common viewpoints of the Mexican people.  The terms othering, assimilation, and dehumanization are all present in the film.
Othering is a grouping and labeling of individuals. In one part, a senator’s wife hires “Mexican” painters.  The senator complains that the Mexicans weren’t from Mexico, but Guatemala and Honduras.  This statement is an example of othering.  All of the Latinos are grouped into one category as the “others”.   Another example of othering occurs during a scene in which a man is discussing Mexican immigration.  He states that Mexicans take jobs, get on welfare, bring drugs into the country, and steal the American way of life.  This is a blanket statement that groups all Mexicans into a negative group, which is the “other”.
Assimilation is the attempt to make individuals a part of a society that is not their own.  Aspects of assimilation include the adoption of language, dress styles, and religion.  The Mexicans in this film are assimilated into the economic system of California.  Their jobs are extremely important but overlooked.  When the Mexicans disappear there is no one that knows how to do the tasks that they once completed and chaos occurs. 
There are also many examples of dehumanization in the film.  Dehumanization places one group of individuals at a lower level than the other.  In one scene the border patrol is very brutal to the Mexicans. They use harsh tones and push and shove them.  In another, a Latino reporter’s boss tells her she must use more of an accent if she wants to give the report.  This is taking away her individuality which is another form of dehumanization.
            Despite the fact that the film was a comedy it showed a general viewpoint of many people towards Mexicans.  Watching the film helped me to focus on the various ways the terms applied to the situation I am researching.  
Othering occurs often for any group that is different.  The Mexican culture is probably the most common foreign interaction for Americans since it is the closest.  For example, I went to a small high school and Spanish was the only foreign language that was taught.  The things that we learned about the culture of Mexico caused a category that Mexicans were placed into and therefore “othered”.  Assimilation also applies to the situation.  In many ways Mexicans are assimilated into American culture, such as the job market and English language. Dehumanization occurs when the people are used as a resource instead of values as people as discussed in my previous blog.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

4.4 Background/history of your chosen situation

It is difficult for me to decide where to begin my paper in relation to the history.  The colonization of current Mexico began in the 1500s. The Spanish conquest began for the desire of gold and other resources. Eventually it turned into a religious cause in an attempt to Christianize the Indians, this is similar to the white man’s burden.  The results of the Christianizing included wide spread religious conversion, cultural assimilation, as well as forced Indian labor. In 1535, the Spanish established a colonial government in Mexico. The conditions of oppression lasted until Mexican Independence from Spain in 1821.  
Despite Independence in Mexico, the Mexican economy has never been completely stable.  This has lead to a poor job market causing immigration to the United States for job opportunities.  In many cases the immigration has been welcomed. These are of course when the United States was in need of individuals to help the job market, such as during World War I.  During this time the Mexican government allowed citizens to contract and fulfill positions for Americans that went overseas. After the war, Mexican laborers were no longer needed so the number of contracts diminished.   The opposite case happened during the Great Depression when many Mexicans were deported because of the diminishing job market.  This is a great example of dehumanization as well as assimilation. 
During times of need there was an attempt at assimilation.  The Mexican workers were brought to America to help improve the American economy.  The dehumanization is the thought of “bringing in” people.  This makes them seem like a supply and demand good.  It is very sad that the people become like any other product.  When they are needed that can be brought into the United States, but if they are not they are prevented from coming or pushed out. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

3.28 Situation you propose to analyze and why

The situation I plan to analyze is immigration to the United States by individuals from Mexico.  My original interest in this subject came from the fact that many of the terms used in the class applied to workers from Mexico.  The terms that apply most are assimilation and dehumanization.
            I feel there is an attempt at assimilation for the immigrants. They travel to America to work and provide for their family.  In many cases they work take jobs in areas such as construction, house cleaning, and restaurant services.  Often these are jobs that are not desired by the citizens of America.  American business owners benefit by placing immigrants into these job situations, but at the same time there are complaints that they are stealing all of the jobs.   It seems that there is an attempt of assimilation in the fact that Americans want them to be a part of the culture so that they can provide the necessary services, but on the other hand they can never fully be a part of our society because they are not American.
            The term dehumanization also applies to this situation.  I have often heard people speak of Mexican workers with derogatory terms.  Because they are from a country poorer than ours with fewer opportunities, they feel that they are in some way better than them. This is clearly dehumanization.
            Although, the terms fit the situation I initially thought that this topic may not completely apply to the class because it didn’t directly deal with colonization. After having a discussion with  Dr. Barnard, I realized there was a connection.  Mexico was originally colonized by the Spanish and there has to be reasons for the lack of economic stability within Mexico.  I plan to research the history of the colonization of Mexico to obtain a better understanding of the current economy of Mexico.  With this information I will be able understand the reasons behind immigration for job opportunities.

Monday, March 21, 2011

3.21 Aspects of colonialism most interesting to you and why

Prior to taking this class, I did not possess a great deal of knowledge on the topic of colonization.   I am a pre-professional student, and have studied little beyond basic American History.  When I began this class, I had a general idea of the concepts of colonization. I was well aware that not everything was positive or even close, but I had no understanding of how brutal and negative colonization could be on many different levels.
 The overall theme of this class has been depressing for the most part.  Although, this is true I can say that it has made me think about aspects of colonization that I would have never previously considered.  The aspects of colonization that are most interesting to me are the ones that I found to be the most shocking and extreme.  These mainly include the aspects of colonization that effect individuals as well as the colonized as group.  The first of the terms that come to mind are dehumanization, assimilation, and hegemony.
Dehumanization is the process of making an individual or a group seem to be less than human. The idea of mistreating individuals for characteristics that are different is very prevalent. It is a concept that most individuals are very familiar with.  People are discriminated against in our modern society for a variety of reasons. These reasons include race, sexual orientation, religion, and gender. It could be said that discrimination is one of the worst aspects of our society.  Discrimination is a term that is often heard today.  For this reason, when I first heard of dehumanization I automatically compared it to discrimination.  Dehumanization goes beyond discrimination.  It takes away all individuality and makes one group of people inferior to another on many levels. By putting them beneath oneself or one’s group, it gives justification to use and abuse the dehumanized. The dehumanized are not looked at as humans and sometimes considered of lesser value than animals or property.
Assimilation is the attempt of trying to incorporate one group into a different society. This is done by taking changing the way the assimilated live. They are expected to dress and act in ways of the dominating group.  This in itself terrible, but the assimilated are never accepted as equals despite accepting the society, which they are forced to be a part.
Hegemony is the imposition of views and beliefs of the dominant cultural group.  The ideas of the dominant group are considered to be normal and everything else is unacceptable.   Hegemony causes further loss of individuality.  Culture and history of the colonized are also impacted greatly due to hegemony.  When the dominating groups ideals are imposed and enforced the others are lost.
These are the main terms I will be focusing on while doing my study because they are the ones that have had the biggest impact on my view of colonization thus far.