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Presentation Response

Jessica’s presentation on the model minority myth made me interested in learning about how different stereotypes beyond black and asian stereotypes interact with each other in the US. I’m also interested in learning if there are types of model minority stereotypes that exist in other countries. In other countries with white majorities, like some countries in Europe, are there similar types of interactions with other minority groups or do different histories of immigration make this different? What about countries with nonwhite majorities?

In Liz’s presentation, I learned a lot about nonviolent activist handbooks and specific anti-regime activist movements in eastern Europe that I wasn’t familiar with. I think that looking specifically at Gene Sharp’s activist handbook, which she described as being found after the dust settles in handbooks all around the world, pointed to connections between activist movements that I wasn’t previously aware of.

Sol’s presentation on the place of extremism in the animal rights movement surprised me the most because I haven’t given much thought to the different groups within that movement in the past. I had heard of groups such as ALF but hadn’t really looked at the distinctions between mainstream vegan/vegetarian activism and groups less violent than ALF but who still significantly break social norms in their activism. Sol’s point that extreme activism needs to significantly distance itself from mainstream activism in order to not impede on the effectiveness of that activism but that in distancing itself can actually further the overall animal rights movement wasn’t something I had thought about before and I think might be more widely applicable to other types of movements.

David’s presentation on the connections between money and politics inspired me to be more aware of the different influences that special interest groups have on government actions and policies. It also made me think more critically about campaign propaganda that I saw during the 2016 election as well as factors that go into the difficulties in communicating between people with different pre-existing conceptions. His presentation was also relevant to a process in which I, as a US voter, directly participate.

Blog 5: Reflecting on the class presentations

After listening to everyone’s intriguing topics, I am still interested in Renee’s coverage of censorship and social media activism in China. I thought she did a great job of addressing the sublanguage, which can be developed within the Chinese language. I am curious as to how that is effective and what the repercussions are when censors discover the hidden meaning. I think censorship is an important topic of discussion because of the difficulty surrounding conversations about the right to voice concerns on the Internet.

I believe Steven’s presentation about the Tea Party taught me the most because it addressed the rise of the Tea Party and the underlying economic support that allowed it to gain a foothold in the American political system. I was not aware of the various parts of the party. He also articulated why it lost momentum, which I found to be interesting knowledge considering what that portends for other movements that are backed by large monetary interests.

Lactivism is the topic that I found to be most surprising. Paulina explained the dichotomy between original lactivism and reactionary lactivism. It was surprising to me that the opposing groups undermined the choice of the opposing coalition of women. Overall, it was fascinating that such a personal issue has led to such a split between activists who could be working towards better education and healthcare for mothers.

Richard’s presentation about the water battle in the central valley was the most inspiring to me. It got me more interested in local activist movements because of his account of interviewing the farmers from a community in the central valley. The number of times that I drove by their signs without researching the topic is rather shocking. Therefore, I walked away from his presentation with a stronger desire to cultivate more awareness of issues in my own community and the state of California.

Radical Art Activism: Nudity, Graffiti and Iconoclasm

Radical art activism, through the medium of nudity, graffiti and iconoclasm, is opening up avenues of empathy to create change due to forced perspective.

Activism is the power to seek out causes and sources of social inequality, protrude the social norms of today and make change for our future. It is the doctrine or practice of vigorous action or involvement of some action to work towards or achieve social or political goals. Although art cannot inhibit immediate change, I will explore how radical art engages with activism through an artist’s visual expression, with the goal to raise awareness and to embody the viewer with a perspective which they may or may not agree with. Radical art is defined as an art practice that is shocking to the viewer, that portrays a situation in an unfamiliar manner against traditional . Radical art can be illegal and extreme, present nudity, and use language to display radical ideologues. Through it’s extremism, I argue that radical art activism has the able to create change through the medium of empathy and forced perspective. With the main case studies of Banksy and public street graffiti, the Guerilla Girls and their iconoclasm in demonstrations, and anti-Female Genital Mutilation campaigns and nudity through the medium of the internet, we will uncover the methods in which they use activism to highlight social issues and will discover how forced perspective is practiced. Furthermore, we will delve into a psychological analysis of empathy in radical art, opening up social issues to disengaged communities.


Thesis Moment: Reading the Alt-Right as an Activist Movement

Research question(s): can we classify the alt-right as an activist movement, and if so how is it an activist movement, and why does this matter?

Thesis: in creating an agenda and seeking to enact change, the alt-right employs rhetoric characteristic of an activist movement. To understand this rhetoric, I will be analyzing a sample size of posts from two major alt-right forums: 4chan’s /pol/ or “politically incorrect” board, and Stormfront, a white nationalist site describing itself as “the voice of the new, embattled white minority.” First, I will discuss my choices in focusing on these groups, and why in particular on online communities. Second, I will analyze key features of forum rhetoric, and how they correspond to prevailing definitions of activism. Third, I will underpin this discussion by comparing these two forums with Reddit’s /r/evolution board, a liberal group devoted to “the free flow of information” as well as democracy. Drawing this parallels will drive home a major point: the left and right are closer, if not in their ideologies, in the structures and processes they use to pursue their agendas and enact change. My evidence consists of forum posts, scholarship done on online community formation, and popular media sources (primarily liberal, to show the need for a better understanding of the alt-right by the mainstream news).

(4) Equity Impacts by Chilean Student Activists on Higher Education in Chile

Research Question: To what extent did Chilean Student Activism among the movements in 2006 & 2011 further social equity in Chilean Higher Education?

Thesis Moment: According to experts at the OECD, social inequality is widespread throughout Chile (GINI Index > 0.5). A “social imaginary” exists in the sense that while education is perceived as the means to a better life and a more equitable society, the current neoliberal education system doesn’t seem to change student’s economic situations – instead, it seems that the current system continues current inequalities. Neoliberal education derives itself from a market based approach to education – by using a voucher system to pay for public, private, etc. schools, it was thought that through competition between schools for students/voucher money, schools would have to improve. It’s a more laissez-faire approach to education. While it did create more access to schools – higher education in particular – it didn’t necessarily create the equity that was desired. So protests occurred in 2006 and 2011 to combat inequalities. I am going to show that, while protests called for greater reform, their short term effect has only been moderately successful – and we can judge this by the current state today.

Road Mapping:

I have to have some basis for understanding previous inequalities that happen pre-2006 – in this, I will establish a baseline of what the government has tried to do to combat inequality – I will use this as a context for a counterargument to the extent of protestors as the only agents of change – how government willingness to change limits the extent of protestors. I will also use this for a persuasive counterargument to their counterargument, saying something along the lines of how increasing access != greater equity for all. I think it would be wise to bring up something regarding protestors’ perception of the lack of action on the behalf of the government as cause for protest.

Further – I will need to argue how 2006’s protests didn’t do that much for higher education – besides the elimination of the PSU, and some transportation tickets… but that it set the stage for the 2011 protests, that focused more on higher ed. Though I can say something nuanced about how 2006 was a high schooler’s revolt – and how those high schoolers became uni students.

2011 – I need to contextualize the movement – what people were asking for – speak about student loans, tuition costs, first generation students, for-profit colleges, etc… Speak about how not all goals were met through this protest. But then maybe I can argue that in subsequent protests (i.e. not those in 2006, 2011), activists then achieved what they wanted – which allows me to suggest that 2006 and 2011 didn’t do all that much to help higher education equity. However, as a broader view, it was a significant part of the social consciousness, and that is something that must be considered.

I need to analyze post-2011 social conditions in Chile – how some new, wonderful things may or may not have resulted from those specific protests… just because new legislation came out recently doesn’t entirely mean the 2006, 2011 protests directly affected its creation. That is a nuance that I want to argue.

Blog Post 4

My research question asks how effective animal rights activists are in addressing the role of power holders in the factory farming industry, and what might they be able to do to better confront them?

In response, I argue that while animal rights activists effectively draw attention to power holders through extreme actions, these results usually don’t spread to influence companies that aren’t directly affected, and little education/persuasion is involved. Thus, they have room for improvement in their ability to reach power holders. The lack of both unity in the movement and organized efforts to change legislation greatly affect the power they have to fight against such powerful organizations. In order to improve, animal rights activists should unite behind a common identity in the way that the Black Lives Matter movement has taken a name, a history and a purpose as a way to define their common identity and empower them. Additionally, they should focus less on grabbing attention and more on education, both for the public and for lawmakers who are currently acting (mostly) in favor of agribusiness.
In my RBA, I plan to include background information both on factory farming and the impact agribusiness has had on the presence of factory farming and meat consumption in the U.S. Then, I plan to lay out the strategies animal rights activists are using to combat the growth in factory farmed products, and explain how they are not as effective as they could be. Finally, I will put forth my own ideas of what animal rights activists should do to improve.

Blog Post 4: RBA Planning

My research question inquires into the origins of the “model minority” thesis and its effects on Asian Americans.

The model minority phenomenon asserts that Asian Americans are the most successful minority group in terms of academic and financial achievement. Their success is greatly due to their supposed cultural values of obedience, respect of authority, industry, and emphasis on education. However, research shows that Asian Americans as a whole are perhaps not as successful as depicted. I hypothesize that the goal of this misinformation is to manipulate the image of Asian Americans and further a white agenda. Asian Americans act as pawns in the objective of denigrating other minority groups, while also bastardizing Asian culture. In this way, society’s subtle racism towards Asian Americans can be linked to the overt racism of other minority groups, such as blacks and Hispanics.

Road map: In my RBA, I plan to further examine how my hypothesis plays into higher education and affirmative action, as well as career choices and salaries. Additionally, I plan to analyze the origins of the model minority myth in order to better understand the purpose of this perpetuated myth. Civil rights movements of blacks and Hispanics will also be mentioned to explain context and provide contrast to Asian Americans.

Polarizing America through Citizens United

Research Question:

Why is American politics so polarized? In social media, you see debates that never seem to get anywhere, filled with people listening only to reply and not truly understanding the opposition. In Congress, instead of hearing about bipartisan progress, we hear much more of filibusters, walkouts, and resignations. Gerrymandering, campaign finance, shifting demographics, media bias, and socioeconomic inequality all play into the growing divide in America, but how do these factors play into each other and which deserves the most attention?

Thesis Moment:

Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission was a Supreme Court decision that lifted all corporate restrictions on political spending. This meant that corporations could now spend unlimited sums of money in elections, typically through independent political action committees called super PACs. Most of the factors listed in the previous section have long affected America, but the Citizens United decision has revolutionized the campaign finance ecosystem in the past decade and marked the inception of a new political powerhouse in the form super PACs.

As such, I will focus on the effects on Citizens United and examine how these ramifications contribute to an ever-polarizing political climate. Political polarization exists on both the voter and politician level, but Citizens United affects both parties in different ways. On the voter level, super PACs can dominate television ad time, flooding voters with a stream of often negative and misleading ads. Combined with the prevalence of existing media bias, these ads can lock voters in ideological bubbles and increase partisanship by removing the middle ground. On the politician level, the need for corporate backing to survive in DC forces politicians to become more responsive to donors rather than voters.

I will be using election spending data, voter behavior studies, and historical examples to draw the connection between campaign finance and polarization and highlight the destructive political effects of Citizens United.

The Rhetoric of Nonviolent Activism: Why Does It Matter?

In my RBA, I use the term activist handbook to refer to resources that articulate a general framework for movement building, inspire activists with examples of specific tactics, and encourage activists to adhere to nonviolent strategies in their campaigns for regime change/revolution. Having analyzed a number of activist handbooks, I argue that educational materials for activists are effective in convincing people to use nonviolent tactics because they construct a logical appeal that emphasizes the strategic value of nonviolence. However, I also want to address the significance of these texts; is this logical appeal necessary to sustain an activist movement? I have concluded that examining how these texts persuade their readers to follow the principles of strategic nonviolent resistance is critical because campaign success and the subsequent transition to democracy are dependent upon these texts’ ability to convince all members of the movement to adhere to nonviolent tactics. This is because violent resistance, even when used by only a few members of an otherwise nonviolent movement, allows the regime to crack down on protestors. Additionally, long-term efforts to create a more democratic system may be more likely to succeed if activists develop the basic infrastructure of a transitional democratic government within their revolutionary movement.

The foundation of my argument is the idea that the government’s reliance on the cooperation of its citizens allows activists to compromise the regime’s power through nonviolent action. That said, certain aspects of nonviolent strategy might initially be counter-intuitive to many activists, which is evident when protestors get caught up in the moment and forget to craft a long-term plan for their movement. This is especially problematic in campaigns for regime change, because activists need to follow through (even after they have “won”) and replace the authoritarian system with a more just, open one. Having discussed these ideas, I will analyze the rhetoric of activist handbooks and use the framework I’ve build in my paper to discuss how the authors’ logical appeals are important to the success of activists’ campaigns and subsequent political changes.

The Importance of Native American Self-Governance

After completing most of my research, and formalizing my thoughts in a research proposal, I believe I can finally propose a working thesis. I believe the critical question in my topic, is how highly we should value Native American sovereignty, and relatedly, their right to self-governance. So far my research strongly suggests that it should be valued very highly. This allows for a working thesis: Native American sovereignty should be respected, by policymakers and regulators, by strongly considering Bristol Bay Native American opinion on Pebble.

This thesis might not sound very controversial, but in subtle ways it very much is. Firstly, Native American opinion is currently entirely ignored when it comes to regulatory and permitting decisions. Secondly, my thesis suggests that respecting Native American’s opinions could outweigh the enormous potential economic value of Pebble. While to some this might seem obvious, opinion on such a statement varies within our society. As well, it should be re-emphasized that the enormity of Pebble economic value makes it a tough argument to make.

I will begin by first elaborating on why my research has led me to value Native self-governance so highly. My argument here will take up most of the essay, as I feel as though this is the most crucial pillar in the argument. I will focus my essay on why respecting the Native right to self-governance is crucial in order for them to achieve the best possible outcomes moving forward.

I will spend the rest of the essay addressing key counterarguments. These will include counterarguments against the importance of Native American sovereignty, economic arguments in favor of Pebble, and more. I will use my previous research on ‘metrics’ in order to guide the discussion.

Lastly, I would like to point out that my working thesis is not an argument against the development of Pebble. Rather, it is an argument against the development of Pebble if Bristol Bay Native Americans are in opposition. I have chosen this specific working thesis because I believe it to be the cultural argument with the most potential. However, taking this line of argument seems to mean people (environmentalists) can’t have it both ways.