Essay 1

Write a 3 page essay on one of the following topics (draw on at least three of the readings).

  1. Consider how colonialism has transformed gender relationships in at least two different societies. What were gender relationships like before colonialism? How were such relationships transformed during the colonial era? In your view, what impact did such transformations have on power dynamics between women and men?
  2. Cross-cultural debates over the relative status of women in relation to men have been volatile both in the past and in the present. Begin your essay by considering the symbolic importance of gender to the European colonial project. How do more recent cross-cultural debates over gender differ from or parallel earlier debates? In your view, what is the most productive direction for such discussions? (There is obviously no right or wrong answer here. This question is an opportunity for you to explore and develop your own perspective on this topic. Make sure, however, you spend at least part of your answer addressing the readings).


Essay 2


Drawing upon the readings for the class, examine ideas of development in the post-colonial period for a specific country or countries. How do people relate to the concept of development and/or specific development projects in their day-to-day lives? For example, depending on the readings you choose, you might consider how people define or use the concept of development and how "development" is either something they desire or resist. Do ideas of development at the "local" level differ from or resemble ideas of development in a national or international context? Depending upon which readings you choose, you may also want to consider how such ideas shift over time.

For this essay, you must utilize the book Once Intrepid Warriors by Dorothy Hodgson as well as two other articles from this section of the class that you feel would be appropriate. Make sure you use lots of specifics in your essays.

Essay 3

Answer two of the following questions (one chosen from each category). Each of your two essays should be 4-5 pages in length. For these final essays, you have a great deal of freedom in shaping how you want to answer the questions. You are responsible for coming up with a thesis or argument largely dependent on your own interests and ideas. If you need help in formulating your thesis, come see me or visit the Writing Center.

  1. (a) We've considered how the technocentric focus of many development projects obscures other aspects of people's lives that may be important in understanding why poverty exists. Write an essay that explores some of the factors that may be relevant in perpetuating poverty for certain groups of people (giving some attention to gender dynamics). Such issues may include, but are not limited to, historical processes, class hierarchies within or between countries, access to education, particular family formations, the role of the government, and economic dynamics ranging from the relationships between various countries to the inadequacy of either subsistence or wage labor. Choose two dynamics (or three if you're succinct) that you are interested in exploring further and consider how they may (or may not) be relevant to ongoing poverty in particular places. Draw on specific examples from the readings or films, particularly materials from the latter half of the course.

    (b) Choose one of the following issues for debate explored in the last section of class - the relationship between First and Third Worlds, population dynamics, or environmental issues. Explore its role in relation to issues of poverty. Draw upon readings and films from throughout the course to substantiate your point of view. Make sure your argument works not simply at an abstract level but considers people's daily lives as based on such materials.
  2. (a) Design a project (either development or otherwise) intended to create some form of social change. Describe where this project would take place, what its goals were and how you would want to go about putting your vision into practice. What kinds of problems would you envision and how would you go about addressing them? Feel free to be as creative as you wish but make sure your essay isn't overly vague; situate it in the world of everyday life as far as possible.

    (b) After a semester of pondering "development," what are your personal views on the concept. Do you see it as useful or not useful? Explain why. If you see the term as useful, describe how you would like to see it defined and used. If you do not find the term useful, suggest an alternate concept or way of thinking about the world that you find more helpful in thinking about social change.

    (c) Design a question of your own (if you choose this option, please discuss your idea with me as soon as possible).