In Week 2, systems of difference were discussed in detail. Within the material for that week, several different themes arose, including the creation of the “other.” It was said that the creation of the other started during colonial expansion when explorers went to other parts of the world and were startled by the differences between them (Lecture 2.1). This can be seen in today’s world and is expanded upon in Week 6 and Week 5. Also in Week 2’s systems of difference, race is discussed and how it is not at all biological, but only cultural. This is comparable to the gender discussions in Week 4.
Week 6 includes a video titled “Life and Debt” about Jamaica and their economic and political struggles. After Jamaica got independence, they experienced financial problems which led them to taking out loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This basically put Jamaica in a bind which kept them in debt and the country is now controlled by several foreign powers. I believe that part of the reason this occurred is because the larger, more successful countries viewed Jamaica as inferior or as the “other.” This led the more powerful countries to believe Jamaica needs their “superior” knowledge and help which turned into the economical control we see today by foreign countries.
In Week 5, there is a reading titled “Poverty at Work: Office Employment and the Crack Alternative.” In this article, the author discusses how several people in Spanish Harlem go down a destructive path of dealing drugs rather than getting service jobs. While this is primarily due to the larger amount of money offered by the illegal work, I believe it could also be caused by the view of Spanish Harlem people as the “other.” Since employers view the uneducated people of Spanish Harlem as inferior and the other, it leads to them being mistreated and disrespected in the workplace (Bourgois 122). These people obviously do not want to work like this and end up doing illegal work for more money.
Week 4 includes a reading titled “Performing Gender Identity.” In this reading, the author talks about certain gender roles and how they are culturally defined in the U.S. This corresponds to Week 2’s discussion of race because they are also culturally defined. Overall, both weeks show how culture influences how groups of people think. Factors such as race and gender are not biological fact; they are simply ways of categorizing people determined by cultural ideas.