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395 Instructions for First Essay 2010.Doc - Juanita Sundberg

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395 Instructions for First Essay 2010.Doc - Juanita Sundberg
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  GEOG 395 - Instructions for First Essay Due October 11 th  at midnight In the first section of the course, I have posed epistemological questions about how knowledge is produced about Latin American people and places, by whom, and in what context. Our purpose has been to examine the argument that knowledge is produced in a grid of power relations and, that such relations have material implications for Latin  American people and places. This first assignment asks you to write a 5-page critical essay contemplating, critically assessing, and applying these theoretical ideas using course material from 9 September to 30 September.  A critical essay is not a plot summary, but an analysis that explains and evaluates in order to bring the writer/reader to a deeper understanding of the material. This form of essay encourages independent thinking and requires you to take a position and support this position using experiences as well as selected quotes from the articles. In thinking about how to structure your essay, you may choose from the following options.  You may also develop your own approach, but please discuss it with me or the T.A. In writing your essay, you may want to consult The Dictionary of Human Geography   to define (un)familiar terms or even terms discussed in class like Orientalism, imperialism, Eurocentrism, epistemology, geographical imaginaries, etc.; copies of the dictionary are available in the GIC, RM 112 in the GEOG building. Option 1) Embodied Geographies of Latin America  This essay critically analyzes how your imaginative geographies of Latin American people and/or landscapes have formed. Step One:  Take a look at your in-class writing assignment to think through the ways in  which your positionality (who you are, where you are from) matters to your imaginative geographies. How are such imaginative geographies mobilized in your own life? Step Two:  Organize these thoughts and place them in conversation with at least two readings along with lectures from September 9 to September 30. In doing so, you should situate your personal experience within a set of broader questions about the production of knowledge. Step Three:  Develop your thesis statement and write an essay in your own words presenting your argument. Ensure you position your thesis statement within the first or second paragraph of the essay. Using phrases like “This essay will argue…” will help to establish the purpose of the essay. This is a short paper and therefore you must be very efficient with your  words and clear about your argument. I would not recommend that you turn in a first draft; rather you will want to read through your first draft and ask yourself: what am I saying?  What is it that I really want to say? Have I established a thesis or argument? Have I included relevant quotes that demonstrate my point? Does the concluding paragraph relate to the thesis or argument statement?  Step Four:  Finally, consult the assignment guidelines provided on Connect to ensure that your essay meets my general criteria. Option 2) Power/Knowledge/Geography  This assignment asks you to consider the readings in light of the epistemological questions posed in the first section of the course about how knowledge is produced, by whom, and in  what context. Your task is to pursue these questions in the form of a critical essay. Step one:  To start, think about what ideas/articles have interested you the most. Have you picked up on a (conceptual or empirical) thread running through several articles? How do different authors address the same issues? What is included/excluded? What kinds of evidence are used to construct knowledge about the pre-colonial or colonial past? How do the authors engage this evidence? In what ways do Orientalist/Occidentalist discourses slip into such “objective” scholarly texts? In what ways do the geopolitics of knowledge shape the author’s arguments/findings? In what ways might “the coloniality of power” be manifest in these academic narratives? Step two: Develop a question to pursue for your essay. This question should be narrow enough for a 5-page essay, but should be situated within a broader theoretical context. In other words, your question should be in conversation with the themes for the course but should address one particular aspect of the larger themes. To find your way to a question, start with something that interests you, even if you don’t at first think it is important or big enough. Jot down your thoughts and move to step three. Step three: Chose the primary materials (texts) you are going to use for your essay; you should choose at least two readings along with lectures from September 9 to September 30. Read the text closely, paying particular attention to the author’s choice of language or imagery. Remember, your critique takes place at an epistemological level, meaning you are concerned with how knowledge is produced and legitimized. Select examples (quotes, imagery) from the text to support your point. I recommend you follow my guidelines for note taking; knowing the authors' argument will make it much easier for you to form an argument of your own. Step four:  Develop your thesis statement and begin your essay. Ensure you position your thesis statement within the first or second paragraph of the essay. Using phrases like “This essay will argue…” will help to establish the purpose of the essay. This is a short paper and therefore you must be very efficient with your words and clear about your argument. I would not recommend that you turn in a first draft; rather you will want to read through your first draft and ask yourself: what am I saying? What is it that I really want to say? Have I established a thesis or argument? Have I included relevant quotes that demonstrate my point? Does the concluding paragraph relate to the thesis or argument statement? Step Five:  Finally, consult the assignment guidelines provided on Connect to ensure that your essay meets all the required criteria.  This assignment covers lectures and readings from September 9 to 30.  Sundberg, J. 2009. Latin America. Dictionary of Human Geography  . Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 412-414. Raffles, H. 2002. Intimate Knowledge. International Social Science Journal   54(3): 325-335. Mignolo, W. 2003. Globalization and the Geopolitics of Knowledge: The Role of the Humanities in the Corporate University.  Nepantla: Views from South   4.1: 97-119 Bush, M. & M. Silman. 2007. Amazonian exploitation revisited: ecological asymmetry & the policy pendulum. Frontiers in Ecology & Environment   5(9): 457-465. Sluyter, A. 2006. Humboldt's Mexican Texts and Landscapes. Geographical Review   96(3): 361– 381. Blaser, M. 2009. The Threat of the Yrmo : The political ontology of a sustainable hunting program.  American Anthropologist   111(1), 10-20. If you choose Option One, you may also use one of the following essays from Placing  Autobiography in Geography   (2001), edited by P. Moss, available in the GIC. Cook, I. “You want to be careful you don’t end up like Ian, he’s all over the place;” autobiography in/of an expanded field, pp. 99-120. Roth, R. A self-reflective exploration into development work, pp. 121-137. Saltmarsh, R. A journey into autobiography: a coal miner’s daughter, pp. 138-148.
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