A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid

Kincaid focuses on the ugliness of tourism, and how morally/spiritually wrong it is to exploit the land where one travels. When people travel to escape the boredom of their own mundane lives, they are exploiting the daily lives of the locals. This creates a space where the locals are now “Other” to the tourist in their own residence. Tourist travel to escape and view the beauty of other countries, be more simple and be closer to nature, while this romanticization exploits the humble and impoverished state of people.

The colonial education the Antiguans receive is under a British system, so they are learning not of their own history, but of one that has enslaved, and then colonized them. Due to this the Antiguans are passive objects of history, so they are always second, and the British system will always dictate events, history, and language. This makes the Antiguan people “Subaltern” according to Spivak. They are removed from all lines of social mobility, due to how they were enslaved and colonized by the British system, and how the tourists have exploited them. They have no control of what happens in the future, what they are educated on, or any say in the governmental affairs. Little to no change will ever happen if the Antiguan people do not revolt against this colonial oppression.

There is a connection between corruption and colonization, and this is why there is a continuation of oppression. Colonization creates class differences, and this leads to broken systems, that likely do not change. The British system claims to be helping the Antiguans by colonizing Antigua, but all the while the system is continually taking more and more from the people. The government ministers were running brothels, stealing the public’s funds, and arranging ill intended deals. There is no outrage from the people due to how they were shaped and molded into being passive objects of history. The class differences created by the corruption, and colonization lend to Othering and prejudice. Those well off in the government see no wrong as they continually benefit from the corruption socio-economically, and do not care of the Othering they create. The “Other” and “Subalterns” go together, as the Other is a subaltern. The system does not help those who have no voice or economic impact, and for this reason their voices continue to go unheard, circumstances never change, and oppression goes on unchecked.

Kicaid wants the readers to walk away with a new perspective; one that is to think twice before you travel to escape your mundane, and potentially exploit the lives of the locals. Tourist hurt the daily lives of the locals even more so, on top of the colonial oppression and corruption they experience. It’s made me think twice about where I travel, and what my intentions are when doing so. It’s made me question, “will there be a detrimental spill-over effect, from doing this”?

Othered Citizens

Kincaid portrayed an Antigua with corrupted government, culturally lost natives and prioritized white people through the eyes of an imaginary white tourist. She expressed her anger towards the English colonizers, and more than that, she uncovered the weakness in this small country and its people.

The major idea of this article is to reveal how Antiguan struggle in finding out their national identity after hundreds of years of being an English colony. The history of English governing washed away their notion of nationality, and maybe the ability of finding one. Antiguan are deprived of their own culture since they are taught in English and that they should believe in English god and love the queen of England. The repair of the national library was postponed; the government seems indifferent on cultivating culture independent of the English one. General citizens are not involved in controlling major economic activities in Antigua, foreigners do instead. Corruptions spread widely among Ministers, in which they monopolize profitable or even illegal businesses. Politically, Antigua people see themselves inferior to white westerners, even if they seem bad-mannered. They don’t feel centered in their home country but seconded or marginalized.

The article reminds me of the notion of other, which we came across many times in the readings throughout this course. This concept might help explain why Antiguans are lost in establishing a healthy self-centered identity. In the old colony times, the English governors and inhabitants did an excellent job in defining who are us and who are other, in their favor, of course. Hierarchies are formed based on the notion that colonizers are more intellectual and organized so that they stand in the center. That is why in Antigua, dark-skinned Syrians and Lebanese are regarded as foreigners, white people are not. The injustice maintained through post-colony times. The unfair institutions and hierarchies are internalized by Antiguans. They see corrupted government and rude westerners. But they don’t feel the urge to change all these. Because they do feel responsible for transforming the country, being part of other.

The take-home question from this article is what impact the history of colony might have on shaping national identities as well as citizenships. The work absolutely stimulates thoughts around identity forming and transforming by providing a representative post-colonial case of Antigua. Institutions of injustice are established by colonists to their benefit. It is going to be a long and suffering progress in transforming self-awareness from other to us.



Kincaid, Jamaica. 1988. A Small Place. Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review of Parasite (Movie) – Xixiang Weng (weng.156)

The material I choose for this assignment is a Korean film named Parasite, which is released in 2019. The plot of this movie starts as Kim Ki-woo, who is the son of Kim’s family got a tutor job of Park family by the recommendation of his friend. After that, all the members of Kim’s family use some strategy to successfully get jobs in the Park family. During the time working for Park’s family, the difference of the social class initials the contradiction between two families. At last, in an accidental event, the father of the Park’s family is killed by the father of Kim’s family.

In this movie, “smell” and “line” go through the most of plot and they become the sign of the social status. For instance, in the middle of the movie, while Kim’s family make a party at Park’s house when they think Park’s family is go hiking and won’t return in a short time, Park’s family suddenly go back home since the change of weather. Kim’s family hide under the sofa in a hurry. Father of the Park family don’t see them and start to make a casual talk to his wife which is about he thinks father of Kim’s family smells bad, and usually pass the “line”, such as talk to him like they are friends, which make him very uncomfortable. This conversation is heard by Kim’s family hiding under the sofa in the meantime. When I watch this plot last year, I used to think about where the “smell” on Kim’s family comes from and what is the “line” they talk about. After thinking about it, I think the “smell” of Kim’s family is the moldy smell of the semi-basement without sunlight. However, I think the “smell” represents more than itself. It reveals the different living environments between rich and poor people which can also be extended to the concern of difference of social status. The father of the Park family also really cares about the “line” between himself and the father of Kim’s family. He cannot bear that poor people talk to him in a relative equals atmosphere. In his mind, Kim’s family is treated as “Othering”. This is very similar to the condition Ortiz faced in the material we have read before, “The Story of My Body”. The only difference I think between those two is that Ortiz is treated as “Othering” by her physical looking, but Kim’s family is treated as “Othering” by their socioeconomic status.

In general, I think the creator of this movie wants the audience to think about the cruelty and injustice caused by wealth differentiation. In my opinion, he did a very good job. He skillfully uses the “smell” and “line” to represent the injustice and the difference of identity and power between rich and poor people, but not state them directly. I think in this way the audience could get more impressive and deeper thinking about the injustice and “Othering”.

A Small Place – Text Review

Jamaica Kincaid’s, A Small Place, tells the story of present day Antigua and how it has been shaped by British colonialism.  Despite being a popular tourist destination for Westerners, the real Antigua is described by the book’s narrator (and author) as corrupt and dilapidated.  Because this book deals with post-colonialism, I couldn’t help but think about Ahmad’s critique on Jameson’s Third World literature theory.  Although Kincaid writes about the effects of slavery and colonialism, she does so in her own voice and on her own terms.  Her work should not be disregarded as third world lit just because she talks about colonialism.  Likewise, her experiences should not be viewed as a single story of what life is like in Antigua.  According to the author, Antigua is a place ruined by the aftermath of slavery and British rule.  She describes that many of the major businesses were run by white people, some of whom refused to serve blacks or even respect their humanity.  The Mill Reef Club was one of these places and was built and run by Americans who wanted to use Antigua as a vacation spot.  They only allowed blacks into the club as servants and otherwise wanted nothing to do with the people living there.  Kincaid describes the owners as “unchristian-like” and  inhuman animals with bad manners (Kincaid 28).  Thus, she uses words a colonist might say about a slave to expose the white residents’ unabashed racism in a town that is not their own. 

Kincaid also condemns the tourists who visit Antigua for its tropical climate and beauty.  She assumes a western audience and directly calls out the reader by using “you”.  She writes that we tourists ignore the injustices we see and marvel at the quaint, impoverished lifestyles of the inhabitants.  In doing so, she lumps us (western tourists) together and constructs us as Other.  On the contrary, Kincaid also describes how Antiguans are Othered in their own home as a result of British colonial rule.  She writes that Antiguans were forced to speak English, follow British rules, and celebrate British holidays.  In this way, Antiguains can be thought of as subaltern.  Kincaid writes about the pain and humiliation of having to talk about the horrors of colonial rule in the language of their oppressors.  She says that “the language of the criminal can explain and express the deed only from the criminals point of view. It cannot contain the horror of the deed…” (Kincaid 32).  Similarly, I’m reminded of Persepolis in the way Antiguans are born and raised in English culture, but not accepted as English.  Both works depict people who struggle with identity and fail to be truly accepted in a culture in which they feel is their own.

A Small Place urges us as westerners to think deeply about how we act and perceive others.  Kincaid speaks directly to us and calls us out for our ugly behavior as ignorant tourists and bystanders.  She forces us to think about the injustices and power structures that we would rather ignore. Kincaid urges us to think critically about the things we take for granted and open our eyes to the inequities to which we have become blind.

Text Review over “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini

The work I chose to examine is “A Thousand Splendid Suns’ ‘ by Khaled Hosseini, and focuses on the time period in Afghanistan in which the Afghani war against the Soviets breaks out in the 1960s. One of the main characters of this novel is an Afghani woman, Mariam, and readers get to see her life unfold from being a young girl in a war-free Afghanistan to becoming a woman during the breakout of war. Readers see many instances of injustice of power differences between women and men once the war breaks out, and how these women are not able to do much to free themselves due to lack of resources, advocacy, education, and overall respect in society. Some examples of this injustice between the genders of men and women can be seen when Mariam, who comes from a poorer family who does not truly care for her, is forced to marry a shoemaker, Rasheed, once her mother dies because the family doesn’t want to spend resources on Mariam’s well-being; in this society, it’s permissible to “hand over” women to marriage because this is their ultimate destiny. Once in this marriage, Mariam is treated decently by Rasheed until she experiences numerous miscarriages; one of the overarching purposes of a wife in this type of society is to give husbands a son, and if a wife cannot fulfill this duty then there is no purpose for the husband to spend resources to take care of the wife; it’d be better for him to remarry. One part of their story that stuck out to me is when Mariam makes dinner for Rasheed, and Rasheed notices some pieces of rice are too hard – this has apparently occurred before and Rasheed becomes very upset by this. Rasheed proceeds to gather small pebbles from outdoors and forces Mariam to eat them, consequentially breaking her teeth. This is another example of how men have such power over women as to forcing them to eat rocks and permanently break teeth due to a minor inconvenience of their daily life (in this case, Rasheed’s dinner being ruined). Overall, this work depicts a society in which there is a huge power gap between men and women due to this society experiencing the negative impacts of war, and the notion of women embodying the traits of the “Other” in society is pronounced in this novel.

Orientalism in Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love is a movie based on the memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. It chronicles Gilbert’s post-divorce search to ‘re-find her passion, her spark, her fire for life’ as she travels from her home in Manhattan to Italy, India, and Bali for one year. While this movie was widely popular when it came out, it has also been heavily critiqued for its reliance on orientalist tropes of the ‘Far East’ as a source of spiritual healing for white people. When Liz, the main character, travels to Italy she spends a significant amount of time with locals, even making an Italian family a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. However, when she travels to India and Bali the locals are in the background while she socializes with almost exclusively expats. The locals who Liz does interact with in India and Bali are reduced to stereotypes and caricatures, only there for Liz to use as steps to her ‘enlightenment.’ In the ashram in India she makes friends with a 17 year old girl, Tulsi, whom Liz comforts after she tells her she is being forced into an arranged marriage that she does not want, giving Liz the opportunity to reflect on her own failed marriage. In Bali she visits a ‘healer,’ Ketut, who “teaches her everything he knows” in broken English with a grin on his face, showing her the path to ‘balance’ in her life. In Bali she also makes friends with a single mother who heals her physical ailments and listens to her problems, a brown woman Liz ‘saves’ by collecting donations from her friends and family for the woman (seemingly without permission). India and Bali are also portrayed as simple and otherworldly, a “paradise” for Americans to “discover” and “find themselves.” The locals in India and Bali are background characters who don’t particularly seem to be existing in the 21st century, a spectacle to look at and to create the “peaceful” atmosphere Liz so desires. Where this movie is from the point of view of a white woman, all other non-white characters are Othered, reduced, and homogenized for her consumption and personal fulfillment.

Escaping Polygamy- A World of Othering

Escaping Polygamy is a docuseries that follows 5 women who escaped from the Kingston polygamous organization, also known as The Order. These women have dedicated their lives to helping other individuals escape Polygamy. One of the most eye-catching aspects of this show is the portrayal of the polygamous organizations the women go up against. Between the two main cults explored in this show, I will talk about the FLDS polygamous cult.

FLDS stands for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It’s run by Warren Jeffs (currently serving life + 20 years for statutory rape of 2 ‘spiritual wives’, ages 15 and 12) who believes to be the Prophet and the key to reaching the Celestial Kingdom. One of the biggest takeaways from this show is just how isolated members from the FLDS are, and how they do everything they possibly can to keep it that way. Members who have left the organization are referred to as Apostates and aren’t allowed back to see their families. The FLDS refers to everyone outside of the religion as Gentiles. From the FLDS perspective, they are the One and everyone else is the Other. 

The FLDS not only Others the rest of the world, but they also Other their own members. The FLDS, as per the show, is notorious for separating families and sending away family members to ‘repent’ with no explanation. This is one of the many ways the Prophet maintains his power and control over the organization. One of the episodes in this show is about a woman named Lizzy. She was deemed ‘unworthy’ by the Prophet, so her daughter was physically taken away from her and sent to live with another family. At the time of this episode, Lizzy hadn’t seen her daughter in 3 years, had no clue where she was, and Lizzy herself was sent to a house of repentance (an isolated house in the middle of nowhere) to be left alone for months. This is Othering. The show tracked Lizzy down after it was contacted by one of Lizzy’s concerned friends who had escaped. 

Now, there is another perspective to discuss here. Just like how the FLDS Others the rest of the world and their own members, this show Others the FLDS. Docuseries are typically made to educate the general public on a specific topic. I, as someone who had no prior knowledge regarding the FLDS, was taught by the show that this organization is dangerous and infringes upon basic human rights. From the perspective of the show, everyone else is the One and the FLDS is the Other. While the FLDS literally isolated their members from the rest of society, this show figuratively isolated the organization from the rest of mainstream society. 

From the FLDS Othering the rest of the world and their own members, to the show Othering the FLDS, Othering is at the root of this docuseries. After watching this show, I was able to formulate an opinion regarding the FLDS and polygamous organizations in general. But I question how much of my opinion was formed as a result of the show’s Othering and portrayal of polygamy. 

Text Review of “the 100” Season 2

Selected Work: The 100 Season 2 (TV series)

The 100 is a science fiction drama television series whose story setting is 97 years after nuclear holocaust devastated almost life on Earth. There mainly three races in season 2: Sky people who lived in a space station orbiting Earth, Ground people who are survivals on Earth after nuclear holocaust, Mountain people who locked themselves in fortress before the nuclear holocaust. Sky people have high-tech and plan to transfer from the space station to Earth. Ground people are almost primitive and brutal. Mountain people have high-tech, but they must stay in the fortress or wear suit because they cannot survive from radiation on Earth. The number of 100 stands for the 100 young criminals exiled to Earth from the space station.

The topic of the story is the conflicts between these three groups. When the 100 teenagers first come to Earth, they are attacked by Ground people because Ground peoples’ culture teaches them to kill any possible threats. In Ground peoples’ viewpoint, the 100’s identity is different from that of them. However, as de Beauvoir indicates in The Second Sex, “the other consciousness, the other ego, sets up a reciprocal claim”. Ground people are also othered by the 100 because they are brutal and primitive. After all Sky people land on Earth, they take over the lead of the 100 because they have more weapons and people. The 100 are stilled othered because they were criminals.

Mountain people arrest Ground people and extract their blood for survival and “other” them because Mountain people think Ground people are brutal and they are not the same kind of species. And the advanced technology enables Mountain people to treat Ground people as others, like de Beauvoir discusses how power relation constructs the concept of Othering. However, Mountain people initially want to make friends with Sky people because they think they all have many similarities and the same culture. The identity in their views is culture-defined.

However, when the conflicts between Sky people and Mountain people grows, Mountain people are exterminated at the end of the story by the united army of Sky people and Ground people. There are many innocent people are killed.

The story focuses on group difference. Every group has its own problem of survival and has to harm other groups in order to solve the problem. They all have “goodness” in human nature, but they have to do something “evil”. I think the author wants us to take away is: when there is no conflict, people define identity based on the number of similarities. However, when a conflict grows as a group issue or race issue, identity will be redefined. The final winner of the conflict is the one has much more power. And there will be many innocent people involved and being killed which is injustice and unavoidable.