Volume 2 Issue 1
Letter From The Editors
3 January 2018
Letter from the Editors
December 28, 2017
We are excited to welcome readers back to Process: A Journal of Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Scholarship (formerly e.g.). This issue, On Politics, covers a lot of ground both in terms of form and content: contributing authors have produced personal and scholarly essays, literary analyses, and original poetry to explore political challenges in the U.S. and abroad. We have selected four pieces that offer fresh perspectives on a range of issues, some of which will likely be familiar--for instance, the echo chambers produced by partisan politics--and some which will perhaps be new to many readers, such as the traumatic experiences of women soldiers and civilians during the Second Liberian Civil War.
In her essay, “Underpinnings of Government Policy and Hurricane Katrina,” Vivian Glass probes the race and class dynamics of disaster relief in the aftermath of Katrina. Analyzing both historical and cultural texts, including the film Beasts of the Southern Wild and Shelton Alexander’s “Superdome Poem,” Glass argues that the evacuation procedures, disaster relief aid, and media coverage of Hurricane Katrina exposed the insidious consequences of New Orleans’ long history of segregation. In “American Insecurity: A Repeat of History?” Bahati Louis likewise examines socioeconomic disparities in the contemporary U.S. but on a broader scale, incorporating scholarship as well as personal anecdotes and family history into her essay. Though her father, who immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, has embraced the ideology of the “American Dream,” Louis interrogates the assumptions that underlie meritocracy. Acknowledging “that the American Dream means different things to different people,” Louis highlights the centrality of this ideology to the formation of the U.S. government and its economic and political institutions, and critiques how and why wage inequality and inequitable distribution of wealth have grown since the 1970s.
The title of Griffin Hamstead’s poem, “The Disunited State of America,” signals the continued use of word play and wry humor through which the author deconstructs the cliches of contemporary U.S. politics. In particular, the poem critiques the increasingly polarizing impacts of partisan politics in the U.S.: “If you’re wondering what happened / to our republic / to our democracy,” Hamstead writes, “they got Capitalized / (Capitolized) / and turned into / the color of your tie.” Many of the lines in the first half of the poem begin, “I’m tired of . . .,” creating an incessant, monotonous rhythm that in Hamstead’s words “give[s] the reader the voluminous and exhaustive experience of listing what feels wrong in our political society.” Yet the poem transitions into the first-person plural as Hamstead calls for change. Both “tired of waiting / for someone to stand” and “tired of pretending / it can’t be me,” Hamstead implores readers to join him in making an effort to overcome this political impasse: “let’s start by saying help me understand,” he proposes, “let’s start by saying yes to compromise / to celebrating this community / to seeing one another as people not problems.”
Apoorva Chowdhary’s “The Forgotten Women of Liberia” centers on Liberian women’s traumatic experiences during and after the Second Liberian Civil War. Chowdhary focuses on Danai Gurira’s play, Eclipsed (2015), which tells the stories of five Liberian women who fought for agency and protection amid the brutality of the war. Chowdhary argues that Gurira “exposes the complex hierarchies” in which Liberian women had to participate in order to survive. Having been forced to make difficult choices, “often at the expense of others,” in order to protect themselves from violence, sexual abuse, and death, the women in Eclipsed remain “haunted by their individual thoughts and own actions during the civil war.” Gurira’s complex treatment of her characters’ experiences leaves the audience feeling morally conflicted, Chowdhary argues, which “brings humanity to the Liberian women” who had to make such sacrifices to survive.
We hope that you enjoy our special issue, On Politics. The contributing authors have produced original work in a rich array of genres and styles to tackle an equally broad range of political issues, which we find instructive: as new venues such as social media transform contemporary politics and create new pathways for the dissemination of information, the next generation of scholars will have exciting opportunities to rethink the modes through which they can reach various publics. We will continue to showcase such innovation in future issues of Process--and speaking of which, don’t forget to check out the CFP for the upcoming issue, On Borders.
Emily Bald & Alexandra Smith
Many African American survivors of Hurricane Katrina still have this question playing in their minds: Why were we left behind? Our government not taking responsibility, even today, adds to the woes of the extreme hardships that impoverished African Americans living in New Orleans endured after Katrina.The history of New Orleans' government policy led to segregation long before the storm’s landfall, and the preexisting relationship between class and race was exposed through the treatment of victims and their inability to evacuate, decisions about government aid, and media coverage.
The Great Depression was so damaging to American society that Roosevelt called for a "Second Bill of Rights", articulated in the 1944 State of the Union address, to ensure that the economic disparity people were experiencing would never happen again. However, history has a way of repeating itself. Today, the economic disparity in American rivals that of the 1930s. The security Roosevelt believed Americans were entitled to is almost nonexistent in modern America.
This essay analyzes how the script of the play Eclipsed, by Danai Gurira, and newspaper articles written by Clair MacDougall and Diane Taylor highlight the ways in which Liberian women navigated the terrain of the second Liberian Civil War, both during and after. It analyzes how Gurira’s Eclipsed exposes the complex hierarchies formed and decisions made by women due to their need to gain protection and power during this war, and how these decisions revealed their inner vulnerabilities and psychological afflictions. Because these women dealt with such atrocities during the war, they were forced to implement hierarchies – often at the expense of others – in order to survive.
This poem deploys a structure of repetition to give the reader the exhausting experience of listing what feels wrong or divisive in our current political system. The verses sit at the intersection between politics and poetics from the perspective of a Millennial scholar/poet. The poet suggests his words are not meant to be "a soapbox with 'Instructions for Fixing the World,' but...offer an outstretched hand [in order to] create something positive and lasting in the greater political consciousness."