Category: Society


Connections between human trafficking and environmental destruction

The connection between human trafficking and environmental destruction is not obvious at the outset. But a closer scrutiny of human trafficking reveals how it does lead to the degradation of the environment.  When we study the life and works of luminary figures from past to present, they all acknowledge the centrality of human liberty for cultural progress.  Since the upkeep of our environment is a reflection of our cultural values, the link between human freedom and environmental conditions is established.

Saint Vincent de Paul’s words of divine wisdom offer guidance as to how we should consider human freedoms. In the theological context of his counsel, de Paul equated human freedom as the liberation from worldly attachments and desires. He said, “Naturally, everyone loves his freedom, but we must beware of this as of a broad road that leads to perdition.”  (De Paul) Since the moral preoccupations during his lifetime were about sin, salvation and redemption, his . . . Read More

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‘Social Death’ and ‘Possessive Individual’ according to Grace Hong

Grace Hong’s essay titled ‘The Possessive Individual and Social Death: The Complex Bind of National Subjectivity’ offers numerous insights into historical social constructs.  Focusing on the evolution of American history since the time of the Declaration of Independence, the author charts a cogent description of how the socio-polity resisted progressive changes.  The book is focused on women of color feminism and the culture of immigrant labor. But prior to arriving at their specific discourse, a broader framework of understanding is laid out. Hereby, two important terms are introduced by the author.

Possessive individual traces its origins to the framing of the constitution, whereby, only the propertied white males of the new country were accorded citizenship.  Not only were blacks (who were slaves at the time) were excluded, but so were women and a large section of white male population. The privileged minority of propertied white men enjoyed laws that . . . Read More

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Free the Children (FTC) – India Initiative

The Free the Children Initiative is a much needed social project.  It aims to free children in developing nations from bonded labor and other forms of exploitation.  The brainchild of Craig Keilburger, the project has attracted public attention in the United States and the rest of the developed world.  The relevance of such an initiative cannot be overstated, for in the era of globalization, it is grossly unjust how children growing up in different parts of the world experience markedly different standard of life. The most important message of the initiative is how children from one part of the world help their counterparts in another part of the world.  This way, a sense of global solidarity and fraternity is built into children at a very young age.

The Free the Children (FTC) – India Initiative has the basic objective of liberating children from child labor. But this cannot be achieved in isolation from social and economic factors that force children into work.  . . . Read More

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From the American Revolution to the Reconstruction era: A race & gender perspective

The time period between the American Revolution and the Reconstruction were one of uncertainly and instability in American socio-politics.  Having valiantly won its freedom from the British Crown, the fledgling nation was taking cautious first steps toward self-assertion. But even as America’s presence as a global power was taking root, its society was beset by longstanding issues.  The social issues could be broadly divided across the twin axes of race and gender. Racial discrimination of colored people and gender oppression of women were two chronic malaises.

At the time of the Declaration of Independence and the framing of the Constitution, blacks were considered as unequal to whites.  This is reflected in the early laws of the country where segregation and slavery were legally sanctioned.  The basis of these draconian laws was the prejudiced conception of blacks as only three-fifth human (whereby whites are the benchmark of full humanity).  Such unscientific . . . Read More

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Huxley’s effective use of conflict and control in reinforcing the dangers of technocracy in Brave New World

Brave New World is a profound literary work that encompasses themes of philosophical discourse, projection of societies in the future, the impact of technology on human relations, etc.  The major theme in the novel, however, is the link between dystopian societies and an underlying technocratic socio-political order.  Huxley uses conflict and control in the realms of politics, human relations, culture and technology to showcase all the malefic aspects of a technocracy.  This essay will flesh out this thesis in detail.

One of the constant undercurrents in Brave New World is the dehumanizing effects of technological progress.  It would be simplistic and false to blame technology per se for the situation, for there is a political angle to it as well.  In other words, if sophisticated technology is wielded by powerful political institutions for vested gains then the results can be disastrous for humanity.  Eugenics and scientific planning are two . . . Read More

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What is the basic controversy about advertising for children (and commercialization of childhood)?

(In order to limit the negative aspects, should the government regulate it, or is this responsibility more with others (e.g. families, media, schools, etc).)

Advertising targeted against kids is a concept that invokes ethical issues.  The major criticism against this practice is that it abuses the vulnerability of children for commercial gain.  The ‘kid market’ as it is called is a multi-billion dollar industry today.  As capitalism becomes entrenched as the uncontested economic model, all aspects of life are being commoditized and commercialized.  Children are taught from a very young age that in order to be happy one has to consume products and services.  Even self-worth is tied into the drive for consumerism, leading children to develop the belief that they are worth what they possess.  Moreover, “whilst this child-targeted marketing used to concentrate on sweets and toys, it now includes clothes, shoes, a range of fast foods, sports . . . Read More

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Is Race Real?

Racism as a construct for demographic and socio-political analysis is increasingly being contested.  Today, urbanization has become the norm due to process of industrialization, and cities are getting very cosmopolitan.  This makes it necessary that people from so called ‘different races’ cohabit and cooperate to achieve their shared objectives. Most advanced industrial societies today exhibit some degree of tolerance and adaptability when it comes to issues of race. But the situation is far from perfect and race continues to be a simmering point of contention.  In this backdrop new scientific and anthropological evidence on the veracity of race assumes significance.  They help demystify and demythologize race and racism as previously understood.  In this process the very legitimacy of racial classification is questioned.

The American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) consensus on the subject of race is a rebuke to historical perceptions of race.  The esteemed . . . Read More

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Reading Response: “Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?” by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. makes a cogent case for pluralism in the American cultural context. In the American academia of today the formation of curricula is largely dependent on the ethnic composition of the enrolled students. This implies that courses that come under the purview of liberal arts are seldom offered in colleges with a high ethnic/racial diversity. Gates Jr. sees this practice as discriminatory and divisive. He alerts us to how “political representation has been confused with ‘representation’ of various ethnic identities in the curriculum”. (214) Hereby, instead of real diversity in the classroom, what we have is notional diversity of perspectives in the course content. The effect of this trend is one of promoting a concocted common American identity where none such exists. Political conservatives have tried to justify this practice by citing fears of ‘tribalism’ and ‘fragmentation’ in society. But considering that plurality is at the very core of American . . . Read More

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The Origins of Negro Slavery by Eric Williams

1. In sum, what is the Williams thesis? What is his main point and central argument?

Eric Williams is an important black intellectual who witnessed, documented and analyzed African slavery in America firsthand. His main argument is that multiple factors were behind the origins of Negro slavery. The powerful papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, in collusion with powerful European Kingdoms of Spain, Portugal, and later Britain and France, permitted the practice of slavery. Since African Negroes were not of Christian faith, they were deemed infidels by the Catholic Church along with Muslims, Pagans and the rest. Williams contends that economic exploitation went hand in hand with religious dogma in perpetrating slavery. Theories of white racial supremacy were another source of this hideous institution.

2. The Williams thesis critiques which interpretations of the origins of plantation slavery? In other words, which other explanations of the origins . . . Read More

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How might a theological anthropology enable Christians to resist ideologies of racial oppression in church and society?

Introduction

Despite Christian doctrine’s claims of all men being created in the image of God, the Church has historically been guilty of racial discrimination.  The very notion of slavery goes against Christian theology.  Western Christianity has especially failed to adequately interfere with this social malice in the centuries past.  In contrast, among cultures of the newer churches around the world there is more communal harmony and acceptance. This is evident in indigenous peoples from less materialistic and less consumerist cultures that practice Christianity.  There, we find “traditions of cherishing every creature, however small, and of living in close and respectful relationship with the earth itself. Openness to traditions like this could lead the church into a renewed relationship with the Creator and the creation, and to a deeper respect for life itself.” (McRae-McMahon, 1998)  This essay will elaborate how theological . . . Read More

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