Justice and Inequality

Choose one prompt from each section (for a total of two essays). The expected length for each essay is around 1000 words. While I appreciate specific examples from the relevant texts or discussions, you may not use quotes or citations.

Part I—Essay Question #1 (fifty points). For one of the following questions, compose a literate essay with specific examples from relevant texts or films to support your argument.

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1. The Politics of Immigration: In recent years, immigration has become a widely debated subject for a variety of reasons (political, economic, and cultural). In a thesis-directed essay examine the issue of immigration in the modern age. In composing your answer, please consider the following:

a) What are the main “push” and “pull” factors driving immigration to the United States? How does The Devil’s Highway explain the massive migration northwards?

b) What are the consequences of the attempts to police national borders in Urrea’s text? What has happened to the humanity of the migrants themselves in the current political environment?

2. The Lessons of Education: Half the Sky recounts the experiences of young women struggling with violence and exploitation, despite their age. This text uses the concept of education to explain the formation of young people’s aspirations, values, and identities. In a thesis-directed essay, analyze the following questions:

a) In Half the Sky, what are the potential benefits of education for individual women and their communities? How does the opportunity to go to school shape their aspirations and allow them to change their status?

b) What ultimate conclusions can you draw about education’s value for students in both developing and first world countries? What qualities define a “good” education?

Part II—Essay Question #2 (fifty points). For one of the following questions, compose a literate essay with specific examples from the relevant texts to support your argument.

3. Opportunity and Inequality in an Age of Globalization: Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Half the Sky each document subjects that their authors believe have been neglected by the global community. At the same time, these texts offer reflections on the nature of globalization and its impact on the developing world. In a thesis-directed essay, analyze the following questions:

What are the opportunities created by globalization? How can it serve as a force for liberation and the breakdown of traditional hierarchies—especially in regards to gender? How has globalization proved to be a destructive force in the developing world? Based on your reading of these texts, can you make an argument about globalization as an agent of social progress and equality?

4. Borders, Walls, and the Divisions of Modern Society: The Devil’s Highway and Behind the Beautiful Forevers each seeks to expose the hidden injustices of the modern global economy. As part of their analyses, these texts examine how borders and walls become mechanisms of power and division. In a thesis-directed essay, analyze the following questions:

How have the characters in these books been impacted by the global economy and the spread of consumerism? What are the various barriers that they encounter in seeking to better their circumstances? How do these texts use physical boundaries (between North/South and overcity/undercity) to explain the divisions and inequalities within contemporary society?

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