Archive for ‘Miscellany’

March 13, 2011

Global Giants and National Nobodies

by marksteffensen

As an adaptation of Kinkaid’s “A Small Place”, Stephanie Black effectively borrows fundamental themes and lends them to her documentary “Life and Debt”. Through the weaving of multiple stories and perspectives of the people of Jamaica and those who visit as tourists, we begin to understand the socio-economic situation of Jamaica. Some of these different weaves follow different producers of the economy including dairy farmers, onion farmers and the like. Immediately the widespread negative effects are apparent to us as viewers as these small producers are overshadowed by larger international firms which they can’t compete with.

Scenes are showed of the free trade zones and the North American restaurant chains that are scattered throughout the island and how they operate. We are shown the gross exploitation of the workers of these zones and their inability to unionize against their employers in hopes of improving wage or their working conditions. In fact, in the event of widespread strikes, the companies opted to bring in cheaper willing labour and even eventually migrated to other facilities across the globe. The McDonalds and Taco Bell chains in town, alternatively represent something much different. They resemble not as much the exploitation of Jamaica and its people, but of its rich native culture. Local restaurants that follow native traditions and cuisine are ousted by cheap and streamlined multi-national corporations (MNCs) as they offer simple and cheap alternatives. As a documentary on Jamaica, Black might have chosen to make her documentary on another topic such as the political structure or the culture of the people. Instead, her film is laden with commentary of how globalization is not only restricting local businesses and the economy, but the very culture of the people.

The final overall unifying theme of tourism is also rather critical of globalization and the perpetually growing feeling of apathy of those who participate. Throughout the film, a group of tourists are followed on their vacation in the tropical paradise of Jamaica and their experience as outsiders. Feelings towards the group are clearly distasteful and touch upon the level of ignorance of those inside of it. They are identified as people who are on the island for their own personal agenda, and can’t be bothered to pay heed to the various daunting issues that the inhabitants face from day to day. Why should they care, after all, they are only there for a short period of time and then they go back to their own lives and worries.

Despite seemingly being a biased account of the situation that Jamaica and its people face, as well as its negative view to the tourists, the documentary is effective in what it attempts to achieve. Its main goal appears to be spreading the information of what is happening in areas that we don’t think to look, when we should. It is also widely effective in demystifying the myth of the all good and supremely beneficial globalization.

Word Count: 487

March 12, 2011

Jamaica’s Life(debt) and Death

by Rikki Seddon

Stephanie Black’s 2001 documentary film
Life + Debt

The economic downturn in the West has been difficult; with job losses, paycuts and nation-wide deficits. It bears little similarity however to the deprivation and hardships that Jamaica has had to face over several decades. Stephanie Black’s documentary gives a voice to the people directly affected by Jamaica’s financial losses and makes us question the working conditions in beautiful countries we frequent as tourists. Its title is a play on words with the Jamaican accent being so strong as to pronounce death as debt. Thus to speak of a country’s debt is to be speaking of its rapid mortality.

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December 2, 2010

Wanted: Reviewers

by Aurelea

The Review Room was first launched as Readings in World Literature in conjunction with a Spring 2009 offering of English 213 | World Literature in English at Capilano University.  The site was relaunched as The Review Room in December 2010.  It will be going live in January 2011.  The site will continue to feature book reviews written by Capilano University students, but it will now feature book reviews produced by students enrolled in a variety of English courses at Capilano University.  First up in Spring 2011 will be students enrolled in English 103 | Studies in Contemporary Literature.

The project also accepts submissions from any current Capilano students interested in contributing to The Review Room.  Any interested readerly and writerly Capilano students should contact Aurelea Mahood (English) at <> about becoming a contributing reviewer.

January 5, 2009

Reading Globally

by Aurelea

Spring 2009

Welcome to the English 213 – Readings in World Literature course blog!

Over the next thirteen weeks, we will be posting reviews of our course texts and other course-related materials.  Comment away.  Ask questions.  Suggest books and articles that you think we should be reading

Reading List

  • Tayeb Salih, “The Doum Tree of Wad Hamid”
  • Derek Walcott, Selections from The Fortunate Traveller
  • Tsitsi Danarembga, Nervous Conditions
  • James Kelman, How Late It Was, How Late
  • Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
  • Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place
  • Lloyd Jones, Mister Pip

Our first set of reviews will be posted on January 21, 2009.

Until then!