Portuguese 150
Breaking Gender and Racial
Barriers in Brazil
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Final Essay
Critical Thinking

Course Number: 150 Instructor: Niedja C.  Fedrigo E-mail: niedja@umich.edu
Section Number:  001 Office: 4005 MLB Office Hours: M-Th 10-11 and by appt.
Class Time: T-Th    1-2:30 Class Location: 2104 MLB  Telephone:  4-5374 

            This interdisciplinary seminar critically examines the condition of contemporary Brazilian women and  African Brazilians. Their struggle to gain cultural, economic, and socio-political equality. Our focus is on questions and perspectives concerning both the literary and socio-economic aspects of gender, race, class inequality and options for self-empowerment.
            The format includes regularly assigned papers, digital dialogues, group discussions,  presentations, film screenings,  internet/library research and a final analytical essay. At the start of each Tuesday class you are required to hand in a typed, thoughtful question on the topic to be discussed that day. Thursdays are for introduction of topics, activities, film screenings and visits from guest speakers.

            The purpose of  this course is to introduce first-year students to interdisciplinary topics in Brazilian culture, helping you develop appreciation for diversity and  cultivate critical thinking skills. Our seminar offers a more inclusive understanding of the Brazilian society by focusing on questions of ethnic identity, race, gender, and class relations.

            In the coursepack you find 1/4 of the assigned readings. The other 3/4 will be posted twice a month on this page, including links to assigned web sites. The coursepack is available at Ulrich's.

  Recommended Readings:

            Miriam Alves, ed. Finally ... Us. Contemporary Black Brazilian Women Writers.
                Colorado Springs: Three Continents Press, 1995.

            David Brookshaw. Race and Color in Brazilian Literature.
                 Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1986. Chapter on 20th Century Literature.

             Pierre-Michel Fontaine, ed. Race, Class, and Power in Brazil.
                Los Angeles: University of California, 1985

            Michael Hanchard, ed. Racial politics in contemporary Brazil.
                Durham [N.C.] : Duke University Press, 1999.

            Robert M. Levine. The Brazil reader: history, culture, politics
               Durham [N.C.] : Duke University Press, 1999.

           Rebecca Reichmann, ed. Race in Contemporary Brazil - From Indifference to Inequality
                University Park, Penn: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

          Jan Rocha. Brazil : a guide to the people, politics and culture
               London : Latin America Bureau; New York: Interlink Books, 1999

          Robin E. Sheriff. Dreaming equality : color, race, and racism in urban Brazil
                New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, 2001.

          Jonathan W. Warren.  Racial revolutions : antiracism and Indian resurgence in Brazil.
                Durham, NC : Duke University Press, 2001.

          Frances Winddance Twine.  Racism in a Racial Democracy.
               New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998

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        And selected readings under Anthropology,  Art, Culture, Economy, Human Rights, Literature and Women's Studies at   www.umich.edu/~port150

Response papers, group project, participation in FIG's activities, and a final 6,000-words analytical essay. There are no prerequisites to take this seminar, it is taught in English.

Grading system
            Your grade will be based upon active, effective participation, your autobiography, six two-page response papers, one test, one group project presented in class,  your individual effort in such team project, and a final five page analytical essay. Please note that 100% equals 100 points. The final essay total number of points possible is 15, the maximum for each of the six reaction papers is five as indicated below, and so on. Excellent papers earn five points; very good ones four and satisfactory papers are worth three. Papers that need improvement score two and below.

Participation in class,                        14%                 Response Papers (RPs)                     30%
in the four FIG circles                         8%                  Digital Dialogues                                  8%
and the two Mass meetings                2%                  Individual Effort in group project            13%
Group Presentation (GP)                    10%                 Final Essay (FE)                                15%

Grading Scale:

           100 = A+                 88 - 89 = B+                    78 - 79 = C+                68 - 69  = D+
      94 - 99 = A                   83 - 87 = B                      73 - 77 = C                  63 -  67  = D
      90 - 93 = A-                  80 - 82 = B-                     70 - 72 = C-                 60 -  62  = D-, below = E

Response papers are due on

T Sept 18                                     T Oct  30
T Oct    2                                     T Nov   13
T Oct  16                                       T Nov   27
        Every other week  we meet at the Video Viewing Room (VVR) on the second floor, next to the lab window, across from room 2018. We’ll watch documentaries on:

Th Sept 13, Bahia (26017,VH) and Women's Lives and Choices (27259,VH)
Th Sept 27 Benedita da Silva (23564,VH) and Life and Debt (28108,VH)
Th Oct  11 Capital Sins (23978,VH)
Th Oct  25 The Posse (30543,VH) SCA 2000
Th Nov   8 Emerging Powers (S1039) (I've reserved it already)
Tu Nov  27 Central Station - part 1 (we have at the LRC)
Th Nov  29 Central Station - conclusion

Make use of my office hours to clarify any uncertainties you may have. Or contact me by e-mail at niedja@umich.edu

       Your participation grade will be based on evidence that you have prepared and read the material assigned, the quality of your contributions, your analytical comments, respect for your classmates' opinions, active listening and involvement.

        Our seminar is also one of  12 “First-year Interest GroupS” organized by the Intergroup Relations Program,  all dealing with cultural diversity. We will meet together to explore common interests and exchange perspectives from the differing vantage points of our individual seminars. To learn about FIG's visit http://www.umich.edu/~igrc/regular.htm

FIGS Circles

Weeks of 9/17, 9/24, 10/1, & 10/8

    This is a four-week series of social identity dialogues on topics including race and gender. Students will meet in groups of approximately 14 persons,  across seminars, for structured dialogues facilitated by professional and graduate student staff. Circles will be held on the weeks of Sept. 17, 24, Oct. 1 and 8. The Sept. 12 meeting will center around Social Identity Exercises. The Oct. 17 meeting will be a celebration,  emphasizing sharing of student experiences in the Circles. You will be rated on participation in the four circles in following manner:  2=present with meaningful participation;   1= less meaningful participation. There are four meetings, you can earn up to eight points total.

    These are required meetings in which our seminar will join others in the FIGS Program:
    Two mass Meetings of FIGS students, the first on Wednesday  Sept. 12 and the second on Oct. 17, 7-9:30 p.m. in the  Wedge Lounge at the West Quad.
    The Sept. 12 meeting will present Social Identity Exercises, and the Oct. 17 meeting will be a celebration and group sharing.

    FIGS Circles, meeting two hours each during the weeks of Sept. 17, 24, Oct. 1 and 8. The time, location, and topic of your Circle will be based on your preferences. These Circles are opportunities to dialogue about issues of Race and Gender in small groups.  It is necessary for you to be punctual when attending each of the four meetings of your group.

    In addition, you'll participate in Digital Dialogues with other FIGS students to discuss issues of diversity and justice,  as well as to access additional resources and information about such issues.

Week One: Write what you need to push your comfort zones. Discuss your thoughts on how this circle group might fit in with our course.
Week Two: How does understanding another person’s world view impact how you relate to others in the class, in your residence hall, or on campus in general?
Week Three: Related to your social identity circle, are you in the target or agent group? Did you know this before? How does it make you feel? What about some of your other social identity groups? How does this help or prevent you from understanding another person’s world view? Would you even want to?

Week Four: What have you learned most by participating in this social identity circle? Do you think you want to do something else related to this topic (why/why not)? What are some of the connections you’ve made between this circle experience and our course?  How did the circle enhance your experience in the class?

   Visit   http://www.dialogues.umich.edu/
Grading scale:
8 points = “A” level participation

6-7 points = “B” level participation

5 points = “C” level participation.

4 points = “D” level participation. 

Below 4 points = “E” level participation

Guidelines for meaningful participation:

A. Being honest; expressing our true beliefs, ideas, and questions
B. Being open to learning from others, especially those with whom we disagree.
C. Creating a safe space for ourselves and others. For example, respecting and encouraging others, even those with whom we disagree. Commenting on ideas, not on people or personalities. Using 'I' statements to own your position.
D. Protecting the confidentiality of others. For example, never revealing the opinions or struggles of specific individuals to anyone outside of the Digital Dialogues. Never quoting or otherwise identifying persons outside of the Figs Seminars to members of the Digital Dialogues.
E. Pushing and expanding our own "comfort zones" and "learning edges."

    You are expected to read and react to the items posted by your classmates and others as well as post your own reactions and thoughts,  expanding upon the statement and demonstrating higher levels of cognitive learning, your ability to analyze, evaluate, and/or synthesize the information.

Evaluation of participation
        Evidence of sound preparation on your part, as well as how effectively you communicate. The following are guidelines used in determining participation grades in our classroom:

A in Participation:
        Students are consistently well-prepared, participation shows that the assignments have been done. The students' comments are helpful to class learning and they volunteer to participate, take on responsibilities during group activities.

B in Participation:
        Students who are prepared, participation show that the assignments have been done,  sometimes hesitate to volunteer but are prompt to reply when called on; occasionally volunteer useful information. Students who are willing and competent contribute to small group activities.

C in Participation:
        Students are usually prepared, although may seem reluctant to speak or, students who volunteer to  participate but their preparation appears uneven. Students who must sometimes be reminded to participate.

D or E in  participation:
        Students who are frequently unprepared. Students' poor preparation hinders the progress of others in the class. We have never had any.

        If you must miss class due to illness, religious holidays, or for any other reason you consider valid, notify me beforehand, if possible. These absences may be accepted as  "excused," not affecting your grade.

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Response Paper
   Reactions are expected to demonstrate higher levels of cognitive learning , your ability to analyze, evaluate, and/or synthesize the information. After reading the assigned material or watching a documentary, write a two-page response paper based on the ideas, problems, and/or questions that come to your mind and explain the thoughts that such readings/videos provoke on you.  Late papers will incur a one-grade deduction for each day the paper is late. Excellent: 5, Good: 4, Satisfactory: 3, Needs Improvement 2.

Group presentation
        On the third week of classes we form groups of 3-5 members,  joined by issues to be researched, and plan for class presentations - usually 3-5 minutes per team member -  which take place between the 6th and 12th week of the semester.

Course Schedule:

Papers Fourth Week Eighth Week 12th Week
First Week Fifth Week Ninth Week 13th Week
Second Week Sixth Week Tenth Week 14th Week
Third Week Seventh Week 11th Week 15th Week

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First Week
Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Class in Brazil: an Introduction

  Organizational meeting. Introduction to the course, class overview. Why study Brazilian gender and racial issues?
   Theoretical Framework for study of gender, class, race and ethnicity in Brazil. Writing assignments will be focused on Race,  Ethnicity, Gender, and Class issues. FIG's form

Please read the articles under Readings
Second Week
Race, Ethnicity and Class in Brazil

Tuesday  -At the start of class hand in a typed question based on Race, Ethnicity and Class in Brazil readings from either the course pack or the articles under readings on this pages. That is, the first three articles in the course  pack: Jeffrey Lesser's article on Ethnicity in Brazil and  J. Fish's Mixed Blood; or  the five first articles under Readings on this page for class discussion. 

Thu - Video Viewing Room (VVR, on the second floor, across from room  2018)

     At home, reflect on the videos you watched and write a towage response paper based on the ideas, problems, and/or questions that come to your mind and explain the thoughts and feelings that either or both videos may have provoked on you.
Demonstrate your ability to analyze, evaluate, and/or synthesize the information. Hand in your paper  on Tuesday

Third Week

Literary Aspects of Gender and Race Identity in Brazil
African Brazilian Women in Literature

Tue -  Due: RP 1 based on either the videos or readings on the course pack and below
           One question based on the videos or readings on the course pack and below

                 At the start of class hand in your typed question  based on Literary Aspects of Gender and Race in Brazil, including the articles on the course pack.

Thu    - Form project team for GP

Fourth week

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Socio-economic Aspects of  Race, Gender and Class Inequalities in Brazil
Changing Racial Attitudes

Tue - Question based on articles in the pack and under Readings on this page for class discussion.

        Sign in project theme and date sheet

Thu  -  Video Viewing Room (VVR, on the second floor, across from room  2018)

If you wish to be better prepared before watching Benedita's video, visit Benedita da Silva, http://www.senado.gov.br/web/senador/bene/bene1.htm    Also, read an article on Equal Participation of Women in Decision-Making in Brazilian Municipalities at:

                    To learn a little about "Favelas" - we'll see one in the video -  read one article on it under Readings   on this page.

Fifth Week

Gender, Race, Class and Cultural Inequality and Discrimination

Tue - Due: RP 2.
        Question based on  videos and/or Readings on this page for class discussion.

Thu - Guest Speaker

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Sixth Week
 Race, Class and Ethnic Identity
Racism in a Racial Democracy

Tue - Question based on pgs 41-67 articles under  Readings on this page for class discussion.

             For Thu, as preparation for watching  the video, please read the articles under  Readings   on this page

Thu  - VVR:
              For next Tuesday visit the English version  (click on the American flag for English)
            of Interdisciplinary reflection:   http://www.ongba.org.br/afro/atab/home.html

Seventh Week

               Socio-economic Aspects of Race and Class Resistance

Tue - Due: .RP 3. One typed, thoughtful question based on either the videos or readings

Thu -  GP 1 and GP 2

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Eighth Week
The Struggle for Racial and Social Rights
Ethnic Boundaries

Tue - Due:
        Question on pack readings and under Readings on this page for class discussion.

Thu    - VVR:

Ninth Week

Tenth Week

Breaking Race Barriers
  Tue -  RP 4
            Question based on  videos and/or  Readings on this page for class discussion.

  Thu  -    VVR - Documentary: "The Posse"

11th Week

Breaking Gender Barriers

Tue   - Question based on  Readings on this page for class discussion.
          Due: RP 5 .

          Bring your FE rough draft for peer editing in class. Read Peer Review   before coming to class

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  Thu  -      GP 5

12th Week

Struggle to End Inequality

Tue  Question based on  Readings on this page for class discussion

            Turn in edited draft of FE

Thu - VVR:   Emerging Powers: Brazil.

13th Week


Tue - Question based on Video and Readings on this page for class discussion.

          RP 6

Thursday - Guest Speaker


           For next Tuesday please read articles under Readings

14th Week

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Tue -   Turn in FE best draft


Thu -  VVR:

                   For next Tuesday please read concluding article under Readings

15th Week


 Tue -  Questions based on the  film.   Fiction and facts

Thu  - Final Essay peer review and comments.

16th Week

Final Analysis

 Tue -        A nalyze, evaluate, and synthesize what we learned in the class.   Final thoughts.  Last day of class
                Due: FE

                    ******        ******        ******        ******        ******

Readings on race, gender and class in Brazil


OAS requests investigation into relocation of "quilombo" and indigenous communities

At the request of human rights groups here in Brazil, the OAS
(Organization of American States) has formally requested that Brazil
investigate and explain the relocation of "quilombo" and indigenous
communities in the state of Maranhao. ("Quilombos" are remnant communities
of Africans who escaped from their masters during the slavery years.) The
area in question is located in Alcantara where the government built a
launch base for missiles and is currently making a deal with the US to
lease the base. Some 700 people, the majority Afro-Brazilian and
indigenous peoples, are being relocated to other villages. "The
government is removing these families and throwing them on to other
territory as though transporting cattle. Not even a minimal attention is
being given to the cultural necessities and subsistence of these
communities," commented James Cavallaro of the Center for Global Justice,
one of the groups who signed the petition to the OAS.

Source: Folha de Sao Paulo
August 29, 2001

- Racism: light at the end of the tunnel

A light went on during the National Conference against Racism and
Intolerance held a few weeks ago in Rio de Janeiro. In one more example of
the strength of civic mobilization, 2000 people showed up at the State
University of Rio de Janeiro to create a national agenda committed to human
rights. The meeting preceded the United Nation's World Conference Against
Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be
held in South Africa August 31-8.

The realization of the National Conference may be evaluated as one of the
best elaborated plans of political strategy uniting civil society and
government on the issue of human rights. For the first time, we elaborated
together a national agenda of government commitment before an international
conference. It's important to highlight the role of organized civil
society in monitoring commitments to be made by the Brazil government
during the world conference. It is important, therefore, that we be
mobilized to accompany this endeavor, guaranteeing from the beginning the adoption of public policies that reflect our reality.

There were more than 300 action proposals included in the National Plan to
Combat Racism and Intolerance, the document that was officially delivered
to Ambassador Gilberto Saboia, president of the National Committee.
Divided into 13 groups (race and ethnicity; culture and communication;
religion; sexual orientation; education; health and work; youth; access to
justice and defense of human rights; indigenous peoples; special needs;
gender; the remaining quilombos communities; xenophobia and internal
migration) we highlighted the following common points:

1. Repudiation of the racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance
that mark social relations and the lives of significant segments of the
national population, with emphasis on the most vulnerable groups;

2. Recognition that such phenomena have historical origins and manifest
themselves currently in the worsening problems of social inequality;

3. Recognition that different types of discrimination manifest themselves

in multiple forms, highlighting, in this process, the role of educational
institutions (from primary school to universities) and the means of mass

4. The necessity of affirmative policies that make it possible to overcome
or stop reproducing socially discriminating policies and practices.

5. The necessity of input from political powers and civil society in the
formulation and execution of policies to combat racism and intolerance.

Civil society has taken the first step. Brazil now needs to embrace the
flag of change. In the juridical field, we already have extensive
mechanisms to combat discrimination and intolerance. The 1988 Constitution
is one of the most advanced in the world. We have all the tools to combat
this social evil, as long as "we adopt the principles of human rights, the
self- determination of peoples, the repudiation of terrorism and racism and
the cooperation among all peoples for the progress of humanity as stated in
sections 2, 3, 8 and 9 of Article 4". Another instrument in the
Constitution is the implementation of affirmative actions that aim to redress the lack of access of certain groups to basic citizens' rights.

These and other juridical tools show that the guarantee of full access to
human rights, with the exception of some amendments, already exists. What
is missing is the adoption of public policies committed to guaranteeing
equal rights among blacks, indigenous, homosexuals, women, persons with
disabilities, people of different religions, people from Asia, people from
the Northeast and so many others who form our cultural and ethnic
diversity. Only with these can we build a new country.

By Benedita da Silva, Vice-Governor of Rio de Janeiro and
Present of the National Conference Against Racism. Translation by Cathy
Rowan. Article taken from Workers Party web site August 10, 2001


- Pataxo rebuild monument to indigenous resistance

One year and four months after the monument to the indigenous resistance
was destroyed in Santa Cruz Cabrália by the Military Police of the state of
Bahia, the Pataxó rebuilt the indigenous symbol. The new monument was built
on the Pascoal Mount, which they re-occupied in 1999 and represents another
symbol of the determination and struggle of indigenous peoples. It took
almost one year for the monument to be built and its construction was kept
secret to avoid new repressive actions of the police. The monument will be
inaugurated on the same day that the indigenous people will celebrate two
years of reoccupation of the Pascoal Mount. The activities will begin on
Friday, the 17th, with cultural painting activities, puppet shows, music
and videos for indigenous children and adults.

On Saturday, leaders of all Pataxó villages and representatives of
indigenous peoples of other states will get together to evaluate the
situation of indigenous peoples in Brazil and the reoccupation of the

Pascoal Mount. On Sunday, the 19th, the monument will be inaugurated in a
ceremony that will be attended by organizations engaged in actions to
support the indigenous cause and parliamentarians.

Rebuilding the monument to the indigenous resistance was a matter of honor
for indigenous communities, which are still outraged with the action of the
Military Police on April 9th, 2000. On that night, a group of about 200
armed police officers surrounded the site where the old monument was being
built (next to the old cross, under which the first mass was celebrated in
Brazil), to make sure nobody offered any resistance as the monument was
destroyed with a tractor, a power shovel, spades, and picks. In less than
ten minutes, the work of many months was completely destroyed. The monument
had been conceived to celebrate the arrival of the Indigenous March to
Santa Cruz Cabrália and the Conference of Indigenous Peoples and
Organizations, which brought together 3,600 indigenous people of over 150
peoples from all over Brazil.

The new monument preserved the intent of the first one, which is to
translate into a visual form the violence faced by indigenous peoples in  the last 500 years, to honor the memory of their ancestors, and to celebrate Brazil's cultural and ethnic diversity. The monument is located
in a square called "praça do meio" (middle square), which from now on will
be called "Resistance Square". The square is a passageway to various
villages, to the visitation center and to the summit of the Pascoal Mount.

The monument has a circular base built with stones and concrete where a
large space was reserved for dancing activities. In the central area, one
can see a map of Brazil surrounded by a line made of concrete on which the
names of indigenous peoples will be written. Inside the map, a garden with
medicinal plants found in indigenous villages located in the various
regions of Brazil will be planted. Around the circular base, five large
arch-shaped columns rise and meet at the top, symbolizing the last five
centuries of indigenous resistance. Pataxó communities located around the
Pascoal Mount developed the whole project themselves on a self-help basis.

Source: Cimi
August 16, 200129 de Agosto de 2001


Brazil ranks 69th in the United Nation's Quality of Life index

The United Nations released its 2001 Report on Human Development this
week, and in the study Brazil improved its index rating but not enough to
change its 69th position ranking.  Part of the reason that Brazil continues
in this position is that it still has one of the worst income and goods
distribution.  In this category, the U.N. places Brazil fourth, behind
Swaziland, Nicaragua, and South Africa.  Currently in Brazil, the
wealthiest 10% of the population hold 46.7% of the nation's resources while
the poorest 10% only hold 1% of the resources.  According to current
studies, there are nearly 50,000 people (29.3% of the population) who are
living in a state of misery.

Source: Folha de Sao Paulo
July 10, 2001
Brazil could be better without machismo, racism, prejudice and the government of Fernando Enrique Cardoso was the theme of International Women's Day in São Paulo on March 8th, 2001.

While historically, the focus of International Women's day has been the question of gender and violence, this year, the planning committee in the state of São Paulo discussed how the issue of economy can no longer be minimised. We recognise that austerity programs to pay back loans made by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank (often to the benefit of a small portion of the population) profoundly affect social programs, health and education. Economy, and specifically global economy, must be an integral part of the conversation about women's rights and human rights.

25-30% of the families in Brazil are headed by women, and yet, women still only earn 61.9% of what men earn in the State of São Paulo. These women are no longer just trying to supplement the income of their household - they often are the only income in the house. The unemployment rate for women in the state of São Paulo averaged 20.9% during the year 2000, while it was only 15% for men. Because the employment market is tight right now, women often accept lower-paying, riskier jobs for lack of other options. ARisky@ jobs refers most often to the informal economy- those with no benefits and no guarantees of workers rights. In São Paulo, for women, this most often refers to work as a housekeeper or to work selling merchandise on sidewalks and in the streets. In data published by the Inter-syndicate Department of Statistics and Socio-economic Studies (DIEESE), 44.2% of working women find themselves in vulnerable work situations in São Paulo.

With such dramatic and grave statistics about the economic situation of women and their families, the Forum of Women's Organisations for the State of São Paulo stated we are in a permanent struggle for a Brazil of equals rights, with solidarity, justice and self-determination of women. For International Women's Day, we adapted the theme of the World Social Forum which occurred in January in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and identified over twenty priorities for building a better Brazil. (The World Social Forum focused on how the World could be better. We focused on how Brazil could be better). Among the priorities are:

suspension of payment of the external debt and a redirection of resources to social policies
an end to privatisation
urban reform and dignified housing
a just and realistic minimum wage (currently less than R$200 per month, or US$100)
Agrarian reform, with women's rights to land
retirement benefits for women who work as domestics/housekeepers
the right to paid maternity leave, with a salary equal to ones current salary
an end to violence against women and more support to prevention of violence and to construction and maintenance of shelters
access to decent health care
The Forum of Women's Organisations for the State of São Paulo organised itself specifically to plan International Women's Day, but has committed to ongoing work for the rights of women and for the rights of all people who are excluded by the current economic policies of the country. The employment situation is grave. This is evidenced by the conversations on every street corner, by the line of applicants that stretches for blocks at any shop that advertises job openings, the rise in crime, and the enormous upsurge in the number of street vendors, desperately trying to sell enough super-glue, batteries, q-tips or envelopes to survive until the next day.

Brazil could be better, and the world could be better, if our economic policies reflected the needs.

Were provided by Heidi Cerneka, a maryknolle missionary working & living in São Paulo

Race Issues World Conference on Racism and Racial Discrimination in Brazil

by Efu Nyaki
"Instead of Allowing diversity of race and culture to become a limiting
factor in human exchange and development, we must refocus our
understanding, discern in such diversity the potential for mutual
enrichment, and realize that it is the interchange between great traditions
of human spirituality that offers the best prospect for the persistence of
the human spirit itself." (Vision Declaration: "Tolerance and Diversity   A
Vision for the 21st Century")

In 1998 the UN General Assembly decided to declare 2001 as a special year
to fight against racism and racial discrimination. For this reason, many
nations throughout the world are preparing for the "World Conference
Against Racism, Racial discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance"
that will take place in Durban, South Africa from August 31st to September
7th, 2001.   This conference will give an opportunity for Brazil to
objectively confront the gigantic problem of racism and racial
discrimination, which exists and is in so prevalent in society. "Brazil is
often described as a "racial democracy" because of the high number of
interracial marriages and easy banter between the races in everyday life.
Nothing could be farther from the truth," says Kathleen Bond in her article
in the Magazine of Americas HEMISPHERE (volume 9 number 3 winter 2001).
"Racial Democracy," a term coined by Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre
in the early twentieth century, is the theory that Brazil s history of
extended miscegenation had resulted in a cultural mélange in which all
races are equally valued. In reality however, race in Brazil is a complex
and difficult issue. Although most of Brazilians claim a mixed African,
European and Indigenous ancestry, the weight of racism causes many to
"whiten" themselves. Many "morenos" straighten their hair and search for
lighter-skinned marriage partners. They often identify themselves and each
other with terms that indicate a lighter skin tone, such as: moreninho,
café, mulatto, bronziado, chocolate, jambu, moreno claro, moreno escuro,
etc. Rarely do they describe themselves as "negro" (black). Even those who
call themselves black often have a hard time convincing other Brazilians
not to identify them as "moreno" or "mulatto". For many people, to be black
is still an insult.
Skin color profoundly influences life's chances. According to a 1992 study
by Carlos Hasenbalg and Nelson do Valle Silva, non-white Brazilians are
three times more likely than whites to be illiterate. The numbers
deteriorate even further at higher educational level: whites are five times
more likely than people of mixed ancestry and nine times more likely than
blacks to obtain university degrees. The patterns repeats itself in the
work force, where, according to the government statistics, whites have
access to the highest-paying jobs, earning up to 75% more that blacks and
50% more that people of mixed ancestry. Other socio-economic indicators are
no less grim. Infant mortality statistics are almost twice as high for
non-white children, and the vast majority of detainees in the country s
crowded prison system are non-whites. Not all of the consequences of racism
can be neatly packed into statistics and charts. Effects on self-esteem are
not so easily measured. At a recent reflection group of Afro-Brazilian
women in João Pessoa, the capital of Paraíba, a woman named Cida painfully
recounted the end of her relationship with Chico, a lighter-skinned black.
The two had dated for several years without their color difference seeming
to create any difficulties. When they got engaged however, Chico s family
exploded; "This little blackie is going to pollute our blood. Go and find
someone who will purify it," Chico s mother raged. Chico caved in and broke
off the engagement within days. Two years latter, Cida painfully asked the
group, "How can you tell me not to feel inferior because of my color?"
There are many examples and stories like Cida s. We could go on and on to
show just how complex the question of racism is in Brazil.

There are many groups and movements trying to work in raising awareness
and reclaiming identities throughout Brazil, but the main objective of
bringing a higher awareness to the whole Brazilian society that racism and
racial discrimination is a "justice issue" has still not been achieved. It
s my hope that during this time of preparation and following the
conference, Brazil will have various opportunities to face and combat the
realities of racism and racial discrimination which are still so prevalent
yet today.

The Brazilian government created a national committee, which is run by the
National Secretary of Human Rights, with fourteen people representing the
government and fourteen representing the civil associations. Apart from the
preparations of various meetings throughout the country, the committee
represented Brazil in the pre- conference that took place in Santiago,
Chile with 1500 participants, the majority being Brazilians. In the civil
society, the majority of the participants are from Black movements,
especially black women's organizations, who are articulating more and more
as NGOs. "The truth is we don't feel well represented by the civil society
members, as we know that they were elected by the government. We are still
looking for an opportunity to discuss with the government members and the
civil society members the common agenda," says Jurema Weneck, the
Coordinator of "Crioula," a women s organization in Rio de Janeiro. She is
very critical of the Brazilian government's progressive rhetoric, which is
still very far away from understanding the reality of racism and its
results on the black and indigenous peoples.  "This is an important time to
reflect about the racial situation and the diversity in Brazil," says the
São Paulo Regional secretary of Human rights, Gilberto Sabóia. He believes
that the work of bringing awareness that has begun here in Brazil will not
depend on what will be decided in South Africa. Before August, the
committee that is working on the preparation of the conference should give
the report of the work done to the Brazilian president. This report should
show the concerns of the political issues based upon improving education,
health, work and culture that will guarantee equality and opportunities for

Efu Nyaki is a Maryknoll sister who works with the Black Movement in Joao
Pessoa, Paraiba


-Women stage demonstrations throughout Brazil


In at least 25 Brazilian capital cities female rural workers and indigenous

women have organized demonstrations and set up camps for the International

Women's Day, March 8. The slogan of the national mobilization effort is

"Female rural workers are building a new Brazil" and it is being organized

by the National Movement of Female Rural Workers (MNTR), the Land Pastoral

Commission (CPT), the Youth Pastoral, and the National Landless Movement

(MST), which expect to gather about 40,000 female rural workers. In the

state of Espírito Santo, the demonstration will be supported by Tupinikim

women and in Roraima Macuxi and Wapixana women will take part in it.

Hearings have been requested for the delivery of a list of claims to local

authorities and the same document will be delivered in Brasília to the

minister for Land Development, Raul Jugmann, and to the head of the

department that assists the president of the Republic with political

affairs, Pedro Parente.

The document contains proposals related to the land reform, imports of

agricultural products, credit lines, agricultural assistance and insurance,

documentation and communication, energy, social security and health care

for women, housing, and education. In it, the women also express concern

with transgenic food products and with violence in rural areas. They

request the immediate implementation of the National Plan for Human Rights

and that the Department for Land Conflicts of the Federal Police be closed

down. By getting organized, female rural workers have won important

victories already, such as ensuring their right to retirement pensions, to

maternity pay, and to an allowance when they are sick and cannot work. The

challenge now is to expand these rights and make sure they are actually


Indigenous Women are getting organized

Indigenous peoples are becoming increasingly aware that the indigenous

movement will reap important benefits from the fact that women are getting

organized. Women have become the political leaders of at least two

indigenous peoples as their chief, a position held by men in most villages.

Maria de Lourdes da Conceição Alves is the chief of the Genipapo Kanindé

peoples in Aquiraz, state of Ceará. Diva Eurico de Souza, a Macuxi, is the

Tuxaua (chief) of the Raposa II village in the Raposa/Serra do Sol

indigenous area in the state of Roraima.

In the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Bahia, and Roraima, women

are getting organized in movements of their own. In Roraima, the

mobilization began in the 1990s with the aim of strengthening the struggle

of the Macuxi, Wapixana, Taurepang, Ingarikó, Wai Wai, and Yanomami peoples

and of contributing to the unity of the indigenous movement and to the

conquest of territorial rights. Their first state-level meeting was held in

1996. The first meeting that brought together women from Minas Gerais,

Espírito Santo and Bahia took place in 1998 and the second one was held in

the following year and was attended by leaders representing the Tupinambá

and Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe (Bahia), the Maxakali, Xakriabá, Knenak, Pankararu and

Aranã (Minas Gerais), and the Tupinikim and Guarani (Espírito Santo) peoples.

By getting organized and with a style of their own, women are conquering

more space in the indigenous movement, predominantly led by males. They are

respected and listened to at local and national meetings and assemblies

about all matters related to their peoples. Women want to enhance and

improve their participation in the struggle for the demarcation of

indigenous areas, for the approval of the Statute of Indigenous Peoples,

for a quality health care, especially for women, and for a differentiated

education. They have been reporting different forms of violence, such as

the sale of alcoholic beverages in indigenous villages, prostitution and

sterilization of indigenous women (as in 1994, when Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe women

were deliberately sterilized and the guilty ones have not been punished so

far), the theft of traditional knowledge, prejudice against indigenous

customs and traditions, and the assassination of indigenous leaders.

Source: Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi

March 8, 2001

Women prisoners and women prisons
by Heidi Cerneka
If the average person in jail is an ignored, forgotten member of the
population, then the women who make up only 3-6% of the prison population in
the state of São Paulo are not even on the screen of the rest of society.
They cannot be forgotten, because they were never acknowledged. With the
influx of practically 10,000 new prisoners into the system per year just in
the state of São Paulo, the administration of the penitentiary system can
hardly keep its head above water. Therefore, they choose neither to attend
to the specific needs of the women prisoners nor to the individual guards
and directors whose histories of violence and human rights´ violations
should, at minimum, prevent them from working in the system, and at best, put
them in jail for the crimes they have committed.

Interestingly, riots are not nearly as common in women´s prisons as they are
in men´s prisons. The women are not as organized among themselves, probably
because the proportion of repeat offenders is lower and therefore, the
proportion of experienced prison residents is lower. Also, generally
speaking, women are much more inclined to internalize problems rather than
explode them outwards. This could be one of the reasons that we see a much
higher percentage of health problems among female inmates than among male

However, the women too can be pushed beyond their limits. In April of

, members of the prison ministry, who visit regularly with the women in
the Tatuapé complex, were already alarmed by the level of tension in the
prison, especially due to a corrupt and extremely abusive director who
threatened the women, denied them their basic rights, and not only allowed,
but encouraged prison guards to do likewise. A report was written and sent
to the state secretary of the prison system, warning him that if something
did not change, a rebellion was inevitable.

Extortion by the guards for the chance to make a phone call, personal
letters that were being held up or not delivered at all, little to no
medical attendance and inedible food all contributed to the general state of
tension, as did constant verbal abuse and physical abuse by the guards. In
addition, prisoners have the right to ask for parole after they have
completed a certain proportion of their sentence (the proportion depend on
the crime) and in general, this never happens. There is little legal
representation, and the majority of the women end up completing the entire
sentence in prison, which only aggravates the already difficult situation of

By the end of December, those prisoners who work in one of the jobs inside
the jail had spent two months without pay. However, for every three days
worked, they gain a day off of their sentence, so despite the lack of pay,
they continued working. The final straw after so much abuse, was the
response of the director to yet one more complaint about the poor quality of
the food. She said, "They could serve feces to you for all I care!"

On December 26th, the women in the penitentiary in Tatuapé, São Paulo took
staff members hostage and the rebellion began. On December 27th, the
Special Forces of the Military Police (like a SWAT team) invaded the
complex to control the situation. They entered, completely subduing the
rebelling prisoners and ending the riot. After the situation was completely
under control, the Special Forces still acted violently, attacking the
prisoners and torturing them. The prisoners testified afterwards that the
Special Forces violently beat almost all of the prisoners, then forced them
to sit for more than 7 hours under the strong summer sun without any
protection, which caused many serious sunburns on the women´s faces, arms
and legs, and finally, forced them to walk barefoot over glass which had
been broken during the rebellion. Their feet were cut by the glass and
bleeding, and therefore, the women following had to walk with open cuts on
their feet over the blood of other prisoners. They were forced to walk
between two lines of police who beat them any time they tried to step away
from the broken glass. At minimum, beyond the gratuitous violence against
even those who did not participate in the rebellion, all of the women were
exposed to contagion, especially considering the high incidence of AIDS in
the prison population. All of this happened after the rebellion had been
completely controlled!

Meanwhile, they were also forced to lie down side by side, and some of the
police officers walked across them, attacking them physically and verbally
to the point that three weeks later, many are still in shock by the
brutality by which they were treated by "defenders of law and order." Two
weeks after the event had occurred, I could still see the bruises which were
made by the rough kicks on one of the women.

While the Special Forces were violently attacking the women, the prison
guards unleashed the same violence on the personal belongings of the women.
What was not stolen was destroyed. Many things disappeared (like cigarettes
[which are currency inside a prison], televisions, clothing, shoes, cooking
utensils) and the rest were either broken or smelled of urine- which they
believe was done by the police dogs. One guard gave testimony to the fact
that he was told to burn all of the shoes. Not wanting to directly disobey
but not wanting to burn the shoes, he collected them and carried them to the
nearest shanty town to "throw them away," knowing that someone would be able
to use them.

Could it be that the temporary loss of the right to liberty also means the
loss of humanity and human dignity? Clearly not! Could the abuse of power
and impunity by guards, prison administration and military police be that
rampant? Yes. Many of these women have committed crimes and recognize that they are paying for their errors. Some are actually innocent, but innocent
or not, nothing justifies the use of violence and brute force against any
another human being, but especially against one who is disarmed and subdued. When a person is sentenced, she/he is sentenced to loss of liberty, not to torture, verbal abuse or precarious living conditions.

Since the rebellion, we, as the prison ministry and another non-governmental
organization, the Institute for Work, Land and Citizenship, have visited
the prison weekly. We have talked with many of the women and heard their
horror stories of the rebellion. We have also met directly with the
Secretary of Penitentiaries for the State. We suggested that he create a
working group to address the situation of women in prison. Women
prisoners´ needs are different. Their health needs and their family
concerns are different. The majority of their crimes are not violent
crimes, so they should be eligible for alternative sentencing and earlier
parole. Their rebellions are even different. The Secretary has begun to
set up this working group. He has also removed the director from the
Tatuapé complex. That was in the plans before the rebellion ever occurred.
While the prisoners and the prison pastoral team are cautiously optimistic
about the new director, we worry that changing the director and leaving the
rest of the staff intact may make change at any institutional level nearly

The violence perpetrated against these women is not just their problem, and
it is far from an isolated event. We, as civil society, must identify and
denounce any torture and violence, most especially when perpetrated by those sworn to defend the law.

Heidi Cerneka is a Maryknoll missionary living in Sao Paulo and working
with the Catholic Church's Prison Ministry.

The reproduction of this material is permitted as long as the source is
cited.  If you wish to contact us or receive NEWS FROM BRAZIL free of
charge by e-mail send a message to sejup1@ ax.apc.org

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You final Essay
On Tuesday Dec 11th your Final Essay is due. Select a topic that you are interested in - race, gender or class inequality, for instance - and discuss it critically in 6,000 words..
What is an Essay ?
        You’ve written a few for English classes and perhaps have no questions about it. Just in case you do have any , following is some information.
             Most study requires an analytical, not a descriptive, approach. Written work must present an argument. Essays are generally answers to questions which ask whether or not you agree with a certain statement, or which ask you to discuss something critically, to assess a statement, or to make a choice. University essays are therefore arguments for or against certain propositions.
            An argument is a series of generalizations or propositions, supported by evidence or reasoning and connected in a logical manner, that lead to a justified conclusion. You must sustain your argument by giving evidence and reasons.
            Assertions do not constitute an argument. You must support your opinions with good evidence and valid reasoning. What counts as good evidence and valid reasoning you will learn by experience, and by consulting your readings. Being critical may mean determining whether or not the evidence available justifies the conclusions that are drawn from it; or it may mean uncovering and questioning the assumptions which underlie theories.
                 Essays give you a chance to show what you can do: that you understand the question asked; that you understand the issues involved; that you have done the appropriate amount of reading. Having got that far, you must then show that you can communicate your understanding to others.
            Make sure that you actually answer the question. If you are asked to assess, or to choose, or to discuss--do it. Do not write down everything you know about the subject: it may not all be relevant. I'm not looking for `correct answers'. There is no `line' for you to follow.  I'm concerned with how well you make your case. Whether I agree or disagree with your judgment is not essential to your grade. Disagreement does not lead to lower grades.
            If there are important arguments against your position, do not ignore them; deal with them honestly. Give those who disagree with you a fair go. Try to meet their arguments with better ones. Scholarship is not a matter of political point-scoring: you must respect evidence and superior arguments. Your argument should be consistent, and the language used should be clear, grammatical and precise.
            Select a topic that you have a strong interest in. Conduct a search for literature and  make sure there is
enough material on that topic in our libraries or in the internet. Also, you can borrow a book not available in our
libraries from other institutions. It takes two weeks or longer to receive inter-library loan material. For your initial research please visit MIRLYNWeb http://mirlyn.web.lib.umich.edu:80/ and http://www.lib.umich.edu/libhome/digResources/ to access the Electronic Resources ProQuest, Lexis, etc. You can either print or e-mail the pages you choose.  To search for Brazilian theme video/film please visit Use indices (e.g. Social Science Index) and the bibliographies of  recent articles to dig for more information. The assigned readings for the course are probably relevant to your topic. Consult them.  While you are reading, take notes in your own words.  Follow proper quotation and bibliographic citation rules.  Proofread it.  Ask a friend who did not take this course to read your paper and tell you what it's about.
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        In short, when writing an essay include the following parts.
I. Introduction
a. States thesis and describes the main idea of your essay. It is the point of view or idea of which the author wishes to convince the reader of.
b. Begin transition over to the first body paragraph, explains what will be discussed.

II. Body
a. Quotes and commentary. The topic sentence is generally found at the beginning of each paragraph and states the point or argument  which will be supported by what follows. The topic sentence must relate to the main idea.  Evidence is used to prove the topic sentences. There are five different kinds of evidence.
    There is consequence, comparison, authority, definition and example. In consequence the author shows the positive effects of the reader following the advice given  (in the topic sentence or main idea). In comparison the writer compares his/her own idea to something similar that is obviously a good thing or to something, which is in contradiction with the idea being proved, that is obviously a bad thing. The next type of evidence is authority. In this type the writer finds an acknowledged expert in a field relating to the topic being discussed. The writer may also usethe definition of a word or words to support the main idea. The last way is by example where the writer sites a specific case or anecdote for support. The last form of example is statistics.

III. Conclusion
a. Repeat your thesis in other words then used in the introduction paragraph.
b. Concluding comments.

  After completing your readings, write a paragraph that indicates your topic and your argument (thesis). Consult friends  and ask them if your thesis is clear and your paragraph makes any sense. Revise it until what they understand is the same as what you mean to say, your central thesis.  Write a two page summary of your research. It should answer the following questions: What is your topic? Why is it worth studying? Which theories and/or hypotheses are reviewed in your paper?  Which ones are criticized? Which ones are supported? What is your thesis/hypothesis? Is it widely supported? The main arguments about your thesis.
  Finally, use your summary as an outline and the paragraphs as the core of the sub-sections of your paper. To explain and clarify each paragraph, you can insert the literature review, quotations from other sources, your data/tables, your thoughts on what ideas should be added, how to improve the presentation of ideas, etc. Content is the main criterion for assessment.

Content is concerned with issues such as:
     breadth of the essay
     extent of background reading
     understanding, structure and organization of material
     detail of the information contained within the essay,
     use of evidence and quality of argument
     critical analysis of material
     evidence of imagination, insight and synthesis
     appropriateness and accuracy of references
     use of English
Presentation is concerned with issues such as: spelling, punctuation, grammar, writing style, legibility, and visual presentation.

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Critical Reading of Articles and Commenting on them.
     a) select an article
     b) answer the following critical questions and make notes on paper
     c) discuss your answers with another student in the classroom.
     d) comment on the article and post your comments to the e-mail group.

1 a) What is your reason for choosing this article?
   b) What is the main point the author is trying to get across to the reader about the topic?

2. What is the source of the author's information? Is the source reliable? Is the source up-to-date? For this topic, does it matter whether the source is up-to-date? Explain your answer.

3. What is the author's purpose in writing this article? To entertain, explain, argue, persuade, describe?

4. What word would you use to describe the tone of the article? Angry, sarcastic, critical, amusing, anxious?

5. Does the author use emotional language in the article? If so, give some examples.

6. Are the statements chiefly facts or opinions? Give three examples of facts from the article. Give three examples of opinions.

7. Are there weaknesses in the author's reasoning? If so, give examples.

8. Did the author change your way of thinking about the topic of the article? If so, how?

9. Did the article interest you? If so, why and in what way? If not, why not?

10. Does any information in the article tell you about the culture of the author? Indicate how it is different in your country of origin?

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  Reading essays you must analyze
1. Read the essay over once, quickly, looking for the main idea, for what the essay is about in general, and for what the author seems to be saying. Don't get bogged down in details. If you come to an unfamiliar word, circle it but go on  reading.
2. Check the meaning of unfamiliar words. If they seem to be key words, i.e., if the author uses them more than once, scribble a brief definition at the bottom of the page or at the end of the essay.
3. Now re-read more slowly and carefully, this time making a conscious attempt to begin to isolate the single most important generalization the author makes: his thesis. Follow his line of thought; try to get some sense of structure.
   The thesis determines the structure, so the structure, once you begin to sense it, can lead you to the thesis. What is the main point the author is making: Where is it? Remember, examples or "for instances" are not main points.
        The thesis is the generalization the author is attempting to prove valid. Your job, then is to ask yourself, "What is the author trying to prove"?
        Another way of identifying the thesis is to ask yourself, "What is the unifying principle of this essay"? or "What idea does everything in this essay talk about"? or "Under what single main statement could all the subdivisions fit"?
        If the author has stated his thesis fully and clearly and all in one place, your job is easier. The thesis is apt to be stated somewhere in the last few paragraphs, the preceding paragraphs gradually lead up to it, or else somewhere right after the introduction, in which case the balance of the essay justifies the statement and refers back to it. Sometimes, however, the author never states the entire thesis in so many words; he gives it to you a piece at a time. You can put it together later.
4. When you think you have grasped the main point, the whole essay goes to prove, underline it and write thesis in the margin. You may find you have several possible thesis; they all fit together somehow. One or more will probably turn out to be supporting the thesis rather than part of it.
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          Now re-read for structure. You are looking for the main divisions of the essay. There will probably be an introduction: draw a line clear across the page after the introduction and write intro in the margin. Now tackle the body of the essay. You are already pretty sure what the main idea is. What are the main points the author makes in leading up to his thesis, or in justifying it?

        You will find in a longer essay that you are now dealing with groups of paragraphs, all having to do with the same subdivision of the main subject. Draw lines between the main groups and give the groups labels. In an essay about how to take an English I final, for instance, you would undoubtedly find a group of paragraphs all of which could be labeled "preparation", and another group that could be called "typical exam questions". Under each group there would be sub-groups: under "preparation" there might be "reviewing essay", "memorizing terminology", etc.

        Occasionally, you will find a paragraph that doesn't seem to accomplish much. Some paragraphs, for instance, are purely illustrative: the "for example" type of paragraph. Some are just comments or digressions by the author . The "that reminds me" type. A third very common type is the transitional paragraph, which just takes you rather gracefully from one point to another. When you come across a paragraph like one of these, label it in the margin.

5. Within each structural subdivision find out what points the author is making. In the essay about a test on Brazilian Women Issues,  find out specifically what the author says to do in order to prepare for it.  In other words, identify the topic sentence of each important paragraph. Underline the sentence. Sometimes the topic sentence is at the beginning of  the paragraph and sometimes at the end. Sometimes the topic is not stated but is only implied

6. You now have the skeleton of the author's argument and should be able to follow his reasoning. If you are still having trouble, try scribbling a word or two in the margins and summing up the paragraphs as if you were annotating a textbook. In the essay about the English 1 final, for instance, you might write "Mark up textbooks" in the margin after one paragraph, and "but not too much" after the next. You can also underline key transitional or structural words or phases like "but", "however", "moreover", "on the other hand", "nevertheless".

7. Now write out , at the beginning or end of the essay, a thesis statement for the essay. Remember, the thesis was her guiding PURPOSE? What audience did she have in mind? What assumptions did she make i.e., what did she take for granted her audience already knew, or already believed, or both? Is her audience hostile or friendly?

8. Finally, and very important, consider two other questions: WHY did the author write this, and for WHOM? What audience did s/he have in mind? and so on.

9. If you know you are to be examined on the rhetorical techniques the author uses, now is the point to go on a deliberate hunt for them after you have thoroughly understood the essay.

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         These are strategies that you can learn readily and then apply not only to the reading selections in this class, but also to your other college reading. Although mastering these strategies will not make the critical reading process an easy one, it can make reading much more satisfying and productive and thus help you handle difficult material well and with confidence.
        Fundamental to each of these strategies is annotating directly on the page: underlining key words, phrases, or sentences; writing comments or questions in the margins; bracketing important sections of the text; constructing ideas with lines or arrows; numbering related points in sequence; and making note of anything that strikes you as interesting, important, or questionable.

        Most readers annotate in layers, adding further annotations on second and third readings. Annotations can be light or heavy, depending on the reader's purpose and the difficulty of the material.

Previewing: Learning about a text before really reading it.

     Previewing enables readers to get a sense of what the text is about and how it is organized before reading it closely. This simple strategy includes seeing what you can learn from the head notes or other introductory material, skimming to get an overview of the content and organization, and identifying the rhetorical situation.

Contextualizing: Placing a text in its historical, biographical, and cultural contexts.

     When you read a text, you read it through the lens of your own experience. Your understanding of the words on the page and their significance is informed by what you have come to know and value from living in a particular time and place. But the texts you read were all written in the past, sometimes in a radically different time and place. To read critically, you need to contextualize, to recognize the differences between your contemporary values and attitudes and those represented in the text.

Questioning to understand and remember: Asking questions about the content.

     As a student, you are accustomed to teachers asking you questions about your reading. These questions are designed to help you understand a reading and respond to it more fully, and often this technique works. When you need to understand and use new information though it is most beneficial if you write the questions, as you read the text for the first time. With this strategy, you can write questions any time, but in difficult academic readings, you will understand the material better and remember it longer if you write a question for every paragraph or brief section. Each question should focus on a main idea, not on illustrations or details, and each should be expressed in your own words, not just copied from parts of the paragraph.

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Reflecting on challenges to your beliefs and values: Examining your personal responses.

     The reading that you do for this class might challenge your attitudes, your unconsciously held beliefs, or your positions on current issues. As you read a text for the first time, mark an X in the margin at each point where you fell a personal challenge to your attitudes, beliefs, or status. Make a brief note in the margin about what you feel or about what in the text created the challenge. Now look again at the places you marked in the text where you felt personally challenged.      What patterns do you see?

Outlining and summarizing: Identifying the main ideas and restating them in your own words.

     Outlining and summarizing are especially helpful strategies for understanding the content and structure of a reading  selection. Whereas outlining reveals the basic structure of the text, summarizing synopsis a selection's main argument in brief. Outlining may be part of the annotating process, or it may be done separately. The key to both outlining and summarizing is being able to distinguish between the main ideas and the supporting ideas and examples. The main ideas form the backbone, the strand that hold the various parts and pieces of the text together. Outlining the main ideas helps you to discover this structure. When you make an outline, don't use the text's exact words.

     Summarizing begins with outlining, but instead of merely listing the main ideas, a summary recomposes them to form a new text. Whereas outlining depends on a close analysis of each paragraph, summarizing also requires creative synthesis.     Putting ideas together again -- in your own words and in a condensed form -- shows how reading critically can lead to deeper understanding of any text.

       Evaluating an argument: Testing the logic of a text as well as its credibility and emotional impact. All writers make assertions that want you to accept as true. As a critical reader, you should not accept anything on face value but to recognize every assertion as an argument that must be carefully evaluated. An argument has two essential parts: a claim and support. The claim asserts a conclusion -- an idea, an opinion, a judgment, or a point of view -- that the writer wants you to accept.
        The support includes reasons (shared beliefs, assumptions, and values) and evidence (facts, examples, statistics, and authorities) that give readers the basis for accepting the conclusion. When you assess an argument, you are concerned with the process of reasoning as well as its truthfulness (these are not the same thing).
        At the most basic level, in order for an argument to be acceptable, the support must be appropriate to the claim and the statements must be consistent with one another.

Comparing and contrasting related readings: Exploring likenesses and differences between texts to understand them better.
    Many of the authors we read are concerned with the same issues or questions, but approach how to discuss them in different ways. Fitting a text into an ongoing dialectic helps increase understanding of why authors approached a particular issue or question in the way they did.

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Some suggestions for Planning  your essay

     The first thing to do when you plan your essay is to arrange all the key words on ONE page. This might be a list or it might be a "spider diagram". Highlight or underline words using different colors to show where
these will appear in you essay. Use green to show what will go in the introduction, yellow to mark the body text of the essay, and red to show what will go in the conclusion. Don't worry too much about this now,
you can always change you mind when you start to draft the essay. You should end up with a list of words. This might be a single page. It's easiest to begin your planning with the body section.

                      1.Make a series of headings covering the main points.
                      2.Organize these headings into a logical sequence, such as Listing the advantages first,
                        then the disadvantages, or   putting the most important point first.

     Now that you have done some reading and thinking about the essay you will be able to decide what the
     essay is really about, i.e. what the theme is. Try to write ONE paragraph which other students would
     understand to explain what the essay is about. Now write a list of the main ideas which you think should
     be included in the essay.  You should end up with a list of ideas.  Next

     compare - examine the characteristics of the objects in question to demonstrate their similarities and differences;
    contrast - examine the characteristics of the objects in question to demonstrate their differences;
     analyze - consider the various components of the whole and explain the relationships among them;
     discuss - present the different aspects of a question and problem;  evaluate - examine the various sides of a question to reach anormative judgment.

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        After analyzing the question, the components should be organized to form an essay outline (or plan). The outline helps to ensure that your essay has a coherent, logical structure. It also facilitates the preparation of your essay by guiding your reading, note-taking and writing. Outlines also enable you to assign relative weighting to the different components of your answer by differentiating which points are central, and which peripheral. They will thus assist your research effort.

Outlines, however, are not set in concrete. Be open to revising your outline as your research progresses, but always check that the new outline continues to address directly the essay topic.

        As you begin to consider the question in detail, you can usefully jot down all the ideas that occur to you on a piece of paper and maybe rough out a sort of skeleton answer. In the first place this may be easier to do starting with a circle in the middle of the page and extending lines out as ideas occur to you. If you find a more formal approach like a list works better for you, then use that method. Once you have lots of points jotted down, in the order they occurred to you, then you can move to the next stage which is where you tentatively put numbers by the points.

        There will be more than one possible way and you are seeking the one that seems best fitted to you. These numbers will become the different paragraphs or sections of the essay when you write it up.

Calculate the organization of your essay. The following example will help keep you on track and will also assist in your planning.

Example based on a 1500 word essay;

     INTRODUCTION - 100 / 150 words
     BODY- 1000 / 1300 words
    This maybe 3 - 4 main ideas of 300 - 400 words each - Roughly -
     These may then divide into 3 - 4 paragraphs per idea
     CONCLUSION - 100 / 150 words

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        After doing your sums you then can start your research. Check your lecture notes, and any other notes you may already have that are relevant to the title set. Go to the textbook and read the relevant parts.
        Wide reading is essential if you wish to submit a good essay. Without wide reading you will not have the breadth of knowledge necessary to evaluate the worth of the materials and to put their themes into perspective. Effective research depends on knowing what to look for, so always keep your essay outline in mind.
        The reading requirements are, of course, related to the nature of the subject and the topic. Some topics may require a detailed analysis of a small number of texts; yet it is rarely sufficient to read only one or two books on a particular topic.
        Then use the library catalogue and search for anything that might add to your knowledge, reading and noting what you find. Further references may be compiled by using bibliographies in textbooks; by looking at the subject index in the library; and by consulting periodical indexes in the library.
The following types of sources may be used:
     General texts
     Journal articles
     Abstracts, CD-ROM Databases
     World Wide Web (WWW)

Discuss the issue with others if possible. This will help you to organize your thoughts and identify weak points in your arguments, and might give you some new points to incorporate or help adjust the balance of your answer. Techniques for organizing copious notes virtually all involve effort and a bit of trial and error of different ways of tackling the question. Some advocate writing all the main points on small cards and shuffling these around and comparing outcomes. Others like skeleton outlines each on a separate piece of  paper.

Useful Strategies
     Draft each paragraph on a separate page; one idea- one paragraph,
     then rearrange them into a logical order.
     Tackle the introduction and conclusion last.
           This section is probably just the first paragraph; it should be an overview of the content of the essay. You might find it easier to write after you have drafted the main content of the essay.
           This is the main content of the essay. When you draft it you can write individual paragraphs on separate sheets of paper. You can then arrange the paragraphs into a sensible order without having to do lots of arrows, numbering or crossing out.
           Here you are writing a summary of your essay. You should include the main points in the content of your essay and justify your conclusions. By now you should be an expert on the subject of your essay.
     This stage involves writing paragraphs. It is sensible to use a whole sheet of paper to write one paragraph. If you use double or triple spacing there will be room for you to make corrections and alterations. When you have finished drafting the individual sections of the essay you can start to put them into the most suitable sequence. When you have finished the draft you should read through to see if there is a logical progression to your essay. You should also check back to you plan to see if you have covered everything  that you intended to write.
     When you have completed and checked the draft you should make a "fair copy" of your work. This must
     be proof-read, i.e. checked for grammatical and spelling errors.
                Works Cited
     Although this is the last section of your essay, you can construct it as you draft the essay. The list of works must show what texts you have consulted. Each reference shows the Title, Author,  Publisher, & Date.

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 Essay Writing And Paper Presentation. What to avoid:
'The Shotgun Technique'
        This is putting down everything you know about the subject.  The question you are asked or the topic you are set will be specific, and not of the form `What do you know about X'.
        If you find you have a tendency to put down everything you know, rather than answer the question, it helps to practice making skeleton answers. When you are actually writing an assignment, stick to the skeleton. If you are told that your answer is unfocussed or vague you might be suffering from this fault. In this case, you need to focus more on the question asked and stick to the main elements of the answer.
        One rather mechanical but effective way of doing this, is to refer regularly to the words of the question as you write. It may not be impossible to get side tracked if you keep referring to the words of the question and dropping them into the text, but it does require a certain talent. When you think you have finished the essay, it is useful to read it over with the question in large letters in front of you and keep glancing at this. You should see if your answer is relevant in this way. Keep asking yourself the question `What is in, that should be reduced in importance, or taken out?' And do it.
        Weak Work
This results in an essay that is too short and lacks sufficient content. When you think that you have finished writing the essay, you should read it over and ask yourself `What is out that should be in?' - then include it.
        Weakly Organized Work
It helps to practice making skeleton answers using old exam papers or questions in a textbook. You need not write out the actual answer. When preparing the skeleton, seek out some logical order (e.g., who was involved, why did it happen, what were the results) and organize your points under your main headings. You could try several different approaches, one skeleton answer for each. You might have to think about what to put in and how to organize better, and you may find it difficult, but the actual process of doing this is part of learning and improving. Be aware that it might take some time before your effort pays off and your work improves. But be reassured that you will be more effective when approaching an issue for the rest of your life.
        Personal Answers
Avoid the word `I' and be careful not to express your personal views too much, unless the question actually asks what you yourself think. If you start saying `I think' then it can easily become too personal and it may cause you to say what you think without sufficient evidence to back it up.

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 Essay Writing Guidelines
1. Topic:
    Does your essay respond to the topic precisely?
    Do you indicate which topic you are discussing?
    Do you see the topic as posing a problem?
2. Central Thesis:
    Do you have a clear central thesis?
   Can you state it clearly?
   Does everything in your essay relate in some way to this central claim?
   Do you show how it relates?
3. Ideas:
    Do you develop ideas rather than simply state them?
    Did you consider and respond to the strongest arguments that might be used to oppose your own
    Does your essay offer a reasoned discussion that would have something challenging to say to someone
    who opposes you?
    Do you recognize that this is different from just stating you unsupported opinion?
    Have you really had to think through the issues to write the essay?
4. Sequence:
    Is your paper clearly and logically organized?
    Do you have a clear introduction and conclusion?
    Do you get to your thesis quickly and concisely?
5. Text:
    Does your paper show a solid understanding of the texts?
    Do you have enough, but not too many quotes to support your position?
    Do you cite references fully and accurately?
6. Grammar:
    Is your grammar clear, precise, and accurate?
    Have you proofread for typos and errors?
7. Learning:
    Did you learn a substantial amount about the issue while writing?
    Do you have more questions now than when you started?


Peer Review of Papers
        On the eighth week of class we'll be exchanging essays as a way of gaining insight into each other's strengths and weaknesses, by comparing your approach to that of your colleagues.   There are several purposes of peer review. One is to help writers create better papers. Peer review can help a person learn to write, rather than just receive a grade for written work. Another purpose is to help reviewers learn something about reviewing. Ideally, reviewers should develop better reading skills and learn things about better writing. However, reviewers are not co-authors or editors. A reviewer is not expected to re-write a paper. Instead, reviewers are expected to provide some important kinds of feedback, some of which may be more valuable than just spelling and grammar errors.
        Basically, there are three classes of information that a reviewer should consider. A reviewer should pay particular attention to the ideas. The paper should cover all of the important ideas. For a reader to understand the ideas in a paper, the writer must use good organization (paper, paragraph, and sentence), must choose words that clearly state the ideas, and must present ideas completely. A well-written paper should be directed towards some intended audience. One doesn't describe a complex theory the same way to a three-year old as one would to an expert on the theory. Finally, there are technical details. It is easy for reviewers to spot common grammar problems such as misspellings, so most feedback is of this type.

The Reviewing Process
1. Quickly skim the paper to get an impression of the content, organization, and style. For many papers, you should be able just to read the opening paragraph (or two, if the paper is long), read the first sentence of each paragraph (which should be the topic sentence), and read the last paragraph (or two, if the paper is long). There is no need to mark technical errors at this time. Rather, you are trying to get a global impression of the paper.
2. Now read the paper more carefully. While you are reading, mark for your own future reference technical details, comments, questions, etc.
3. Fill out the peer review questionnaire and mark the paper for the writer. Write comments at the end of the paper, focusing on one to three changes the author should make in the paper. Also describe one to three aspects of the paper that are really good and should be retained.

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Peer Response Questionnaire
1. Mark the parts of the draft that are strongest. Why do you think they are strong?
2. Mark the parts of the draft that gave you trouble. What about the passages give you trouble?
3. Underline sentences that confuse you. In the margin write what you think the author is trying to say.
4. Circle the topic sentence. Do all paragraphs support the topic? If not, mark which ones do not.
5. Write one question at the end of each paragraph. Try to think of questions that ask for more information
    or for clarification of any idea, but the questions can also be about sentence style, sequence of ideas,
    or word choice.
6. Suggest a more exciting way to begin the essay.
7. Suggest a more interesting title.
8. What does the writer tell you that you didn't know? If the writer has merely restated the obvious, suggest
    ways that  the writer can get beyond the obvious.
9. On the back of this page suggest possible counter-arguments or counter evidence to the position
    advocated in the essay.
10. Underline "thesaurus words," words that are too academic, slang  etc.
11. Mark places where you need a transition in order to follow the logic or the narrative flow of the essay.
12. Circle or correct obvious grammatical errors.
13. Mark the places where you would like more information.

Outstanding: Total number of points possible: 20
An outstanding paper shows a clear, solid understanding of the question and the complexity of issues involved, a very good command of relevant factual material, and an ability to analyze and interpret material and to handle concepts. There should be evidence of creative, original approach and signs that you read widely, carefully and can present a well-reasoned argument.

Strong: Maximum points: 15
The essay shows a strong grasp of the main issues and a sound understanding of  relevant material and debates. There may not be as much originality of interpretation as in an excellent essay, but the material is presented clearly and logically and provides evidence of intelligent reading.

Satisfactory: Maximum points: 10
A satisfactory is weaker in term of general discussion, knowledge of sources and factual information. There are some significant inaccuracies, irrelevance or poorly substantiated claims, and the organization of material is erratic and inconsistent. Nonetheless, the paper shows some awareness of the issues involved and the main lines of interpretation.

Weak: Maximum points: 5
A weak essay lacks a clear understanding of the main issues involved, though some partial understanding may be evident. There is some factual knowledge and/or awareness of theoretical issues, but it is patchy and thinly substantiated. The paper is likely to be poorly planned, with little sense of direction and little development of basic arguments. Significant errors occur, and parts of the answer may be irrelevant. I've never had a student who scored below 50%.


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