My inspiration for this independent study came from my last year’s classes. In the first semester of Hiroshima to 911, I dived into the Communism unit by examining development Communism in several countries and completing a thorough research paper on the Communist system in Nicaragua. When our class engaged in a harkness discussion on our findings, I was fascinated by the varying expressions of Communist ideology in different countries. In the second semester, I explored the North Korea Nuclear Crisis and the Israel-Palestine Conflict by analyzing each side’s narratives. From watching a documentary accounting The Mass Games in North Korea, comparing a timeline of the nuclear crisis produced by North Korea and the U.S., to understanding the discrepancy of historical narratives in the book Side by Side, I had the opportunity to deliberately assess both sides’ reasoning in depth and draft potential compromises to mediate the conflict through my work on Model Diplomacy. It was through the analysis of merits to claims suggested by both sides that I realized the importance of having an “open mind” when it comes to learning history.
Besides the rewarding experience in history, I also gained insights to this independent through my English classes. I enjoyed viewing films such as The Lives of Others and The Devil’s Backbone and reading poems produced in Europe under Communist systems while strengthening my understanding of people’s lives under Communism. Besides, the elective The Wire has developed my skills to reflect on popular culture by extracting messages filmmakers or authors endeavor to illustrate regarding people’s conditions in certain historical background.
I therefore plan to further the work last year in this year’s independent study by examining Communist systems in three countries: Cuba, Cambodia, and Czechoslovakia. Before initiating my research, I would first grasp a basic understanding of the Marxist Theory and Communist Ideology. Then I will spend one month researching on each country. Depending on my interest for each, and to reflect what I have learned in the process, I would either complete a college-level research paper on development of Communism or a piece of creative/reflective writing on popular culture I analyzed.
My research paper would aim to answer questions including: Why and how did Communism become the central economic and government system in this country? How has the Communist regime evolved comparing to its early stage, and what is the current influence of the Communist government on this country’s society? How does people living under Communism view this system? and in what ways is their perception different from outsiders’ view? My reflection piece would record my observations on perspectives, approaches, connection to historical context, and central messages representing people’s living conditions that the films or literatures incorporate. Finally, I plan to create a portfolio in January comparing the expressions of the Communist Ideology in these three countries and highlighting my changing view towards Communism.
I am excited to begin pursuing this independent study and understand reasons behind varying interpretations and expressions of Marxist Theory. I believe this Independent study would not only bring forth intriguing point of views but also lead me to the direction of my own interest. I would like to conclude this first post by suggesting a question that I would be exploring throughout my project: Is there an object history? I am curious to learn biases in historical narratives and roles that the prejudice play in our overall understanding of history. Here is a link to an interesting article introducing this inquiry. I will continue to include my journey to seek answer for this question in future posts!
Agastia, Dharma. Managing communist-phobia in Indonesia. The Jarkata Post, 3
Feb. 2017, http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2017/02/03/
managing-communist-phobia-in-indonesia.html. Accessed 10 Sept. 2018.