Week One

Hey everyone! My name is Jessica and I’m an exchange student for this semester from the ANU in Australia. I’m super excited to be undertaking this course, however, I’ll be the first to admit that my blogging and web skills are sub-par at best, so please be patient with me!

Two favourites: (1) “The War on Drugs” by Diane Keyes and Michelle Nzioki, (2) “Venezuela: How We Got Here” by Ronnie Daney, Lourdes Kletas, Dorean Lotfazar, Katherine Poole.

“The War on Drugs” – Diane Keyes and Michelle Nzioki

As a big fan of the TV show Narcos, I really enjoyed this video as it discussed the drug trade in Latin America in an informative and easy to follow way, whilst also providing relevant background on the illegal industry in the past as well as present. I also really liked the personal anecdotes contained in the video as they added a personal dimension to the effects of the drug trade in Colombia. Furthermore, whist the War on Drugs has entered and passed various phases, it is interesting to see that there still remains a prominent problem with drugs in such parts of Latin America as Brazil (with regard to usage) and Mexico (regarding the trade itself and corruption of law enforcement).

“Venezuela: How We Got Here” – Ronnie Daney, Lourdes Kletas, Dorean Lotfazar, Katherine Poole

In recent years particularly, there has been an increase in international awareness of the significant and dire human rights crisis occurring in Venezuela, and the situation has only seemed to deteriorate over time. Whilst I was aware of the unrest in the country, this video provided a short and succinct overview of the situation. I found the structure of the video (as a timeline of sorts) particularly helpful in understanding the various stages of Venezuelan governance and factors that have contributed to its present-day turbulence. Ultimately, the video did a great job in presenting Venezuela as a victim of the all too common tale of power vacuums left after the death of authoritarian heads of state with personalistic leadership styles.

Two I Liked Least: (1) “Signs of Crisis in the Gilded Age” by Kaspars Reinis and Ryan Heazel, (2) “The Meeting of Two Worlds IV” by Thomas Seagrave, Daniel Fielburg, Jasmin Jhaj, Rick Cheng, and Christine Santa María.

“Signs of Crisis in the Gilded Age” – Kaspars Reinis and Ryan Heazel

Whilst in the category of videos I liked the least, I still enjoyed this video to an extent due to its strong thematic links to Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. As both a big fan of literature and a politics student, I have always found the intersection of these two particularly interesting, especially the way in which Márquez’s novel has become an allegory for Latin America’s struggle for modernity and the desire to create a utopia (and penchant for revolutionary change). However, I found this video very hard to follow as the structure wasn’t particularly chronological (and unfortunately, the sound quality was a little poor). I thought that the connections between the sections of the video were not adequately explained, which resulted in my having to rewind the video a few times.

“The Meeting of Two Worlds IV” – Thomas Seagrave, Daniel Fielburg, Jasmin Jhaj, Rick Cheng, and Christine Santa María

This choice was more so due to the lack of visual cues than anything else. Whilst I found the content interesting and easy to understand, the video contained very little images and videos to aid in my understanding of what was being said. However, despite these shortcomings, I still enjoyed the video. As an exchange student from Australia, my knowledge of Columbus’ voyage and his crew’s atrocious treatment of the Indigenous Peoples is particularly limited, so I found this video very informative and useful in understanding the turbulent history out of which today’s Latin America has emerged.

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