Editor's Note by Kassandra Scheider

This collection of student work marks the online debut of the University of San Francisco’s student-run academic journal, the International Affairs Review.  For the IAR’s inaugural publication our staff choose the broad theme of ‘Social Justice in a Changing World’ to address contemporary issues of international justice in accordance with USF’s Jesuit mission. The five works we are publishing represent a diverse set of perspectives and experiences: Valeria Vera and Tyler Cole tackle issues of U.S. foreign policy, while Maija Rivenburg narrates her personal experience educating students on human rights in Uganda, and Lucy Lyford explores the immigrant experience in Paris. In addition, the IAR’s new online format has allowed us to publish multimedia work, and we are pleased to include Julia Pereira’s photo essay, “Eight Letters,” which illustrates the plight of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. These essays demonstrate the academic excellence, commitment to justice, and diversity that define USF.

Valeria Vera’s essay, “The Border Patrol’s Not-So-Secret: the Normalized Abuse of Migrant Women on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” explores the militarization of the U.S. – Mexico border after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and how it has led to the normalization of violence and sexual abuse of migrant women. Vera argues that after 9/11 the United States began to put national security and border security at the forefront of foreign policy, and securing the border with Mexico to prevent the crossing of illegal aliens, drugs or weapons resulted in the growth and militarization of U.S. border patrol forces. Vera defines militarization as, in its broadest sense, the use of military rhetoric, as well as military tactics, strategy, equipment and forces. In this sense the border patrol has been militarized: agents are trained to see immigrants crossing the border as an external “threat” or “enemy,” and they employ military tactics, strategy and technology to prevent these “enemies” from crossing. For Vera, militarism, masculinity, and violence as a result of this masculinity are linked, and they result in the 80 to 90 percent of migrant women who have suffered sexual violence while crossing the border. This abuse is so prevalent that many women consider rape “the price you have to pay” for crossing the border illegally. Vera argues that the militarist ideology taught to agents during training leads to the understanding of the border as a war-zone and a place where violence is a preferred response to the perceived “threat.” The militarist, masculine ideologies and socialization border agents receive and adhere to lead to the use of rape as a weapon of war, in which “enemies” are dominated and subdued. The lack of systematic documentation and reporting of incidents (such as to a police force or other law enforcement agency), leads to lack of surveillance to border patrol agents who commit violence against immigrant women with seeming impunity. Vera includes in her essay a real-life case study, which illustrates her argument and illuminates the human rights abuses that have occurred due to the militarization of the US-Mexico border.

Continuing the thread to U.S. foreign policy and its militarization, Tyler Cole tackles the timely topic of the use drones within US foreign policy in his essay “Eye in the Sky.” Cole argues that the use of drones (UAVs or Unmanned Arial Vehicles) is unethical due to their unreliability and tendency to cause collateral damage. In addition, Cole also argues that drone use is counterproductive, as it has contributed to increasing anti-American rhetoric. Cole outlines how drones are operated and used either for surveillance and intelligence gathering or for carrying and dropping munitions, and recounts the two main arguments advocating the use of drones: that they can be deployed faster than traditional troops, and that they save American soldiers’ lives. In contrast to these arguments, Cole explores the downsides to drone use, outlining their unreliability and technological faults, high stakes failings that have led to accidental civilian deaths and the potential enemy capture of drone technology. Cole states that a hypothetical three-second latency, which results from the long-distance satellite communication from a drone and its operator, can cause missiles to miss target and cause collateral damage and civilian death, while the quality of intelligence gathered from high-altitude drone surveillance is questionable as it is difficult to tell the difference between a potential terrorist or a civilian farmer from that distance. Cole shows that U.S. drone policy has been largely ineffective; to illustrate Cole states that between 2009 and 2010 161 drone strikes took place resulting in only seven high-value targets killed and 1,022 civilian deaths. In addition, Cole uses first-hand narrative to show that U.S. drone policy in the Middle East has contributed to anti-American sentiment and hatred, and states that those whose lives and families are affected by drone missile strikes are more likely to harbor anti-American sentiment and to join those terrorist groups the U.S. is so desperate to eliminate.

Taking a departure from foreign policy, Maija Rivenburg touches on international human rights and how these rights can be taught and discussed though artistic expression and theatre in her essay “Children and the Theatre of the Oppressed.” Rivenburg draws from her personal experience in Uganda and outlines how she used ideas from the Theatre of the Oppressed, Forum/Legislative Theatre, and Concert Party to educate young Ugandan students on their rights under international law and to develop their sense of confidence and empowerment to promote change.  Theatre of the Oppressed and other comparable forms of theatre are used to inform and illustrate experiences of oppression. Forum and Legislative theatre asks the audience to participate: the former asks the audience to stop the performance to correct outcomes, while in Legislative theatre the audience works together to formulate a new law. These types of activist performances encourage community participation in decision-making, and empowers community audience members though art. Rivenburg describes how Theatre of the Oppressed has been used throughout western Africa, particularly in Ghana and Nigeria, to fight colonial influence, and was used in South Africa in effort to protest apartheid. Rivenburg then narrates her experience interning for the Step Up Primary School in Uganda, where she set up a social justice drama club to give the children in the school the opportunity to express themselves, be exposed to difference social issues, and form a community within the larger school. Rivenburg used her knowledge of the Theatre of the Oppressed and previous experience participating in theatre to create games for the drama club to encourage the students’ creativity and freedom to express themselves, and to share their ideas within a comfortable environment. After the first few club meetings, Rivenburg introduced the children to the United Nation’s Convention of the Rights of the Child, asking groups of students create skits illustrating different articles of the convention, and writing short stories explaining a time they thought their rights were violated. After performing and sharing their stories, Rivenburg worked with the students to create a play based on their stories and skits. In creating the drama club, Rivenburg gave the students at Step Up an opportunity to express themselves creatively, share their experiences and learn. Participation of the students in a Theatre of the Oppressed-based club give them the chance to have their opinions heard, and the stage on which to express their point of view to the larger community.

Next, Lucy Lyford explores Paris’s status as a “global city” and the experience of Parisian immigrants in her paper “Paris: A Global City and its Immigrants.” Lyford defines a “global” city as a diverse city with a high level of economic, cultural and infrastructural development. In her paper Lyford explores the important role immigrants play within each of these components, explains how the immigrant community’s experience is markedly different than that of native Parisians, and demonstrates how acts of resistance can unite the native Parisians and immigrant communities. Lyford illustrates how Parisian immigrants are essential to the city’s economy and a crucial part of the labor force, filling low-wage service and manufacturing positions, which support Paris’s highly developed economy. However essential these types of positions are, immigrants, many undocumented, face dangerous and unsafe working conditions with long hours and little or no options for legal representation or recourse due to their undocumented status, and have little to no access to job benefits.  Paris’s highly developed infrastructure, including housing, public transport and public facilities such as parks and libraries, is another one of the key components of defining Paris as a “global city,” and although Parisians largely enjoy the accessibility of the metro as well as public amenities and structurally sound housing, immigrant communities on the fringes of Paris in banlieues lack easy access to public transport, few public facilities, and live in structurally unsafe and crowded housing. Even as native and immigrant Parisians have highly different experiences, Lyford explains how the emergence of French rap music has brought immigrant culture and narratives into the Parisian mainstream, allowing Parisians at-large to understand the immigrant experience.

Last, and certainly not least, Julia Pereira illustrates her experience teaching English in Rashidieh, a Palestinian refugee camp. Her poignant photos show the moral and practical concerns of people who live in refugee camps and face problems including, but not limited to, poverty, lack of access to adequate housing, food, clean, water, and primary education. Pereira demonstrates the resiliency of the Palestinian people, and the beauty that can be found in the harshest of conditions.

The International Affairs Review staff is pleased to publish these five essays as a representation of the excellent scholarly, diverse, current, and justice-informed work that students undertake each semester.