Social justice can be defined as "The way in
which human rights are manifested in the everyday lives of people at every
level of society," (Kilpatrick, 2010). Despite
this definition, the term social justice has a malleable quality to it. Social justice to a child in Uganda might
carry a different meaning than social justice would to a North African
immigrant living in Paris. Each of the pieces
included in USF's Fall 2013 issue of the International
Affairs Review incorporates the authors' individual interpretations of
social justice in an ever-changing world.
With articles detailing the experiences of individuals from such diverse
places as Paris, Yemen, Uganda, Mexico, and Palestine, this issue of the IAR gives the reader a look into what
social justice means in various cultural and political contexts. In "Paris: A Global City and its Immigrants," the underpaid and underrepresented immigrant population in Paris
is profiled, ultimately showing the need for a more equitable Parisian
society. "The Eye in the Sky" looks at how
drones, the United States' newest military technology, has compromised the welfare
of civilians overseas. In "Children and the Theatre of the Oppressed," the
author shows how an artistic outlet of expression is an invaluable tool for
oppressed people to seek change and justice in their world, as well as cope
with the injustices they have faced. In "Border Patrol's Not-So-Secret: TheNormalized Abuse of Migrant Women on the U.S.-Mexico Border" social
justice means giving a voice to the countless Mexican women who have been
exploited by those in positions of power. Lastly, "Eight Letters," captures the
experience of living in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.
In "Paris: A Global City and its Immigrants,"
author Lucy Lyford explores the importance of Paris's multicultural population,
both culturally and economically.
Lyford identifies the discrepancy between Paris's ranking as the
third-most global city in the world and the marginalization of its immigrant
population. Though the immigrants,
mainly North Africans, play a crucial role in the success of Parisian
infrastructure, they are often paid under-the-table and outside the protection
of the law. The immigrant population is
often denied the same luxuries that are afforded to native French citizens. They are confined to run-down neighborhoods, or
banlieues, which lack the public
facilities that qualify Paris to be a global city in the first place. Lyford zeroes in on the unequal experience of
immigrants in comparison to that of native French citizens, and the city's
negligence of its global population – all while it reaps the benefits of the
immigrants' low-wage and labor-intensive jobs to boost the country's economic
status. In the piece, Lyford seeks
societal justice by advocating for more equal treatment of Paris's immigrant
population in a globalized world.
"The Eye in the Sky," by Tyler Cole, is both an
informational piece on drones and a discussion of the tangible human impacts of
the United States' new military technology.
Cole defines and explains what
drones are and how they operate, as many Americans are still unsure what,
precisely, a drone is. Various models of
drones are discussed in detail, giving the reader a look into the technical
side of drone warfare before delving into their moral ambiguities. Cole shows the evolution of military
technology and how the U.S. government has developed weapons to adapt to the
new, technologically connected world. He also analyzes civilian casualty data in
relation to the number of high value targets that have been killed by drones to
show the true cost of drone warfare's "collateral damage," as the U.S.
government refers it to. By including
both hard data and the deeply personal testimony given by Farea al-Muslimi in
front of Congress, the author allows the reader to see the impact of drone
usage from a statistical perspective and from a human one. By putting a human
face on all the data and technical advantages associated with drones, the author
raises the question of whether the death of hundreds of innocent civilians is
acceptable if it leads to the death of one high value terrorist target.
In Children and the Theatre of the Oppressed, Maija Rivenburg uses her own experience working at a school in Uganda as a lens
through which to examine the role theater can play in overcoming social
injustices. Rivenburg discusses the
history of the Theatre of the Oppressed
model, originally started in Brazil in 1971.
Theater of the Oppressed's
process of utilizing a creative space to foster trust and openness has allowed
many communities around the world to address concerns and seek social change. Rivenburg sought to bring this model to a
school in Uganda, where she noticed that the use of corporal punishment was
negatively impacting the children's behavior.
The author details her efforts in a case study, in which her personal
account of creating a production with the students is included. Throughout the process, the author noticed a
change in the students. As an exercise,
Rivenburg asked each student to remember a time in which she felt her rights
were abused; these personal experiences were then included in the final
production. In her piece, Rivenburg interprets social justice from a
small-scale, grassroots perspective. By
focusing on one individual classroom, as opposed to a country, or even
community-wide initiative, the author allows the reader to see social justice
and personal transformation from an individual perspective. After reading "Children and the Theatre of
the Oppressed," the audience will be able to tell what an important role the
safe, creative space Rivenburg created plays in the lives of these
In "Border Patrol's Not-So-Secret: the Normalized Abuse
of Migrant Women on the U.S.-Mexico Border," author Valeria Vera discusses the
militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border, as well as the hidden reality of
crossing it as a Mexican woman. For many
women, the risks of crossing the border go beyond legal prosecution and
deportation: they become vulnerable targets of sexualized abuse. The author argues that as the border has
become more heavily patrolled and weaponized, these instances of abuse have
increased. However, militarization isn't the only explanation provided. Vera also asserts that the patriarchal and
power-driven nature of our society allows this kind of exploitation to occur,
and she successfully ties these ideas to theories of gender, sex, and power
relations. To inform the reader further,
the author includes a graphic case study to demonstrate the brutality and
violative nature of these all-too-common incidents. "Border Patrol" is not only about
education, but advocation as well. In
the piece, Vera seeks to attain a transformative kind of social justice, one
she states will be achieved when people take the time to listen and understand
the narratives of these abused women.
"Eight Letters," by Julia Pereira, is a photo
series that gives the viewer a glimpse into life in a Palestinian refugee
camp. During her experience teaching
English and art to students in Rashidieh, Lebanon, Periera was inspired to
showcase the everyday struggles and resilience of the Palestinian people. The
photographer focused on capturing the symbolism in common objects and
structures that show both the physical and metaphorical separation of the
Palestinian refugees from their land, such as walls, fences, and power
structures. The series shows the
injustice of being separated from one's homeland.
Each of the pieces included in the Fall 2013
issue of International Affairs Review capture
the variable nature of social justice, as well as the importance of seeking
fairness and equality. The first step to righting these injustices is spreading
the word, so thank you for taking the time to read these amazing stories. Please enjoy!
Jimmy. "The Roots of Social Justice." Education News. 2 Jul
2010: n. page. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.