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The University of New Mexico


Volume 23

Student Essays

Fall 2011

No. 2


The University of New Mexico


Student Essays Volume 23, Number 2 Fall 2011

Sarah Parro Editor-in-Chief Joe Serio Assistant Editor Michael Gomez Photography Editor Luke Fields Design Editor Jenny Alsup Science Editor Hillary Froemel Web/Copy Editor Copy/Research Editors:

Cover art: “Forest of the Brain� by Chelsea Wrightson

Correspondence may be addressed to: Best Student Essays UNM Student Publications Marron Hall 107, University of New Mexico Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131-0001 (505) 277-5656 Copyright 2011 by the University of New Mexico Student Publications Board. Best Student Essays is published biannually by the University of New Mexico Student Publications Board. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the UNM Student Publications Board or the Best Student Essays staff. This issue was printed by: Starline Printing 7111 Pan American Highway NE Albuquerque, NM 87109

Griffin Arellano Annarose Fitzgerald Kris Miranda Sarah Obenauf Elizabeth Thayer Jim Fisher Business Manager Special Thanks: Leslie Donovan Miguel Gandert Daven Quelle Carolyn Souther John Reidy The Daily Lobo Staff The English Department Faculty and Staff



ord from the


Sarah Parro

For twenty-three years, Best Student Essays has strived to publish high-quality, nonfiction writing by students at the University of New Mexico. I am honored with the opportunity to oversee the publication this year, and I am immensely proud of both the efforts of my staff and the submissions we have chosen to publish. This issue is not only full of sharp academic work; it is also incredibly readable and satisfyingly diverse. In the following pages you’ll find works of memoir, economics, art history, documentary photography, and historical research and analysis. My hope for this issue is that readers will appreciate both the quality of these works and the significance of their content; my staff and I certainly do, which is why we chose these six essays from among over thirty submitted. Again, I would like to acknowledge the diligence and hard work of my staff, because this magazine would not exist without them. Thank you also to ASUNM, GPSA, and the Student Publications Board for continuing to support this publication and, in turn, the student writers of this university. BSE exists to showcase and serve the efforts of our students, so I thank all who submitted as well as the faculty who nominated each submission. It wasn’t easy choosing from among the many impressive essays we received. Please, continue making our job difficult in the future by continuing to submit your writing. Finally, I thank you, reader, for your interest in this publication. Enjoy.

Best Student Essays

Contents The Changing Face of the Devil in Art Lindsay Gajownik Page 4 —Nominated by Dr. Ray Hernández-Durán, Art and Art History Humans Made of Clay Iric Guthrie —Nominated by Dr. Kate Krause, Economics

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South Central Photo Essay Laurisa Galvan Page 20 —Nominated by Professor Jim Stone, Art and Art History The House Where My Grandmother Lived Rachel Lamb —Nominated by Dr. Marisa P. Clark, English

Page 26

Chicks With Sticks Winner: “Best Essay” Award Laura Eberhardt Page 28 —Nominated by Professor Lisa D. Chavez, English Belgian Colonial Rule in the Congo Free State Troy Weeldreyer Page 36 —Nominated by Dr. Michael Thomas, University Honors Program Forest of the Brain Cover Artist Statement Chelsea Wrightson Page 42 Final Word Sarah Parro Page 44

Volume 23, Number 2, Fall 2011



hanging Face Devil in Art of the

Lindsay Gajownik

The Devil is the most well-known personified force of pure and primal evil. Although he may be called by different names and assume various forms throughout history and among different cultures, the concept of a single being as the literal embodiment of evil is nearly universal. As we shall see, though the archetypal character of the Devil is fairly common and widely recognizable, the details surrounding this figure are quite indistinct. As a popular character in religious dogma, literature, philosophy, mythology, pop-culture, and art, the Devil has undergone a nearly ceaseless metamorphosis throughout history. Some historians and demonologists now argue that the Devil is facing his inevitable demise in our modern world of skepticism and science, while radical evil continues to grow unabated (Russell 250). Examining our ideas regarding the Devil can help us to understand this argument as well as our changing concepts of the nature of evil. Art history aids this endeavor by revealing to us unstated beliefs and unacknowledged assumptions through visual representations of the development of our own cultural construct of evil. A focus on Judeo-Christian theology is most useful for an in-depth exami-

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nation of the Devil’s role in Western art. There are several reasons for this selective perspective. The first is that, although he has roots in much older Middle Eastern spiritual figures, the Devil as we know him today originated with Judaism and was methodically adopted and developed throughout the medieval period and early Christianity in particular. Second, the figure of the devil is more directly addressed in monotheistic as opposed to polytheistic religions because his being tends to be envisioned and embodied as a single entity in monotheistic religious structures. Third, the bifurcation of the concepts of good and evil (God and Devil) inherent in Judaism and Christianity makes for clear contrast and definitive critical analysis of the subject (Russell 11). Finally, expanding research outside of the Western tradition would require explorations far too wide for the scope and limitations of this paper. One obvious but important distinction to make when discussing the Devil is the difference between “the Devil” and “devils.” The use of the definite article “the” and/or the capitalization of the word “Devil” indicate the single being considered to be the source of evil and the direct adversary of God, Jesus,

and mankind. The members of his legion of diminutive and inferior evil spirits are referred to as “devils.” The multiple names used for the Devil are far more complex, however. The name “Lucifer” is generally used to refer to the Devil as an angel before his fall from the grace of God and expulsion from heaven. Translated from Hebrew, Lucifer literally means “bringing light” or “bringer of light.” The term “Satan” is the Hebrew word for “adversary.” It also commonly refers to a particular position among God’s council in heaven, that of prosecutor or inspector. According to the Old Testament, Lucifer held this position. In this meaning, “Satan” is nothing more than a title for a specific job among the ranks of God’s employees (Link 19). Origins for the name Devil are fairly straightforward. It comes from the Latin diabolus and Greek diabolos, meaning “slandered” or “accuser.” Another, more generic term sometimes used is “demon,” stemming from the Greek word daimon or daemon. Daemons were spirits, often those of dead heroes, who served as intermediaries between the gods and mankind. These were initially benevolent spirits, but through the efforts of early Christianity to discredit and destroy pagan beliefs, they were manipulated and demonized by early Church leaders to represent forces of evil. This is in fact the source of the

word “demonize” (Link 19-20). The overlapping use of the three names— Lucifer, Satan, and Devil—has been suggested by some as being an intentional attempt to create a tripartite evil being to counter the tripartite omnipotent force for good embodied in the Holy Trinity (Graf 36). According to historian and celebrated Devil scholar Jeffrey Burton Russell, the “Devil is God’s tool, if not his arm” (Russell 37). Though he is God’s adversary, the Devil is also employed by God to try the hearts and souls of men. He is the ultimate tempter. Russell’s claim implies that the Devil works in union with God, corralling sinners into the mouth of hell after their deaths and punishing them for their transgressions. In art, the Devil has several distinctive roles in which we commonly see him. The first and originally most prevalent of these roles is as the dragon that Saint Michael fought. He is also often depicted as the snake in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, which relies on the nearly universal allegorical symbol of the serpent as deceit and treachery. As tempter, he actively attempts to lure Jesus and Job into sin. In Last Judgment scenes, he is a hideous and foul ogre rounding up sinners or simply sitting on his throne as ruler of hell. So what does the Devil look like in the illustrations from mankind’s cre-

Examining our ideas regarding the Devil can help us to understand this argument as well as our changing concepts of the nature of evil. Volume 23, Number 2, Fall 2011


ative imagination? There are no direct descriptions of his physical characteristics in either the Old or New Testaments. Unlike the clearly defined symbols used to identify particular saints and other human figures in the Bible, there is no fixed iconography for the Devil. How is it, then, that he is so easily recognizable to us all? It is not simply that he is the most gruesome looking figure in the picture. Sometimes he is far from frightening, even approaching comical. Other times he is surpassed in viciousness by the menacing countenances of his lower devils. Renowned demonologist Roland Villeneuve asserts that, far from being an essentially Christian figure, the Devil is “man’s eternal response to unknown forces” (Link 16). The origins of this eternal response can be traced to several distant and more primal sources, each methodically adopted and adapted by the Judeo-Christian faith to incorporate man’s instinctual fears into popular religious beliefs and practices. As such, the Devil is whatever mankind fears most at any given moment in history. The earliest Christian art, dating as far back as the late second century, can be found in the catacombs of Rome. Christian religious images were deliberately ambiguous due to the persecutions of Christians under Roman rule. There is, however, a notable lack of the Devil in any of these early Christian

The Devil is whatever mankind fears most at any given moment in history.


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art forms (Link 72). This is not terribly surprising since definitive ideas about the Devil were not formulated until the fifth century. In the early years of Christianity, the Devil had a relatively insignificant role in the religion. When the Devil does begin to appear in art, between the seventh and ninth centuries, he is depicted with black skin, and is usually naked or wearing traditional Egyptian garb. This too is not terribly surprising, since large populations of Coptic Christians were flourishing in northeastern Africa at the time. Christians were making concerted efforts to demonize what they considered to be pagan religions, or any religion other than their own (Link 52-53). Transferring traits from rival religions’ deities and attire from those cultures effectively invalidated those idols by ascribing new meaning and value to them. Evidence to support Egyptian influence on early Christian art is also found in the sudden prevalence of Last Judgment themes and their similarities with Egyptian Weighing of the Souls depictions (Link 115-116). Yet the strongest influence on our modern representations of the Devil came not from the Egyptians but from ancient Greek mythology. The process used by Christians to adopt these various influences was the same, as were their intentions of demonizing and discrediting Greek paganism while simultaneously trying to attract pagan converts to their new religion. Pan, for instance, the Greek god associated with spring rites, music, and sexual frivolity, has the torso of a man, the furred and hoofed hind legs of a goat, and goat-like facial features including horns, a pointed beard and a wide, flat nose. Though he has no association with malevolence whatsoever, his correlation with pagan religion and licentiousness set him in

opposition to Christian morals. Again, Christians demonized this pagan symbol by incorporating him into their own figure of ultimate evil. By the turn of the first millennium, artistic depictions of the devil with strikingly Pan-like features were being mixed with Egyptian Weighing of the Souls motifs (Link 51). A related Greek mythological influence on early conceptions of devils is Pan’s flock of satyrs and their perceived similarities with the so-called “wild men” of the Middle Ages. Reclusive and often criminal bands of men living on the outskirts of society were a perpetual problem in medieval times. Their scraggy attire, exceptionally unkempt hair, and crude behaviors motivated an association with the already demonized satyrs, keeping the fear of devils on earth a vivid reality. As a result, Pan’s hairy goat legs were replaced on the Devil with a unique, furry, caveman-like skirt, resembling the handmade clothing of these wild men. This terrifying idea of the wild man, along with the caveman skirt, remained until the fifteenth century and was all but eliminated by the sixteenth century as the Age of Exploration replaced such fears with the idea of the foreign savage (Link 51-52). At this time, the numerous devils of Satan’s horde appear to be more of an obnoxious nuisance than a serious threat. They are commonly depicted as a bothersome bundle of fuzzy microbe-like creatures. Although germs were not discovered until the nineteenth century, it was ordinarily understood by the relatively ignorant masses that devils were lurking everywhere and were the cause for everything from a sneeze to demonic possession and improper sexual thoughts (Link 40). Contact with foreigners often brought about many of these apparent evils, not the least of which might have been death.

The first appearances of a Devil wielding a trident were in the ninth century when there was a brief resurgence of classical interests. Another important contribution from the classical world is the Devil’s pitchfork or trident. The first appearances of the Devil wielding a trident were in the ninth century when there was a brief resurgence of classical interests. The trident is derived from Poseidon, which in turn has its origins in the triple lightning bolt held by Adad, the old Babylonian weather-god who predates the second millennium BCE (Link 13). There are no literary or scriptural traditions for the Devil’s pitchfork. Only these visual clues give us an inclination of its sources. The Devil’s trident of the ninth century was a short-lived phenomenon that did not return until the revival of classical studies during the Renaissance. A common physical feature of the Devil in early Christianity and through much of the Middle Ages is his fiery hair. There are three major sources for this trait. Many ancient portraits of pagan gods show them with shaggy or wildly unkempt hair. Similarly, the Gorgons, a group of female creatures from classical mythology with live, venomous snakes for hair, may be a source (Link 65). Medusa is the best known of these figures. The third influence comes from Bes, the Egyptian god who was ironically a talisman against evil. Bes

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often wears a headdress with ostrich feathers or cobras (Link 61). All three of these visual influences were likely to have been misconstrued and incorrectly interpreted as being ablaze when artists transferred them to visual depictions of the Devil. Prior to the Renaissance and the rise of humanism, Satan is most commonly depicted as a dragon with seven heads being vanquished by the archangel Michael, the commander of the Army of God. The seven-headed dragon comes from a passage in the Biblical book of Revelation describing Satan’s uprising and is in turn based on an early Babylonian tale that appears to be the first definitive source of a seven-headed dragon (Link 92). Proof of the relevance of Babylonian influence on Christian tradition is evident in the appearance of the Babylonian Flood story in the Bible. Another strong influential source for the dragon or serpent motif is the demonic god Angra Mainyu from the Zoroastrian faith of the ancient Middle East (Messadie 83). In Zoroastrianism, Mainyu is “the bringer of death and evil personified” (Ward and Steeds 6). This serpent influence is also one source for the snake motif used in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. A major turning point in the Devil’s evolution in art history occurred in 1184 when the Medieval Inquisition was formed (Link 93). The prolific use

The prolific use of torture by the Church heightened the sense of gruesomeness seen in works concerning the Devil and hell.


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of torture by the Church heightened the sense of gruesomeness seen in works concerning the Devil and hell. The creative imaginations of artists took flight during the late Medieval and Romanesque periods in particular, at the height of the persecution of Christian heretics. Two extremely relevant changes took place in the depictions of the Devil in artistic images during this period. One is that the pitchfork discussed earlier and occasionally seen in the grasp of the Devil suddenly became a twopronged grapnel, the preferred torture device of the Inquisition. The prolific and graphic depiction of the grapnel and other torture devices like the rack, the wheel, and disembowelment techniques supports Russell’s claim that the Devil, in his role as punisher, was a cohort of God and, by implication, the Church. The grapnel is a poignant and persistent reminder that the Devil was perceived during the Inquisition as an accomplice of God, not just his adversary (Link 14). Dante Alighieri’s epic poem the Divine Comedy was the first significant literary source of inspiration for pictorial representations of the Devil and hell since the Bible. Written between 1308 and 1321, this masterpiece established a descriptive allegorical vision of the different levels of the Christian afterworld that had a lasting effect on the visual appearance of demonic scenes in art for centuries to come. In describing hell, however, Dante’s focus is more on the organization of the underworld and the anguish of the sinners rather than a portrayal of the Devil. One very important detail from Dante’s Satan was retained, however: bat wings. In an unusual twist of convention, Dante places Satan partially submerged in a frozen lake in the middle of hell where his constantly beating bat wings perpetu-

ally freeze the water around him. This giant Satan also has three faces that continually feed on Judas, Brutus, and Cassius, re-popularizing the tripartite Devil theme in subsequent art. Medieval bestiaries were another source of imaginative inspiration for changes that took place at this time regarding the physical features of the Devil and his imps. The Devil himself was in fact often catalogued alongside other beasts in such books (Graf 50). These popular collections of mythology-inspired creatures spawned a new style of art in the late Medieval and Romanesque periods. Hybrid monsters performing unspeakable actions were the specialty of artists like Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. The next progression in the Devil’s appearance occurred during the Renaissance. The advent of the humanist philosophical movement in this period created a desire to sympathize with even the worst and lowest of beings. As a result, even the Devil himself became more human. He is most commonly seen as a fallen angel during this period, and his previously bat-like wings have changed into the feathered wings of heavenly beings. He becomes a pitiable creature to sympathize with rather than a monster to be feared. Even in the few paintings where he is still represented as the dragon that Michael slays, he is a single-headed, pathetic creature who poses no real challenge to the angel and seems to accept his defeat. In keeping with the traditions of the Renaissance that reintroduced themes from classical antiquity, the trident from Poseidon reappears and replaces the medieval grapnel. An unusual blending of classical and Christian themes takes place during this time. The most famous and

When the Devil wasn’t completely ignored in art, he was trivialized, mocked, and even treated comically. exemplary piece of artwork to display this merging is Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment on the end wall of the Sistine Chapel. This work does not include the Devil but instead includes the classical Greek figure Charon, the ferryman of Hades who carries the dead across the river Styx, which divides the world of the living from that of the dead. Additionally, abiding by the humanist convention, the forms of the devils in this work are so human-like that they are often indistinguishable from the souls of the damned. The Enlightenment period witnessed a dramatic decline in religiosity and, subsequently, popular belief in the Devil. Science, philosophy, and critical thinking replaced blind faith in religious dogma. In this period of scientific discovery, the unknown was no longer a threat and the Devil began to fade into the back of the human mind (Stanford 84). When the Devil wasn’t completely ignored in art, he was trivialized, mocked, and even treated comically. Johann Wolfgang van Goethe’s late eighteenth century moralizing play Faust was a significant literary influence on artistic representations of the Devil during this time. Goethe’s Devil character, Mephistopheles, was a suave, witty, and deceptive being, able to blend in and hobnob with the upper echelons of society (except, of course, for his

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hoofed feet). This character is perhaps the most direct influential source for the now common sleazy and immoral, though not vicious, Devil. The Romantic era was a reaction against the rational and impassionate thinking of the Enlightenment. In this movement, the Devil was idolized as a rebellious hero and a symbol for those willing to stand up against the established order (Stanford 208). This became a popular image during the American and French revolutions in which citizens overthrew oppressive governmental authorities. Though written in the previous century, John Milton’s novel Paradise Lost was profoundly influential to the art of the Romantic era. Milton’s Satan became the epitome of the Romantic hero or antihero. The work gave a deeply reflective psychological profile of the Devil that had never been revealed before. William Blake and Gustave Dore, perhaps the two most influential Romantic artists, created exceptionally memorable illustrations of both the Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost during this time. They are counted among the most inspiring and moving artistic depictions of the Devil throughout history. By the late 1800s, the Romantic movement had begun to decline into a state of decadence. It was a widely held belief that the existence of man was eroding into an ethically corrupt and

morally self-destructive pattern. During this time the Devil largely became a metaphor for the follies and foolishness of man. He lost all of his terrifying and brutish qualities and instead resembled what would today be comparable to a caricature of a shady car salesman. The realization that humanity’s own actions might possibly present a stronger reality of evil than any Devil figure was beginning to make its way to the surface of ideas in the modern age. The first half of the twentieth century witnessed not one, but two atrocious wars. The unimaginable horrors witnessed by soldiers on the battlefields and the realities of war, viewed for the first time by the public due to the advent of photography, were beyond the evils any artist could create on canvas. After World War I, pictures of the Devil were purely metaphorical or symbolic. The Devil became only one of many symbols that represented a nearly universal understanding of pure evil. He was replaced with the likenesses of Adolf Hitler or Jospeh Stalin. The swastika provoked more mental images of evil than the pitchfork. Artists now create scenes of destroyed cities, brutally mutilated bodies or atomic mushroom clouds to represent evil. Yet even these iconographies are losing their potency. The overuse of comparisons between our political leaders and Hitler is just one of many examples of this trivialization

Far from being the adversary or even accomplice of an omnipotent God of good, the Devil’s figure has now become the idol of a god himself: the god of nihilism and despair.


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of contemporary signifiers of evil. The Devil has been all but eliminated from our repertoire of iconographic images of radical evil. The path of his transformation from a literal figure used as a scapegoat for human fears to a figurative embodiment of the ills of mankind parallels the progress man has made in reclaiming his own fate. Far from being the adversary or even accomplice of an omnipotent God of good, the Devil’s figure has now become the idol of a god himself: the god of nihilism and despair (Messadie 322). We are slowly learning to reject that idol. Now the Devil merely represents man’s fascination with evil. His image represents the potential for evil within

all of us. His gradual disappearance from our best form of cultural expression—art—demonstrates that we have recognized that evil has infiltrated our world in a more profound way than on merely theological or visual levels. It also reveals that we are outraged at having discovered that we are our own source of evil, and this revelation is the first step to eliminating it. It is through an understanding of the ways in which we have manipulated our concepts of evil and the Devil throughout history that we can begin to acknowledge our own role in the creation and perpetuation of such horrors and, by extension, the importance of our involvement in the defeat of good over evil.

Works Cited Graf, Arturo. Art of the Devil. New York: Parkstone, 2009. Link, Luther. The Devil: The Archfiend in Art From the Sixth to the Sixteenth Century. London: Harry N. Abrams, 1995. Messadie, Gerald. A History of the Devil. New York: Kodansha, 1997. Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World. Ithaca: Cornell, 1986. Stanford, Peter. The Devil. New York: Henry Holt, 1996. Ward, Laura and Will Steeds. Demons: Visions of Evil in Art. London: Carlton Books, 2007.

Volume 23, Number 2, Fall 2011



umans Made of Clay The scientific world strives to explain everyday phenomena in a simplistic, succinct manner that most individuals can understand and accept. In physical sciences, scientific inquiries are fairly straightforward; tests are conducted, mathematically-backed theories are created, and the phenomena observed are elucidated. The social sciences, however, including economics, a field whose methodology is inspired by the systematic methods used by the physical sciences, hit a dilemma when striving for simple, test-proven models. It is intrinsically more difficult to accurately explain and predict how extremely complex organisms like humans behave. People are constantly being molded by the vicissitudes that make up their realities and are thus rarely finished, inert beings. These daily occurrences are often repetitive, reinforced in given contexts, and variable from place to place. They are usually the products of traditions, cultures, and values that individuals inherit from the location where they are raised and live, but are by no means limited in this regard. Now, how can some scientist, social or not, explain cultural variations in human behavior using a relatively simplistic, concise model that accounts for the influences

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Iric Guthrie

mentioned above? Curiously, many economists have tried and, even using the advanced weaponry of mathematics and statistics that economics employs, failed. The fact of the matter is that culture, traditions, and experiences determine how every single individual behaves, but the strengths of the different influences vary for each individual. This paper examines the intricate variations in behavior that arise from these influences. Guiding that examination will be the works of leading game theory experimentalists whose studies have raised serious doubts about the behavioral accuracy of the minimalist conception of Homo economicus: the individual actor with self-regarding and outcome-based preferences.i Neo-classical economists, whose models inform mainstream economic theory, propose that human behavior can be modeled as resulting from highly individualistic, rational decision-making. The rational actor chooses from among options available to him or her in order to achieve the highest level of satisfaction, or utility. Rarely do these models include consideration of how those choices might affect others; the economic actor acts alone to maximize his or her own utility. But behavioral economists often find

significant deviation from the outcomes predicted in classic economic theory by using the archetypal Ultimatum Game example. I shall explore these results from an observational perspective, theorize on the best way to incorporate them into more realistic economic and game models, and discern why humans tend to behave in these non-maximizing manners. The selfish maximization theory described above continuously lacks empirical support, and it is a wonder that a better model has yet to be accepted by mainstream economics. I. Evidence Against Current Theories Classical economic theory predicts that individuals maximize their returns to achieve the highest level of utility possible: the rationality bit. To test this hypothesis, certain economists conduct studies that place subjects in competitive game scenarios where individuals are pitted against one another in order to win the highest payoff. In many cases, the game being played is an Ultimatum Game. Here, a player is given a sum of money to split between herself and her opponent in any way she sees fit. Her opponent either accepts the offer and both players take their allocations, or he rejects it and neither player receives any payoff. Assume that the initial amount in the allocator’s control is $10. The selfinterest, money-maximizing model unequivocally predicts that the allocator will propose $9.99 for herself and the remaining $0.01 for the receiver, and that the receiver will accept on the grounds that a penny is better than nothing.ii For a true-blooded economist, it makes all too much sense to take almost all of the money and only offer a very small amount to the other player. In this case,

the allocator and the decider are both better off than before. The problem with this scenario is that it almost never happens. This model fails to consider so many external factors that can influence the players in very drastic ways that it fails to capture reality. Take, for instance, information. Even if the rules of the game are explicitly explained to both players, it is more than possible that the individuals will interpret them slightly differently. In addition, some recipients may rebuff a low offer because they believe the outcome would be unjust. Others might refuse a low offer on the basis of pride or to punish a player they see as too greedy. Declining a low offer does not maximize the decliner’s monetary outcome and is a clear deviation from classical predictions. More and more economists believe that too few economists study human nature, which is likely a key reason for deviations from the classic model. II. Human Nature Before getting into the effects this subject has on the way people behave in games, prudence is necessary to dispel some of the ambiguity the term “human nature” has. For the purposes of this paper, human nature refers to the emotional and societal development one can undergo over the course of one’s life and how the results of this potential are reflected in competitive situations, namely games and markets. Repetition of these influences over varying lengths of time affect the way humans behave in many circumstances and can eventually be incorporated as a social norm. We know very little about the process of cultural transmission— who acquires what trait from whom, under what conditions, and whyiii—but reasonable generalizations can be made

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by studying certain behavioral traits that arise in games. Most likely, cultural traits and traditions are passed on from generation to generation because of the perceived harmony and well-being that the group experiences by conforming to them. Altruism, for instance, is generally favored in cooperative cultures because the entire society usually benefits from it in some regard. In an effort to explain human altruism, Ernst Fehr and Klaus Schmidt (1999) and Fehr and Urs Fischbacher (2002, 2003) conducted various experiments, including forms of the Ultimatum Game. Upon commencing their study on altruism, the authors were forced to make a key distinction in a type of altruism that appears to be uniquely human. This type of phenomenon arises when individuals punish or reward another person, leaving the original individual no better off and sometimes worse off.iv Fehr et al. observe this happening in many different game scenarios, but none more revealing than a game involving third parties that resembles our classic Ultimatum Game. In this experiment, an allocator, a recipient, and a third party player are used in a Dictator Game to observe the effects of altruistic punishment. The game is structured like so: The allocator is endowed with 100 monetary units (MUs), the recipient has no endowment, and the third party is endowed with 50 MUs. The allocator is free to give whatever he wants to the ‘poor’ recipient. After the third party has been informed about the allocator’s transfer to the recipient, he can spend money to punish the allocator. Every MU spent on punishment reduces the allocator’s income by three MUs.v


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In experiments like these, participants actually keep the money that results from the game. Therefore, a player who spends MUs loses real cash. Let’s place our attention on the third party, skipping for a moment the potential non-maximization tendencies of the allocator. In this game, the third party has no connection to either the rich allocator or the poor recipient, and, given our theories that individuals moneymaximize, the third party should not be expected to even consider punishing the allocator for an “unfair” allocation. Intriguingly, however, the third party players are very likely to punish an allocator if the offer was deemed lower than what seemed fair. When allocations were below 50 MUs in Fehr and Fischbacher’s experiments, around 60% of third party players punished the Of this 60%, punishment levels increased as allocations decreased, showing that the more unfair allocators were, the further third party members were willing to sacrifice in order to punish them. Why do third parties give up a portion of MUs that they will never be able to recover? The reason, based on our earlier discussions, involves the environment to which individuals are subjected. If a social norm has been established, in this case one of fairness or reciprocity, a large percentage of subjects are willing to enforce distribution and cooperation norms even though they incur costs and reap no economic benefit from their sanctions and even though they have not been directly harmed by the norm violation.vii Basically, the norm trumps the selfish model. Knowing this, allocators are unlikely to keep all of the money to themselves for fear of being punished by third party players and the very real possibility that the recipient could decline under the same notion of punishment.

Given this data and conclusion, one could argue that individuals could act in a self-interested manner without fear of sanction if that is the culture to which they are exposed. If an individual were constantly exposed to economic theory on how humans behave, he or she would be expected to behave according to these principles in games. This may be what we are experiencing today in the United States as the self-interested models are currently quite popular. Appeals to the “free market” and antipathy toward tax structures and programs that redistribute wealth have gained political traction. Why these tendencies develop, be they through power demographics, political discourse, or some other form of monetary distribution, remains to be seen, although the rhetoric around these ideas directly links them to one version of social well-being. Let’s now look at the effects longterm influences can have on the populations of distinctly different cultures to see what can be discovered about this new maximization. III. Modeled Behavior: A macro scale of social norms

To examine long-term cultural influences on different populations, Alvin Roth et al. (1991) and Joseph Henrich (2000) took their extensive behavioral toolkits to various regions around the world to conduct gaming experiments in cultures that rarely came into contact with each other. Roth et al. played Ultimatum Games in Pittsburgh, Ljubljana, Jerusalem and Tokyo. The experiment had three substantive goals: (i) to compare behavior in related bargaining and market environments; (ii) to compare behavior in very different subject pools in order to assess the effect that subject pool differences

Why these tendencies develop, be they through power demographics, political discourse, or some other form of monetary distribution, remains to be seen. may have and to assess how this effect may differ in the bargaining and market environments; and (iii) to use such differences as may be found between subject pools to test and refine hypotheses about the out-of-equilibrium behavior that has frequently been observed in bargaining games of the kind examined here.viii With this in mind, controls were put in place to ensure that each game in each city was conducted in the same relative manner and with the same relative amount of monetary value in the pool to be offered. As implied above, games were conducted in two fashions. The first was a simple bargaining situation, which was for all intents and purposes a straight Ultimatum Game. The other was a one-period market scenario where sets of buyers offered sellers a price for a given good that sellers could either accept and take the money offered or reject. If a buyer’s price was rejected, he received nothing, which gave him an incentive to bid competitively amongst the other buyers. The buyer whose bid was accepted would receive the difference between the price he offered and the value given to the good being purchased. The results showed that each of the countries’ market games converged to high bids from the buyers, as predicted by the selfish model.ix Because buyers were essentially pitted against each

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other when making offers to the sellers, who could compare bids, they incrementally had to raise bids until they reached a near if not total maximum, leaving themselves with little to no gain but still better off, if only by a fraction. Examining the individual, non-market Ultimatum Game results, however, the experimentalist found striking differences in the offers made by proposers and the acceptance rates of the responders. In Pittsburgh and Ljubljana, proposers tended to offer higher initial amounts, and lower offers in these regions had a higher rate of rejection. This finding is consistent with an established social norm of fairness in these two cities. In Jerusalem, responders usually received lower offers than their American and Slavic counterparts but were more likely to accept these offers, evidence that a social norm of fairness did not predominate there. Tokyo participants averaged in between the two extremes. Given the controls to adjust for currency, game scenarios, and, of course, language, a clear deviation occurs from the expected money-maximizing outcome, which predicts proposers will offer the absolute minimum amount of money if any at all.x None of the cities, not even Jerusalem, offered the minimum amount of money (that is, zero MUs) to the responders. This raises the question: what exactly is making the

Not only is the deviation from the expected occurring, but there are also many different types of deviation.


Best Student Essays

participants deviate from the outcomes self-interest economics predicts? The answer most likely lies in the cultures present in each of the games. Not only is the deviation from the expected occurring, but there are also many different types of deviation. Each region shows different results, which implies that the cultures that exist in each region have had a degree of influence on the people that live in them. Henrich administered tests (Ultimatum Games) in the Peruvian Amazon with a tribe named the Machiguenga who were almost entirely economically independent at the family level and engaged rarely in productive activities involving more than members of a family.xi They also had limited contact with Western agents. To conduct the experiments, Henrich used a control group of graduate students at UCLA, who were given the same value of money in the allocator’s pot. With the Machiguenga, he found offers to average around 25% or so of the original pot of money, where at UCLA the results hovered at 48%, with both types receiving low rejection rates.xii When further tests were evaluated in other Western-influenced regions, the results varied between 40 and 50%, still significantly higher than the Machiguenga. Curiously, the far-removed indigenous tribe of Peru managed to behave more similarly to the predicted outcomes of money-maximizing than their Western counterparts. The large variations across the different cultural groups suggest that preferences or expectations are affected by group-specific conditions, such as social institutions or cultural fairness norms.xiii Given the Machiguenga’s isolated family units, it makes sense that they would offer little to those members outside of the group. In an effort to prove this, allocators

were asked to explain the reasoning behind their offers. The graduate students claimed to have behaved “fairly” for fear of being rejected for low offers, while the recipients agreed that unfair offers would not be accepted.xiv With the Machiguenga, however, participants explained that fairness was not really an issue. Offers were low and accepted as thus because the individuals believed that being chosen as the allocator was a matter of luck and that taking more of the money would be accepted because players gain in the end.xv Henrich was also sure to note that the few Machiguenga who did make offers closer to 50% were more heavily influenced by Westerners and had acted under principles of fairness similar to what the graduate students had described. This study clearly shows that culture does in fact influence the way people behave in games. Furthermore, it shows that in some cultures “fairness” is considered necessary for all participants to gain, while in others “fairness” plays second fiddle to luck. Therefore, deviation from the equilibrium should be expected and accepted as games are played in between cultures. IV. Modeled Behavior: From lifetimes to seconds—a micro scale of social norms

The participants used in the above experiments were subjected to their respective influences (their cultures) for nearly the entirety of their lives up to the point that they played the Ultimatum Games. On average, these individuals demonstrated similarities within their own cultures and differences when compared to others. The next task is to observe what would happen if an individual were implanted into a game situation that exhibited different tendencies

from his own culture. This individual would act as a deviant from the norm of the group. What happens to the group averages after a deviant is placed in a cooperative gaming situation? Specifically, can a selfish, money-maximizing individual cause cooperators to act more selfishly and can an altruistic individual cause selfish individuals to change their behavior as well? If so, how long will it take? Will individuals change preferences and game strategies when exposed to new information immediately, or over the long term? In fact, the lengths of time referred to above can be almost instantaneous. Iris Bohnet and Richard Zeckhauser (2004) used four different Ultimatum Games to show how certain social influences can affect the outcomes of games. Classic theory would suggest, of course, that responders would accept any offers, because by rejecting, they would give up an absolute increase in money despite increasing the disparity between themselves and their referents.xvi For each game, Bohnet and Zeckhauser allotted different amounts of information to the responders in each round. The key piece of information given was the average amount offered by the proposers in other games. As responders’ information grew on how their contemporaries were fairing, they were significantly more likely to reject an offer below the average. Proposers changed their offers in a comparative manner to better fit this average in order to decrease the probability of rejection. This caused the game to result in mostly evenly split pots in the rounds following new information. This game demonstrates, among other things, that humans can be affected quite quickly by external factors. These quick and slight adaptations come into

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being because they are the more successful behaviors or strategies in the moment. Humans exhibit this malleable behavior under the direct influence of external factors, all of which can be demonstrated by their game-playing tendencies when information changes. In short, external irregularities arise, humans adapt on the spot, and their strategies become more successful on the margin. V. Discussion Humans behave according to their respective cultures, which can vary significantly in scale. So what? Let’s go back to our discussion of the main reasons to partake in scientific practices: to explain and to predict. In order for economists and game theorists to really have a grasp on explaining and predicating behavior, they must explain deviations from the expected models that capture the way their subjects have acted. While the majority of experimentalists are stuck using the same models and methods that predict self-interest maximization, the human world continues to function as a product of the limitless cultural institutions of which it is made. Be it on the large or small scales, humans behave according to a plethora of influences such as birth location, developmental experiences, a ten-minute speech, or a repeated theory on how one should behave. Assuming that humans act only in a self-interested manner is merely the product of a certain subculture that tells people how the world works. The study and theory of economics induces specific behaviors— self-regarding, opportunistic, or cooperative, say—which then become part of the behavioral repertoire of the individual.xvii If these theories and studies become institutionalized enough, we


Best Student Essays

may see a large-scale change in people’s regard for each other. Why is this the case? Think about some simple biology for a moment. Humans are the products of cells, the tiny compartmentalized units that work and function in unison both internally and externally to make our lives possible. Like cells, humans must constantly adapt and change in order to keep moving forward while at the same time maintaining cohesion and organization. Individual humans are the cells that make up the body that is society. With constant self-interest decisions and money-maximizing notions taking place, the society, like the body, would collapse. We are social beings and will act like social beings for the foreseeable future, so it is about time our models were adjusted to take this into account. From our Ultimatum Game studies, we can see that the majority of humans act according to non-maximizing strategies (maximum being the highest monetary value) that bring about social unity, and from here we must begin to construct better, more comprehensive models in order to better explain how and why humans work and behave the way they do. Fehr is a prime example of a researcher and experimentalist who is on the right track, but even his models fall short in perfectly explaining the human condition. Like their predecessors, current theorists are at risk of falling under the “simplicity curse,” where in striving to construct the most comprehensive model possible, they actually end up settling for the all-encompassing simple model. Most importantly, they must not for a moment assume that any model can fully capture how each individual will behave. We can never assume that an impoverished child will certainly grow up to lead a life of crime, or that every sub-

urban prince goes on to live in eternal comfort. What we have explored is that the outcomes of games can be better predicted if certain communal preferences can be factored into the explanatory model. These can then give economists

and game theorists better statistical predictions about how humans will behave in given scenarios and enlighten the masses that they are not Homo economicus. As we have shown, our species is much more adaptive than that.

Notes Bowles, Samuel. “Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions.” Journal of Economic Literature 36.1 (1998): 75-111, p. 103 ii Frank, Robert H., Thomas Gilovich, and Dennis T. Regan. “Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 7.2 (1993): 159-71, p. 161 iii Bowles 103 iv Fehr, Ernst, and Urs Fischbacher. “The Nature of Human Altruism.” Nature 425 (Oct. 2003): 785-91, p.785 v Fehr, “The Nature of Human Altruism” 786 vi Fehr, “The Nature of Human Altruism” 786 vii Fehr, Ernst, and Urs Fischbacher. “ThirdParty Punishment and Social Norms.” Evolution and Human Behavior 25.2 (2004): 63-87. viii Roth, Alvin E., et al. “Bargaining and Market Behavior in Jerusalem, Ljubljana, Pittsburgh, and Tokyo: An Experimental Study.” The American Economic Review 81.5 i

(1991): 1068-1095, p. 1068 Roth 1070 x Roth 1071 xi Henrich, Joseph, et al. “In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies.” The American Economic Review 91.2 (2001): 73-78, p. 76 xii Henrich, Joseph. “Does Culture Matter in Economic Behavior? Ultimatum Game Bargaining among the Machiguenga of the Peruvian Amazon.” The American Economic Review 4 (Sept. 2000): 973-979, p. 977 xiii Henrich, “In Search of Homo Economicus” 75 xiv Henrich, “Does Culture Matter in Economic Behavior?” 977 xv Henrich, “Does Culture Matter in Economic Behavior?” 977 xvi Bohnet, Iris, and Richard Zeckhauser. “Social Comparisons in Ultimatum Bargaining.” The Scandinavian Journal of Economics 106.3 (2004): 495-510, p. 498 xvii Bowles 80 ix

Works Cited Bohnet, Iris, and Richard Zeckhauser. “Social Comparisons in Ultimatum Bargaining.” The Scandinavian Journal of Economics 106.3 (2004): 495-510. Bowles, Samuel. “Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions.” Journal of Economic Literature 36.1 (1998): 75-111. Fehr, Ernst, and Urs Fischbacher. “Why Social Preferences Matter —The Impact of Non-Selfish Motives on Competition, Cooperation and Incentives.” The Economic Journal 112.478 (2002): C1-C33. Fehr, Ernst, and Urs Fischbacher. “The Nature of Human Altruism.” Nature 425 (Oct. 2003): 785-91. Fehr, Ernst, and Urs Fischbacher. “ThirdParty Punishment and Social Norms.” Evolution and Human Behavior 25.2 (2004): 63-87. Fehr, Ernst, and Klaus M. Schmidt. “A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 114.3 (1999): 817-68.

Frank, Robert H., Thomas Gilovich, and Dennis T. Regan. “Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 7.2 (1993): 159-71. Guiso, Luigi, Paola Sapienza, and Luigi Zingales. “Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 20.2 (2006): 23-48. Henrich, Joseph. “Does Culture Matter in Economic Behavior? Ultimatum Game Bargaining among the Machiguenga of the Peruvian Amazon.” The American Economic Review 4 (Sept. 2000): 973-979. Henrich, Joseph, et al. “In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies.” The American Economic Review 91.2 (2001): 73-78. Miller, Dale T. “The Norm of Self-Interest.” American Psychologist 54.12 (1999): 10531060. Roth, Alvin E., et al. “Bargaining and Market Behavior in Jerusalem, Ljubljana, Pittsburgh, and Tokyo: An Experimental Study.” The American Economic Review 81.5 (1991): 1068-1095.

Volume 23, Number 2, Fall 2011





Laurisa Galvan

South Central Dallas has a population that is predominately African American and the area is largely characterized by poverty. The crime rate is also higher in this area than in any other part of the city. This ongoing series I am working on documents the day-by-day existence for those who live within this community. It is a reality that few experience and one that is usually closed off to those who do not understand or are not experiencing it themselves. I worked my way into the community and was trusted enough to see what daily life is like for those that make up the statistics. I hope these photographs give my insight into another reality: that of those who live in an urban area where the odds are against them.

Best Student Essays


The House Where My

randmother Lived I glanced at my mother before sliding the weathered key into the lock in the doorknob. With a gentle push the key turned, though not quite as smoothly as I had remembered, and I opened the door to my late grandmother’s house. The dimming daylight filled the kitchen with a soft glow, illuminating the path into the house. Even though it had been over seven years since I’d entered my grandmother’s home, instinct—or perhaps habit—led my hand to the light switch on the wall. The tips of my index and forefingers felt the smooth plastic of the light switch while my other fingers dipped into a crevice surrounding the switch. I pushed up and light flooded the room. Curious as to why the light switch felt funny, I looked at it and I realized the plate that hid the hole surrounding the switch was gone. Open wires stuck out of the hole and I felt a heavy weight sink into my stomach. Something was not right here. My mother drew in a breath while I studied the light switch and I turned back to look at her. Her hand covered her mouth as she stared past me into the kitchen. I turned to see my grandmother’s kitchen table—with the orange paisley tablecloth I had eaten most of my childhood lunches on—covered

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Rachel Lamb

with stacks of mail, dirty paper plates, bottles of car oil, tools, and more fast food wrappers than I could count. Briefly, I imagined one of many Thanksgiving dinners which had been held at that table. I imagined my grandmother watching us all, waiting for us to serve ourselves before she took food for herself. What had once been a selfless and loving woman’s dining table had been turned into nothing more than storage space. I shook my head and turned away, seeking refuge from the sight. Instead, I noticed a fly strip hanging in the middle of the room just above my mother’s head. It had dozens of dead flies caught in its sticky trap and was covered in a thick layer of dust. I looked around the room and saw three more fly strips in the same condition. My wild heartbeat sounded in my ears as adrenaline flowed through me and tears welled in my eyes. My grandmother’s counters were covered with dirty dishes and trash. Her cooking and baking supplies were in the same spot I had last seen them, though they were dirty and home to several families of spiders. Even her cookie jar still sat in the corner of the counter near the stove. The sight of it among the trash and filth made me sick.

I turned my back on the cookie jar and moved to the stove where so many healthy and hearty meals had been prepared. Strips of masking tape with names of entrees and side dishes were stuck along the back of the stove, some curled and coming unstuck. My grandmother had planned to make many more meals, the leftovers of which would be labeled and stored so as not to be wasteful. I looked away from the strips of tape and saw the one thing I had been hoping to find upon entering her home. My eager fingers pulled the bundle of recipe cards from their cradle on the side of the refrigerator. I held them tightly and my heartbeat began to slow. My grandmother’s calendar from February of 2001 was still fixed to the refrigerator door. I let my eyes move over the familiar writing on the calendar and focused on the day of the twentysixth: the day my grandmother passed away. The square was empty with no special events, get-togethers, birthdays, or appointments marked. I imagined my grandmother’s hand filling in her calendar and skipping right over the day that would prove to stick in my mind for the rest of my life. Briefly, I wondered how she would have changed her calendar had she known her life was about to end. With trembling hands, I took the calendar from its place on the fridge. “Her cabinets are still stocked,” my mother said. I turned to see her holding one open. A box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes greeted me; the rooster on the box held its head aloft as though singing its freedom. I sighed, squeezed my mother’s shoulder, and left the room. I entered the living room and stopped dead in my tracks. A car engine sat in the middle of the floor, oil stains surrounding it. Behind it, my grandmother’s orange recliner sat abandoned in the shadows. I crossed the room and sat down in

the chair as tears spilled from my eyes. Rocking back and forth, I remembered the way my grandmother used to hold me as we watched soap operas together. I glanced to the side. Her watch lay on the table beside the chair. Its arms no longer moved and the crystal had begun to yellow, but I picked it up and slid it onto my wrist, vowing to keep it forever. My gaze fell back to the table and I saw the small box she had used to store her gum when she wanted to take a break from chewing. A wad of gum still lay in the box. I rocked for a while longer before convincing myself to get up and see what other horrors had been left for us by my grandmother’s husband. I would never call him “grandfather” again, I decided. After her death he had locked us out of her house and all but destroyed the spirit of the home she had built. The rest of the house revealed more damage than I had anticipated. Memories of my grandmother seemed tainted and disrespected. My mother and I left a short time later, but I returned early the next morning with my best friend. We took everything we could find that meant something to me or to my grandmother: photo albums, ceramic deer (her favorite animal), retirement photos, and even the Scrabble game she and I used to play. In doing so, I reclaimed the memory of my grandmother and I felt at peace for the first time in seven years.

I let my eyes move over the familiar writing on the calendar and focused on the day of the twenty-sixth: the day my grandmother passed away. Volume 23, Number 2, Fall 2011



hicks With Sticks Laura Eberhardt Conducting, one might well think, is fundamentally a sado-masochistic ritual involving either virile young male turks whipping orchestras into frenzies with tapering batons of birch and maple, or sage old men waving their penis substitutes in front of a bunch of instrument-playing stiffs in irksome collars.1


conductors are like black quarterbacks—leaders who set the tone

for the team,’ says DePreist, who will conduct the Juilliard Orchestra’s ‘100th Anniversary Concert’ in March at downtown’s Copley Symphony Hall. ‘Football teams are now led with great regularity by black quarterbacks. It’s no big deal. And that will increasingly happen with women at orchestras.’2

The first time I conducted a concert was for an elementary school band I was teaching. In reality, I didn’t do much conducting because the students had been playing their instruments for about three months and the five songs we played didn’t total much more than five minutes. I didn’t use a baton and I used small gestures because the group of eleven students was right in front of me and it made them watch more closely. Usually band directors stand up front, conduct the ensemble, are applauded after every song, and bow facing forward. Rather than bow to the audience at the end of each piece, I stepped off to the side, gesturing at and applauding for my students. Each student also played a solo of his or her choice. When they played their solos, I walked

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off to the side of the “stage” (the cafeteria floor) right after announcing them. This allowed the students to get the full spotlight. I was beaming afterwards—a flute player who hadn’t made a sound for two and a half months successfully played “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” and the horn player’s solo actually sounded a bit like “Hey Ho, Nobody Home.” After the concert, a middle-aged woman came up to me. I think she may have been a parent of one of the choir kids, because I didn’t recognize her. “I could tell you were so proud of the students in your band. It looked like you could have given birth to each one of them,” she said after shaking my hand. “Oh, um, thank you.” I smiled at her. At that moment I felt an immense amount of pride that my passion had

been noticed, even though that was a strange way to tell me that I was a good band director. I told my mother what this woman had said and laughed about it with her. Then it hit me—my identity as a musician, teacher, and conductor had been usurped by the label of woman. Furthermore, she assumed that as a woman I would become a mother. Rather than praising my teaching, she praised the qualities that would make me a good mother: love and pride in my students. Did these characteristics make me more of a woman than a band director? Imagine the absurd nature of telling a male band director, “It looked like you could have given birth to every one of them,” right after he conducts his high school jazz band. Or even better, say to a twenty-one-year-old college senior, “You were so proud; you looked like you could have fathered every one of your students.” Chicks with Sticks is the title of a Canadian movie about a women’s hockey team that is preparing to play against a local men’s team. It can also refer to female drummers. A website, “Sassy Drums,” sells custom made drum supplies for women—“chicks with sticks” is featured right underneath the website’s title. There is also a book and several websites that use “chicks with sticks” to describe women who knit. More recently, the phrase has become

popular to describe female conductors and has been used in several online articles about the plight of women in the conducting field. I am curious about what is so fascinating about “chicks with sticks.” The fact that it rhymes? Why can’t we just be women conductors? Or knitters? Or hockey players? Or drummers? Being chicks, we are relegated to being considered juvenile. Having a stick does give a chick some power, but she is still associated with an undeveloped object—a stick rather than a branch. This assigns women automatically to a lower position than that of a normal conductor. I don’t hear very many people call male conductors “dudes with twigs.” Not to mention that singling out the tools shaped like sticks that women use in certain hobbies (as opposed to hockey pucks, yarn, drums, or musical scores) emphasizes that women lack the twig that men carry around with them all the time. When I learned to conduct, the professor didn’t let us use a baton for the first half of the class; it was a privilege we had to earn. We began with moving to music using the eight Laban effort actions (used primarily in acting and dance)—Float, Punch (Thrust), Glide, Slash, Dab, Wring, Flick, and Press— to express what we heard in the music. We each made a CD with samples of music from our personal library that

My identity as a musician, teacher, and conductor had been usurped by the label of woman. Volume 23, Number 2, Fall 2011


demonstrated every motion, and then we danced around the classroom to it. This realm of free creativity sharply contrasted with how we were graded on our conducting quizzes, where our posture, assertiveness, and time keeping were under scrutiny. When we finally got our batons, as a class we were again unsure of ourselves, clumsy. When I purchased my baton I had trouble choosing between two of them. One was slightly longer and heavier. I conducted with each of them at the music store over and over. I was finally far enough along in my program to have earned the privilege to use a baton. I was an adult, or on my way to being one. I was going to be a real band director, just like all of my teachers whom I admired so much. After a tense twenty minutes of going back and forth between batons, choosing one and then changing my mind, I picked one. It was ten inches long and the ball at the end was tulipwood. The other one seemed too long for my arm, and anyway, I had heard that short batons were easier to control. Maybe students would pay closer attention, too. The same semester I began to teach at the elementary school, I was also taking my last requirement for teaching instrumental music, a large part of which was a conducting seminar. I remember many times stepping up to the front of the room, lowering the stand (I was the

My professor constantly pushed me to use more masculine gestures to prepare me for a traditional role as a band director. 30

Best Student Essays

shortest person in the class), taking my baton in hand, conducting an excerpt from Mozart or Tchaikovsky, and being told this: “Your gestures need to be larger, Laura. Even though there are only ten people in the class you have to pretend you have to reach the back of the band. Be more assertive.” My professor had me start the piece again. “Alright.” I lifted my hands up, high and far apart. It looked like I was about to stab someone with the baton; I thought that looked about right. Then I swooped them up in what felt like the largest prep gesture known to man. “That was better, but you can do even more. Exaggerate.” He brought up his lanky arms to demonstrate. He was almost seven feet tall and looked like he was going to take flight. The entire class watched me closely. My hands shook visibly. I again lifted my arms, and pretended that I was pummeling the air. “That was it! Wasn’t that a lot easier to read, everyone?” he said. My professor constantly pushed me to use more masculine gestures to prepare me for a traditional role as a band director. In terms of Laban’s actions, I needed to improve my punching, slashing, wringing, flicking, and pressing. I did not show enough force or size in my conducting. I remember one of my professors saying, “At that spot in the music, pretend you are hitting someone you are angry at, a sibling or someone, one of those people who knows how to push your buttons.” I tried to gesture as violently as I could. “That was great!” he said. The students in the class, who were playing the excerpt, played their instruments just as harshly and unnaturally as I had gestured. To my ears, their tone was stretched, loud, and uncontrolled. Dr. Marin Alsop, who in 2007 became the first female conductor of a

major symphony orchestra in the US, says about the gestures she makes as a conductor: The hardest thing for me is always [getting] a big sound from the orchestra without being very demanding or apologising. As a woman, if you’re too aggressive people think, ‘She’s so overpowering. What’s she on us for?’ But if a man does the same gesture, it’s regarded as strong and virile...If you push them too hard, the sound tightens up. I have worked really hard to make my gestures less threatening. Also, when you’re delicate, as a woman sometimes you’re interpreted as being lightweight. Men don’t get that.3 A musician’s first impression of a conductor is often formed first on physical appearance, especially what clothes he or she is wearing. I do not trust the artistry of a conductor who is dressed sloppily or whose hair is undone. Conversely, I am also wary of someone who is too suave and overdressed. These judgments have been bred into me as an ensemble member; unfortunately, I am just as much a part of the system. The audience also plays a part in how a composer must present herself or himself. Since conductors stand up on a podium with hundreds or even thousands of people watching them wave their arms while staring at their backside, clothes must be conservative but mildly sexy. Some audience members attend concerts primarily to watch a famous or particularly handsome conductor. Similarly, whenever my mother and I go to a concert, she enjoys pointing out how hot the conductor’s ass is (or isn’t). She complains when his slacks are too loose or wrinkled, but hails ones that are just

Wear a dress, you are too slutty; wear a suit, you are too butch. tight enough. While it is part of our present musical system to admire the virility of male conductors, many still fear the sexiness of females. The sexiness of women is a problem: if her clothes make her too attractive, many believe she will distract from the music. A dress may be too form fitting and show her curves, bare legs, or cleavage. But if she wears pants, others question whether she is simply trying to be just like a man. Regardless of the choice, women are stuck. Wear a dress, you are too slutty; wear a suit, you are too butch. When I teach, I usually wear long black pants and a collared shirt. A portion of the instrumental music class I took was dedicated to teaching weekly lessons in an area middle school. One time I broke my rule about clothes. The male classmates I taught with usually wore polos and jeans, so one week I figured nice capris and a dressy blouse would be alright: it was still warm outside. (I don’t remember, but it may very well have been that point in the semester when I didn’t seem to have any clean clothes.) When I put on my capris, I hadn’t noticed that they let a bit of my leg hair show, right at the bottom of my shin where it was the thickest. As soon as I stepped out of my car at the school I saw the hair peeking out. I had stopped shaving my legs and

Volume 23, Number 2, Fall 2011


pits for a year or two and was normally nonchalant about when it showed. But my dark leg hair would now be visible in front of a group of judgmental middle schoolers. What if the professor, or my classmates, or the students saw my bushy legs as I stood up on the podium? All six of my male classmates stood out there watching. In the end, no one saw (or at least said anything), but the entire time I was trying to teach the students about how to play in the style of a march I didn’t stop thinking about my legs. Usually I dressed in a feminine shirt and pair of slacks, but ironically the one day I wore something more feminine than this I ended up being self-conscious about my hairy legs. I couldn’t find the balance between my femininity and masculinity. The next week I went back to my normal outfit. Beyond gestures and clothing, women don’t fit the traditional image and temperament for the conductor: virile, aggressive, male. Women have to make a decision about whether to forge a more traditionally feminine path or to take up a masculine identity. Yet this is not much of a choice at all. Women will often not be hired as conductors if they seem weak because of worries about whether a professional ensemble will look up to them. But women also come under fire for being too manly. For the many male conductors I have had, belittling people in front of the en-

Negative stereotypes of women conductors, from weakness to bitchiness, directly affect hiring practices of conductors across the board. 32

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tire ensemble is one of the most popular techniques for improving the quality of performance. This machismo is generally accepted in the conductor world, from my high school band director demanding push-ups and laps to directors of auditioned honor ensembles putting people down in front of everyone. France’s Emmanuelle Haim, who tours with her ensemble Le Concert d’Astree, was quoted in an article in London’s The Independent, saying, “If there are difficult issues, for instance if a male conductor is yelling in a theatre about something, then it’s generally accepted—the way men handle difficult situations is taken as a mark of authority.”4 I recently had a conversation with a friend about the anxiety she suffered playing clarinet in a local youth symphony. Each week the (male) conductor was extremely aggressive about mistakes in the students’ playing, especially with the woodwind players because he played clarinet. He would make her cry in the rehearsal by ridiculing her level of preparation. She told me that she had nightmares about going to orchestra practice every Monday night. Someone makes a mistake? Yell at them, or worse yet, talk about how they are shaming the whole band. I can’t count how many push-ups we did in marching band in high school when one person stepped off early or moved when we were at attention. Haim was quoted in another article, saying, “The institutions are OK with you [as a woman], but they are slightly afraid. A male conductor who is temperamental is ‘difficult.’ The same of a woman, then she is ‘hysterical.’”5 A woman acting in this manner is considered a bitch, off-kilter, and not stable enough to conduct an ensemble. Negative stereotypes of women conductors, from weakness to bitchi-

ness, directly affect hiring practices of conductors across the board, from orchestral conductors to band teachers in the public schools. When hiring public school teachers, principals ask themselves: will she be strong enough for good classroom management? (When I helped a high school band that was mostly ninth graders, many of the students still towered over my five foot three inch frame.) Will she be a good role model for students? In universities, women constitute less than 10 percent of band director positions. In secondary school band programs, the margin rises to 11 percent in schools with over 500 students and 23 percent in smaller schools, according to a 2007 article by Linda A. Hartley and Shelley Jagow.6 I did the math, and for all of the outside ensembles I participated in in high school and middle school I had seventeen male conductors for four female conductors. In Albuquerque, the largest school district in New Mexico, there are four female middle school music directors and one high school band director. Growing up, I wasn’t particularly concerned because I had several influential female directors who overshadowed the fact that there were so few of them. The future of female conductors suffers from two conundrums. First, women cannot get jobs because they do not have experience because they cannot get jobs. In her article “Despite gains, women conductors aren’t exactly crowding the podium,” Valerie Scher said, for the San Diego Chamber Orchestra…the problem was finding women with sufficiently impressive credentials, according to executive director John Santuccio: of the approximately forty applicants

Women cannot get jobs because they do not have experience because they cannot get jobs. from as far away as Australia, ‘five or six were female. We just didn’t think they had the qualifications that were competitive with the other applicants.’7 Second, young women do not have many female conductors to look up to and so do not know that they can take that career path. Karen Keltner, who conducts the San Diego Opera, said, “When I started out, about twenty-five years ago, women conductors were novelties. I still think that many young girls are not exposed to the possibility of being conductors.”8 I was fortunate to have several good female conductors in my teenage years, but I have not played under a woman conducting a band or orchestra for over four years. However, I have become close friends with three female middle school band directors, have observed their teaching, and have been able to teach a bit myself. But most importantly, no one told me I couldn’t become a band director when I decided to major in music, just as no one told me I couldn’t play tuba in the sixth grade. In some ways, my ignorance of misogyny in the music world enabled me to go to college with hope for getting a job. Two women from my past serve as inspiration for me. During my junior year of high school, Mallory Thompson, who teaches at Northwestern Uni-

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versity, conducted my Allstate Honor Band. She was fiery and demanding, just like the conductors for all honor groups I had been in. (It takes a lot of guts to prepare a concert in two days with a hundred high schoolers.) But she also cracked jokes and told us repeatedly how much fun she had working with us. In this concert we performed Lincolnshire Posy by Percy Grainger, a staple of the band literature. The movement “Lord Melborne” begins with a loud brass fanfare that imitates the singing of a folksong by a large drunk man in an English pub. It is not in strict time and the conductor has to conduct each note. During the concert, Dr. Thompson lifted her arms as if the air itself was a dense liquid. Yet she was nimble and lifted this weight with ease. She drew the breath out of me and through the tuba so that each note rang pure and loud, together with thirty other musicians. She was the most powerful woman I had ever seen. The next year, I was in the Allstate Orchestra and the conductor was a tiny Chinese woman whose name I have unfortunately forgotten. She was soft spoken and the shortest conductor I had ever seen, but she had some kind of force that made the entire group of eighteen-year-olds sit still and listen. She could sing every single part in the orchestra right on pitch. In the concert,

When I teach and focus on the music coming from the instruments rather than on my gestures, my arms feel freer.


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I remember barely being able to see her baton moving in the soft sections of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Suite, yet because I had to watch so closely I began to feel the pulse and the softness of the music more deeply. Richard Farnes, a judge for England’s Leed Conductors’ Competition, said, “You need to be pretty sure about what you are doing, and if I am going to be sexist I may as well say this: that [confidence] comes more naturally to a larger percentage of men that it does to women, who are more likely to question themselves.” Farnes is right in saying this is a sexist statement, yet there is an element of truth: why do we question ourselves? Learning to conduct with a baton and having to stand in front of a class of primarily male peers was one of the most intimidating parts of my education. To be the center of attention, the object of so many male gazes—even from female peers, because, just as I am, they are initiates of a patriarchal Western musical system—takes willpower. I never felt like I was conducting correctly: the baton felt out of control while at the same time my arms felt leaden. Yet each time I got up, and even when I shook with nerves, I pretended to know what I was doing. Somehow, this has begun to convince me that I do know what I am doing. Recently, I have been questioning my identity as a female conductor. I do not want to shirk who I am as a woman, yet I feel that if I claim myself as one I will be labeled as weak. This is something I must keep exploring within myself. But I know this: I am not a male who waves his arms like a bird going in for the kill, nor am I the mother of my students. The two women conductors I’ve mentioned forged their own paths and careers while managing to stay them-

selves, and I have them to look up to. At a recent college band concert I attended, the first piece was un-conducted. The group tuned on stage, and then, to the audience’s surprise, the chime player began to play. Then the rest of the group came in, moving in time with the music to stay together. The first clarinetist conducted cutoffs from the front of the ensemble. I was euphoric. I could do this with the group I teach someday. And that’s it. My identity as a teacher overshadows that of a conductor.

Just like this conductor who allowed his band to play alone, I want my students to shine. When I teach and focus on the music coming from the instruments rather than my gestures, my arms feel freer. I do what feels natural, and I’m not afraid or nervous. If I teach the students how to express themselves rather than use gestures to force them, then there is less need for me to even conduct them. I’m not a chick with a stick, but a music teacher who happens to use a baton as a tool for teaching.

Notes Jeffries, Stuart. “Where are all the women conductors?” The Guardian 1 June 2005: 8. The Guardian. 2 June 2005. < jun/02/classicalmusicandopera.gender> 2 Scher, Valerie. “Despite gains, women conductors aren’t exactly crowding the podium.” 16 October 2005. The San Diego Union-Tribune. < html> 3 Jeffries, “Where are all the women conductors?” 4 Duchen, Jessica. “A glass ceiling for women in the orchestra pit.” The Independent 22 January 2010. < features/a-glass-ceiling-for-women-in-the-orchestra-pit-1875075.html> 5 Scher, “Despite gains, women conductors aren’t exactly crowding the podium.” 6 Hartley, Linda, and Shelley Jagow. “Past, Current and Future Trends of the Participation of Gender and Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Band Conducting.” 18 May 2007. Biennial Colloquium for Teachers of Instrumental Music Methods. <> 7 Scher, “Despite gains, women conductors aren’t exactly crowding the podium.” 8 Scher, “Despite gains, women conductors aren’t exactly crowding the podium.” 1

Volume 23, Number 2, Fall 2011



elgian Colonial Rule In the Congo Free State

The Belgian imperialist venture in the Congo Free State was one of the largest and most brutal atrocities in human history. Under the autocratic rule of King Leopold II, an estimated ten million people perished in the name of resource collection and increased revenues (Hochschild 1998). And yet, the rape of the Congo is all but forgotten nearly 100 years after the cessation of Leopold’s personal control over the territory. This paper examines the major elements of the Congo Free State, including its origins, methods and maintenance of resource excavation operations, and eventual demise. This paper also investigates the Congo Free State’s influences on the myriad issues facing the modern Democratic Republic of the Congo. In late 1884, the major European powers convened in Berlin to resolve claims of ownership on the African continent. Present were representatives of King Leopold II’s International Association of the Congo (IAC), the organization that served as a front to advance the king’s aspirations for a colony of his own in the heart of Africa (Hochschild 1998). The official position of the IAC was to establish an international humanitarian colony

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Troy Weeldreyer

in the Congo that would serve both to advance philanthropy for the natives and to promote free trade economic expansion into Africa. One of Leopold’s representatives, international celebrity and renowned explorer Henry Morton Stanley, regaled the leaders by recounting his adventures and exploits in Africa. Stanley was one of the only people present at the Berlin Conference to have actually been to Africa; as the first European to successfully navigate the Congo River basin, he was thought of as an expert in African affairs (Hochschild 1998). His explicit support for a “humanitarian colony” was a potent factor in swaying the European leaders’ minds in King Leopold’s favor. Although he was not present in Berlin, Leopold cunningly manipulated the fears and latent suspicion of the other leaders at the Berlin Conference. The inferred intent of the IAC to create a neutral “free trade zone” in Africa was appealing to European leaders, as it implied that the Congo would be open to foreign investors. It also eliminated the need for more tense negotiation over who would control such a huge portion of Africa; as long as the Congo would be open to all, no one power could exert too much influence in the region. In

addition, the perception at the Berlin Conference was that Belgium’s small size and weak influence on the international stage lowered its overall threat to the other countries. Unlike other leaders of European imperial powers at the time, King Leopold had almost complete control over his holdings. While other imperial powers had to cede some or most of the economic control of their colonies to middlemen (e.g. Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company) in order to effectively govern, Leopold “owed no constitutional obligation for his Congo kingdom to any Belgian body” (Gann and Duignan 40). The provisions of the Berlin Conference effectively exempted Belgium from the normal conventions of imperial rule, such as the doctrine of “effective occupation,” which stipulated that the entire colonial realm of an empire must be under at least some form of direct administration. Because Leopold was sovereign of the Congo, the entire realm of the Congo was technically under his direct administration. Leopold did, however, afford so-called “concession companies” such as the Anglo-Belgian Indian Rubber Company and the Société Anversoise du Commerce au Congo special privileges and rights in his domaine privé, including the ability to create personal armies and extract whatever resources were found in their districts. These concession companies were far from private entities, though; the king held the position of the primary stockholder and received the majority of the profits. Indeed, as Peter Duignan and Lewis H. Gann point out, “Leopold established a regime that linked state capitalism with private monopolies in a manner that had no exact parallel in any other European colonial empire” (Gann and Duignan 125). The preponderance of these con-

cession companies essentially created widespread economic monopolization in the Congo Free State, and by 1891 private trade had been effectively eliminated in the Congo Free State. Thus, while a few concession companies and a hierarchy of governors, officers, and bureaucrats existed to handle the dayto-day affairs of the Congo Free State, Leopold effectively ruled as a potentate of his own personal fiefdom. One of the most prized resources extracted from the Congo and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa was—and still is—ivory. In the beginning of the Congo Free State, no other resources present were as readily available or economically profitable (Gann & Duignan 1979). In order to maximize profits, Leopold incentivized his agents working in the Congo Free State to collect as much ivory as possible by giving them a share of the profits earned when they met or exceeded their quotas (Hochschild 1998). However, Arabs and local warlords had already established a system of monopolies over the ivory trade in much of Eastern Congo. In order to wrest control from these well-entrenched competitors, Leopold created the Force Publique, a military organization comprising both European and African elements. Formally constituted in 1886, the Force Publique was designed to serve both military and non-military purposes, such as the creation of roads and government outposts (Gann and Duignan 1979). With a military in place to enforce his will, King Leopold made the procurement and sale of ivory the primary economic driving force of the Congo. It is interesting to note the compositional make-up of Leopold’s military force in the Congo Free State. The African element of the Force Publique, though primarily composed of enslaved

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individuals from conquered tribes, included mercenaries from other African countries as well as troops recruited from Congolese allies of the Belgians. The European element of the Force Publique, which was significantly smaller than the African element, was composed entirely of volunteers. Belgium, lacking a substantial military class, was required to recruit many of its officers and soldiers from other European countries (Gann and Duignan 1979). The Congo Free State, much like the American West or the Yukon Territory during the gold rushes of the nineteenth century, primarily attracted men who sought adventure, danger, and action in an exotic, unknown land. There was a general, implicit assumption in Europe that going to the uncharted and uncivilized regions of the world was a way to, as Hochschild states, “leave your bourgeois morality back in Europe” (Hochschild 138). Rudyard Kipling, poet laureate of the imperial age, hints at this idea: Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst, Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments, an’ a man can raise a thirst. (Hochschild 138) The preponderance of clearly sociopathic individuals (e.g. Léon Rom,

The Congo Free State…primarily attracted men who sought adventure, danger, and action in an exotic, unknown land.


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Guillaume Van Kerckhoven, and Léon Fiévez, Belgian officers whose unspeakable cruelties made them prototypes for the character of Mr. Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness) and seemingly endless infliction of human suffering among the Force Publique is likely related to the concept of the “natural soldier” explored in Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s On Killing. The author cites Swank and Marchand’s World War II study which found that about 2 percent of the soldiers in that war could be characterized as “aggressive psychopaths,” or men that do not or cannot display signs of what Grossman calls “resistance to killing” (Grossman 180). These people kill without remorse and often end up doing most of the actual shooting and killing in war. With this in mind, there exists a possibility that the general character of the men who willingly joined the Force Publique was, necessarily, predisposed toward what is now called anti-social personality disorder. This fact, combined with the increasingly large quotas of ivory demanded by Leopold, resulted in the Force Publique using progressively brutal tactics in the acquisition of ivory. The chicotte, a whip made from the sun-dried hide of a hippopotamus, became the unofficial symbol of the Force Publique and, by extension, Leopold’s rule in the Congo Free State. Hochschild states, “Usually the chicotte was applied to the victim’s bare buttocks. Its blows would leave permanent scars; more than twenty-five strokes could mean unconsciousness; and a hundred or more—not an uncommon punishment—were often fatal” (Hochschild 120). When raiding villages for ivory, food, or people, the Force Publique would often simply destroy the villages once they received the goods they needed. The general apathy to-

wards such behavior in the perfunctory military tribunals and justice system in the Congo Free State allowed the Force Publique to become the ultimate instrument of coercion and terror in Leopoldine Africa. While ivory laid the foundations of Leopold’s colonial enterprise, a huge spike in global demand during the 1890s led to rubber becoming the single most valuable resource in the Congo Free State. Using the Force Publique as his existing tool of coercion, the king shifted his focus towards the extraction of wild rubber from the vines that covered nearly half of his territory (Hochschild 1998). As with ivory collection, agents were rewarded based on the amount of rubber they brought in. The methods of collecting rubber varied, but almost always involved deception, coercion, and torture (or, more likely, all three). A British vice counsel reported the methods of a particular Belgian officer in 1899: This officer [’s] . . . method . . . was to arrive in canoes at a village, the inhabitants of which invariably bolted on their arrival; the soldiers were then landed, and commenced looting . . . after this they attacked the natives until able to seize their women; these women were kept as hostages until the Chief of the district brought in the required number of kilograms of rubber. The rubber having been brought, the women were sold back to their owners for a couple goats apiece, and so he continued village to village until the requisite amount of rubber had been collected. (Hochschild 161) The semi-official instruction book for Belgian officers in the field, Manuel

Perhaps the most infamous cruelty inflicted upon the slaves by the Force Publique was the cutting off of hands. du Voyageur et du Résident au Congo, is filled with references to the usefulness of hostage-taking and coercive measures when dealing with the native populations (Hochschild 1998). Rape of the female hostages was also common; a Belgian officer in 1895 wrote in his diary, “The women taken during the last raid at Engwettra are causing me no end of trouble. All of the soldiers want one. The sentries who are supposed to watch them unchain the prettiest ones and rape them” (Hochschild 161-162). Perhaps the most infamous cruelty inflicted upon the slaves by the Force Publique was the cutting off of hands. The mutilation of body parts was mainly to prove to the district administrators in the Congo Free State that the bullets being expended were used to kill humans and not to hunt game (Hochschild 1998). Torture, rape, mutilation, exploitation, slavery, and mass murder thus became commonplace as King Leopold consolidated power in his domaine privé. However, the methods of what would come to be known as the “red rubber trade” would be the ultimate cause for the dissolution of the Congo Free State. The numerous atrocities of rubber and ivory excavation soon came to the attention of the missionaries and humanitarian workers in the Congo Free State. African Americans who visited the Congo Free State such as Rever-

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end William H. Sheppard and George Washington Williams were some of the first to report on King Leopold’s reign of terror in the Congo. Foreign missionaries such as E.V. Sjöblom were some of the most vocal critics of Leopold’s regime and were for some time the primary means of getting information about the atrocities to the rest of the world. However, two men were the most influential in bringing about the downfall of the Congo Free State: E.D. Morel and Sir Roger Casement. Morel, a British journalist specializing in African trade and commerce, noticed that while huge amounts of rubber and ivory were being exported from the Congo, only armaments and ammunition were being sent there. He also noticed that many more resources were coming into the docks at Antwerp than were being reported in the official documents; obviously, huge profits were being skimmed off of the top. Piecing the two together, Morel realized that there were no commercial dealings involved in the procurement of ivory and rubber. The only answer to the question of how these items were obtained was slavery and coercion. Casement, an Irishman, worked in the Congo Free State throughout the 1880s and witnessed first-hand the numerous atrocities being committed there. It is presumed that it was there he first developed an interest in human rights in Africa. In

Two men were the most influential in bringing about the downfall of the Congo Free State: E.D. Morel and Sir Roger Casement.


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the 1890s he joined the British consular service, and in 1900 was assigned to set up the British consulate in the Congo Free State. After documenting the horrors of the red rubber trade, Casement returned to Europe and began disseminating this information to various newspapers, journals, and officials. He and Morel eventually combined forces and created the Congo Reform Association with the goal of ending Leopold’s rule in the Congo. Some of the most influential celebrities of the time, including Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Booker T. Washington became vocal in their opposition to the Congo Free State. Indeed, both Twain and Conan Doyle wrote scathing pamphlets exposing Leopold and the Congo Free State. The economics of the red rubber trade were also highly unsustainable, which perhaps contributed most to the eventual downfall of the Congo Free State. The mass death and destruction caused by the implementation of a coercive economy severely weakened the only apparatus Leopold possessed for collecting rubber: the native people of the Congo. Living under constant stress and threat of slavery, starvation, and death, mass epidemics of diseases like sleeping sickness and malaria wiped out huge portions of the native populations (and many of the white officers working in the Congo Free State). Also, even though the wild rubber vines of the Congo grew incredibly slowly, the most common method of extracting rubber involved cutting through the whole vine, which got all of the rubber out of the vine quickly but killed the plant. With a diseased, starved working population, small European force in the Congo, and dwindling resources, production of rubber and ivory eventually came to a standstill. Indeed, the

irony of the Congo Free State was that by forcing the people to collect rubber and ivory to their deaths, the coercive economy prevented the development of the very economic superstructure Leopold had intended for his colony. The modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is essentially the product of the Congo Free State and in many ways mirrors its colonial antecedent. Shortly after declaring independence from Belgium in 1960, the democratically elected Patrice Lumumba was ousted in a military coup by former Force Publique officer Joseph Mobutu, who later, with American and Belgian support, had Lumumba assassinated (Hochschild 1998). For over 30 years, Mobutu enjoyed a cult of personality while ruling over one of the most corrupt governments in Africa. In 1997, political instability arising from the Rwandan Civil War and dissatisfaction with Mobutu’s dictatorship resulted in his ouster and triggered a series of transitional governments. Although the current president, Joseph Kabila, seems more reform-minded then his predecessors, seemingly endless problems beset this troubled country in the twenty-first century. As in the beginning of the twentieth century, the huge deposits of natural resourc-

es in the DRC—including gold, copper, diamonds, and coltan—continue to be the major source of conflict. Western influence continues to promote the rise of dictators like Mobutu, which ensures that the flow of goods from the DRC continues. The kleptocracy instituted during Mobutu’s rule is still largely in place. In 1996, the Rwandan Civil War and ethnic cleansing campaigns spilled into the DRC, killing 5.4 million people and resulting in what is often referred to as the second holocaust of the Congo. The prevalence of rape in the eastern realm of the Congo has been described as the worst in the world with most rapes being committed by rampaging HIV-infected soldiers and militiamen (McCrummen 2007). As the overseer and architect of what can reasonably be called the first of many large-scale atrocities carried out in the twentieth century, King Leopold was the ideological predecessor to Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and the myriad sadists-turned-leaders that proliferate the world today. While the problems of the modern-day DRC are multifaceted and enormously complex, one can only wonder if the holocaust that defined King Leopold II’s Congo Free State was the ultimate progenitor of this suffering and misery-laden country.

References Conrad, J. Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1899/2003. Gann, Lewis H. & Peter Duignan. The Rulers of Belgian Africa 1884-1914. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979. Grossman, Lt. Col. Dave. On Killing. New York: First Back Bay/Little, Brown and Company, 1995/2009. Hochschild, A. King Leopold’s Ghost. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998. McCrummen, S. “Prevalence of Rape in Congo Described as Worst in World.” The Washington Post. 9 September 2007. < AR2007090801194.html>

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orest of the


Chelsea Wrightson

Cover Artist Statement Empirically evident observations and scientific conclusions of the world around us stem from a mystifying and poetic hypothesis of the true nature of being. As humans we are constantly trying to fill in the blank spaces to measure ourselves and the distances between us. The use of storytelling and poetry fills the spaces in ways that become more important than concrete evidence because stories have room to grow. The Pomo tribe in Northern California is led by a group of women called “The Dreamers.” They dream of beautiful, elaborate weaving designs for straw baskets, but when they try to make the basket they intentionally create a mistake in the design called the dau mark. They say without this mistake they would have no cause to continue dreaming; their work would be perfect. The dau mark is a space through which you seek knowledge and inspiration. In our dreams we are capable of going places and telling stories we have yet to imagine in our waking lives because we have no borders stopping us. I let my dreams spool around my waking life and use the topographical ridges of my memory as the compass for my hands to make lines on paper. Like the Pomo dreamers with basket weaving, I find printmaking and drawing to be a meditative process, one that creates intentional blank space that forms a completion through absence. “Forest of the Brain” is based upon two things: a dream I had about silhouettes and x-rays identifying my movements and memories, and a story I read about the first attempts to send a human being into the stratosphere via hot air balloons in the 1940s, as well as the scientific surveys on the effects of the brain in these attempts. The amalgamation of these two things experienced in my conscious and subconscious states aided in creating the imagery for this lithograph.

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About Best Student Essays Best Student Essays is a student-produced magazine that publishes nonfiction writing by undergraduate and graduate students at the University of New Mexico. The magazine was established over twenty years ago when Paul Bleicher, a graduate student on the Student Publications Board, proposed the idea. Bleicher felt that while outlets existed at UNM for journalistic and creative writing, there was no venue to recognize high-quality, nonfiction academic writing. The first issue of Best Student Essays was published in the spring of 1989. Since then, BSE has published biannually: one issue every fall and spring semester. Best Student Essays is the only campus-wide publication that highlights the nonfiction work being produced by our students. In recent years, BSE has included photo essays as explorations in nonfiction that are perhaps less conventional yet equally deserving of recognition. There is also often a cash award granted to the “Best Essay” submitted, adding even more prestige to the merits of publication. The BSE staff is entirely composed of students, and in order to aid their evaluation of essays submitted, all submissions to BSE must be nominated by a UNM faculty member. The magazine accepts nonfiction work produced for UNM courses, produced at other institutions, and students’ personal work. BSE publishes all genres of nonfiction, including academic essays, scientific writing, foreign language with English translation, research papers, memoirs, and photo essays. The cover art is also solicited from UNM students, making every aspect of the magazine entirely student-based and student-produced. Now in its twenty-third year, BSE continues to present high-quality writing within a high-quality medium: a well-designed and carefully compiled professional magazine. Here’s to many more decades of celebrating student work.

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