Saturday, April 11, 2009

More thoughts on border assignment (from Shawn)

Dear Students,

As you go out and and see borders in the city, consider:

When we think about walls, we usually think about what the fence or wall will keep out (ancient walled cities, Great Wall of China) or keep in (prisons, Guantanamo Bay), but once you wall in a city, say Rome, what are the consequences inside the city? The emperor had to care for all the residents inside the city and it became a giant welfare state. He had to put people to work, feed them, and even enslave some of them.

Once West Berlin was cutoff, what was the responsibility of the "west" to West Berlin (US Berlin Airlift, etc.). Communist societies and societies committed to democracy both felt the responsibility of supporting the symbol of democracy and freedom or of the iron curtain and communism. Which ideology was going to rule the world? Here we have "the cold war".

We'll continue to think deeply about the idea of walls and division and exile. What kind of walls do we construct? How do we separate ourselves from places, things, people? How do we wall things or people out or in? How do these walls create our own personal ideologies?

Should we care about building a wall between the US and Mexico? Every non-US citizen who comes into the US is fingerprinted by Homeland Security, tourist, everyone. How do we feel about that?

All this as we consider the question of what should we care about studying Berlin?

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