To consolidate your understanding of Karl Marx’s theories of exploitation under capitalism as well as different approaches to the concepts of commodity fetishism and ideology, watch the required documentary, David Redmon’s Mardi Gras: Made in China (2005), which tracks the production and consumption of Mardi Gras beads. After watching the documentary, draw on Part IV of Unit 6’s unit instructional notes, Part II of Unit 7’s unit instructional notes, and related arguments in the textbook and the additional required reading by Gary Lapon, “What Do We Mean By Exploitation,” to write a brief essay answering the following questions. Note that to answer these questions and succeed on this assignment, you are strongly advised to watch the documentary more than once and take notes as you watch it.
In your own words, explain Marx’s theory of how exploitation works under capitalism. To answer this question, you will need to explain the differences between use-value, exchange-value, and surplus-value, what produces value according to Marx, and how capitalism reproduces exploitation and inequality. Next, describe the conditions of labour in which Chinese workers are producing the Mardi Gras beads, as well as the roles in and justifications for this labour given by the Chinese factory owner, Roger Wong, and the American distributor, Dom Carlone. How would Marx’s theory of labour, value, and exploitation under capitalism account for the production of the Mardi Gras beads?
In your own words, explain commodity fetishism and the different approaches taken to this practice by the false consciousness theory of ideology versus the cynical reason theory of ideology. Next, analyze some of the answers given by people at the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans when the documentarist asks them if they know where the beads come from. Which of the responses of the Mardi Gras celebrators might be seen as an example of a false consciousness version of commodity fetishism? Why? Which seems more like a cynical reason version of commodity fetishism? Why? One way to approach this question is to choose responses which seem particularly good examples of one or the other approach to commodity fetishism and compare and contrast them. You may draw on the responses of Mardi Gras celebrators provided at any point in the documentary, but note that some excellent responses can be found in a brief sequence beginning at minute 31 of the documentary.
Your papers should take an essay form. In other words, they should include a brief introduction with a clear thesis statement explaining your central argument. Your paper must also be broken into separate paragraphs organized around one central sub-point clearly explained in a topic sentence that links back to your thesis statement.
Arguments from the unit notes, the textbook, or the article by Gary Lapon, should be either paraphrased or cited using the Chicago Style author-date system found here (http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html). References to the documentary can be made by citing the documentary with all bibliographic information at least once in a sentence in your essay, for example: “In Robert Redmon’s documentary, Mardi Gras: Made in China (2005) . . .” and then referring to the documentary thereafter through an abbreviated form of the title, such as, “In Mardi Gras…” Provide a reference for the documentary in your reference page as follows:
Redmon, Robert. 2005. Mardi Gras: Made in China. Carnivalesque Film Productions.
Your paper should be 2-3 pages long, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins, using a 12-point Times New Roman font.
See the grading rubric for further points on how to organize your papers.
This paper is worth 10% of your final grade.
Submit your papers to the instructor using the Dropbox.
TEXTBOOK IS CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY A PERSPECTIVE ON THE HUMAN CONDITION 3ED BY SCHULTZ, LAVENDA AND DODS.
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