English 001 A (Anderson): Place of Significance: The Assignment

Research topics on gentrification, impact of tourism industry on location, and role of Native American Reservations.

The Assignment

Essay Prompt 3—Research Essay: Place of Significance


Background: Throughout this semester we have been looking at place, and how a variety of places shape (and are shaped) by the people who live there. For this essay you will focus on a particular place, and employ research skills to explore the significance of this place.  



Using the concepts we have discussed throughout the semester, write a research essay in which you explore a current issue that involves disputed land. In this essay you may want to examine the way this place has changed over time. You will want to consider the way people are connected to that particular place, culturally, economically and legally. Explore factors that have effected change in this place. In addition to examining change, pay attention to dispute over culture, resources, and who wields power in that place.


Choose one of the following prompts:

  1. Both Bliss and Adams write about how low-income neighorhoods, populated largely people of color, are changed when middle class white families move in. Research a place that has been changed by this phenomenon called gentrification—as you do so, consider the complications or problems caused by such a shift. Also discuss solutions to these problems, as well as opportunities opened up by such a shift. This essay may focus on one or multiple such sites.
  2. Jamaica Kincaid laments the way the tourism industry carries on the legacy of colonialism in her home country of Antigua. Research another popular tourist location, and analyze the effects that such tourist attention has had on that place. In particular, make an argument whether the industry has created opportunity for local community and positive attention for its culture, or whether the culture has been disrupted by the attention.
  3. David Treuer looks at how reservations have both been used to marginalize native populations in the US, but also at how reservations have helped native populations assert their legal rights. Write a research essay in which you explore a current land dispute. (Look at the current protests at Standing Rock reservations in North Dakota: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/tribes-across-north-america-converge-standing-rock-hoping-heard-2/, or the copper mining proposal at the Oak Flat area in Arizona: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/27/418011779/native-americans-protest-proposed-copper-mine-in-arizona).  Consider how the same place has different values for the parties who are in conflict. Discuss how this dispute reflects the history described in Treuer’s book. Evaluate the various possibilities for resolving these disputes.