Free «The Inspiration from A Small Place and Life & Debt» Essay Sample


A Small Place is a personal narrative or rather a memoir by Jamaican Kincaid where she extensively discusses about her hometown that is the island of Antigua. She emotionally tries to show the outlook of the indigenous Antiguan to the modern invaders or the tourists. She tries to demonstrate to us from her point of view as a fellow native how the inhabitants observed the tourists who visited their island and how they could not stand them yet invaders as she calls them did not have a clue whether the natives out looked them in such a manner. They termed the tourist as a stupid thing, ugly, empty thing, a piece of junk stopping here and there to taste this or stare at that, having bad mannerism, and it didn’t occurred to them that the natives never liked them (SparkNotes, n.d.).

She then ironically compares the views of the natives and the tourists whereby the tourists see the island as a place full of beauty and joy whereas on the other hand the inhabitants are languishing in poverty and the dilapidation of their infrastructure together with their cities after they gained their self-rule from the colonial masters. This gives a picture of neo-colonization and the fight back of a nation together with its inhabitants to be free and independent from those who enslaved them and nevertheless they managed to retain their island.

Life and debt documentary film got its inspiration from Jamaica Kincaid’s chronicle; A Small Place and its entirely based on this narrative. The film sheds more light to the viewers on the impact of the so called vacationing tourists who come into the island and enjoy themselves while the nation suffers from unrest and poverty. The viewers discover more on these harsh realities and conditions while the tourists develop from being mere guiltless travelers into ignorant participants in worldwide corporate control which in general can be termed as post-colonization. The film extensively shows several approaches to expose the core reasons’ facilitating the increment of poverty in Jamaica of which capitalism is majorly criticized (About Life and Debt, n.d.).

In the book A Small Place the author tries to show her passionate hatred for Britain for colonizing her small Caribbean island and how they were directly involved in destroying her country where she claims that. This colonization is furthered in the film where neo-colonization crops in as these westerners come into Antigua and occupy every sector like in tourism, trade, industrialization and they control them as their own without considering the natives. These foreigners destroy the local industry and agriculture in third world nations through the mechanism of debt and substitute them with cheap imports and sweatshops. Foreign policies from these westerners and bodies like the WTO, World Bank, and the IMF imposed on these 3rd world countries cost them a lot and responsible for driving their economies deeper and deeper into debt.

The documentary Life and Debt together with its memoir A Small Place extensively reveal the extremities of the current world economies of which those economies strongly affected are those of the third world nations which in long term periods impact strongly on the overall global economy negatively. These two pieces of work focus majorly on the poor and harsh living conditions in Jamaica and Antigua for the inhabitants. 3rd world countries are yet struggling to pull out of post-colonization even though they fought relentlessly to fight away colonization. They managed to get independent and though they have attained full freedom and control of their nations but this is not the case as these colonial masters have found their way back pretending to be more friendly and trying to help but in the real sense they interested in making their money and siphoning back the countries’ resources to their motherland.

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For instance in the narrative of A Small Place, Kincaid discusses broadly on how the natives have experiences on the passing of time, and she connects situation to the improbably isolated views of the fraud and corruption of their regime. She then highlights on the numerous abuses of authority on the island which ranges from drug smuggling, political violence, and kickbacks to the embezzlement of public funds. In addition she also points out on the political history of her country since attaining independence whereby she reveals that power has been held by the same people for ages. This situation termed as political upheaval or dictatorship coupled with corruption reveals how the countries languish in international debts and lagging economies since leaders are interested in their own gains forgetting the national interests (SparkNotes, n.d.).

The current global economy is on the verge of collapsing as the world economy is on the hands of a few developed nations who will stop at nothing to exploit the underdeveloped countries. Western nations termed as the invaders by the author came into Antigua and exploited their natural resources. The same colonial masters came back into the island in the name of tourists after independence and gradually took up the nation’s development sectors like tourism, industrial, and even trade and set up capitalism policies so as to make the market free to all. These policies benefit them majorly since they can freely move resources from the invaded nation to their motherland without suspicions being raised as to whether they are siphoning valuable resources primarily supposed to help build the country’s economy to their motherland. This will always make the foreigners the uppermost beneficiaries of our economy while we are struggling in poverty.

Moreover its widely evident that majority of the world economies depend on international financers like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) amongst others. These bodies together with the U.S. and other European countries like Britain create and impose policies to other developing economies so that they control them. For instance in the documentary there is an archival recording covering the former premier who issued a post-independent speech whereby he condemned the IMF  saying that "the Jamaican government will not accept anybody, anywhere in the world telling us what to do in our own country. Above all, we're not for sale.” The same Prime Minister, Michael Manley was enforced to sign the first Jamaica’s loan agreement in 1977 by the IMF since he had no other possible alternative to obtain funds. Third world countries suffer the same global pattern from these international lenders and it’s surprisingly how these loans uplift or rather carry out a meaningful development (About Life and Debt, n.d.).

These debts rise day in day out and they are majorly reliable for dragging down world economies. For instance Jamaica currently owes close to over $4.5 billion to the World Bank, IADB, and the IMF among other global lending agencies. Therefore no matter how hard a country in so much debt tries to carry out development projects so as to boost its economy and repay its debts will be able to progress forward economically. Thus the 3rd world economies and their strategic plans for survival together with their day to day existence are entirely dependent on the U.S., Europe and additional foreign economic agendas. These agencies together with Europe and the U.S. also come up with economically disadvantaging policies which seem to favor free trade but in the real sense they bring out inequality in trade. For instance the IMF wanted to devalue the country’s currency, hence making it cheaper. This coupled with the society’s dependent on imported goods and since the currency is devalued the coat of goods imported goes up, thus showing how the global economy today is deeper under the control of foreigners through the system of debt (About Life and Debt, n.d.).

Globalization commonly known as global capitalism is greatly revealed in the memoir and documentary as transnationalization of industry and capital sets in hence allowing companies to go beyond national borders and travel transversely around the globe taking advantage of the available cheap labor and new markets. This includes the international agencies and corporate entities operating in Jamaica and Antigua and globally in all developing nations which control production, lending, industry, financing, and distribution in these regions. With such foreigners dominating the third world nations’ economies eventually bring about homogenous world culture or rather the soulless, impoverished, Americanized or Europeanized cultures of commodity utilization. Thus this phenomenon has eroded the native cultures hence wearing down local production like that of indigenous products (Stennis 168-172).


These two pieces of work, for instance the life and debt documentary and the memoir both highlights extensively on the issues affecting the third world economies. These factors which include globalization, neo-colonization, and financial debt amongst others are majorly instigated by the U.S. international lending agencies, and Europe majorly Britain so that they make sure they keep in check the economies of the developing nations. Life and Debt shows acknowledgement to the strength and ingenuity of the natives who challenge the chances of survival and it deeply enlightens the youthful audiences in the U.S. on how these policies impact on our neighbors overseas.


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