Posted: December 2nd, 2013
Maria Full of Grace
The popular critically acclaimed film, Maria Full of Grace, is a film that asserts the rural life in Columbia. Despite being directed and filmed in Ecuador, the film adequately draws out the conflict between minority and dominant cultures in the United States as well as society problems experienced by immigrants such as poverty that prompt them to engage in deviant behavior such as drug peddling. The motion picture highlighting the fictional life of seventeen-year-old Maria Alvarez draws out routine reality in the present society. Analyzing the film evaluates the aspects of planning or other related points incorporated and utilized in the movie.
The motion picture illustrates various important aspects that are constituent of global planning issues. One of the issues explicitly defined in the film is the issue of immigration. Immigration refers to the movement of individuals from their native regions for purposes of settlement in a foreign country. The migration is characterized by numerous reasons, but one of the prevailing rationales is poverty. This assertion is illustrated by the film whereby Maria Alvarez moves from the Colombian neighborhood in Bogota to the streets of New York. She is lured by the significant amount of money that she is going to receive if she becomes a drug peddler.
Immigration plays a great role in planning. This is because the influx of persons not accounted for by the respective government presents a population crisis. Considerable numbers of immigrants have mounted pressure on public facilities such as schools and political parties as well as other public institutions. This is because the institutions are coerced to adapt to the novel demands resulting from the increase in populace resulting from the immigrants. Moreover, other institutions such as culture facilities have been forced to diversify and expand their provisions to suit the needs of the increased public. Therefore, the influx of immigrants has led to the forced change of public institutions (Zukin, 132).
Moreover, immigration is directly linked to the influence of culture as an aspect of the planning process. This is because urban development is aimed at controlling the diverse cultures among communities in order to control diversity and at the same time modify an unpreserved visualization of civility. This form of urban development only leads to privatization and social stratification (Zukin, 143). However, the reality of urban development is that cultures in the respective settlements will never be homogenous. Despite the reality of a heterogeneous cultural representation, the thought of creating a homogenous cultural environment is threatening. This is because the notion eliminates a neighborhood, a city, or a region maintaining collective identity (LeGates and Stout, 280).
Another issue that affects planning is the neighborhood. The neighborhood represents a combination of various cultures brought together as a single community. In the film, the neighborhood that Maria resides in after immigrating into the United States is a Colombian neighborhood in New York. Due to majority of Colombian émigrés in the Jackson Heights neighborhood, the community becomes multicultural due to the presence of other minorities such as African American communities. The implication on planning results from the enclosure of the communities into a single neighborhood. This is attributed to the restriction of public space by the urban developers. This is to ensure surveillance and control of urban ills ranging from economic decline to discrimination and violence (Zukin, 133).
Private space is also another aspect of planning. The term is actually coined from the process of urban planners and developers controlling public space hence bringing the public spaces under private control. The change of public spaces into private spaces has led to the creation of structures such as buildings and other institutions. Privatization of the public space is bent on the objective of creating economic resource by making the public to pay for use of the private facilities. Moreover, the public paying for accessing facilities that were once part of the public space is absurd. However, privatization of public space is still an aspect of planning since the respective local governments have deficient resources for the management of the public facilities such as public parks. This allows the private organizations to take advantage of the government’s shortcomings (Zukin, 137).
Planning also takes advantage of culture of the city. According to LeGates and Stout (137), culture is a symbol that defines the specific places in which different people belong. This is characteristic of the film whereby Jackson Heights is recognized as the designated place for the Colombian immigrant community, which allowed Maria to assimilate positively in the neighborhood. Moreover, the city plays a great role in influencing other social indicators such as peer pressure. This is because planning forces marginalization of minorities due to the limitation of recognizable space in order to monitor the minorities. Consequently, this causes the minorities to feel suspected and engage in deviant behavior to struggle out of the control and gain their space (LeGates and Stout, 480). This is indicated by the presence of drug trafficking characterized by the Colombian community in the Jackson Heights neighborhood.
Urban development is a factor that alters the structure of the settlement as well as the social perspective of the people. The process serves as a causal factor for the loss of urban identity for the ordinary citizen. This is because the public does not have adequate control over the urban landscape. The control of such public resources is left in the hands of corporate agencies and private developers who force the people to feel they have no control over the public facilities. Moreover, privatization takes over the identity of the areas further eliminating cultural landmarks that identified the people’s identity.
LeGates, Richard T, and Frederic Stout. The City Reader. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.
Zukin, Sharon. The Cultures of Cities. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995. Print.
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