Bourgois –

1. Begin by noting down your gut reaction to this piece. What words spring to mind? What feelings? What questions? And what connections can be make between this piece and you as a person and an
artist? 2. Read the first page carefully. Why would Bourgois begin his piece with someone else’s work? Note that he is not only mentioning Eric R. Wolf, but also that this essay initially appeared
in a book of essays celebrating Wolf’s life work. So far in class, we have discussed how much the beginnings of essays matter: they are purposeful, meant to influence the reader in certain way. Why
begin this way? 3. Keep reading over the page (Page 330). What is Bourgois trying to say here? Why describe this history of transfer from (1) small land-owning modes of production… to (6)
underground economy entrepreneurs homeless in the streets. Bourgois is making a bigger theoretical point here. What is a “mode of production” and what do you think he means by an “underground
economy.” The underground economy is sometimes also called the “informal economy.” What is it? 4. Read the rest of page 330 through to page 332. Here Bourgois is describing his fieldwork. He chose
to focus on crack dealers. Was this a good idea? Would Bourgois have been better to focus on the many working, law-abiding Puerto-Rican people who live in this neighborhood? Why do you think he
made the drug dealers his focus? Also, look closely at the quotation on page 331. Bourgois writes, describing Spanish Harlem, “Its vacant lots and crumbling abandoned tenements are literally a
stone’s throw from multimillion dollar condominiums…” Why does he tell us this? How is it meant to make us feel? 5. Read the section, “Shattered Working-Class Dream.” Note particularly the
quotation from Julio on page 333, where he describes his pleasure at making money working to close down a factory. Why doesn’t Julio view himself as the victim here? 6. Read the section beginning
on page 336, “Self-Destructive Resistance.” Why does Julio behave in such a way? And what about Gloria? Read the account on page 339 carefully. Julio appears, on the one-hand, as a “knife-wielding
mugger on the street” and then as a “panic stricken employee begging.” This is quite a contrast. What is Bourgois trying to suggest here? 7. Read the conclusion, page 341 — 342, unpacking it line
by line. Think carefully

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