Challenge Journal 1

My biggest concern in beginning this project is finding a balance between academic writing and giving myself a voice. The purpose of my project is to find some way to try to explain the Israel-Palestine conflict so as to undo the oversimplification that currently exists. I am trying to communicate to my readers that the conflict is not one of religious nature, but instead a territorial dispute that is categorized by religion and that no one should be taking a side based on belief alone, which is something I have noticed occurs among my peers. Most of my writing is academic, obviously seeing that I’m a student, but I want this to be more than just a boring research paper. I want people to be interested and I want to offer clarification. I want people to come away from project with an informed opinion, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with my claims.

I think it’s going to be particularly difficult to give myself a voice in this project because I don’t want my writing to be looked at as overwhelmingly biased. Has anyone else had trouble attempting to make a neutral piece of writing while also not getting lost in it? I need to find a way to mix academic with personal and make it entertaining so that my project isn’t just another informational paper on an already widely discussed conflict.  I know a lot of what I want to do with my project, but I’m just not sure how to do it.

I’m re-visiting this post to offer some academic writing I’ve produced in the past that is an example of what I am trying to stay away from. Here is an excerpt from a research design project from last semester:

“After reviewing many of the existing studies there seems to be a threshold of educational attainment at which conflict is less likely to occur, which is completing secondary education. In Barakat and Urdal’s 2009 study on youth bulges and political violence their “empirical analysis finds evidence that large, young male population bulges are more likely to increase the risk of conflict in societies where male secondary education is low.” Further along in their study they find that as higher levels of education is attained the effect does not change regarding conflict risk. This particular study focuses on youth bulges, educational level, and conflict. Barakat and Urdal theorize that often times youth bulges lead to larger participation in rebel groups, but having more educated individuals offers a high opportunity cost on the lives of young men, thus making them less likely to join a rebel group.”

I think my biggest issue with this is that since I’m using information from scholarly articles I tend to write as if I were writing a scholarly article myself. And scholarly articles are boring. I need to find a way to combine some personal anecdotes or individuality to a lot of history. I think one of the main ways to stay away from the type of writing above is to not reference specific studies or random names, but to take the information and present it in a way that makes it a journey for both the reader and myself.

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