Monthly Archives: May 2006

Hybridity – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

So does this mean soon my guff will be summarized in 101-type lectures – my arriviste wiki moment (!!!):

Hybridity – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
“Hybridity as a rhetorical Cul-de-sac.
The development of hybridity theory as a discourse of anti-essentialism marked the height of popularity in academic ‘hybridity talk’. However the usage of hybridity in theory to eliminate essentialist thinking and practices (namely racism) failed as hybridity itself is prone to the same essentialist framework and thus requires definition and placement. A number of arguments have followed in which promoters and detractors argue the uses of hybridity theory. Much of this debate can be criticised as being excessively bogged down in theory and pertaining to some unhelpful quarrels on the direction hybridity should progress e.g. attached to racial theory, post-colonialism, cultural studies, or globalization. Sociologist Jan Nederveen Pieterse (2004) highlights these core arguments in a debate that promotes hybridity. Professor of Cultural Studies John Hutnyk stands out as another academic engaging with further development of hybridity theory in his consistent critique of hybridity as politically void.”

[My-ci] My Research on Creative Industries

Ned Rossiter makes some good points in discussion of why his research is relevant… was for a job talk, but subsequently sent to MyCI – have a look at the whole thing, its not too long…

[My-ci] My Research on Creative Industries:
“In studying the relations between labour-power and the creative
industries my interest has been twofold: first, at a theoretical and
political level, I have sought to invent concepts and methodologies
that address the question of the organisation of labour-power within
network societies and informational economies. Here, my research
relates to and has been informed by what the political philosopher
Paolo Virno calls ‘the thorniest of problems: how to organize a
plurality of ‘social individuals’ that, at the moment, seems
fragmented, constitutionally exposed to blackmail – in short,
unorganizable?’[3] Out of an interest in new forms of agency in the
creative industries, I have investigated the political concept of
“organised networks”, which can be understood as emergent
institutional forms whose mode of organising sociality is immanent to
networked forms of communications media.[4]

Secondly, my research has investigated the double-edged sword of
precarity within post-Fordist economies, of which the creative
industries belong as a service economy modulated through
informational relations.[5] The precarity of labour-power within the
creative industries is double-edged in the sense that it enables the
attractions of flexibility – the escape from the Fordist time of the
factory and the firm – yet accompanying these relative freedoms is
the dark side of what researchers such as Beck, Lash, Urry and Butler
have variously called uncertainty, insecurity, risk and complexity.
Such fields of inquiry resonate with the concept of organised
networks, both of which are rarely addressed from within creative
industries research “

Rossiter- May 2006 (Thanks Ned)

Kim’s Game

I have a brother called Kim (Hiya) and in the book I am writing now (‘Jungle Studies’) I will have some sharp things to say about Rudyard Kipling the creator of Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera and Akhela, as well as about his close friend, Baden-Powell, founder of concentration camps and of the Scouts.

It was in the Scouts that my brother and I endured various militaristic drill sessions, were forced into a peculiar form of (mild) child-labour collecting newspapers, beer bottles and doing ‘bob-a-job; (which I liked because I worked for a certain elderly woman called Mrs Chandler, one-time girlfriend of Ned Kelly) and it was as Scouts and ‘cubs’ that we learnt of “Kim’s Game”. This game was a memory test where you would be shown a tray of objects (I would now call them trinkets of course) and after a minute these were covered up and you had to list as many as you could remember. I forget what the reward was, if any. Our troop happily was not a site of paedophilia or of any crazy rafting accidents, as seems to be the scare story about Scouting for Boys today, but it was certainly not the ‘make-a-man-of-him’ routine for which my rough and tumble action figure of a father had hoped. In my case it taught me horticultural skills and an appreciation of mushrooms. Later on, returning to the town where I grew up, I was pleased to find the old Guide Hall had become the State’s (Victoria, Australia) first Hindu temple. Kipling and Baden-Powell have other connections in this book too, some of which I will trace. But Kipling’s Jungle Book offers only a title or a metaphoric code. The jungle itself, is mostly ignored, and Jungle music – beyond some discussion of ADF – is avoided as well: and this is not a book about the forest as such, or of forest people (I have written elsewhere on Colin Turnbull’s work, The Mountain People, and owe him a better review for his greener book). I am more interested in the jungle as powerful trope. My copy of Kipling’s book begins with Lisa Makman’s pithy (even pith-helmeted) passage on jungles which well deserves citation:

“The term “jungle”, derived from the Hindi word jangala, entered the English language only in the eighteenth century; today it evokes dangerous terrain: impenetrable equatorial forests, menacing urban landscapes, and overall mayhem (as in, “it’s a jungle out there”). Even as jungles have gained a new designation – rain forest – and we have learned of their life-sustaining role in the biosphere, the word continues to conjure images of imperial adventure: the white man cutting his way through the bush to hunt big game, or Tarzan swinging from a vine. We owe our deep associations of jungles with mystery, threat, and the struggle for survival in large measure to Rudyard Kipling (Makman, intro to Kipling 2004:xv)”

I want to underline the collision here between forest danger and the urban menace, remember that the big-game hunter could be a sociologist or anthropologist, and suggest that the stalking metaphor for the trinket collecting of social science factification might be the character Kaa, who also had some wisdom, let us not forget: ‘The jungle is large and the Cub he is small. Let him think and be still’ (Kipling 2004:33). Kaa is a storyteller too, not just an old snake: ‘I also have known what love is. There are tales that I could tell that…’ (Kipling 2004:42). My copy of Hobson-Jobson, that amazing compendium of Anglo-Indian loan words, without which magical realism, Midnight’s Children, Merchant Ivory and so much more, would not be the same, offers “Jungle” as derived from Sanskrit, chiefly used in medical discourses, ‘the native word means in strictness only waste, uncultivated ground’. Therein we read a citation from Valentia, in the year 1809: ‘The air of Calcutta is much affected by the closeness of the jungle around it’ (Yule and Burdell 1886/1996:470). I have also elsewhere written on the bad reputation of Calcutta, and here treat of it again, with Kipling in mind… So, on to urban stories, both critical and evocative, for we be of one blood, ye and I.

The picture is of UFO’s over Berlin at night, or maybe they were Euro bees, sorry, memories just a bit shaky…


maria_technosux’s Journal

maria_technosux’s Journal: “7:12pm: Intellectual guilt and take-no-prisoners
Sometimes I feel a little guilty for bashing avant garde whiteboys. They deserve it, of course, but I’m a softy deep down inside and I feel like I’m picking an easy target. I think it’s because they’re so damn infantile (intellectually lazy) that makes me feel like I’m picking on the lil’kids.

On the other hand, no one let me off the hook, so why the fuck should I cut them some slack? Buncha self-satisfied soggy whitebread kids, grrr!

Compared to Hutnyk’s _Critique of Exotica_ I’m relatively modest. When Hutnyk bashes Kula Shaker’s Crispian ‘India is the Ibiza of concepts’, Mills… ‘I don’t cut a deal’ doesn’t quite capture it.

Thanks Maria – but scary news stories abound – like the caption from the pic above which says: “The Jeevas have split up.Kula Shaker have reformed. It’s like 1996 all over again.” – The Jeevas were Mill’s failed project of 2003, lets all tremble with anticipation at the return of the nasty shakers… stifled yawn, etc.


Public Private Knowledge: The Last Communist

This image that I take to be a plastic diarama efigy of a Malaya Communist Party cadre from the 1940s is from a film I have been reading about with interest as a controversy rages over its banning in Malaysia. The film is Lelaki Komunis Terakhir aka The Last Communist.

It deals with Chin Peng, who’s autobiography a few years ago (My Side of History 2003 Media Masters) was pretty informative, and now this film could add more to a tale that is strangely present but not present in Malaysia. I have long been interested in the reds, whom the director of TLC recalls as those that were considerd ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ during his youth. This routine of demonisation is prevalent, as documented in earlier offerings such as Malaya: the Undeclared War, which examines anti-communist ‘emergency’ of the 1940s-early 50s, back to the early writings of Anthony Burgess (see below), who was a colonial era teacher…

What I mean by the comment that the communist struggle is present but not present in Malaysia is illustrated in the ongoing fools attempt to censor and silence on the part of the UMNO government, but also in curious public presence-absences. For example, I’ve always been amused by one of the exhibits at the Museum in Georgetown.

[This from a piece written in 2002]: Outside the Penang Museum in Malaysia today you can still see an old bullet ridden Rolls Royce that once was used to ferry Viceroys about the Malayan Peninsula. The explanation offered for this exhibit, however, is somewhat vague. The bullet holes were earned at the assassination of the High Commissioner Sir Henry Gurney in October 1951. What is not noted is that this was the highest level kill achieved by Communist insurgents during the so-called Malayan Emergency – curiously enough, a dramatised version of this event can be found in the 1956 novel of a certain Anthony Burgess of Clockwork Orange fame, see his Time for a Tiger, part of his Malaya Trilogy, The Long Day Wanes (Burgess 1964). Burgess was appointed to a post as colonial teacher at the Malay College in Perak, quite near to the reputed Communist headquarters in the village of Sungai Siput (Lewis 2002:203). It is what happened to villages during the ‘Emergency’ that should be of concern – wholesale detentions that set the model for strategic Hamlets in Vietnam…

Malaya was the most profitable part of the Empire in the years between the first and second Imperialist World Wars. According to the Commonwealth historian Anthony Stockwell, British colonial administrators distinguished between Malays and Chinese in terms of how they ran the colony, with the Malays entrusted with ‘junior partner’ status and the bulk of positions in the police and Civil Service while the Chinese were infiltrated by the ‘menace’ of communist and Kuomingtang elements and were thought to be in need of strict discipline (Stockwell 1992:105-7).

It was this need for discipline that led to a Police force numbering 10,000 before 1940, mostly Malays and Sikhs, only 250 British Officers learnt to speak Malay, but only a handful knew any Chinese. Postwar, with grave shortages of rice and cloth, malaria epidemic, collapsed plantation and mining infrastructure, the once most lucrative colony became the most difficult to rule – the Chinese led communists joined with the Malay community in a mass non-cooperation movement. The straggling and war weary British (with disgruntled soldiers who wanted demobalisation rather than a new colonial adventure) considered putting down this movement with the use of Indian soldiers but found this difficult because of the legacy of Nataji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (see Bose 1982, for discussion of the formation, and subsequent defeat, of Bose’s army in Malaya and Burma – largely due to a miscalculated and unsupportive alliance with Imperial Japan).

Out of the mass non-cooperation movement developed support for the Malaysian Communist Party (MCP) and in reaction, according to Stockwell, to the British declaration of a state of emergency in June of 1948, an insurrection began, under Chin Peng known as a revolutionary war but on the government side characterised as ‘the emergency’ which is clearly a calculated reference (non-War, non Geneva Convention, cf Guantamo Bay and the US failure to extend any rights to captured combatants) and alibis the declaration of special Police powers above and beyond conventional law.

Under Colonel W.N. Gray, direct from Palestine and appointed as Commissioner of the Malay Police, the force expanded to 73,000, plus 17,000 ‘Auxiliaries and Kampong guards’ by 1952 (Stockwell 1992:110). Gray oversaw the introduction of resettlement and gave the Malay Police the major role in defence of ‘New Villages’ in order to separate the people from the communists, and food and information.

Stockwell writes:
‘the Emergency regulations gave the police extraordinary powers of search and arrest, control of the movement of persons and traffic, and the authority to impose curfews … in late 1951 it was estimated that some 6,000 persons were being held in detention without trial’ (Stockwell 1992:113, citing Oliver Lyttelton’s memoirs of 1962:372).

The insurgency was a war of attrition which effectively drained the colony’s profitability. The combination of communist insurgency and the international climate of anti-colonial pro-Independence negotiations meant the British played their old divide and rule routine even in the run up to an inevitable independence.

In July 1955 the Malay leader Tunku Abdul Rahman headed a coalition of Umno, Mca and MIC to victory in the first ‘federal’ election of the Malay colony. As the British debated handing over internal security and policing to the new Chief Minister, Tunku Rahman suggested an amnesty for the communists and with Chin Peng opened talks (Stockwell 1992:120). Chin Peng wisely offered peace as soon as independence, and control over security, was achieved. The British moved to forestall such alliance making by granting Tunku immediate control of internal security through a ‘guided’ Police Service Commission….

[That lot above is extracted from: ]

…its a matter of record that Malaysia did not adopt its promising Red Domino option. Instead, years of neo-colonial plunder, and the continued repression of dissidents and opposition under the detention law called the Internal Security Act, now universally applied across the world, with Chin Peng exiled (still) in Thailand. The Rolls outside the museum – count the bullet holes – is testiment to an unspoken but quite visible presence. The banning just maintains this transparent puppetry-ventriloquy and since the story should be told out loud, let’s see the film. Red Salute.

Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist)

The Last Communist (2006)

Meanwhile, NOT in Malaysia, since its been banned, this film tells the story of the early life of Malay Communist Party leader, Chin Peng:

“Synopsis A semi-musical documentary inspired by the early life and legacy of Chin Peng, exiled leader of the banned Communist Party of Malaya. Interviews with the people in the towns he lived in from birth to national independence are interspersed with specially composed songs in the mould of old-fashioned propaganda films”.

Official Film website here.

“This is a hybrid documentary, not because it combines fact and fiction, but because it combines testimony with song. Chin Peng (real name: Ong Boon Hua) was born in 1924 and is the last leader of the banned Communist Party of Malaya. He now lives in Thailand because the Malaysian government does not allow him to return, despite his repeated attempts to go through the courts.
The Communist Party of Malaya was set up in 1930 (in a ceremony attended by Ho Chi Minh) and recruited from the working class (mainly ethnic Chinese) exploited by colonial British economic interests. The CPM played an active role in the anti-Japanese resistance movement during World War Two, and cooperated with the British. But once the Japanese surrendered, the communists wanted to take over the country for themselves. This is when they and the British became enemies once again. 1948-60 is the era known as the Emergency, the longest and bloodiest undeclared war in Commonwealth history. …”

Director’s blog on the Ban here.

Red Salute.

Struggling with identity?

Hari Kunzru doing the rounds, this week he’s in KL (a British Council gig, but see also PEN)…

This ‘cool dude’ report is from “The Star” 14 May 2006 (excerpt) :

Struggling with identity?:

“Award-winning author and all round Renaissance man Hari Kunzru was in the country on Tuesday and shared his thoughts on writing and how he stared at a cursor for a month with SHARON BAKAR.

A sense of dislocation makes for good art, says Hari Kunzru.

I’D read enough of Hari Kunzru’s journalism to know that he is something of a polymath with an interest in everything from literature, art and music to philosophy, technology and politics.
His reputation for being an extremely ‘cool dude’ had also preceded him: besides being one of Britain’s hottest young novelists, he’s written for some of the trendiest magazines (Wired, Wallpaper), spins vinyl as a DJ, and apparently knows how to mix a mean martini cocktail.
For all that, Kunzru is remarkably down-to-earth and approachable, as I discovered when he was in Kuala Lumpur last week on a visit sponsored by the British Council… “

“…Noise is a compilation of surprisingly dark short stories exploring the implications of an increasingly wired world. “I enjoy opening up a little world that works according to its own logic,” Kunzru says, adding that he hopes to write more short stories after the publication of his third novel next May…”

powered by Clarissa – thanx

The end of Representation

The end of Representation

I have taught a lot of great students in my (eight!) years in the anth department at Goldsmiths, and now finally it looks like my escape to full time graft in the Centre for Cultural Studies is going to be confirmed – yippideee (for better or worse – its gotta be easier than two half time jobs = 150%). Its also a time for somewhat wistful reflections, and, gotta say, things have been pretty flat for obvious reasons the past few weeks…

Anyway, fact is, I won’t be teaching the Representation course anymore, so thanks to Chris, Richard, Atticus, Lia, Carrie, Nick and Will who taught alongside. Thanks also to all those who wrote and made work – fantastic films and photography projects, multimedia and chaos performances – which were really the greatest part. So many good films – onwards and upwards. I cannot list the highlights here (too many), but I do play them over and over as recruitment devices at Open Days…

What I will do – and with heavy heart – is refer you to another piece of Imogen Bunting’s writing, done for this course. Part of the reason I am leaving anth is because of discussions with Imogen over many years (there is a New Cross band that sings ‘if we beat our heads against this brick wall for long enough eventually it will fall’ – nope, it did not). I had always hoped we could change the world etc etc, and I still do, but in anth its for others to do now… Imogen’s enthusiasm must be carried elsewhere.

I am posting (here) a piece that was written as what we call a ‘practice essay’ in Imogen’s third year at Goldsmiths. I had lectured on the films of Denis O’Rourke for nearly ten years and always asked a question something like ‘who spoke for who [or sometimes, who fucked who] in the Good Woman of Bangkok?’ (if you have seen the film that makes sense – Denis does not appear in the film, but its his voice, or is Aoi pulling his strings?…). Anyways. after this effort from Imogen I just had to retire the topic, even though there had been many good answers over the years. After this there was no chance of a better one being written.

There is a memorial for Imogen on 22 May in New York.

Thoughts on ‘The Good Woman of Bangkok’ or, A Critique of the (mis)appropriation of Brecht.

This essay was written as what we call a ‘practice essay’ in Imogen’s third year at Goldsmiths. I had lectured on the films of Denis O’Rourke for nearly ten years and always asked a question something like ‘who spoke for who (or who xxxx’d who) in the Good Woman of Bangkok?’. After this effort, I had to retire the topic as there was no chance of a better one being written. Imogen I miss you. Jx

Thoughts on ‘The Good Woman of Bangkok’ or, A Critique of the (mis)appropriation of Brecht.

Imogen Bunting

‘In any case the object is to fob us off with some kind of portable anguish – that’s to say anguish that can be detached from its cause, transferred in toto and lent to some other cause. The incidents proper to the play disappear like meat in a cunningly mixed sauce with a taste of its own.’

The ‘poetics of prostitution’ and the ‘ordeal of contact’ are the two faces of O’Rourke’s project of ‘documentary fiction’. His film, The Good Woman of Bangkok (TGWOB) is, he advises about, ‘prostitution as a metaphor for both capitalism and sexual relationships,’ or at least these are the flavours of his pseudo-Brechtian sauce. The meat, of the international division of labour, the economics of global capitalism , Australia in (post) colonial Asia, misogyny, imperialism, the list could go on…are, like O’Rourke’s implicit phallus, always awkwardly elsewhere. After all, in TGWOB, like all classic pornographic films, it is the phallus, (O’Rourke) that is the real star of the show. So powerful and omniscient that he need hardly appear in the film itself.

The confession, however much of an ‘ordeal’ it may be for the artist, can never be didactic. Implicit in the notion of confession is the process of absolution and in this is the very essence of Aristotlian catharsis which Brecht’s didactic theatre fought to challenge. This is not a negation of emotional response, but it is a strategic privileging of a critical response in order to recognise the possibility of change. It is only when the actions on stage/screen are alienatory, in order to re-present us to life, that we are able to glance a critical eye over highly emotive subjects. Above all, what we must avoid, according to Brecht, is a kind of emotional orgy in which the social and political consciousness of the audience is superficially purged by the cathartic experience of the performance.

Whilst O’Rourke’s film is undoubtedly ‘unsettling’, an ‘ordeal’, even sometimes a shock, it enabled the spectator to submit to its own grotesque and augmented pathos, rather than to examine, CRITICALLY and here Brecht would clarify, ‘and with practical consequences,’ the politics of prostitution as an industry, maintained by and because of global capital economics and neo-colonial politics. Whilst O’Rourke wants the audience to feel, ‘self-recognition and embarrassment’, the very issues he raises deserve/require more than for western film consumers (converted or otherwise) to wallow in the revelation of their own prudery.

What O’Rourke fails to address is the fact that for Aoi, prostitution is anything but metaphorical. Two distinct but interconnected points must be made here. Firstly, that the idiosyncrasy of Aoi’s experiences are lost in O’Rourke’s aestheticization of her. And secondly, that prostitution is portrayed by O’Rourke as, ‘a metaphor for capitalism’ rather than as a structural politico-economic neo-colonial form of exploitation. So, from macro to micro, O’Rourke tells us nothing much more than we (who?) already know about Australian/Asian sex-tourism. The ‘meat’ of Aoi’s story and of sex tourism as a particular example (not metaphor) of global capitalism are disguised by the sauce of the film itself.

This is not didactic.

O’Rourke writes how he wanted to, ‘resist the lure of earnest statements to the converted,’. Brecht writes,’ the new alienations are only designed to free socially-conditioned phenomena from that stamp of familiarity which protects them against our grasp today,’p192. There seems to be a discrepancy here. Whilst O’Rourke can be celebrated for not being moralising, prudish, dogmatic, evangelical per se, TGWOB seems at once contrived and titillating. It was grotesque and it was uncomfortable, and perhaps so it should be, but not merely in order that the filmmaker can become a martyr to his own cause. The emotions evoked by the socio-political issues of the film and their portrayal must be pushed through their own limit. As Spivak describes the subaltern studies collective trying to create a space of possibility from the impossibility of the subaltern voice. So, we might envisage a film about Thai prostitution which doesn’t make the audience feel before they think.

‘I am willing to talk, but you should not have doubts about my words. There is the image of the woman and there is her reality. Sometimes the two do not go well together!’ (a ‘character’ in Trinh T Minh Ha’s Surname Viet, Given name Nam)
The image of the woman (Aoi) and her words seemed to go very well together, as O’Rourke’s final edit showed a narrative of Aoi’s relationship with the camera changing through the course of the film. There seems to be a difference between the first time Aoi asked O’Rourke to stop filming, ‘I am eating. This has nothing to do with your film,’ and the second, when the camera really does stop (or at least that is what happens after the edit). Aoi’s confidence has grown, she is embellishing the power she sees she has over the outcome of O’Rourke’s work, and the audience begins to question the degrees of dramatisation, the ficitiousness, the staging, the manipulation. We are betrayed when we discover that the shots of Aoi on the bed which we see are the fifth take.

‘The difference between so-called documentary and fiction in their depiction of reality is the question of degrees of fictitiousness,’(Trinh T Minh Ha). The ‘staging’ of the ‘real’, challenges our boundaries of both. The fetish of authenticity is shaken by O’Rourke’s work in so much as the montage of interviews differ significantly from softly lit mirrored bathroom ‘soliliqueys’, to ‘casual’ and incredibly clipped dialogues. However, unlike the work of Trinh T Minh Ha in Surname Viet, Given name Nam, in which the close up shots and overlays of subtitles force the viewer to question both the objectifying lens and the overcoding of the interview, O’Rourke’s film seems to linger in the discomfort of confession, before, (and this is the critical point) the absolution.

The very visceral ontology of Aoi’s life is constantly subsumed by O’Rourke’s own, now fetishised, ‘ordeal’ of the filmic process. In the words of Spivak, ‘the other has been appropriated by assimilation’. O’Rourke aligns himself with Aoi, as he describes them as, ‘united in their shared experiences of helpless victimisation,’.
O’Rourke cites Brecht’s play The Good Person of Szechwan as his inspiration, ‘an ironic parable about the impossibility of living a good life in an imperfect world,’.
Interestingly enough however, there are significant differences between Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan and O’Rourke’s The Good Woman of Bangkok. Whilst O’Rourke concludes his film with his own narration of Aoi’s statement, ‘it is my fate’, Brecht’s play concludes with the main character, Shen Te saying, ‘help’. This signifies a much wider separation in both (ideology?) and intent.

Whilst O’Rourke’s film is an ‘uncomfortable metaphor for the collective identity of the (post)-colonial Australian’ (Berry) precisely because the world is very much ‘imperfect’. Brecht’s play, as a manifestation of his experiments with didactic theatre (lehrstucke) is exactly about challenging the imperfection of the world. This is not idealistic so much as politically imperative. Brecht’s portrait of Shen Te is historically and poltically contextualised in order that the particular relations of power be made visible to the audience. From which point, more general critiques can be extrapolated and understood.

Whilst O’Rourke’s film is undoubtedly ‘unsettling’, an ‘ordeal’, even sometimes a shock, it enabled the spectator to submit to its own grotesque and augmented pathos, rather than to examine, CRITICALLY and here Brecht would clarify, ‘and with practical consequences,’ the politics of prostitution as an industry, maintained by and because of global capital economics and neo-colonial politics. Whilst O’Rourke wants the audience to feel, ‘self-recognition and embarrassment’, the very issues he raises deserve/require more than for western film consumers (converted or otherwise) to wallow in the revelation of their own prudery.

O’Rourke is right, we are all implicated in some way, and that is precisely why an analysis of the structures of this sort of exploitation that can be extrapolated from the ethnographic account are what is called for…

It would have been poetic perhaps to conclude this with some choice words of Aoi, extrapolated from O’Rourke’s text. However, this would be somewhat tokenist if not to say besides the point. The good guy’s don’t always get the last word, the meek shall not inherit the earth, and it is not their ‘fate’ so much as it is the workings of an exploitative global economy and imperialist politics. The subaltern here was certainly unable to speak, but perhaps creating that impossible space was never the point. If however, O’Rourke’s point was to challenge the preconceptions and petit-bourgeois moralising smugness of western documentary viewers, the method might more creatively and usefully been a more didactic, yes, Brechtian film, rather than the shock tactics of the theatre of O’Rourke’s confession.

It is tempting then, to end with Spivak, ‘The subaltern cannot speak. Representation has not withered away,’ but perhaps that sounds too fateful, too impossible.
Instead we return to the texts of the literary misappropriated, Brecht himself. Whilst Chris Berry suggests that we should, ‘rekindle the discomfort’, of the film in order to create something in the spaces it opens up, I prefer to call on Brecht who recognises the imperative of forging a narrative which is both ‘disconcerting but fruitful’, this is not the confessions of a white, middle class, male film maker and his ‘emotional imbroglio’. But it is the beginning of an experimentation with the possibility that, ‘there is such a thing as pleasurable learning, cheerful and militant learning,’ p73.

…and of course all of this is cheerfully inconclusive…

Imogen Bunting – for Anthropology, Representation and Contemporary Media. lect. J.Hutnyk, Dept Anthro, Goldsmiths 2001

"I am a socialist, I will infect you".

I remember someone at a Rally Against Capitalism saying something like this to gales of laughter. Its a quote that, well, remains amusing here under the hand of Hugo Chavez, who is currently visiting London and offering some of us cheap heating oil.

The shivers are not in the spines of those looking for a warm hearth however. Ha ha ha.

That said, I do want to note that I personally am not someone who wants to be identified as a socialist – my terminal condition is much much worse than that! Look out, I will try to sell you little red books, just like the Panthers did nearly 40 Years ago.

Lal Salaam.

Corporate Stones Pop Crack

Keith Richards is apparently up and about after his fall from a coconut tree, though The Sun reported yesterday that he’d had the hole in his skull enlarged. That’s his skull, not his skull ring…

Anyway, since he is apparently gonna be fine, now might be the time to sink the boot in a bit for his tolerance of that dandy Mick and the long long run of corporate rip-off that the Stones have perpetrated upon us for all these years with their tours sponsored by car manufacturing outfits and mega ticket prices hardly mitigated by the occasional ‘intimate venue’ gig ‘for the fans’ cos we love to do that sort of thing routine. Who am I kidding if I ever thought – shock, remember – that rock and roll had EVER been oppositional. The lyrics fo street fightin man were just that – lyrics. Never a call to arms, not while our fab five were kitted out in those awful fedoras and outfits that owe more to curtain fabric than to fashion…

So, though I remain a fan and Exile on Main Street is the best album ever and so on, I sure am glad you are up for more luxury holidays maaaan, must be so much satisfaction in knowing that riches buy the kind of medical technology that can rebuild you that fast.

Ahhh, and when did the Stones involvement with corporate culture first kick off? – I think we have it here – I thank Ted Swedenburg for this link to the Stones 1964 ADVERTISMENT jingle for KELLOGS Rice Crispies. We are talking breakfast cereals – surreal – snap snap – pop music – and the ring of the cash registers… and more…

Stop and stare:

Sunaina Marr Maira: Desis in the House

Sunaina Marr Maira: Desis in the House: “Desis in the House
Indian American Youth Culture in New York City

Sunaina Marr Maira

‘Desis in the House is what cultural studies ought to be. Sunaina Maira gets deep inside of the social and cultural worlds of second generation Indian Americans and illuminates the links between the local and global, history and nostalgia, nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Maira’s perceptive insights into the complex and fluid styles, music, dances, desires and dreams of desi youth will force us all to think about cultural identities in new ways.’
- Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Yo’ Mama’s DisFunktional! Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America

She sports a nose-ring and duppata (a scarf worn by South Asian women) along with the latest fashion in slinky club wear; he’s decked out in Tommy gear. Their moves on the crowded dance floor, blending Indian film dance with break-dancing, attract no particular attention. They are just two of the hundreds of hip young people who flock to the desi (i.e., South Asian) party scene that flourishes in the Big Apple.

New York City, long the destination for immigrants and migrants, today is home to the largest Indian American population in the United States. Coming of age in a city remarkable for its diversity and cultural innovation, Indian American and other South Asian youth draw on their ethnic traditions and the city’s resources to create a vibrant subculture. Some of the city’s hottest clubs host regular bhangra parties, weekly events where young South Asians congregate to dance to music that mixes rap beats with Hindi film music, bhangra (North Indian and Pakistani in origin), reggae, techno, and other popular styles. Many of these young people also are active in community and campus organizations that stage performances of “ethnic cultures.”
In this book Sunaina Maira explores the world of second-generation Indian American youth to learn how they manage the contradictions of gender roles and sexuality, how they handle their “model minority” status and expectations for class mobility in a society that still racializes everyone in terms of black or white. Maira’s deft analysis illuminates the ways in which these young people bridge ethnic authenticity and American “cool.”


Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).

“Sunaina Maira guides us into the bog of nostalgia where beleaguered immigrants of color forge a memory that is at odds with their homeland, but also with the dreams of their home boys and home girls. An honest ethnography gives us ample evidence that nostalgia is a feint. Rather than leave us with this conclusion alone, Maira posits something called critical nostalgia, and you’ll find out what that is when you read this important book.”—Vijay Prashad, author of Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity”

I remember / je me souviens

I remember / je me souviens: “Wednesday, March 29, 2006
I remember wondering why Cinderella’s slipper didn’t change back at midnight. I still do.

posted by william 10:15 PM”

net critique � Blog Archive � Blog about endangered Delhi settlement

net critique � Blog Archive � Blog about endangered Delhi settlement: “Monica Narula of the new media centre Sarai in Delhi has written the following call about the eviction of a settlement in Delhi where one of Sarai�s media labs (called Cybermohalla) is based:
Dear friends,
Over last 35 years we have seen many an internal dislocation of habitations and life worlds within the city of Delhi. This is something that started with high intensity from the early 70s. Now the process of this internal dislocation has become intense and harder.
Nangla Maachi is a 30 year old habitation. It was made by its inhabitants over this period. It is along the river bank and next to Pragati Maidan (Progress Grounds). It has now become valuable real estate as it is prime land for new urban development fairly close to the centre of the city.
The process of its dislocation has, therefore, begun.
In Nangla Maachi Sarai/Ankur had set up a cybermohalla lab two years ago. Many practitioners have been through the lab.
Over these two years, diaries have been written by the lab practitioners and many of the entries have been about life in Nangla. These diary entries are also a way to stubbornly remind us all that Nangla was made into a lively, heterogeneous habitation by countless people�s efforts, and needs to be remembered for this creative act of making and finding ways of living together.
A recent entry reads – �Packing up and leaving from Nangla has begun.� The diary is now a record of a contested terrain of the violence of dislocation.
We have set up a blog in both English and Hindi, to share with a wider public the various diary entries of the practitioners. Do visit it, read it, circulate it, share it and link it further. Your comments and stories will be very valuable.
English language blog:”

recomposition of a communist politics

Institute for Conjunctural Research

“The narcissism of renegades?The spectres of recuperation, repetition and imitation have always haunted the various ideologies of resistance, at least those not all too happy to celebrate the joys of ambivalence and the hybrid, those for which resistance is not just the name of a minimal inflection – a torsion, a distance, perhaps even a perversion – in the densely articulated space of hierarchies, partitions and dominations. In order to make a contribution to specifying what resistance may mean today, whether the term is even applicable or operative, what its minimal lineaments may be, I would like to turn to a relatively minor, if, as I hope to argue, symptomatic, episode in the vicissitudes of this concept: the intellectual trajectory that led some figures emerging from the current of French Maoism, first, to formulate an ideology of pure revolt, or absolute resistance, countering the complicities of Marxist-Leninist revolutionary politics vis-à-vis the perennial mechanisms of power and oppression; second, to revise the latter theory of ‘angelic’ or non-dialectical revolt into a tragic theory of morality, separating the resistance exemplified by moral protest and the defence of human rights from any notion of revolt, now considered ‘barbaric’ – thus adopting, despite all protestations to the contrary, the key thesis of the nouvelle philosophie, as instigated and ‘produced’ by Bernard-Henri Lévy, to wit, that there is a bloody thread running straight from Das Kapital to the Gulags, and that it is philosophy’s collusion with mastery and the state that lies behind the ‘totalitarian’ disasters of the 20th century. The aforementioned trajectory is encapsulated in two works arising from the collaboration of Christian Jambet and Guy Lardreau, philosophers schooled at the École Normale at the time of the May events, and militants in the Gauche Prolétarienne, the most visible of the post-68 Maoist organisations, famously supported by Foucault and Sartre against the censorship of its newspaper, La cause du peuple. The GP disbanded in 1974 after its increasingly patent inefficacy on the shop-floor and its last-minute retreat from the option of armed struggle. It would be easy, and perhaps even useful, to reduce the two works in question, L’Ange and Le Monde, to mere effects of an exquisitely Parisian sequence, which led a few children of the elites, ‘the little princes of the University’, as Lacan sardonically noted, into a spectacular but ineffectual, and misinformed, embrace of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, through a period of inevitable disappointment, into an equally overblown and narcissistic exploitation of their personal failures for media effect, and, finally, to the collaboration with the increasingly hegemonic ideology of human rights and humanitarian interventions, still with us today ….”.

The New School Weekly Observer

The New School Weekly Observer: “A FEW WORDS FOR IMOGEN BUNTING

Imogen Bunting, one of the most liked and accomplished graduate students at the university, died in her native England in late April from complications following a heart attack. She was 25.
Imogen received her first-class honors BA in social anthropology from Goldsmiths College, University of London, in June 2002. In 2003, she spent five months in Chiapas, Mexico, doing volunteer work and preliminary research for her intended doctoral project. She also worked as the project assistant for an equal rights program at Britain�s Trades Union Congress. In fall 2004, Imogen began her MA and PhD studies in anthropology, focusing on the political legacies of internationalism in the contemporary context of globalization.
In view of her scholarly promise and admirable political commitments, she was recruited by Robert Kostrzewa, assistant dean of The New School for Social Research. �Imogen Bunting was one of our star students, a beloved member of our community, and an extraordinarily kind and caring human being,� he said recently. �She combined academic excellence, deep commitment to the ideal of justice, and concern for others, especially the voiceless and dispossessed. She was the type of student who makes it worthwhile to be a faculty member or an administrator. The loss of Imogen to our school and to our intellectual community is immeasurable. That her life and her enormous potential were cut short is overwhelming.�
Imogen was a cherished member of the student senate, where she passionately spoke her mind on numerous institutional and labor issues affecting her colleagues, school employees, faculty, and other members of the university community. When others doubted the merits of certain progressive causes, Imogen often convinced them to stand strong with her. The sincere embrace of the ”

Rachel’s Spot

Rachel’s Spot: “May 02, 2006 heaven gained an angel ::: *DUSK rest in power*

last night u appeared in my dreams. it was typical you stood behind the tables, spinning some rare grooves, latin funk and rap that took me back. you nodded in your usual way, a smirking grin and a little lip to say what’s up. i wanted to speak, build, hear about your latest project to make the world a better place.
most only know you for the beats but you gave the world so much more:
on race relations
on youth
on language, discourse and power
for mumia
and it don’t stop. can’t stop, won’t stop.
a drunk driver took all that from all of us.
a little bit of the music died with you.
LA will never be the same.
i’m still in shock.
you will forever be missed.
i will stay dreaming about dancing at the rootdown.

paris to die for our sins

this may be a little late and I’ve lost the date – might have been April 1 – but its another of those items I have carried around for ages in a lint laden coat pocket after ripping it from a newspaper in amazement: Big News: Paris Hilton is slated to play MA T in a film about the god-bothering ‘grizzly hell bat’ who, in the words of the then-interesting-but-now-recidivist, C.Hitchens was guilty of ‘peddling the pope’s henious policy of compelling the faithful to breed’ – ie, anti-abortion, contraception, etc. So, Paris gets to play the simple life (Calcutta style) but this time without Nicole, or is she gonna get the role of drink-drive victim Diana? And of course I also wonder who will play Enva Hoxha, whom the diminutive Albanian met and later laid flowers on the grave thereof. I did recently meet the British Communist M-L group who described themselves as Enva-ist, and advocated following the old comrades version of marxist-leninist-maoist-hoxha-ite thought. Truly way out there, these Albanians.

Now, I have never been to the fair land of Albania, but I did see in person the dubious activities of this particularly scary little nun, and even met her very briefly once at some city event where we were lined up as if for slaughter. She counsels her workers to ‘love till it hurts’ but could not use her organisation’s massive wealth to actually cure anyone, since to do so would either interrupt old Bog’s heavenly plan, or offer false hope to those who could not get to the top of the waiting list… So, love em till it hurts meant ‘volunteers’ came and cuddled people who were ill, and yes dying, but not necessarily always beyond medical care, just denied it. Charity is about image after all. The pope came to Calcutta too once, in his pope-mobile… but anyways, the best bit about this news item is the suggestion that: ‘a computer generated image showed a close facial match between the hotel heiress and the Albanian-born nun’. Makes you fear for the day machines take over eh? The article also references Paris’s previous movie experience – a predictable slur I guess. I say why not give Paris the job? Sure, she could hardly be less irritating, and is likely to be better, miraculously even best at what she does. Praise the Lord.

Barbara Stanwyck

I have been meaning for so long to post this picture – with signature – of Barbara Stanwyck, the most fabulous screen legend ever to ever to ever, forever. I mean, why should I be the only lucky one to see this picture every day? It was a birthday gift from Rebecca who knows about such things (thank you) and if you have not seen movies like: The lady Eve (1941), The bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), Double Indemnity (1944) and Meet John Doe (1941), then you gotta do that NOW! Later you can catch the episodes of The Big Valley you might have missed on early morning television come down. And for real laughs, the fabulous Red Salute (1935) about communists on campus in the US in the 1920s/30s (an heiress and her red beau, the capitalist father kidnaps her and exiles her to south America for deprogramming or some such – a film which was variously re-released over the next ten years with and increasingly anti-communist rebranding: aka “Her Enlisted Man” (USA), aka “Her Uncle Sam” (USA: reissue title), and best of all aka “Runaway Daughter” (USA: reissue title).

Kath Bird is responsible for originally dragging me along to see “The lady Eve” which started this obsession, oh about 15 years ago. Red Salute Kath…

This Rolling Stone

An amazing image of Keef Richard – as (mis)represented by The Sun newspaper yesterday (10 May 06), after his second brain operation. Story goes that he fell from a coconut tree, and/also maybe from a jetski, had an initial op, is rumoured to have checked himself out of hospital – rock and roll! – but with continued headaches (go figure) he had to go back in to have a hole drilled in his skull to release the build up of blood. Allegedly through extended drug use he’s got clotting problems, though I suspect this is just a gratuitous use of the incident to score anti-drug points.

So, why is The Sun scheming up these gratuitous diagrammatic images, with the same entertainment sentimentality that we see so often on the 10pm BBC evening news (its not just a lowbrow tabloid that does this). The graphs and re-creations… I remember in the first weeks of the gulf war (2) the Guardian newspaper had, in nearly every issue, a two page map of Iraq. I was saying then they should sell the paper with a little plastic bag full of soldiers and tanks stuck to the front, then we could play strategy on the map just like George and Tony were doing (so badly).

Gnnnnng. So, have some respect for the great stones guitarist – just because it seems like he’s gonna go on and on forever, doesn’t mean its easy to get around with a tap in your head.

bugged by PMs and Corporate Uni types

The first few sunny days of summer and I am bugged. I mean bugged as in plagued by small flying things – slap, and a smear of some sand-fly type thing crushed against my arm, cheek, thigh. Itchy, scratch scratch, and a strange buzzing in my ear. Flying things all over the place and a creepy crawly feeling. Not that I would complain about summer ever – bring on a real one – but is this what global warming means for us, an England full of wasps and other annoying critters.

Of course this is symbolica as well – w.a.s.p.s – and it reminded me of the major thing that bugged me about Australia on my recent visit home (as also mentioned in the pages of TNT in interview a few issues back). Which bug? – the snivelling continuing precence of the nasty scuzzbag John Howard as prime-minister-for-life in the land of the Magic Pudding (so it seems – no credible parliamentary alternative in ‘opposition’ leader Beazley). The pie has truly turned rotten, though not significantly more rotten than the Maggie-in-a-nicer-dress version that we still have as PM here (he also wants it to be for life it seems).

The poster in the accompanying gloomy picture was for a Socialist Alternative public meeting. Worth noting as you look closely – after pondering the universal relevance of the slogan – is that the picture is from a worker-student solidarity rally, the sort of thing we might need in the current university dispute here, instead of defence of scabs and limited debate about what education might be, as we lurch even more into a degraded teaching factory system. Slap.

CrapEmploye adventures in the left-wing of capital

Hi Ben – over the top then, with gusto. J

CrapEmployee�� adventures in the left-wing of capital: “finally! mission accomplished
Well, yeah!
Sacked via e-mail, on a work account that they then cancelled so fast that I cannot even include the priceless text on this blog until I get the hard copy that I assume has been mailed to me: suffice to say I am accused of ‘terrifying’ and ‘harassing’ my manager, the President and the Treasurer (well, nihil humani a me alienum puto etcetera). However, they did send out an e-mail to all MSA staff, office-bearers and MSA representatives concerning my good self, which is here:
1. Effective as of Monday the 24th of April, the employment of our Policy Planning Officer, Benjamin Ross, ended.
Management has advised Mr. Ross that subsequent to the collection of his personal affects, we expect that he will not enter the premises (specifically all MSA space) as he will neither be a staff member nor student of this University.
We ask that all staff and OBs report any attempts by Mr. Ross to enter the premises and pass on any and all communication with Mr. Ross to their Manager or preferably a member of the Executive.
Kane Wishart
Though neither the Treasurer nor my manager would actually have a conversation with me, my manager, Gerry, did take the time to remove (what he falsely claimed to be) all of my possessions from my office and also to tell me that if I didn�t get out of the MSA space that he would call security.
They make a desolation and they call it peace: Happy days are here again.
On to the next adventure.”

I recommend perusal of the rest of this blog, even after its avowed mission has terminated.

proud as punch

On 5/8/06, Ned Rossiter> wrote:

> btw, your blog is blocked by the china firewall.

Really – wow. I am so impressed, why would anyone bother?

I was thinking if there were ways to set up applets that generate pictures of Mao on ever new spam blogger sites – if only to annoy the mechanised censors I guess, and of course slow down this entire automated search system world – which also reminds me, just a few hundred hits to go till we hit 10k on here. No doubt many of them bots rather than real – thanks for stopping by comrades.

Imogen Bunting 2

Imogen Bunting was a very close friend and her death is an injustice I cannot reconcile (there is no god, no reason, no meaning, nothing fair – etc etc). An astonishing (and yet no surprise) number of people came to the commemoration, and folks from Goldsmiths, from peace boats (Hannah), from the TUC, from the New School spoke eloquently and beautifully. Many many tears were shed.

I am keen to see something of this energy tapped (Duchamp wanted to measure the untapped energy of falling tears – IB would have laughed right here) and I want to see that depth of feeling translated into an ongoing activism that befits the revolutionary politics that Imogen herself espoused. However smilingly she did so, she was totally consistent. I will post soon more of her writing, and I hope there will be further publications from others, but in the meantime you can check a piece that was published in the journal Left Curve a few years ago.

The picture is of the quilt made of Imogen’s garments – I would be embarrassed to call this trinketization, but the way it captures a deeper sentiment and echoes with the book we were doing (that will be done) itself catches me in the throat.

(added later – there will also be a memorial in NYC, see here)

Shareholders join Rio protest

Shareholders join Rio protest
From: AAP
May 04, 2006

SHAREHOLDERS have joined protesters outside the annual general meeting of mining giant Rio Tinto in Melbourne, concerned about the company’s mining practices in Papua New Guinea.
Organised by the Mineral Policy Institute (MPI) and Free West Papua campaign, the protest – outside the Sofitel hotel in busy Collins Street – was against alleged corruption and human rights abuses at the giant Freeport mine in Indonesia’s Papua province.
MPI said the Freeport mine was engaging in similar irresponsible conduct to that at the Rio Tinto-owned mine in Bougainville, which led to a 10-year civil war.
It follows the release of a report by the Indonesian Environment Forum which alleged that Rio Tinto was releasing copper tailings from its Freeport mine into a nearby river.
Shareholder John Poppins said he was concerned about the report and was there to support the protest as well as voice his opinion at the AGM.
“I have a growing level of concern as I grow older in the way in which my dividends are earned, and the impacts on the other people, particularly in countries where the law is not as strong as it is here,” Mr Poppins said.
Mr Poppins said he was concerned about the report which was released this week by the Indonesian Environment Forum.
“Deeply, yes. It seems in my youth I invested all my savings in the bad guys,” he said.
“There are really only two alternatives: you can sell in disgust or you can hold on to the shares and start to question the company.”
Some shareholders had given their proxy votes to Papuan and environmental activists, allowing them to attend the meeting.
Herman Wanggai, one of the Papuan asylum seekers recently given visas to stay in Australia, was at the protest and said there was one thing he wanted to ask at the AGM.
“The question I ask is why are we suffering for the rich resources?” Mr Arumisore said.
Moses Havini, who described himself as the international representative for Bougainville, said Rio Tinto should be held accountable for what it was doing to the environment in Papua.
“There seems to be two rules: one for Rio Tinto in other countries; and the other one is in other countries such as Bougainville and Papua New Guinea where it is fine to pump mine tailings directly into the water systems and the sea,” Mr Havini said.
Rio Tinto has invested $2.2 billion in the mine.,10166,19022917-31037,00.html
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