Tag Archives: war

Barbaric Poetry – notes for later…

Theodore W. Adorno Quotation:

To write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric”
(to 1969 Herbert Marcuse interview about Adorno)
From the web site of Evelyn Wilcock, http://members.aol.com/eandcw/adquotes.htm,

accessed July 28, 2003
People who ask about Adorno want to know the source of his dictum about writing poetry after Auschwitz. Providing them with the date (written in 1949 for a festschrift) and source (published in “An Essay on Cultural Criticism and Society,” in Prisms, p.34) of the quotation may only increase their mystification. The sentence is part of the conclusion to an essay, and reading it on its own may be as fruitless as attempting to understand the last act of Hamlet without having first seen the rest of the play. This is the opening of the essay, ‘Cultural Criticism and Society,’ the whole of which may be read in Prisms, trans. Samuel and Shierry Weber (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1967), p.19.
To anyone in the habit of thinking with his ears, the words ‘cultural criticism’ (Kulturkritik) must have an offensive ring, not merely because, like automobile, they are pieced together from Latin and Greek. The words recall a flagrant contradiction. The cultural critic is not happy with civilization, to which alone he owes his discontent. He speaks as if he represents unadulterated nature or a higher historical stage. Yet he is necessarily of the same essence as that to which he fancies himself superior.



source: <http://lists.ccil.org/pipermail/philnet/2002-June/002663.html>, accessed July 28, 2003On June 24, 2002 Frederik van Gelder of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research (where Adorno worked), answered a query on Philnet as follows:
> I wonder if anyone can tell me the precise location of Adorno’s

> comment that it is impossible to write poetry/produce art after

> Auschwitz? Much quoted, but apparently from a little-known piece of
> writing.
> From: Andy Hamilton
> Dept. of Philosophy
> Durham University
> Durham DH1 3HP
> UK
Original quote in *Prisms*, 1955, MIT Press. Reprinted London, 1967.
It’s a misquote, in as much as it’s a phrase inside of a sentence which is usually left out:

The critique of culture is confronted with the last stage in the dialectic of culture and barbarism: to write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric, and that corrodes also the knowledge which expresses why it has become impossible to write poetry today.”
Adorno came back to this topic on three different occasions: in the Negative Dialectics, in Ohne Leitbild, and in Noten zur Literatur IV.
Page references are to the Gesammelte Schriften, where more details can be found:

Original: Prismen, vol. 10a, p. 30.
Kulturkritik findet sich der letzten Stufe der Dialektik von Kultur und Barbarei gegenüber: nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben, ist barbarisch, und das frißt auch die Erkenntnis an, die ausspricht, warum es unmöglich ward, heute Gedichte zu schreiben. (1955)
Negative Dialektik, 06, p. 355/356:

Das perennierende Leiden hat soviel Recht auf Ausdruck wie der Gemarterte zu brüllen; darum mag falsch gewesen sein, nach Auschwitz ließe kein Gedicht mehr sich schreiben. Nicht falsch aber ist die minder kulturelle Frage, ob nach Auschwitz noch sich leben lasse, ob vollends es dürfe, wer zufällig entrann und rechtens hätte umgebracht werden müssen.
Ohne Leitbild, 10a, p. 452/453:

Weniger stets verträgt jener Schein sich mit dem Prinzip rationaler Materialbeherrschung, dem er die gesamte Geschichte von Kunst hindurch sich verband. Während die Situation Kunst nicht mehr zuläßt – darauf zielte der Satz über die Unmöglichkeit von Gedichten nach Auschwitz -, bedarf sie doch ihrer. Denn die bilderlose Realität das vollendete Widerspiel des bilderlosen Zustands geworden, in dem Kunst verschwände, weil die Utopie sich erfüllt hätte, die in jedem Kunstwerk sich chiffriert.
Noten zur Literatur IV, vol.11, p. 603

Der Satz, nach Auschwitz lasse kein Gedicht mehr sich schreiben, gilt nicht blank, gewiß aber, daß danach, weil es möglich war und bis ins Unabsehbare möglich bleibt, keine heitere Kunst mehr vorgestellt werden kann.
best,

Dr. Frederik van Gelder
Institut fuer Sozialforschung
Frankfurt University
Senckenberganlage 26 60325
Frankfurt am Main
gelder@em.uni-frankfurt.de



page by Harold Marcuse, July 2003, uploaded June 8, 2005, updated:

back to top, to Herbert Marcuse Adorno Page,
Marcuse Publications PageHerbert Marcuse website

A recipe for w-o-t-w-e

Seumus Milne’s last two paragraphs in his Guardian article on Gaza today are worth noting:

“The British prime minister tried this week to claim that the growth of al-Qaida in Yemen and Somalia showed western strategy was “working”, because the escalation of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan had forced it to look for sanctuaries elsewhere. In reality, it is a measure of the grotesque failure of the entire war on terror. Since its launch in October 2001, al-Qaida has spread from the mountains of Afghanistan across the region, to Iraq, Pakistan, the horn of Africa, and far beyond.

Instead of scaling down the western support for dictatorship and occupation that fuels al-Qaida-style terror, and concentrating resources on police action to counter it, the US and its allies have been drawn inexorably into repeating and extending the monstrosities that sparked it in the first place. It’s the recipe for a war on terror without end”. (Guardian 7 Jan 2010)

This Much is True

demenezesI will be attending this important bit of theatre:

THIS MUCH IS TRUE
By Paul Unwin and Sarah Beck

On 22 July 2005 Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by the Metropolitan Police at Stockwell tube station. It was a defining moment in London’s history yet too many questions are left unanswered.

Award-winning writer and director Paul Unwin’s (co-creator of Casualty and Holby City) and Sarah Beck’s play is a shocking, electrifying, insight into what really happened before, during and in the years following Jean Charles de Menezes’ death.

Weaving together new and personal testimonies from senior police officers including Andy Hayman (Metropolitan Police former head of counter terrorism), Brian Paddick, Jean’s family, his friends, the legal team (including Michael Mansfield QC), THIS MUCH IS TRUE brings the tragedy to the stage and reveals much that has never been said publicly before.

Cast: Amber Agar, Stefano Braschi, Alice Da Cunha, Gerald Kyd, Beatriz Romilly, Justine Waddell.

Directed by Tim Roseman with a multi award-winning creative team including Paul Wills, Mike Walker, Knifedge, Richard Howell and Daniel Pemberton.

http://www.theatre503.com/whatson/detail/144/
www.theatre503.com
follow us on twitter @theatre503 and on facebook

Crisis what “crisis”

cocoaineCrisis Theory: From Capitalism and Back Again.

On examination of the current distribution of forces and potentials, it is clear that capitalism will not and cannot change. In the present ‘crisis’, there is little chance of it becoming a “more human” version of itself. It remains ‘the same’ – exploitation and class inequality are its fundamentals, and these ‘fundamentals’ remain sound.

But, keen observers of political struggles might ask, might not the left somehow profit from the crisis? Historically, from a radical wing perspective it has been in times of crisis that revolutionary change seemed possible. The first world war was, of course in complicated ways, the catalyst for the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. The second world war precipitated revolutionary success in China, and – although Nehruvian socialism did not have such a significant leftist character – independence for India. Note also, through the 1950s and 1960s, a cascading series of anti-colonial victories in Africa and Asia were achieved, in a century of revolutions, precisely on the back of the weakening of the colonial powers.

It would not do, however, to present an ambulance-chasing theory of political change. It is not only after crises that the Left can come to power, but there are no guarantees that the collapse in the fortunes of certain banks, real estate and car manufacturers means we can anticipate a more ‘humane’ less exploitative capitalism. As Marx showed (if one reads as far as volume three of Das Kapital) there are always profiteers ready to take the place of those who fail in deals that go awry: opportunism is an analytical variable that cannot be denied. This is true even if the present political predicament may or may not be usefully compared to the depression™ which more or less paved the way for fascism (in my view a limited rendering of the equation, often held by left groups, but misguided since the hostility of the European bourgeoisie to the first wave of communist uprisings – Germany, Hungary – also played its part in the rise of Hitler et al). Today, however, the conditions are patently not as ripe for a significant fascist upsurge, notwithstanding gains across Europe for the likes of the BNP or the misnamed Danish People’s Party. No, the factor of significance today is the absence of organised progressive groups able to take advantage of the conjunctural moment. There is an astonishing openness to change alive in the media and the public – nicer capitalism is on the cards, climate change aware, fair trade, less corrupt bankers and ministers… but where is the militancy that would push this sentiment forward past a mere business-as-usual capitalist restoration (capitalism with pretty window decorations)? The militant left presently seems particularly unable to organise its way out of the proverbial paper sack; the parliamentary experiment is constrained so much by tabloid and opinion poll politics that it dare not risk an idea; and the anarchist-cum-environmentalist left are torn between a corporate lobbying and an alternate lifestyle model that on both sides seems unable to forget what the 1970s did to sixties idealism.

The crisis as opportunity to change everything will therefore be a misfire. There are, of course, discussions in the highbrow press, of ethical constraint, new democracy, hope, and ‘yes we can’. This however is branding. Worse, it is the triumph of B-team bourgeois reserve politics. The brutality of armaments, automobiles and mining as the core profit stream of capital will be supplemented in the interregnum by new media, culture and service. Neither mode of production is incompatible with wage slavery. Where is the seize-the-time crew today if not already compromised with business plans and flow-chart projections? Without a Leninist organization ready to bludgeon through the idea that real change – radical root and branch uprooting of the four alls – all class relations that are the bedrock of exploitation, all relations of production that enable the owners of capital to profit from those who do the work, all social relations that rise upon these relations of production and all the ideas that justify them – without all this, there is no crisis; only a “crisis”. Stage managed and good for news entertainment. Watch carefully, CNN is going to make a documentary, with a slick, well-groomed presenter. Business-as-usual (hence the pic). Red Salute.

Struggle for Justice is necessary. Free Gaza by whatever means. This time by donation.

dignity9

[Readers will know I do not endorse charity giving - see Rumour - but note the distinction between buying a boat for the Free Gaza movement and other good causes. This one must float. Lets buy a boat, ahoy].

AN URGENT APPEAL TO HELP BREAK THE SIEGE OF GAZA

Monday, 04 May 2009 15:47 Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2009 19:20 Written by Free Gaza Movement

“From the groundbreaking work of Gandhi and King to the ongoing example of the Free Gaza Movement, we can discern the transforming power of nonviolence at a crossroads in our history.”
-H.E. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the UN General Assembly

Dear Friends,

we desperately need your help. It’s with heavy hearts that we have to inform you that the Free Gaza ship, the DIGNITY, has been lost outside Larnaca port in Cyprus. Fortunately, no one was injured in the accident.

On 30 December 2008 the DIGNITY was rammed by the Israeli navy while on a mission of mercy to deliver critically needed medical supplies and doctors to the war-ravaged Gaza Strip. Thanks to the heroic efforts of its captain and crew, the DIGNITY was able to find safe harbor in Lebanon, later making its way to Cyprus for repairs. Early this morning we received a call from the Harbor Master in Larnaca, informing us that the ship was taking on water. While attempting to tow her to safety, the ship went down. An inquiry has begun into the circumstances surrounding her demise, possibly due to storm damage suffered during the night.

All of us in Free Gaza are deeply saddened by the loss of the DIGNITY. Since the Free Gaza Movement was founded in 2006 we have worked hard to overcome the siege of Gaza. Israeli policies of racism, ethnic cleansing and the brutal military occupation of Palestine demand our determined & direct resistance. When our governments fail to act, we – the citizens of the world – must stand up and make our voices heard.

To date, the Free Gaza Movement has organized seven voyages to Palestine, successfully arriving in Gaza Port five times. We have brought dozens of human rights workers, journalists, parliamentarians, and others to Gaza, as well as tons of desperately needed medical and humanitarian supplies. Free Gaza boats are the first international ships to sail to the Gaza Strip since 1967.

None of this would have been possible without you, our friends. Your emotional, political, and financial support is the foundation of all our successes.

We’re turning to you today, because we need your help now more than ever. Please visit our donate page for more information on how you can help ensure our continuing missions to Palestine. Please give generously.

Despite our loss today, we will not be deterred. In one month we will return to Gaza with the HOPE FLEET, a flotilla of cargo and passengers ships carrying significant amounts of humanitarian and reconstruction aid. Thanks to your support, we will go to Gaza again and again, until this siege is forever ended and the Palestinian people have free access to the rest of the world.

This is our solemn promise.

Sincerely Yours,
Huwaida Arraf
Greta Berlin
Eliza Ernshire
Derek Graham
Fathi Jaouadi
Ramzi Kysia
Vaggelis Pissias
The interim Board of Directors for the Free Gaza Movement

PS: We’re suggesting a donation of €50, but please give what you can. Your contributions will go directly toward the purchase and overhaul of new ship that can break through the siege of Gaza and help connect Palestine with the rest of the world.

http://www.freegaza.org/

Letter in today’s Guardian

The massacres in Gaza are the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of their land and resources. Israel’s war against the Palestinians has turned Gaza and the West Bank into a pair of gigantic political prisons. There is nothing symmetrical about this war in terms of principles, tactics or consequences. Israel is responsible for launching and intensifying it, and for ending the most recent lull in hostilities.

Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides. If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides… against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank.

We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, and not upon the criminal use of force.

We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Signatories:

Professor Gilbert Achcar, Development Studies, SOAS
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Politics and International Studies, SOAS
Dr. Nadje Al-Ali, Gender Studies, SOAS
Professor Eric Alliez, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Dr. Jens Andermann, Latin American Studies, Birkbeck
Dr. Jorella Andrews, Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths
Professor Keith Ansell-Pearson, Philosophy, University of Warwick
John Appleby, writer
Dr. Claudia Aradau, Politics, Open University
Dr. Walter Armbrust, Politics, University of Oxford
Dr. Andrew Asibong, French, Birkbeck
Professor Derek Attridge, English, University of York
Burjor Avari, lecturer in Multicultural Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr. Zulkuf Aydin, International Development, University of Leeds
Dr. Claude Baesens, Mathematics, University of Warwick
Dr. Jennifer Bajorek, Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths
Professor Mona Baker, Centre for Translation Studies, University of Manchester
Jon Baldwin, lecturer in Communications, London Metropolitan University
Professor Etienne Balibar, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
Dr. Trevor Bark, Criminology, WEA Newcastle
Dr. Susan Batchelor, Sociology, Glasgow University
Dr. David Bell, Tavistock Clinic and British Psychoanalytic Society
Dr. Anna Bernard, English, University of York
Professor Henry Bernstein, Development Studies, SOAS
Anindya Bhattacharyya, writer and journalist
Dr. Ian Biddle, Music, Newcastle University
Sana Bilgrami, filmmaker and lecturer, Napier University, Edinburgh
Professor Jon Bird, School of Arts & Education, Middlesex University
Nicholas Blincoe, writer
Dr. Jelke Boesten, Development Studies, University of Leeds
Dr. Julia Borossa, Psychoanalysis, Middlesex University
Dr. Mark Bould, Film Studies, UWE
Dr. Mehdi Boussebaa, Said Business School, University of Oxford
Professor Wissam Boustany, Trinity College of Music, London
Professor Bill Bowring, Law, Birkbeck
Dr. Alia Brahimi, Politics, University of Oxford
Professor Haim Bresheeth, Media Studies, University of East London
Professor John D Brewer, Sociology, Aberdeen
Victoria Brittain, writer and journalist
Professor Celia Britton, French, UCL
Professor Charles Brook, Paediatric Endocrinology, UCL
Dr. Muriel Brown, writer
Professor Ian Buchanan, Critical and Cultural Theory, University of Cardiff
Professor Ray Bush, African Studies and Development Politics, University of Leeds
Professor Alex Callinicos, European Studies, KCL
Dr. Conor Carville, Irish Studies, St. Mary’s University College
Professor Noel Castree, Geography, University of Manchester
Matthew Caygill, lecturer in History and Politics, Leeds Metropolitan University
Dr. Rinella Cere, Arts, Design, Communication and Media, Sheffield Hallam University
Dr. John Chalcraft, Government, LSE
Dr. Claire Chambers, English Literature, Leeds Metropolitan University
Dr. Sue Chaplin, Cultural Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University.
Dr. Sharad Chari, Geography, LSE
Dr. Lorenzo Chiesa, Critical Theory, University of Kent
Dr. Andrew Chitty, Philosophy, University of Sussex
Professor Emilios Christodoulidis, Law, Glasgow
Professor Sue Clegg, Education, Leeds Metropolitan University
Professor Claire Colebrook, English Literature, Edinburgh University
Dr. John Collins, Philosophy, UEA
Professor Guy Cook, Education and Language Studies, The Open University
Professor Diana Coole, Politics and Sociology, Birkbeck
Professor Annie E. Coombes, History of Art, Birkbeck
Charlie Cooper, lecturer in Social Policy, University of Hull
Julia Copus, poet
Professor Andrea Cornwall, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex
Dr. Don Crewe, Criminology, Roehampton University
Professor Simon Critchley, Philosophy, University of Essex
Dr. Stephanie Cronin, Social Sciences, University of Northampton
Eleanor Crook, sculptor & lecturer, University of the Arts London
Laura Cull, artist and researcher, Drama, University of Exeter
Dr. Sonia Cunico, Modern Languages, University of Leicester
Dr. David Cunningham, English, University of Westminster
Catherine Czerkawska, writer and historian
Dr. Sarah Dadswell, Drama, University of Exeter
Dr. Gareth Dale, Politics and History, Brunel University
Dr. Gary Daniels, Public Policy and Management, Keele University
Neil Davidson, Senior Research Fellow, Geography and Sociology, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Graham Dawson, Cultural History, University of Brighton
Christophe Declercq, lecturer in Translation, Imperial College London
Dr. Helen May Dennis, English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick
Dr. Caitlin DeSilvey, Geography, University of Exeter
Dr. Mark Devenney, Humanities, University of Brighton
Dr. Pat Devine, Social Science, University of Manchester
Dr. Jorge Díaz-Cintas, Translation, Imperial College London
Professor James Dickins, Arabic, University of Salford
Kay Dickinson, Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College
Jenny Diski, writer
Dr. Bill Dixon, Sociology & Criminology, Keele University
Noel Douglas, lecturer and graphic designer, University of Bedfordshire
Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Law, University of Oxford
Professor Allison Drew, Department of Politics, University of York
Dr. Judit Druks, Psychology & Language Science, UCL
Professor Mick Dunford, Geography, University of Sussex
Dr. Sam Durrant, English, Leeds University
Dr. Graham Dyer, Economics, SOAS
Professor Abbas Edalat, Computer Science, Imperial College
Professor Rasheed El-Enany, Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter
Gregory Elliott, writer and translator
Dr. Richard Elliott, Music, Newcastle University
Professor Hoda Elsadda, Arabic Studies, University of Manchester
Bernardine Evaristo, writer
Dr. Howard Feather, Sociology, London Metrolitan University
Professor Patrick ffrench, French, King’s College London
Dr. Clare Finburgh, Theatre Studies, University of Essex
Professor Jean Fisher, Fine Art, Middlesex University
Dominic Fox, writer
Dr. Jennifer Fraser, Spanish, Birkbeck
Professor Murray Fraser, Architecture, University of Westminster
Dr. Des Freedman, Media and Communications, Goldsmiths
Maureen Freely, writer and journalist, English, University of Warwick
Dr. Diane Frost, Sociology, University of Liverpool
Dr. Geetanjali Gangoli, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol
Juliet Gardiner, writer
Dr. James Garvey, philosopher
Professor Conor Gearty, Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE
Dr. Julie Gervais, Government, LSE.
Dr. Jeremy Gilbert, Cultural Studies, University of East London
Dr. Aisha Gill, Criminologist, Roehampton University, UK
Professor Paul Gilroy, Sociology, London School of Economics
Charles Glass, writer
Dr. Andrew Goffey, Media, Middlesex
Professor Barry Goldson, Sociology and Social Policy, University of Liverpool
Professor Philip Goodchild, Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham
Dr. Paul Goodey, lecturer and oboist
Professor Ian Gough, Social Policy, University of Bath
Dr. David Graeber, Anthropology, Goldsmiths
Dr. James Graham, Media Culture and Communication, Middlesex University
Professor Penny Green, Law, Kings College London
Dr. Simon Gieve, Education, University of Leicester
Dr. Steve Hall, Sociology and Criminology, Northumbria
Professor Peter Hallward, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Keith Hammond, lecturer in Education, University of Glasgow
Dr. Sameh F. Hanna, Translation Studies, University of Salford
Nicky Harman, lecturer in Translation, Imperial College London
M John Harrison, writer
Dr. Rumy Hasan, Science & Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex
Owen Hatherley, journalist and academic
Dr. Jane Haynes, writer & dialogic psychotherapist
Dr. Jonathan Hensher, French Studies, University of Manchester
Dr. Barry Heselwood, Linguistics & Phonetics, University of Leeds
Tom Hickey, Tutor in Philosophy, Politics and Aesthetics, University of Brighton
Dr. Jane Hiddleston, Modern Languages, University of Oxford
Dr. Nicki Hitchcott, French and Francophone Studies, University of Nottingham
Professor Eric Hobsbawm, President, Birkbeck
Dr. Jane Holgate, Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University
Professor Derek Holt, Mathematics, University of Warwick
Professor Ted Honderich, Philosophy, UCL
Professor David Howell, Politics, University of York
Professor Richard Hudson, Linguistics, UCL
Professor John Hutnyk, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths
Dr. Colin Imber, Turkish, University of Manchester
Professor Lyn Innes (emeritus), English, University of Kent
Professor Yosefa Loshitzky, Film, Media and Cultural Studies, University of East London
Dr. Lars Iyer, Philosophy, Newcastle University
Dr. Ian James, French, University of Cambridge
Dr. Daniel Katz, English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick
Dr. Mark Kelly, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Joanna Gilmore, lecturer in the School of Law, University of Manchester
Susan Kelly, lecturer in Fine Art, Goldsmiths
Dr. Christian Kerslake, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Dr. Alexander King, Anthropology, University of Aberdeen
David Kinloch, poet
Dr. Dianne Kirby, History and International Affairs, University of Ulster
Dr. Graeme Kirkpatrick, Sociology, University of Manchester
Dr. Laleh Khalili, Politics and International Studies, SOAS
Dr. Stathis Kouvelakis, European Studies, KCL
Professor Basil Kouvaritakis, Engineering Science, University of Oxford
Dr. John Kraniauskas, Spanish, Birkbeck
Dr. Cecile Laborde, Political Science, UCL
Professor Ernesto Laclau, Government, Essex
Dave Laing, writer and journalist
Dr. Juan Antonio Lalaguna, Humanities, Imperial College London
Professor William Large, Philosophy, University College Plymouth, St Mark and St John
Nicholas Lawrence, lecturer in English & Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick
Professor Andrew Leak, French, UCL
Dr. Barbara Lebrun, French, University of Manchester
Dr. Keekok Lee, Philosophy, University of Manchester
Professor Esther Leslie, English and Humanities, Birkbeck
Dr. Jo Littler, Media and Cultural Studies, Middlesex University
Tim Llewellyn, journalist and writer
Dr. Caroline Lloyd, Social Sciences, Cardiff University
Dr. Jill Lovecy, Politics, University of Manchester
Simon Lynn, lecturer in Social Work, UEL
David Mabb, artist and Reader in Art, Goldsmiths
Dr. Stephen Maddison, Cultural Studies, University of East London
Dr. Kevin Magill, Arts and Humanities, University of Wolverhampton
Michael Mahadeo, lecturer in Health and Social Sciences, University of Ulster
Dr. Suhail Malik, Art, Goldsmiths
Dr. Johanna Malt, French, KCL
Dr. Matteo Mandarini, Business and Management, QMUL
Professor Susan Marks, Law, KCL
Dr. Lee Marsden, International Relations, University of East Anglia
Professor Lauro Martines, historian
Dr. Luciana Martins, Spanish, Birkbeck College
Dr. Nur Masalha, Religion and Politics, St Mary’s University College
Dr. Dina Matar, Centre for Media and Film Studies, SOAS
Dr. Graeme Macdonald, English, University of Warwick
Professor (emeritus) Moshé Machover, Philosophy, KCL
Dr. Maeve McCusker, French Studies, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr. James McDougall, History, SOAS
Dr. Sonia McKay, Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University
Dr. Susan McManus, Politics, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr. Saladin Meckled-Garcia, Human Rights Studies, UCL
Professor Susan Melrose, Performing Arts, Middlesex University
Dr. Farah Mendlesohn, Media and Creative Writing, Middlesex University
Dr. Mahmood Messkoub, Business, University of Leeds
Dr. China Miéville, writer and academic
Dr. Anna-Louise Milne, French, University of London Institute in Paris
Dr. Surya Monro, Politics, University of Sheffield
John Moore, lecturer in Sociology & Criminology, University of the West of England
Professor Bart Moore-Gilbert, English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths
Dr Farhang Morady, Globalisation and Development, University of Westminster
Dr. Stephen Morton, English, Southampton University
Dr. Pablo Mukherjee, English and Comparative Literature, University of Warwick
Professor John Mullarkey, Philosophy, University of Dundee
Professor John Muncie, Criminology, The Open University
Professor Martha Mundy, Anthropology, LSE
Dr. Alex Murray, English, University of Exeter
Dr. Karma Nabulsi, Politics, University of Oxford
Ali Nasralla, Senior Fellow (retired) at Manchester University Business School
Professor Mica Nava, Cultural Studies, University of East London
Marga Navarrete, Lecturer in Spanish and Translation, Imperial College
Dr. Nick Nesbitt, French, Aberdeen
Dr. Michael Niblett, Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies, University of Warwick
Professor Christopher Norris, Philosophy, University of Cardiff
Julia O’Faolain, writer
Michael Oliva, composer and lecturer, Royal College of Music
Wendy Olsen, Development Studies, University of Manchester
Professor Peter Osborne, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Dr. George Paizis, French, UCL
Professor Ilan Pappé, History, University of Exeter
Professor Benita Parry, English and Comparative Literature, University of Warwick
Dr. Diana Paton, History, Newcastle University
Dr. Ian Patterson, Queens’ College, Cambridge
Lara Pawson, writer and journalist
Dr. Maeve Pearson, English, University of Exeter
Carmen Perea-Gohar, lecturer in Spanish, Imperial College
Dr. Luis Perez-Gonzalez, Translation Studies, University of Manchester
Dr. Andrea Phillips, Art, Goldsmiths
Dr. Nina Power, Philosophy, Roehampton University
Dr. Jane Poyner, English, University of Exeter
Professor Scott Poynting, Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr. Nicola Pratt, Political, Social & International Studies, UEA
Professor Al Rainnie, Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester
Dr. Kamran Rastegar, Arabic and Persian Literatures, University of Edinburgh
Professor Jane Rendell, Architecture, UCL
Professor Dee Reynolds, French, University of Manchester
Dr. Chris Roberts, School of Community Based Medicine, University of Manchester
Dr. Mark Robson, English Studies, University of Nottingham
Professor William Roff, Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh
Professor Bill Rolston, Sociology, University of Ulster
Caroline Rooney, English and Postcolonial Studies, Kent
Professor Hilary Rose, Social Policy, University of Bradford
Michael Rosen, writer
Dr. Elaheh Rostami-Povey, Development Studies, SOAS
Professor William Rowe, Spanish and English, Birkbeck
Dr. Juliet Rufford, Theatre Studies, University of Reading
Professor Jonathan Rutherford, Cultural Studies, Middlesex University
Professor Alfredo Saad Filho, Development Studies, SOAS
Dr. Gabriela Saldanha, English Language, University of Birmingham
Dr. Shahira Samy, Politics, University of Oxford
Dr. Stella Sandford, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Professor Sanjay Seth, Politics, Goldsmiths
Carole Satyamurti, writer
Professor Yezid Sayigh, War Studies, KCL
Professor Phil Scraton, Law and Criminology, Queen’s University Belfast
Professor Richard Seaford, Classics and Ancient History, University of Exeter
Amanda Sebestyen, writer and asylum campaigner
Professor David Seddon, Development Studies, University of East Anglia
Richard Seymour, writer and activist
Dr. Subir Sinha, Development Studies, SOAS
Dr. Debra Benita Shaw, Social Sciences, Media & Cultural Studies, University of East London
Professor Avi Shlaim, International Relations, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford
Mark Shuttleworth, lecturer in Translation, Imperial College London
Professor David Slater, Geography, Loughborough University
Dr. Andrew Smith, Sociology, Anthropology and Applied Social Science, University of Glasgow
Dr. Graham Smith, Law, University of Manchester
Professor Neil Smith (emeritus), Linguistics, UCL
Olivia Smith, Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, Queen Mary, University of London
Dr. Anthony Soares, Portuguese, Queen’s University Belfast
Ahdaf Soueif, writer and journalist
Professor William Spence, Physics, QMUL
Dr. Robert Spencer, Postcolonial Literatures, University of Manchester
Professor Paul Stewart, Human Resource Management, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Alison Stone, Philosophy, Lancaster
Colin Stoneman, writer
Professor Paul Sutton, Caribbean Studies, London Metropolitan University
Professor Helen Taylor, English, University of Exeter
Professor Phil Taylor, Business, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Jennifer Terry, English Studies, University of Durham
Dr. Nicholas Thoburn, Sociology, University of Manchester
Adriana Tortoriello, translator
Dr. Alberto Toscano, Sociology, Goldsmiths
Professor Martin Upchurch, Business, Middlesex University
Dr. Anastasia Valassopoulos, English and American Studies, University of Manchester
Dr. Rashmi Varma, English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick
Dr. Ritu Vij, International Relations, University of Aberdeen
Professor Dennis Walder, Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, Open University
Dr. Geoffrey Wall, English, University of York
Sean Wallis, Survey of English Usage, UCL
Dr. Vron Ware, Social Sciences, The Open University
Dr. Eyal Weizman, Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths
Professor Lynn Welchman, Law, SOAS
Dr. Jutta Weldes, Politics, University of Bristol
Tony White, writer
Geoff Whittam, Reader in Entrepreneurship, University of the West of Scotland
Dr. David Whyte, Sociology, University of Liverpool
Dr. Paula Wilcox, Criminology, University of Brighton
Dr. Caroline Williams, Politics, QMUL
Professor Eddie Williams, Linguistics, Bangor University
Professor James Williams, Philosophy, University of Dundee
Dr. Carla Willig Psychology, City University
Dr. Jon E. Wilson, History, KCL
Dr. Nicole Wolf, Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths
Dr. Jim Wolfreys, French and European Politics, KCL
Professor Andy Wood, History, University of East Anglia
Professor Geof Wood, International Development, University of Bath
Robin Yassin-Kassab, novelist
Professor Nira Yuval-Davis, Gender & Ethnic Studies, University of East London
Dr. Shamoon Zamir, American Studies, KCL
Professor Slavoj Zizek, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
Dr. Paquita de Zulueta, Medicine, Imperial College

Chameleon

akifdmliv1For Kiwi and Alexander’s book, I’ve started (very late, overdue) to reconstruct my talk from the Berlin Chameleons conference in Feb last year. Its a draft as yet. Here is the first stab at an intro….

I have that sinking feeling again: I don’t trust the chameleon. I don’t like the guise. The chameleon is embedded, goes undercover, incognito, prefers covert operations, stealth, intrigues, performs with a secret agency, organizes an underground resistance, clandestine ops, a conspirator of deception. The associative range of ‘camouflage’ and ‘immersion’, when thought of as something that might pass as a strategy for understanding work in the arts, humanities or social sciences, immediately invokes a range of military and official connotations that do not bode well for a progressive politics of knowledge. Journalists as well as academics have been exposed in various local dress, false stories have been planted in the press, dossier’s collected that masquerade as truth, propaganda lies. There are a great many examples of dishonesty, feint and deceit that pass as truth amongst the casualty machine that is war. Increasingly war is fought in the media theatre as well as in blood – with murderous weapons on the ground, and equally brutal machines of war on screen.

The military have always liked to dress up, often in burlesque manner, and it was only with modern warfare that flamboyance was not always a dress code. All those red tunics of Empire of yore… Contemporary wars now sport desert patters or jungle greens, and contemporary war reporters increasingly opt for battle field chic in their to-camera reports. Television news and documentary series thrive on the new aesthetic of the embedded, combat boot wearing, hot spot on the spot presenter, mimicking military campaigns to stream live from Baghdad, Kabul, or the border of Gaza (as I write few journalists can enter Gaza as Israel relentlessly shells a trapped population of millions). The theatre of war has its own costume department.

This is, of course, also true of the opposition. In this chapter I will have something to say of the Palestinian scarf, the Kufiya, in relation to solidarity and resistance, and fashion, just as I think its important to acknowledge the symbolism of media use on both sides. In news and commentary, there are critics of war who stage their interventions with a certain style just as much as do the public relations and publicity-conscious Generals. I think not only of the Japanese news presenter that wore such a Kufiya every night as he reported the attacks on Baghdad in 2003, but also the role of such a scarf in the iconography of Aki Nawaz from Fun^da^mental, a long-time severe critique of anti-Muslim aggression. This chapter wishes to chart a politics of representation and fashion, recognising perhaps that all camouflage is war; that all fashion shoots are hostile; that all journalism happens by way of conflict. Today, whether safe at home before the screen, or on the streets of <insert battle-zone name here>. all our reports are war stories.

The chapter will go on to discuss Aki Nawaz’s recent adventures in media and on the Free Gaza boat, Ted Swedenburg’s excellent Hawgblawg, and research strategies under conditions of total war….

Solidarity

millie-yoot1The Observer of course slants the story the wrong way, always appearing to be news when it manages always to voice the ‘news’ of the ‘authorities’ (cops good; and its women and children over against ‘masked youth’ [see pic]). The saturday demonstration in London was about much more than trashing Starbucks or fashion stores, even if people did have to dress up for the occasion [see pic]. There is much to be read between the lines of this Observer puff. Violence did not ‘erupt’ – it started in Gaza. The panic did not ‘ripple’ through the crowd – it was anger at the atrocities and at the introduction of riot cops and mounted police. They say 20k, we say 100k. The relevant number is not in London: how many dead in Gaza today? Still, let’s read the report:

Violence erupts at embassy protest

Violent clashes broke out near the Israeli embassy in London yesterday as tens of thousands marched in protest against the military action in Gaza. Shop windows were smashed and police pelted with missiles by masked youths near the embassy during the largest demonstration in Britain against the Israeli offensive.

Last night, broken glass and debris littered the scene of the disturbances on Kensington High Street, where ranks of riot police waited behind locked gates near the embassy entrance.

Earlier in the evening, a number of demonstrators attacked a branch of Starbucks, smashing its front windows and ransacking it before shattering the facade of a clothes shop.

It continues here. [and must continue elsewhere: see pic]

Chilling

snc00146My fingers are falling off for cold, typing with gloves on. This with a heater under my desk – its sub-zero in London, so that should explain my silence so far this year, though I still maintain nothing explains Obama’s silence on the Israeli military’s crimes in Gaza (he finally said something vaguely related today).

2009 has started out bleak huh. The temperature appropriate to the mood.

I guess the inevitable news cycle shift will occur in about ten days, by which time the too many dead will be off screen. Second Wave posted a link to Nahida’s comparative bombings post on Palestinian Mothers. A certain ironic even-handedness. The pics are still grim, but the ones elsewhere on her page of the blog show yet worse atrocities, if you can look, you must look. All photos are war photos – even happy snaps are tainted by war.

Gaza as Distraction

obamaWe cannot cannot cannot excuse them. But looking for distractions after several days of Gaza watching might be inevitable … Look what they done to the Dignity boat (from Al Jazeera). Was that meant to distract us from the atocities? … Richard Falk come back, why have you gone off air after calling it this morning on the world service ['a shocking series of atrocities by using modern weaponry against a defenceless population - attacking a population that has been enduring a severe blockade for many months' <here>]. Maybe we can have maths as a diversion = Do we now have an equation – submit the numbers of dead to calculus – 345 Palestinians, 4 Israeli’s = 1::85 ? This is horrible. And in the meantime, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the US President Elect is trying to channel George Bush’s dad (remember how he also confused Golf with Gulf?). Oh “Yes we can” – shhhh.

So, distractions are clearly needed since we have been here before… If you do not fancy golf, you could profitably spend a moment looking at Ted Swedenburg’s hillarious post on Condi’s trinkets (anthropologists never really get over that Gift/Kula/Malinowski/Mauss/Hau theme huh). See it here. Thanks Ted. It is the bling that makes it obscene.

Jean Charles de Menezes

target_small1You can read the verdict and see the press conference by the family campaign on the website at the end of this press release:

Press statement from the family:
Friday, 12 December 2008

Press statement by the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, the campaign and their lawyers Birnberg Peirce following the jury’s verdict

“Today is a very important day for our family and campaign for justice. We have spoken to Jean’s family in Brazil and they like us feel vindicated by the jury’s verdict. The jury’s verdict is a damning indictment of the multiple failures of the police and the lies they told. It is clear from the verdict today that the jury could have gone further had they not been gagged by the Coroner. We maintain that Jean Charles de Menezes was unlawfully killed” – Patricia Armani Da Silva, cousin of Jean Charles on behalf of all of the family.

The family’s legal team argued that evidence heard by the jury provided sufficient grounds for the jury to return unlawful killing (murder) in respect of the two police shooters, C12 and C2 as well unlawful killing (gross negligence manslaughter) in respect of the actions of three of the command team. We also submitted that, in accordance with Article 2 (ECHR) the jury should be permitted to return a meaningful narrative verdict that could identify all the police failings that caused or contributed to the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.

The five legal teams representing supposedly separate interests of the police combined ranks to oppose our submissions, maintain that the evidence only supported a lawful killing or open verdict. The coroner ruled in favour of the police. As a consequence the family sought to challenge the decision, lodging an urgent application at the High Court. Mr Justice Silber considered the challenge in relation to the narrative verdict only but ruled that the coroner had a wide discretion and he would not interfere with his ruling.

The family considered that the coroner had effectively gagged the jury. Any verdict returned by them would have at best limited meaning and would not have the effect of holding the police accountable for any failings. At that stage, having exhausted all legal avenues, the family instructed their legal team to cease participating in the inquest proceedings.

We have lodged grounds to appeal the decision of Mr Justice Silber and our judicial review challenge of the coroner’s decision in respect of unlawful killing remains to be considered.

To date, not one police officer involved has been held personally accountable for failings that led to the death of Jean Charles. In fact the two most senior officers in the command team have been promoted. The law as it stands, effectively provides legal immunity for police officers who shoot innocent people in the cause of protecting the public.

This case raises questions of critical constitutional importance. Should our armed police service be protected from meaningful criticism (let alone criminal sanction) or are the public entitled to go about their day to day business free from the fear that they could be shot dead without warning if mistaken for a suspected terrorist?

For further information and background information visit: inquest.justice4jean.org

Malaysia ISA and Terror

GERAKAN MANSUHKAN ISA
(ABOLISH ISA MOVEMENT)
PRESS STATEMENT: 2ND DECEMBER 2008
ISA itself has served as an instrument of terror of the State

The Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI)/ Abolish ISA Movement (AIM) finds the statement from the deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak that “ISA has protected country from terrorism” (NST 2nd December 2008) and that “the main reason why there have been no serious acts of terrorism in this country is because we have in place the ISA” is baseless and unconvincing.

Now the question is how an Act like the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows detention without trial can be used as a tool to protect the nation from terrorism? Today, most of the detainees in Kamunting are those who are linked to the JI (Jemaah Islamiyaah) and DI (Darul Islam) movement. Currently there are five alleged JI (Jemaah Islamiyyah) detainees who have been held under the ISA for seven years. They are Suhaimi bin Mokhtar, Abdullah bin Daud, Mat Sah bin Mohd Satray , Shamsuddin bin Sulaiman and Abdul Murad bin Sudin. Many more are being held there for more than 2 to 6 years. Although the government claimed that they have sufficient evidence to show that these detainees are linked to terrorism activities, but until today none of them have been charged in an open court. How then the government can ascertain that these ISA detainees are terrorists without a court trial? Without the scrutiny of the court, how the public can be assured that there is no misuse of powers to detain innocent people?

Is Najib implying that blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Selangor State Exco and Member of Parliament Teresa Kok, Sin Chew Daily’s reporter Tan Hoon Cheng and many more political and civil society activists are all terrorists?

In reality, the ISA itself has served as an instrument of terror of the State and used consistently against dissidents who have defended the democratic and human rights of the Malaysian people. The ISA has been kept in use all this time mainly because it is a very convenient tool at the disposal of the ruling coalition.

Practicing arbitrary arrest and detention without trial by hanging on to an anachronistic law, which was formulated to tackle the emergency situation many decades ago, only disgraces Malaysia in the eyes of the world. The Malaysian government which is also a member of the Human Rights Council should be ashamed for using the barbarian law like ISA, which runs counter to the Federal Constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

ISA detainees must be given recourse to a fair trial in conformity with international standards of due process and access to full legal representation and family members. If no evidence is found against a detainee, he/she should be released without delay, as holding them indefinitely merely on the basis of suspicion is a blatant violation of due process. This principle should not be compromised in any circumstances. If the Malaysian government objected to the detention of alleged terrorists without trial by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, why then detain alleged terrorists at the Kamunting detention camp in the same way as the United States does?

We strongly urge the government stop the double standards, abolish the ISA and release or charge all the ISA detainees who have been detained without trial under the ISA immediately. The people will continue to struggle until the ISA is repealed completely.

Released By,

Nalini.E

Secretariat GMI

Guest Image by Shiva Sulla Quinseina

“this is a photo montage I made and that I would like to put on your blog (it is in tune with your paper I realize)” – Shiva Sulla Quinseina

First Human Terrain Team casualty

As anyone who might have looked at my writing in ‘Jungle Studies’ (here) or ‘Clifford’s Ethnographica’ (in Critique of Anthropology and reprinted in Bad Marxism) knows, I am not much of a fan of the close embrace that anthropology has with imperialism. Having argued that the old ‘Anthro as Handmaiden of Colonialism’ argument needs to be updated to ‘Anthro as Globalization’s Filthy Pimp’, I am also not a fan of the mealy-mouthing of ‘pledges’ and worthy declarations (Catherine Lutz art CASCA was ok but too mild). I think a more active resistance to the disciplinary apparatus of war – knowledge in the service of death – is required. So, while no doubt upsetting for his family and friends, the death of Michael Bhatia cannot be taken just a marker of why this stuff is wrong, but why opposition to military anthro has to be a part of the opposition to the war in general. From Bill Stamets article from In These Times

“In 2007, his 4th Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division was the first to use a Human Terrain Team. It was also the first to have an HTT fatality. On May 7, 2008, a roadside bomb in the Afghan province of Khowst killed Michael Bhatia, an Oxford doctoral candidate and the brigade’s field social scientist. After his year-long contract, Bhatia had planned to finish his dissertation titled “The Mujahideen: A Study of Combatant Motives in Afghanistan, 1978-2005.”

A year long contract – another reason why lack of adequate funding for research and why forced temporary and short term employment contract research ain’t a good way to run a University. Thanks Kee, who pointed out the piece, which links up nicely with this.

Pic is of Major Robert Holbert, Anthropologist!

HQ Terrors and Uncertainties

Apropos research agendas and what the HQ might be up to. This (renewed) call is just out from ESRC/AHRC. It follows some debate already mentioned here, here and here. But I think now the conjoining of environmentalism, poverty and terror research ads a new, still more spurious fold.

“From: “ESRC
Date: 18 June 2008 12:22:43 BST
Fellowships under the RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme

Please could you bring to the notice of your membership the following
forthcoming opportunity for fellowships under the RCUK Global Uncertainties
programme:

RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme: Security for All in a Changing World
ESRC/AHRC Fellowships on Ideas and Beliefs

Call Launch: 30th June 2008

At the end of June there will be a joint ESRC/AHRC call for proposals for
Research Fellowships addressing key elements of the cross-Council programme
on Global Uncertainties: Security for All in a Changing World.

The cross-Council programme aims to understand the nature and interactions
of five global phenomena: conflict, crime, environmental degradation,
poverty and terrorism. Within this cross-Council framework, this Fellowship
call will focus specifically on ideas and beliefs. The call specification
is currently under development but headline issues will likely include:
• How ideas and beliefs evolve that underpin risks and threats evolve,
and why and when do these develop into violent or criminal activities
• Role of access to knowledge and information
• Communication and representation of risks and threats including the
use of language, images and symbolism
• Relationship between national security and civil liberties debates
• Role of different security institutions

We will be running workshops in different parts of the UK to explain the
call to potential applicants. Current thinking is for workshops in
Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Southampton.

Please see the ESRC web page for further information and updates on
workshop details: www.esrc.ac.uk/gufellowships/

Any queries should be directed to: gufells@esrc.ac.uk.
______________________________

________________________________________
This email has been scanned by the MessageLabs Email Security System.
For more information please visit http://www.messagelabs.com/email
______________________________________________________________________

Public reading of ‘radical material’ that led to ‘terror arrests.

Demonstration against the deportation of Hicham Yezza and for academic freedom

Nottingham academics to give public reading from Al-Qaeda training manual.

The document had been downloaded from an official US government website, for academic research into political extremism.

Photo Opportunity: Outside the Hallward Library, University Park Campus, 2:00pm, 28/05/08. The reading will be followed by a silent protest to the Trent Building, the administrative building. There will be hundreds of students present many of whom will be symbolically gagged. There will be sales and a collection in aid of Hichams’ legal fees.

The demonstration was originally called to voice outrage and concern over the threat to academic freedom, illustrated by the recent arrest of two innocent people on campus. The focus has now widened to include support and solidarity for one of the arrested, Hicham Yezza, who is now facing imminent deportation.

Hicham Yezza, know to his many friends as ‘Hich’, has lived, worked and studied in Nottingham for the past 13 years. He won a scholarship to study for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and was later employed by the University of Nottingham. He is highly skilled and has made incredible contributions to the University and local community.

Hich’s MP, Alan Simpson, has written to Liam Byrne Minister of State for Borders and Immigration to express his concerns at what he described as an “arbitrary deportation with no right to a proper hearing.” Nick Palmer, MP for Broxtowe said, “I hope that Mr Yezza will have his case fully and fairly considered without any rush to deport him before all the facts are clear.”

Petitions are currently being signed by hundreds of students and academics worldwide, asking the University of Nottingham to lobby for Hicham’s release and to guarantee academic freedom on campus for all staff and students regardless of their ethnic background or political views.

[ENDS]

Contact the Campaign:

Phone: 07948590262 or 07505863957

Email: staffandstudents@googlemail.com

Website: http://freehichamyezza.wordpress.com/

Frankenstein in Iraq

me-lie.jpg“wretch … it is well that you come here to whine over the desolation you have made. You throw a torch onto a pile of buildings, and when they are consumed, you sit among the ruins and lament the fall” (Shelley Frankenstein 1818/1992 228)

I was sent some systems static by a close friend from America, who feels it more than most (but just as much as we all should feel). Not without a certain justifiable anti-patriotism, she offered a lot of questions about the plight of the boy soldier returned from Iraq, and these questions were more than I can ask or extend here – and are by and by engaging. But there are so many angles that for the first time I think that to ask questions is not even part one of the story. More like: when and why did we stop asking questions with an angry passion? Why did we start mouthing the words of critique? rather than finding better ways of putting critique to use? Naive eh, sometimes I just don’t get it. I don’t get it when what seems clear turns into convoluted mud, and I don’t get it when the committed and the dedicated also stall.

I certainly don’t get it when those that were not on ‘our’ side, turn themselves over to ‘our’ side, and yet still seem to have missed the point.

I am stuck in a convoluted never never land where it is ok, and even normal, to ask what is a confession? More, what is a confession of remorse when the atrocity is a crime against us all?

What can we do with such terrible stories from the wastelands of hypocrisy?

“…next image. This man right here was my third confirmed killed. As you can see, he was riding his bicycle. Later on in the day, we went ahead, and we had CBS’s Lara Logan with us, but she was with the other squad, and so she wasn’t with us. So, myself and two other people went ahead and took out some individuals, because we were excited about the firefight we had just gotten into, and we didn’t have a cameraman or woman with us. With that being said, any time we did have embedded reporters with us, our actions would change drastically. We never acted the same. We were always on key with everything, did everything by the books. The man on the bicycle, he was left in the street for about ten minutes until we realized that we needed to leave where we were. And his body was dragged about ten feet to the right of him, where his body was thrown behind a rock wall and his bicycle was thrown on top of him”

So, although I was sent this confession of the winter soldier on ‘Democracy Now’, I do not know what or how it confesses. Harrowing, and yet all stuff what we already knew.

Its My Lai again, but in the desert 40 years on (the My Lai massacre was May 16, 1968 – about 500 dead by ‘unofficial’ body count). Can the confessing soldier be redeemed. Ulysses took several months beforehand, and the players will never say cafe or leave a trip… too bourgeois…. ([added later - I was so tired end of term that I have no idea what this sentence was meant to really say - Odysseus must have been coming back from war with some sort of bloodfeast on his hands, but it took him ten years to muster up the courage to go back to his son Telemachus and wife Penelope. The players saying cafe and tripping - leaving a tip for a coffee - refers to who knows what... its the end of term, I was nodding off on the keyboard])

Frankenstein’s monster is full of remorse at the end, and prepares a funeral pyre. The horrific winter soldier’s tales are less honourable and have something self serving in them.

Frankenstein himself is addled with laudanum, unable to sustain his bourgeois genius:

“Ever since my recovery from the fever I had been in the custom of taking every night a small quantity of laudanum; for it was by means of this drug only that I was enabled to gain the rest necessary for the preservation of life. Oppressed by the recollection of my various misfortunes, I now swallowed double my usual quantity… (Shelley 1818/1992:189).

 

Several cascading families, social turmoil, ecological catastrophe … and no return … just say maybe to drugs. The soldier will need medication to get through those stories, and with not much of a public health support infrastructure in the States, his future as a Rambo-type crazy lost in the American badlands seems guaranteed. The monster has not burned on the pyre so much as turned into a self sustaining culture industry.

 

Writing Diary

The diary, a memoir, notebooks, letters from the field – the ephemeral residue of the research process of anthropology has increasingly attracted attention, become raw data for cultivation, sifting the soil. This text offers an elaboration and personal appropriation of the flux of comprehension across the unusual long-time visitation of a peculiar mode of culture vulture inscription practiced by some of those we call ‘ethnographers’. Ethnographer – the one who writes culture, but in the examples I want to consider here, does so over a long dureé, returning, in person and in purpose, not always both, to the site of a certain fieldwork. I am interested less in the fly-by-night consultancy that seems to gain in popularity as anthropology as an academic discipline wanes, nor do I mean that first year ‘training’ visit of the apprentice doctoral student that most anthropologists once were (they sometimes stay, they often return, I am not dismissing these visits, but looking to the recidivists). I am interested in the dynamics of a certain commitment, and its lacunae. Consider for example the anthropologist that returns each year for twenty or thirty years to the same village, town or urban area, watches families grow and places change, gets to know the locals and becomes part – if a somewhat irregular part – of local lives. Such a person – at first a stranger, more and more a familiar stranger – accumulates friends and debts, histories and enemies, may forget as much as recall, possibly learns to not jump to conclusions, explanations, understanding, and so understands all the better, and less. Over twenty years it is common that youthful enthusiasms are tempered by the realization that one ever knows less and less as knowledge grows. I am interested in this, and have diaries, notebooks and letters to help me make something of the scene.

Indeed, I have been worrying about this little corner of my office for a while – a pile of books and notes, some of them my own diaries, those of my grandfather, those of friends accumulate. Also, there are a good many great texts to be considered. For the moment I am leaving aside some of the best – Claude Lévi-Strauss and his “Tristes Tropiques” (he is 100 years old quite soon), Jean Genet in love in Palestine, Michel Leiris’ examining his Manhood, even the more conventional anthropology of Victor Turner and Sandombu or M.N.Srinivas and “The Remembered Village”. I will not forgoe some of the worst, or rather some of the most heavily cultivated, already over-farmed, franchised and perhaps turned into show-garden displays suited only for exercises in flower arrangement. I will write again about Malinowski’s diary, of which ‘everything has already been said’ (Rapport 19 XX). And I will dig about in my own soil a little too, at risk, great risk, of indulgence.

“My works are only waste matter, once they leave my body they cannot stand up by themselves” – Artaud.

I also want to talk about war. Wars and knowledge. Writing and its ephemera as a record of war. To think of the diary as analogous with warfare is one of Michael Taussig’s conceits in “Law in a Lawless Land”, his Colombia diary, published 2003. In that text, after some thirty years visiting a town in the Cauca Valley, the ethnographer published an elaborated diary (diary entry reworked at home – in New York and in London) documenting the rise of the Paramilitary in Colombia, who kill, assassinate and ‘cleanse’ towns and villages in response to/death-embrace with the left-wing FARC Guerrilla . To think of writing a diary as cathartic engagement, also a cleansing, means to think of writing as tactic and strategy of a war machine analogous with the Frieikorps of Germany and the henchmen of Hitler’s SA (Taussig 2003:11). Not a fashionable association by any means, suggesting an indictment of writing. Editing is glossed as tactics and strategy and the cut-ups of William Burroughs are a weapon. I suddenly remember that Malinowski’s diary is a war diary too.

In 1914, at the outset of World War One, Malinowski found himself in Australia…

[…here I would put a bunch of stuff about Malinowski as a war exile, right up to his comments on anthropology as a way of dealing with ‘the problem of Black Bolshevism’]

What I mean to say is that all diaries are war diaries, at least in the anthropology I read, whether it be the traditional far far away reports on the Third World and other brutal fictions, or the slight narratives inadequately rendered as ‘anthropology at home’ which persist in finding a patronising tribalism in the activities of locals that are merely not anthropologists: called migrants, marginals, deviants, exotics – diasporics, subcultures, women, the working class. This paternalism structures writing even when attempts are made at ‘study up’ or at ‘multi-site’ fieldwork: simulation tribal subjects are still made to conform to the ethnographer’s authority and expertise under the professional credo of a social science that says, ‘see these strange people, look closer and I will show you they are not so strange at all’. We do not have many diary format studies for the metropolis or for corporate sociology, and there are reasons for a lag in the uncertainty and doubt in the author-writing-structure where the powerful are concerned. Which is itself revealing, I guess.

But Taussig looks back over his ‘notes scribbled down at the time’ and ponders ‘over the frankness, the naiveté, and the imprecision’ (Taussig 2003:47). I am struck that such scribblings do not often appear in the texts of the urban anthropologists, and know the doubts of reflexivity, and the consequences of a political reassessment, have not (yet) transformed certitudes and authorities ‘at home’. This does not mean I am easily convinced, or that I even want to be easily convinced, by the enactment of uncertainty and doubt in the text of the Colombia diary. Easy queasy. There is still a very big problem of the subaltern and proprietary rights and writing at several levels. A longer quotation on the gang and guns-infested squatter settlement at the end of town might illustrate the tos and fros:

“Variously known as ‘the barrio’ … I keep wondering if the people who tell me about [it] in such vivid detail have ever been there. And what does it mean if all this imagery comes second- or third- hand? The logic is cruel. Because the barrio is so dangerous, nobody goes there, so people feed their fears through telling on another these stories. But can it be entirely fantasy? There must be some crucial connection with reality. But maybe that’s the inferiority complex of the ethnographer, not to mention the friend, who defers to the native’s point of view? What I mean is that you always submit to the authority of the trusted confidante, that because she lives here all her life, and sees so many people from different walks of life each day, she must get a true picture. But maybe that’s wrong? For surely a collective fantasy resists truth and makes its own reality? I go round in circles, which only gets more confusing when she tells me that either the police or the guerrilla supply the barrio with arms” (Taussig 2003: 61)

So many of the sentences in this paragraph begin with ‘but’ in a way that belongs only to the diary form, even if added to the scribbles later. It is important to remember that the published diary is always edited, for Malinowski in several ways, and this is true even where Eric Michael’s sad and tragic “Unbecoming” unravels the conceit of the locked journal with a vivid terminal urgency. Taussig’s diary elaborates in a way that stages diary-writing but has a greater purpose. It is the form of the diary at the service of ethnography, and may be the best way to tell the personal stories or terrible violence he collects from the people he knows in the town. Brothers, uncles, neighbours are killed, retributions, revenge, stalled legal proceedings and threats, fear and silences: ‘the more violence and horror, the more my work seems worthwhile’, writes our diarist (Taussig 2003:28) – but I suspect this was not written in the real-time diary itself, it must surely, necessarily be post-hoc, mustn’t it? This is ok. The diary form facilitates a writing that is not not ethnography, and includes phrasings like ‘in my opinion’ at he end of controversial sentences (Taussig 2003:31). To find a form of writing that best conveys what is so hard to convey is itself a great ethnographic skill, in my opinion.

Longer rhythms of fieldwork – sometimes – offer from anthropology a longer contextualisation of economic and political history. Usually a tragic story, these can be narratives of encroachment, invasion, ‘development’ and transformation, at best a heroic tale of resistance, more likely the notebooks tell of corporate appropriation and capitalist transition (not without romantic and pastoral nostalgia). Taussig laments the lost beauty of the ‘three-dimensional farming’ of the integrated forest and mixed economy (Taussig 2003:20) now replaced by sugar cane.

Transition is the context of so much ethnography, and for a long time has been impossible to ignore – already noted my Bronislaw, but made manifest in the work of the Manchester School and Gluckman et al

The war is always a part of a bigger war, and that is what we need to also understand. The encounter and the specificity are suspended in vicious webs of signification, or concentric circles, or venn diagrams that accumulate and overlay each other until the forest blocks out the trees. Yet this is the task of the little stories we will tell. That an encounter in a village in the tropics off the coast of Papua New Guinea is a part of a wider struggle between capital and those not yet pacified for commerce is a long bow. It can be drawn, and I only sometimes think this is a task only for Oddyseus, who has travelled twenty years from island to island.

Anthropologists today have learned to take an interest in ‘state declared tax-free zones called “industrial parks”’ (Taussig 2003:21)

What is the contribution that a diary can make that other forms of writing cannot? Is it a gentler form of persuasion, is it a more nuanced way of getting into the personal complexity and out and out messiness of lived experience, even amidst war, is it to remind our readers, and moreso ourselves, that the everyday has a greater impact than clinically calculated sentences do not capture? Does the diary form capture? Kidnap? Detain? Render (as in rendition)? Execute? Does it do all this all the more viciously for its mufti disguise? Camouflage is a uniform too, and khaki is not by accident the base colour of choice for the military since the 1840s.

More to come on: Rachel Corrie diaries, and War diaries from the Mass Observation project; my Grandfather’s war… more on jottings and idle talk…

Srebrenica by Ted/FDM

The ever insightful Ted Swedenburg does it well here:

“One of the many fine songs on Fun’Da’Mental’s powerful 2006 release, All Is War: The Benefits of G-had, is “Srebrenica Massacre,” featuring vocals in Bosnian (a variety of Serbo-Croation, according to some) by Alma Ferovic. Since April I’ve given several talks about Fun’Da’Mental, which have included analyses of several songs from All Is War, but I’ve not had much to say about “Srebrenica Massacre….”

Read more.
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Travels in the war

One of the things I have been doing on and off for a while is writing about my Grandfather’s adventures in the second imperialist world war, and following him to places he visited – Malta, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon… Somehow the idea is that I’d do a travel diary during the ‘war on terror’ to match the text I made with him years ago about his WW2 war stories, which were themselves written out versions of what he used to tell when I was a homeless 14 year old camped out in his back shed…

Anyway, grabbing stuff to take home from my office for the xmas research break, I just found an old faded photo of grandfather and some of his mates in sailor uniform. Typically, holding bottles of beer. On the back in grandfather’s handwriting it says:

“This snap was taken in the mountains at Beruit in Jan 1943. I managed to save it. The lad behind me belongs to Sunderland and was the only other survivor”

Sunderland being sort of just across the way from Grandfather’s home town of South Shields, and where my Great Aunt Aggie was from – it was she who got me my first aussie rules football, for xmas circa 1973, saying she found it in Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra (a likely story).

In the pic Thomas Mouat Tate is the one on the front left. I did promise, a year ago, that I would come back to this stuff.

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