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‘Life and Relation Beyond Animalization’ by Matthew Calarco
The growth of animal studies from an emergent field of inquiry into a mature set of discourses and practices over the past several years has been marked by two particularly welcome developments. First, concerns and questions about the status and nature of animals and animality have penetrated ever deeper into the core of disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences. This trend has helped to call into question some of the most stubborn dogmas in these disciplines and to provide the space for important intellectual and theoretical transformations. Second, extant approaches and frameworks among animal activists have increasingly come to inform the work being done in animal studies, enriching its ethico-political sensibilities and providing practical support for its enrichment and evolution. What has perhaps gotten lost in the rapid growth of animal studies, however, are deeper questions about what is ultimately at stake in the field. Although the multiplication of disciplinary perspectives on animals and animality is no doubt important, we might ask ourselves: Are some frameworks more critically insightful than others in terms of trying to discern violence and disrespect aimed toward animals and animalized others? Similarly, we might also wonder: Which perspectives are most fecund for transforming those relations and ultimately arriving at alternative forms of life?
Richard Iveson’s book, Zoogenesis: Thinking Encounter with Animals, seeks to frame and address these important questions. With this ambitious, wide-ranging, and erudite book, Iveson hopes to provide nothing less than new critical and affirmative groundings for future work in animal studies. On Iveson’s account, unless we understand the deep sources of violence toward animals, we will never arrive at a place from which we might begin to contest those sources and eventually reconstitute more respectful relations with animals. In this review, I will track some of the basic elements of Iveson’s fascinating and powerful argument before closing with some questions about some of its possible limitations.
Rejecting the Institutionalized Genocide of Animals. Iveson’s overall project begins from the premise that animals matter for themselves — which is to say, in and of themselves — and not simply in view of how they might shed light on certain questions concerning human nature or human sociality. That the study of animals and animality might illuminate certain aspects of how power circulates among human beings is, to be sure, something worthy of our attention for Iveson; but his primary emphasis is placed on ensuring that animals are seen as beings who have value beyond their instrumental usefulness to human beings. As he writes in the introduction, to accept the chief premise animating his work is
to accept that humans do not have the right to do whatever they like with other animals. It is to accept that our given state of affairs is unacceptable and must be radically transformed. Put simply, it is to no longer accept the economy of genocide into which we have all been thrown. (25)
The overarching aim of his project, then, is to find ways to allow animal lives to matter, that is, to count and become salient in those disciplines, institutions, and practices that have traditionally excluded animals from the circle of concern. Given Iveson’s philosophical background, the natural place to look for allies for such a project is the analytic philosophical tradition, populated by luminaries such as Peter Singer, Tom Regan, and Paola Cavalieri. The standard gesture in this discourse is to extend ethical consideration to animals by way of analogical reasoning, demonstrating that animals are sufficiently similar to human beings as moral patients so as to warrant similar moral standing and consideration. Iveson, though, takes a critical stance toward this tradition, as it tends to gloss over the radical singularity and alterity of animals and to neutralize human-animal differences by way of conceptual and practical schemas. In so doing, he joins philosophers and theorists in the pro-animal feminist care tradition, who seek to ground animal ethics in caring relations between and among human beings and animals. And yet, despite Iveson’s proximity to this tradition, his deeper philosophical commitments derive from the Continental tradition, with Jacques Derrida and Friedrich Nietzsche being among the primary sources of inspiration. From Nietzsche and Derrida, Iveson borrows the notion that the denial of animal finitude and singularity lies at the very heart of the current crisis in human-animal relations. As such, the task of Zoogenesis can perhaps best be read as a meditation on the sources of that denial as well as what it would take to acknowledge and affirm animal finitude and singularity. The latter, affirmative task would not be so much a matter of granting animals their uniqueness and relation to death but of discovering and encountering it in various ways in the shared spaces in which human-animal relations emerge and are sustained. I will track the main thread of this critical and affirmative analysis in Iveson’s work by examining some of the key themes in each of the five main parts of the work.
From Animalization to Zoogenesis. The bulk of Iveson’s book provides a condensed but rigorous reading of the history of philosophy and theory in view of animals and animality. In Part One, he argues that the guiding thread linking together thinkers as diverse as Plato, Martin Heidegger, and Maurice Blanchot is a denigration of animality (both human and nonhuman forms) and a denial of death to animals themselves. In a close reading of Plato’s Meno, Iveson shows how Platonic dualism (the reigning metaphysical system in much of intellectual and Western culture for over two millennia) teaches us to seek the highest truth, beauty, and the Good by leaving behind the sensible world and preparing for a disembodied life beyond death. Although this non-finite mode of human existence is disavowed by post-metaphysical thinkers such as Blanchot and Heidegger, both of whom return the human to its irreducibly mortal mode of existence, such mortality is not understood to be shared between and among human beings and other animals. Instead, mortality and the “capacity” for dying one’s own death come to be seen as something proper only to human beings. As such, Iveson notes, the post-metaphysical decentering of the human subject that throws the subject outside of itself and toward its singular being-toward-death is insufficient to displace the anthropocentrism at the heart of the philosophical tradition. In order to accomplish this latter goal and to continue the post-metaphysical task of thought require giving finitude back to animals, or rather catching sight of the shared mortality at the heart of all human and animal life.
Failure to recognize the finitude and singularity of all living beings creates the conditions for what Iveson calls animalization. Lives that are animalized are lives that do not matter; such lives are reduced to deathless objects to be annihilated and consumed with impunity. In view of this reduction, Iveson argues that it is
imperative to disclose another way to give death, and to the giving of dying, to animals. To give death to other animals: the gift of and the giving that is the shared finitude of living beings. Only then will the monstrous hubris of an unthinking utilization and consumption of fetishized corpses itself become unthinkable. (94)
If we are to acknowledge the death of animals, Iveson suggests we must begin with the recognition that all singular animal life (whether human and nonhuman) emerges in a process he names zoogenesis. Zoogenetic relations emerge from a shared, ex-propriated site of encounter. In Part Two, Iveson tracks such animal encounters in literary form with Kafka (“Investigations of a Dog”), in ethico-poetic form with Derrida (in his much-discussed naked encounter with a cat in The Animal That Therefore I Am), and in ontological form with Nietzsche (with the theme of a form of life beyond nihilism). The key to Iveson’s notion of encounter is that it does not ultimately stem from an act of ethical will (which is to say, conscious responsibility for another animal) or a desire for spiritual perfection (understood as seeking out animal encounters as a way of improving oneself and expanding one’s consciousness). Rather, on Iveson’s reading, these thinkers and writers all point toward animal encounters as events, that is, as something that one undergoes — beyond full understanding, presence, and mastery. Thus, animal encounters testify to the ways in which animals are more than a given subject can think. Animal encounters are ways of naming the manner in which animals announce themselves in their singularity and finitude, beyond the strictures of traditional philosophical and theoretical discourses that would seek to strip them of their radical alterity. For Iveson, such unpredictable and astonishing encounters speak to a way of life beyond the nihilism of life-denying transcendence and the incomplete nihilism of the “last man,” a relational encounter with a world that Nietzsche describes in The Gay Science as “over-rich” in all that is “beautiful, strange, questionable, terrible, and divine.”
In Part Three, Iveson explores how such encounters cannot be delimited either to the realm of the inter-human or to one’s preferred forms of animality and nonhuman otherness. As for the former delimitation, he argues that this sort of restriction of the ethics of encounter is at work in Judith Butler’s writings on the recognition and mattering of vulnerability. As with Heidegger and Blanchot, Iveson suggests that Butler’s post-humanist ethics fails to go far enough to displace anthropocentrism. Conversely, he argues that Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s notion of becoming-animal, while radically non-anthropocentric, re-establishes its own zoogenetic limit in the manner in which it configures the outside of the human as populated only by pack-like, feral, and untamed animals and forms of life. In configuring the outside of the human in this manner, Deleuze and Guattari run the risk of missing precisely the kinds of encounters with animal singularities that Kafka and Derrida track and ending up in a kind of undifferentiated, deep ecological holism. While Iveson’s reading of Deleuze and Guattari will be somewhat contentious for some readers, there is certainly merit to this concern with their work and with the manner in which their notion of becoming-animal has sometimes been put to work in pro-animal and ecological discourses.
In Part Four, Iveson tracks this same failure to think zoogenetically at the level of the socius, a restriction that has led to an anthropocentric delimitation of the boundaries of community and the political. Through an analysis of a host of political thinkers, Iveson convincingly demonstrates that no politics based on humanism — no matter how widely or generously the concept of the human is defined — will suffice to constitute a genuinely post-anthropocentric sense of community. Rather than being a neutral designation, on this analysis “the human” nearly always functions in the dominant culture of the West in a performative manner to circumscribe a group of beings considered to be properly human and properly part of the society over and against those who are sub- or non-human. Commenting on this anthropocentric logic in the humanism of Susan Buck-Morss, Iveson explains:
Buck-Morss misunderstands that humanism is only insofar as it sets up a limit between the human and the animal. Such is the demand for line-drawing which humanism can never avoid, and which ever again founds that animalization of the other which is the very condition for those political collectives she imagines her humanism will overcome. (244)
For Iveson, it is only with the more radical Nietzschean and Derridean affirmation of more-than-human life that we can arrive at a conception of community and being-with that overcomes this humanist closure and violence. To say yes to life (and to the finitude at the heart of life) is to affirm that one is always already encountered by singularities that are shared in and with others, that communities and relations pre-exist our encounters, and that community with animals only happens in the midst of these ongoing relations. In Iveson’s words, a community beyond the human is a
“community without limit” … an infinite commonality of singularities which shares and in which is shared all finite living beings. (258)
It is important to note that community and relation, if they are understood in terms of Derridean différance and Nietzschean will to power (as Iveson’s account is), will not issue in a hands-off, rights-based, non-interference ethics and politics but will instead entail considerable transformation among and between those beings called animal and human. Such transformations might even involve a fundamental transformation in the species heritages of human and animal beings, whether through biotechnological transformation or other similar kinds of interventions. In the final section of the book, Iveson explores the question of how his ethics, politics, and ontology both feed into and challenge certain animal biotechnological research. Here, in a complex reading of Bernard Stiegler and related thinkers, Iveson acknowledges that animals and relations can and will change over time and that biotechnological interventions cannot be ruled out a priori; the question is rather one of which relations and transformations to undertake. Iveson suggests that the key limitation with the transhumanist technological project is that it is based on an attempt to master animal life and finitude more generally, seeking to guide zoogenetic becomings along a single dimension or axis (largely structured by the demands of capital). By contrast, Iveson outlines a notion of technicity that is open to becomings that unfold in a variety of un-master-able and unpredictable directions.
On the Scope and Limits of Zoogenesis. The potted overview I have offered here of Iveson’s book fails to do justice to the complexity and intricacy of his arguments as well as the charitable and thoughtful engagement he offers with each of the major figures he analyzes. His book is to be highly recommended for any reader who hopes to gain a deeper understanding of how a critical animal studies perspective might thread its way through the hegemonic history of the West as well as the contemporary theoretical scene. In this closing section of the review, I want simply to pose a couple of questions in view of Iveson’s project for those of us who might take up portions of it in various ways.
Given Iveson’s attempt to think relation and singularity zoogenetically, one wonders about the broader scope of his project. How does the path of thought outlined in the book help to negotiate relations and singularities with non-living beings, systems, and so on? Here the question is not so much one of how mortality and finitude figure in the constitution of living human-animal singularities, but rather one of whether ethics and politics might be extended beyond this particular set of relations. In other words, how should we read Iveson’s call for a “community without limit”? The only example of an ethic of non-animal others discussed in Iveson’s work is deep ecological holism, which is rejected precisely because of its tendency to override singularity in favor of relational wholes. But what if one sought to construct an ethic that recognizes a wider range of singularities, both living and non-living? In other words, how might Iveson’s zoocentrism either be supplemented by or be in opposition to phytocentric, biocentric, or multi-centric environmental ethics? Likewise, how might his project be situated in view of an ethics of the more-than-human world that aims to displace any and all centers in favor of a form of life lived in view of “all our relations”? With Iveson’s close relation to both Derrida and Nietzsche in mind, one can see how such questions and possible tensions might arise. Derrida does not rule out the possibility of thinking through the ethics and politics of such a broad set of relations, but his overwhelming focus is on how différance constitutes the matrix through which living singularities emerge and maintain some semblance of sameness. Nietzsche’s thinking, by contrast, casts a much wider ontological and relational net. He thinks will to power as properly cosmic, insists that the Apollonian and Dionysian agon emerges primordially from nonhuman nature itself, and teaches us to be wary of thinking that life is anything but an exception in the planetary and cosmic order of things.
Such questions arise not simply because of the zoocentric nature of Iveson’s project; this delimitation is entirely understandable given the need to work carefully through the human-animal boundary in particular and the unique forms of violence and becoming that occur along this axis. Rather, what prompts one to consider the scope of Iveson’s framework is his tendency to present zoogenesis as the intractable, sole (“only” is a frequent word deployed by Iveson when considering the necessity of a zoogenetic thinking) site from which to contest the established anthropocentric order and constitute an alternative socius. Were zoogenesis understood as a partial but important aspect of a form of life beyond animalization, there would be no need to pit zoogenesis againstecological or planetary holism. Rather, the latter ethical and political frameworks might come to be seen as supplementary forms of normative consideration, which would themselves be nested inside a host of micro- and macro- singularities and relations that exceed the economy of the living. Of course, to do justice to such a wide variety of singularities and relations, one would have to do away with the desire to privilege any single ontological or normative framework and allow thought to enter into a realm in which plural ontologies (which are rather different from a single pluralist ontology) proliferate in view of doing justice to all our relations. Such questions hover on the edges of Iveson’s project, and it will be of considerable interest to see how Iveson’s forthcoming work on posthumanism and the path of thought he has opened up for his readers will unfold in view of these additional ontological and normative considerations.
Buy here: http://www.pavementbooks.com/zoogenesis
A worthwhile, slim book. Overly dissected by sectarian and signalling types, but worth the late read.
Poetry and science from Dave.
“Mira ese discos” said Jotti, the proprietor of Aguere Music Shop in La Laguna, as he dropped a few records in front of me. I’d already put aside a record titled Big Drums in Stereo, so he knew my angle. Oh shit, that was a good / bad move. I chose one, place the needle to the vinyl and within a second I shouted “So that’s where he got the sample from, that sly motherf…” I was referring to Carl Craig. In all these years it never dawned on me to find out where the sample came from that he used for his seminal ‘Bug in the Bassbin’.
Everything about the records recorded and produced by Enoch Light is premium. The package, his dedication the getting the right sound during the recording process, everything. I bagged about four discs and promised to return as soon as the next cheque was…
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This post from the founder of a really good heritage walk in Cal. Some great images and description of the need to preserve what parts of Kolkata’s Chinese heritage that can be …
India has a long history of commercial and cultural contacts with mainland China. Chinese communities had, therefore (mostly temporarily) settled in different ports along the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea since at least the early centuries of the Common Era. However, the socio-cultural space that we now call “Chinatown”, emerged globally as a result of the large-scale migration of Chinese communities in the 18th century, especially from South China. These migrations were brought about by a rapidly weakening central authority, and a sharp decline in the economy. The expansion of European maritime commercial network in the South China Sea opened up new opportunities for trade and for seeking newer, lucrative markets in other parts of Asia and the world.
The Old Chinabazaar Street with the white spire of the Armenian Church visible
Calcutta, the fledgling capital of East India Company’s territories in India was probably the oldest of…
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Thanks Kaloy Cunanan for recovering this from ascii-land.
An article on the multi-function polis in Malaysia, from 1999
appeared in Bosma, Josephine et al (eds) 1999 Readme! ASCII Culture And The Revenge Of Knowledge, New York: Autonomedia.
A longer unpublished version is Semi-Feudal Cyber-Colonial.
The footnotes are getting the chop chop treatment too. It is a sad sad day. A bad bad way to relegate people to the acknowledgements.
Is it just Truman World™? In his book Picturing Theory, anthropologist Jay Ruby discusses the ‘not illogical merchandising direction [of] The Truman Show [which] contains … “a catelog of products featured on the show, offered for sale and snapped up by its loyal international audiences”‘ (Ruby 2000: 250, quoting the Paramount Pictures Press kit for the film). Ruby’s point is that anthropologists cannot pretend to study people without the context of commercial capitalism ; similarly television without its connections would be television out of context. Yet, if Ruby wants to modernise anthropology, we might ask why his book is subtitled ‘explorations in film and anthropology’ (my emphasis), as if the explorer’s quest, Palin again, were something that did not need the idea of the pristine and untouched other as its slightly tarnished holy grail. I have always wondered why texts on visual anthropology, and film history in general, are fixated on the founding practitioners and nothing from ‘before’. I owe this point to Scott McQuire (1986, 2008), but also again in part to Theresa Mikuriya (2017).
Despite the geopolitical machinations of superpowers and regional interests, there has been through the crises of imperialism, WW2 and the independence period, a parallel progressive leftist culture reproduced through creative labour. Why would the current period be any different? Of course the corresponding possibility of solidarity coming from the West is beleaguered because already from the 1920s that solidarity was not from the West but in reaction to, and sustained by, anti-colonial struggles elsewhere – Russia, India, China, Vietnam, Angola etc. The crisis-ridden left movements of the North cannot take up solidarity in a directing role, nor even participate progressively in any way until the old mole is woken up, austerity is refused and the abundant institutions full of still not wholly privatised universities for critical thinking are given root and branch self-criticism.
Consider how the 1960s counter-culture was annexed and separated into units that could be variously controlled and managed is the story of our era, already long ago anticipated by Adorno. Many recent examples can be invoked, but if we began in the 1960s, we can look at how Black Power morphed into disco and global hip-hop under the scourge of CIA-led inner urban drug swamping and CONTELPRO political assassination. The flower-power hippies became computer geeks and SDS and the YIPPIES such as Abbie Hoffman and Gerry Rubin were left without any mass base – Hoffman drifted into covert flight, Rubin to the stock market. Feminism became identitarian careerism and international solidarity became exoticist revolutionary tourism. Queer militancy became pink pound shopping and Mardi Gras, if not primarily invested more in royal patronage and marriage equality than political mobilisation. Anti-racist multiculturalism more quickly than most other mobilisations was turned from economic redress after systematic bias into targeted small grants for ethnic arts festivals and annual religious or national dress commemorations. Most important, each of the counter-movements were separated and any alliance among them – Black Power + Hippies + Feminists + Queer + anti-racism, anti-imperialism – was too easily broken by money drugs and cultural identity.
Terms like Bollywood or Postcolonial may not be better or worse than others, however ‘pragmatic’ (Sundaram 2013: 137), with no intrinsic coherence except they insofar as they are useful markers along the way. If definition means replicating another of the paradoxes of the scholarly penchant for classification
The moral-legal framework of the nation and its orders, connections to tradition, patriarchy, transnational diplomacy, and conflict, becomes the object of analysis with film and television the never transparent but nonetheless unavoidable forum for its working out. Policy and corruption, statesmanship, scandal and progress are each thoroughly newsworthy as mediatised. In the end, everything is contained or coded through the screen, but in an inexorable variety that exceeds even population numbers – as many interpretations as critics, as many critics as viewers.
That these groupings used involvement in cinema as a vehicle for interventions into the public sphere is possibly true of all contexts for film. And so, an academic industry of course follows in the wake of screen media, like some sort of camp hanger-on modelled by Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage who sells her children into prostitution and slavery, running after the marching army of the 30 Years War (Brecht 1939/1980). All academic studies are in danger of becoming a similar sort of campaign support and the logistical supply troop for a comprehensive cultural takeover in the interest of some social groupings over others – media courses, conferences and journals with critique, scholarship even, when this suits the operatives of commercial advance and technological aggression. No longer a diminutive fuzzy furniture item in the corner of the room – if it ever was, always trying to take over like it did, with aspirations to be the centre of attention – television is now ubiquitous, as a mobile in your pocket, an iPad platform, an airplane seat, taxi cab, station concourse, large public screen, festival feature, cricket stadium scoreboard, plasma proliferation (McQuire 2008). Reassessment of the volatile political place of screens means that the referent of television, and the complicity of television studies as market support, is always overdue. The whole world is flicker and pixels, coming to get you, already invaded intimately (Nandy 1983) and won.
(Brecht, Bertolt 1939/1980 Mother Courage and her Children, London: Methuen.)
The illusion that the political somehow escapes television was always merely televised, and the economy seems now to perform for multiple media platforms, while socio-cultural change runs interference for a technological escalation that only sells us more [forms of] television. It does not matter that we are all always on screen and under scrutiny check in the garrison society. Or rather, it matters only insofar as the global economy is performed as TV, designed, like war, with all of us as screens. A co-constitution of camera and capital, such that the fiction of a single point of view – the camera, or the screen you are looking at now, even when it cuts from angle to angle – is the portal of a total commodification, which – with malevolent triangulation – condenses the multiple social input of a vast productive geo-political apparatus into the disguised and singular presenter speaking directly to you, telling you your news, encouraging you to laugh or cry and living your life right there, before your eyes, everywhere.
Sure, the uptake of cinema programming in healthy cross-fertilisation was one of the provocative bonuses for diasporic film – though this can never be endorsed without question as formulaic Bride and Prejudicial high finance dominate the scene. Now we see the ambiguity of so-called hybrid forms in disjunctive mode not only in the curiosities of Zee and NDTV pan-commercialism, but also the idiosyncrasies of flip channel goddery and the ready access of a global identification, for example of Shilpa Shetty and Jade Goody as superstars, or of Osama bin Laden and Barack Hussein Obama. Note already the couplet TV news stars are geo-political, and the alienation effect that such staged pairings should have still does not mean we understand that things are merely theatrical: this is not a Brechtian entfremdungseffekt.
The nationalist televisual project become global also fosters an orientalist TV which prevails in an Asia beyond Asia, where Global South Asia itself is vicariously and phantasmagorically screened – Michael Palin on tour in chapter two of this book. Indeed, it is the haphazard synchronisation of national and geopolitical that has most quickly expanded with the proliferation of screen culture large and small – culture televised, and no longer under pundit control.
If the cinema was festive, the news was stark, but both are dream media in a politics of interpretation: too often taken as media without mediation or meditation. Wanting to be Global but not universal, comprehensive without having to chase down every regional detail, inclusive but not exclusive – the political in the cultural is theoretical and conceptual when specificity is less urgent.
It is a cliché that there are two sides to every story, and yet. The other side of this story is that unpacking prejudice and exoticism makes possible an analysis that includes us all. To think of one place as uninfluenced by, and not influential upon certain other places just does not fit the facts. The politics of heritage and identity, diaspora and origins, of specificity and similarity, and conjuncture and formula means this book explores and evaluates a variegated and contingent political terminology for framing reconfigurations of power, and these reconfigurations are …
The analyses of just a few years back seemed to signal changes that are now even more epochal. Rajagopal had set this out clearly in 2009:
‘the media re-shape the context in which politics is conceived, enacted, and understood. Hindu nationalism represented an attempt to fashion a Hindu public within the nexus of market reforms and the expansion of communications, rather than religious reaction as such. Focusing on the moment of its emergence clarifies the historical conditions for the transition to a new visual regime, as it were, and at the same time shows the extent to which this emergence cannot be explained with reference to purely material circumstances’ (Rajagopal 2009:1).
This analysis has been not so much superseded as established, confirmed and extended by the narrowing of the global and the ubiquity of media technological fashioning. The gap between the screen and the remote contracts.
Reporting to that academy is not what this book is about. New methods surpass the old disciplinary rigidities to now take on an interdisciplinarity that is never just a please-everyone generalism and brand celebrity star-vehicle, even where regional genre and area studies have cini-star systems, grant approvals, book deals and a prestige prize.
Misrepresentations are not just that – the concepts of reification and recuperation can help us here. Against the national, diaspora or even South Asia, Global South is not a place or a constituency, but a perspective on the whole that has affinities with counter-culture solidarities, Black Power, international Marxist feminism, and internationalist anti-imperialism. The interests of the globe are at stake and the lessons to learn today are in a South Asian idiom. Even so, identity and regionalism in South Asia has too often been diminutive. Tamils, Bengalis, both transnational but neither, in political terms, bigger than the formal nation states to which they belong. Another possible regional perspective exists historically, a ‘subcontinental’ perspective that reaches beyond merely Himalayas to Lanka.
Whatever is said about media representation seems caught up in media representation, is it even possible to describe in absentia the prospect of learning something new, of developing further an allegiance to those parts of the planet, the majority, in which the protocols of Hollywood and Networks do not prevail? Is it still a quixotic gesture to insist upon another way of telling?
The challenge to found another third cinema movement on a grander cross-platform scale is not as great as sustaining the work that ventures towards such initiative. Other than media studies, the work ventured here is important for social theory, politics, geography, cultural studies, interdisciplinarity, but most importantly, the possibility of not succumbing to the one-flat-globe dominance of a mainstream.