Aftermaths: Exile, Migration, and Diaspora Reconsidered 9780813545981

Aftermaths is a collection of essays offering compelling new ideas on exile, migration, and diaspora that have emerged i

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Aftermaths: Exile, Migration, and Diaspora Reconsidered
 9780813545981

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Aftermaths

new directions in international studies patrice petro, series editor New Directions in International Studies expands cross-disciplinary dialogue about the nature of internationalism and globalization. The series highlights innovative new approaches to the study of the local and global as well as multiple forms of identity and difference. It focuses on transculturalism, technology, media, and representation and features the work of scholars who explore various components and consequences of globalization, such as the increasing flow of peoples, ideas, images, information, and capital across borders. Under the direction of Patrice Petro, the series is sponsored by the Center for International Education at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. The Center seeks to foster interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to international education by transcending traditional professional and geographic boundaries and by bringing together international and Milwaukee-based scholars, artists, practitioners, and educators. The center’s book series originates from annual scholarly conferences that probe the political, economic, artistic, and social processes and practices of our time—especially those defining internationalism, cultural identity, and globalization.

mark philip bradley and patrice petro,

eds.

Truth Claims: Representation and Human Rights eds. Aftermaths: Exile, Migration, and Diaspora Reconsidered

marcus bullock and peter y. paik, elizabeth swanson goldberg

Beyond Terror: Gender, Narrative, Human Rights eds. Global Cities: Cinema, Architecture, and Urbanism in a Digital Age

linda krause and patrice petro,

eds. Rethinking Global Security: Media, Popular Culture, and the “War on Terror”

andrew martin and patrice petro, tasha g. oren and patrice petro, Global Currents: Media and Technology Now

eds.

j

Aftermaths Exile, Migration, and Diaspora Reconsidered edited by marcus bullock and peter y. paik

Rutgers University Press New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Aftermaths : exile, migration, and diaspora reconsidered / edited by Marcus Bullock and Peter Y. Paik. p. cm.—(New directions in international studies) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8135-4405-2 (hbk. : alk. paper)—ISBN 978-0-8135-4406-9 (pbk. : alk. paper)  1. Emigration and immigration—Economic aspects.2. Emigration and immigration— Social aspects.I. Bullock, Marcus Paul, 1944–II. Paik, Peter Yoonsuk, 1968–. JV6217.A48 2008 304.8—dc22 2008007752 A British Cataloging-in-Publication record for this book is available from the British Library. This collection copyright © 2009 by Rutgers, The State University Individual chapters copyright © 2009 in the names of their authors All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Please contact Rutgers University Press, 100 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854–8099. The only exception to this prohibition is “fair use” as defined by U.S. copyright law. Visit our Web site: http://rutgerspress.rutgers.edu Manufactured in the United States of America

For Zoë Raja and Elijah Seung-Joon Paik

contents

j

Acknowledgments — Introduction



ix

1

Peter Y. Paik

I Exile as Origin Tales of Migration from Central America and Central Europe — 15 Helen Fehervary

What They Left Behind

after Emigration —

— The Irish Landscape

33

Andrew Kincaid

II The Spirituality of Exile The Dialectic of Marginality in the Haitian Community of Guadeloupe, French West Indies Paul Brodwin

On the Metaphysics of Exile Stefan Rossbach



76



55

viii

CONTENTS

III Diasporas and the Reinvention of the Local Pays rêvé, pays réel

Diasporas —

— Créolité and Its

103

Natalie Melas

Criticism, Exile, Ireland



133

Conor McCarthy

Edwidge Danticat’s Latinidad — The Farming of Bones and the Cultivation (of Fields) of Knowledge — 150 Ricardo Ortiz

IV Migrant Fantasies The Great Migration Elsewhere



175

Zoran Samardzija

Bending It Like Beckham

— Sex, Soccer,

and Traveling Indians —

192

K. E. Supriya

Coming to the Antipodes

Travel, Homecoming —

— Migrancy,

210

Ihab Hassan

Afterword

— The Dialectics of Identity —

Marcus Bullock

Notes on Contributors — Index — 247

243

223

acknowledgments

j

This book has its origins in “Aftermaths: Exile, Migration, Diaspora,” an international conference held in April 2004 at the University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee and sponsored by the Center for International Education. This collection of essays builds upon the presentations of the conference speakers and includes two solicited articles. The editors would like to thank the staff of the Center for International Education at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and its tirelessly generous director, Patrice Petro, whose vision and energy enabled this volume to come to fruition. The acuity and dedication of Thomas Maguire were indispensable in giving shape to a collection of essays that crosses numerous geographic as well as historical boundaries. Also, the hard work and expertise of Sara West Tully, Anne Banda, Amy Kuether, and Robin Leephaibul were crucial to the success of the conference. We are grateful for the support of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and its inspiring director, Professor Kristin Ruggiero, as well as of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Departments of Anthropology, Communication, English, and French, Italian, and Comparative Literature. We also gratefully acknowledge the U.S. Department of Education, whose generous support for the conference came in the form of a Title VI program grant that recognized and funded the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Center for International Education as a National Resource Center in Global Studies. Finally, the editors would like to thank Leslie Mitchner, editor-in-chief at Rutgers University Press, for her staunch support of this project and her commitment to the series in International Studies. We would also like to express our appreciation of the work done by Rachel Friedman in bringing this collection to press and of the careful copyediting of Monica Phillips.

x

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Paul Brodwin’s “The Dialectic of Marginality in the Haitian Community of Guadeloupe, French West Indies” was published in Anthropological Quarterly 76 (Summer 2003): 383–410 as “Marginality and Subjectivity in the Haitian Diaspora.” An extended version of Stefan Rossbach’s “On the Metaphysics of Exile” appeared as “The Impact of ‘Exile’ on Thought: Plotinus, Derrida, and Gnosticism,” in History of the Human Sciences 20 (November 2007): 27–52. The editors would like to thank Koninklijke Brill NV for permission to print an extract from “The Gospel of Truth,” which appears in The Nag Hammadi Library, rev. ed., edited by James M. Robinson (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1990).

Aftermaths

INTRODUCTION

j Peter Y. Paik

The world produced by globalization, whereby the world’s economies are increasingly brought together into a single network, has been largely understood in terms of a dynamic that emphasizes movement and convergence. The political and economic order that has taken shape since the end of the cold war is frequently characterized as an interdependent system of permeable boundaries, through which migrants may flow and finance capital streams more freely still. Regions formerly remote have become connected through the spread of industrialization and the opening of markets, a process that relies heavily upon advances in communications technology. Thus, on the one hand, national economies grow ever more interdependent while different cultures and worldviews come into contact with unprecedented frequency. On the other hand, it is supremely difficult for nations and cultures to detach or isolate themselves from these conditions, a state of affairs that makes the current form of market expansion unique in world history, even in comparison to the largely borderless global economy that prevailed in the decades before World War I.1 Indeed, the sum of these developments has been to reinforce the perception that the most geographically distant and economically underdeveloped regions of the globe will inevitably be integrated into a single worldwide economic system. The political and cultural implications of this interconnected and interdependent world economy have been the object of intense interest among scholars and intellectuals. The growing irrelevance of national boundaries for labor markets, production facilities, and capital flows has fostered, especially in the minds of globalization’s apologists, the expectation that a truly global culture would emerge out of the spread and acceptance of a single economic system throughout the world. The need to compete in a global capitalist

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economy will serve to promote everywhere the political values held to be most conducive to the creation of wealth as well as to the realization of innovations in technology—the ethic of individual freedom associated with liberal democracy.2 Others see a revival of cosmopolitan ideals in a world where adherents and members of different cultures, faiths, and ethnicities will find themselves in unavoidable and increasing contact with each other.3 Still others applaud the emergence of hybrid identities, which forswear more unitary and homogeneous forms of belonging by embracing a mixture of the customs, values, and affiliations of diverse peoples. For globalizers and cosmopolitans alike, the emergence of the world economy as a single, vast marketplace would thus constitute the initial stages of a more sweeping change in human history and consciousness, paving the way for a transnational culture as well as transnational forms of governance that will be necessary to facilitate the ongoing cooperation and integration of peoples, nations, and economies. Such optimistic prognostications about the effects of globalization and neoliberalism were given a rude jolt by the attacks of September 11, 2001. The destruction of the World Trade Center by the militants of al-Qaeda revealed that the depoliticization that characterized the West during the decade of the 1990s was a short-lived interval between global geopolitical conflicts. The responses of intellectuals and policy makers in the United States revealed as well the stubbornness to which they clung to narratives of historical necessity; for supporters of neoliberal globalization base their worldview upon the dogma that the worldwide expansion of commercial relationships and the continuous advancement of technology would eventually make violent, large-scale conflict a relic of the past. Economic competition, in essence nonviolent, would come to supplant political strife and enmity once human beings everywhere could take advantage of a global economic system that would provide them with unprecedented opportunities for achieving prosperity. Against such reflexive confidence in the capacity of free markets and advanced technology to abolish the longstanding afflictions of war, hunger, and poverty, the suicide terrorism practiced by radical Islam could only appear as a baffling and inexplicable evil, a primitive delusion too perverse for rational comprehension. Although September 11 was hailed in the U.S. media as the date on which “everything changed,” the policies undertaken by the Bush administration would soon bear out its utter lack of intellectual appreciation of or imaginative preparedness for the historically novel threats and uncertainties of the global

INTRODUCTION

3

age. Indeed, the chaos unleashed by the U.S. occupation of Iraq not only gives the lie to the liberal capitalist version of historical necessity—the belief that the globalized world is characterized by the irresistible movement toward liberal democracies and free markets—but also confronts us with its horrifying human cost. In the wake of this catastrophic wager regarding the inevitability of certain movements of history, we are confronted with a future far more chaotic and uncertain than the globalists, under the spell of utopian doctrines of automatic progress and infinite growth, have ever been willing to allow. As the global age continues to veer into uncharted territory, it becomes imperative for the citizens of this radically unsettled world to question prevailing intellectual models and develop more refined critical instruments. The interconnectedness of the world’s economies, far from fostering the acceptance of differences, can serve to exacerbate existing antagonisms or engender new ones. Hybrid identities, instead of giving rise to a cosmopolitan model of belonging, might well come to mobilize apparently minor signifiers, such as the tone—as opposed to color—of one’s skin, in order to reinforce rigid hierarchies. Historical tragedy can serve as the linchpin of a politicized diasporic consciousness as well as supply the means for its commodification. On the other hand, the fate of becoming a refugee might well emerge as the most universal form of subjectivity in a global market where the unpredictable flows of capital can devastate national economies overnight and uproot entire populations. The institution of new boundaries can paradoxically revive transnational languages and multiethnic affiliations as formerly united peoples scramble to develop new models for negotiating their transformed relations with each other. It is in such a spirit of reconsideration and reassessment that I introduce this collection of essays, which brings forth compelling and rigorous perspectives upon the varieties of uprootedness that have emerged in the global age. The ten contributors work in different disciplines and draw from diverse backgrounds, yet they all share an attentiveness to the exception or excluded term not only in the claim to universality but also in claims for pluralist particularities. In seeking to open up fresh perspectives upon the movement and mingling, at an unprecedented velocity, of ideas, peoples, commodities, and, last but not least, grievances in the globalized world, they often look to the power of aesthetic experience, especially in literature and film, to unsettle existing theoretical paradigms and enable the rethinking of conventionalized approaches. This is not to say that the authors endorse or enact a straightforward return to the old-fashioned methods of formalist close reading, but

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rather that they affirm the indispensability of the world-constituting power of narrative for rethinking the collision and negotiation of cultural and national differences, whether these play out in individual literary works or in the collective poems known as religion and history. Moreover, at times their perspectives confront each other and clash, whether over the politics of hybridity, the emancipatory potential of Hollywood cinema, and even the intellectual legacy of the eminent theorist of exile, Edward Said. The friction over such questions reflects the vitality needed to engage a world that is both unsettled in its interconnectedness and volatile in its convergences. The study of migration and diaspora has unfolded within the context of a broader turn in the humanities toward cultural studies, with its emphasis on the questions of transnational as well as minority identity. As Helen Fehervary’s contribution attests, however, there are certain experiences of uprooting that do not so neatly fit prevailing critical paradigms and thus demand approaches that break with present-day conceptions of mobility and displacement. Fehervary contrasts her own scholarly efforts to theorize historical trauma in the field of modern and postmodern German literature with her relationship as an adoptive parent to a girl whose family was massacred and scattered by the civil war in El Salvador. The insights she had gained in caring for a girl orphaned by a brutal war led her away from the dominant scholarly models for theorizing identity to more literary forms of expression—a poetic biography of her daughter that was also a eulogy for her birth parents, both of whom were murdered by government death squads. Against the methodological reflex, made fashionable by poststructuralist deconstruction, to regard techniques of distantiation and lapses into silence as symptoms of a text’s self-undoing, Fehervary asks the reader to pay closer attention to the subtle everyday reverberations of wrenching absences, crystallized by the observation that, for displaced children, there can be no diasporas, only shattering loss that becomes engulfed in the forgetfulness exacted by cultural adaptation. Andrew Kincaid sets out to unravel the dialectic of remembering and forgetting historical tragedy in the context of Ireland in the era of globalization. As Kincaid notes, it was the defining event of modern Irish history, the great famine, which triggered the massive waves of emigration that created the Irish diaspora. This catastrophic trauma has of course loomed large in the Irish struggles for independence, from the Easter 1916 uprising to the 1980s hunger strikes undertaken by imprisoned members of the IRA. The recent emergence of the “Celtic tiger,” of Ireland as a booming center of advanced

INTRODUCTION

5

technology in Western Europe, however, has led to an unsettlingly ambivalent response to the famine and to the diasporic consciousness of the nation. Kincaid argues that a broad cultural shift in Irish attitudes about migration took place when the government began to move away from policies based on self-sufficiency and protectionism toward an emphasis on attracting foreign investment. The typical image of the Irish emigrant was transformed from that of an impoverished but able-bodied young person escaping destitute conditions in the homeland into a cosmopolitan globe-trotter whose education and skills, acquired abroad, could now profit the rapidly expanding technology sector. Kincaid underscores the often flagrant revisionism at work in the celebration in the Irish media of what is now called the “global generation.” History becomes domesticated as the impoverished migrants of the nineteenth century are now viewed as the direct predecessors of the enterprising and savvy cosmopolites of today. The phenomenon of mass migration, so central to Irish history, becomes regarded increasingly as a lifestyle choice as consciousness of it as an imposed condition wanes. In Paul Brodwin’s ethnographic study, the sense of a diasporic community among Haitian migrants emerges less out of a nostalgic longing for a native land than out of everyday experiences of marginalization and ill-treatment on Guadeloupe. Subjected to humiliating and excessively intrusive measures at the hands of the local police, the Haitians are forced to bear the stigma of poverty as well as of racial prejudice. The darker skin of the Haitian immigrants marks them as outsiders to a cultural ideology that officially and explicitly praises hybridity, syncretism, and racial mixing. Brodwin notes that such discrimination arises to a significant extent from the uncertainties and anxieties felt by the Guadeloupeans themselves over their lack of sovereignty and condition of dependence as an overseas department of France. Although the Haitian migrants are exposed to the indignities and hostility endured by foreign workers in many parts of the globe, nevertheless on Guadeloupe they often experience an increased pride in their historical past as the only people in the Americas to carry out a successful revolt against European rule. Indeed, many Haitians also choose to accentuate their separation from the mainstream of Guadeloupean society, which they reject as sexually immoral as well as culturally assimilationist. Indeed, the congregations of Haitian Pentecostal churches respond to the negative stereotypes of Haitian migrants as impoverished and disorderly by embodying bourgeois norms of civility in their modest dress, fastidious grooming, and upright demeanor. Although Brodwin’s anthropological

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study does not focus on questions of literary narrative or of aesthetics per se, nevertheless it is impossible to overlook the significance of the aesthetic dimension in the devotional practices of the diasporic Haitian Pentecostalists. As Brodwin shows, the scrupulous attention given by the Pentecostalists to their manner of religious observance serves as an implicit protest against the injustices they are made to suffer in their daily struggle to support themselves and their families. The practices of Pentecostalism provide a firm basis for articulating a collective identity that critiques the cultural values and economic conditions behind the experience of exclusion and prejudice. It can be argued that cultural uprooting—that is to say, homelessness as a spiritual condition—is becoming an increasingly widespread experience. For does not the wholesale erosion of social bonds portend the fate of exile on a global scale, as the traditions and practices that have fostered human solidarity become dissolved by the imperatives of an all-encompassing market? Will the extension of uprootedness to such a massive degree generate new paradigms of alienation and solidarity, or does the overwhelmingly collective nature of this predicament call forth rereadings of the most metaphysical of all narratives of exile, the gnostic retelling of creation? Stefan Rossbach notes the parallels between the present-day global dominance of the United States and the Roman Empire; unlike other scholars of imperialism, Rossbach provides a lucid and provocative account of the philosophic parallels between the globalization of late antiquity and that of the postmodern present. For in both eras one finds the widespread dissemination of philosophic doctrines in which the exile and alienation of the subject offer the point of departure, as well as theoretical efforts to compensate for the destruction of the “old truths” amid the violence wrought by imperial conquest. Most strikingly of all, Rossbach argues that the elements of Derrida’s thought which have been discussed by scholars as engagements with negative theology should more properly be understood as a form of gnosticism. Diff érance, which originates the play of differences, corresponds to the gnostic doctrine of creation as a cosmic catastrophe whereby the subject becomes imprisoned in an oppressive reality. Such a cosmology came to exert a powerful appeal during the disintegration of the Roman imperial order into widespread anomie, the dissolution of social bonds, and outbreaks of civil strife. Do diasporas unavoidably privilege spiritual or poetic conceptions of home or the homeland over the concrete experience of living in a land not (wholly) one’s own? Does the consciousness of exile necessarily denigrate the

INTRODUCTION

7

local and its everyday reality? Natalie Melas focuses on a critique of transnational cultural ideology from a diasporic perspective that seeks to affi rm the concrete and the particular in opposition to the search for mythic origins, however expansive a form the latter might take. Melas traces the fault lines between rival forms of diasporic consciousness in Patrick Chamoiseau’s recent novel, Texaco. Chamoiseau’s novel documents the founding of a shantytown in Fort-de-France, capital of Martinique, on land that is officially owned by the multinational Texas Oil Company, and consciously sets itself against the cultural ideology propounded by Martinique’s leading poet and statesman, Aimé Césaire. Césaire, whose idea of négritude sought to ally postcolonial struggles with a left-wing revolutionary politics, comes under attack for its one-sided emphasis upon a largely mythical Africa, at the expense of the vitality of lived experience on the Caribbean island. For the créolistes, by contrast, the local has become the site of complex cultural interactions and lived multiplicities that have been simplified or disregarded outright by the essentializing as well as transhistorical impetus of négritude. Créolité is not a counterdiasporic ideology so much as a hyperdiasporic one, based upon a restlessly expansive hybridity marked by the accretion of cultural particulars. Chamoiseau, while critiquing the fantasies of mobility in négritude, nevertheless provides a striking account of the limitations inherent to créolité’s affirmation of the local. Créolité gives rise to a medium of contact that is both insular and expansive, and fosters a community across space more than perpetuating blood-lines across time. As Melas’s analysis of Texaco reveals, awakening from the dream of a homeland and the fantasy of return is to countenance a permanent state of siege within a marginal space, against engulfing multinational forces that are themselves already diasporic and displaced many times over. The contribution by Conor McCarthy assesses and contrasts the achievements of the two leading literary critics in Ireland of the past two decades: Seamus Deane and Edna Longley. Their conceptions of literature and national identity place them in sharp opposition with each other—a polarity that divides along one of the most contested and least practical borders established in the wake of decolonization. Longley seeks to develop a literary regionalism specific to Northern Ireland—a form of cultural particularism that cannot be assimilated into the rival nationalisms of North and South, the literary culture of Britain and the United States, as well as of the postcolonial Anglophone world. Longley’s project, McCarthy argues, is one that is beset by deep contradictions. Firstly, the major literary figures from Ulster,

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such as Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Tom Paulin, and Mebh McGuckian, have emerged from minority nationalist backgrounds. Secondly, Longley’s effort to create a self-sufficient regional identity leads her into a philosophic and methodological deadlock in a formalism that rejects alternative scholarly approaches for the sake of preserving what she regards as an allimportant barrier between poetry and politics. As McCarthy contends, even her gesture of constructing Northern Ireland as a cultural corridor ends up relying upon an abstract and dehistoricized geography. The work of her rival, Deane, he views in far more favorable terms. Deane, born to a working-class Catholic family in Derry, emerges in McCarthy’s portrait as an intellectual whose thinking of exile and nationhood places him in close proximity to the work of Edward Said and Theodor Adorno. Like his models, Deane refuses the consolations of national rootedness in order to embrace the experience of being marginalized, estranged, and homeless. The condition of being an outsider not only stands as an ineluctable ordeal for Irish identity but also enables Irish literary creativity to flourish. In his examination of the Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat’s novel, The Farming of Bones, Ricardo Ortiz provides an arresting reflection upon the boundaries and constraints posed by the idea of latinidad. Danticat’s novel deals with the brutal persecution of Haitians in the Dominican Republic in 1937, when tens of thousands of migrant plantation workers were massacred under the orders of Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorial regime. Ortiz makes a powerful case for an expansive conception of latinidad that goes beyond constructions of identity which inevitably reinforce and reassert exclusions based upon racial and linguistic difference, an idealized national past, geographical boundaries, and migratory labor. Danticat’s portrayal of the displaced Haitian worker articulates the imperative to formulate alternative categories of belonging, which may encompass geographical entities that do not rely upon any kind of political or national grounding. Danticat locates just such an unsettling entity in Hispaniola, the name of the island that contains both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Hispaniola does not designate a country nor, in the eyes of most, a politics, but as Danticat’s novel emphasizes, it nevertheless possesses a history. It is this troubled and complicated history, whose wounds are stifled and disavowed in the assertion of national identity and ideological hegemony, which Danticat sets out to tell. It is this elusive and spectral history, the memory of ambiguous zones, that the predominant theoretical approaches in present-day literary and cultural

INTRODUCTION

9

criticism are ill-prepared to grasp. According to Ortiz, the proclivity in much contemporary literary and cultural studies for such geographic tropes as the border, as well as for a relatively unmediated politics of ethnic identity, generates methods that privilege the content of a narrative over its form. Such an overemphasis on content neglects the necessarily mediated character of fiction and tends to overlook the ineluctable gap between historical knowledge and literary representation. Ortiz thus warns against critical approaches that immure the text within an immobilizing discourse of national and ethnic identity that pays too little attention to the historically contingent character of its own positions and valuations. Zoran Samardzija’s essay focuses on the figure of the refugee, the subject who is forced to inhabit a world of indeterminate borderlands and to endure an uncertain legal status. He presents a uniquely challenging perspective in the growing scholarly literature on refugees by examining two fi lms, set in the vexed and troubled frontiers of Europe, which portray the privileged citizens of stable Western democracies becoming themselves refugees. In the film Lamerica, written and directed by Gianni Amelio, an Italian con artist is abandoned by his partner in the desperately impoverished Albanian state, where they have arrived to pocket government funds under the pretense of setting up a factory to employ Albanians. Robbed of his car and then stripped of his identity as a citizen of the First World, the protagonist Gino finds himself becoming absorbed by the multitudes of destitute Albanians seeking at any cost to leave their economically ravaged country. By the end of the film, he becomes indistinguishable from the mass of refugees on an overcrowded freighter bound for Italy, an image of expectation and exodus that achieves a kind of archetypal status through Amelio’s evocative style, which subtly combines neorealist and documentary elements. Theo Angelopoulos’s The Suspended Step of the Stork, on the other hand, treats the condition of the refugee in a somewhat whimsical manner, even as the film contemplates the quasiapocalyptic prospect of the universalization of such a destiny. Samardzija shows that the fantasy of a universal exodus—narrated in the film by a former politician who apparently has chosen the life of a refugee—unsettles the posthistorical designs that have been drawn up to map the changes that have taken place since the collapse of communism. Instead of designating the mere desire to escape from the horrors of history or the limitations of state sovereignty, these films underscore the fantastical and hallucinatory nature of the stable and secure ideologies of the postnational present—hence the

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persistent theme in films from the Balkans that the Second World War never ended, auguring not only cataclysms to come but also new and unexpected forms of affi liation, traumatic though their emergence is sure to be. Diasporic subjects are often forced to negotiate the societies they inhabit through a set of rules that set them apart from the mainstream or the majority. But rules grow porous as the world becomes more culturally and economically interconnected. Yet, the question persists—what constitutes fair play in the global economic marketplace or in the struggles played out in cultural traditions and practices? K. E. Supriya examines the function of the aesthetic in helping to negotiate the conflicts between tradition and modernity as well as those between cultures. Focusing on the internationally successful feature film Bend It Like Beckham, as well as other recent narratives about the lives of immigrant South Asians, she locates the theme of breaking sexual taboos within the sweeping context of the history of the Indian subcontinent and the myriad changes its cultures have undergone since ancient times. Supriya argues that these films provide the groundwork for the development of “intercivilizational codes” with which to represent non-Western sexualities, while at the same time making a plea for the bending of intercultural rules to playfully and erotically advance the unfolding of cultural transformation. For all the scholarly attention accorded to the idea of otherness, whether it takes the form of ethnic and national others, or the heterogeneous multitudes within oneself, it is safe to say that the bulk of this attention has been projected primarily toward the past. Theorizing along the lines of poststructuralism and cultural studies tends to aim at origins which, though putatively held to be fantasmatic or heuristic in nature, nevertheless serves as the destination of thought as it seeks to provide an account of identity as something produced and determined. Perhaps it is a loss of confidence in grand narratives or in the philosophy of history itself that is behind this broad orientation. Yet Ihab Hassan’s “Coming to the Antipodes: Migrancy, Travel, Homecoming” alerts us to the bitter price that such an absorption in the past threatens to exact: a shriveled and impoverished notion of the self, cut off from the creative forces that make possible both adaptation and invention. Meditating upon the concept of “westering,” Hassan provides an intensely personal account of where he has been led by the impulse to pursue a path of self-othering, which led him from the Egypt of his birth to the United States, and then further west to Australia. The allure of horizons takes him to nations where the experience of the frontier overwhelms the

INTRODUCTION

11

sense of historical time, yet his musings on rebirth and rejuvenation evoke the haunted designs of ruins and religions, in visions and dreams where history overflows the breakwaters of memory. The story of globalization is still being written, even as many of the theories and narratives that have given shape to the concept have become quite familiar. In writing from the uncertain middle of this time of transition, the authors seek to discharge the hopeful task of cultivating a double perspective, one that derives not only from movement from one place to another but also from the lessons of time and memory, that endows us with the capacity to see that the present world is neither final nor unique in its permanence. The notion of literary interpretation as an inexhaustible activity has had the unfortunate consequence of obscuring the transformative power of the aesthetic, as conveyed by Giambattista Vico in his idea of making. Vico, who can be numbered as one of the most important influences upon modern social theory, holds that ignorance and the inability to understand are to be prized more highly than the process of abstract thinking. When a man does not understand, “he makes the things out of himself and becomes them by transforming himself into them.”5 It is from Vico’s reflections upon the world-making powers of the aesthetic that Edward Said, in his early work Beginnings develops his own vital insights into the process of social and cultural change. For writing reshapes culture in ways that ensure the generation of future texts, an activity that necessarily includes the creation of new methods and traditions: “To make explicit what is usually allowed to remain implicit; to state that which, because of professional consensus, is ordinarily not stated or questioned; to begin again rather than to take up writing dutifully at a designated point and in a way ordained by tradition; above all, to write in and as an act of discovery rather than out of respectful obedience to established truth.”6 Such a paradigm for the production of knowledge is one that, to our consolation and advantage, retains its relevance across historically disparate ways of conceiving the global.

notes 1

See John Gray, False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism (New York: New Press, 1998), 56.

2

The work of Thomas Friedman has been most prominent in publicizing this belief. See The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2006).

3

See Martha Nussbaum, For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996).

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4

For a forceful critique of such optimistic visions of the global capitalist future, see John Gray, Heresies: Against Progress and Other Illusions (London: Granta, 200).

5

Giambattista Vico, The New Science of Giambattista Vico, trans. Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harold Fisch (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), 130.

6

Edward Said, Beginnings: Intention and Method (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 379.

TALES OF MIGRATION FROM CENTRAL AMERICA AND CENTRAL EUROPE

j Helen Fehervary In the midst of a war or an insurgency the dependent condition of children leaves them vulnerable to every peril that threatens their family and community, as well as to one more that may lie implicit in their rescue. If the adults succeed in fleeing to a new country, they bring their past with them. Their identities are already established, their knowledge of a tradition and a language secured, and if they are fortunate enough to arrive in a hospitable land, they will have the power to preserve some portion of that heritage if they find the determination to do so. Some traditions have survived for centuries in diasporas, but there is no diaspora of children. Their individual survival comes at the cost of their old identity and the annihilation of the future that might have lain in store for them as members of the community that could no longer sustain them. They receive the priceless gift of life, but that gift has a double meaning. A new future opens up where only bleakness or extinction may have threatened before, but only by means of a substitution they did not choose. If they had stayed in the war zone, that future would have been swallowed up by their physical extinction. Now it is lost to an exchange. They live on in the identity accepted from a new family and new culture, aware that something will always persist in them of a destiny broken off by fate, always irreparably lost though never completely overcome. And if much is gained by learned research into these phenomena through disciplined knowledge, in the end every child presents the irreducible reality of a unique life. —Marcus Bullock

Though we academics always hope and believe that what we study and write about under the large heading of “history” will have its place, and perhaps

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even its effect, in the world—that is, in the world of our most human everyday relationships and actions—the mediation from one realm to the other is elusive and resistant. What we discover when we reflect on our own personal decisions and actions in the world reveals to us that the autonomy on which our profession depends for its intellectual integrity also requires us to think and speak with a degree of distance from our everyday selves. For most of us most of the time, this divide does not cut so sharply or so deeply that we come up against it in any kind of shock. Our subjectivity elaborates itself as a complicated set of connections between different kinds of language in which we express different forms of attachments and identities to the people with whom we have that speech in common. With our parents and their world, we feel the force of memory that ties us to an origin which might supply the very substance that we critique in our intellectual endeavors, but it lies in the nature of time that we should look for distance there. We do not expect to remain unchanged in the cultural identity of a history and perhaps of a community or nation that lies in our past. Among our contemporaries, we submit to the pragmatics imposed by shared interests and shared projects that may bring us together in particular settings and for limited times. Those restrictions dictate specific terms for our discourse. But as parents, we owe everything to a generation that may be completely dependent on our complete presence. With children, we cannot adopt a set of conventional terms designed to contain a body of thought within a controllable framework. In a child we adopt a whole being, a person unfolding constantly in time, growing in all aspects, and ravenous for our complete acknowledgment. As I was to find one day in the midst of a learned presentation on Christa Wolf at Princeton University, it is not always possible to negotiate the simultaneous commitment to a professional and personal expectation. The language of one realm of connections overwhelmed the other, and I found myself lost, unable to speak, silenced between the terms in which we communicate in those two domains. It was ultimately in a passage from Anna Seghers’s novel Transit that I came to see the place of an intersection between the various languages of human experience and resolved the contradiction that had brought me to that moment of silence. In the description of harbor gossip, the endless talk that grows out of a postponed longing to take ship and make good one’s flight to afar, Seghers’s narrator feels first the hollowness of such speech and then its extraordinary fullness, its perpetual connection with a perpetual

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purpose of talk. The difference between myth and history falls away when he recognizes the repetition that joins ancient times in the Mediterranean port of Marseille to the present anxieties of modern travelers, modern representatives of the endless state of those who must leave or perish. Seghers’s recollection of the harbor re-creates the substance of repetition and return as a vision of life’s essential meaning in lived time. In recounting and remembering the details of the everyday connections on which life and survival depend, time gives way to a correspondence that fills us with the sense of the timeless, where history becomes so immediate in our sense of the moment that we feel inclined to name it with some other term. Myth in her usage merely describes human nature, the permanent sense of love and obligation that links human destinies with a vividness, a vitality that astonishes us with its fullness and richness.

In 1984 I traveled from Columbus, Ohio, to El Salvador to adopt a seven-yearold girl orphaned in that country’s civil war. At the time I knew little about Central America other than what I had read and heard in the news. Like many others who remembered the Vietnam War, I was troubled by the Reagan administration’s deployment of American advisers to aid the Salvadoran military, reports about murders and “disappearances” of Salvadorans who opposed the regime, and army massacres in the countryside. Around these issues there were protests worldwide, and at Ohio State University I belonged to a faculty group that organized teach-ins in 1982. The decision to adopt a child is not necessarily a political one, and I was weighing a number of possibilities, one of them a local adoption, another one from India. The adoptive parent organization working directly with a Salvadoran state orphanage offered the shortest waiting period. I remember thinking I could give understanding to a child from El Salvador since I myself had come to this country at a young age, knew English as my third language, and, though I had no conscious memories of World War II, war in Europe affected my life in a decisive way. But this may have been a rationalization, for I felt torn in another way. The idea of taking a child out of its native environment seemed to bother me more than it did the expectant adoptive parents I met at orientation meetings. In response to this a Latin American Studies scholar at Columbia University just returned from El Salvador suggested I simply support a child in one of the orphan communities organized at the local level by the FMLN popular front. Yet the exiled Chilean colleague

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who occupied a faculty office next to mine told me that being uprooted was preferable to what might await such a child in the poorest and most densely populated country in Central America. Meanwhile, entire conferences and books have been devoted to these and related questions. Needless to say, neither my political sympathies nor my childhood experience nor even what I considered my sense of cultural openness quite prepared me for what I was about to encounter and how that experience would affect me in the years that followed. The official papers I signed in San Salvador told me only that the girl I was adopting was seven years old and “healthy and normal by El Salvador standards.” No birth or other records were said to exist. Thanks to a sympathetic attendant at the orphanage I learned that other than revealing her name, the girl called Maria had barely spoken a word since her arrival a year earlier, and that trying to communicate with her was the most important thing I could do. This I did try, alas with only a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish until Maria began school and rather quickly learned English. Let me summarize some of what she told me over the first months and years. Incidentally it is now twenty years later, my daughter is an independent artist who also works at a public metropolitan library, and she has recommended for inclusion—as well as read and approved—what I relate here. Maria was the fifth of seven children born to Felipe and Cándida Cruz de Corvera, campesinos working in the coffee and sugarcane fields on the slopes of the San Vicente volcano known as Chinchontepec. Two of Maria’s elder siblings died of malnutrition before she was born. She remembered the birth of her youngest brother, at which time her mother confined herself to her bed set off from the rest of the one-room dwelling by a sheet of black plastic, while outside her father prepared a rarely brewed pot of chicken soup until the sounds of the newborn called him in to cut the umbilical cord. Maria and the elder of her two younger brothers, the one who, as she described it, “crawled out of her mother’s belly right after her,” slept in hammocks strung up above their parents’ bed. She often told the story of how her mother would give the hammocks a push with her leg while she nursed the baby. If the order of the births was important to the children, years and dates were not, as they were not known. By the time the youngest of the seven children was born, the eldest, Maria’s only surviving sister, was living elsewhere and had her own child. She would have two more children before Maria was taken to the orphanage; by then only the second-born of the three had survived malnutrition.

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The family lived in one of several dwellings forming a kind of circle and inhabited by Maria’s paternal grandparents, uncle, aunts, and their families. All of them, including in later years Maria and the children of what we would call school age, worked in the coffee and sugarcane fields. Dreams were recounted by the adults as well as the children as a kind of morning ritual, and stories were told in the course of the day and in the evening around the cooking fire outside. It was a way to remember things, Maria has told me, since of course no one was able to read. Indeed, Maria is the first person in her family, probably ever, to read. The inclination to storytelling was especially strong in Maria’s maternal grandmother, who was recently widowed and lived farther up the mountainside. Maria remembers her as being different from her father’s family, less talkative, more decisive and opinionated when she did speak, and unlike most of the women she wore long skirts and a long braid that extended down her back. She was often seen tending her vegetable plot, something Maria’s parents did not have, and Maria’s mother, who knew far more than her sisters-in-law about gathering plants and herbs for the creation of daily necessities, must have learned these and other skills from her own mother. During the first weeks of the last great peasant uprising in El Salvador in 1932, thirty thousand of the largely Pipil Indian campesino population were massacred by government forces, and henceforth native dress was shed by most Indians for fear of being recognized as such. Although Maria was unaware of such distinctions when she told me her stories, it seemed to me that her maternal grandmother may have been more observant, and proud, of indigenous ways than was her father’s family. This may explain in part this woman’s refusal to leave the area when it was about to be razed by the Atlacatl counterinsurgency battalion and the Fifth Infantry Brigade, some of whose officers and men had been trained by Green Berets at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It was later reported to Maria’s parents, who had meanwhile fled with her father’s family to the wooded outskirts of the provincial capital San Vicente, that Maria’s grandmother and her three youngest children, adolescent twin sons and a daughter, had been rounded up with others in the area and shot and killed by members of the battalion. Maria remembered that during their own flight from the volcano the truck they were on stopped to let her parents get off and identify two bodies on the road. Shortly before this they had learned that Maria’s godparents, who lived farther up on the volcano, had also been murdered by the counterinsurgency troops.

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Maria’s earliest memories of violence are connected to the mano blanca, death squads that painted a white hand on the doors of peasants rumored to be cooperating with the FMLN. On the nights the squads were operating in the area, Maria’s father, her elder brother Gabriel, and the other men and boys hid in the surrounding cornfields and farther up on the mountainside. Maria remembered lying awake and seeing the blinking of the squads’ flashlights outside. On each of the mornings that followed these nights Maria saw at least one dead body, its throat slit, lying at the roadside. With the growing number of bodies, the sight of vultures, smaller birds, and wild dogs became familiar to her, especially after her family fled the volcano to the outskirts of San Vicente. There, army troops conducted their pursuit of FMLN guerrillas with little regard for the so-called collateral damage they inflicted on the refugee population in their wake. “Why do they kill the people?” Maria would often ask me after one of these stories. And hearing no satisfactory answer she would provide her own: “I think they like it. Why else they do it?” It was during this period that Maria lost her parents. First her father died, then about six months later, her mother. Maria told me that of all the things she experienced, it was after her mother’s death that she withdrew behind an internal wall to protect herself from the world. Perhaps because of this it was decided that Maria’s elder sister, who had come to help bury their mother, should take Maria with her on her return to El Chile. This hamlet was located at the top of the San Vicente volcano, and after her father’s death Maria’s mother often went there with the children to work in the coffee fields. Maria described El Chile as a place where her sister and her friends lived together in a long, flat house. Huey helicopters flew over the area, and Maria remembered running from the coffee fields when bombardments came from the air. Maria was also in El Chile when the body of her sister’s husband was found in the nearby woods hanging in a tree—with only a thin strip of flesh connecting his head to his body. Maria sat alongside her mother and her sister beside the open coffin that stood next to several others during the night vigil. She recounts that at the burial of her brother-in-law, her sister, then pregnant with her third child, tried to jump into the open grave and had to be held back by her friends. The child died soon after birth. And so it was that after the subsequent death of their mother, Maria’s recently widowed sister tried to take care of her as well as her own surviving child while she worked in the coffee fields and cooked for the community whose members, Maria recalled, went elsewhere during the day.

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Maria must have stayed with her sister for no more than a few weeks. The reason she gave for wanting to return to her brothers was her wish to wash and care for them in her mother’s place. Her feeling of responsibility was particularly strong toward the little one who was about two and a half. Shortly before her death her mother, due to hunger, was no longer able to nurse her youngest child, and the boy who had already been walking could not stand on his legs anymore. It was now Maria’s burden to care for this child who was also severely affl icted by intestinal parasites. Her treatment of his sores in ways she learned by having observed her mother surely saved his life. The paternal grandparents, two aunts and their children, with whom they now lived in a series of makeshift dwellings outside San Vicente, barely had food for themselves. Maria and the brother about eighteen months her junior took the youngest child with them on their daily treks into the streets of San Vicente in search of food. She attributes their success, however small, to the cuteness of the baby, whom they planted as a lure on the roadway or on a doorstep before the potential donor. Since her mother was no longer there to care for her hair, Maria’s scalp became painfully infested with lice. Although her grandfather cut her hair off to try and heal the wounds, before long she had to be taken to a medical clinic in San Vicente. This was a turning point. While she was hospitalized for what was probably a week or ten days, a social worker or some such person must have looked into the conditions under which Maria lived and decided the children should be taken to orphanages to be clothed and fed. Whether the grandparents agreed or if it was decided for them is not known. In any case, Maria never saw them again. She was taken directly from the hospital in the back of a truck that also carried her three brothers and a man who may have known the family or have been a social worker, or both. She and her youngest brother were dropped off at the state girls’ orphanage in San Salvador. The older brothers, one between five and six years of age, the other perhaps eleven, were driven a few more miles to the state boys’ orphanage. When her elder brother Gabriel said good-bye, he told her it would only be for a short while, and that she should not talk at the orphanage about her family or their whereabouts, a caution she dutifully observed. The girls’ orphanage was located next to a women’s prison that housed political prisoners. Maria told me she felt especially lonely and sad on Sundays when the women prisoners were brought to the orphanage to visit their children.

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Maria saw her brother Gabriel for the last time about a year later when the children were told that the three youngest would be adopted and taken to the United States. Whether as the eldest Gabriel was asked to give his consent, or whether he was able to discuss these things with his elder sister or other members of the family, is not known. We did learn that on the day before my arrival with the other adoptive parents, Gabriel told his brother that he had stayed all this time in the boys’ orphanage only to watch out for his younger siblings. Now that this was no longer necessary, or possible, he would run away, which he did that very night. After their arrival in the United States, Maria was able to see her younger brothers on five different occasions. The couple that adopted them took a decidedly uni-cultural approach in their belief that the boys, now that they had parents and “everything they wanted” here in the States, would soon forget “those awful things down there.” Maria’s presence only rekindled those unpleasant memories, and before long we were discouraged from making any further visits. This loss, after so many others, was particularly difficult for Maria, or perhaps I say this because it was the only one I observed firsthand. Now that she and her brothers are adults, her overtures have met with better results, although the process is a slow and difficult one. Meanwhile, we have here three people who grew to maturity in two very different familial and social environments. To complicate this picture, I should say that the youngest brother shares character traits, personal inclinations, as well as facial expressions and physical gestures with my daughter that are decidedly different from those of the brother with whom he grew up in one and the same household since the age of four. Maria attributes these distinctions to the different emotional and physical features of their parents in El Salvador. She and the youngest brother, as well as Gabriel, resemble their mother, while the other brother, as well as their elder sister, favor their father. I leave it to others to decide how in a case like this environmental factors combine with biology to bring about destiny. Now that I have related Maria’s history to this point I would like to describe how that history, experienced in our house as mourning and memory, affected our lives as well as my own ways of thinking about these and related matters. First, the question of language. As a speaker of several languages and a student of literatures, I have long been aware that the language in which we communicate at a certain time influences who we are and how we account for ourselves and our place in the world. Whereas

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I was confident that Maria would have no trouble learning English, I tried at first to have her converse with Spanish speakers. This was not only due to my limitations in the language, but because I hoped that the Latin Americans I knew might invite a more familiar trust and openness. These efforts failed except for that, in her silence, Maria appeared more or less comfortable in these situations. These included her relationship to her first teacher, an American who had lived for a few years in Mexico and conversed with her in Spanish. But as far as talking about herself, Maria would confide only in me. So it was that she and I lived in what in effect was isolation in suspended time, as night after night she told me her dreams, then ever more frequently and at the most unexpected times and places, her conscious memories of the past. When she was unable to express herself in words, she drew pictures to convince me of what she knew. “I talk with my eyes,” she would tell me, when in later years I complained that she did not make enough of an effort to communicate with others. Her extraordinary talent as a painter developed early on and became proof of that. Her images evoked surrealism long before she knew the meaning of the word or encountered it in art. The only real regret I have about Maria’s gradual separation from her native language is that I did not try harder to give her the opportunity to learn to read first in Spanish rather than in English. That would have made the acquisition of basic reading, math, and other skills easier in the first years of elementary school. Perhaps in order to make up for this, I enrolled her in a junior high school Spanish immersion program, but this decision, I soon realized, was completely misguided. In that program Maria sat with white and African American kids just starting out in Spanish. For reasons I never understood in this case, units in math and science were also conducted in Spanish. Moreover, the Mexican American teacher’s idea of social studies was limited to folk costumes, music, and cultural understanding along corporate lines rather than sympathy with the poor. All this seemed quite weird to Maria, but on the other hand, so did so much else. Later language requirements in high school and college she also fulfilled in Spanish, which became her least favorite school subject. Only gradually did I put my naive enthusiasm for language retention aside in the realization that while our native language roots us in the crucial events of our early life, it also retains contact with what may be not only unpleasant and disturbing, but also possibly overwhelming.

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My second point concerns culture and history. One of the vivid recollections I have of my five-day stay in El Salvador is approaching the judge after taking the oath required for the adoption. With tears welling in my eyes I volunteered the promise that the little girl I was about to meet would never forget her native country and culture. (This took place as I was about to hand over the box of chocolates that the adoptive parent organization had recommended I bring along in the interest of continuing relations). In uttering these words I was surely thinking of some kind of higher principle. For in that judicial building surrounded by a team of armed soldiers, I was fully aware that I was dealing with a corrupt system and that the official ceremony in which I was participating was largely hypocritical: it offered respectability to a money-making operation on the part of the Salvadoran state. Indeed, shortly thereafter international pressure caused adoptions from El Salvador to cease, since many so-called orphaned children were forcibly taken by the army from their parents, or from the extended family if the parents happened to have been killed. I had known about such things and told myself that if the child I adopted had such a history, I would immediately return the child to its parents. This turned out to be unnecessary. But what was that higher principle I was thinking of as I stood before the judge in El Salvador? Was it allegiance to the then-fashionable notion of cultural identity? Regarding this I could relate an entire catalog of complicated or just curious social encounters I experienced or observed over the years. For example, when Maria and I were out together, say on the street or in a supermarket, we inevitably invited looks of surprise from white passers-by, sometimes with a hint of hostility, whereas the African Americans we passed tended to offer spontaneous gestures of friendliness of a kind I never elicited when by myself. Such cultural distinctions were played out differently in the schools Maria attended. Here the variety of cliquishness among the white children offered a Latina child more inroads, however limited, than did the insular enclave of the African American children due to their own minority status. What is more, Maria lived with a white mother. Regarding contact with other children from El Salvador, the picnics and other events organized by the adoptive parent organization were successful in that the children played together. The presence of piñatas, Mexican music, painted Salvadoran crosses and (Mexican) tortillas was meant to signify the importance of cultural awareness, and what might have been more

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substantial soon gave way to the new culture represented by the respective adoptive family and its environs. We developed stronger ties to Salvadorans who arrived in Columbus via the underground railroad network active in the States and Canada at that time. Among them was a couple with two small children who became close to Maria. The mother, as it turned out, was from San Vicente and had been a political prisoner in the very prison next to the orphanage where Maria had lived for a year. Meanwhile, a lawyer from a local Mennonite Church asked me to take in an adolescent boy in danger of extradition. He had fled El Salvador on his own and was doing janitorial work in a local sweatshop operation. While the lawyer worked on his residency papers, I fed and clothed him and enrolled him in an inner-city school. He lived with us for about six months, for a few months after that with a foster family working through one of the city’s social service agencies, then for a few more with friends of mine who sent him to a suburban school with their teenaged boys. After several more failed attempts to adjust to institutions of various kinds, he disappeared. He was later heard from in Los Angeles, where his mother had fled, and he recently came through Columbus, where he called me from one of the city’s homeless shelters—still without permanent papers, still working in sweatshops, still on the run like the millions of anonymous men and boys from around the world whose fate he shares. From the start the most urgent cultural issue within our household was that of Maria’s elder sister and brother. “We can go back and find them,” I would tell her when the awareness of that separation seemed especially acute. But the idea of our returning, even of my returning, raised fears of another kind for Maria, and so our search for her siblings consisted of a series of letters hand-carried by Quaker organizations or Salvadorans I knew who traveled to El Salvador for one reason or another in the course of the 1980s. As these efforts yielded nothing, I sustained the idea that once Maria reached maturity she could pursue this matter on her own terms. Somehow, somewhere in the future, I told myself, reunification of the siblings, or even clarification of their fates, would make whole in at least a bicultural way what was torn asunder. The only real consolation has been Maria’s, who said all along that her elder sister and brother at least knew the younger ones would be safe and taken care of, and that would have been their parents’ wish. To this day, I am unsure as to how I stand on this issue, probably due to remnants of guilt I still have for having intervened as a Yankee outsider in the first place. I am convinced of one thing, however. If there is any justice

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to be had on this point, the responsibility for closure rests with those who were politically and economically responsible for the larger catastrophe in El Salvador, not with the survivors who try to live their lives as best they can under the burden of its memory. To this extent, I think that much of what the media as well as some academics today celebrate as cultural awareness and diversity is a diversion from the real substance and actuality of events—that is, from history. This leads me to my third point, which concerns the changes I experienced in my outlook regarding my work. My field is twentieth-century German literature and intellectual history, and at the time I was especially interested in critical theory and contemporary German writers such as Heiner Müller and Christa Wolf. In 1983 Methuen Press contacted me to write a book about Wolf. It was to be the first book in English on this author, and its preliminary title was “Subjectivity, Memory, and History.” I remember working on the manuscript in my study one weekend and, when Maria appeared at the door, telling her that even though she did not understand what I was doing, it was very important in a large way. Needless to say, the chapters I managed to complete during this time rang wooden and hollow. While I knew that a more urgent and undeniably authentic form of “subjectivity, memory and history” was unfolding before my eyes in my own house, it took me a while to admit that the intellectual project of the book had failed. I still had the nerve to accept an invitation from Princeton University to deliver a lecture on the topic of the book, but before I got very far, I experienced what may be an academic’s worst nightmare: I blanked out at the podium and had to cut my talk short. In these years neoconservatism transformed the landscape of American institutions while academic discourse engaged in its own deconstructive practices: history gave way to historicism, anthropology to ethnic and multicultural studies, women’s and feminist studies to gender and sexualities, literature to texts, ideologies to fictions, authors to narrative positionalities, and on and on. In addition, there was minority studies. In my field, this meant newfound interest in Jewish authors, the Holocaust, attendant issues of anti-Semitism and so-called Jewish self-hatred, as well as discovery of yet new minorities living in German-speaking countries such as Turkish Germans, Arab Germans, and Afro-Germans, the latter being the offspring of German women and African American soldiers during the occupation of Germany after World War II. All this and the like provided welcome fodder

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for scholars of German language and literature whose cold war raison d’être had been undermined by the US-USSR summit conferences that ushered in the new world order. Moreover, except for newly risen stars with endowed chairs, foreign language faculty were increasingly underpaid and accordingly deprived of academic rights in the new university order, and many embraced cultural studies as a panacea for ideological uncertainties and an academic plight that took a particular toll on the humanities. The worst offenses among these practices struck me as voyeuristic, the aura of political correctness that accompanied them as facile and hypocritical. My own problem with these trends was not so much that they existed, since after all they also brought about much that was needed and long overdue. It was rather that most of the theories used to justify them tended to preclude complexities of a kind I had come to know from my own so-called multicultural experience. Nor did the public sphere in which my daughter lived allow for a space or a voice in which her aspect of that experience could be expressed. In response to a New York Times article about atrocities in El Salvador, a friend who is an anthropologist wrote a letter to the editor suggesting that even if physical safety and material welfare were found in the United States, survivors of such atrocities tended to live in silence, in effect eclipsed, in our very midst. The letter was never printed. My attempt at a resolution of this dilemma was to turn the notes, narrative sketches, and poetry I had been writing into a book and to publish it under a pseudonym. The book’s illustrations as well as the image on its jacket cover were taken from some of Maria’s early drawings.1 I intended the book as a eulogy for Maria’s parents, who, like so many others before and after them, were buried in unmarked graves. I felt it especially as an homage to Maria’s mother, whose ghost, it seemed to me, lived with us in our house all those years. The marketing director of the press saw the book as a child’s story of hope, hence its title Salvador’s Children: A Song for Survival. The Library of Congress classified the book under the sociology of adoption. Some people consider it a memoir, others have told me it belongs to the genre of the long essay, while still others see it as testimonial literature.2 One of the strangest but also rewarding experiences I had was listening to one of my dissertation candidates analyze it according to recent currents in narratology. The lesson I learned from all this is that the translation of extraordinary experience into language seems to involve distantiation of a kind generally found in the poetic and visual discourse of the arts: image, allusion,

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metaphor, allegory, myth. In other words, our pursuit of the truth may not always be well served by the deconstruction of language per se, as many poststructuralists would have us believe, certainly not by the prevalent media obsession, also current in academia, that requires people to say anything and everything about a given perception or experience. For there are some things, indeed often the most important, that simply cannot be articulated or described, at least not explicitly. This is an idea the modernists knew well: Freud and Nietzsche, the expressionists and surrealists, avant-garde writers from Kafka to Virginia Woolf, Anna Akhmatova to Paul Celan. If I began my academic career by focusing on contemporary writers in the desire to understand my own time, I now turned to earlier generations in the interest of the same, for the questions that plagued me seemed to find more substantial answers in the context of history than in the tentative assertions of identity and proliferation of discourses that surrounded me. In my field of study, this context was the intellectual history of Central European writers and critics who came of age during World War I and were forced into political exile in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. A case in point is the German Jewish writer Anna Seghers (1900–1983), whose work has concerned me in recent years. Seghers wrote with an international, multiethnic topography in mind. In the course of a writing career that spanned six decades, she depicted political resistance and liberation movements in Europe, China, and Africa; Jewish migrations in Europe and the Americas; urban and indigenous life in Latin America; and anticolonial uprisings in the wake of the French Revolution in Haiti, Jamaica, and Guadeloupe. In this respect, she had more in common with writers such as Pablo Neruda and Nadine Gordimer than with most of her German contemporaries. Her work combines epic narration informed by older traditions with elements of what today we call testimonial narrative. If aspects of her own life went into her work, she saw herself foremost as a storyteller and chronicler whose task it was to be a vehicle, not a subject at the center of the given text. As she said in an interview in 1978, “To describe something one need not have experienced it oneself. One only has to look, really—and feel intense sympathy.”3 Seghers’s biography is itself a study in diasporic migrations and the collisions of classes and cultures. Born into a Rhenish family of jewelers and art dealers, she studied art history, philosophy, and sinology at the University of Heidelberg and earned her doctorate with a dissertation on “Jews and

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Judaism in the Works of Rembrandt.”4 Thereafter she moved to Berlin, where she became renowned as a writer and allied herself with the working-class movement. In 1933 she was blacklisted by the National Socialists and went into political exile, first to France and then in 1941 to Mexico. Like most German exiles returning to Europe after the war, she settled in East Germany, where she became president of the Writers Union and had a decisive influence on the works of younger writers and literary life in general, as both author and cultural figure. Since I myself was born in Hungary (and experienced childhood in two more countries, as a displaced person in Germany and then as a resident alien and eventual citizen of the United States), I developed a particular interest in Seghers’s husband, the Hungarian philosopher László Radványi, who was among the 100,000 people who fled Hungary after the revolutions of 1918–1919 were suppressed by counterrevolutionary White troops and the regime of Miklós Horthy. Radványi belonged to the Budapest Sunday Circle, an avantgarde group of intellectuals that supported the Hungarian Council Republic of 1919 and whose best-known members were the philosopher Georg Lukács, the poet and later film theorist Béla Balázs, and the sociologist Károly (Karl) Mannheim. In 1920, Radványi came with Mannheim to Heidelberg, where he soon met Seghers; they married in 1925. The theoretical writings of the Sunday Circle had an enormous impact on the young Seghers, as did the life stories of intellectuals caught up by revolution, which she embedded in an epic-chronicle style of literary narrative informed by, among other sources, the legends of the Jewish apostles’ diasporic wanderings in the first century.5 In her novel Die Gefährten (The Wayfarers, 1932), Seghers set Hungarian events and personalities within a framework that included political developments in (and exile from) Poland, Italy, Bulgaria, and China between 1919 and 1931. In his review for the Frankfurter Zeitung, Siegfried Kracauer notably described the novel as “a martyr chronicle of today.”6 Seghers’s Die Gefährten is unique in the history of German literature in that already in 1932—that is, before the Nazis came to power in Germany—it was an explicit warning call about the international threat posed by fascism. It located that threat as originating, as in the case of the National Socialists in Germany, in rightwing retaliations against mass-based revolutionary movements that had spread across Central and Eastern Europe (and China) in the wake of World War I. The novel’s characters range from those slain or incarcerated under fascist or proto-fascist regimes of the 1920s and early 1930s, to those who

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remain underground to continue the resistance, to those who, having fled their homelands, live a more or less anonymous existence in various stations of exile that include London, Paris, Brussels, Moscow, and Berlin. The depictions of emigré lives reveal the complexity of survival strategies, above all the effort to remain true to previously held identities and convictions while grappling with questions of assimilation (or political accommodation) within the respective new culture (or changing political party structure). The novel thus reminds readers today that the current multicultural landscape of Europe had its antecedents in earlier generations of the twentieth century, and that the migrations from Germany after 1933 were not the first, but the second, wave of migrations involving one and the same generation. Writing in 1942 as a political exile in New York, the playwright Ferdinand Bruckner described Seghers’s novel of 1932 as “the first great poetic portrait of our [own] emigration,” the emigrés of the 1920s represented therein as already “bearing the destiny of today.”7 In February 1933 Seghers and her husband, Radványi, fled to Paris, which soon became a center of antifascist activities. It was here that she wrote some of her best-known works, notably The Seventh Cross, her internationally acclaimed novel about the German resistance against Hitler. Completed just before the outbreak of World War II, the novel was not published until 1942, when it appeared in an American translation and became a bestseller. To date, the novel has been read in over forty languages, and the Hollywood film version came out in 1944, under the direction of Fred Zinnemann and starring Spencer Tracy, Hume Cronin, and Jessica Tandy. After the German invasion of France in 1940 Radványi was arrested by the French as an enemy alien and incarcerated in the notorious camp at Le Vernet near Pamiers. When Paris was occupied, Seghers and their two children fled toward the south but were turned back by the German army. After spending several months in fear of arrest, in September they succeeded in making the illegal crossing from German-occupied France to Vichy France. For the next six months, Seghers shuttled between Pamiers and Marseille in pursuit of visas, transit permits, and other travel papers that would secure her husband’s release from the camp at Le Vernet and allow the family to escape from the European continent that by now lay almost entirely under German or German-allied control. On March 24, 1941, Seghers, Radványi, and their two children departed Marseille for Martinique on the Capitaine Paul Lemerle (four months later they

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arrived in Mexico via Santo Domingo and Ellis Island in New York Harbor). The anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, who was traveling on the same refugee freighter, described the hazardous journey in his Tristes Tropiques. Seghers’s own account of this time came in the form of her novel of 1944, Transit. Characteristically, its representation of present catastrophe is informed by an epic dimension of history and myth, one that lends credence to the subjective urgency of experience as well as to the understanding that this upheaval belongs to a larger panorama of catastrophes afflicting untold numbers over the centuries. Just as characteristically, the unnamed first-person narrator in Transit serves as a witness to the catastrophe unfolding around him. Thus he relates events in the form of a story to an unseen, also unnamed, but implicitly present listener whose task it will be, once this particular “story” and the life of the witness are over, to remember and thereby to impart this knowledge to others. In the following extended passage, which perhaps serves as a fitting end to this essay, the narrator describes his experience of looking out over the Old Harbor of Marseille while passing time in a harbor café:

The part of the café where we were sitting was next to the Cannebière. I could look out over the Old Harbor. A small gunboat lay near the Quai des Belges. Its gray funnels, visible beyond the street between the masts of the fishing boats, towered over the heads of the people who filled the café with their smoke and gossip [ . . . ] Not a soul paid any attention to the sun above us, to the pinnacles of St. Victor’s Church, or to the fishing nets spread out along the length of the mole to dry. Everybody rattled on and on about transit permits, invalidated passports, the three-mile zone, dollar quotations, exit visas; they always came back to transit permits. I was on the point of getting out of the place. The talk made me sick at my stomach. Suddenly my mood changed [ . . . ] All at once that chatter ceased to be nauseating; it filled me with wonder. It was age-old harbor gossip, as old as the Old Harbor itself, even older. Wonderful old harbor gossip that has gone on as long as there has been a Mediterranean Sea! Phoenician gossip, Canadian gossip, Greek gossip, and Roman gossip. The place had never lacked gossipers, worrying about ship accommodations and funds, fleeing from every real and imagined terror in the world! Mothers who had lost their children, children who had lost their mothers. Remnants of armies that had been cut to pieces, fleeing

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slaves, hordes of people put out of their own countries who finally got to the harbor where they madly boarded ships that would take them to a new country which they’d be put out of again! Ships must always have lain at anchor here, in this harbor, because this was the edge of Europe and the beginning of the sea. A shelter for travelers must always have stood here, because a highroad ended at the shore. I felt a thousand years old because I’d lived through all this before; and I felt wonderfully young, eager for everything that would happen in the future—I felt immortal! But my mood soon changed once more; it was too strong for anyone as weak as I. Despair swept over me—despair and homesickness [...] One of the men at the next table was telling about a steamer, the Alesia, which, bound for Brazil, had been stopped at Dakar by the British because French officers were on board. Now all the passengers were being taken to a camp in Africa. How glibly the man told the story! Possibly because those passengers had as little chance of getting to their destination as he did himself [ . . . ] O deadly gossip! . . . The sun was going down behind Fort Saint-Nicolas.8

notes 1

Lea Marenn, Salvador’s Children: A Song for Survival, drawings by M. J. Marenn (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1992).

2

The book is discussed as testimonial literature in Ileana Rodríguez, Women, Guerrillas, and Love: Understanding War in Central America, trans. Ileana Rodríguez with Robert Carr (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 170–181.

3

Interview with Achim Roscher, quoted in Anna Seghers: Eine Biographie in Bildern, ed. Frank Wagner, Ursula Emmerich, and Ruth Radványi (Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 1994), 23. Unless otherwise noted, all translations into English are my own.

4

Netty Reiling (Anna Seghers), Jude und Judentum im Werke Rembrandts, foreword by Christa Wolf (Leipzig: Reclam, 1981).

5

See Helen Fehervary, Anna Seghers: The Mythic Dimension (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001).

6

Siegfried Kracauer, “Eine Märtyrer-Chronik von heute,” Frankfurter Zeitung und Handelsblatt, 13 November 1932.

7

Ferdinand Bruckner, “Mensch unterwegs: Über zwei zeitgenössische Dichtungen,” Freies Deutschland 11, no. 6 (1942): 18.

8

Anna Seghers, Transit, trans. James A. Galston (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1944), 94–96. I have modified the translation.

WHAT THEY LEFT BEHIND

The Irish Landscape after Emigration

j Andrew Kincaid

It is impossible to separate the history and culture of Ireland from the experience of emigration. While Ireland is not unique in having seen many of its own leave on account of the arduous circumstances of poverty and eviction, the country stands apart in the sheer number of its losses. Ireland is the only country in Europe to chart a decline in population every single year from 1840 to 1960, dropping from eight million to three million over that period.1 What most scholars of the Irish diaspora have focused on are the routes and channels through which the outward flow moved, and the effect that these dislocated throngs had on new environments. But every immigrant was also an emigrant, and for every mark made in a new country, a space was left behind; a trace remained in Ireland. These absences had their own presences, and they had to be dealt with: emotionally, politically, and even spatially. Up until very recently, emigration was discussed in Ireland as a tragedy that had its roots in trauma. For anyone who went to school in Ireland before the recent economic upturn, the famine was taught as the defining moment in Irish history, the primeval event from which all ills had sprung—the most long-lasting being, of course, massive emigration.2 For a whole series of politicians and historians who emerged in the wake of the famine, the British were to blame for this catastrophe: said nationalist John Mitchel in 1854, “the Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the famine.”3 For Mitchel, who considered himself “the historiographer of defeat and humiliation,” the famine and its aftermath could puncture holes in arguments for laissez-faire economics and Malthusianism.4 For subsequent

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generations of Irish anticolonialists, one leading goal of the nationalist project was to provide the economic prosperity and independence, indeed the modernization and industrialization, necessary to stop emigration and to make sure that nothing like the famine ever happened again. Patrick Pearse, leader of the 1916 Easter Rising, proclaimed, “A free Ireland would not, and could not, have hunger in her fertile vales . . . Ireland has resources to feed five times her population.”5 Despite the obvious psychological and cultural ill effects of the famine and emigration, Irish nationalist leaders have always been able to appropriate the meaning of the famine for their own political agendas. Catholic priest John O’Rourke, in his 1875 History of the Great Irish Famine, amended Mitchel’s socialist radicalism to argue that the famine was not just the product of the English, but of the Protestants within Ireland as well.6 Today, in republican areas of Belfast, brightly painted murals ask the viewer to connect the dots between the famine and the hunger strikes of the 1980s. The argument is a chronological one: there is an unbroken chain of resistance centered around the common cause of British colonialism. Whether one agrees with this interpretation or not, it is, undeniably, another literal way in which the famine has been corralled into narrative-making. What all this adds up to is a way of looking at emigration—up until recently, an irrefutable way. The tragedy of the famine gave rhetorical shape to emigration. But beginning in the 1990s, that rhetoric changed. The 1990s gave rise to the Celtic Tiger, and with it, a new aggressive spirit of economic entitlement was born. As nationalism became postnationalism, those who wished to see Ireland’s new prosperity as a permanent upswing needed to reshape the narrative of emigration—its causes and consequences. While postfamine emigration could never be redeemed, the ongoing, contemporary problem could be. Throughout the 1980s, there was another large-scale exodus of young Irish citizens. In 1987, just before Ireland’s economic takeoff, Brian Lenihan, a leading politician, declared in a Newsweek interview, “We should not be defeatist or pessimistic about [emigration]. We should be proud about it. After all, we can’t all live on a small island.”7 A second politician remarked that “the way forward is to invest in children and give them the skills to compete anywhere in the world.”8 What had happened to allow these pro-emigration statements to be made? How was it that leading public figures were no longer saying that emigration was something that had to be stopped, something that required all of Ireland’s national energy just to halt

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it? Quite simply, the rhetoric and goals of nationalism, with the attendant aim of economic sovereignty, had come under sustained assault. Beginning in the 1960s, nationalism came to be increasingly devalued. Emigration had not been curtailed, and the economy, which had previously emphasized self-sufficiency (that is, the establishment of state-owned industry, heavy tariffs on imported goods, and subsidies for products manufactured in Ireland), had failed in providing jobs and prosperity. Irish independence was seen as having done little to solve many social and economic problems, including the country’s perennial exporting of labor. By this way of thinking, a new and better ideology needed to step in and take the place of tired nationalism. Therefore, what had previously been held as sacred could now be interrogated. The principles of cultural and economic sovereignty, the founding ideals of the state, were questioned by a younger generation of postcolonial critics and modernizers. The changes undertaken during the 1960s have been well documented: Ireland joined the European Union, it initiated a whole series of tax reforms and subsidies designed to attract foreign investment, and it normalized relations with Northern Ireland, naturalizing partition. It was this early framework that paved the way for the economic and narrative shift away from nationalism. The wrongs of nineteenth-century emigration had their ideological upside. Postfamine emigration was a dark cloud, around which there may have been the silver lining of social amelioration. What the preceding contemporary quotes suggest, on the other hand, is that a new generation of thinkers was ready not to stanch or decry emigration, but to capitalize on the heretofore unrecognized benefits of it. Their rhetoric defined emigrants not as victims but as members of a new, mobile workforce. Statements laudatory of the large-scale 1980s emigration were a way of justifying it, by suggesting that the boundaries of the nation had broken down and that training, job experience, language acquisition, and life abroad were useful both economically and culturally. By 1990, the recession had turned around, due to the government’s eagerness to attract foreign investment. Therefore, by the 1990s, those young Irish who left Ireland were no longer being considered emigrants—they were now, it seemed, young, cosmopolitan globe-trotters. Students who were unable to find work in Ireland after graduation found employment abroad. But, as Senator Joe O’Toole reported, “there is nothing wrong with the fact that 10,000 students [had] to go to Britain to study. Let them out there to do the business.”9

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According to the older version of nationalism, emigration was akin to exile, with its associated nostalgia and the idea that emigration was a structural result of colonialism and underdevelopment. The most impressive change that had occurred by the 1990s was that, for the first time in the nation’s history, there was a significant demand for labor. Ireland, which older nationalists and Marxists had always thought of as an “emigrant nursery”—sending off its young to develop and grow foreign economies—now had its own, belated wave of globalization to nurture.10 And a global economy requires a global workforce. In this changed climate, Irish emigration was no longer something to be ashamed of, but a factor that would ultimately help sustain the new economy. Ironically, it was the history of recent emigration that, in part, allowed multinationals to flourish in Ireland: that is, not only had a lengthy history of emigration left the country relatively free of environmental controls and trade unionism,11 but Ireland, with its global diaspora, was uniquely positioned to supply an internationally experienced cadre of workers who, for all their cosmopolitanism, were eager to come home. For example, a major player in the new economy in Ireland is Intel, a company that currently employs over four thousand.12 According to Fortune magazine, when the company announced its original plans to open up its European operations near Dublin, its selection team was worried about fi nding enough qualified Irish engineers. In a historically resonant move, the company ended up recruiting immigrant Irish who were living in California, luring them back to Ireland.13 Others have returned to work at Dell computers, which, along with Intel, Macintosh, and a host of other high-tech companies, had established their European headquarters in Ireland. But as the stories of returning white-collar professionals continue to be told in the mainstream press, a myth is perpetuated: that Ireland’s entire workforce is well trained, highly skilled, competitive, and youthful. But as throughout the whole history of Irish emigration, there are those who succeed and those who fail. The myth of what one writer calls “the hero of the diaspora” occludes the stories of all those who did not find ready, well-paying work in their adopted countries—those for whom the story of emigration has not changed much over the past several generations.14 These revisionist rewritings of recent (1980s) emigration celebrate those who left as part of what Brian Lenihan calls “our global generation.”15 What was, at the time, a necessity has been recast as simply a necessary step toward the thriving contemporary economy. As Lenihan remarks, “What

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we have now is a very literate emigrant who thinks nothing of going to the United States and going back to Ireland and maybe on to Germany and back to Ireland again.”16 This idea of the Irish as a mobile, entrepreneurial, and global workforce reinforces mainstream globalization theory, which argues that our concepts of home, permanence, sovereignty, and identity are constantly in flux. Of course, Ireland—its economy and culture—have always been influenced by international trends, at least since the arrival of English capitalism in the sixteenth century. The latest chapter in this story differs because it provides an elite, indigenous defense, even celebration, of recent emigration. It is a quick move from revising recent emigration to radically reconsidering the entire history of postfamine emigration. Some contemporary historians, in fact, go for the home run and claim that postfamine emigration was a voluntary affair: Kirby Miller writes in Emigrants and Exiles, “between 1856 and 1921, when most departures occurred . . . the Irish emigrated voluntarily in order to better themselves.”17 I am interested in exploring, in the remainder of this essay, cultural geography as a form of history-writing: I will look at some of the ways in which the modern Irish landscape bears the traces of emigration. Contemporary artists, architects, and landscapers have incorporated the history of emigration into their work, rewriting emigration on the landscape. Whether intentional, as in the form of golf courses and the renovated Temple Bar district, or as a sincere artistic attempt to understand the ramifications of emigration, this rewriting of historical emigration better fits the new economy. Cultural geography is a form of history-writing. Contemporary shapers of space profit from the ordeal of emigration. In order to do so, they do not whitewash its trauma, but engage in a more subtle glossing over, an appropriation of the past for the purposes of the global present. One obvious remnant of emigration in modern downtown Dublin is sculptor Rowan Gillespie’s commemoration of the famine. Presented to Dublin Corporation in 1997 on the 150th anniversary of the famine, the bronze sculpture displays gaunt, wraithlike victims carrying their few possessions toward an unseen coffin ship. About to embark for the New World, they are destitute and hopeless. Initially, the sculpture was commissioned by Norma Smurfit, a member of one of Ireland’s wealthiest families. After its completion, Smurfit donated it to the state; however, had it found no public home, she indicated that she would have “put it in her garden.” Gillespie’s first choice for its placement,

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and the site where the statue now stands, is the Custom House Docks, the original point of departure for those hundreds of thousands of emigrants who left the country during the nineteenth century. “This was the very area that emigrants departed from,” Gillespie explains, “heading for Liverpool and beyond: the black line of emigration.”18 With their backs turned to the city, the figures stand in telling juxtaposition to the power-dressed office blocks and corporate glass of the International Financial Services Center, Ireland’s home of international finance. The IFSC was an early seed planted by the Irish state to grow the new economy and to attract transnational companies to Dublin. The glistening office park was completed in 1991 and now houses several hundred companies from around the world, dealing in everything from corporate financing to aircraft and bloodstock insurance.19 Constructed on the old Custom House Docks, it is, like the Custom House two hundred years before it, another self-conscious symbol, the physical proof of commercial faith in a future linked with the wider world. The IFSC is the dressed-up symbol of the Celtic Tiger, generating $500 million plus per year for the Exchequer.20 Gillespie’s intention in helping to choose this site was to contrast “past and present: [to illustrate] the state of the people leaving the country and the new financial centre [sic], built partly thanks to huge support from the families of these emigrants.” The implicit ideology of the work is that Ireland has turned around, has progressed from sickness to health, from an exporter of its population to a haven: a refuge for Eastern European and African immigrants, and even for the country’s own returning former emigrants. Gillespie’s goal was to create “a reminder of this history on the site, of the truth of our not so distant past, its desolation and poverty, the current enormous changes, and probably most importantly, the hope of the creation of a better understanding for those arriving on our shores from other countries today.”21 Indeed, his work underscores one happy truth of contemporary Ireland—that its youth need no longer seek a future elsewhere. When art becomes public, of course, its ideology inevitably becomes more complicated, subject to interpretation. The statue’s physical context suggests, perhaps, even more than its own sculptor intended. The sculpture, by bringing the famine and globalization together, points out that, despite the elapsed time, the two histories are directly connected. The best indication of the final victory of globalization over Ireland’s complicated history is not the erasure of emigration and its traces, but their artificial preservation and

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reconstruction in modern society. The IFSC’s symbolic gesture to Ireland’s traumatic and impoverished history proposes that we are now over all that, that the time of poverty, mass emigration, and foreign landlordism is passed. The time is ripe both to separate that era from ours—that was then, this is now—and, for the corporate community who commissioned the statue, to claim that they are the custodians and heirs of that tragedy. This may, in fact, be the case, but the implication is that their coupling is a good thing, that the original event is somehow righted by the ability of the present to make amends for the past, by bringing emigrants home and by creating wealth like those earlier victims could never dream of. And, yet, the irony of globalization memorializing the famine must not be overlooked, for it was laissez-faire economics that caused the colonial catastrophe in Ireland 150 years ago. The purveyors of globalism, therefore, in order to naturalize their economic wishes in Ireland’s local context, look back at the past and re-create, even if superficially, its historical spaces, in order to make the present appear more like an actualized version of the past—the fruit that has matured from history’s seed. In doing so, they demonstrate contemporary globalization’s connection to place and history, a foil to the common charge that the international corporations have little loyalty to place, and little obligation to people. Another of emigration’s present-day marks upon the landscape lies in the rolling hills of Ireland’s famous golf courses and the seemingly neutral clarion calls of tourist operators inviting the descendants of famine emigrants back home. Ireland currently contains over 400 golf courses; 110 of these were built in the 1990s alone, most at the very high end of the market.22 One new course, for example, constructed on the beautiful and rugged Old Head of Kinsale, caters almost exclusively to foreign nationals and charges $300 per round of golf. An initial membership fee, printed in the club’s literature, is listed at $50,000.23 In 2000, a quarter of a million people visited Ireland just to play golf.24 The country is now third in the world for land dedicated to the game.25 State planners see Ireland as already having a distinct advantage over other European golf destinations. As one operator puts it, “Space, scenery, emptiness are qualities readily available.”26 Another writes that despite the “unprecedented levels” of golfing visitors to Ireland in recent years (on account of “the peace process in Ulster”), it is still possible to “enjoy some of the finest courses on the planet in blessed tranquility.”27 What these writers are extolling in such terms is a modern aestheticized landscape: “emptiness”

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and “space” are far from neutral categories; they are, rather, the holes that were left behind by those who emigrated during and after the famine. The images presented in promotional literature show landscapes one would hardly know are golf courses at all, much less land abandoned by emigrants. All traces of contemporary human labor, along with material reminders of the game, have been obscured, save perhaps for a raised dot that marks the flagpole, way off in the distance. The view presented reveals large swathes of land sheltered by trees that seem to fade off into the scenic background of mountains, seas, and lakes. The landscape invites one to wander, to stroll freely along the grounds in a leisurely manner, with a wild backdrop, none of which displays any evidence of being private property. The golf course appears to have emerged out of the land itself. Private property masquerades as wilderness. The landscape helps to naturalize the unnaturally empty space. Ireland’s contemporary golfscapes are most often constructed out of the remains of former Anglo-Irish landlords’ houses and the remnants of the garden estates that once surrounded them. At the center of these new golf courses are the remodeled former homes of Ireland’s once land-owning Protestant class. These large, formal residences date from the eighteenth century and were constructed in the aftermath of the Williamite Wars of the late 1600s, when Protestant power over the island was consolidated. As English settlers arrived in Ireland and claimed the property granted to them by a grateful British monarch, the new gentry stamped their pedigree on the landscape by building large houses, separated from native settlements. These buildings ranged in size from extensive farmhouses to ornate neo-Georgian mansions surrounded by vast gardens and parkland. Through the eighteenth century, the fortunes of the Big House and its inhabitants flourished. During the nineteenth century, however, as Irish nationalism gained strength, Ireland’s landed elite had to fight increasingly for their survival: the famine took away much of their rent, militants destroyed much of their livestock, and Britain itself began to see them as anachronistic and not altogether efficient ruling class. By the beginning of the twentieth century, as Ireland struck for independence, it was clear that the Big House had no economic or political future. The Big House has played a crucial symbolic role in Irish literature and imagination. During the 1890s, for example, the novels of Sommerville and Ross charted the frailties of a gentried society, one based on horses, land,

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and an uncooperative tenantry. The Big House, surrounded by stretches of empty land, reinforced the cultural isolation of its Protestant owners. In late Victorian times, Big Houses brought tales of hauntings and ghostly presences together with Protestant reflections on guilt, loneliness, and decay. Dubliners Bram Stoker and Sheridan Le Fanu became masters of the Gothic. Yeats is perhaps the most famous member of this breed to mourn the passing of the Big House, which for him was a symbol of what might have been, a civilization in which art and culture transcended political divisions. During the Irish War of Independence, 1919–1921, the Big House was the favorite target for local rebels, and many hundreds of houses were burnt down. In the aftermath of independence, the majority of once-confident landlords headed back to England, while their lands were redistributed to Catholic farmers and peasants. During these years, many estates were deserted or sold, often to farmers who were only interested in the land. Some survived as schools, hospitals, convents, or government buildings, but many more became the latest generation of Irish ruins, allegories for the violence, fragility, and transitoriness of history. In modern fiction, however, the Big House continues to reappear, in works by writers such as William Trevor, Jennifer Johnson, and Kate O’Brien, although its function is largely a nostalgic one, its image a memory, and its reference an expression of disdain for the contemporary moment. These days, the Big House is being restored as a clubhouse, the regal centerpiece of another contemporary kind of exclusive landscape: the spectacular, panoramic, and picturesque golf course. The language of tourist literature cunningly plays into this historical, and visceral, connection. The pamphlet “Golfing Around Dublin,” put out by Dublin tourism, welcomes “king and commoner. [Both] can sit down and exchange stories with total ease. They are bonded, it does not matter that they return to different worlds after the round.”28 Links of Heaven, a narrative account of the best courses in Ireland, includes a brief history of the post–World War II game in Ireland: “The transformation has been remarkable. What were once the playgrounds of the gentry are now lovingly managed by the descendants of tenant farmers. Golf courses have even been built to provide jobs for the poor. It is the transformation not only of class, but also of a race—the proud use of the Irish language at Ceann Sibeal golf club (the name means windy high point in Gaelic) on the Dingle Peninsula was unthinkable only eighty years ago.”29 What the tourist pamphlet blithely lauds is the use of a language that was destroyed by emigration, but the language is now being recast as a

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helpful tool in attracting more visitors. The rhetoric used here simultaneously elevates the tourist to the status of aristocrat, while assuring him that he will still be able to blend democratically with the commoners. Pitched to an Irish American audience, this promotional literature offers a chance to make up for what was inflicted on one’s ancestors: poverty, dispossession, and forced emigration. One is now able to return and inhabit the former landlord’s home. In so doing, the Irish Americans to whom this literature is aimed can erase their history of victimization and become powerful. This language, which appeals to a desire to rise above the crowd, to be king for a day, preferably in a regal, historical, natural setting, can most easily be accomplished in a landscape that has been swept clean and has no awkward reminders of emigration or its causes, no uncomfortable poverty or actual people with actual complaints. The way the game of golf is played has courtly overtones as well, of course. Its players are notoriously white and affluent, bar the odd famous exception. Golf has a gentlemanly quality to it: the players are responsible for calling penalties on themselves, and there is a certain noblesse oblige in the idea of the handicap. The presence of caddies and golf carts to ferry players around the course furthers the aristocratic hauteur of the game, as does the infamous history of racial, gender, and ethnic exclusion. Given all this, it is perhaps no wonder that modern golf courses in Ireland appropriate those spaces that were once the exclusive preserve of Ireland’s landlord class. It is not only the language of golf marketing that resonates with the history of emigration. The contemporary golf landscape has similar ideological underpinnings to the original environment that surrounded the Big House. Today’s golf landscape is neoliberal. It thrives on a tourist economy, one in which productive agriculture is subsumed by the need to create a new product, namely golf, which hides the traces of the very economic transformation from which it benefits. It is now more economical to grow golf than wheat or barley (this transformation, in turn, has led to a large contemporary internal migration from country to city). Likewise, the gardens and demesnes that surrounded the Big Houses during the eighteenth century were carved out of a working, densely populated rural economy and landscape. A new economy always requires a new kind of space. Ireland’s integration into global capitalism via the system of English imperialism necessitated the conversion of the countryside and its concentration of ownership into the hands of a minority. Accordingly, a whole discourse of landscaping—the English natural

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garden—arose during the eighteenth century.30 Its language was one of tricks and ploys to fool the eye into seeing a countryside where labor was occluded: both the former labor of a displaced peasantry and the daily toil of gardeners who worked to create a natural look. The work of landscape architect Capability Brown and others helped not only to obscure, but to beautify, the spaces of displacement. The example of Carton House illustrates well the ideological and aesthetic connections between the modern golf course and its appropriation of an earlier, yet similarly aestheticized, landscape. Carton House, in County Kildare, is one of Ireland’s best preserved Georgian houses. It was owned by the Fitzgerald family, an old Norman family who came to Ireland in 1176. Surrounded by almost five miles of boundary walls, the one-thousand-acre estate and woodland is today one of only a few remaining intact demesnes. Defined historically as the grounds attached to a manor house for its owner’s private use, the demesne laid claim by the nineteenth century to nearly 6 percent of the entire country.31 Although surrounded by tenant farmers, the estates developed their own social and economic areas, including woodlands, garden, and farmland. Carton’s original demesne was laid out in a formal style during the 1680s; its baroque geometry included boskets (tamed, low, vertical hedges laid out in a symmetrical fashion), orchards, kitchen gardens, a bowling green, topiaries, a canal, and a series of approach avenues, laid out like the spokes on a wheel, centering on the Big House. In the surrounding gardens, everything was ordered, tightly regulated, and employed a great deal of labor. This style of formal layout was to change at Carton as elsewhere in the late eighteenth century, as a new kind of garden, the English landscape garden, emerged, partly as a result of changes in the nature of rural capitalism: the landlord became the custodian of the natural and increasingly excluded nature from those who had derived sustenance from it. Brown’s gardens were designed to appear uncultivated. The concept was to surround the Big House with expanses of smooth, open grass, loosely dotted with stately trees. Since this new landscape was intended to represent a more harmonious relationship between the individual and nature, unsightly objects and ugly images were hidden from view. Sunken fences or “hahas” permitted uninterrupted sights of the surrounding countryside, while a variety of circuitous walks guided the wanderer, as if by chance, upon a series of pastoral Arcadian scenes. Some estates had service tunnels and sunken roads dug so that the flow of goods and services might take place without disturbing the peace

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of the owners. And yet, while maintaining the illusion of working with, not against, nature, these demesnes required a major transformation of the land, one which took enormous effort. Canals were filled in, mature trees had to be dug up and moved to their picturesque locations. Roads were rerouted, streams widened, and whole settlements of laborers and peasant farmers moved to outlying villages. The English natural garden as it manifested itself in Ireland, therefore, reaped advantage from a changing rural economy, one that had less need for an impoverished, indigenous peasantry. Furthermore, in helping to push this class off the land and toward emigration, it sold the new order as organic and natural. It is this postemigration, postcolonial landscape (empty, beautiful, and simultaneously wild and accessible) that is now appropriated by the modern tourist and golf industry. This is not a coincidence, for the plethora of golf courses (a symptom and a sign of globalization) depend on Ireland’s colonial history: laissez faire economics, landlordism, and emigration.32 The English garden is an example of what Henri Lefebvre in his taxonomy of space would call “abstract space,” a space that on first inspection appears homogenous, and serves those forces that make a tabula rasa of whatever stands in their way.33 It is a space in which everything appears transparent, but in which, in fact, all is concealed. As Alexander Pope would describe this new arrangement of nature, “Let not each beauty ev’ry where be spy’d / Where half the skill is decently to hide.”34 After Irish independence in 1922, Carton House was sold to an English aristocrat in order to pay off the gambling debts of the seventh Duke of Leinster. In 1977, it was bought by a company called Powerscreen, who have recently teamed up with the American hotel group, Starwood Hotels, which operates 650 hotels in seventy countries, including Sheraton in the United States. Carton is now being converted into a luxury golf club and leisure resort. It is already the largest tourist project in the history of the state. Plans for the demesne include a 140-room five-star hotel, a conference and leisure center, two golf courses (designed by leading players), and a golf academy. There will be twenty-six mock Georgian houses built in the woods and 115 golf villas. Membership in the club will be $15,000 annually.35 Landscape in Ireland has always been political. The countryside is littered with the remains of castles, abandoned famine cottages, and Big Houses. Today’s rejuvenation of the Big House as a clubhouse is about more than the availability of quantities of open space. The link is ideological,

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economic, and cultural. The new tourist-oriented language and landscape collapse history, appeal to their target’s simultaneous and conflicting desire for status and democracy, and demand a high price for the freedom to wander. Aestheticization in the mid-eighteenth-century English garden naturalized dramatic social and class transformations, and their attendant dislocations. Likewise, in modern Ireland, the landscape of the golf course draws upon the history of the English garden, creating an impression of permanence and natural order on what is, in reality, a deeply transformed and tourism-dependent environment. If the Irish countryside and one aspect of its history are specifically appropriated for contemporary tourism, then urban Dublin is, just as deliberately, painted in bright colors and reimagined to fit the needs of the first Irish generation that has not known emigration. Beginning in the early 1990s, the Irish government introduced a number of measures aimed at attracting foreign investment to the country, including reducing corporate tax rates, selling off state assets, and deregulating industry. The result was, throughout the 1990s, unprecedented growth. All this has had major consequences on the movement of Irish labor. For the first time, former Irish emigrants are returning home, at the rate of over twenty thousand per year.36 As well, those who, just a short time ago, would have emigrated in search of work are instead staying in Ireland. Just as the departure of earlier emigrants left its mark upon the landscape, so, too, does the return of the today’s emigrant, one who is supposedly highly skilled and educated, leave its imprint on the contemporary urban environment. As Frank McDonald, the leading architectural critic in Ireland, recently put it: “What we are witnessing is the reclamation of the city by a new generation of Irish people who have traveled widely and worked in European cities, shed their cultural baggage, and now returned home to demand the same sort of lifestyle they experienced elsewhere. They see no reason why the Hibernian metropolis should be less civilized or interesting to live in than, say, Amsterdam, Paris or Barcelona.”37 To be developed, then, is to be European; to seek culture is to look elsewhere. But what might “European” mean in this context, and what does it imply for the architectural transformation of Dublin into, says the latest edition of the Insight Guide, a city that “now caters to almost every taste”?38 The example of urban renewal that is most cited as a sign of Ireland’s current cultural maturation and approximation to modern, European standards of city living is Dublin’s Temple Bar. For many decades, Temple Bar had been

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a rundown, derelict part of the city, owned by the state bus company, which had hung on to the property with hopes of converting it into a bus station. The area dated back to the eighteenth century and consisted of twenty-two acres of older, cobbled laneways and winding streets. In 1991, when Dublin was “European City of Culture,” the state granted Temple Bar a special package of incentives and deemed the refurbishment of the neighborhood its cultural flagship program. Over the last several years, Temple Bar has become an area packed with restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, cinemas, nightclubs, and crowds. Restaurants in the area display the usual eclectic combination—from French haute cuisine at Pierre’s, to American burgers at the Bad Ass Café, to the unimaginable at Luigi Malone’s—associated with other such constructed urban glamour zones, ranging from Boston’s Faneuil Hall to London’s Covent Garden. Temple Bar has become a part of the Dublin whose raison d’être is to send a message to its young people: the days of emigration are over, you no longer need to leave, and if you stay, you’ll be offered the same kind of eclectic, cosmopolitan entertainment you can find anywhere else in Europe. Fortune magazine in 1997 named Dublin its number one city “to do business in,” ahead of Amsterdam, Barcelona, and London. It cited the “cosmopolitanism of Temple Bar” and the “young, educated workforce” who frequent it.39 In other words, Ireland is no longer desolate, dreary, and marginal. Stay, play, and bring your friends, the article implied. Commerce and culture are inextricable. At the center of Temple Bar’s architectural framework is a newly constructed public space, Meeting House Square. Fronting onto the semipublic plaza (it is locked most of the time) are a series of new cultural institutions, such as the Irish Film Centre, the National Gallery of Photography, and the Ark children’s theater, which opens up to reveal a stage on which actors perform as if in a medieval fair. New streets, including Curved Street, have been carved out of Temple Bar’s former layout. This new pedestrian thoroughfare encourages the stroller and the consumer, and enhances a particular notion of what Temple Bar’s creators imagined a former Irish tradition to be: a vaguely eighteenth-century European affair. The new streetscape increases the density of the urban fabric, adds to the nostalgic tone of the area, and attempts to restore a lost sense of place. One of the showpieces of Dublin’s new left bank is the Irish Film Centre, housed in a former Quaker meetinghouse that dates back to 1692. The renovation of the building attempted, in the words of the Architectural Review, to

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achieve “a symbiosis between the old and the new . . . the new interventions continue the historical pattern of organic evolution on the site, reflecting a process of gradual growth and change.”40 The newly outfitted structure connects the various sections of the older complex with a series of narrow passageways. The dense, remodeled building is centered around an enlarged courtyard. The weathered brick facades of the old walls combine with modern raw materials—brick, limestone, and steel—to suggest an urban character of history and artisanship. This modern reinterpretation of “indigenous” traditions speaks to the generic appropriation of notions of premodern city life that are at the center of Ireland’s attempt to market itself as a European nation—an attempt to include Ireland in an imaginary community of panEuropean development and a history free of colonization. Temple Bar has tried to capture a postmodern spirit of community and urban design. In its architecture and planning, a particular urban mood—at once nostalgic and technological, premodern and cosmopolitan—has been placed at the center of national life, in the hopes that it can perform a particular cultural task; namely, to further integrate Ireland’s economic fortunes with the trends of European and global capital, bringing architecture around to build a playful zoo for the Celtic Tiger. An air of confident individualism pervades much of the conversation about Temple Bar, and it is presented as a superior ethos to the worn-out nationalism that held Ireland down in previous decades. As Simon Walker, head of University College Dublin’s School of Architecture, suggests, “At the end of a century which has known traumatic changes for Dublin and the island as a whole . . . [n]ow we have an opportunity to stabilise the future of the city. Instead of herd-like behaviour . . . we should by now be able to hold our ground and let services and businesses adapt themselves to work around us.”41 Sergio Arzeni, a cultural commentator and leading European economist, supports Walker’s conclusions. Writing in the marketing literature for Temple Bar, he states that the selling of culture has “reshap[ed] the function of cities and urban areas alike.”42 It is no wonder, then, that Arzeni cites Francis Fukuyama, for whom “the end of history” was equated with the collapse of communism; for Ireland, Temple Bar has come to represent the collapse of nationalism. For these commentators, Temple Bar is the thriving sign that Ireland has grown up, and the symbol that the country’s heavy ties to an unwieldy history have finally been severed. Temple Bar is as much a testament to Ireland’s history of emigration as is any famine statue or museum. Globalization is seen as having killed

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nationalism and, with it, emigration; Temple Bar is the concrete manifestation of this European renaissance. As one of the leading Temple Bar architects wrote, “Deep-seated foundation myths have only recently been reconsidered as a direct result of the uncomfortable questions raised by the Troubles in the North and the re-reading of ourselves as European, with the latter having a direct bearing on material support essential to projects like Temple Bar.”43 If this is correct, then Temple Bar is truly symbolic of the end of Irish history, and the beginning of Ireland’s European identity. But the sudden economic upturn of the 1990s is already showing signs of wear and tear, and no one with a sense of Irish history and its deeply embedded patterns and psychologies can afford to view this era through rose-colored glasses. The question, then, is whether a 150-year history of emigration—and the circumstances that created it—will pass so easily away. Emigration is part of the long story of Ireland, no matter who is telling it. The majority of Irish families include one member who lives abroad—a sister in Boston, an uncle in New York. Irish literature pays homage to leaving; preeminent Irish literary figures, themselves, are famous for self-imposed exiles. Irish music is notoriously nostalgic; ballads are melodramatic but speak to the sincere sorrow of emigration. Irish emigrants said good-bye to families, homes, and communities, but what they left was the land. Ireland was the point of departure. So it is the landscape that bears witness to this leave-taking, and the landscape that has been caught up in contested interpretations of history and politics. Each stage of emigration has made its own physical and ideological imprint on the landscape. Nationalists integrated the famine and the subsequent flows of emigrants into the struggle for independence. The ruin, the eviction cottage, the abandoned and altered farmscapes were all used as evidence for the pernicious effects of the British occupation of the country. The eclectic architecture and neomedieval urban renewal plans for Temple Bar correspond to today’s desire that Ireland has surpassed its difficult history. Reading architecture and space through the lens of emigration reveals what was left behind by those who emigrated, and it tells the story, as well, of the hopes—both stymied and fulfilled—of those who stayed.

notes 1

The following table comes from the Central Statistics Office of Ireland (http:// www.cso.ie). It indicates the total population decline from the first census in 1841 to the demographic low point in 1961.

WHAT THEY LEFT BEHIND

1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926 1936 1946 1951 1956 1961

49

6,528,799 5,111,557 4,402,111 4,053,187 3,870,020 3,468,694 3,221,823 3,139,688 2,971,992 2,968,420 2,955,107 2,960,593 2,898,264 2,818,341

2

For example, a standard textbook of Irish history, The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), states that “Irish life and Irish history from the 1850s were, in a sense, reconstructed by the effects of the Famine: many patterns were set which would dictate the shape of things over the next century” (203). F.S.L. Lyons, in his canonical tome, Ireland since the Famine (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971), makes the famine the watershed moment for all subsequent modern Irish history. The conclusion to Christine Kinealy’s A Death-Dealing Famine (London: Pluto Press, 1997) is entitled “The Famine Killed Everything.”

3

Quoted in Thomas Gallagher, Paddy’s Lament (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1982), 84.

4

Quoted in Kevin Whelan, “The Revisionist Debate in Ireland,” Boundary 2 (Spring 2004): 194.

5

Quoted in Joseph Lee, The Modernization of Irish Society: 1848–1918 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1973), 147.

6

Quoted in Kevin Whelan, “The Revisionist Debate in Ireland,” Boundary 2 (Spring 2004): 198.

7

Interview in Newsweek, 13 October 1987.

8

“Emigration Now Often to Be Welcomed, Speakers Say,” Irish Times, 15 August 1996.

9

Ibid.

10

See Jim MacLaughlin, Ireland: The Emigrant Nursery and the World Economy (Cork: Cork University Press, 1994).

11

See Luke Gibbons, “The Myth of Modernization in Irish Culture,” in Transformations in Irish Culture (Cork: Cork University Press, 1996), 88.

12

http://www.intel.com.

13

See Rob Norton, “The Luck of the Irish: If You Want to Visit Old Ireland You’d Better Get There Soon,” Fortune, 25 October 1994, 194–206.

14

Mary Corcoran, “Heroes of the Diaspora,” in Encounters with Modern Ireland (Dublin: IPA, 1998), 135–147.

15

Interview in Newsweek, 13 October 1987.

16

Ibid.

17

Kerby Miller, Emigrants and Exiles (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 6–7.

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18

Interview with the author, 11 October 2004.

19

See Keith O’Brien, “Dublin As a Location for International Financial Services: The Dublin International Financial Services Centre,” master’s thesis, Trinity College, Dublin, 1993.

20

Paul Sweeny, The Celtic Tiger: Ireland’s Continuing Economic Miracle (Dublin: Oak Tree Press, 1991), 51.

21

Interview with the author, 11 October 2004.

22

See Arnold Horner, “Golf Course Development: Dilemmas of Activity Tourism,” in Irish Tourism Development, ed. P. Breathnach (Maynooth: Geographical Society of Ireland, 1994), 87–101; James W. Finegan, Emerald Fairways and Foam-Flecked Seas: A Golfer’s Pilgrimage to the Courses of Ireland (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), 18; and Vic Robbie, Ireland’s Golf Courses: The Complete Guide (London: Mainstream Publishing, 2002), 10.

23

“Old Head the Most Expensive,” Irish Times, 16 January, 2001.

24

“Developers Pitching to a Wide Market,” Irish Times, 17 March 2001.

25

See Arnold Horner, “Golf Course Development: Dilemmas of Activity Tourism,” in Irish Tourism Development, ed. P. Breathnach (Maynooth: Geographical Society of Ireland, 1994), 87–101.

26

Ibid.

27

See Richard Phinney, Links of Heaven: A Complete Guide to Golf Journeys in Ireland (New York: Baltray Books, 1996), 2.

28

See Golfing around Dublin: A Visitor’s Guide to Golfing in and around Dublin (Dublin: Dublin Tourism, 2001), 2.

29

See Richard Phinney, Links of Heaven: A Complete Guide to Golf Journeys in Ireland (New York: Baltray Books, 1996), 3.

30

For an excellent cultural and historical discussion of the emergence of the English natural garden, see Simon Pugh, Garden, Nature, Language (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988).

31

See Terence Reeves-Smyth, “Demesnes,” in Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape, ed. Kevin Whelan (Cork: Cork University Press, 1997), 197.

32

The values of the English natural garden have their origin in England, as the term suggests, and more specifically with the Black Act of 1723, the high point of the enclosure movement. Enclosures brought fallow land, used collectively by the village for livestock cultivation, under private domain. As a result, capitalist, as opposed to subsistence, farmers came to dominate. Laborers left the land. This new lumpen proletariat, pulled by better wages in the cities and pushed by landlords at home, vacated the countryside. As an Irish phrase has it: “The land for the bullock and the road for the man.” Whole villages, as Goldsmith would report, were cleared in a process of imposition and theft. Into this economic mix, the natural garden was developed by landscapers such as Brown, William Kent, and Humphrey Repton.

33

See Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991), 307.

34

Quoted in Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), 123.

35

See “Carton Development Plan ‘a Scandal,’” Irish Times, 16 January 1998; “Carton

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51

House Converted to 50 Million Pound Luxury Resort,” Irish Times, 19 October 2000, “A ‘National Loss,’” Irish Times, 9 December 2000. 36

See Mary Corcoran, “The Process of Migration and the Reinvention of Self: The Experiences of Returning Irish Emigrations,” Eire-Ireland: Journal of Irish Studies 37 (Spring–Summer 2002): 175–191.

37

Frank McDonald, The Construction of Dublin (Kinsale, County Cork: Gandon Editions, 2000), 26. Emphasis added.

38

See Brian Bell, Insight Guide: Dublin (London: Insight Guides, 1998), 13.

39

See Rob Norton, “The Luck of the Irish: If You Want to Visit Old Ireland You’d Better Get There Soon,” Fortune, 25 October 1994, 194–206.

40

Catherine Slessor, “Irish Reels,” Architectural Review 192 (January 1993): 46–49.

41

See “Temple Bar Properties,” Temple Bar: The Power of an Idea (Kinsale, County Cork: Gandon Editions, 1996), 46.

42

Ibid., 68.

43

Ibid., 52.

THE DIALECTIC OF MARGINALITY IN THE HAITIAN COMMUNITY OF GUADELOUPE, FRENCH WEST INDIES

j Paul Brodwin

For the past twenty years in American cultural anthropology, diasporas have been defined by the cultural connections and flows that knit together a single geographically dispersed group. The Jewish historical experience, regarded by many as an ideal type, involved a sprawling social world of interlinked practices, families, travel circuits, and dreams of return to the homeland. Contemporary diaspora groups, especially refugees or immigrants living in expatriate minority enclaves, constitute themselves through nonlocal configurations of people, media, capital, information, and political ideologies.1 Members of a given diaspora are said to possess cultural bifocality.2 They continually mediate between local and global perspectives, between near-at-hand strategies of action and the ideas or resources that circulate across the diaspora as a whole. A scholarly industry has grown up to analyze these displaced and mobile collectivities that are spread across a variety of sites and maintained by multistranded social relations.3 This literature implies two distinct models of diasporic subjectivity. According to the first model, the tension of “living here and remembering/ desiring another place” determines how people construct their collective identity: how they map its boundaries, invest in it materially and emotionally, and figure its difference from other groups.4 Collective identity is a matter of the politics of location, but the location of diasporas is (by definition) plural, fragmented, dynamic, and open. In this model, therefore, notions of group identity are calibrated to people’s fragmented, dislocated social experience. For example, people cultivate a myth about their lost homeland and

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on that basis generate the criteria for ethnic inclusion and exclusion.5 Or they travel back and forth in a transnational family network, pursue parallel life strategies in several places at once, and on that basis generate sentiments of connection or a singular trope of collective self-definition.6 They may find themselves thrown on the defensive by shifting politics in their homeland and forced to craft entirely novel and hybrid tropes of self-definition. In all these cases, collective subjectivity arises from, and mirrors, people’s supralocal lives, including the ideas, images, and political engagements that move in transnational space. According to the second model, diasporic subjectivity arises out of people’s present and immediate surroundings, not their global connections. This model contains the general insight that subject formation depends on processes of both exclusion and agency—that is, both “othering” and selffashioning. “There are two meanings to the word subject,” Foucault wrote, “subject to someone else by control and dependence, and tied to his own identity by a conscience or self-knowledge.”7 The two meanings are intimately related to each other, since we often arrive at self-knowledge through (and even in the same terms as) particular experiences of external control. Stuart Hall makes a similar argument in his parsing of the word “identity.”8 Dominant discourses and practices interpellate me—hail me into place as a particular social subject—and thereby produce my subjectivity. Identity is not the pure product of self-fashioning, but instead a position that I am obliged to take up in a determinate social world. I may know or suspect that this position is crafted by others; nonetheless, I invest in it and even recognize myself in it. At a collective level as well, members of a given diasporic enclave within a larger dominant society author their (dislocated) lives, but are also “subjects” fi xed into place by surrounding structures and discourses.9 To privilege their agency is to emphasize globally circulating signs and practices as the grounds of diasporic subjectivity. By contrast, to privilege the way people are forced to occupy particular subject positions highlights the marginality and exclusions where a group currently (if temporarily) resides. The first model about diasporic subjectivity is attractive because it promises a clean break with anthropology’s myopic focus on the local. It regards subjectivity as itself a work of agency and imagination, which all members of a particular diaspora carry out in roughly the same way. According to the first model, Haitians in Guadeloupe, the United States, or Canada regard themselves first

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and foremost as members of the same supralocal group. Their subjectivity emerges out of a single, if complex set of globally circulating rhetorics, musical forms, religious practices, political projects, and other elements drawn from a shared tradition. The second model offers quite a different picture. For people who travel from resource-poor societies to a wealthy First World metropolis, collective self-definition is often a practical response to concrete, near-at-hand experiences of subordination and marginality. It emerges in and indexes a particular place, even as it accommodates their global conditions of life.10 Undoubtedly, the vehicles of diasporic subjectivity are ideas, people, money, and media that circulate transnationally. But people weave them into a singular rhetoric about identity chiefly in response to the situation immediately at hand, and it is often a dangerous situation of marginality and racialized stigma. According to this second model, Haitian migrants living in Pointe-àPitre, Brooklyn, or Montreal du Nord each develop a different notion of their group’s essential and defining characteristics. This essay follows the second model of diasporic subjectivity. I argue that the collective identity of Haitians living in Guadeloupe, French West Indies, emerges less from their travel across borders than from their daily experience of marginalization on the streets of Pointe-à-Pitre (the island’s main commercial city) and in the imagination of their literal neighbors, Guadeloupe’s Black French citizens. Recalling that identity is a relationship of difference, I locate the collective identity of this diasporic enclave in the ways Haitians engage Guadeloupean society and conceptualize their place in it. This essay uses ethnography in single location to trace the origins of diasporic subjectivity in local processes of legal, institutional, and symbolic marginalization—that is, both the marginalizing forces encountered by this particular group of Haitian migrants and its collective reaction against them.

Legal and Institutional Marginality About twenty-five thousand Haitians live in Guadeloupe, an overseas department of France located in the eastern Caribbean. In 1946, France’s three remaining Caribbean colonies (Guadeloupe, Martinique, and French Guyana) became overseas departments (Départements d’Outre Mer, or DOM). In administrative terms, they are near-equivalents to the departments in metropolitan France; their residents are fully French citizens and now members of the European Community with EC passports. Large-scale

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migration began in the mid-1970s, when Haitian men were brought in as cane cutters in the midst of a bitter struggle between plantation owners and laborers over unionization in the island’s declining sugar industry. Without their knowledge, they were used as strike breakers by the plantation owners, and in 1975 this unleashed a period of violence (including lynch mobs) by pro-union Guadeloupeans. The next wave of Haitian migrants, arriving in the 1980s, consisted of small-scale merchants and unskilled laborers who came without documentation or who stayed after their visas expired. The migration that began in the 1980s is the source of today’s Haitian community in Pointe-à-Pitre. Most Haitians fly from Port-au-Prince to Curaçao and then to St. Maarten, both self-governing states associated with the Netherlands. St. Maarten is separated by a lightly policed border from St. Martin (an offshore dependency of Guadeloupe), which occupies the other half of the same island. Most people told me they simply walked to the French side of the island and then purchased a plane or boat ticket to Guadeloupe, some 160 miles away. Once settled in Pointe-à-Pitre, most men work in the construction industry as masons or day laborers, and most women become commerçantes (Creole: madan sara), vendors who purchase commodities in bulk (from other Haitian women who routinely travel between Pointe-àPitre, Miami, Port-au-Prince, and San Juan) and then sell them on the streets of Guadeloupe’s major towns. All the Haitians I spoke with in Guadeloupe would prefer to have their papers in order, but the twists and turns in French immigration policy create enormous difficulties. Their first decade on the island gave Haitian migrants a false sense of security. The sugar workers of the mid-1970s had legitimate short-term labor contracts, and up until 1981, any Haitian with a valid passport and return ticket could legally enter Guadeloupe simply by leaving a cash deposit at the airport immigration office. They received a one-month visa, and through timely visits to the subprefecture in Pointe-à-Pitre, they could eventually renew it for periods of three months or one year. During this period, Haitians benefited from Mitterand’s general amnesty for immigrants who had illegally settled in France. Those with a steady job and proven date of entry could easily obtain ten-year residence permits. However, exclusionary rhetoric started to rise in metropolitan France in the early 1970s, and when the center-right took control of the government in 1993, Interior Minister Charles Pasqua promptly announced the goal of “zero immigration.” The “Pasqua laws” (les lois Pasqua) tightened entry requirements, increased

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identity checks, and sharply restricted access to residency permits. They also authorized deportations without judicial review on the broad grounds of threats to public order. In Guadeloupe, these deportations involve strong-arm tactics such as arrests at night and forced entry into private homes.11 How Haitians try to become regularized thus depends on how and when they entered Guadeloupe. Those who arrived before 1981, recalling Mitterand’s amnesty policy, feel entitled to legal residency. They carefully guard their Haitian passports and their receipts for visa renewals and asylum applications. With these documents in hand, they try to continue to apply for residency cards at the immigration office in Pointe-à-Pitre but are almost invariably turned away. Immigration officials tell them that an expired passport is insufficient, or that they must obtain their visa first from the French embassy in Haiti, or that a labor contract is needed, or that periods of undocumented residency disqualify them for regularization, etc. Haitians who arrived after 1981 or with false papers often follow up another provision in French law. They try to obtain a family residence card by marrying or having a child with a French citizen or convincing a citizen to adopt a child born in Haiti. Several people referred to this strategy with the popular saying “Every Guadeloupean has his Haitian.” Guadeloupeans not only employ Haitians as domestic or manual laborers; they may also protect Haitians through marriage and kinship ties. Nonetheless, I knew of only a handful of Guadeloupean-Haitian marriages. Most Haitians told me their poverty makes them unattractive partners.

Everyday Experience of Legal Marginality For the above reasons, between 60 percent and 80 percent of Haitians in Pointe-à-Pitre lack proper citizenship or residency papers. The uncertain legal status deepens their marginalization and presents a source of fundamental insecurity in everyday life. An immigration sweep I witnessed one evening suggests how such threats shape the group’s diasporic subjectivity. During research I joined the Church of God of Prophecy, an all-Haitian Pentecostal church in Pointe-à-Pitre.12 I attended worship services and frequently traveled to revivals cosponsored with other Haitian congregations. We arrived after dark at one revival in June 1996, pulling into a long driveway already cluttered with parked cars. Members of three Haitian churches milled about in front of the revival tent waiting for the service to begin. The area was lit by a single weak street lamp, and most people, preoccupied with

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greeting friends and watching over their children, initially did not notice the two men, each with a side arm and a vest emblazoned “Police,” moving quietly but briskly through the crowd. The police talked quickly to several people chosen randomly before beginning to interrogate Claude Antoine, a member of the Church of God who had driven with us. After a few questions, the police led Claude away, pushing to one side someone who tried to speak with him, and escorted him to the back of an unmarked car where two other Haitian church members were already sitting. The police worked unobtrusively for a few more minutes, with no one raising their voices in question or protest. After the police returned to their car and backed it onto the main road, one of them got out and confronted the driver of our van, another church member in his mid-twenties named Marc Doricent. Speaking sharply in Guadeloupean Creole, instead of the official and more respectful French, he demanded Marc’s papers. Without emotion, Marc reached into his briefcase and handed over the passport, but then the police demanded his residence card. Marc gave it to him, and the policeman, still dissatisfied, asked to see his driver’s license, and summarily told him it was out of date and that he did not have the right to drive. At this point, Marc’s deference vanished and he started to argue, but the policeman simply raised his voice and repeated that he could not legally drive in Guadeloupe and must come to the police headquarters in two days at 8 A.M. Confiscating his license, the police drove away with the three Haitians they had arrested still sitting in the back.13 Extremely shaken, Marc returned to the small group of us still standing by his van, where one middle-aged woman was repeating that she had not had any idea what was happening until it was nearly over. Another said this was the first time she had seen such a thing with her own eyes, and then urgently asked why the police had decided to ask Claude for his papers. Why had they conducted their raid that night? Had someone in the neighborhood tipped them off ? A young man related that a few days ago the French immigration service had stopped Claude from boarding a flight to Montreal. He had a valid visa for Canada but an outdated Haitian passport, and he was forced to return to his house. Did the police put Claude’s name in a computer and then follow him here? In lieu of an answer, someone simply said, “I always carry my papers with me! I never forget them!” Marc and I left the heated discussion and joined the Haitian pastors standing with a few others on the edge of the crowd. Their mood was pained

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and dismayed as they struggled with people’s concerns. Would they return Claude? “Probably not,” the head of the Church of God of Prophecy answered ruefully. “The guy’s not legal” (msye pa an règ). Would the police come back after the service, now that they knew where to find us? “No,” said another pastor, “they’ve already had their fill” (yo deja pran manje yo). They vehemently objected to Marc’s treatment, asserting that the police can make him renew the license, but they cannot confiscate it outright. Arresting people in front of their revival rankled the pastors even more. They don’t have the right to enter the church, the pastors said, so instead they come right up next to it. Yes, one woman bitterly added, they do this in front of the door of the house of God. The speculations and debates about these events ultimately lasted several weeks. To begin with, people were shocked that the raid targeted a meeting of Haitian Pentecostal churches. About half of all Haitians in Guadeloupe have become Pentecostal. These congregations offer the only formal institutional affi liation available to undocumented migrants. The pastors are all legally resident Haitians, and their churches are registered at the prefecture. The pastors therefore have the right to visit their congregants who wait in jail before deportation, an opportunity denied to family or friends. Besides boosting morale, these visits address practical concerns about the recuperation of money and belongings. Moreover, because of the residential dispersal of migrants, Pentecostal churches are the only all-Haitian spaces in the city, and they offer a place to speak Haitian Creole freely and a source of job tips, friends, and even marriage partners. Because their parent denominations have implanted similar churches throughout the Caribbean and North America, Haitian missionaries and pastors routinely travel from Guadeloupe to Haiti and other transnational communities (for example, the Church of God of Prophecy has congregations serving Haitians in Miami, New York, and Boston). The regional Pentecostal network offers a low-cost and trustworthy conduit to circulate money, cassette tapes, and letters.14 Launching an immigration raid at a Pentecostal revival thus strikes at one of the institutional foundations of the Haitian community in Guadeloupe.15 The pastors are aware of this danger. In a sermon a few days later at the Church of God of Prophecy, the pastor specifically instructed his congregation how to avoid the police: “You have to be careful . . . When you come to the church, look to your left, look to your right to see if immigration [police] are there. Enter quickly and move to the front of the church where it is empty.

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Since the police don’t have the right to enter the temple, you’ll be safe there . . . People are afraid, but that doesn’t mean that you can stay in your little room and not come to give praise to God.” The pastor here addresses people’s vulnerability along with a professional dilemma of his own. He obviously cannot ignore the raid on his own church, but he also cannot warn people to stay away entirely, because by his own reckoning 75 percent of church members are undocumented. In any case, the pragmatic advice and limited protection offered by Haitian Pentecostal churches fill a need unmet by any other institution in Guadeloupe. The Haitian transnational community has not entered the middle class, hence it does not have its own legal advocates or mass media outlets to educate people about immigration law. People’s reactions to the raid also emerged from their broad personal experience with legal marginalization. Most Haitians I spoke with know a relative, friend, or neighbor who has been deported. People often described the difficulties faced by those without papers: the reluctance to seek official aid or even to enter a government office and the pervasive anxiety that makes them “sleep with one eye open.” The threat of deportation also alters how people inhabit urban space. The immigration police typically raid areas with a high concentration of Haitians, such as construction sites and outdoor markets. Consequently, Haitian migrants do not linger to socialize after work, and some people without jobs prefer never to leave the alleys near their home. Some people try to move every few months to avoid arrest. Summing up the situation, one man told me, “It makes you never want to go outside,” and he illustrated his point by squeezing his shoulders together, arms held tightly to his sides, and glancing around him in a caricature of a hunted animal. Haitians do not denounce the injustice of deportations as a general principle, but rather the particular way in which they are carried out. The police take those arrested to a detention center at the central Raizet airport and then expel them within two days. At the time of fieldwork, Haitians in Guadeloupe did not have the right of appeal or even legal counsel.16 Leslie Adrien, a twenty-three-year-old Haitian man, provided the most common scenario: “They take you right to the airport, and you’re forced to leave in your dirty clothes. They don’t let you go back to your house to recover your belongings or to ask your boss for the money you’re owed.” He explained the resulting stigma: “Haitians feel shame when they’re sent back from Guadeloupe. They

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arrive with an old pair of pants, a dirty shirt, they don’t have anything with them, and this is how they return to their family. What is their family thinking? That they spent so much time in the other country, and have only this to show for it?” The stigma of dirty clothes and meager belongings figured in every conversation about deportation because it threatens an important diaspora ideal. Deportation destroys not only one’s own economic prospects, but also one’s reputation as a solid provider and a bridgehead for other family members to move abroad. In the ideal migration trajectory, one leaves the country poor but ambitious, finds work and supports dependents back home, and returns to Haiti for a visit with the visible marks of financial success (expensive clothing and gifts). Returning as a ragged and penniless deportee demolishes this scenario; hence, virtually everyone singles out being denied showers and a change of clothes as the most objectionable aspects of deportation. Depending on their economic circumstances, Haitians do not necessarily fear returning to the homeland. Leslie Adrien explained the situation to me as we sat in his sparsely furnished one-room home in a popular neighborhood wedged between a busy road and a newly built apartment complex. The neighborhood, a remnant of early-twentieth-century Pointe-à-Pitre, consists of a few narrow alleyways lined by the wooden colonial-era cases créoles, a once-ubiquitous housing style occupied now by only the poorest Guadeloupeans and migrants from Haiti and Dominica. The city already plans to raze this area and construct concrete public housing blocks (the Habitations à Loyer Modéré, or HLM), typical of urban zones in metropolitan France and increasingly a feature of French Antillean cityscapes. Without citizenship papers, Leslie will not qualify for an apartment in the HLM, and he will probably move to another part of the city or to a squatter settlement in the abandoned sugar fields on the city’s edge. Arriving in Guadeloupe during the economic downturn of the mid-1990s, Leslie has never been able to count on construction work more than a few days per week (let alone a long-term labor contract), and undocumented workers like him do not dare protest low or withheld wages. After recounting his options, Leslie told me plainly that he would rather be in Haiti. He has entered a downward spiral of economic and residential marginality that benefits neither him nor his dependents in the homeland. In his case, structural marginality has become de facto extrusion, and no personal loyalties or dreams of assimilation impel him to stay in Guadeloupe.

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To survive the interwoven forms of marginalization, Haitians learn how to gauge their vulnerability in different arenas of everyday life. The immigration raid at the Pentecostal revival confirmed people’s impression that police target them when their guard is down. In the summer of 1996, I heard of several Haitian men arrested as they arrived at construction sites in the morning or as they left after a full day’s work. Police also interrogate people on the streets near their homes, and those who have lived in Guadeloupe since the early 1980s seem especially at risk. Such individuals have grown less vigilant over the years, and many of them (wrongly) believe that they are entitled to legal residence. The need for concealment creates a pervasive anxiety about personal security in everyday life. Migrants compared their plight to being caught in a well-laid trap. They know that despite all precautions, they can easily be arrested and deported without appeal, and they describe the risk in tones of resigned inevitability. In the weeks following the arrests at the Pentecostal revival, church members privately criticized the police’s surreptitious methods and their habits of bending the law as they please. For these reasons, most people do not bother to contest expulsions. Occasionally, however, people do protest less extreme types of harassment and disrespect. For example, Haitian market women verbally resist the municipal police who force them to move the makeshift stalls they set up on the sidewalks in the downtown shopping district. One woman described what she typically tells police, “I say, give me a place to sell! I live here, I had my children here, now they’re at school. They [the police] say they can’t give me a place to sell my things. But if they let us in the country, they should let us work.” Her complaint not only makes the limited claim to pursue her livelihood in peace. It also points out the contradictions of Guadeloupean immigration policy that invited Haitian workers during the labor shortages of the late 1970s and 1980s, but then hounded them out in the tight economy of the 1990s. Indeed, Haitians have developed a good sense of the political processes both in the department and the French state that maintain their marginality. Most people connect the shifting climate for undocumented migrants to both local economic forces and the policies of successive French administrations. They recall the immigration crackdown when Jacques Chirac took office in 1993 and compare their own situation to the widely reported expulsions of undocumented Maghrebians and Africans in metropolitan France in the mid-1990s.17

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The predominant tendency of the French administrative apparatus in Guadeloupe has been to regard Haitian migrants as disposable noncitizens who deserve neither a future nor a comfortable present on the island. Haitians’ collective self-representations are calibrated to this particular form of marginality. They diagnose their predicament through striking images of abject subjectivity: a hunted animal caught in a well-laid trap, or the failed transnational migrant who is sent back home dirty and shame-faced. The images recall one aspect of the production of subjectivity underlined by Foucault and Hall: being forced to occupy a position in dependence upon a dominant power, interpellated by its laws and institutions. In response to their marginalization, Haitians argue that they deserve citizenship because of their years of residence and productive labor, but we should notice that their response is organized according to the very terms of identity proffered by institutional authorities in Guadeloupe. Even in resistance, therefore, Haitians remain in the subject position of immigrants to French Guadeloupe. If they reach for a supralocal referent at all, it is not the global Haitian diaspora, but instead the plight of north and sub-Saharan immigrants deported by police in Paris. Their diasporic subjectivity emerges as a response to marginality, but this is a response that incorporates the social definitions imposed upon them in Guadeloupe, not those definitions (such as member of the “djaspora,” or the Tenth Department) which circulate within the Haitian diaspora.18

Symbolic Marginality: Stereotype and Counterstereotype The marginalization of Haitians is produced by French immigration law, which inserts them into the category of noncitizen and then extrudes them. But it is also produced by the collective imagination of Guadeloupeans, as they insert Haitians into the local social taxonomy.19 The way Guadeloupeans speak about the essential characteristics of Haitians reflects both the circumstances of their arrival and the cultural malaise within Guadeloupe itself. Responding to these denigrating stereotypes becomes, in turn, another grounds for the collective subjectivity of the Haitian community. The devalued images of Haitians circulating in Guadeloupe form a palimpsest, beginning with migrants’ first appearance on the island in the 1970s. Brought in as unwitting strike-breakers, they were perceived as opportunistic foreigners opposed to the interests of the ordinary Guadeloupean worker.20 The ferocity of Guadeloupeans’ anger at this first wave of Haitian migrants reflects the high stakes of labor organizing at that time. After the

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repression of the pro-independence movement in the late 1960s, left-wing political activists turned to labor issues and so-called economic resistance. Guadeloupean unions advocated taking back the agricultural means of production and replacing sugar monoculture with food produced for the local market. Imported Haitian cane cutters thus bore the brunt of Guadeloupean workers’ long-standing resentment of French neocolonialism. The second wave of migrants gave rise to several other stereotypes. One portrays the Haitian as an economic drain on society: someone who takes in money through daily wages but then sends it all back to Haiti. This is the cliché of Haitians as greedy outsiders who maintain an allegiance to their home country, and thereby drain the wealth of Guadeloupean society. A second, related image emphasizes not the greed of Haitians but their sheer numbers. “They are crowding us out” is the popular expression for this cliché, which is rooted in the tangible experience of street life in Pointe-à-Pitre. Most Haitian market women lack the capital to open their own stores. They display their wares on the sidewalks, but their tables and boxes spill into the street, stand in way of shoppers, and block the entrances to established retail stores. The competitive energy of Haitian vendors subverts the desires of longtime residents for order and cleanliness in the old colonial downtown. Guadeloupean residents of Pointe-à-Pitre consistently complain that Haitians are pushing them out of their own city. A third but more diff use popular image dovetails with these complaints. Guadeloupeans cite news reports of political instability and violence in Haiti and conclude that Haitians are an essentially disorganized people who cannot rule themselves effectively. The fear just below the surface of this cliché is that Haitian migrants will bring this disorder with them to Guadeloupe. Membership in Pentecostal churches serves as a foil for these stereotypes. Haitian Pentecostals project a counterstereotype even in their physical appearance walking to and from church services. Pentecostals are immediately recognizable in the street by their erect bearing, careful grooming with clean, pressed clothes, and the Bibles they hold prominently at their sides or hug to their chests. These displays operate as a political economy of signs directed to their Guadeloupean neighbors. Shined shoes, coats and ties, and modest dresses project the bourgeois norms of stability and civility that Haitians, by reputation, lack. This is an intended meaning: church members often told me that Haitians must take care to dress well, because they are guests in the country and do not want to make trouble.

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Through their outward appearance, Haitian Pentecostals not only defend themselves against dominant clichés, but also turn the tables and criticize the surrounding society. In particular, the dress code enables a wider critique of Guadeloupean norms for women—regarded by Pentecostals (and conservative Christians in general) as the guardians of social morality. Church members routinely criticize Guadeloupean women for dressing provocatively, and they cite the jeans, cut-off shorts, and T-shirts that women wear in the street and in the cramped courtyards and alleys where Haitians and poor Guadeloupeans live side by side. The same criticism of women’s dress comes up in pastors’ sermons that decry the immorality of life in Guadeloupe (the loss of parental authority, the loose sexuality of teenagers, etc.). Church members thus frame the difference between themselves and the surrounding society through moralistic metaphors of holiness and sinfulness. Haitian Pentecostals accomplish several things at once by dressing modestly and vehemently criticizing local women’s behavior and appearance. At one level, they proclaim their acceptance of Pentecostal doctrine. At another level, their very appearance refutes the usual Guadeloupean stereotypes of Haitians. At a third level, they portray Guadeloupean society as morally corrupt and worthy only of disdain. They make the categories of Haitian and Guadeloupean virtually synonymous with the morally upright and fallen, respectively. By conforming to the Pentecostal code of personal appearance, Haitian congregants affi rm their difference from Guadeloupeans, but now in terms that work to their advantage. Haitian migrants must confront yet another stereotype with even deeper historical roots. They are inserted into the “savage slot” in Guadeloupean narratives of modernity—that is, local residents cast them as the avatars of Guadeloupe’s own discarded Antillean past. The current-day majority population of Guadeloupe includes descendants, in various combinations and mixtures, of African slaves, the French planter aristocracy, poor French indentured laborers, East Indian cane workers who arrived after abolition in 1848, Middle Eastern trading families, and French civil servants. When Guadeloupe became a department of France in 1946, the entire population automatically became French citizens. As a result, the collective self-image of Guadeloupeans involves both a formal, juridical equality and the explicit acknowledgment of racial métissage (mixture). Contemporary residents refer to each other without malice as bata-zendyen or bata-nèg (the Creole words literally mean bastard-Indian and bastard-black), and individuals openly

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discuss racial mixing in their family lines. Even members of the white elite (the beke) say they are more comfortable in the presence of black Guadeloupeans than white Frenchmen.21 Leading intellectuals elaborate the same theme. The author Maryse Condé has declared that all of the island’s ethnic communities are “equally Guadeloupean,” and also that the typical islander resident is not racist.22 According to the sociolinguist Dany Bebel-Gisler, the authentic culture of Guadeloupe will be created by individuals representing all possible combinations of class and race.23 Haitians, however, remain locked out of this plural, syncretic, “Creole” mixture, and the reasons lie in the contradictions of departmentalization.24 Metropolitan administration paved the way for the penetration of Guadeloupean society by French products, media, educational practices, and, of course, the French language itself.25 Residents have become eager consumers of French goods and dependent clients of the French welfare system. Such pressures on Guadeloupeans to assimilate to metropolitan norms consign Haitians to a particularly disempowered position. Insofar as Guadeloupeans embrace French identity and opportunities, Haitians are devalued according to the dominant axis of difference. Many Guadeloupeans told me that Haitians resemble their own ancestors: physically darker and more Africanappearing than themselves. Most people know that Haitians entered the island as sugarcane workers, the quintessential slave’s occupation that is geographically and socially distant from the urban French-oriented worlds of business and administration. Haitian Creole is far less Gallicized than Guadeloupean Creole, and people often parody the Haitian accent. Even the homes of Haitian migrants announce their distance from French ideals. As mentioned earlier, municipal authorities in Pointe-à-Pitre have been systematically demolishing the neighborhoods of tight-packed wooden colonial-era cases Créoles, the vernacular architecture of the French Antilles, and the multistory concrete apartment blocks erected in their place are off-limits to undocumented Haitians, who are forced to occupy the remnants of the older Antillean city. Urban renewal has created a moral topography that separates the national modern from the colonial past, metropolitan from local architecture, and even the healthy from the sick. The first urban area to be razed and rebuilt was a malarial, swampy zone that is still called “l’Assainissement” (the “cleaning up”). Almost all Haitians in Pointe-à-Pitre live in the socially low (and disappearing) spaces left over by urban renewal.

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Having constructed Haitians as the symbols of their repudiated colonial past, Guadeloupeans are afraid that Haitians will disrupt their proud achievement of French modernity. According to one middle-class Guadeloupean social worker, “There is a fear of Haiti. People see it and they think it is like Africa. It can make us regress—that is people’s fear. ‘We have already been emancipated from Africa, from savagery, and we should continue to move towards France’: this is their attitude.” Such sentiments capture the fear of Haitians who, in the Guadeloupean imagination, will undercut their own tenuous modern cultural citizenship. The same cliché enters discussions about Guadeloupe’s future. The possibility of independence from France continues to generate debate three decades after the violent pro-independence movement of the 1960s. The opponents of independence still invoke Haiti as the best reason to remain a French department. They raise the fraught question, what will we become as a sovereign nation? The typical response is, another Haiti: poor, disorganized, and politically corrupt; independent but at an unacceptable price. In the Guadeloupean imagination, therefore, Haitians threaten what Guadeloupeans hope they have achieved. However, insofar as people regard assimilation into France as a species of culture loss, Guadeloupeans envy Haitians as bearers of a more potent Afro-Caribbean authenticity. Guadeloupeans who parody Haitian Creole for amusement have also told me that they are shocked when they hear Haitians use words that fell out of use many decades ago in Guadeloupe. For example, the Haitian Creole word rad (clothes) was replaced by the French-derived linge in the local Creole, while the Haitian kapon (cowardly) gave way in Guadeloupe to lâche. People recall that Haitian bands were the first musical groups billed as “local programming” on radio stations in the 1960s and 1970s, before the current wave of zouk and other Antillean popular styles. Haitians thus represent to Guadeloupeans a past phase of their own society, and they provoke an anxious self-recognition, because they remind Guadeloupeans of the Caribbean identity they have discarded. In the words of the social worker quoted above, “If we had something [of our own] to preserve, it would be better. The Haitians have that. They want to preserve their history, their language. Every Haitian that I met knows the history of their country, its battles, and so on . . . So, when faced with Haitians, they are the mirror that we don’t want.”

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Haitian migrants elicit envy and resentment because they embody what Guadeloupeans feel they have lost in the process of assimilation. They are an unwanted mirror because they reflect back not the Frenchified Guadeloupean culture of today, but the richer, more Antillean-based culture of the past. Guadeloupean attitudes toward Haitian healing power exemplify the conundrum of nostalgia for the past and alienation from the present. Many Guadeloupeans believe that the Haitian houngan, or vodoun practitioner, is more powerful than local folk healers, called gadezafè, and I heard many stories of local residents who consult Haitian vodoun practitioners— for example, a university administrator who traveled to Haiti in order to rid himself of a chronic illness caused by a curse and a politician who sought an houngan’s help in winning an election. Some people explicitly ranked the spiritual potency of various types of healers. They placed Africans first, followed by Haitian houngans (who, as one friend explained, are more powerful precisely because Haiti has preserved its African culture longer than the Antilles), Guadeloupean gadezafès, and finally folk healers from Martinique— the nearby overseas French department that people assert is even more assimilated to metropolitan norms than Guadeloupe.

Cultural Intimacy and the Play of Stereotypes Haitians and Guadeloupeans rarely interact with each other outside the relation of laborer to boss or itinerant vendor to customer. Nonetheless, Haitians explain their symbolic marginalization in parallel terms, as do Guadeloupeans. They know quite a bit about the layering of defensiveness and nostalgia in Guadeloupeans’ stereotypes of them. Haitian migrants argue that their dishonor and marginality are an effect of local residents’ confusion over their own identity as both black Caribbeans and French citizens. Guadeloupeans always try to imitate the French, Haitians believe, and hence they are both intimidated by and jealous of Haitians’ cultural autonomy and obvious national pride. This argument rests on a particular stereotype of the overassimilated Guadeloupean who yet cannot quite shake off his Caribbean past. The stereotype pinpoints the “sore zone of cultural sensitivity” among Guadeloupeans.26 Indeed, Haitians claim that their very presence compels the Guadeloupeans to confront the high cultural cost entailed in acquiring French citizenship. Haitians thus believe that Guadeloupeans disrespect and marginalize Haitians as a defensive maneuver. The most elaborate version of this argument

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concerns Guadeloupeans’ surreptitious use of Haitian vodoun healing. In Haiti, people who suffer from humanly caused illnesses must seek out the healing power of neo-African vodoun practitioners; Western biomedicine is regarded as ineffective in such cases.27 Haitian migrants assume that Guadeloupeans follow the same logic of medical decision making. For example, I asked a Haitian friend in Pointe-à-Pitre what would happen if Guadeloupeans were afflicted with an illness sent by a human enemy (a pathogenic attack caused by jealousy or hatred). He replied, “They go to an houngan. They find one here or they go to Haiti.” Surprised, I asked whether Guadeloupeans believe in this sort of healing power. “They believe in it more than we do! But they won’t tell you. You can ask them, but they keep it hidden.” The conviction that Guadeloupeans secretly acknowledge the superior power of Haitian vodoun enters Haitians’ criticism of their employers. Certain wealthy Guadeloupeans, I was told, owe their fortune to a Faustian bargain with a Haitian vodoun practitioner. Furthermore, the same Guadeloupean boss who cheats Haitians on the job or disrespects them in the street will run to a Haitian houngan when biomedical treatments fail. As one Haitian man put it, Guadeloupeans “know that Haiti is the original. They know Haitians are born with it. They know it’s the African rite which is the strongest.” What do Haitian migrants accomplish by such arguments? First and foremost, Haitians claim cultural intimacy with Guadeloupeans. Cultural intimacy refers to “the sharing of known and recognizable traits that not only define insiderhood but are also . . . disapproved by powerful outsiders.”28 Haitian migrants claim they are the secret sharers of Guadeloupe’s deep cultural essence. Moreover, the traits the two groups share undercut the Guadeloupeans’ preferred, formal self-presentation, and Haitians criticize the hypocrisy of Guadeloupeans who, on these grounds, deny commonality with Haitians. Through the caricature of Guadeloupeans who secretly consult vodoun healers and acknowledge their superiority, Haitians not only assert their own cultural vitality; they also point out the embarrassing selfrecognition of Guadeloupeans and the ambivalence over their joint (European) French and (neo-African) Caribbean allegiances. After all, Haitians have many opportunities to learn the everyday dimensions of ambivalence as they observe, with an outsider’s eye, how the local society operates. The Creole language is still largely suppressed in schools and offices; the local media features endless debates over sovereignty, while a large percentage of the island’s population depends on the French welfare system, and sanitized

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presentations of Antillean folklore on television are sandwiched between into programming from metropolitan France or the United States. Noting Guadeloupeans’ ambivalent participation in French society, Haitians encapsulate the cultural politics of the island in their stereotype of its black French residents, who both repudiate and long for their Antillean past, and hence both denigrate and covertly envy the (Creole-speaking, politically independent, and culturally autonomous) Haitians in their midst. Stereotypes are discursive weapons of power, and Haitians use their stereotype of local residents to invert the power relations between them and the dominant society.29 The caricature allows migrants to imagine their place in Guadeloupe on more favorable terms. It negates the clichés of Haitians as rapacious, intrusive foreigners and substitutes an (equally essentialized) image of Haitians as more authentic and culturally self-assured Caribbeans. Haitians thus use their stereotype of Guadeloupeans as a ground for their collective self-regard.

Conclusion Contemporary diasporas are typically defined as novel social formations, constituted by signs and practices that circulate in transnational space. It is tempting to take the next step and assume the collective subjectivity of people in a particular diaspora emerges from, and mirrors, their supralocal orientation. This would mean (1) that the same global exchanges and movement that produce the diaspora are also the main grounds for its selfdefinition and (2) that people living in different sites of the same diaspora— for example, Haitians in Guadeloupe, the Dominican Republic, the United States, etc.—elaborate roughly the same form of collective self-regard. The ethnographic argument in this essay suggests a different conclusion: that diasporic subjectivity is finely calibrated to the experience of marginalization in a specific time and place. In Guadeloupe, the way that members of the Haitian diaspora articulate their group identity, its defining marks, and its boundaries depends on where they are located, their specific experience of marginality, and the particular stereotypes they have confronted. Stated as a general hypothesis, the dialectic of marginality operates differently in the separate communities of the same diaspora, in line with the historical and cultural contradictions in each surrounding society. The outcome will be distinctive forms of collective self-regard. Social scientists may still wish to speak of an overarching transnational social field

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encompassing all expatriate Haitians: a formulation that nicely breaks with the earlier anthropological fetish of spatially bound identities. But to explain how particular diasporic communities define themselves demands close examination of their response to local processes of marginality. Members of contemporary diasporas cultivate particular forms of self-regard not in an abstract “in-between” or thoroughly delocalized space, but instead in particular places and social relationships.30 Diasporic subjectivity is locally inflected. Depending on how states control the terms of citizenship, and how social taxonomies assign value to newly arrived outsiders, diasporic groups will be simultaneously included and excluded in distinctive ways, and they will resist their exclusion with different results. Their subjectivity, therefore, will depend as much on the states and societies that immediately surround them as on a dislocated diasporic reality.

notes This essay was published in Anthropological Quarterly 76 (Summer 2003): 383–410, under the title “Marginality and Subjectivity in the Haitian Diaspora.” 1

See, for example, Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), and Roger Rouse, “Mexican Migration and the Social Space of Postmodernism,” Diaspora 1, no. 1 (1991): 8–23.

2

Cf. J. D. Peters, “Seeing Bifocally: Media, Place, Culture,” in Culture, Power, Place: Explorations in Critical Anthropology, ed. Akhil Gupta and James Ferguson (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997), 75–92.

3

See, among other collections, Linda Basch, Nina Glick Schiller, and Cristina Szanton Blanc, Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States (Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach, 1994) and Smedar Lavie and Ted Swedenburg, Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996).

4

James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 255.

5

See William Safran, “Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return,” Diaspora 1, no. 1 (1991): 83–99.

6

This process is explored with respect to the Haitian diaspora by Michel S. Laguerre in Diasporic Citizenship: Haitian-Americans in Transnational America (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998) and Nina Glick Schiller and Georges Fouron, Georges Woke up Laughing: Long-Distance Nationalism and the Search for Home (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001).

7

In Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 212.

8

Stuart Hall, “Introduction: Who Needs ‘Identity’?” in Questions of Cultural Identity, ed. Stuart Hall and Paul de Gay (London: Sage Publications, 1996), 4–5.

9

See Purnima Mankekar, “Reflections on Diasporic Identities: A Prolegomenon to an Analysis of Political Bifocality,” Diaspora 3, no. 3 (1994): 349–371.

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10

Cf. Karen Fog Olwig, “Cultural Sites: Sustaining a Home in a Deterritorialized World,” in Siting Culture: The Shifting Anthropological Object, ed. Karen Fog Olwig and Kirsten Hastrup (London: Routledge, 1997): 17–38.

11

GISTI (Groupe d’Information et de Soutien des Travailleurs Immigrés), Rapport du Mission en Guyane et à Saint-Martin: Des Étrangers Sans Droits dans une France Bananière (Paris: GISTI, 1996), 133.

12

See my article “Pentecostalism in Translation: Religion and the Production of Community in the Haitian Diaspora,” American Ethnologist 30, no. 1 (2003): 85–101.

13

The police apprehended a total of eight Haitians—three in one car and five in another. One was later released when a friend brought his identity papers to the detention center, and the rest were deported to Haiti.

14

See Karen Richman, “They Will Remember Me in the House: The Pwen of Haitian Transnational Migration” (Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 1992), 67.

15

See Brodwin, “Pentecostalism in Translation,” and Alex Stepick, Pride against Prejudice: Haitians in the United States (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998), 85.

16

Marianne Amar and Pierre Milza, L’immigration en France au XXe siècle (Paris: Armand Colin, 1990), 119.

17

See Jane Freedman and Carrie Tarr, “The Sans-papières: An Interview with Ma Madjiguène Cissé,” in Women, Immigration and Identities in France, ed. Jane Freedman and Carrie Tarr (Oxford, UK: Berg Press, 2000), 29–38.

18

See Karen Richman, “‘A Lavals at Home/A Lavals for Home’: Inflections of Transnationalism in the Discourse of Haitian President Aristide,” in Towards a Transnational Perspective on Migration: Race, Class, Ethnicity and Nationalism Reconsidered, ed. Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch, and Cristina Blanc Szanton (New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 2001), and Nina Glick Schiller and Georges Fouron, Georges Woke Up Laughing.

19

Cf. Lauren Derby, “Haitians, Magic and Money: Raza and Society in the HaitianDominican Borderlands, 1900 to 1937,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 36 (1994): 488–526.

20

See Dany Bébel-Gisler and Laennec Hurbon, Cultures et Pouvoir dans la Caraïbe: Langue Créole, vaudou, sectes religieuses en Guadeloupe et en Haïti (Paris: Harmattan, 1987), and Cherubin Céleste, “Dix années de pastorale en Guadeloupe (1974–1984),” in Le phénomène religieux dans la Caraïbe, ed. Laennec Hurbon (Montréal: Les Éditions de CIDIHCA [Le Centre Internationale de Documentation et d’Information Haïtienne], 1989), 193–206.

21

D. Besson, “Les békes: Une minorité qui a fait ce pays!” Sept Magazine (Pointe-àPitre, Guadeloupe) 520 (June 8–15, 1989): 12–14.

22

Maryse Condé, “La Guadeloupe se fera avec tout le monde,” Sept Magazine (Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe) 520 (June 8–15, 1989): 19–20.

23

Dany Bebel-Gisler, “On est guadeloupéen par volonté,” Sept Magazine (Pointe-àPitre, Guadeloupe) 520 (June 8–15, 1989): 20–21.

24

Richard Burton, “Ki moun nou ye? The Idea of Difference in Contemporary French West Indian Thought,” New West Indian Guide 67 (1993): 5–32.

25

See Ellen M. Schnepel, “The Creole Movement in Guadeloupe,“ International Journal of the Sociology of Language 102 (1993): 117–134, and “The Language Question in

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Guadeloupe: From the Early Chroniclers to the Post-War Generation,” Plantation Society in the Americas 5.1 (1998): 60–94. 26

Michael Herzfeld, Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State (New York: Routledge, 1997), x.

27

See Karen McCarthy Brown, Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), and Paul Brodwin, Medicine and Morality in Haiti: The Contest for Healing Power (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

28

Herzfeld, Cultural Intimacy, 94.

29

Ibid., 13.

30

See Luis Guarnizo and Michael Peter Smith, “The Locations of Transnationalism,” Comparative Urban and Community Research 6 (1998): 3–34.

ON

THE

METAPHYSICS

OF

EXILE

j Stefan Rossbach Since it was terror and disturbance and instability and doubt and division, there were many illusions at work by means of these, and [there were] empty fictions, as if they were sunk in sleep and found themselves in disturbing dreams. Either [there is] a place to which they are fleeing, or without strength they come [from] having chased after others, or they are involved in striking blows, or they are receiving blows themselves, or they have fallen from high places, or they take off into the air though they do not have wings. From the Gospel of Truth

According to the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, exile marks a crucial moment in human history. Genesis 3 tells us how Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden with consequences affecting the whole of human existence. And yet the account given in Genesis appears to fall short of providing a metaphysics of exile because it does not consider exile as a constitutive feature of the human condition. Exile is presented as a punishment that was inflicted on Adam and Eve as a consequence of their actions. The text does not state that these actions were an inevitable expression of the human condition and seems to imply, therefore, that exile came to affect human life

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as a contingent event. However, there are many competing religious and philosophical symbolisms in which the significance of exile is dramatized to the point where exile is not the result of human decisions but rather a condition that defines human existence as such. Some of these symbolisms even allow for an inverse reading of Genesis, in which Adam and Eve’s disobedience is celebrated as humanity’s first revolution against their oppressive creators, as the beginning of an inevitable process of emancipation. The wide range and significance of the symbolisms that correlate exile and human existence lead us to explore the nature of this correlation. Why should exile be constitutive of human existence? This is a profound question and it must be made clear from the start that this essay cannot do much more than scratch at the surface of some of the issues involved. Our starting point is the assumption that the truth of human existence, as it is articulated at a given time and in a given place, is always grounded in experience.1 Thus, the condition of exile can play such a prominent role in human self-understanding only to the extent that it resonates with the concrete experiences of concrete people. Therefore, if we want to understand the metaphysics of exile, we must explore the experiential context in which it arose. Historically we find that narratives of exile gained credibility especially in the wake of imperial expansion and the concomitant displacement of peoples. This essay will look at two examples of narratives of exile stemming from what Eric Dodds called the “age of anxiety” in late antiquity—the years between the emperors Aurelius and Constantine, “when the material decline was steepest and the ferment of new religious feelings most intense.”2 Our first example is Plotinus’s narrative of emanation, epistrophe and ekstasis; our second example is a sheaf of narratives known as gnosticism, which includes the inverse reading of Genesis mentioned earlier. The main purpose of this essay, however, is to suggest that the analysis of late antiquity is instructive in that it helps us understand our contemporary age of exile. In the concluding section, we aim to apply the concepts that emerged from our review of ancient narratives of exile and their experiential context to the present. This application assumes the form of an analogy that is fairly straightforward in its political aspects—empires and globalization— but perhaps somewhat surprising in its religious and philosophical aspects. For we will argue that we can find narratives of exile in poststructuralist and postmodern thought that are analogous to Plotinus’s negative theology and gnosticism. We will briefly discuss Jacques Derrida’s work as an example

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of contemporary gnosticism, which presents a metaphysics of exile in the disguise of an exile from metaphysics. As an implication of our analysis, we suggest that the most profound aftermath of exile, migration, and diaspora can be found in the manner in which these experiences shape our selfunderstanding as human beings.

From the Ecumenic Age to Globalization What turns a historical epoch into an age of exile? For the limited purposes of this essay, we approach this question within the confines of political science. What are the political structures that turn exile, migration, and diaspora into mass phenomena? Following Eric Voegelin, we propose that an age of exile is commonly caused and shaped by the rise, the expansion, the decline as well as the collapse of empires. This is particularly true whenever one or more of the empires involved in the struggle present themselves as ecumenic empires. Ecumenic empires are empires that are limitless, in a sense we will elucidate in the following. The first theorist of the ecumene was Polybius, who was himself a victim of the Roman conquests, one of the many who were exiled very much against their will. He was Greek, the son of Lycortas, one of the statesmen of the Achaean League, who had fought and lost against the Roman Empire at the Battle of Pydna in 168 BCE. Polybius was one of the onethousand Achaeans who were deported to Rome as hostages. There he was allowed to stay in the house of Aemilius Paullus, who had led the Romans to success at Pydna, as the tutor of his sons. Only in 151 BCE, seventeen years later, was he allowed to return home. Two years later, he found himself in Roman diplomatic service, accompanying his former pupil, Scipio Aemilianus, on the campaign against Carthage. Polybius managed to balance his hatred of the Roman conquerors with the admiration he felt as a historian for their successes. In particular he understood the Roman conquests as events of extraordinary significance, acknowledging that the Romans, within only half a century, had subjected “almost the whole inhabited world (oikoumene)” to their sole rule. This represented a turning point in history because, previously, the events of the oikoumene had been conducted in separate spheres, “without unity of purpose, achievement, or locality.”3 The Roman conquests, in contrast, gave history an organic character (somatoeides) so that the events in Italy and Libya had now become interconnected with those in Hellas and Asia, all leading to one end

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(telos): Roman supremacy. Polybius thus attributed to these developments a sense of finality, anticipating Virgil’s celebration of Rome as the imperium sine fine, the empire without end, by about a century. However, in contrast to Virgil and unlike many of his contemporaries, Polybius limited his analysis to the realm of pragmatic politics and history and thus was unable to accept, or even to contemplate, that Rome was the bearer of the meaning of history, the ultimate and final representative of human civilization. As a victim of the upheavals he studied, Polybius was silenced to the extent that he could acknowledge the facts of power without being able to analyze them in terms of their meaning. Originally, the term “ecumene” simply meant the inhabited (and civilized) world, but as one of the most important witnesses of the Roman conquests, Polybius included all the peoples in the ecumene who were drawn into the process of imperial expansion. As a result, the ecumene was not a self-organizing society at all but a power field; it was not a subject of order but an object of conquest and organization. The ecumene can be described as a graveyard of societies in that the structures of the old societies—including those of the conquerors!—were increasingly undermined within the new ecumenic context. Eric Voegelin coined the term “Ecumenic Age” in order to characterize these processes: “The peculiar structure of this field forces us to speak of an Ecumenic Age, meaning thereby the period in which a manifold of concrete societies, which formerly existed in autonomously ordered form, were drawn into one political power field through pragmatic expansions from the various centres.”4 According to Voegelin, the Ecumenic Age began with the Persian expansion and ended with the decline of Roman power, “when the ecumene [began] to dissociate centrifugally into the Byzantine, Islamic, and Western civilizations.” The ancient, ecumenic empires were world empires, power organizations informed by the pathos of representative humanity. The empires formed a cosmion in the sense that their respective societies and social orders were understood to form a cosmic analogue and thus to represent humanity’s place within the comprehensive cosmic order. The establishment of an ecumenic empire was thus “an essay in world creation, reaching through all levels of the hierarchy of being.” Such world empires are more than territory and people; they are driven by a “desire to express in words a substantive order pervading all levels of being as well as being as a whole”5 — and it is in this sense that we may describe them as limitless.

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The ambitions of the empires turned the Ecumenic Age into an age of paradox as much as of exile. On the one hand, the imperial conquests and the concomitant destruction of the traditional community orders and structures pushed the question of the meaning of human existence beyond the tribal and ethnic level enabling qualitative—rather than mere quantitative— leaps in social organization that affected the understanding of human nature.6 In particular, from the Ecumenic Age there arose the idea of a new type of ecumenic—global, universal—society, an idea that became a constant feature of Western civilization. On the other hand, the military and political conquest did not in itself make the imperial order existentially authoritative; on the contrary, the immediate result of conquest is violence and suffering. The older truths lose their divine authority to the extent that the societies “whose reality of order they express lose their political independence” or even cease to exist, while the new “imperial order has, at least initially, no more than the authority of power.”7 It is from within this paradox—this tension—that there can emerge a critical knowledge of order on the basis of which the victims of pragmatic destruction can articulate a new truth of existence. Voegelin refers to Confucius and Laotse in China, Buddha in India, the prophets in Israel, and the philosophers in Hellas in order to demonstrate that the rise of empires was indeed accompanied by spiritual outbursts reflecting the consciousness of having achieved a new understanding of the human condition.

Globalization, Crisis, and Religious Ferment In light of these historical observations it is perhaps not surprising that the prototype of a metaphysics of exile was developed in the later stages of the Ecumenic Age, at a time when Rome for the first time had to confront the very real possibility of decline and indeed disintegration. Of course, as Jakob Burckhardt observed, “complaints of evil times are to be found in all centuries which have left a literature behind them.” But, he added, “in the Roman Empire the decline is acknowledged in a manner which leaves no room for doubt.”8 According to Burckhardt, the first genuine crisis in Roman history began with the Migration of the Peoples, which leads us directly to the heart of our topic. But it was especially in the third century that the coincidence of barbarian invasions, civil wars, usurpation, increasing economic difficulties and natural catastrophes led contemporary observers to conclude that they were living in an age of serious transformations questioning the very future

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of the empire. A consciousness of crisis was clearly present among the writers of the time.9 In some ways, of course, the empire—qua empire—was always in danger of becoming a victim of its own success, in that it made social changes possible that threatened to slowly undermine its social order. To many, the peace of the empire meant wider horizons and unprecedented opportunities for travel; it meant that local differences were slowly eroded through trade and emigration; it meant new opportunities for new wealth and hence new criteria of status. As Peter Brown observed, the Roman Empire “dissolved in the lower classes that sense of tradition and local loyalties on which its upper class depended.”10 Large parts of the population felt uprooted and cast adrift from their old life. “The successful businessman, the freedman administrator, the woman whose status and education had slowly improved, found themselves no longer citizens of their accustomed town, but ‘citizens of the world,’” the Stoic cosmopolites, and yet to this group of people, displaced in a broader sense of the word, the world seemed a less intimate, more threatening, lonely, and impersonal place.11 Already Epictetus had noted the dreadful loneliness one could experience even, or especially, in the center of the empire, in Rome, “though such a crowd meet us, though so many live in the same place.” The hallmark of loneliness, according to Epictetus, was not isolation but helplessness, “for the man who is solitary, as it is conceived, is considered to be a helpless person and exposed to those who wish to harm him.” What removed us from solitude was not the presence of others—such as, for example, “when we fall among robbers” when we travel—but “the sight of one who is faithful and modest and helpful to us.”12 Epictetus, who was a slave in his early life and later freed by his master, implied that, under the conditions of empire, more and more people find themselves in situations where they are strangers who are lonely not because they are alone but because they do not know whom to trust in the crowds in which they find themselves. The strangers in the imperial power field must have formed a receptive audience for a number of new religious and philosophical movements that spread through the empire. As explained earlier, these movements are of interest to us to the extent that they correlate human existence and exile. The two examples that we will consider in the following—Plotinus’s philosophy and the gnostic systems—were important intellectually but not necessarily in terms of the numbers of disciples that they attracted at the time. And yet

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we can consider them radical representatives of a much wider spiritual trend in which human self-understanding appeared to revolve around notions of exile. In addition to the developments discussed below, the period witnessed the beginning and immediate widespread success of various types of asceticism, with Saint Anthony the Hermit and Saint Pachomius the Abbot as the two most important representatives and founders. The monks and hermits understood their radical practices as a form of exile from the self and society, as a practice of self-displacement. Peter Brown argued that the success of the movement was due to the fact that they represented a grouping of self-styled displaced persons, who claimed to have started life afresh.13 And, of course, we must not forget that the early Christians effectively lived like aliens in their political and social surroundings. This is wonderfully expressed in Mathetes’s Letter to Diognetus, a sympathetic text probably written in the second or third century: “They live in their own countries, but as aliens; they share all duties like citizens and suffer all disabilities like foreigners; every foreign land is their country and every country is foreign to them.”14 Indeed, if Christ’s kingdom was not from this world,15 the faithful were expected to sojourn on earth as aliens; they were resident strangers—the word Augustine uses to describe this attitude is peregrinus, the root of our word “pilgrim.”

Plotinus on Emanation and Return In the age of anxiety, Eric Dodds singled out Plotinus as “the last constructive exponent” of the “great tradition of Greek rationalism” in “an increasingly anti-rational age,” as “the one man who still knew how to think clearly in an age which was beginning to forget what thinking meant.”16 What makes Plotinus stand out is the way in which his philosophy emphasizes the unity and oneness of the cosmos. The Roman world was about to implode due to the many tensions that came to the fore in the third century. Plotinus’s philosophy was an attempt to hold this world together, to balance the tensions, to “maintain both poles of a taut line, while the more radical thinkers and the more revolutionary movements round them had somehow allowed the line to snap.”17 Plotinus aimed to articulate the extreme unity underlying the extreme diversity and multiplicity that had come to characterize the Roman world. In order to achieve this purpose, Plotinus attempted to show how every level and every aspect of the visible world had its source in a divine center, the One. This vision of unity, amidst the visible reality of a fragmented and disordered

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world, was a mystical vision in which the soul was able to touch the ultimate ground of reality. In upholding the very meaning of the world as the outflow from a divine center, Plotinus’s role in the history of philosophy is not unlike Hegel’s. It is not at all surprising that Hegel considered Neoplatonism as a “recovery of the spirit of man, indeed, of the spirit of the world.”18 To assume that reality forms a unity implies that its various diverse aspects must share a common principle or element. However, the more diverse and fragmented our experience of reality, the more difficult it becomes to find such a common denominator in all existents as we experience them. The diversity of experience almost dictates that the principle of unity must operate in a very subtle way. On the one hand, for the One to be the universal cause of all things, it must have immanence and omnipresence. On the other hand, the One cannot be one of the existents; rather, its power produces an indefinite potentiality, that is, an entity—a generative radiance, an active making possible—that can become all things.19 It cannot be accessible to sense experience because what we sense of reality, especially in an age of anxiety, is primarily change and diversity or, in other words, the flux of reality. And surely, whatever we perceive with our senses does not have the capacity to become all things. In fact, for Plotinus, a comprehensive vision of the world could be maintained only by assuming the absolute transcendence of the principle of its unity. Thus, for Plotinus, being everywhere and nowhere are mutually entailing. The One, as the ground or source of being, is ineffable; it is radically different from sensible and intelligible beings—in fact, it cannot even be understood as a member of the genus being. The One is the cause of being, yet it is completely dissimilar to its effects. Due its absolute transcendence, the One escapes language. Even the designations used by Plotinus, such as One and Good, are no more than deficient signs of the One’s reality. Language cannot specify what the One is; still, it is possible to say what the One is not. Many of the qualities Plotinus attributes to the One are hence negative: self-sufficiency, disinterestedness, impassivity, elusiveness, transcendence, unity, uniqueness, simplicity. In this list, unity specifies, negatively, that the One is nothing other than itself. And where Plotinus occasionally appears to describe the One in positive terms— for example, by identifying activity, existence, and being in the One—he involves the qualifier “as if” (hoion).20 Plotinus thereby becomes one of the key representatives of negative theology—of apophatic thought—that is, of a theology that expresses what a divine nature is not rather than what it is.21

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Participation in the One is what unites the multiplicity of the existents of the cosmos in one single, all-pervasive reality. And precisely because it forms the center of reality, the transcendence of the One must be absolute; it is beyond being and essence—it is being’s begetter.22 From these ideas results the tension between the pure unity and self-presence of the One and between the necessity, acknowledged by Plotinus, to somehow explain the multiplicity among existents. In other words, the One, though supremely self-sufficient, disinterested, and impassive, must still somehow be involved in the generation of the cosmos. This tension gives Plotinus’s philosophy its depth, subtlety, and complexity.23 The One has no need of acting in a creative manner, but he effortlessly overflows and its excess begets an other than itself.24 The generative activity of the One is usually presented as a case of emanation, as a flowing, and indeed Plotinus frequently uses natural metaphors such as the flowing of water, the emanation of heat, and the radiation of light from a luminous source in order to describe the One’s causal power. However, for the reasons explained above, these metaphors are to be qualified by the “as if” clause. In particular, the physical metaphors appear to imply that the One’s giving cannot not have occurred as, for example, fire cannot not cause heat. The One, in contrast, is not compelled to generate reality. Plotinus analyzes the One’s causal power in terms of a dialectical process of procession (proodos) and reversion (epistrophe). Procession is a passage from nonexistence to existence, from potentiality to actuality, resulting in the existence of lower realities, hypostases, who then turn around and contemplate their generating principle. It is this last step, epistrophe, that makes the hypostases an intelligible entity; the reversion rather than the flowing is the determining process of individuation. The various realities that emerge in the unfolding emanation eventually reach in to the realm of being, where they not only contemplate but also actualize ideas in the darkness of matter. Matter, the eternally receptive substratum, is the proper medium of differentiation among existents. Matter is completely passive and thus capable of receiving all ideas; it functions as the space of the possible and reflects the darkness of indeterminacy. Therefore, the drama of concrete, material existence resembles a diaspora, where being itself undergoes a process of fragmentation that leads from the One—that is, from beyond-being—to the material cosmos.

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Yet how can embodied human beings, exiled from the Absolute and dispersed in the darkness of matter, find their true selves and return to their true origin? The way of return always begins, of course, in exile, where the soul experiences a poverty of being and longs to possess that which it has lost, which is fullness of being. The ensuing spiritual desire is an essential stage in the soul’s mystical ascent to its higher part and, further, to the One. As contemplation (theoria) is the unifying principle of reality, it is not surprising that contemplation is the key to the soul’s journey, but it has to be pure contemplation—contemplation that overcomes the constraints of the multiplicity of matter. Because each existent contemplates its prior realities, the soul, as it ascends along the various realities that have their source in the One, can participate in their contemplation and is thereby pushed forward on its journey until it “suddenly sees—yet sees not how, for the vision fills his eyes with light, a light not the medium of sight but itself the vision.”25 The soul sees by “a kind of blurring and obliterating of the intellect that remains within it.”26 On the last stage of the mystical ascent the soul transcends being and becomes one with the completely other. In union with the One, the soul returns to its origin because the One is “its beginning and end, its beginning because it comes from there, and its end, because its good is there. And when it comes to be there it becomes itself and what it was; life in this world of sense being a falling away, an exile, ‘a shedding of wings.’”27 The soul experiences this movement, Plotinus explains, as a return to its father and the land of its birth where it is “nowhere deflected in its being,” having attained “to solitude in untroubled stillness,” “utterly at rest.”28 This is the “end of the journey.”29 In union with the One, the soul becomes like the One, characterized by the same properties. Reaching beyond being, in another mode of seeing, the soul’s mystical insight transcends all duality and difference.30 In this mystical union, the tension in Plotinus’s account of reality is dissolved: transcendence and immanence are the same, and they are experienced as the same in that the soul is incapable of distinguishing itself from the One. The separation of knower and known, characteristic of discursive reasoning, is finally overcome.31 Due to its absolute transcendence, the One is never purely and fully present, and hence all the soul can see, even in this state of mystical elevation, is a trace of its power. Still, the soul gets a glimpse of

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the One’s inner life (Bussanich), and it can aspire to, and participate in, this dynamics of the One. As the soul finds itself in union with the One, it finds itself beyond being, completely outside itself. In an important passage, Plotinus uses the term ekstasis to describe this process. In classical Greek, ekstasis and its related terms could be used to describe “any departure from the normal condition, any abrupt change of mind or mood.” For example, these terms could refer to a state of awe or amazement, a state of hysteria or insanity, a state of possession both divine and diabolic. Philo ascribes ekstasis to the Hebrew prophets in the sense that “the mind in [them was] banished from its house upon the coming of the divine spirit.”32 According to Dodds, Plotinus was the first to apply the term ekstasis to mystical experience. Ekstasis is closely related to the term alloiosis, which in turn was translated into Latin as alienatio, meaning alienation.33 We can thus say that alienation, for Plotinus and the later Neoplatonists, is a precondition of truth and, in fact, of identity. For the identity of soul and One—transcendence—as experienced by the soul in mystical union is the true identity of the soul as understood in Plotinus’s philosophy. The price that Plotinus paid for holding on to the oneness of reality is the absolute transcendence of its unifying principle, the One. As a result, we find the material cosmos, though connected with the divine, the furthest removed from the divine as a lower level of reality. Immersed in the chaos of passive matter, the human soul finds itself in an alien environment, as a stranger below, whose true home is elsewhere. Overcoming this human condition requires nothing less than the soul’s complete externalization, a being-out-of-herself, an exile from exile. Plotinus’s philosophy is thus a transformative philosophy, aimed at an experiential goal: “philosophizing about the One has the concrete aim of nullifying itself.”34 Complete alienation is asked for in a mystical union that transcends the duality of subject and objects, of knower and known, and indeed all familiar cognitive and affective states. This alienation is the “peak of the cognitive escalation of man.”35

Gnosis in Late Antiquity In Plotinus, as we saw, the tension between lower and higher reality is extreme because of the absolute transcendence of the latter in relation to the former. Still, the taut line between the two poles of reality did not snap. On the contrary, the absolute transcendence of the One preserves the unity

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of the whole of reality. In particular, notwithstanding Plotinus’s sometimes ambiguous metaphorical language, matter is not opposed to the divine light emanating from the One but, on the contrary, serves as its receptacle for its self-articulation. Thus, at the periphery of reality we find a deprived reality rather than a second, competing reality that could aim to usurp the center in order to advance its own purposes. Fundamentally, the mundane and the transcendent, lower and higher reality form the poles of a comprehensive reality that includes both. The taut line between the poles of reality snaps as soon as the mundane and the transcendent, the beginning and the beyond, the creator and the redeemer become separate, opposing realities. This was the route taken by the representatives of gnosticism.36 For the leaders of the early Christian church, the gnostics represented a very serious intellectual challenge, and thus it is in confrontation with gnosticism that the symbols and practices of early Christianity were shaped. The gnostics were the true champions of alienation, the metaphysicians of exile. Mostly composed between the second and fourth centuries ACE, their texts are beautiful and moving expressions of a collective loneliness in an alien world. The divine and the world are no longer poles within one comprehensive reality but two separate and opposed principles struggling with and against each other. The cosmos and with it human existence in the cosmos are beyond redemption. As they reject the cosmos, gnostic humanity place themselves in opposition to, and therefore outside of, the cosmos. Their true home is elsewhere, and this elsewhere is a divine world that is radically opposed to the cosmos. Exile is here not the unfortunate result of unfortunate human decision (sin), but exile is built into the ontology of worldly existence. Accordingly, many of the gnostic texts assume that the God of Israel, who reigns as king and lord over creation, makes the law and judges those who violate it, was in fact a lesser deity, a demiurge. Those with knowledge, gnosis, had learned to reject the false claims to power made by this jealous deity and to reserve their worship for a purely spiritual principle that transcended the material creation. Depending on the symbolism in question, this demiurge could be indifferent, ignorant, and even directly evil. This lesser deity was either coexistent with the true, first divinity or was produced by or within this first divinity in an unwanted accident, a fall, or a catastrophe. The first divinity is envisioned as a space, as a divine sphere of uniformity and light, called the pleroma, the fullness of God, and the fall presupposes, or amounts

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to, a divine self-differentiation whereby the pleroma becomes inhabited by aeons without losing its harmonious uniformity. In some variants, the demiurge of the world is ejected by a deity in doubt, the other-worldly mother, in an episode of unwilling maternity. More common variants are scenarios in which Satan is a fallen angel or a son of God who out of pride, envy, or concupiscence rebels against his Father. The narratives are often more ambiguous and multilayered than can be indicated here. In fact, the responsibility for the (self-) differentiation of the divine and the accident disrupting the divine harmony cannot easily be attributed to any of the aeons that result from the event, and it is not obvious how the differentiation could be understood as the effect of a cause.37 Although the narrative form suggests a processlike continuity, there is also a sense in which the events that unfold from the differentiation are irreducible to a causal act. The creation of the material world happens as a consequence of a fall, accident, or rebellion, and everything unfolding from this unfortunate event needs to be reversed so that the original state is restored. The drama of creation is, essentially, superfluous—it was not meant to happen—and cosmic history as such assumes the character of an unwanted delay. Human beings are created as part of the cosmos; they are created by the same demiurge who created the world. However, as part of the divine scheme to restore the original pure, precosmic state, they were given a divine spark, a flash of the divine light or substance, the pneuma, which renders them superior to their creator. The details of this story of human divinization are complex and vary from system to system. In some of these stories we find the inverse readings of Genesis, already mentioned, according to which Adam actually obtains a secret knowledge, gnosis, by eating the forbidden fruit. What is disobedience in the traditional reading of Genesis becomes here an act of liberation and emancipation, of awareness, of awaking from the sleep of ignorance, and the serpent becomes a representative of the divine sphere, who reveals to humans the evil purposes of their creators who want to keep Adam in his state of ignorance. By eating the fruit, humans obtain knowledge and realize that they have to turn away from their creators.38 Full of anger, the powers who control the cosmos, the archons, expel Adam and Eve from paradise and send them to earth where they become prisoners of matter. To the extent that they have gnosis—knowledge of “who we were and what we have become, where we were and into what we have been thrown, whither we hasten and from what we are redeemed, what is birth and

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rebirth”—humans experience their earthly existence as a state of alienation and exile.39 After all, their divine spark makes them consubstantial with the divine, and they experience the cosmos as an imprisonment, as violence, as the result of being thrown into the body. The symbols used here emphasize the passivity and the involuntary nature of their fate. The cosmos and material existence is not a passive principle that can be molded and shaped according to divine plans; the cosmos has its own powers, which will actively try to make life forget its true roots. Telling the story of the fall and humanity’s exile from the divine is thus not just a description of past events; it is an interference with the process as it is being described. Passing on the knowledge of humanity’s true history is already the beginning of the reversal of that history. Gnosis is both recital and effectuation of salvation. Knowing his true fate and his true origins places man above his cosmic prison and its limitations, giving a radical sense of freedom—freedom that is not only political or social, but freedom that is a-cosmic in that it entails a freedom from the material constraints of physical, embodied existence. These symbolisms of alienation and exile attempt to eclipse the symbols of Greek philosophy. This is most evident in their reinterpretation of the soul (psyche). In Greek philosophy, the soul is man’s sensorium of transcendence; it is the faculty that elevates him above the realm of matter and places him between the mundane and transcendent layers of reality, allowing a clearer, purer, and more attuned existence in the cosmos. In contrast, gnosticism presents the soul as the principal organ through which the cosmic powers confine humans to their earthly existence. Through the soul they reach into the interior of an individual in order to chain him to the world. The soul provides them with a battlefield on which they fight out their rivalries and struggles. Demonic powers penetrate into man’s innermost feelings and manipulate him for their own sinister purposes, terrorizing the individual through his soul. Fear, confusion, and the longing for an escape from a world of terror dominate earthly existence. Accordingly, the soul too must be left behind when the divine humans return to their origins. Overcoming the cosmos and its limitations thus means to repudiate even the very last residual of an I, of the unity of the soul.

Globalization and the Religious Ferment of (Post)modernity Historical reflections are useful to the extent that they illuminate the present. In this concluding section, therefore, we want to reflect on how the

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categories and concepts developed so far may apply to contemporary culture and politics. Where can we identify analogies between the Ecumenic Age— and late antiquity more specifically—and between our present? We have already suggested that the Ecumenic Age was a globalizing age, thereby evoking one of the key concepts of contemporary political science and international relations. In the growing industry of scholarship that addresses what is known as globalization, a strong link between migration—and exile— and globalization has clearly been acknowledged. There is a growing sense that more than ever before in history “migration, in its endless motion, surrounds and pervades almost all aspects of contemporary society.” The scale and complexity of movement, it is argued, have never been witnessed before, turning our epoch into a restless epoch in which notions of belonging are increasingly undermined.40 These observations are equivalent to Epictetus’s analysis of Roman society, but more so than its Roman analogue the contemporary configuration turns exile, displacement, and homelessness into a universal condition. As Zygmunt Bauman noted, we are all strangers, a fact that becomes bearable in the short term because, if everyone is a stranger, no one is. The abolition of strangeness, exile, and alienation, at least in theory, is attained by raising it to the level of a universal human condition. For Bauman, “these are the worrying, yet exhilarating trends usually subsumed under postmodernity.”41 A sympathetic evaluation might consider our concept and vocabulary of globalization as a modern or postmodern equivalent of the Stoic universalism of the Roman Empire. In fact, as we noted earlier, what distinguishes an ecumenic empire from other large-scale power organizations is exactly the pathos of representative humanity. Therefore, it is important to remember, with Polybius, that at the level of concrete experience the globalization of the ecumenic empire is mere power and suffering for the victims of imperial expansion. Today it is evident that the Western process has produced and engulfed the global ecumene. But in contrast to widespread misconceptions and in spite of the more than two thousand years of history that have passed since Polybius first theorized the ecumene, today’s global ecumene—globalization—is not a world, but is in search of a world.42 Over centuries, the various concrete societies were drawn into one and only one global power field—in which, today, U.S. power dominates—but the field does not constitute a subject in history. It remains an object of political and military organization. The

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global ecumene, although a fact in pragmatic history, has as yet to become existentially and spiritually authoritative so that its order is experienced as more than an accident or a convenience. At the center of our age of exile we find again, therefore, the tension between ecumenic ambitions and the spiritual void of an order primarily based on power. Evidence of religious ferment, finally, could come from various aspects of our contemporary culture but for our purposes it must suffice to draw attention to a debate that may appear academic at first but upon closer inspection reveals itself as a symptom of a deeper crisis comparable to the crisis faced by Plotinus. Where today can we find strongholds of negative theology and gnosticism? According to an increasing number of commentators, we find negative theology in thinkers such as Foucault, Derrida, and others usually— and often misleadingly—labeled postmodern. Some go as far as to speak of a “theological turn in continental philosophy.”43 Already in the mid-80s Maurice Blanchot recommended readers of Foucault to reread The Archaeology of Knowledge predicting “that [they] will be surprised to discover in it many a formula from negative theology.”44 James Bernauer, too, saw parallels between archaeology’s negations of the concept of Man and negative theology’s negations of concepts of God.45 In a private meeting with Bernauer in 1980, Foucault accepted that his work was comparable to negative theology “insofar as it applied to the human rather than the divine sciences.”46 That Foucault should be considered an apophatic thinker is not surprising given the overall direction of his work on power. As David Bentley Hart has perceptively noted, “a theologian might well be tempted to read Foucault as an unwitting phenomenologist of original sin. After all, he often seems to say no more than what theology already assumes: that the world lies in the grip of thrones, dominions, principalities, authorities, and powers; although to this observation Christian tradition adds the claim that these powers appear as original or as ultimate only within the order that they describe, guard, and govern—which Christ has overcome.”47 If an escape from the ubiquitous, multiform, and variable nexus of power is possible at all—a question that Foucault struggled with especially after the publication of the first volume of the History of Sexuality—we might expect, therefore, that some form of apophatic movement would be involved. But the thinker who has confronted the accusation of advocating a form of negative theology most seriously is Jacques Derrida. In fact, it could be argued that Derrida’s project evolved and gained shape in conversation with

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“the supposed movements of negative theology,” which by his own admission continued to “fascinate” him throughout his work.48 In 1968, in the discussion following the presentation of his seminal paper “Différance,” a member of the audience observed: “It [diff érance] is the source of everything and one cannot know it: it is God of negative theology.” Derrida’s negative response at the time—“It is and it is not. It is above all not”—was remarkable for its ambiguity and thus reflected a deferral rather than an answer, a promise that he would eventually have to stop deferring and “at last speak of ‘negative theology’ itself.”49 And yet, when he finally made a serious attempt to fulfill the promise, the remarkable clarity of the “denial” [dénégation]—“No, what I write is not ‘negative theology’”—had to be qualified on over sixty pages.50 Moreover, the “Post-Scriptum” that followed the denial only reopened the door for further speculation: “I trust no text that is not in some way contaminated with negative theology, and even among those texts that apparently do not have, want, or believe they have any relations with theology in general.”51 It is not difficult to see why Derrida was unable to resolve his complex relationship with negative theology. From the start, his reservations were based on his impression that the ultimate purpose of negative theology was not negative at all but affirmative: So much so that the detours, locution, and syntax in which I will often have to take recourse will resemble those of negative theology, occasionally even to the point of being indistinguishable from negative theology . . . And yet those aspects of différance which are thereby delineated are not theological, not even in the order of the most negative of negative theologies, which are always concerned with disengaging a superessentiality beyond the finite categories of essence and existence, that is, of presence, and always hastening to recall that God is refused the predicate of existence, only in order to acknowledge his superior, inconceivable, and ineffable mode of being.52 Negative theology, Derrida notes, affi rms the divine—that, in fact, is the very purpose of its negating movements—and thus even in its most radical variants is not quite negative enough. In the words of one of his disciples, where negative theology looks for a “supereminent, transcendent ulteriority,” diff érance is “but a quasi-transcendental anteriority.”53 Whether Derrida’s assessment of negative theology is fair cannot be discussed here; the assessment is interesting primarily because it helps clarify Derrida’s

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self-understanding.54 Derrida’s project aims to eclipse negative theology in that it wants to be more negative than even “the most negative of negative theologies,” but this very gesture is implicit in negative theology, which always aims to move beyond itself. Apart from the question of the feasibility of Derrida’s project—can one outdo negative theology?—there is the question of the motivation. Why would one want to outdo negative theology? Derrida explains: “It is the domination of beings that diff érance everywhere comes to solicit, in the sense that sollicitare, in old Latin, means to shake as a whole, to make tremble in entirety.”55 If that is the purpose and effect of diff érance, why would we want to achieve this effect? As often in philosophy when it comes to questions of motivation, it is easier to listen to the disciples rather than the teacher because the teacher simply does what he does while the disciples have to justify to themselves why they are adopting someone else’s outlook. Let us listen, therefore, to John Caputo: “Deconstruction is rather the thought, if it is a thought, of an absolute heterogeneity that unsettles all the assurances of the same within which we comfortably ensconce ourselves. That is the desire by which it is moved, which moves and impassions it, which sets it into motion, toward which it extends itself.”56 Caputo’s mission statement is close enough to Derrida’s. The “absolute heterogeneity” is diff érance; the “unsettling” corresponds to the “trembling,” and the “entirety” is repeated in the “all.” But Caputo adds the important insight that underlying deconstruction, we find a desire. The term “desire” is always revealing. What is the nature of this desire? As the superlatives in the above quotations indicate, and as Derrida’s criticism of negative theology implies, we are dealing with a mimetic desire, a desire to outdo others in what they do—for example, negative theologians in their negations. It is tempting to compare this gesture to the practices of the radical ascetics of late antiquity, whose dramatic acts of self-denial, selfpunishment, and self-torture were clearly also driven by competitive display. Sarapion, for example, famously boasted, “I am deader than you!” But when self-denial becomes mimetic and competitive, the ultimate goal is inevitably self-assertion. We suspect, therefore, that Derrida’s encounter with negative theology is not a conversation but a competition, and yet it is precisely in this competitive display that he leaves the orbit of negative theology, which is concerned not with self-assertion but its opposite, self-transcendence. We agree, therefore, with Derrida’s initial denial: what he wrote is not negative theology. We do not have to speculate about motivations in order to

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prove his (and our) point. After all, the entire problem of diff érance is without equivalent in apophatic thought. If we are looking for equivalents, we have to turn to the radical calling into question of cosmic being that characterizes the gnostic systems of late antiquity. To be more specific, the position that diff érance occupies in Derrida’s thought corresponds to the position that the self-differentiating, precosmic movement within the pleroma occupies in the gnostic narrative. In order to be able to appreciate this equivalence, let us briefly review the meaning of the term diff érance: “we will designate as différance the movement according to which language, or any code, any system of referral in general, is constituted ‘historically’ as a weave of differences. ‘Is constituted,’ ‘is produced,’ ‘is created,’ ‘movement,’ ‘historically,’ etc., necessarily being understood beyond the metaphysical language in which they are retained, along with all their implications. We ought to demonstrate why concepts like production, constitution, and history remain in complicity with what is at issue here.”57 Diff érance positions itself in relation to our general system of referral as radical alterity—Caputo’s absolute heterogeneity—and at least metaphorically as anteriority, making it impossible to refer to it within the same system—the system of the same—and thereby turning the very same system into an irreducible aftereffect. Accordingly, diff érance is not a concept—in fact, it is not even a word!—“but rather the possibility of conceptuality, of a conceptual process and system in general.”58 These considerations lead us directly to the problem of the origin of cosmic being as we find it in the gnostic narrative. Derrida states, “In a certain aspect of itself, diff érance is certainly but the historical and epochal unfolding of Being or of the ontological difference. The a of diff érance marks the movement of this unfolding.”59 The “lapse in spelling,” “a kind of gross spelling mistake”—the “a” that turns diff érence into diff érance—correlates here with the accidental, unwanted beginning of cosmic existence.60 If we take into account the influences that helped determine the overall direction of Derrida’s project, we will be able to be more specific in our characterization of Derrida as a gnostic thinker. One of the key mediators in the transmission of gnostic narratives from antiquity to the modern period was the German mystic Jakob Boehme (1575–1624), who must be considered as the most important, if not constitutive, heterodox influence on Hegel.61 Boehme’s mysticism represents the original form of the modern understanding of dialectics as the fundamental principle of cosmogony and thus functions

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as a predecessor of the Hegelian system.62 In his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Hegel—who considered Boehme as the first German philosopher— devotes as much space to Boehme as to Spinoza; Boehme’s Aurora is quoted more than a dozen times. Schelling was among the first to accuse Hegel of borrowing from Boehme. In fact, Schelling’s criticism implied that there was little in Hegel’s work that could not also be found in Boehme’s. Given Derrida’s acknowledged debt to Hegel, we suspect that Derrida’s narrative must bear some similarity to Boehme’s. In fact, we find in Boehme a symbol that corresponds to Derrida’s différance much better than the symbols mentioned in our cursory survey of gnosticism. Boehme’s narrative begins with darkness. The pure, unrevealed deity is not a fullness, but an infinite, undifferentiated nothingness, an abyss—the Ungrund, the nonground. There is no knowledge in the Ungrund. God must obtain being in order to become discernible. Prior to everything, therefore, we find an undifferentiated totality of potentialities, which are activated as God reveals himself in a self-differentiating movement. In Derrida’s own words, diff érance refers to exactly the same movement: “Différance is the non-full, non-simple, structured and differentiating origin of differences.”63 We propose, therefore, to read Derrida not as a representative of negative theology but as a gnostic thinker, with diff érance playing the role of his Ungrund.64 There is no Ungrund in Plotinus—or Pseudo-Dionysius—because, unlike diff érance, the One does not confront being as alterity, as an originary dissemblance, but begets being in a relationship of undiminished giving. The globalizing politics of late antiquity as well as postmodernity turn the experience of exile into a mass phenomenon—in the form of the concrete experience of physical movement from one place to another or in the form of a philosophical or spiritual detachment from a reality that appears out of joint. But exile always enforces deconstruction. Regardless of whether we find gnostic systems in antiquity or postmodernity, they are radical expressions of this sense of detachment, reflecting that for their authors, in contrast to Plotinus, the taut line connecting the poles of reality has snapped. For them, the oneness of reality has disintegrated into an “absolute heterogeneity,” to quote Caputo again, “that unsettles all the assurances of the same within which we comfortably ensconce ourselves.” And, again, regardless of whether we look at gnosticism in its classic or postmodern variant, the gnostic response to a reality out of joint is a form of self-assertion: a shaken experience of being is translated—or turned inside out—into the “desire”

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to shake being “as a whole, to make tremble in entirety” (from Derrida, see above). We propose to call this turning inside out a negative conversion— negative because it reverses the orientation of the classic types of conversion (periagoge, metanoia, epistrophe) that always turn the out-of-joint experience of reality into introspection and self-transcendence. As a characteristic feature of gnosticism, the negative conversion blocks this inward movement and precisely thereby obtains and asserts its identity, often in a mimetic fashion. The exile from metaphysics, which appears to animate so much of what is written under the postmodern label, is thereby transformed into a metaphysics of exile.

notes An extended version of this article appeared as “The Impact of ‘Exile’ on Thought: Plotinus, Derrida, and Gnosticism,” in History of the Human Sciences 20 (November 2007): 27–52. 1

It should be noted that this statement entails a number of important assumptions concerning the relationship between experience and symbolization; there is not enough space in this essay to fully explicate these assumptions. My approach is informed by the work of Eric Voegelin. See, for example, Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, vol. 4 of Order and History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1974), 1–58.

2

Eric R. Dodds, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety: Some Aspects of Religious Experience from Marcus Aurelius to Constantine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), 3.

3

This analysis is from Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, 123.

4

Ibid., 133–134.

5

Eric Voegelin, “World Empire and the Unity of Mankind,” International Affairs 38 (April 1962): 172.

6

Voegelin, Ecumenic Age, 95.

7

Ibid., 22.

8

Jakob Burckhardt, The Age of Constantine the Great (New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1949), 216.

9

Géza Alföldy, “The Crisis of the Third Century as Seen by Contemporaries,” Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 15 (Spring 1974): 89–111.

10

Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity: From Marcus Aurelius to Muhammed (London: Thames and Hudson, 1971), 60.

11

Ibid., 62.

12

All quotations from Epictetus, The Discourses, book 3, chapter 13: “What solitude is, and what kind of person a solitary man is,” at http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/discourses.3.three.html.

13

Brown, The World of Late Antiquity, 98.

14

“Letter to Diognetus,” Section 5: The Lives of the Christians, http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/diognetus-roberts.html. It has been suggested that the addressee, Diognetus, was the tutor of Marcus Aurelius.

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15

John 18:36.

16

Eric R. Dodds, “The Parmenides of Plato and the Origins of the Neoplatonic One,” Classical Quarterly 22 (July/October 1928): 142.

17

Brown, The World of Late Antiquity, 73.

18

Quoted in Maria Luisa Gatti, “Plotinus: The Platonic Tradition and the Foundation of Neoplatonism,” in The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus, ed. Lloyd P. Gerson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 23.

19

John Bussanich, “Plotinus’s Metaphysics of the One,” in The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus, 51.

20

Ibid., 48.

21

Curtis L. Hancock, “Negative Theology in Gnosticism and Plotinus,” in Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, ed. Richard T. Wallis and Jay Bregman (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992), 167–186.

22

Plotinus, The Enneads, trans. Stephen Mackenna, 4th ed. (London: Faber and Faber, 1969), V, 2.1, 380; here quoted from John Gregory’s translation in Gregory, The Neoplatonists: A Reader, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 1999), 36.

23

There is some discussion as to whether Plotinus was consistent in assigning efficient causality to the One. See, e.g., A. Hilary Armstrong, “’Emanation’ in Plotinus,” in Plotinian and Christian Studies (London: Variorum Reprints, 1979).

24

Enneads, V, 2.1, as in MacKenna, 380. We used Gregory’s translation, The Neoplatonists, 36.

25

Enneads, VI, 7.36. See MacKenna’s translation, 590; here quoted from Gregory, The Neoplatonists, 122.

26

Enneads, VI, 7.35. MacKenna, 589; here quoted from Gregory, 121.

27

Enneads, VI, 9.9, as in Gregory, 127. Cf. MacKenna, 622–623. Plotinus took the “shedding of wings” from Plato’s Phaedrus, 248c.

28

Enneads, VI, 9.7, as in Gregory, 125, and VI, 9.9, as in Gregory, 128, and VI, 9.11, as in Gregory, 129. Cf. MacKenna, 620–621, 622–623, 624–625.

29

Enneads, VI, 9.11, as in Gregory, 130; cf. MacKenna, 625.

30

Enneads, VI, 9.11, as in Gregory, 129; cf. MacKenna, 624.

31

Enneads, VI, 9.10 as in Gregory, 128–129.

32

Dodds, Pagan and Christian, 71–72. Philo as quoted in Dodds.

33

See Nathan Rothenstreich, Alienation: The Concept and Its Reception (Leiden: Brill, 1989), 3.

34

Bussanich, “Plotinus’s Metaphysics of the One,” 42.

35

Rothenstreich, Alienation: The Concept and Its Reception, 5.

36

The category “gnosticism” is not uncontroversial. The religious groups and movements commonly included in this category—Basilides, Valentinus, Mani, and their followers—did not refer to themselves in these terms. In fact, while Greek words like Christianos, Christianikos, Christianismos began to appear in ancient texts a few generations after Jesus, no such words existed for “gnosticism” or a “gnostic religion.” Thus, the term does not represent one coherent religious movement but a variety of different groups, individuals, and ideas that typically did not know of each other. For the problems of defi ning “gnosticism,” see Michael Allan Williams, Rethinking Gnosticism: An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996). For the purpose

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of this essay we will ignore these issues because we are not interested in definitions but in radical examples of symbolisms in which living-in-this-world becomes a form of exile. 37

See, e.g., the discussion of Sophia’s role in Ptolemy’s system in Cyril O’Regan, Gnostic Return in Modernity (Albany: SUNY Press, 2001), 102–110.

38

The same gesture, interestingly, can be found in Hegel, who discussed the serpent not as a symbol of Satan, the father of lies, but as a discloser of the unrecognized truth. See Hegel’s Logic, §24.

39

From Theodotus, a follower of Valentinus, quoted in Hans Jonas, Gnosis und Spätantiker Geist. Erster Teil: Die mythologische Gnosis, 3rd ed. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht), 261.

40

The quotations are from Nikos Papastergiadis, The Turbulence of Migration: Globalization, Deterritorialization and Hybridity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999), 1–2. Similar assessments can be found, e.g., in Stephen Castles, Alastair Davidson, Citizenship and Migration: Globalization and the Politics of Belonging (New York: Routledge, 2000); Jonathan Friedman and Shalini Randeria, eds., Worlds on the Move: Globalisation, Migration and Cultural Security (London: I. B. Tauris, 2004).

41

Zygmunt Bauman, “Strangers: The Social Construction of Universality and Particularity,” Telos 78 (1988–1989): 39.

42

For this argument, see Eric Voegelin, “World Empire and the Unity of Mankind.”

43

See, e.g., Arthur Bradley, “Thinking the Outside: Foucault, Derrida and Negative Theology,” Textual Practice 16, no. 1 (2002): 57.

44

Maurice Blanchot, “Michel Foucault As I Imagine Him,” Foucault/Blanchot, trans. Jeff rey Mehlman and Brian Massumi (New York: Zone Books, 1987), 74.

45

James W. Bernauer, Michel Foucault’s Force of Flight: Towards an Ethics for Thought (London: Humanities, 1990), 178.

46

Bradley, “Thinking the Outside,” 73.

47

David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 68–69.

48

Jacques Derrida, “How to Avoid Speaking: Denials,” in Derrida and Negative Theology, ed. Harold Coward and Toby Foshay (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992), 82. This essay was originally published in French as “Comment ne pas parler: Dénégations,” in Derrida, Psyché: Inventions de l’autre (Paris: Galilée, 1987), 535–595.

49

Derrida, “How to Avoid Speaking: Denials,” 82.

50

Ibid., 77.

51

Jacques Derrida, “Post-Scriptum: Aporias, Ways and Voices,” in Derrida and Negative Theology, ed. Coward and Foshay, 309–310.

52

Jacques Derrida, “Différance,” in Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 6.

53

John D. Caputo, The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997), 2–3.

54

See Mary-Jane Rubenstein, “Unknow Thyself: Apophaticism, Deconstruction, and Theology after Ontotheology,” Modern Theology 19 (July 2003): 387–417.

55

Derrida, “Différance,” 21.

56

Caputo, The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida, 5. Emphasis added.

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57

Derrida, “Différance,” 12.

58

Ibid., 11.

59

Ibid., 22.

60

Ibid., 3.

61

See David Walsh, The Mysticism of Innerworldy Fulfillment: A Study of Jacob Boehme (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1983); Andrew Weeks, Boehme: An Intellectual Biography of the Seventeenth-Century Philosopher and Mystic (Albany: SUNY Press, 1991); Cyril O’Regan, Gnostic Apocalypse: Jacob Boehme’s Haunted Narrative (Albany: SUNY Press, 2002). For Boehme’s influence on Hegel, see Cyril O’Regan, The Heterodox Hegel (Albany: SUNY Press, 1994).

62

See, e.g., Jósef Piórczynski, “Jacob Böhme als Vorläufer der Hegelschen Absoluteslehre,” Reports on Philosophy 9 (1985): 33–39.

63

Derrida, “Différance,” 11.

64

It is astonishing that Caputo’s The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida misses this link. Neither gnosticism nor Boehme are mentioned in the book—and this in spite of the fact that Derrida is clearly aware of the significance of the BoehmeHegel connection. See, e.g., Derrida, “Qual Quelle: Valéry’s Sources,” in Margins of Philosophy, 273–306 (284–285n12). Gnosticism is capable of enlisting other narratives such as Neoplatonism, apocalyptic, and the Kabbalah, and thus it may sometimes be difficult to identify the underlying gnostic structure of a religious or philosophical system. See Cyril O’Regan, Gnostic Return in Modernity, 207–226.

PAYS

RÊVÉ, PAYS RÉEL

Créolité and Its Diasporas

j Natalie Melas

The idea of diaspora has undergone a stark transvaluation in recent cultural criticism. From the Greek and meaning “to scatter throughout, or far and wide,” the term “diaspora” originally referred to the dispersal of the Jewish people in the Babylonian exile and after. It signified the continuity of a culture and a people despite displacement from the land of origin and indeed despite the lack of coincidence between the culture and the territory upon which it is lived. This notion of diaspora relies for its unity on an unchanging, stable, ancestral cultural identity, fundamentally resistant to the vicissitudes of secular history. It construes the lost land of origin as a fi xed site of, in Stuart Hall’s words, “some final and absolute Return.”1 Even if return is never accomplished in actuality, the primary identification with the culture of origins predominates precisely because it is thought to transcend place and time. To what he calls this “literal” conception of diaspora, Hall counterposes a “metaphorical” sense of diaspora, one that positions itself squarely within histories of displacement, not above or beyond them: The diaspora experience as I intend it here is defined, not by essence or purity, but by the recognition of a necessary heterogeneity and diversity; by a conception of “identity” which lives with and through, not despite, difference; by hybridity. Diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and difference.2 Without dismissing the significance of ancestral cultures and symbolic returns, Hall emphasizes the transformations these cultures undergo in the

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diaspora that here names an experience rather than a condition. In this metaphorical definition, diaspora suggests a contingent, heterogeneous identification, quite contrary to its earlier association with enduring origins. Far from being predicated on the dream of absolute return, diaspora in the metaphorical sense fully inhabits the site of displacement, embracing rather than defending against the differential relations it offers. “It ain’t where you’re from it’s where you’re at,”3 as the lyrics Paul Gilroy uses as the title of an essay succinctly express it. Gilroy’s project of wresting diaspora from its association with ethnic absolutism in order to develop it as a critical term for a specifically black and transnational experience of modernity is not identical with Hall’s, but the two revaluations of diaspora in the framework of British cultural studies have in common the decisive shift in the term’s emphasis from the lost land of origins to the site of displacement. This transvaluation of the notion of diaspora from the solidarity and commonality of a community in exile to the transforming experience of difference and displacement also departs from the term’s original application in academic study of dispersed African peoples and harks to changing political contexts that frame the term’s shifting meanings. “Diaspora” emerged as a key term in the 1960s, taking up more or less where panAfricanism left off. According to St. Clair Drake, once African nationalist decolonizing movements overcame, at least provisionally, their objects of common struggle—first slavery and then colonialism—“cultural PanAfricanism would provide a broader basis of identification and cooperative endeavor in the black world than political Pan-Africanism.”4 Diaspora, a less explicitly political term, emerged in the postcolonial and post-independence period to denote this commonality of culture and values, thus replacing the hopes for a real return to Africa that fueled much pan-African discourse in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with figurative returns mediated through cultural identifications. The critique of absolute returns in contemporary transvaluations of the idea of diaspora takes place against the backdrop, on the one hand, of the antifoundationalist critique of origins in literary and cultural theory and, on the other hand, of the extraordinary migrations of cultures and peoples, accelerated over recent decades by the increasing flow and spread of global capitalism. The breakdown, or at least reconfiguration, of nationalism in much of the overdeveloped world, together with increased travel and communications, have aggravated the disjuncture between people and place, culture and territory

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in confounding ways. It is worth remembering that the conditions for differential and transformational experiences of diaspora can also foster an uninterrupted or exaggerated identification with the native land as various instances of long-distance nationalism indicate.5 These bewildering new possibilities for mobility and for territoriality make it increasingly difficult to distinguish firmly between literal and figurative returns, between real and imagined native lands. Appealing as Hall’s vision of “necessary heterogeneity” and transformative identities is, one must nonetheless wonder at what point and in what ways hybridity and mobility ultimately confl ict with the cultural and political realities of particular localities and the continuing necessity for the old, “literal,” or what I would prefer to call “originary,” diasporic identifications. What is at stake in the notion of diaspora in both its originary and hybrid forms is not only a mode of identity in and of itself, but also a mode of dwelling in a particular place without possessing it or requiring from it a sense of belonging. Créolité, the recent cultural movement emerging from Martinique, celebrates the heterogeneity and diversity of Antillean syncretism and also insists on the immutable link of this hybrid culture with a particular place to constitute something that would function like a national culture in the absence of a political nationality. The créolistes seek to constitute the Martinique of hybrid diasporic cultures as a native land, a place of origin. A heterogeneous and open model of cultural identity thus coincides in their project with the elaboration of the viability and integrity of a particular locality. Créolité is a kind of limit case to contemporary migrations of identity inasmuch as its openness to “diversality,” to cultural difference and transformation, ultimately conflicts with the cultural and political exigencies of establishing a home base for its specificity. As Martinican writers and intellectuals, the authors of créolité’s manifesto, Éloge de la Créolité, linguist Jean Bernabé and novelists Patrick Chamoiseau and Raphaël Confiant are first and foremost heirs of Aimé Césaire,6 both in his capacity as poet of one of the century’s most influential diasporic ideologies, négritude, and as the long-ruling political leader of Martinique directly responsible for its annexation to France as a Departement d’Outre Mer (Overseas Department) in 1946. With Césaire, the diasporic cultural ideology of négritude, combined with a communist internationalism (as opposed to the more common nationalist ideology that led to independence for most of the decolonizing world), facilitated the annexation of Martinique to the

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French polity. While this political status guaranteed a freedom from material want, the diasporic identifications of négritude proved incapable of protecting the island from cultural assimilation to metropolitan norms. The crowning irony of having one of the world’s greatest poets of colonial liberation as a head of “state” for writers of the créolistes’ generation—all born after the change from colonial to departmental status—has been to have undergone decolonization on a purely poetic and ideological register while dependency on the metropole in politics, economics, and culture continued, and indeed continue, long after the historical possibility of national liberation appears to have passed by. These writers have thus lived with the consequences of a diasporic construction of identity in a peculiarly intimate and concrete way, and there is for them a direct link between neocolonial cultural depropriation and a diasporic model of identity, whatever its initial emancipatory force. Consequently, though they echo the customary critiques of négritude for its racial essentialism, they object more strongly to its diasporic construal of local culture, faulting Césaire above all for bypassing the specificity and viability of Martinican culture in the real, the here and now of the native land, in favor of a figurative return to distant and mythical Africa. This is, of course, a generational struggle that unfolds against the backdrop of wide-ranging political and social changes over the last half of the century. Négritude, like pan-Africanism before it, was a response (or a scream, as the créolistes often name it) to the crushing negations of colonial racism, whereas créolité is a response to a particular manifestation of the multiple and decentered forms of domination and depropriation that accompany neocolonial globalization.7 I do not want to imply any unproblematic developmental or historical priority for créolité and obsolescence for négritude; if there is still development in the world, it is uneven at best and in any case eludes clear evaluative criteria, so that there are some circumstances in which négritude or cognate forms of diasporic ideologies still have much force and necessity and other situations where it seems inadequate. My approach here will be to explore the relation between créolité’s localism and various instances of diaspora obliquely but in depth through a reading of Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land) (1939) as an intertext for Patrick Chamoiseau’s epic novel Texaco (1992), arguably créolité’s most ambitious and most complete literary articulation.8 Let me begin with a well-known passage from the Cahier, which both recalls us to the rhetoric of anticolonial struggle and elaborates

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the richly ambiguous connection between place and people upon which diasporic négritude depends: Et nous sommes debout maintenant, mon pays et moi, les cheveux dans le vent . . . Et la voix prononce que l’Europe nous a pendant des siècles gavés de mensonges et gonflés de pestilences, car il n’est point vrai que l’œuvre de l’homme est finie que nous n’avons rien à faire au monde que nous parasitons le monde qu’il suffit que nous nous mettions au pas du monde mais l’œuvre de l’homme vient seulement de commencer ... et aucune race ne possède le monopole de la beauté de l’intelligence, de la force et il est place pour tous au rendez-vous de la conquête et nous savons maintenant que le soleil tourne autour de notre terre, éclairant la parcelle qu’a fi xée notre volonté seule et que toute étoile chute de ciel en terre à notre commandement sans limite. Je tiens maintenant le sens de l’ordalie: mon pays est la “lance de nuit” de mes ancêtres Bambaras . . . Et je cherche pour mon pays non des cœurs de datte, mais des cœurs d’hommes. [And we are standing upright now, my country and I, hair in the wind . . . And the voice proclaims that Europe has for centuries stuffed us with lies and bloated us with pestilence, for it is not true that the work of man is finished that we are parasites on the world that we need only fall into step with the world but the work of man has only just begun ... and no race has a monopoly on beauty on intelligence, on power and there is place for all at the rendezvous of conquest, and we know now that the sun turns around our land / earth, lighting the parcel which our will alone has fi xed and that every star drops from sky to earth at our commandment without limit.

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I now see the meaning of this trial by fire: my country is the “lance of night” of my Bambara ancestors . . . And I seek for my country not hearts of palm but the hearts of men.] (CN 76; emphasis added) This passage begins the poem’s final section, punctuated by the repetition of “debout” (standing erect), when poet, land, and race rise up from colonial prostration. At the level of a conceptual topography, the redressing of the “pays” (country), Martinique, is consequent upon a re-appropriation of “le monde” (the world) which is in turn accomplished through a vindication of “notre terre” (our land/earth) in the pivotal “rendez-vous of conquest” stanza. “Le monde” refers here not to a geographical totality, but to the abstract teleology of Western humanism that represents the sum total of the “work of man” exclusively in terms of the white man’s accomplishments. The rendez-vous stanza performs two functions in this context: it proclaims inclusion in the work and worth of the world for all the “races,” and it creates a transition between “le monde” and “mon pays,” the world and my country. The phrase “rendez-vous of conquest” expresses this transition in spatial terms, as an ambiguous site in which conquest is refigured as a consensual encounter, a rendezvous, in which there is “place” for all. But though the stanza explicitly frames its claim for inclusiveness in topographical terms, it maintains a calculated indeterminacy for the phrase “notre terre” (our land/ earth). The image of a parcel of land illuminated by the sun suggests a particular, bounded space, but since nothing specifies it further, the word “terre” maintains the full range of its meanings, which include “the planet earth,” “land,” or “soil.” In addition, the Cahier earlier develops “terre” as a kind of ontological quality that names the black man’s participation in the world (“sans qui la terre ne serait pas la terre” [without whom the earth would not be the earth]) (CN 68). The collectivity of the first-person plural “notre,” which possesses this “terre,” participates in the same indeterminacy: it could as well refer to all the excluded races as it could refer to “my country,” Martinique, in the succeeding stanzas. To the extent that this stanza’s generality would allow it to be spoken by all the dispossessed, “notre terre” articulates a diasporic solidarity at the cost of a dispersed or indeterminate spatiality. “Notre terre” is everyone’s planet-earth-land-soil. In Césaire’s Cahier, the rescue of the country (pays) Martinique from colonial negation thus requires the recovery of its “terre,” its land/earth interlinked with a larger diaspora.

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Counterdiaspora Individuals without an anchor, without horizon, colourless, stateless, rootless—a race of angels. —Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

The indeterminacy Césaire develops around the word “terre” is such that when the rendezvous stanza is recited verbatim by the heroine of Patrick Chamoiseau’s Texaco, the context alone suggests a radical revaluation of the relation between place of habitation and cultural identification. Over this “terre” a struggle between négritude and créolité for the status of worldliness and territorialization, the diasporic and the local unfolds. The passage occurs toward the end of the narrative as the heroine, Marie Sophie Laborieux, leads a delegation to the house of Aimé Césaire, mayor of Fort-de-France, to plead for city services for Texaco, the Creole neighborhood she has founded. When he seems about to chase her away, she suddenly remembers these lines from the Cahier and recites them back to their author “avec toute l’énergie du monde” (with all the energy in the world). Et il est place pour tous au rendez-vous de la conquête et nous savons maintenant que le soleil tourne autour de notre terre, éclairant la parcelle qu’a fi xée notre volonté seule et que toute étoile chute de ciel en terre à notre commandement sans limite. [And there is place for all at the rendezvous of conquest, and we know now that the sun turns around our land/earth, lighting the parcel which our will alone has fi xed and that every star drops from sky to earth at our commandment without limit.]9 No longer framed as a poetic appeal for inclusion and dignity on behalf of the race and by extension all the dispossessed of the world, Césaire’s lines in Texaco function as a petition for recognition and for inclusion on the map of the city on behalf of a marginal squatter’s settlement. Directed at Papa Césaire himself, they also quite transparently articulate the claims of local Creole culture upon diasporic négritude. The appointed conquest in Texaco is directed toward l’En-ville—a Creole expression one might loosely translate as “downtown” or creolize as “inner city”—made very explicitly to signify in this narrative the Martinican people’s attempt to muster a collective memory and destiny and to take hold of the land after abolition.10 This destiny finds a tenuous realization in the foundation of the Creole quarter named Texaco on

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the margins of the island’s capital, Fort-de-France. When its foundress, Marie Sophie, invokes Césaire’s “notre terre” (our land/earth), the calculated indeterminacy of the original is replaced with a radical if unbounded specificity. The “us” she speaks for refers, in the immediate context, to the residents of Texaco in her delegation, and somewhat more generally that class of people who remain marginal to the march of departmentalization’s assimilation, and thus preserve a link to Creole culture’s history of survival. The “terre” they seek to possess is not the earth itself, nor the whole native land, Martinique, nor even the city of Fort-de-France, but a very specific plot of contested real estate, belonging officially to the multinational Texas Oil Company and fi xed or squatted by the will of Marie Sophie, whose “commandment” is without limits in the ironic sense that it has no firm boundaries under its sway. Texaco represents a place and a possibility for créolité that Césaire’s poetical and political jurisdiction has occluded. In its repatriation and reterritorialization of négritude, créolité would sever “notre terre’s” links with the diaspora and radically replace “terre” as the ontological quality of négritude with “terre” as a hyperlocal space coincident with Creole culture. While proclaiming themselves “à jamais fils d’Aimé Césaire” (forever sons of Aimé Césaire) in so far as he “restored” to Creole culture its “African dimension,” accomplishing the “primal act of our restored dignity,” the créolistes unequivocally reject his reliance on a diasporic construction of Africa as the distant site of unitary origin, or, in their words, “Afrique mère, Afrique mythique, Afrique impossible” (EC 18). I should make clear here that I will focus specifically on the version of créolité advocated and practiced by these writers—who themselves by no means see entirely eye to eye on what it should be. Other positions based on the Creole language come to conclusions quite antithetical to that of the créolistes.11 Guadeloupean sociolinguist Dany Bebel-Gisler, for instance, sees the Creole language as the deployment of the remnants of African culture against colonialism, and thus indeed as a powerful expression of Africanity.12 The créolité articulated in the Éloge de la Créolité is, on the contrary, a resolutely counterdiasporic theory of differential identity, or identification. It seeks, in Glissant’s words, to “inscribe” the landscape as “constitutive of being” (constituant de l’être)—that is, to forge an immutable link, a homology in the deepest sense, between Martinicans and Creole Martinique.13 From the time it was founded on the eradication of indigenous Amerindians and the dispossession of deported Africans to the time it was annexed to the metropole as a Departement D’Outre Mer (1946),

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Martinique’s cultural identifications (as well as its economic and political life) have been in thrall to an Elsewhere—on the one hand, to the dream or “idéal perdu” of a return to Africa; on the other hand, to the ideal of French citizenship. What has been denied, or set in parentheses, is an identification, an assumption of the site of Martinique itself, to quote Glissant, as “éspace possédé” (DA 88). Having set aside the great Elsewheres, in their words, “the tutelary monsters of Africanité and Europeanité,”14 the créolistes set two main and not always coincident tasks for elaborating a culture grounded in the locality of Martinique. One is to excavate from under the erasure of colonial history a sense of duration, a space-time continuum of collective experience since the antifoundation of slavery. The other is to give expression to the ethnic diversity colonial history threw up on Antillean shores. The Creole language or basilect provides both a means and model for these tasks. Créolité is poised on the boundary between oral and written expression, in an interlectal space between the basilect of Creole and the acrolect of French French.15 Confiant and Chamoiseau do not write in Creole proper (though Confiant has in the past) but in a highly inventive intermediary or interlectal idiom. The memory traces of orality preserved in Creole open an access to a continuum over time, from the preservation of African words and syntax and vestiges of seventeenth-century French to myriad inventions and distortions along the way to the present. It is also the language and, more ambiguously, the model for a culture that the conflicting “ethnoclasses” which make up the island’s permanent inhabitants—béké, Syrien, kouli, mulatre, nègre (white settler, Syrian, East Indian, mulatto, negro)—have in common and therefore distinguishes them from their cultures of origin. Créolité is, in its most generous sense, a medium of contact. The créolistes explicitly reject biological or racial figures of melding, such as hybridity or métissage. Originating from the Spanish criollo (from criar [to breed] and Latin creare [to create]), the term “Creole” is most familiar as a name for white settlers born in the colonies as distinct from the metropole—though, as Confiant points out, in the seventeenth century it was just as readily applied to slaves born or acclimated to the area as distinct from recent arrivals from Africa, and indeed extended beyond the realm of the human to include plants and animals (e.g., bannane créole) and, of course, to name the language developed in the face of these primal displacements.16 The Éloge reclaims and celebrates créolité as a hybrid culture grounded in cohabitation in a particular place. In keeping

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with this counterdiasporic conception, the Éloge makes no mention of translocal or transnational solidarity based on race or cultural origin, asserting instead geopolitical affinities between the Caribbean and the Americas and anthropological affinities between Martinique other multiethnic or Creolespeaking cultures, such as Cape Verde and Mauritius.

Hyperdiaspora Ici, nous ne nous imaginons pas hors du monde, en banlieue de l’Univers. Notre ancrage dans cette terre n’est pas une plongée dans un fond sans pardon. [Here, we do not imagine ourselves out of the world, in a suburb on the Universe. Our mooring to this land is not a plunge into a merciless abyss.] Jean Bernabé, Patrick Chamoiseau, Raphaël Confiant, Éloge de la Créolité

From a certain angle, créolité’s identification of a particular people with a particular land looks very much like a call for a kind of national identity. But while the Éloge begins by apposing créolité’s locality to négritude’s diaspora, it ends by looking forward to the necessary heterogeneity of hybrid diasporas. Créolité not only focuses inward, plumbing a zone devoid of cultural deportation but also extends outward to the world and indeed prefigures a new form of worldliness. Because it synechdocally contains traces of cultures from across the globe, “La Créolité c’est ‘le monde diff racté mais recomposé, un maelström de signifiés dans un seul signifiant’” (Créolité is the “world diff racted but recomposed, a maelstrom of signifieds in a single signifier”) (EC 27). This extraordinary claim for worldliness contrasts sharply with transcendental notions of cosmopolitanism, whereby, for instance, Western man or the philosopher represents the world because he is at the apogee of its development, or because, to put it somewhat differently, he synthesizes what is best or most advanced in human history. What créolité proposes is not a synthesis nor an alternative generalization such as Césaire’s claims for the worldliness of négritude, but a diff raction and a recomposition of the world into a kind of microcosm constructed not as a symbol or an analogy but as a mosaic. Creole Martinique is not, in the terms of the passage cited earlier, like the world, it is the diff racted world. There are two overlapping propositions here: the first is descriptive or anthropological and asserts at base that by mere quotidian contact with several cultures, the Martinican peasant is, in Confiant’s astonishing phrase, more “immediately universal” than the French farmer or the Moroccan fellah.17 The universal is here thought

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simply as the greatest number of particulars. The second proposition, both more ambitious and more ambiguous, would parlay this multiple specificity into an open specificity—that is to say, one which would make of créolité not merely an index of multiplicity, but a way of “vivre le monde” [living the life of the world] (EC 51). What opens créolité onto worldliness is the consciousness of difference as something insurmountable, unsublatable, in the words of the Éloge, “la conscience non-totalitaire d’une diversité préservée” [the nontotalitarian consciousness of a preserved diversity] (EC 28). On this basis, the Éloge claims créolité not only as the marker of Martinican specificity and of a kind of diff racted worldliness in situ, but also as the “prefiguration” of new dimensions of man. It is in this sense that one might call it “hyperdiasporic.” As the old national structures crumble, the créolistes write, “le monde va en état de créolité” [the world is going into a state of créolité] (EC 52). Créolité poses itself as the model for a new hybrid diaspora: De plus en plus émergera une nouvelle humanité qui aura les caractéristiques de notre humanité créole: toute la complexité de la Créolité. Le fils, né et vivant à Pékin, d’un Allemand ayant épousé une Haïtienne, sera écartelé entre plusieurs langues, plusieurs histoires, pris dans l’ambiguïté d’une identité mosaïque. [Increasingly a new humanity will emerge which will have the characteristics of our Creole humanity: all the complexity of créolité. The son, born and living in Peking, of a German father and a Haitian mother, will be pulled between several languages, several histories, caught in the ambiguity of a mosaic identity.] (EC 53) It is notable that the example for this new man—as Françoise Vergès cogently points out, he is male, and the racial and cultural disposition of his family duplicates colonial power and gender relations18 —is located very far from Martinique, and that his connection to the Caribbean should pass through a Haitian rather than a Martinican mother. What this quite precisely sidesteps is the possibility of a Martinican diaspora, a kind of intermediate position between Creole Martinique and the greater world in its new state of creolity. In other words, while Martinican créolité may prefigure the hybrid diaspora, it explicitly and strangely leaves no room for Martinicans in it. There is no material link here, as we might have expected, between créolité’s local origin and its global destination.

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This minor discrepancy suggests that the articulation of a Creole specificity and its opening onto the world may involve a greater degree of complexity and contradiction than the triumphant rhetoric of the Éloge lets on. Rather than representing the overcoming of originary diaspora and the prefiguration of hybrid diaspora, créolité in Patrick Chamoiseau’s Texaco seems caught inextricably between them.

The Land of No Return Partir et demeurer en même temps. Partir: aspirer à l’universel dont vous nous bassinez. Demeurer: risquer l’enclosement qui nous est tant nécessaire. [To leave and to remain at the same time. To Leave: aspiring to the universal with which you bless us. To Remain: risking the enclosure which is so necessary to us.] —Édouard Glissant, Discours Antillais

Amongst the first desires of the aspiring intellectual from a tiny island at the outer reaches of the French empire was to leave, to escape the stultifying insignificance of colonial provincialism for the cosmopolitanism of the colonial metropolis. Césaire puts it mildly when he tells an interlocutor that it was a “relief to leave Martinique.”19 He puts it more strongly in the Cahier with his claustrophobic evocation of this “île miette” (crumb island), this “petit rien elipsoïdal” (this little ellipsoidal nothing), an almost carceral space where “ces quelques milliers de mortiférés [qui] tournent en rond dans la calebasse d’une île” (these few thousand deathcarriers [who] turn round and round in the calabash of an island) (CN 46)—and most strongly in the harrowing portrait he paints in the poem’s opening pages of an abject Fortde-France. A city “plate-étalée” (sprawled flat), diseased, “inerte,” “prostrée,” Elle rampe sur les mains sans jamais aucune envie de vriller le ciel d’une stature de protestation. Le dos des maisons ont peur du ciel truffé de feu, leurs pieds des noyades du sol, elles ont opté de se poser superficielles entre les surprises et les perfidies . . . Et de petits scandales étouffés, de petites hontes tues, de petites haines immenses pétrissent en bosses et creux les rues étroites où le ruisseau grimace longitudinalement parmi l’étron. [It crawls on its hands without the slightest desire to drill the sky with a stature of protest. The backs of the houses are afraid of the sky truffled with fire, their feet fear the engulfing soil, they have chosen

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to perch shallowly between surprises and treacheries . . . And petty hushed-up scandals, petty unvoiced guilts, petty immense hatreds knead the narrow streets into bumps and potholes where the wastewater grins longitudinally through turds.] (CN 40–41) Hyperbolically constricted (one might say, immensely tiny) and abject, this shipwrecked city is peopled by lost souls unable to coalesce into a crowd, unable to articulate misery or revolt. Such is the suffocating, hideously wounded site from which the poet seeks escape and to which he triumphantly returns. Chamoiseau’s Creole epic, whose 433 pages narrate the foundation of a single shantytown in that same city, can be read as a hyperbolic corrective to the opening pages of Césaire’s Cahier. Texaco magnifies the place in direct proportion to the Cahier’s diminution and does so by representing it uniquely from the perspective of insiders, common local folk who have neither the privilege nor perhaps the desire to leave and therefore, of course, no occasion to return. The island’s topography is not presented from a bird’s-eye view as it is in the Cahier; rather, it emerges gradually as various characters wander across it and settle into it in the course of historical time. The novel echoes the Cahier’s messianic structure. However, in this case, instead of returning from elsewhere, the savior is a local converted to the neighborhood’s cause, an urban planner, that is to say, a technocrat intellectual disabused of his European conception of modernization by the novel’s heroine, a Creole “femmematador” (warrior woman) and foundress of Texaco. One might go so far as to say that Texaco is in part about the reeducation or initiation of local Europeanized intellectuals—an urban planner and an ethnographer-novelist—characters who most likely have taken a round-trip or two to the metropole—into the complexity and viability of Creole specificity. In the process, the novel constructs a polyvalent spatio-temporal topography of Fort-de-France, evoking a Creole space no longer occluded by the great unitary Elsewheres. The story proper, narrated by Marie Sophie Laborieux to the urban planner, starts roughly from her own father’s conception and birth during the time of slavery (18. . as the chronology specifies it) and meanders through the major events of Martinican history (abolition, World War I, World War II, departmentalization, etc.), culminating in the foundation of the quarter Texaco and ending with her own death in the present (dated at 1989), itself described in the marqueur de paroles’ epilogue. The city of Fort-de-France and the struggling

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quarter of Texaco emerge as the repository of an autochthonous lived history. Chamoiseau systematically creolizes oppositional modes of relation. While maintaining difference and asymmetry, the customary antitheses of plantation societies—master/slave, mulatto/negro, city/country, oral/written—overlap, conjoin, borrow back and forth, and contest each other in a chaotic but continuous progress of a mode of survie, a technique of survival linking the time of slavery to the present and initiating us (and the marqueur de paroles, and the urban planner before us) into seeing the ragtag settlement of Texaco as a site of Creole memory essential to the life of the city. However, this fluid process of interrelation, this differentiated and open specificity stops dead at the island’s edge. The one who oversteps this limit brings upon himself the curse of banishment and strikes the narrative with a rigid, mutually exclusive positioning of movement and stasis, travel and home, man and woman. The cursed one is Nelta, sometime bodyguard to Aimé Césaire, Marie Sophie’s greatest love and a crucial figure for the foundation of Texaco, since it is he who rescues her from death by suffocation in a mulatto household, he who initiates her into the life of a Creole neighborhood, and he who brings her to the Doum, a wild area adjoining the Texaco installation, where, under the magical eye of Papa Totone, an old quimboiseur (healer), she takes on her destiny as femme-matador foundress of Texaco. But for all his good works, Nelta must go: Mais le rêve de Nelta c’était de baille-partir. Partir, c’etait son mot français. Il l’avait vérifié dans un dictionnaire. [But Nelta’s dream was to leave. To leave, was his French word. He had verified it in a dictionary.] (Texaco 298) For “partir” to be Nelta’s verifiable French word already hyperbolically and humorously preempts the initial point I want to make here about a distinct polarization in the text between domiciling and travel. If to leave is verifiably French, then we must surmise that to stay put is Creole. But “partir” is also to be verified in the long passage that follows the evocation of Fort-deFrance in Césaire’s Cahier, a passage punctuated by the word “partir,” where the poet imagines himself returning from a diasporic journey endowed with a transformative voice: et cet autre petit matin d’Europe Partir

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Comme il y a des hommes-hyènes et des hommespanthères, je serais un homme-juif un homme-cafre un homme-hindou-de-Calcutta un homme-de-Harlem-qui-ne-vote-pas l’homme-famine, l’home-insulte, l’homme-torture on pouvait à n’importe quel moment le saisir le rouer de coups, le tuer—parfaitement le tuer—sans avoir de compte à rendre à personne sans avoir d’excuses à présenter à personne [...] Je retrouverais le secret des grandes communications et des grandes combustions. [and that other dawn in Europe To leave. As there are hyena-men and panther-men, I would be a jew-man a Kaffir-man A Hindu-man-from-Calcutta a Harlem-man-who-doesn’t-vote the famine-man, the insult-man, the torture-man one could at any moment seize him and beat him up, kill him—yes, kill him—without being accountable to anyone without having excuses to make to anyone I would rediscover the secret of great communications and great combustions.] (CN 42) It is notable that the first stop on the speaker of the Cahier’s projected diasporic journey is not mother Africa and her promise of redemptive ancestral roots, but Europe. For if the colonial leaves for the metropole in search of universal culture, what he finds there is, in Fanon’s memorable phrase, “his true face,” his blackness, his difference from the European, which in turn brings him into relation and solidarity with other colonials who suffer similar degradations and discriminations. The initial diasporic encounter, thus, is a political prise de conscience in the metropole founded on the recognition of common oppression. In the poem’s itinerary, the vindication of African cultural origins in négritude follows upon this highly generalized consciousness of solidarity.20 In other words, the assertion and indeed the discovery of cultural roots in an originary homeland, Africa is

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indissociable both from a formative encounter with colonial racism and from a basic political solidarity with other peoples present at the rendezvous of conquest. This Cesairean intertext brings out starkly the reductions “partir,” departure from the native land, undergoes in Texaco. Marie Sophie imagines Nelta viellissant en Irlande, auprès d’une bière tiède, contant la Caraïbe à de gros-blancs rouquins. Je t’imagine ridé sous une tente de Masaï, buvant du sang brûlant, ou te couvrant de caca-boeuf pour contrer les moustiques, et déployant dans les conseils de ces bergers immenses tes souvenirs de nègre des Amériques. Ou alors dans Harlem, victime du Ku Klux Klan sur une croitée de feu. [growing old in Ireland, nursing a lukewarm beer, telling stories of the Caribbean to redheaded big-whites. I imagine you wrinkled beneath a Masai tent, drinking burning blood, or covering yourself with cow dung to fight off the mosquitoes, and unfolding in the councils of those immense shepherds your negro-of-the-Americas’ memories. Or else in Harlem, victim of the Ku Klux Klan on a cross of fire.] (Texaco 298) While the Creole epic writes Martinique into complex spatio-temporal dimensions, it seems to turn the world into a travel brochure. In stark contrast to the poet’s journey of discovery in the Cahier, Nelta’s journey—as Marie Sophie imagines it—is a quaint tourist fantasy where cultural relativism is bounded to the point of commodification. Nelta’s itinerary is conspicuously devoid of diasporic affinities, whether cultural or political. His stop in Harlem, “ou alors dans Harlem, victime du Ku Klux Klan sur une croitée de feu” (or in Harlem, victim of the Ku Klux Klan on a burning cross), an almost imperceptibly discrepant stop on the benign inventory of his destinations, is particularly revealing. For nothing in Marie So’s imagining distinguishes this site of racial struggle and diasporic cultural renaissance from a quaint bar in Ireland or from the African bush. Kenya, Harlem (Africa, the diaspora), and Ireland are placed at an equal cultural distance with respect to the Creole traveler. Thus, we glimpse here a vision in which the wide world seems to offer little besides a spectacle of cultural difference that precludes significant translocal and transcultural relations. To négritude’s traveler as seeker for

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the “secret of great communications,” créolité seems to propose a peculiarly driven tourist for whom indiscriminate destinations take the place of a determining destiny. But it is not so much with the departure from the native land that créolité reproaches négritude as it is the négritude poet’s triumphant posture of return, that moment of arrival when he offers up a voice now enriched with the secrets of diasporic identification to uplift the abject, disjoined crowd of the native land. Such a return presupposes that culture, language, and liberation should come to Martinique from elsewhere. The remainder of the partir passage in the Cahier beautifully outlines this dynamic: J’aurais des mots assez vastes pour vous contenir et toi terre tendue terre saoule terre grand sexe levé vers le soleil terre grand délire de la mentule de Dieu . . . il me suffirait d’une gorgée de ton lait jiculi pour qu’en toi je découvre toujours à même distance de mirage—mille fois plus natale et dorée d’un soleil que n’entame nul prisme—la terre où tout est libre et fraternel, ma terre Partir. Mon coeur bruissait de générosités emphatiques. Partir . . . j’arriverais lisse et jeune dans ce pays mien et je dirais à ce pays dont le limon entre dans la composition de ma chair: ‘J’ai longtemps erré et je reviens vers la hideur désertée de vos plaies.’ Je viendrais à ce pays mien et je lui dirais: ‘Embrassez-moi sans crainte . . . Et si je ne sais que parler, c’est pour vous que je parlerai.’ [...] Et voici que je suis venu! [I would have words vast enough to contain you and you extended earth drunken earth earth great vulva lifted to the sun earth great delirium of God’s mentula . . . one mouthful of your jiculi milk would suffice for me to discover in you always at the distance of a mirage—a thousand times more native and gilded

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by a sun which no prism cuts—the earth/land where all is free and fraternal, my land/earth To leave. My heart rustled with emphatic generosities. To leave . . . I would arrive smooth and young in this my country and I would tell this country whose loam enters into the composition of my flesh: “I have wandered a long time and I return to the deserted hideousness of your wounds.” I would come to this my country and I would tell it: “Embrace me without fear . . . And if I know only how to speak, it is for you I will speak.” [...] And lo, I have come!] (CN 44)

Once again the redemptive return to the “pays,” the country or native land passes through the crucial ambiguity of “terre” as land/earth, here encompassing both primal energies (“earth great vulva”) and a utopian dream of liberty and fraternity (“earth/land where all is free”) and hence the ideals of mother Africa and of French citizenship. For this dynamic to function, the site of return must be configured as a place of desertion and loss, a place that needs something returned to it, a people who need a messianic voice in order to come to speech. Only the restitution of the vital link to the diaspora, that land/earth “a thousand times more native” can, to put it starkly, reverse the foundational deportation and dispossession of slavery that founded Martinique. If Martinique is to be constituted as a livable place only by this return from elsewhere, then Martinican culture is constitutively displaced, diasporically disjoined from the site it inhabits. There is much in the Cahier that complicates the dynamic I outline here. The conditional that frames this passage alone suggests that this is a projected or imagined return, one in which the speaker exaggerates his mission and his powers, and which will undergo further transformations as the poem develops. However, the general outline does obtain throughout, and, more important, it is what Texaco sets itself against. For the novel’s claim is that the time of slavery is not an empty time, a time of dispossession requiring restitution from elsewhere, but on the contrary that it engendered a viable if heretofore submerged history of survival and a dynamic culture capable of healing its own wounds. Chamoiseau, along with Glissant before

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him, utterly rejects the Cahier’s heroic poetic disposition, the formation of a voice that would speak for the moribund crowd unable to assemble its own cry. For the creolist writer, the isle is by no means empty or mute, but full of unheard voices to which he patiently attends in the manner of a native ethnographer and which he endeavors to bring to writing with inventive fidelity. And yet, if the cultural poetics of négritude are faulted for an absolute reliance on movement and displacement, the créolité narrated in Texaco would seem to involve a correspondingly unyielding and absolute insistence on stasis and emplacement.21 Texaco responds to the extreme claustrophobia that projects the Cahier’s speaker into the world with its inverse, an insular claustrophilia.22 Nelta is not merely banished to quaint settings out of the pages of travel brochures, but he is given no hope of return: “soif [du monde] qui, de terre en terre, de peuple en peuple, de langue en langue, ne dut jamais s’éteindre: eternelle par essence autant qu’un mauvais sort” [thirst (for the world), which form land to land, from people to people, from language to language, would never be extinguished: eternal by essence like an evil spell] (Texaco 299). No longer the avenue of redemption, this worldly hunger for other “terres” (lands/earths) is now a curse. To follow through on the homophony in French between “sort” and “sortie” (spell/exit), one might say that henceforth all exit is eternally cursed. Taken to its extreme, the startling suggestion here is that the process of reclaiming Martinique from the constitutive displacement of diasporic identifications requires the denial of Martinique as a site of return per se. If this blatant allusion to the Cahier stops short of amounting to an indictment of créolité, it is perhaps a deliberate acknowledgment of what is lost to créolité with the renunciation of négritude’s “emphatic generosities.” Chamoiseau’s concern in this epic of foundation to contest négritude’s denial of Martinique’s territorial and cultural integrity brings him to those parts of the Cahier that are least essentialist and most internationalist. But the contest cuts both ways, and, I would argue, Chamoiseau here deliberately and hyperbolically draws attention to the limits of the cultural project of créolité: he lets us see its insularity as at once necessary and untenable, expansive and constricting. Texaco is a limit text for the cultural ideology declaimed in the manifesto since it at once represents its most sustained articulation and self-consciously incorporates some of its blind spots.

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Such lucid instances of critical reflexivity with respect to the créolité Texaco otherwise so faithfully develops are by no means abundant in the novel; the multiple joys of insular claustrophilia woven into a vibrantly seductive Creole interlect overwhelm the occasional indication of the island’s cursed perimeter. But if Nelta’s curse of no return might seem a minor event in this crowded narrative, it nonetheless exerts a determining influence on the foundation of Texaco, for Marie Sophie entrenches herself in precise contradiction to his desire to leave. Her exclusion from Nelta’s dream of travel constitutes her as “la Marie-Sophie Laborieux qui allait . . . se battre contre l’En-ville avec la rage d’une guerrière” (that Marie-Sophie Laborieux who would . . . battle against the Inner-City with the rage of a warrior) (Texaco 298). The warrior woman is not only the counterpart but also the product, the remainder of the wandering man. She is domiciled in proportion to his unmooring: Pourqoi cette obsession de posséder ma case? Être dans l’En-ville, c’était d’abord y disposer d’un toit. Et moi, bien que d’y être née, je m’y sentais flotter comme une négresse-campagne. Et puis, c’était aussi pour contredire Nelta, m’accrocher au pays alors que lui voletait, m’ensoucher alors que lui jalousait les nuages, construire alors que lui rêvait. [Why this obsession with possessing my hut? To be in the inner city, was first of all to have a roof there. And I, though born there, felt myself floating like a country negress. And then, it was also to contradict Nelta, to cling to the country while he fluttered above, to root myself while he envied the clouds, to build while he dreamed.] (Texaco 302; emphasis added) The stark mutual exclusivity instituted here fi xes the domestic and its other: on one side, stasis and foundation; on the other, dreaming and motion. To construe Martinique as a native land of no return allows for a stark and absolute differentiation between a native traveler’s “pays rêvé” (dreamed land) and the native dweller’s “pays réel” (real land). It is almost as though the exigency of separating Martinique from the diaspora—that is, of making its real specificity visible in full distinction from an idealized Africa—carries with it a kind of interdiction against all dreamlands and all dreams of other lands. And if movement and stasis are set in opposition here, they are also gendered, for Marie Sophie and Nelta appear as a version of earlier epic couples, such as Penelope and Odysseus, with the difference that this Odysseus

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never returns and this Penelope engenders a Creole neighborhood instead of a son and remains besieged to the end. The foundation of a home base for créolité is accomplished through an interdiction on homecoming. The native land is precisely not constructed, as it is in the Odyssey and so many other narratives of exile, in the imaginary dialectic between the desire of the homecoming traveler (that is, on his fidelity to the homeland in the face of myriad temptations for forgetfulness) and the travails of the home in his absence (that is, on his rightful and necessary place in it). Moreover in Texaco’s narrative sequence, the prevention of extrainsular movement is linked to childbearing; that is, the gendering of Texaco’s foundation is intimately related to reproduction. Had Marie-Sophie succeeded in bearing Nelta a child, convinced as she was that this would anchor him to the country, she may have lived out happily ever after a blissful domestic existence in one of the established Creole quarters and Texaco would have gone unfounded. But she fails to conceive and out of that failure becomes “matador-Texaco,” a manly woman, a figure which, as James Arnold points out, is often recognized as the standard-bearer of Creole culture.23 But just as important as her occasional masculinization in the text is her sterility, a condition owing to the strong abortifactants she took to terminate several pregnancies all consequent upon rapes by assimilationist mulattos from the En-ville. The association here of reproduction with miscegenation, specifically the desire to climb up the ladder of the island’s pigmentocracy by the process of whitening (so infamously derided in Fanon’s analysis of Mayotte Capécia)24 clearly invokes a familiar correlation between women and race. It may well be the long shadow of the figure of the ancestress raped on the slave ship and on the plantation that ultimately haunts the créolistes’ masculinism.25 Reproduction also raises the specter of racial differentiation which créolité’s ideology of cultural hybridity is at great pains to negate and replace. In order to become the bearer of Creole culture, Marie-Sophie must first be purged of her woman’s position at the matrix of race. Her biological capacity of generation is displaced onto and to some extent idealized in her act of foundation, which, besides a fragile neighborhood, brings about the conversion, the return “home,” of two local intellectuals, the urban planner and the creolist novelist, who are thus positioned as her heirs, her cultural sons. From this perspective, Texaco is as much about Martinique’s Creole history in general as it is about local Europeanized intellectuals’ access to it and their legitimacy as speakers for it.

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Circulation Il y a trente ans, dans la Caraïbe, 600,000 Antillais rêvaient de la France. Aujourd’hui, en France, 400,000 Antillais rêvent des Antilles. [Thirty years ago in the Caribbean, 600,000 Antilleans dreamed of France. Today, in France, 400,000 Antilleans dream of the Antilles.] —Alain Anselin, L’émigration antillaise en France: La troisième Ile

Texaco renounces négritude’s diaspora and domiciles Césaire in more or less conspicuous ways. But the hybrid diaspora of contemporary migrations to metropolitan centers triumphantly claimed for créolité’s “diversality” in the final pages of the Éloge is nearly absent from Texaco, even as it nonetheless frames the project of the novel. An apparently exhaustive chronology prefaces Texaco, running from precolonial times to the death of Marie Sophie Laborieux in 1989; it includes the 1946 change to departmental status, but it leaves out the consequent 1961 establishment of BUMIDOM (Bureau pour le Développement des Migrations intéressant les départements d’Outre-Mer— Bureau for the Development of Migration Regarding the Overseas Departments) and the crucial changes brought about by emigration. This is no minor detail, as Antillean migration to the metropole amounted to a major exodus that immeasurably accelerated precisely those processes—the cessation of economic production, the utter dependency on France, the society of consumption and assimilation—which brought Martinique to the brink of what Glissant calls “cultural genocide.” It is thus a prominent aspect of precisely those conditions which made créolité necessary. The impact of this migration is difficult to exaggerate; as Richard Burton puts it, “by the late 1960s the principal French West Indian export had become . . . French West Indians.”26 At the same time, an increasing number of metropolitans came to the island to fi ll bureaucratic posts, leading Aimé Césaire himself to issue dire warnings about this “genocide by substitution.”27 On the basis of sheer numbers (in 1962, 60,000 Antilleans in France; in 1969, 150,000; by 1979, 300,000, one out of three Antilleans) and the direct control of BUMIDOM in exporting mainly unskilled labor into France, one analyst interprets the migration as the culmination of the long history of slavery, the final deportation that brings the plantation home to the metropole.28 But emigration seems to be unrepresentable within the strictures of Texaco’s creolist aesthetics, for it poses bewildering uncertainties for the project of narrating the foundation of a clearly bounded place, a “terre” of Creole specificity.

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The hybrid diaspora of emigration does erupt briefly toward the novel’s end in several epigraphs recording the urban planner’s commentary, such as the following: Mais la ville est un danger; elle devient mégapole et ne s’arrête jamais; elle pétrifie de silences les campagnes comme autrefois les Empires étouffaient l’alentour; sur la ruine de l’Etat-nation, elle s’érige monstrueusement plurinationale, transnationale, supranationale, cosmopolite—créole démente en quelque sorte, et devient l’unique structure déshumanisée de l’espèce humaine. Note de l’urbaniste au Marqueur de Paroles. Chemise no. 20. Feuillet XVI 1988. Bibliothèque Schoelcher. [But the city is a hazard; it becomes megalopolis and never stops; it strikes the countryside into silence as in former times the empires asphyxiated their environs; on the ruins of the nation-state, it rises up monstrously plurinational, transnational, supranational, cosmopolitan—a kind of demented Creole, and becomes the unique dehumanized structure of humankind.] (Texaco 390) Here the brave new diaspora celebrated in the Éloge emerges in a dystopian guise, for the urban planner’s words read quite precisely like an inversion of that section of the manifesto where the son of a German father and Haitian mother happily inhabits Peking: Le monde va en état de créolité. Les vieilles crispations nationales cèdent sous l’avancée de fédérations qui elles-mêmes ne vivront peutêtre pas longtemps. Dessous la croûte universelle totalitaire, le Divers s’est maintenu en petits peuples, en petites langues, en petites cultures. Le monde standardisé grouille contradictoirement dans le Divers. Tout se trouvant mis en relation avec tout, les visions s’élargissent, provoquant le paradoxe d’une mise en conformité générale et d’une exaltation des différences. [The world is going into a state of Creolity. The old national rigidities give way to the forward march of federations which themselves will perhaps not survive long. Beneath the crust of a totalitarian universal, Diversity has maintained itself in small groups, small languages, small cultures. The standardized world pullulates in contradictory

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ways within Diversity. Since everything is set in relation with everything, visions expand, provoking the paradox of a general conformity and an exaltation of difference.] (EC 52) The ruins of the nation state, in the urban planner’s words, do not give way to the Éloge’s “exaltation of difference,” but to a “demented Creole.” The term “Creole” avows the connection between the claims of local créolité and its hybrid diasporic equivalent, but at the same time marks them off with a kind of normative boundary: on one side the demented Creole of the megalopolis; on the other, presumably, the sane, struggling Creole of Texaco. Here the triumphant prefigural equivalence of Martinican “créolité” and “le monde” reappears as the incommensurable asymmetry between the “monstrously plurinational, transnational, supranational, cosmopolitan megalopolis” and the besieged particularity of Texaco. The decentered diasporic Paris of migrations, unfolding in the contemporary HLM (Habitation à Loyer Modéré, which is translated into low-rent housing) and the banlieue, is the site of primary cultural contacts not unlike those that compose créolité’s “monde diff racté,” a circumstance Confiant, for one, has no trouble articulating in his expository prose when he includes this diaspora in the “immediate universality” of Creole culture, though he too scrupulously avoids it in his fiction. What makes this metropolitan “neocreolization” difficult to integrate into créolité’s fictions is that it undermines the immutable link asserted there between créolité and the land of Martinique. If the “immediate universality” claimed for créolité thrives on numbers, it cannot bear fractions. But where the creolist writers fall silent, the sociologist of Antillean emigration waxes poetic: Paris, trente-cinquième commune de la Martinique, dépendance lointaine de la Guadeloupe, Paris la troisième île ses odeurs de blaff de mafé de couscous et de frites son gros ka qui gronde dans les couloirs du métro son Quartier Latin sa Petite Asie ses Champs Elysées qui fleurent l’after shave et sa Goutte d’Or au gout de noix de cola et de kinkeliba On n’émigre plus, on circule. Et pourtant on s’installe. Et il reste coûteux d’être un ‘Nègre hors place.’

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[Paris, thirty fifth commune of Martinique, distant dependency of Guadeloupe, Paris the third island its smells of blaff de mafé of couscous and fries its big drums roaring in the metro corridors its Latin Quarter its Little Asia its Champs Elysées which reek of aftershave and its Goutte D’Or tasting of cola nut and kinkeliba One no longer emigrates, one circulates But still, one settles in. And it remains costly to be a “Negro out of place”]29

Anselin invites us to imagine precisely what Texaco halts at the island’s edge: Martinicans participating in a process of creolization in the metropole. In his two studies, Anselin isolates several different stages of Antillean immigration to France. The first stage of BUMIDOM’s policy, beginning in the immediate postwar years, he interprets as a continuation of the domination characteristic of the plantation economy: the export of cheap labor from colony to metropole replaces the export of sugar. In the second stage, largely spurred by the global economic crisis in the seventies, BUMIDOM shifted its emphasis from the importation of labor to the reuniting of families. This encouraged the increasing integration of Antillean emigrants into French society, especially as the larger number of women and youth turned “a migration of producers into a migration of reproducers.”30 Around the same time, a policy of subsidized leave to the “native land” brought about many frequent returns. BUMIDOM’s successor accentuated this reverse migration back to the overseas departments in order to fill specific employment needs. This third stage, spanning the 1980s, thus constituted “the era of a mini diaspora.”31 It gave rise to neologisms on the islands for these returnees, or rather circulators, such as “négropolitain,” also a nationality not foreseen by the chancelleries. These are bewildering circumstances for the guardians of créolité’s specificity indeed: not only are Martinicans creolizing the metropolis, they are returning again and again, some to visit, some to stay. If the négritude poet’s claim of triumphant return with the unique gift of culture has to be interrupted for Texaco’s créolité to let the island’s specificity emerge from within its boundaries, then the multiple returns (and “installations”) of the circulation between metropole and department must be repressed

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altogether lest they wear away those boundaries to nothing from sheer use. It is little wonder that the Éloge’s exultant claims for créolité’s position at the vanguard of contemporary hybrid diaspora should be reduced in its epic, Texaco, to the defense of a marginal territory whose hyperdiasporic foundation is besieged from all sides by macro-diasporas, mini-diasporas, temporary diasporas, and hypothetical diasporas—in short, by displacements so varied and numerous they seem to strike with obsolescent nostalgia the viability of any such place as the native land and to scatter the sense of even so generous a term as “diaspora.” Créolité has often been criticized as nostalgic or “passéiste,” and the Creole culture it claims to recover as an anachronistic, if not entirely fantasmatic ground for another kind of essentialism. Such critiques are important, particularly since the créolistes wield a great deal of cultural power in and for the islands, a power too often expressed in a kind of rigid orthodoxy on what counts as authentic Antillean culture and who is authorized to articulate it. In view of the heterogeneity of Antillean experience on the islands and in the diaspora, the créolistes’ insistence on an exclusively local culture excludes and overshadows a disconcerting number of cultural and political possibilities. Maryse Condé challenges them to remain true to their own words and open créolité’s specificity to the plurality of Antillean truths.32 Richard Burton in a similar vein counterposes créolité’s “forward looking intuition” of an identity that must be open and flexible to its “regressive attachment to the real or imagined Creole plenitude of the past.”33 I would argue that these two faces of créolité cannot be separated in Texaco, which, with a good measure of self-reflexivity seems to mark the limits between an open identity and the necessity of a site or place of habitation, what Édouard Glissant, extending his theorization of retour/détour, calls the “réalité incontournable du lieu,” or the “unavoidable reality of place.”34 Perhaps only the great metropolises with their enormous power and resources can accommodate hybrid diasporas composed of not only migrations but also circulations of identity. For the ultraperipheral land of Martinique, a dependency of France and now of unified Europe (the ending date to the Marqueur’s epilogue in Texaco is, significantly, 1992) it is not clear how the reality of the “lieu” can be maintained. Despite its epic intentions, Texaco’s scope is in some respects paradoxically more restricted than that of Chamoiseau’s earlier novels. Those stories narrated aspects of Creole life, which, while fragile or indeed already vanished, had a claim to reality. In Texaco créolité is brought into the present and, as

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the messianic structure suggests, the future, but as a project, not a reality, a potentiality, not a fact. The novel’s interstices and its intertext indirectly pose the diaspora in an age of global circulation as an undecidable question: is the native land to which one cannot return the real land (“pays réel”) or the dream land (“pays rêvé”)?

notes Special thanks to Maryse Condé for calling this essay forth in the first place, for generously and tirelessly creating a variety of occasions in the U.S. academy for discussion and debate on Francophone Caribbean literature, and always for the gift of her storytelling. Honneur et respect! 1

Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” in Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, ed. Jonathan Rutherford (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1990), 226.

2

Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” 235.

3

Paul Gilroy, “It Ain’t Where You’re From, It’s Where You’re At: The Dialectics of Diasporic Identification,” Third Text 13 (Winter 1991): 3–16. The lyrics are by Rakim (W. Griffi n). The themes of this essay are more fully developed in Gilroy’s subsequent The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993).

4

St. Clair Drake, “Diaspora Studies and Pan-Africanism,” in Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, ed. Joseph E. Harris (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1982), 351.

5

See for instance Benedict Anderson, “The New World Disorder,” New Left Review 193 (1992): 3–13.

6

Jean Bernabé, Patrick Chamoiseau, Raphaël Confiant, Éloge de la Créolité (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1989). Henceforth cited in the text as EC. All translations are mine. This collectively authored text is certainly the clearest and most important articulation of créolité; nonetheless, it presents a unified consensus on créolité belied by each author’s individual statements on the matter. With respect to négritude, Confiant takes by far the most radical stance of refusal (see Raphaël Confiant, Aimé Césaire: Une traversée paradoxale du siècle [Paris: Stock, 1993]), whereas Bernabé argues for continuities, claiming that créolité fulfills the promise of négritude better than négritude had (see Jean Bernabé, “De la Négritude à la Créolité: Éléments pour une approche comparée,” in Études françaises 28 (1992–1993): 23–38; Chamoiseau’s relation to Césaire, in Texaco and elsewhere, is both more generous and more ambiguous. He is closer to Césaire in that his novels invariably focus on the experience of Afro-Martinicans and often include important if indirect elements of diasporic culture, but he perhaps departs the most radically from négritude’s transnationalism. In any case, the influence of Édouard Glissant on Chamoiseau’s work and thought is so overwhelming that it most often overshadows any residual resentment toward Césaire.

7

Chamoiseau expresses what he sees as négritude’s devolution from righteous rebellion during the anticolonial period to a paradoxical reinforcement of colonial attitudes during the neocolonial period. See Patrick Chamoiseau, Écrire en pays dominé (Paris: Gallimard, 1997), 57.

8

Aimé Césaire, Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, in The Collected Poetry, ed. and trans. Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith (Berkeley: University of California

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Press, 1983), 76. Henceforth cited in the text as CN; all translations mine unless otherwise indicated. 9

Patrick Chamoiseau, Texaco (Paris: Gallimard, 1992), 295. Henceforth cited within the text. All translations mine.

10

Chamoiseau glosses the Creole derivation of the term in a footnote to his epilogue: La langue créole ne dit pas ‘la ville,’ elle dit ‘l’En-ville’: Man ka désann an-vil, I ka rété an-vil, Misié sé jan an-vil, An’vil Fodfwans . . . L’En-ville désigne ainsi non pas une géographie urbaine bien repérable, mais essentiellement un contenu, donc, une sorte de projet. Et ce projet, ici, était d’exister” (Texaco 422n) [The Creole language does not say la ville (“the city”), but rather l’En-ville (“the in-city”): Man ka d’esann an-vil, I ka rété an-vil, An-vil Fodf wans . . . (I am going down to city, He lives in city, This fellow is from City, from Fort-de-France). “City” thus designates not a clearly defined urban geography, but essentially a content and therefore a kind of enterprise. And here that enterprise was about living].

Patrick Chamoiseau, Texaco, trans. Rose-Myriam Réjouis and Val Vinokurov (New York: Vintage, 1998), 386. Amongst the several explicit meditations on the meaning of the En-ville elsewhere in the text, there is this comment of Papa Totone, a mento, or wise man, who teaches Marie-Sophie: C’est quoi l’En-ville? tu dis. C’est le goulot où nos histoires se joignent. Les Temps aussi. La bitation nous dissociait. Les mornes nous plantaient en dérive immobile. L’En-ville met en marche noue amarre malaxe et remalaxe à toute vitesse. [What is the In-City? You say. It is the bottleneck where our histories join up. The temporalities too. The plantation dissociated us. The hills planted us in immobile drifting. The In-City sets us going knots moors mixes and remixes at top speed] (Texaco 322; translation mine). 11

For an extensive review of the various positions on créolité in Martinique and Guadeloupe in the context of local politics and for a thorough, lucid analysis of the marked and occasionally acrimonious differences amongst the three authors of the Éloge, see Richard Burton, “Ki Moun Nou Ye? The Idea of Difference in Contemporary West Indian Thought,” New West Indian Guide 1 and 2 (1993): 5–32. The cultural dynamics and political stakes of the Creole language follow yet another trajectory in Haiti; see Leah D. Hewitt, “La créolité ‘Haitian Style,’” in Penser la Créolité, ed. Maryse Condé and Madeleine Cottenet-Hage (Paris: Éditions Karthala, 1995), 237–249. The relation between the Martinican créolistes and their Haitian precursors merits closer attention, particularly as it highlights the connection between the Creole language and the politics of nationalism, posed explicitly in Haiti and implicitly in a peculiarly problematic way in Martinique. The Éloge is after all dedicated not only to the great Martinican precursors, Césaire and Glissant, but also to the Haitian Creole writer Frankétyèn, who alone of the three is addressed in Creole on the dedication page.

12

See Dany Bebel-Gisler, Langage Créole, force jugulée (Paris: Editions Caribéenes, 1989).

13

Édouard Glissant, Discours Antillais (Paris: Seuil, 1981), 199, henceforth cited in the text as DA. I cite Glissant’s words here for their aptness, not to claim him as a créoliste. Glissant has repeatedly distanced himself from créolité for what

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he considers its essentialization into a quality of his notion of creolization as a process. See Lise Gauvin, “L’imaginaire des langues: Entretien avec Édouard Glissant,” Études françaises (Fall–Winter 1993): 21. 14

Such phrases have drawn strong objections from Afrocentric critiques of the Éloge. See for instance, Anna Mazama, “Critique afrocentrique de l’Éloge de la créolité,” in Penser la Créolité, ed. Maryse Condé and Madeleine Cottenet-Hage, 85–99, who objects to the implied equivalence between colonialism and négritude. While their phrasing may occasionally imply this, the créolistes explicitly deny such equivalence and indeed the either/or mode of identification such a judgment would engage.

15

The debates surrounding Creole language, according to Burton, “Ki Moun Nou Ye? The Idea of Difference in Contemporary West Indian Thought,” center on the status and indeed desirability of the interlect. The writers of the Éloge themselves warn against the danger of simplification the interlect poses when it veers into “français banana,” becoming “interlecte cliché” (EC 49–50). See Burton, “Ki Moun Nou Ye?” 21–23.

16

Raphaël Confiant, Aimé Césaire: Une traversée paradoxale du siècle, 273, 260–265. He also points out that while white settlers came to appropriate the name “Creole” exclusively for themselves, its denotation as a language was reserved just as exclusively to the black slaves, as that is what the slaves speak (though, of course, it was in fact the lingua franca). A distinctly racial fissure thus divides the word, belying the claim made elsewhere in this book that “créolité” has rigorously, absolutely no racial connotation and thus presents itself as a longsought exit from the complex and pervasive racial categories that have structured social and political hierarchies on the island. The implied and absolute distinction between race and hybrid culture whereby the latter in some sense redeems and replaces the former, and which seems in many ways to motivate créolité’s challenge to négritude (especially in Confiant’s formulation), while salutary and productive, glosses over racial politics altogether.

17

Confiant, Aimé Césaire, 60–61.

18

Françoise Vergès, “Métissage, discours masculin et déni de la mere,” in Penser la Créolité, ed. Condé and Cottenet-Hage, 83. It is notable that when Chamoiseau produces a summary of the main ideas of créolité in his text for a large-format picture book on Martinique (créolité for tourists?), he reproduces this exemplary family with the sexes reversed (Haitian man, German woman), and the Asian site shifted from China to Japan, but the offspring is still a boy. See Patrick Chamoiseau, Martinique (Paris: Editions Hoa-Qui, 1994), 7. When this internationalist proto-Creole couple return once again in Chamoiseau’s latest book, their national identities have reverted to the original formulation (Haitian woman, German man), though they are still living in Japan; their offspring, however, has (at last) been ungendered, appearing simply as “l’enfant” (the child). See Patrick Chamoiseau, Écrire en pays dominé (Paris: Gallimard, 1997), 202n.

19

Quoted in Liliane Kesteloot, Comprendre le Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Issy les Moulineaux: Editions Saint-Paul, 1982), 39.

20

A. James Arnold, in “Aimé Césaire and the Surrealist Legacy,” a paper presented at “Paris-New York: Migrations of Identity,” Columbia University, New York, 8 November 1996, shows that this passage and others that stress common oppression rather than common ancestry were added later.

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21

My reading here is in line with Michel Giraud’s argument that the ideology of créolité departs from négritude in content only. In form and practice the two share a fundamentalist, inflexible understanding of cultural identity. See Michel Giraud, “La Créolité: Une rupture en trompe-l’oeil,” Cahier d’études africaine 148 (1997): 182. As I hope to make clear at the end of this essay, while I am sympathetic to such critiques, I find it difficult to dismiss the movement merely as a kind of misguided attempt to secure cultural power and influence.

22

I borrow this felicitous term from Cesare Casarino, who develops it in “The Sublime of the Closet, or, Joseph Conrad’s Secret Sharing,” Boundary 2 (Summer 1997): 199–243.

23

In “The Gendering of Créolité,” in Penser la Créolité, ed. Condé and Cottenet-Hage, A. James Arnold elaborates an argument about the masculinism of the créolistes and their canonical precursors to account for their aversion to homosexuality and their exclusion of women as transmitters of culture. Marie-Sophie’s distinct masculinization, he argues, shows her to conform to this trend despite her gender. He also points out that women writers, Maryse Condé and Simone SchwarzBart in particular, give greater freedom to both women and movement in their novels. Perhaps the most exhaustive and extensive critique of creolist masculinism in English is to be found in Richard Price and Sally Price, “Shadowboxing in the Mangrove: The Politics of Identity in Contemporary Martinique,” in Caribbean Romances: The Politics and Regional Representation, ed. Belinda Edmondson (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999), 123–162.

24

See Frantz Fanon, Peau noire, masques blancs (Paris: Seuil, 1952), 54–62.

25

A full elaboration of this analysis would have to take account of the extraordinarily problematic position of the father—indeed his full absorption into the mother—in the psycho-social arrangements of Martinique, the subject of Livia Lesel’s Le père oblitéré (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1995). I am grateful to Gerty Dambury for drawing my attention to this illuminating study.

26

Richard D. E. Burton, “The French West Indies à l’heure de l’Europe: An overview,” in French and West Indian: Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana Today, ed. Richard D. E. Burton and Fred Reno (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995), 5.

27

From an article in La progressiste, 27 December 1978, cited in Confiant, Aimé Césaire, 252.

28

Alain Anselin, L’émigration antillaise en France: Du Bantoustan au Ghetto (Paris: Éditions Anthropos, 1979).

29

Alain Anselin, L’émigration antillaise en France: La troisième Ile (Paris: Éditions Karthala, 1990), 241. As the subtitles indicate, Anselin has radically shifted the terms of his analysis from slavery to conquest. He gives no reference for this poem, leaving one to understand that it is the demographer’s own creation.

30

Alain Anselin, “West Indians in France” in French and West Indian, ed. Burton and Reno, 115.

31

Alain Anselin, “West Indians in France,” 117.

32

Maryse Condé, “Chercher nos vérités,” in Penser la Créolité, ed. Condé and Cottenet-Hage, 305–310.

33

Richard Burton, “Ki moun nou ye?” 27–28.

34

Édouard Glissant, Introduction à une poétique du divers (Montréal: Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1994), 24.

CRITICISM, EXILE, IRELAND

j Conor McCarthy It is part of morality not to be at home in one’s home. —Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia

I wish here to look at the work of two of the most prominent Irish critics of the last twenty-five years, Seamus Deane and Edna Longley. It seems to me to be legitimate to look at them under the rubric of exile, as they have moved, over the course of their careers from places of origin into new geographies and jurisdictions. What is interesting is the degree to which they have made themselves new homes in these places. Seamus Deane is from the city of Derry, in Northern Ireland. Edna Longley is from Cork City, in the Republic. Deane is now Keough Professor of Irish Studies at Notre Dame University, in Indiana. Longley, after a highly successful career at the Queen’s University in Belfast, is now retired, although they are exact contemporaries. Deane comes from a poor Catholic nationalistrepublican background; Longley comes from a professional/middle-class background and a mixed Catholic-Presbyterian marriage. Deane and Longley were both born in 1940, just twenty years after the partition of Ireland to form, on the one hand, the Free State, later to become the Irish Republic; and, on the other hand, Northern Ireland, a self-governing unit within the United Kingdom. They went to college at the end of the 1950s, Deane to Queen’s, and Longley to Trinity College Dublin. Longley there met her future husband, the poet Michael Longley, who was from the North, and they moved back there together, where she took a doctorate in English at Queen’s. Deane went to Cambridge, where he wrote the doctoral thesis on the politics of English Romanticism that would eventually be

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published as The French Revolution and Enlightenment in England 1789–1832.1 Longley took up a teaching position at Queen’s; Deane, although he spent a number of years in the United States at the end of the 1960s, teaching at Berkeley and holding a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, eventually took up a position at University College Dublin. Deane became professor of English and American Literature there, when Denis Donoghue left to take up the Henry James Chair at New York University. Longley eventually was awarded a personal chair at Queen’s. Now, this is a very crude biographical summary. But I suggest that this pattern can be understood as part of a much larger process of the end of empire and partition, the consequent fracturing and shifting within the British state system, and the coming apart of that system again at the end of the 1960s. The fundamental point is the relationship between authority, criticism, and the state. At bottom, I am arguing that the critical projects and attitudes of Deane and Longley are related in crucial ways to the stabilities and instabilities of the Irish and British state system. As Ian Lustick has suggested, “In the world as we know it in the 1990s, no fact is more obvious about states than the impermanence of their boundaries.”2 Borders may change due to war, or due to peaceful change, such as the reunification of Germany. Liam O’Dowd points out that the Irish border was created at roughly the same time as “some of the least successful and most conflictual borders established this century.”3 Locally, the point is that, as Michael Laffan has shown, there was nothing natural or inevitable about the creation of the Irish border.4 Neither was the Irish border created in the institutional context of international negotiation. Unlike the post-1918 division of Silesia, for example, which was effected by means of democratic plebiscite and the mediation of four neutral countries, the partition of Ireland was seen as an affair internal to the United Kingdom. O’Dowd reminds us that it was, in fact, the product of a balance of force between Ulster Unionism and the British state, on the one hand, and the Free State and Ulster Nationalism, on the other. That balance, in the crucial phase of 1912–1925, was tilted in Unionism’s favor: Ulster Unionists . . . won the right of self-determination in an historical conjuncture which maximised their power and influence. The outcome registered the concentration of Unionist-controlled industrial production and reflected the deep links between Unionist

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elites and the conservative and military establishments in Britain . . . these groups . . . had been able to shape the coalition government’s policy in Britain and above all they had been able to mobilise concentrated armed force on the ground in what was to become Northern Ireland.5 The nineteenth-century home rule movement was superseded by the Government of Ireland Act of 1920, which legislated in effect for two home rule parliaments, one in Belfast and one in Dublin. The resistance of Unionism to home rule had nevertheless issued in a form of home rule. In seeking to thwart nationalist, or as Ulster Unionists saw it, Catholic majoritarianism, they won their own majoritarian dispensation in the new Northern statelet. The Treaty of 1922, building on the Government of Ireland Act, had given more autonomy to the Oireachtas (national legislature) in Dublin, legislated for the formality of a Northern opt-out from an all-Ireland parliament, and provided for a boundary commission to settle the border. In practice, the workings of the commission were weakened and diluted. The Northern Ireland government, while accepting the treaty’s opt-out for Northern Ireland, refused to be bound by the commission on the grounds that Northern Ireland had not been party to the treaty. The British were wary of the commission, lest it reopen the question of partition. If the prospect had originally been held out to Sinn Fein negotiators in 1921 of major border alterations, the British government now argued for only minor rectifications. Crucially, they rejected the principle of plebiscites as the means to determine the wishes of the local inhabitants. Irish nationalist pressure for a plebiscite was countered with the suggestion that it would run foul of Ulster Unionist resistance. So, the status quo was confirmed by, if not force, then the threat of force, and not by democratic means. As O’Dowd and Laffan suggest, few of those who actually helped to create the Irish border saw it originally as a frontier between nation-states. Yet, once in place, events, policies, and the simple existence of two states as “facts on the ground” combined to consolidate it. Most interestingly, it also served to effect various kinds of division or separation. It allowed British governments of all hues to separate Westminster politics from Irish domestic concerns. To that extent, it even separated Unionists from British perceptions of overall national interest. Partition deeply divided Irish nationalists, breaking them into a range of bodies of opinion spanning

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straightforward rejection to short-term acceptance of what was felt to be a temporary settlement. Northern nationalism was divided between abstentionists and constitutionalists, and also between border inhabitants and those east of the River Bann, and politicians and gunmen. Northern nationalists were sundered from their southern brethren. And, of course, nationalists were also separated from Unionists, who saw the southern state as an external threat and northern nationalists as a “fifth column” intent on subverting the northern state. Even in the south, nationalists divided over the treaty (hence the civil war and the emergence of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael as the dominant political parties), but further they faced the choice of either increasing and stressing their state’s separateness from Britain or trying to develop links with the north. In the end, the logic of the existing Free State won out, and it prioritized its own economic, constitutional, and sociocultural agendas and interests. The ideological rupture thus effected in nationalism was compensated for in the 1937 constitution’s claim to the whole island as the “national territory.” Thus, there is a massive sedimented history lying behind the border as we come to it today. It is not merely a line on a map, but has itself acquired historical—institutional, economic, juridical, and cultural—force. The question then arises as to the relationship of this history of the British-Irish interstate system, with criticism and intellectual activity. Firstly, with Edward Said, one can argue that criticism takes place on a cultural terrain always already mapped by the state: all intellectual or cultural work occurs somewhere, at some time, on some very precisely mapped-out and permissible terrain, which is ultimately contained by the State.6 With David Lloyd, one can make the point even more forcefully: To the monopoly of violence claimed by the state corresponds the monopoly of representation claimed by the dominant culture. Control of narratives is a crucial function of the state apparatus since its political and legal frameworks can only gain consent and legitimacy if the tale they tell monopolizes the field of probabilities. The state does not simply legislate and police against particular infringements, it determines the forms within which representation can take place. Access to representation is accordingly as much a question of aesthetics as of

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power or numbers, and not to be represented often as intrinsically a function of formal as of material causes.7 So the ideological purchase of the state on intellectual work is very considerable. Not merely this, but the Irish and Northern Irish states pursued, from 1922 to 1972, self-consciously distinct and separate cultural policies, as expressed in their education systems, print and electronic media, popular festivals and holidays, and social and political rituals. North and south, these were predicated on very different assumptions. The nationalist movement that eventually won the independence that issued in the Free State had been prepared by a long struggle for cultural hegemony, with which the landmark figures of the Irish Literary Revival—Augusta Gregory, W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, Sean O’Casey, George Russell, and James Joyce—were all in some way engaged. Political separatism was accompanied, in other words, by movements of cultural separatism. The task of these latter was to discover or rediscover an Irish identity unsullied by English Protestant colonization and conquest. This would be both the cause and the result of nationalist struggle. Ireland would create a culture that would be a light to the world; but Ireland also deserved and required independence because it possessed, whether nascent or fully realized, such a culture already. By contrast, however, the struggle of Ulster Unionism, which emerged victorious in the northern state, was not to separate from Britain, but to maintain the link. Accordingly, its cultural analogues were those associated with the protection of the status quo—the icons of Protestant liberty and supremacy, the Crown, the empire. The Unionist state did not require the creation of a new identity or the revival of an ancient one, but rather the preservation of the existing dispensation. Combined with the inherent antipathy of fundamentalist Protestantism to high culture, this helps to account for the extraordinary contrast between the gallery of well-known contemporary northern writers from a nationalist background—Seamus Heaney and Brian Friel are only the most famous—and the relative paucity of acclaimed writers from a Protestant Unionist background. Narrowing the focus down to academic and critical intellectuals, the most obvious way that partition manifested itself has been in what has been termed the “revisionist debate.” This is a set of quarrels that has echoed through the last thirty years of Irish discussion, especially in the humanities and social sciences. The paradigm case has been that of the

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historians. Although owing its institutional origins to a much earlier process of academic historiographic professionalization, this trend can reasonably be traced to the years around the breakdown of the northern state.8 Debates fostered by Francis Shaw and Conor Cruise O’Brien on the beneficence of the nationalist heritage were given particular point and purpose by the conflict unfolding in the north. Comparatively academic debates as to the origin and character of Irish nationalism jostled with debates as to the role explicitly to be played by academic history in containing the war. This resulted in a mainstream historiographic discourse split between a rhetoric of scholarly objectivity and value-freedom, on the one hand, and an activist rhetoric of debunking political mythologies, most especially nationalist ones, on the other. The greatest Irish historian of this moment, F.S.L. Lyons, issued in 1971 the following anguished appeal: In the present situation, with the dire past still overhanging the dire present, the need to go back to fundamentals and consider once more the meaning of independence, asserts itself with almost intolerable urgency. The theories of revolution, the theories of history, which have brought Ireland to its present pass, cry out for re-examination and the time is ripe to try to break the great enchantment which has for too long made myth so much more congenial than reality.9 What is noteworthy here is the assumption that the cause of the 1969/1970 crisis is to be found in “the meaning of independence,” and the accompanying idealist conception that figures Ireland as having been brought to “its present pass” by a surfeit of revolutionary and historical “theory.” Against the malign influence of “theories of revolution,” the task of the historian was to provide a hardheaded positivist historiography that would serve to undercut the pernicious idealism of militant nationalism. We can now see this effort to have been the project of delegitimating the nationalist politics that was reckoned to be behind the recrudescence of militancy in both the Catholic nationalist minority in Northern Ireland, and also among southerners, outraged at watching the heavy-handed reaction of the northern state to that resurgence. Put very crudely, this was part of an intellectual discoursepolicing operation: the discipline of history declared its objectivity and responsibility by, paradoxically, serving the needs of the existing interstate system in trying to dampen down radical political sentiment on either side of the border.

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But this quarrel also affected specifically literary debates. Within Northern Ireland, figures such as the poet John Hewitt and the critic Edna Longley have tried to foster a literary regionalism. By this, they have meant the creation of a literary identity for Northern Ireland that would be grounded in the experience and landscape of that statelet, as distinct from both Irish cultural nationalism (seen as the preserve of Catholic southerners), and also “mainland” British culture. The problem with these efforts, as Joe Cleary explains, is that the Unionist establishment of Northern Ireland always regarded regionalism as a possible Trojan horse for the assertion of a nationalist cultural identity.10 Regionalism itself, while purporting to be a nonideological concept, was always politically loaded, being most interested in figuring a nonsectarian rationalist New Unionism, rather than directly confronting the alienation of the northern minority population. Paradoxically, it has been in parallel with the “Troubles,” signifying the collapse of the northern state, that the greatest flowering of Northern Irish literature—in the work of Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, Paul Muldoon, Tom Paulin, Mebh McGuckian—has occurred. The further paradox is that most of these writers have come from the nationalist minority community in the north. The overall picture that emerges, then, is that of the close intertwining of intellectual and literary activity in Ireland, north and south, with the 1922–1972 British-Irish interstate system and its eventual collapse. Intellectual discussions and quarrels have partaken of what Tom Nairn famously called “the breakup of Britain.” Nairn’s metaphor is useful to us here, as it permits us to locate Seamus Deane and Edna Longley not only in relation to the politics of the British and Irish states but also to the politics of literature and criticism. Nairn’s breakup was always as much a matter of culture and the nature of Englishness and Britishness, and in the contrasting critical projects of Longley and Deane we see the analogues in Ireland of debates in Britain about identity, culture, literary pedagogy, and theory. Deane, more than any other single figure, has been the driving force behind the “theory revolution” in Irish criticism, and Longley has been the most forceful and prominent critic of this trend. Their respective critical projects can therefore be represented as either contributing to that breakup, on the part of Deane, or holding the line against it, on the part of Longley. The argument of this essay, therefore, relates the crisis in the state system to the crisis in criticism. This is not an unfamiliar formulation in Irish literary studies. That is, criticism has frequently figured the northern crisis in its

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own, literary-theoretical, terms. What is clear is that conflict and criticism are related. From opposing methodological and political positions, Deane and John Wilson Foster have argued that the Northern Ireland conflict is intimately related to culture and criticism. Deane argued in 1984 that “the crisis we are passing through is stylistic . . . it is a crisis of language—the ways in which we write it and the ways in which we read it.”11 Foster put it similarly in 1985, though with an Arnoldian flourish: “The critical condition of Ireland at the present time seems undivorceable from the condition of criticism in Ireland. The failure of Irish society is the failure of criticism.”12 It is reasonable to suppose that Deane, as a member of an uneasy minority of a sectarian statelet, would have a sense of both the weight and the brittleness of authority, whether that authority would be linguistic or cultural or political. By this I mean that Deane’s sense of culture as a realm of ideological contest is derived in part from his sense of outsiderhood in Northern Ireland, his sense (and that of his community) that the state did not belong to them, that they lived outside of “official” culture (which was self-consciously British). In addition, Deane has spent most of his working life as an academic critic in the Republic, where, to a politicized member of the northern nationalist minority, the mainstream political rhetoric of unity will have seemed hollow and mendacious. So Deane’s circumstances have put him outside culture for much of his life: it would seem inevitable, then, that he should be drawn to philosophical traditions that express a deep skepticism of traditional notions of culture as being, in Matthew Arnold’s famous formulation, “the best that has been thought and known in the world.” Edward Said’s Gramscian reading of Arnold illustrates this point very well. Said demonstrates how for Arnold culture was very much a force for and of the state. Culture was the best that was known and thought, the best self of man, and the state was its institutional manifestation. A triumphant and dominant culture presents a form of hegemony. Thus, the power of culture is potentially that of the state itself. For an intellectual or writer to have the honorific title of culture conferred upon his work is to be endowed with an authority originating in the state. Said goes on to suggest that the coincidence of state authority and cultural legitimacy results in a sense of centrality, confidence, the sense of majority, community, belonging, and home in cultural production. To lie outside this legitimate culture is to be homeless, irrational, anarchic, beyond representation. So it is that the processes by

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which certain practices are deemed culturally legitimate are as much a matter of exclusion as inclusion. Deane, I am suggesting, has manifested, throughout his career, a sense of this kind of outsiderhood. Longley, on the other hand, has moved toward what Said calls “a sense of centrality, confidence, the sense of majority, community, belonging, and home.” In Longley, this sense of arrival is manifested most clearly in her efforts to create a sovereign cultural unit called Northern Ireland, and to defend it from the encroachments of all comers, whether they be nationalists from north or south, British critics (especially those of the left, such as Terry Eagleton), and American critics, who she feels tend to be sentimental about Ireland and therefore predisposed toward cultural nationalism. This rearguard action, fought out by Longley over the terrain of contemporary Northern Irish poetry especially, has been one carried out with predominantly Leavisite and New Critical tools. This has given her criticism an ahistorical and formalistic tenor, accompanied by a powerful moralism. But the combination of an empirical epistemology and a formalist aesthetic also has allowed Longley, in regionalist mode, to produce a text called “Ulster” that is undisturbed by geopolitics or history. It is not that she does not have a critical geography—in fact, her criticism is larded with a geographical vocabulary, but it is one that veers between a rather crude positivism and a willful idealism. For example, in her most famous manifesto, “Poetry and Politics in Northern Ireland,” Longley argues that “poetry and politics, like church and state, should be separated . . . And for the same reasons: mysteries distort the rational processes which ideally prevail in social relations; while ideologies confiscate the poet’s passport to terra incognita.” She also notes that “Conor Cruise O’Brien calls ‘the area where poetry and politics overlap’ an ‘unhealthy intersection.’”13 It is Longley’s spatial or geographical metaphors that are of interest here: poetry and politics are conceived, as are church and state, in spatial terms of unhealthy proximity or healthy separation. Her quotation of O’Brien itself contains a reference to Lionel Trilling’s “bloody crossroads.”14 But none of these lead Longley toward a more materialist geography. Poetry and politics are polar opposites in this formulation, as are ideology and terra incognita. Ideology is conflated with mysteries. The possibility that politics may consist in more than rational processes or that poetry may involve something other than a journey to terra incognita is denied. Seen in the light of the complex overlapping of geopolitical factors

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with social and economic inequality that characterizes the Northern Ireland problem, the idealism of Longley’s thought seems here to be strained to the breaking point. Likewise in her critique of the relations of feminism and nationalism in Ireland, Longley asserts the following: Both Irish Nationalism and Ulster Unionism must accept the reality of the North as a frontier-region, a cultural corridor, a zone where Ireland and Britain permeate each other. The Republic should cease to talk so glibly about “accommodating diversity,” and face up to difference and division. This would actually help the North to relax into a genuinely diverse sense of its own identity: to function, under whatever administrative format, as a shared region of these islands. At which point there will definitely be no such person as Cathleen Ni Houlihan.15 This passage illustrates both the first liberal strengths and the last liberal weaknesses of Longley’s position. The idea that the north is a cultural corridor seems entirely unexceptionable. It is, however, brought up short against the flat assertion in the next sentence. Quite apart from the problematic ascription of subjectivity to the polities of the Republic and Northern Ireland, Longley contradicts herself to the extent that she seems to wish to rebuff a quasi-multiculturalist rhetoric when it emanates from the Republic, while wishing at the same time to foster precisely such a vision of the north: “a genuinely diverse sense of its own identity.” In Longley’s formulation, “difference” loses any deconstructive ambivalence, and is used in absolutist terms. Northern Ireland is to become a “shared region of these islands,” but it will retain, over against the potential encroachments of either Britain or the Republic (though it is the Republic that is actually feared here), a prior and autonomous identity. Such liberal “sharing” requires a rather illiberal extinction of Cathleen Ni Houlihan, the personification of Ireland—emerging at the time of the Literary Revival—as an elderly woman suffering under British rule. The north’s status as a corridor is envisaged in purely idealist terms. No other vision is possible: such a conception would simply collapse if exposed to the implications of the actual material and institutional structures of the relationship of the two states. Likewise within Northern Ireland: the idea of such a transcendent cultural realm might only be sustainable in a stable and legitimate state, but Northern Ireland has not been either in a full sense.

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Elsewhere again, Longley argues for the uniqueness of “Ulster poetry” and its ability to complicate “conventional poetics and canons (in the Republic, Britain, the United States) as Ulster complicates politics.”16 Further, “Northern Irish poetry . . . owes some of its recent variety and intensity to an interaction between literary traditions which also have social roots. It is perhaps the most complex cultural map we have.”17 At this point, the isomorphism between Longley’s geocultural rhetoric and her New Critical practice become clear. Just as that critical model looks for the resolution of the ambiguities of the text within itself and elevates the poem to a Platonic ideal, so Longley’s cultural geography stresses the uniqueness of Ulster, Ulster poetry, and the need for internal solutions to both. One could cite many more examples, but the most notable is Longley’s scornful response to Edward Said’s discussion of Irish material in his Culture and Imperialism. Of Said’s Ireland, she suggests that “the island of saints, scholars, missionaries and imperial civil servants appears to have gone float about—perhaps to the Caribbean.”18 Longley objects to Said’s aligning Ireland with the decolonizing world, in what he calls the “pantheon of Bandung.”19 Longley’s positivism cannot allow that geography is an interpretative discourse: her use of the term “archipelago” to refer to the islands of Britain and Ireland is an attempt to produce a value-free geography. But the relations between the islands are not and never have been merely geophysical. Rather they are linguistic, cultural, and political. Longley’s use of the term “archipelago” is an attempt to depoliticize the act of geographical naming; Said’s geographical criticism has the virtue of an open political agenda. Longley forgets that geography, like other discourses, constitutes its object in the act of describing it. Only this can explain her otherwise naive description of Northern Ireland as the most complex cultural map we have. So Longley’s archipelago is not unrelated to her critical model: like Ulster, it is something of a well-wrought artifact, which internally resolves its differences or safely dramatizes different voices within an enclosed idealized rhetorical space. The point of all of this is that Longley is concerned, in the half-acknowledged geopolitics of her criticism, to keep Ireland, and Northern Ireland most especially, firmly located within familiar spatial terms. Not that the geopolitics is always so unacknowledged: of Seamus Deane, Tom Paulin, and the other Field Day writers and critics, she has suggested that they are motivated by “a powerful sense of Palestinian dispossession”; elsewhere she

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writes of Deane’s, Heaney’s, and Friel’s “Palestinian” form of “Jacobitism” and refers to them as Derry’s “literary kings over the border.”20 This is interesting, in that she is here explicitly referring to the exile of nationalist or republican writers and intellectuals. This exposes Longley’s own new sense of home, in her adopted home of Northern Ireland. Edward Said, of course, wrote extensively about exile, and specifically about critical and intellectual exile. In his Reith Lectures, he distinguished between intellectuals who are metaphorically exiled and those who find themselves at home, fully integrated into society, comfortable with its founding assumptions. Longley’s migration northward, and her intellectual defence of the integrity and specificity of the north, amounts to a form of intellectual arrival and assimilation. Said, notably, takes Jonathan Swift as one of his great examples of the intellectual in exile. Of Swift he suggests that “dissatisfaction bordering on dyspepsia . . . can become not only a style of thought, but also a new, if temporary, habitation.”21 This kind of exile is “the state of never being fully adjusted, always feeling outside the chatty, familiar world inhabited by natives . . . tending to avoid and even dislike the trappings of accommodation and national well-being.”22 But Said’s chief example is Adorno, and his argument is that it was exile in America that produced the Minima Moralia. Said was particularly drawn to this book, as a representation of “the intellectual’s consciousness as unable to be at rest anywhere.”23 Yet for the intellectual to try to remain uncommitted, “in-between” is itself potentially a rigid position to which one can become all too easily accustomed: The demand that one harden oneself against self-pity implies the technical necessity to counter any slackening of intellectual tension with the utmost alertness, and to eliminate anything that has begun to encrust the work or to drift along idly, which may at an earlier stage have served, as gossip, to generate the warm atmosphere conducive to growth, but is now left behind, flat and stale. In the end, the writer is not even allowed to live in his writing.24 In comparison to Edna Longley, Seamus Deane has cut a figure of intellectual exile, in the south, of the kind described by Said and Adorno. Certainly, Deane’s writings manifest at times an austere waspishness of tone that seems to evidence that Swiftian sense of outsiderhood. Theoretically, Deane

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has exhibited the effort to “harden [him]self against self-pity” and has shown that he will not permit himself to “live in his writing.” He has done this, firstly, by taking to heart another Adornian maxim: in Section 32 of Minima Moralia, entitled “Savages are not more noble,” Adorno suggests that “one must have tradition in oneself, to hate it properly.”25 Deane has absorbed the Irish tradition, but he has hated it, one might say, with the power of one deeply immersed in it. He has hated it, further, in a deeply Adornian manner. In an essay on Matthew Arnold’s reprocessing of Edmund Burke as a mode of understanding Ireland for liberal Victorians, Deane writes: If tradition, in the good sense, does not exist, it is necessary to invent it, even if it means building on the ruins of tradition understood in the bad sense as discontinuity and fracture. This the Irish did. The hypothesis of a tradition may be frail, the felt necessity for it is very real and powerful. Knowledge of the past affects it, but the demands of the present activate it. It is an enabling idea and of its nature involves a degree of idealization. The Ireland we live in is only a proximate version of the entity to which we refer in literary, historical or political discourse. The idea of Ireland permits us to observe and comment upon the fact of Ireland. The reverse is also true. As a result, there are no isolated facts; they all subserve the dominant idea.26 This passage, with its echoes of Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, neatly encapsulates Deane’s attitude to the Irish literary tradition. That tradition is, he says, invented, but its invention was necessary. It has been an enabling idealization. This formulation is entirely of a piece, for example, with his much later statement, in the general introduction to the Field Day Anthology that “there is a story here, a meta-narrative, which is . . . hospitable to all the micro-narratives that, from time to time, have achieved prominence as the official version of the true history, political and literary, of the island’s past and present.” Deane has a sense that Irish literary and political history is characterized by “the experience of rupture, discontinuity, break and breakdown.” He recognizes that tradition emerges to impose a continuity on this shattered narrative and that tradition is as much answerable to the political and social needs of the moment of its production as to its content matter. But he also and at the same time recognizes that all critical or scholarly work amounts to a reinterpretation or a renarration of the evidence of cultural

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history, and that to try to step outside of this circle is to try to escape from a Borgesian labyrinth. Therefore, he acknowledges that “selection is not made from a preordained “tradition”; it is selection which ordains the tradition(s),” yet he emphasizes “the fictive nature of any tradition that asserts continuity while acknowledging its need to do so.” For Deane, who began his career as an eighteenth-century scholar, the “initiator of discursivity” in this tradition is Burke.27 The most explicit version of this origin-myth comes in Deane’s 1995 Clarendon Lectures, published as Strange Country. There he advances this argument by ingeniously reading Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France as travel literature, showing how it suggests that after the Revolution “France became the foreign country par excellence.” France had become foreign because of its institutionalization of a fundamental alienation of humanity: France was a new territory—the territory of theory. Burke was the traveller making a report on its astonishing bad eminence in the world and urging that world to respond with all the galvanic force that it could call upon to prevent its universal triumph. The literature of travel and the literature of the political pamphlet were conjoined to produce a critique of the despotism of the new France and the emergence of the new world in which the human person, as traditionally understood, was a stranger.28 Deane detects in Burke a linkage of national character and territory. Traditionally, that link is between national character and a territory that is felt to belong to a historical community. But in revolutionary modernity, that territory comes to be defined in abstract and spatial terms and that sense of community is replaced by a theory. While the tyranny of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy was not derived from a theory, for Burke they too had made Ireland strange. Flowing from this are the polarities Deane identifies as the structuring principles of the Irish literature that was to emerge almost coincidentally with the Union: the representation of a country that is at once foreign and unreal, especially for the English, and yet a part of the British social and political system, fully recognizable and part of the traditional world swept away by the revolution. Reality must be reintroduced to this country in the form of British civility. Much of Deane’s work on Irish literature can thus be described as a prolonged meditation on the idea of national character. It is not that Deane agrees with or believes in this notion; rather

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he subjects it to a formidable critique, but, as evidenced in his meditation on tradition quoted earlier, he also sees its strategic necessity. But related to that idea of national character is the alienated sense of the national territory. Deane is, in effect, arguing that the dominant Irish literary tradition is a kind of travel literature, a literature predicated on an uneasy distance from the idea of home. He traces this through writers such as James Clarence Mangan, Yeats, Joyce, Flann O’Brien, and John Banville—all writers who meditate on and return obsessively to the disjuncture between the fact of Ireland and the idea of Ireland. For Deane, though “the idea of Ireland permits us to observe and comment upon the fact of Ireland” and vice versa, this disjuncture is a permanent mark, a kind of wound that will not heal. In Deane, this alienated tradition has called forth an alienated and alienating criticism. It is in this sense that we can call Deane an Adornian critic: he detects a tradition, which looks obsessively for a happy reconciliation between the idea and the fact of Ireland, and which he then excoriates. Adorno was an anti-Hegelian philosopher, and Deane has announced his anti-Hegelianism on numerous occasions. Most notably, this has come out in his critique of nationalism (a critique far more powerful than those made by most of his detractors): “Nothing is more monotonous or despairing than the search for the essence which defines a nation,” he wrote in 1979.29 Further, he has set himself against the idea of essence, “that hungry Hegelian ghost looking for a stereotype to live in.”30 These declarations bear the imprint of his Adornianism. Adorno famously undertook to oppose “identity thinking,” that repressive reconciliation of the philosophical subject and objective reality which he detects in Hegel: that identification of reality with conceptual knowledge in such a way as to negate the messy complications and particularities of the real world. Over against this kind of thinking, Adorno argued for a “negative dialectic”: a refusal to identify subject an object, a refusal of the linkage of theory and practice, and of a vision of history as a narrative of human emancipation. This leads Adorno to a concept of the aesthetic with a concentration on the nonconceptual moment in art which, Adorno held, is resistant to the conceptual domination of rationalist Enlightenment discourse. One could say that this amounts to a nontheoretical theory, a theory of art inspired by music and nonrepresentational literature. True art is held to be that which is not amenable to conceptual abstraction. The desire of the Irish tradition, in Deane’s formulation, to reconcile fact and idea is a prime example of such “identity thinking.” Over against it,

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Deane has set certain literary exemplars, and, by implication, his own alienating criticism. This is a criticism that suggests that Irish writers, no matter how hard they try, can never be at home. For Deane, this is, finally, a good thing. It is the grain of sand in the oyster of Irish literary creativity. In conclusion, we can say that while Edna Longley has worked hard to make Northern Ireland familiar, Deane has been interested in demonstrating that the literary tradition has produced an Ireland that is strange country. Longley has produced in her criticism a Northern Ireland in which her intellectual project can be at home; Deane has produced an Ireland from which he remains an exile. In his intellectual performance, Deane is what Seamus Heaney, following Osip Mandelstam, has termed an “inner émigré”—he has produced a cultural space in which he is, at best, “lost, unhappy, and at home.” For the modern Irish critic, that is the model worth emulating.

notes 1

Seamus Deane, The French Revolution and Enlightenment in England 1789–1832 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988).

2

Ian Lustick, Unsettled States, Disputed Lands: Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria, Israel and the West Bank—Gaza (London and Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 3. The discussion that follows is deeply indebted to the work of Joe Cleary. See his Literature, Partition and the Nation-State: Culture and Conflict in Ireland, Israel and Palestine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

3

Liam O’Dowd, Whither the Irish Border? Sovereignty, Democracy and Economic Integration in Ireland (Belfast: Centre for Research and Documentation, 1994), 11.

4

Michael Laffan, The Partition of Ireland (Dundalk: Dundalgan Press, for the Historical Association of Ireland, 1983).

5

Liam O’Dowd, Whither the Irish Border? Sovereignty, Democracy and Economic Integration in Ireland, 11.

6

Edward Said, “Reflections on American ‘Left’ Literary Criticism,” in The World, the Text, and the Critic (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), 169.

7

David Lloyd, Anomalous States: Irish Writing and the Postcolonial Moment (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1993), 6.

8

See Ciaran Brady, ed., Interpreting Irish History: The Debate in Historical Revisionism (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1994) for a useful survey.

9

F.S.L. Lyons, “The Meaning of Independence,” in The Irish Parliamentary Tradition, ed. Brian Farrell (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1973), 223.

10

Cleary, Literature, Partition and the Nation-State, 71–72.

11

Seamus Deane, “Heroic Styles: The Tradition of an Idea,” in Field Day Theatre Company, Ireland’s Field Day (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1986), 43–58 (46).

12

John Wilson Foster, Colonial Consequences: Essays in Irish Literature and Culture (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1991), 214.

13

Edna Longley, “Poetry and Politics in Northern Ireland,” in The Field Day

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Anthology of Irish Writing, ed. Seamus Deane (Derry: Field Day, with Faber and Faber, 1991), 3:648. 14

Lionel Trilling, “Reality in America,” in The Liberal Imagination (New York: Viking Press, 1950), 11.

15

Edna Longley, “From Cathleen to Anorexia: The Breakdown of Irelands,” in The Living Stream: Literature and Revisionism in Ireland (Newcastle-upon-Trent: Bloodaxe Books, 1994), 195. “Cathleen Ni Houlihan” was the best-known name given, at the time of the Literary Revival, to the personification of the Irish nation, suffering under British colonial rule, as an elderly woman.

16

Longley, “The Aesthetic and the Territorial,” in Contemporary Irish Poetry, ed. Elmer Andrews (London: Macmillan, 1992), 63.

17

Longley, “Belfast Diary,” London Review of Books, January 9, 1992, 21.

18

Longley, The Living Stream, 30.

19

Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (London: Chatto and Windus, 1993), 270.

20

Longley, The Living Stream, 40, 183.

21

Said, Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures (New York: Pantheon, 1994), 53.

22

Ibid.

23

Ibid., 57.

24

Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott (London: Verso, 1974), 87.

25

Adorno, Minima Moralia, 52.

26

Deane, “Arnold, Burke and the Celts,” in Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880–1980 (London: Faber and Faber, 1985), 19.

27

Michel Foucault, “What Is an Author?” in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, ed. D. F. Bouchard (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977), 131.

28

Seamus Deane, Strange Country: Modernity and Nationhood in Irish Writing since 1790 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 7–8.

29

Deane, “Postscript,” The Crane Bag 3, no. 2 (1979): 512–514.

30

Deane, “Heroic Styles: The Tradition of an Idea,” 58.

EDWIDGE DANTICAT ’S LATINIDAD

The Farming of Bones and the Cultivation (of Fields) of Knowledge

j Ricardo Ortiz If there is no reducible essence to latinidad—even in language or religion—it does not necessarily follow that there is no substance. In playing the Rubik’s Cube of ethnicity, it is important to resist the temptation of prematurely resolving its contradictions. “Hispanic/Latino” is not merely an artificial, racialized box like “Asian-American,” invented by the majority society to uncomfortably contain individuals of the most emphatically disparate national origins who may subsequently develop some loosely shared identity as a reaction-formation to this labeling. Nor is it simply a marketing ploy . . . that exploits superficial national similarities in language, cuisine and fashion. To be Latino in the United States is rather to participate in a unique process of cultural syncretism that may become a transformative template for the whole society. Latinidad, [Juan] Flores emphasizes, has nothing to do with “post-modern aesthetic indeterminacy . . . It is practice rather than representation of Latino identity. And it is on this terrain that Latinos wage their cultural politics as a social movement.” As in Octavio Paz’s famous definition of mexicanidad, to be Latino is “not an essence but a history.” —Mike Davis, Magical Urbanism1

New (Latina) Narratives, Old (Latino) Story Ellen McCracken’s recent study New Latina Narrative: The Feminine Space of Postmodern Ethnicity begins with a familiar story; in it, she embeds the multiple histories of emerging U.S. Latino political, cultural, and intellectual

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movements which in tandem comprise what we now take to be both the object(s) and the subject of the academic discipline calling itself U.S. Latino/a Studies.2 To her credit, McCracken manages a rather deft double-gesture; she begins in her first paragraph by narrating the political history within which she inserts, beginning with her second paragraph, the history of politicized, mostly fictional narrative that will mostly take up her study. And in the course of that narrative of narrative, she manages an even more ingenious, strategic sleight of hand. She begins to list examples of what she calls “print narrative” that have followed upon more embodied (that is, oral) forms of narrative practice, as a way to introduce “the scholarly elaboration of each Latino group’s history in the United States.”3 Under this term, she both describes the ongoing institutional practice into which her own scholarship inserts itself, and situates that practice as one among many in a line of practical equivalents that concludes with “the flowering of Chicano/Latino literature” (as well as the feminine, feminist extension into Latina narrative) with which her study will concern itself. Quite an opening. I point to it as I open my own discussion here with what I consider to be a respectful ambivalence concerning McCracken’s project and projects like hers. On the one hand, I admire her candor, and her intellectual humility, in situating her practice alongside the practices she takes up; her scholarship engages contemporary U.S. Latina fiction as a companion or comrade with whom it shares a journey, and a struggle. On the other hand, the history with which she opens seems, with the identical gesture, to foreclose some crucial possibilities for meaningful departure from the very paths, narrative and otherwise, we already know that journey, and that struggle, will take. This is mostly true because McCracken never questions precisely the identitarian term without which neither the history, nor the narratives, nor their study, could be named or organized. McCracken does address many possible pitfalls in deploying the umbrella category “Latina.” She cautions, for example, that she will “reject the homogenizing view of Latinas that elides historical specificity, ethnic and racial differences, sexual preference, and varying class perspectives into a monolithic conception.”4 Indeed, she goes on in that passage to explore in some detail factors contributing to “the heterogeneity of the U.S. Latino population,” citing among them “preferred language, customs, cultural practices . . . national, ethnic, and racial backgrounds,” etc. But, following as she does the imbedded logic by which U.S. Latino/a Cultural Studies generally produces and reproduces itself, McCracken remains

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safely within a space of operation marked by two highly (and increasingly) questionable determinants of inclusion. Her subjects and/or their texts exhibit a preference for one natural language or the other, but they all operate somewhere in the linguistic twilight zone mapped by Spanish, English, and their various forms of overlap. They may also hail from a variety of national backgrounds, but the exclusion from every linguistic zone other than those means they can only hail from Latin American nations whose “latinate” bearings are explicitly and exclusively hispanophone. Latinidad as a quality of being may no longer guarantee anything about anyone’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or class, but some perverse alchemy of language and geography still obtains, and, sadly, more as an excluding rather than including device.5 Even as she concludes her otherwise promising introduction, McCracken seems completely unaware of her own hermeneutical foreclosures. She can declare, for example, that the “rich narrative production of U.S. Latinas in the 1980s and 1990s defies the limiting title ‘New Latina Narrative’ by continually disrupting the convenient borders imposed by such a term.” Though the narratives themselves may shift and innovate, little will actually come of such newness if it enters the world through the same old critical, categorical channels. I propose in the discussion that follows to take McCracken at her word when she suggests that “convenient borders” should be disrupted, but I hope to begin with the signifier that for her seems to operate as the evacuated but omnipotent mark enabling all that her own work can and must do. No invocation of latini- or latinadad should be made to do the kind of police work it too often still does around borders that could just as readily disappear, or at least relax. Here, I hope to dislodge, if not expel, a certain construction of U.S./Latino/Latina identity, not through diminution but through augmentation and complication. In so doing, I also want to dislodge something of that too convenient term “identity” itself from what remains of identitarian Cultural Studies in the United States. Further, I hope to call a whole range of terminology based on geographic elements, including “the border,” sharply into question.6

Latin Grammar, Latin(a) Grammatology “Latin America” is one of the earliest of the world regional designations, dating back to the middle of the 19th century . . . originally defined by military strategists, and our conceptualization of it still bears the taint of imperial thinking . . . Latin America was

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deliberately coined by French scholars in the middle of the 19th century as a way to refer simultaneously to the Spanish-, Portuguese-, and French-speaking portions of the Americas. At the time, the French government under Napoleon III was plotting to carve out a new empire in the region, and the notion of a “Latin” essence linking French with Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking American countries had a great appeal as a way to naturalize such a project . . . [B]y disinterested criteriae this “Latin” region of the French imperial imagination never made sense; certainly Haitians have less in common with residents of Argentina than with neighboring Jamaicans . . . strictly speaking, a linguistic definition would mean that Québec, too, ought to be considered part of Latin America. —Martin W. Lewis and Karen E. Wigen, The Myth of Continents7

Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones reimagines events surrounding the 1937 massacre of perhaps ten to twenty thousand Haitian sugar plantation workers in the Dominican Republic. McCracken makes reference to the massacre in New Latina Narrative because Dominican American novelist Julia Alvarez mentions it in her first novel, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents.8 Alvarez’s reference supports McCracken’s point that Latina “narrativists” like Alvarez actively engage their presumably mainstream, non-Latino/a U.S. readerships both personally and politically, both individually and collectively. In other words, rather than retell the events of her family’s migration to and assimilation into the United States in strictly personal terms, Alvarez chooses to refer at various points to events from both United States and Dominican political history as a way of suggesting that immigration is rarely an act predicated on purely personal, or purely economic, choice. She wants to draw the attention of her presumably uninformed audience to the politics often motivating such choices.9 The Haitian massacre, McCracken tells us, comes up in Garcia Girls in reference to Chucha, a maid the family had employed while still living in the Dominican Republic, giving her “refuge . . . when Trujillo ordered the execution of all the black Haitians on the Dominican side of the island.”10 Chucha is the only Haitian who makes it into McCracken’s study; indeed, she is the sole occasion for any mention of Haiti, and only then because she demonstrates so vividly Alvarez’s commitment to political, historical, and religious thematics in her fiction (Chucha practices voodoo). She is a minor character, but a recurrent type, in Alvarez’s work, even beyond her fiction. Alvarez’s undervalued poetry collection, El Otro Lado/The Other Side,11 contains a number of poems dedicated to dark-skinned girls employed as house-servants by her family while they lived in the Dominican Republic.

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Young women whom Alvarez the poet invokes as her earliest muses embody that song, desire, and transgression in which the poet finds her eventual vocation. These remembered girls, like Chucha, in their evocative darkness, also embody the political and cultural history Alvarez insists on recounting in her major work. Nonetheless, this history refuses simple containment or categorization by either the terms of language or nation. Hispaniola’s history has left the nations that live there and the languages they speak in far too complicated a relationship for that. And just as Alvarez imagines Chucha, so Danticat imagines her Dominican counterparts, countless of them, actually, as she imagines the Dominican Republic from within. She sets more than half the action of The Farming of Bones in that country, and in doing so poses the most direct challenge to some of the critical and methodological assumptions limiting work like McCracken’s and the fields of scholarship it claims to inhabit. Danticat’s fiction indeed challenges all of us working in U.S. Latino Studies to rethink not only our intellectual dependence on language and geography, but beyond these to rethink our more imbedded reliance on identity and such functional geographic metaphors as that of the border. The Farming of Bones, like the “Latina” narratives McCracken analyzes, acknowledges an understanding of its position in the complex cultural and political landscapes of contemporary multicultural (North) America. It assumes that its readership knows little of the history it needs to tell. In telling that history it expects to do more than “educate” that readership. Rather than expand knowledge, it attempts so radically to reposition subjects vis-à-vis history, period, that it also repositions its own status as conveyor and as object of knowledge. Danticat masterfully deploys a number of techniques in producing the vertiginous repositioning of subject and object that I’ve just begun to describe. She is certainly a raging allegorist, and there will be time later in this discussion for some brief comment on that strategy. First, however, I want to look at the way she uses limited, telling characterizations, which I term cameos, of which there are many in this impressively populated novel. In the Dominican town of Alegría, where much of the early action of the novel is set, lives a young woman named Beatriz, who, according to the narrator/protagonist Amabelle Désir, “spent her days pounding her fingers on a piano in her mother’s parlor and speaking Latin to herself. She wanted to be a newspaper woman, it was said, travel the world, wear trousers, and ask questions of people suffering from calamities greater than hers.”12 Beatriz

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has little real bearing on the novel’s central plot, and in the end (years later) we learn that she, like many other of Alegría’s native residents, has emigrated to New York.13 But Beatriz’s story haunts the novel, and its central plot, in more ways than one. Beatriz enters the story through a narrative failure; she was supposed to have married Señor Pico, the man who actually marries Amabelle’s mistress, Valencia. Instead, she marks all the other corollary frustrations that issue from the failure of that courtship. Her spinsterism, a sterile selfinvolvement that leaves her playing her piano, and speaking her Latin “to herself,” also marks a frustrated ambition to a modernity as foreign to her as the countries to which she has not traveled. She cannot wear trousers, nor can she work; not until she goes to the United States can one assume she will fulfill any of the goals assigned to her by Danticat. Beatriz in the United States operates in Danticat’s text as little more than a haunting supposition, but as a Hispanic immigrant woman supposed to have gone north, she haunts the text by reminding us of a population we can name U.S. Latina. Beatriz, then, appears as the fore-echo of the very population that will incorporate Alvarez, albeit perhaps not Danticat. Thereby she embodies a gentle deconstruction, in a strategically inflected, future-perfect narrative tense, of who the U.S. Latina will have been. Beatriz’s futile study of Latin proves instructive here. For a writer like Danticat, the conventional substitution of “Latin” or “Latino” for “Hispanic” must provoke a certain kind of bewilderment. French-derived Haitian Kreyòl certainly has its own legitimate (and subversively illegitimate) claims to a latinity (and a latinidad) rarely if ever acknowledged in discussions that only sound, and only hear, “Latin(a)” with a Spanish/Hispanic inflection. Beatriz’s Latin is, therefore, a “dead” (and therefore ghostly) language in more ways than one; it speaks the simultaneous deaths, we might say, of a certain confluence of empire, identity and language for which Rome might have been an ancient paradigm, and for which modern, contemporary, but no less vulnerable, imperial paradigms abound.14

Stolen Geographies: Outside Discursive Insularism, beyond Disciplinary Borders To insist on the historically contingent is also to insist on the travel and elaboration of identity, subjectivity and citizenship in language, where history encounters a reply that exceeds its grammar . . . where the prosaic and the poetical exceed and interrogate inherited

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political identifications . . . where the I moves through the translated and translating space of the world, becoming a subject for whom knowledge, sense and truth cannot be reduced to a unique world picture. —Iain Chambers, “Citizenship, Language, Modernity”15

May 11, 1945 Gustavo, The familiar is insistent and deadly. I study the waves and keep time on my wicker swing. If I was born to live on an island, then I’m grateful for one thing: that the tides rearrange the borders. At least I have the illusion of change, of possibility. To be locked within boundaries plotted by priests and politicians would be the only thing more intolerable. Don’t you see how they’re carving up the world, Gustavo? How they’re stealing our geography? Our fates? The arbitrary is no longer in our hands. To survive is an act of hope. Celia —Cristina García, Dreaming in Cuban16

The joined deployment of language and geography in U.S. Latino expression and criticism has, as I have noted, traditionally privileged anglo/hispanophone over other linguistic orientations, and geographic metaphors like the border (or the “tropism” of the tropics, or the “insularism” of the island, etc.) over other analytically productive terms. Because of its unique geographic and political situation, the island of Hispaniola lends itself to reconfiguring that joined deployment as well. Unlike Jamaica, say, or Cuba, the merely geographic expression “Hispaniola” corresponds to no national or political entity, and it is precisely because there is no Hispaniolan nation or state per se that the profoundly Hispaniolan history Danticat insists on telling begins to carry such subversive political weight. For example, in a cameo as telling the one portraying Beatriz, Danticat has another character, Father Romain (a Haitian priest driven mad by the atrocities he witnesses in the Dominican Republic) parrot phrases he was tortured into reciting by Trujillo’s men: “On this island,” he babbles (in “aimless determination”) to Amabelle, “walk too far in either direction and people speak a different language.”17 That tense translational condition, that difficult, structural foreignness-to-itself that plagues the history of Hispaniola becomes the fertile, fatal differential and political ground on which Danticat founds her work. Danticat describes how, in the absence of formal identification papers, Trujillo and his people made the performance of linguistic difference

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(literally, pronouncing perejil, the Spanish word for parsley) the test of identity.18 When she herself faces the challenge, Amabelle recounts: At that moment I did believe that had I wanted to, I could have said the word properly, calmly, slowly, the way I often asked “Perejil?” of the old Dominican women and their faithful attending granddaughters at the roadside gardens and markets, even though the trill of the r and the precision of the j was sometimes too burdensome a joining on my tongue. It was the kind of thing that if you were startled in the night, you might forget, but with all my senses calm, I could have said it. But I didn’t get my chance. Yves and I were shoved down to our knees. Our jaws were pried open and parsley stuffed into our mouths. My eyes watering, I chewed and swallowed as quickly as I could, but not nearly as fast as they were forcing the handfuls into my mouth.19 Danticat manages to perform as well as describe an act of violence here. Amabelle’s narration, presumably occurring in some safe, distant future from the events she describes, cannot protect her from the still-tangible shock of their memory. That shock wrenches her here from the luxury of describing pronunciative “trills” and “precision” to the urgency of maintaining breath as a signifying, sonic abstraction which in turn becomes material, murdering concretion, in her mouth. Translation here is at once necessity, possibility, and fatality. Danticat’s text, and her world, have no life without it; it allows her to tell her story in an English that escapes but cannot decide, or settle, the war waged here, between Spanish and Kreyòl. Trujillo’s Dominican mob, for better or worse, exempts Amabelle from having to decide whether to pronounce perejil by violently stuffi ng her mouth with parsley. The experience of Amabelle’s less fortunate friend Odette shows us what happens to anyone who not only fails, but indeed actively refuses, to obey the command. Rather than saying perejil, Odette defiantly pronounces pèsi, the Kreyòl word for parsley, and is so viciously beaten for it that she later dies in Amabelle’s arms as the two try to make their way across the Massacre River to the safety of Haitian ground. Having dragged the dying Odette to the river’s Haitian shore, Amabelle detects in Odette’s uncompromising refusal to have her mouth stuffed with anyone’s “foreign” words an emancipatory potential, but one that is not logically tied to a refusal of the foreign as such in any literal or simplistic manner.

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In perhaps the most powerful extended passage in her remarkable novel, Danticat has Amabelle observe: As we sat there with Odette under a canopy of trees in the middle of a grassy field, she spat up the chest full of water she had collected in the river. With her parting breath, she mouthed in Kreyòl “pèsi,” not calmly and slowly as if she were asking for it at a roadside garden or open market, not questioning as if demanding of the face of Heaven the greater meaning of senseless acts, no effort to say “perejil” as if pleading for her life. Que diga amor? Love? Hate? Speak to me of things the world has yet to truly understand, of the instant meaning of each bird’s call, of a child’s secret thoughts in her mother’s womb, of the measured rhythmical time of every man and woman’s breath, of the true colors of the inside of the moon, of the larger miracles in small things, the deeper mysteries. But parsley? Was it because it was so used, so commonplace, so abundantly at hand that everyone who desired a sprig could find one? We used parsley for our food, our teas, our baths, to cleanse our insides as well as our outsides. Perhaps the Generalissimo in some larger order was trying to do the same for his country. The Generalissimo’s mind was surely as dark as death, but if he had heard Odette’s “pèsi,” it might have startled him, not the tears and supplication he would have expected, no shriek from unbound fear, but a provocation, a challenge, a dare. To the devil with your world, your grass, your water, your air, your words. You ask for perejil, I give you more.20 Danticat does not suggest here, either in what she writes or how she writes it, that the war waged in and by language(s) is exclusively a war of or for (a) language. She thereby refuses to play Trujillo’s murderous language games on his terms. The difference between Odette’s “language” and his is irreducible (she suggests) to the mere difference between “her” Kreyòl and “his” Spanish, and between any further identities and/or positions to which that difference might give rise. It may more likely occupy the ground between her stubborn (non)submission and his arrogant authority, between her ultimately uninscribable subalternity and his irresistible, if all-too-scripted power, as hegemonic force.

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This “difference” also, perhaps ironically, also draws our attention back to Danticat’s literary English. On that fertile no-man’s-land in and beyond the violent confrontation she restages between Kreyòl and Spanish, Danticat’s “parsley” can name something that falls outside the terrible symmetry formed by the perejil/pèsi pair. In Danticat’s hands “parsley” can suggest, and even perform, an alternative parsing, and an alternative parleying, of the businessas-usual of linguistic differentiation and opposition as masks for other, more violently invested forms of strategic, material positioning. Her own strategic implantation of Kreyòl and Spanish terms into the largely English field of her text defies finally the distinction between familiar and foreign. Thus she introduces a challenge of her own to contemporary linguistic practices, both creative and critical, to see, and to work, beyond outdated regimes of linguistic (not to mention political) authority. In our world, the task of the translator cannot correspond to the task of the dictator. What is left to a truly comparative contemporary cultural and literary study, Danticat suggests in this passage, is precisely to make something, indeed to make much, of the living “more” with which Odette responds to Trujillo’s killing command. The title of Danticat’s novel signals some of this from the outset: the “farming of bones” figuratively names what Amabelle calls “the cane life,” which she immediately translates into Kreyòl as “travay tè pou zo.”21 Danticat’s novel thus names itself, and in a complex figuration that performs its own specifically literary labor, both denotes the bone-grinding labor of sugar production and connotes the general violence of the massacre, which the novel takes to be the chief occasion of its own production. In the same passage where Danticat has Amabelle translate and decode the meaning of the novel’s title, the novelist also takes the occasion to link the situation of the Haitian sugar workers in the Dominican Republic to the general condition of displaced labor, a condition that not only includes the author’s own family, who left Haiti for the United States in the course of the 1970s and 1980s, but also an increasingly large part of the laboring masses in the readers’ own time. We live in an era of increasingly mobile, transnational forms of production and consumption on the part of increasingly displaced, diasporic populations of producers and consumers. Danticat concludes this passage by having Amabelle recall her doomed lover Sebastien’s analysis of their community’s material conditions, conditions whose extremity requires a more-than-clinical language to describe:

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Sometimes the people in the fields, when they’re tired and angry, they say we’re an orphaned people . . . They say we are burnt crud at the bottom of the pot. They say some people don’t belong anywhere and that’s us. I say we are a group of vwayajè, wayfarers. This is why you had to travel so far to meet me, because this is what we are.22 Beyond any easy sentimentalization derivable from the orphan imagery, Danticat insists here that the state of the displaced worker requires an alternative construction of belonging to any even currently available. The pull of the nation, of homeland as motherland, inadequately counters the force that pulls labor toward markets beyond its borders. Amabelle and Sebastien, lovers whose names resonate with all the conventions of courtly romance, suffer fates that no romantic narrative, not even a tragic one, could house. Born in the same part of Haiti, they do not meet until Sebastien arrives in Alegría. There they fall in love and dream their dreams of transcendence and of escape, until he is seized and murdered by Trujillo’s men and she barely escapes back to Haiti with her life, her memory, and her voice. The destiny and narrative they share is only what Danticat herself allows. They meet where they do not belong and can only go nowhere, together. Danticat’s language thus insists on connecting its own labor, and the labor history of its chief subject, in ways that refuse easy reinsertion into the conventions of either practice, or their “proper” disciplinary study. At the end of the novel, when Amabelle returns to Alegría to visit Señora Valencia and to make her peace with Sebastien’s ghost (and through that with her own traumatic memory of the massacre), Danticat has her reflect on the many conditions that led to and reinforced the inequality of her relation to Valencia. She provokes the reflection through a moment of triangulation, when Amabelle recognizes her former self in the person of Valencia’s current housemaid, Sylvie: in Sylvie’s eyes was a longing I knew very well, from the memory of it as it was once carved into my younger face: I will bear anything, carry any load, suffer any shame, walk with eyes to the ground, if only for the very small chance that one day our fates might come to being somewhat closer and I would be granted for all my years of travail and duty an honestly gained life that in some extremely modest way would begin to resemble hers. Go in peace, Señora.23

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Amabelle’s conciliatory gesture redoubles, but it does not mask, or substitute for, Danticat’s. In a novel that revisits so violent and unconscionable an act as the 1937 massacre, this one gesture of hope and conciliation might in itself seem remarkable, but this novel is full of them. Danticat names her villains explicitly, and emphatically, and they are mostly Dominican, but she does not villainize categorically. Her Dominican characters run the gamut of ethical relations to the massacre, and her treatment of Dominican culture (its values, its rituals, its language) is familiar, even fond. She leaves the debilitating scars of the massacre’s memory to be borne by those like Father Romain, who are completely lost to the past in their madness, or like Amabelle’s companion Yves, who exhibit more manageable forms of dysfunction: The slaughter had affected him in certain special ways: He detested the smell of sugarcane (except the way it disappeared in rum) and loathed the taste of parsley; he could not swim in rivers; the sound of Spanish being spoken—even by Haitians—made his eyes widen, his breath quicken, his face cloud with terror, his lips unable to part one from the other and speak.24 Romain’s madness, and Yves’s incapacitation, when confronted with the past, is exactly the fate, the fatalism, that Danticat refuses. In the passage just quoted where Amabelle blesses Valencia in parting, Danticat curiously has Amabelle use the term “travail” rather than its two more anglo-friendly synonyms, “ordeal” or “work.” This gesture suggests many things: first, that the right word, in the right context, can demonstrate how languages combine rather than divide, in that “travail,” jarring in the largely Anglophonic context of the passage, allows both the Spanish “trabajo” and the Kreyòl “travay” to resound through and in it; it therefore demonstrates, too, that a fear like that of Yves, of hearing Spanish even in a Haitian’s mouth, debilitates more than his own speaking. It also paralyzes the necessary movement into a future where, increasingly, no one language will be able to silence the ghostly echo of the foreign in its own evocations. That confirms Danticat’s sense of her own vocation as a writer—certainly as the writer of this novel. She understands the necessary relationship between her labor and the suffering to which it gives voice. It does not resurrect a memory of this suffering in order to avenge the violence done, but to imagine the possibility of the justice, which is its due, being legitimately done.

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Danticat’s Postcolonial Envoi: Historical Memory, Historical Fiction and the Critical Possibility of the Testimonial Novel [Julia Alvarez’s 1994 historical novel In the Time of the Butterflies] . . . might be viewed as a kind of collective autobiography or testimonio of the [Mirabal sisters], both fictionally and historically reconstructed by another because the subjects themselves are not able to do so. Thus a contemporary feminist Latina writer re-reads her first country’s political history through important female political icons, insisting that the U.S. mainstream come to terms not only with Dominican history, but with non-official versions of that history . . . thereby refocus[ing] the thematics of U.S. Latina narrative on a more hemispheric understanding of Latino identity . . . [and] recuperat[ing] Dominican history as if it were a normal and necessary part of the narrative of U.S. history. —Ellen McCracken, New Latina Narrative25

I import here a sustained discussion of historical fiction from another part of Ellen McCracken’s study for a moment of conciliating work as I move back toward a more direct consideration of the critical practices in U.S. Latino Studies today. McCracken addresses here a question that currently occupies a central place in U.S. Latino Studies, and also Latin American and even Postcolonial and Diasporic Cultural Studies most broadly construed. This has to do with their participation in the recovery, retrieval, and recording of directly witnessed, oftentimes directly experienced, forms of political and institutional violence, by persons who lack the cultural and political power to produce these texts unaided. These generally speaking subaltern subjects require therefore the intercession of a literate interlocutor to capture their testimonios (often so named even in anglophone critical writing) for the kind of dissemination that leads to responsible forms of both disciplinary knowledge and practical action.26 Clearly the modes of ethical responsibility to those subjects and their experiences will vary according to the audiences to which their testimonies subsequently become available. I share McCracken’s optimistic view of Alvarez’s imaginative retelling of the lives and deaths of the Mirabal sisters, and of the quality of historical understanding that this retelling might generate in Alvarez’s readers. I also concur with what she identifies as the two chief consequences of that retelling for our still-evolving sense of latinidad. As McCracken suggests, and as Mike Davis perhaps makes more explicit, latinidad has already been imaginatively deployed for “a more hemispheric understanding” not so much of Latino identity, but of a historical perspective and practice that reconfigure such identitarian terms as “Latino” and

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“American.” In McCracken’s words these can, as in Alvarez’s case, “recuperate Dominican history as a normal and necessary part of the narrative of U.S. history.” And if this is true for Dominican history, then why not also Haitian, which is so closely tied to it? And why should the principle that establishes Hispaniolan history not also support those of the Caribbean, or Caribbeandiasporic, or Caribbean American?27 Danticat herself is well aware of both the pitfalls and possibilities of moving from the testimonial into the fictive, or of recasting the testimonial through the fictive. This does provide a method of preserving such records of authentic and substantial suffering and deploying them politically. Yet such purposes entail vexed questions for both ethics and aesthetics. Two scenes (admittedly two scenes among many) in The Farming of Bones address this anxiety. In one, well after their escape from the Dominican Republic and resettlement near their hometown of Cap Haitien, Amabelle recounts Yves’s cynical attitude toward efforts by the Haitian and Dominican governments to gather testimony regarding the massacre from surviving witnesses: “I hear,” he said, “that the priests at the cathedral listen and mark down testimonials of the slaughter . . . They don’t promise you money . . . They’re collecting tales for newspaper and radio men. The Generalissimo has found ways to buy and sell the ones here. Even this region has been corrupted with his money . . . I know what will happen. You tell the story, and then it’s retold as they wish, written in words you do not understand, in a language that is theirs and not yours.”28 Yves’s speech allows Danticat to direct a strong caveat lector to her own readers. While she, like Alvarez, might want especially her U.S. readers (in McCracken’s language) to “come to terms” with Haitian/Dominican history, under no circumstances should her readers mistake her language for the language of those who literally experienced, survived, and recorded the events of the massacre. Historical fiction is no substitute for historical knowledge. Her account may better honor and preserve an authentic historical record, but, like the “corrupted” testimonials generated under Trujillo’s hypocritical patronage, it too has required a translation into “a language [her sources] can not understand, that is [hers, and, perhaps, ours] and not [theirs].”29 If this ambivalence motivates Danticat’s implicit caveat to lay readers of her fiction, it produces an even more complex, concluding gesture toward professional (that is, academic) readers who theorize their ethical duty

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toward the cultural and political histories represented and embodied in work like hers. Danticat devotes the last chapter of her novel to Amabelle’s arguably conciliatory, even redemptive, return voyage to Alegría. She frames that chapter with Amabelle’s crossing and re-crossing of the Massacre River, which constitutes the border separating the Dominican Republic from Haiti. It is also the river in which Amabelle as a young child had watched her parents drown, and down which she saw the murdered bodies of many of her Haitian friends (like Odette) flow, sink, and disappear. There Amabelle encounters two figures in telling cameos, those of Beatriz, Father Romain, and Yves elaborated earlier, though these appearances are more brief, and arguably more potent. One involves an aged character whom Amabelle encounters upon reentering the Dominican Republic at the beginning of the final chapter, and then again at its end when she finds herself back at the river, poised to cross it back to Haiti one last time. The other depicts a very young boy, whom she meets only once, at the chapter’s opening, and who serves as her emissary and guide when she makes her attempt to cross over to the Dominican Republic without papers. Analysis of these two characters will require one final excursion into the text. As she approaches the river, Amabelle first spies “A tall, bowlegged old man with a tangled gray beard, wearing three layers of clothing padded with straw . . . [whom] the washing women called . . . ‘Pwofesè.’” This character haunts all the relevant “borders” articulating Danticat’s text: he straddles the border between reason and insanity, the literal and the figurative, the remembered and the forgotten, the experienced and the imagined, the desired and the coerced. When asked where he’s going, the Pwofesè answers, “Grass won’t grow where I stand . . . I’m walking to the dawn.” He then grabs Amabelle and kisses her, and when she “scrub[s] the kiss off, reaching into the river for a fistful of water to cleanse [her] mouth,” the “washing women” admonish her not to “rub it off, [since being] kissed by a crazy man brings you luck,” and the “professor [local legend has it] hasn’t been the same since the slaughter.”30 Amabelle, however, has no practical use for the Pwofesè’s specific powers or charms before she has made her peace with her own past. Yet during her reencounter with him at the chapter’s, and the novel’s, end, when she finds herself again at the river but this time with no clear further destination other than her own possible (perhaps even desirable) extinction there, she considers him in different terms. He appears first as “a ghost with a smile

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on his face, his cheeks grainy from the red brown sand, his eyes bright red like the inside of a flame.” She entertains the possibility of a more radical, empathetic identification with him, trying “to imagine the fog, the mist of sadness inside his head,” and to wonder if “the slaughter—the river” might “one day surrender to him his sanity the same way it had once snatched it away.” She wants “to call him,” she confesses, “but only by his proper name, not by the nickname, Pwofesè, the replacement for ‘crazy man’ . . . I wanted to ask him, please, to gently raise my body and carry me into the river, into Sebastien’s cave, my father’s laughter, my mother’s eternity. But he was gone now, disappeared into the night.”31 That the Pwofesè “disappears” before he can realize Amabelle’s wish should not, I think, be read as a rejection or refusal of what power he might have had to save her by rescuing her memory, by telling her story (the story that is both hers and his) sanely and right. What Amabelle rejects instead is the presumption imbedded in his improper name, his “nickname . . . the replacement for crazy man,” that he enjoys some greater qualification to “profess,” period. Only by knowing him by his “proper” name, the identity that most appropriately endows him with the right and duty to tell the story they share, can Amabelle safely trust him with what will be left of her life. The question of that “proper” name, a name more proper than “Pwofesè,” than professor, whether of Caribbean, U.S. Latino, cultural or any other “study,” is the one I propose to reopen here. Amabelle, no stranger to the necessary dangers (not to say, the necessary evil), of border crossings, recognizes the Pwofesè’s disabling limitations when she first encounters him. When she makes that pilgrimage back to the Dominican Republic, she enlists instead the aid of “a bare-chested boy who was sitting on the riverbank scribbling in a small drawing book,” and who she already knew from local talk could help her “cross the border without papers.”32 This literally nameless, (but helpful) boy hears Amabelle, appears to ignore her, saying “nothing until he finished writing a whole phrase in jumbled schoolboy lettering,” and then confirming that if she “want[s] to cross the border without papers it will have to be at night.” When in her impatience she asks, “Can it be tonight?” he replies in turn “Perhaps,” his last word in the text, and perhaps the text’s “last word” on the larger question haunting Amabelle’s question to him. That larger question, about crossing borders without papers, seems to me as directed at modes of unofficial, subversive, transgressive, even illegal crossings of time, as of space. Individual memory, allegorically embodied

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here in Amabelle, manages against all odds to persist into the future, and out of a past that too often takes the guise of “official” history. Such a history, usually organized to enforce the silencing of dissident and subaltern alternatives, forces upon these latter the strategies of coversion—that is, nocturnal, disenlightened modes of oral transmission. These produce the structurally disqualified discourses of alternative truth and understanding, which we might compare to the discourses of the poet, the madwoman, the witness, and the survivor. That the ranting Pwofesè offers Amabelle no hope, or help, does not, I think, translate into a rejection on Danticat’s part of academic, institutional, or disciplinary knowledge about either imagined, expressive work like hers or the kinds of partly lost, always endangered, histories her work invokes. But Danticat clearly finds her best practical hope in the clear-eyed, “barechested” scribbling (school)boy, the one focused on completing a “whole phrase” before giving Amabelle his noncommittal but honest, even ethical answer of “perhaps.” As the Pwofesè for all intents and purposes “dies” or “disappears” with Amabelle into the river of their mutual forgetting, and forgiving, it is the boy who effectively shuttles Amabelle across all her final borders, without papers, and invisibly. He is in effect her envoy; he is also, in effect, Danticat’s envoi. He occupies a position equivalent to that rhetorical, performative gesture from the tradition of medieval writing where the author most explicitly addresses his or her work as it makes its way into publication. The address that announces its passage into public life, initiates its entering upon a life of its own predicated on its liberation from, and according to some contemporary critical schools, on the functional absence, indeed “death,” of its author, and of her conventionally presumed authority.33 The figure to whom novel ascribes its primary knowledge is not, therefore, the teacher, but the student, the scribbling, just-literate child, who both transports and survives Amabelle and her story. He is, I think, Danticat’s strategic, performative imagination of the anonymously, hence properly, named “professor,” or bearer, of her novel’s most genuine knowledge: that names can kill as readily as they animate, that identity divides as much as it unites, and that nothing alters this. While language enables all we can know and say of life, and of death, no one language, by itself and in opposition to others guarantees access to anything beyond its own promise, its own seductive proferral of a persistent, interminable, if honest “perhaps.”

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A Brief Note on Pedagogy If the subaltern is to “become” the state . . . it is not only the subaltern, but also the state—and along with it the state ideological apparatuses, including the education system—that will have to undergo a transformation. The necessity of that transformation is what the concept of cultural revolution designates. It will require not only a radically new political imaginary, but, at the same time, a critique of the forms of academic knowledge as we practice them; that is, a critique of our own complicity in producing and reproducing relations of social and cultural inequality. —John Beverley, “The Im/Possibility of Politics”34

Much of the argument preceding this conclusion evolved in the course of teaching The Farming of Bones with some frequency, and in a number of different curricular contexts, over the past several years. Since I was hired primarily to teach U.S. Latino Literature at Georgetown, students certainly associate my name, and my teaching, with this particular field, and while in almost every case they have been receptive to my inclusion of texts by putatively “non-Latino” writers like Danticat in courses with a Latino Studies focus, they nevertheless often gravitate toward readings of the novel that reflect their preexisting identitarian hermeneutic. This disposition among my students warrants aggressive critical rethinking by that very emerging field from which it has sprung up. These readings take three chief forms: first, students often come away from the novel convinced that Amabelle and her countrymen are targeted for violence by Trujillo and his followers either because they cannot pronounce “parsley” in Spanish or because they supposedly look blacker (more “African”) than the Dominicans around them. Second, they nearly unanimously agree that Amabelle’s return to her native Haiti is both life-saving and redemptive, because her homeland is where she definitively belongs. Third, given Danticat’s dramatic, compelling narration of events in the Dominican Republic and Haiti from the 1930s to the 1960s, they only secondarily notice, or consider relevant, that Danticat herself is writing in the United States of the late 1990s, in English and from a Haitian American perspective. They overlook any categorically national or genealogical link back to the settings of Amabelle’s story. These readings, I would argue, reflect the seductive nature of at least one (meta)narrative of identity that still enjoys a powerful pull in contemporary U.S.-based Ethnic and Cultural Studies. As such, they already show the impress of a field that too often mistakes the

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content of the narrative of historical cause, event, and consequence to the detriment of its deeper relational, even grammatological structures—that is, of its form. All textual evidence to the contrary, students too rarely see on their own that Trujillo’s practical motivation for ordering the massacre is primarily economic, certainly in part political, and not simply cultural or symbolic (race and language are strategic, effective but opportunistic prompts for an extermination that is very practically about competition for resources, especially labor and land). They also rarely see that reading in favor of Amabelle’s redemptive return to Haiti puts them squarely in agreement with Trujillo about where Amabelle definitively “belongs.” Affective embrace of the “nation” as home provides little room to embrace the idea of necessarily mobile, increasingly transnational populations of workers. Finally, they succumb too readily to the authority of a past (ever irretrievable, ever ideologically malleable) that by definition retains all claims to authenticity, value, and relevance over and against a present always marked (and therefore disqualified) by deep imperfection, disorientation, and loss. Such readings may well be more than understandable for students whose own communities of origin might still be undergoing experiences in the present so painful as to render even a painful past (in, say, a more comforting, familiar homeland, and in a similarly comforting, familiar native culture and language) enormously alluring as a compensatory idea. Nonetheless, we might also agree that such readings are still inadequate as modes of understanding such students’ actual, present, material conditions of existence.35 Teaching U.S. Latino Studies at Georgetown (which can recruit students from all parts of the nation, and even the hemisphere), in a city and a region where no one national Latino group enjoys cultural or political prominence over others, I benefit from teaching to an exhilaratingly complex “Latino” student demographic in all my courses. In such courses, it is often precisely the term latinidad itself which comes under the most intense, and intensely productive, scrutiny, rather than serving as the occasion for immediate intellectual presumption and foreclosure. In such a setting, as in Edwidge Danticat’s novel, latinidad confronts itself in its present (that is, material, practical) historicity by refusing to obey the dictates of any one (among so many) claims to identitarian essence, and by resisting the seductions of any one version of its many possible, and plausible, pasts.

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notes 1

See Mike Davis, Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the U.S. Big City (London: Verso, 2000), 13–14. Davis’s study, while flawed in many ways, has the advantage of formulating a theory of U.S. Latino identity that works precisely because of its emphasis on a practical historicism rather than that seductive essentialism that, strategic or otherwise, still compromises a good deal of contemporary Latino Studies discourse. Epigraphs in this article generally, if mostly implicitly, frame the discussion of the section each introduces. Taken together, these conduct a sustained paratextual conversation with the larger discussion of the article as a whole.

2

Ellen McCracken, New Latina Narrative: The Feminine Space of Postmodern Ethnicity (Tempe: Arizona University Press, 1999). I by no means intend to single out McCracken for critical abuse; her book is an important and generally admirable exploration of the intersections of gender and ethnicity in an increasingly vital literary and cultural movement spearheaded by Latina writers and artists. But to the extent that her work remains within bounded, conventional forms of identitarian designation, it leaves some additional critical work to be done.

3

McCracken, New Latina Narrative, 4.

4

Ibid., 5–6.

5

For another (and certainly more problematic, even confusing) example of this identitarian foreclosure at work, see the editors’ “Introduction” to Marcelo Suárez-Orozco and Mariela Páez’s collection of mostly social science essays, Latinos: Remaking America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), especially 1–8. There the writers project that “in just two generations, the United States will have the second largest number of Latinos in the world—after México” (1) at the same time that, because “the term Latino has meaning only in reference to the U.S. experience, [o]utside the U.S. we don’t speak of Latinos,” who are, they conclude, “made in the USA” (4). So much, one supposes, for the “Latino” population of México mentioned three pages earlier. They also declare that, while “most Latinos share a common language, Spanish . . . not all Latinos are Spanish-speakers,” even though (and, yet again, all logic aside) they go on to claim that even for that population of non-hispanophone Latinos “the Spanish language has become ubiquitous”(6). While they cannot decide if Latinos do or do not limit themselves to residency in the United States, Suárez-Orozco and Páez do seem pretty set on identifying latinidad with hispanism (if not exactly with hispanophonia), thereby rehearsing the unwitting, automatic substitution (characteristic of almost every form of Latino Studies discourse) of “hispanic” with “latino,” which, while it always claims a preference for the latter term over the former, very often turns the latter into a mere substitutive renaming of the former. Spanish, and hispanism, in their simultaneously explicit and implicit ubiquity in conventional Latino Studies discourse, therefore haunt that discourse as a structural necessity, both historically and rhetorically, in paradoxical, contradictory ways, with which Latino Studies (as a critical practice) has yet to come to adequate terms.

6

While I myself take occasional recourse to these admittedly evocative metaphors, I do think their rhetorical and theoretical conflations require greater scrutiny than we regularly give them. Beyond the many obvious and famous examples in U.S. Latino Studies that deploy especially the metaphor of the border in this manner, there are also an increasing number of contemporary

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studies that, taking their cues from such classic work as Antonio Pedreira’s Insularismo of 1934 (published as volume 3 of Obras Completas [San Juan, Puerto Rico: Editorial Edil, 1969]) and Antonio Benítez-Rojo’s The Repeating Island, trans. James Maraniss, 2nd ed. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996), make perhaps too insistent, similarly overdetermining use of such metaphors as the island, the tropics, and the archipelago. 7

Martin W. Lewis and Kären E. Wigen, The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 181–182. This epigraph states a point of historical knowledge that, while perhaps commonplace in Latin America, and in Latin American Studies, remains primarily lost on many practitioners of U.S. Latino Studies. This passage has also served as an epigraph to a section of another article of mine, “Hemispheric Vertigo: Cuba, Québec and Other Provisional Reconfigurations of Our (New) America(s),” which appears in the recent collection entitled The Futures of American Studies, ed. Donald Pease and Robyn Weigman (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002), 327–340; a modified version of that discussion has also appeared in The Grand Narrative of the Americas/Le Grand Récit des Amériques, ed. Donald Cuccioletta, et al. (SaintNicolas, Québec: Les Presses de l’Université de Laval, 2001), 163–176.

8

Julia Alvarez, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents (New York: Plume Books, 1991).

9

McCracken, New Latina Narrative, 80–82.

10

Ibid., 109–110.

11

Julia Alvarez, The Other Side/El Otro Lado (New York: Plume Books, 1994).

12

Danticat, The Farming of Bones, 39.

13

Ibid., 298.

14

Danticat makes much more of Beatriz’s identification with Latin in later scenes; see, for example, the long conversation between her and Valencia concerning (among other things) Dominican women’s education, aspirations, and opportunities. See Danticat, The Farming of Bones, 147–158.

15

Iain Chambers, “Citizenship, Language, Modernity,” in Mobile Citizens, Media States, ed. Emily Apter et. al. PMLA 117 (January 2002): 28.

16

Cristina García, Dreaming in Cuban (New York: Knopf, 1992), 99.

17

Danticat, The Farming of Bones, 260.

18

As with her suggestive inter-implication of language and identity in the example of Beatriz, Danticat evokes many more linguistic and cultural ambiguities, especially in terms of a rich, productive intertextuality, than I can comment on here. Regarding the event of this massacre, see, for example, her epigraph to The Farming of Bones, which quotes the passage from Judges 12:4–6 on the Shibboleth, and her reference to Rita Dove’s remarkable poem “Parsley” in the acknowledgments following the text of Farming. See Danticat, The Farming of Bones, 312.

19

Danticat, The Farming of Bones, 198.

20

Ibid., 202–203.

21

Ibid., 55.

22

Ibid., 56.

23

Ibid., 306.

24

Ibid., 273.

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25

McCracken, New Latina Narrative, 84.

26

My discussion in this section also draws primarily but implicitly on much of the work collected in The Latin American Subaltern Studies Reader, ed. Ileana Rodríguez (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001); in that volume see especially the contributions by John Beverley, “The Im/Possibility of Politics: Subalternity, Modernity, Hegemony”; Doris Sommer, “Slaps and Embraces: A Rhetoric of Particularism”; and Michael Clark, “Twenty Preliminary Propositions for a Critical History of Statecraft in Haiti.”

27

In invoking these terms, I certainly recognize that for most people “the Caribbean” still functions as a primarily geographic nomination, but in contrast to this convention, I use “Caribbean” here much as Silvio Torres-Saillant uses it in his study Caribbean Poetics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). For Torres-Saillant it serves as a primarily historical and even strategically critical cultural designation. See especially his concluding chapter, “The Caribbean in a Decentralized Literary Order.”

28

Danticat, The Farming of Bones, 246.

29

Danticat makes brief but telling mention of her novel’s relationship to the history it retells in her acknowledgments following the text of The Farming of Bones (311–312); a similar, if slightly more elaborated, meditation on the testimonial function of historical fiction occurs in Julia Alvarez’s postscript to In the Time of the Butterflies (New York: Plume, 1995), 323–324. It bears mentioning here that, with the recent publication of The Feast of the Goat, trans. Edith Grossman (New York: Picador, 2002), Mario Vargas-Llosa’s fictional treatment of Trujillo’s stranglehold on Dominican life, we can now study the widest variety of forms that something like the testimonial novel can take, through the example of three novels as bracingly different from, and complementary to, one another as those by Danticat, Alvarez, and Vargas-Llosa. See also two relevant essays by Vargas-Llosa, “Nations, Fictions” (1992) and “The Truth of Lies” (1989), collected in Making Waves: Essays, ed. and trans. John King (London: Faber & Faber, 1996).

30

Danticat, The Farming of Bones, 285.

31

Ibid., 309–310.

32

Ibid., 285–286.

33

Merriam Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1995), 380–381, defines the envoi or envoy as “literally, the act of sending, or dispatch . . . The usually explanatory or commendatory concluding remarks to a poem, essay, or book . . . a short, fi xed final stanza of a poem (such as a ballade) pointing to the moral and usually addressing the person to whom the book is written.”

34

Beverley, “The Im/Possibility of Politics: Subalternity, Modernity, Hegemony,” 61.

35

While I do not mean to sound in these closing remarks like an unreconstructed Bolshevik who missed the “cultural” turn in especially left critical studies over the past two decades, I would like to urge some greater, more balanced attention to a materiality from which none of us are anywhere near as fully dislodged as any recent claims to a radical, existential deterritorialization might want to urge upon us. Two helpful articles, which together do the work of mapping out what I would call the horizontal (historical, causal) and vertical (current,

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structural) material parameters of U.S. Latino Studies, are, respectively, Pedro Cabán’s “New Synthesis of Latin American and Latino Studies,” in Borderless Borders: U.S. Latinos, Latin Americans, and the Paradox of Interdependence, ed. Frank Bonilla, et al. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998), and Jane Juffer’s troubling, sobering, “The Limits of Culture: Latino Studies, Diversity Management and the Corporate University,” Nepantla: Views from South 2, no. 2 (2001): 265–293.

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j Zoran Samardzija The modern opposition between tradition and revolution is treacherous. Tradition means both delivery—handing down or passing on a doctrine—and surrender or betrayal. Traduttore, traditore, translator, traitor. The word revolution, similarly, means both cyclical repetition and the radical break. Hence tradition and revolution incorporate each other and rely on their opposition [ . . . ] Thus there is a codependency between the modern ideas of progress and newness and antimodern claims of recovery of national community and the stable past, which becomes particularly clear at the end of the twentieth century in light of its painful history. —Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia

Nowhere is the codependent relationship between revolution and tradition, as Boym articulates, more apparent than in the postcommunist Balkans. An upsurge in nationalism had the revolutionary effect of dismantling communist regimes while at the same time inciting the ethnic wars of secession in the former Yugoslavia. Given such a codependency between revolution and tradition, it should not come as a surprise that the late Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic began as a communist bureaucract before transforming himself into a murderous nationalist reformer. Yet, even in the case of postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina, as much as Serbs, Croats, and Muslims entrench themselves in their ethnicities within their new republics, it would be reductive to claim that increased ethnic identification is the sole defining trend for how identity and collective forms of belonging will take shape in the former Yugoslav republics. Another revolution is occurring, as evidenced by the fact that many of the national movements in East-Central Europe and the Balkans

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that toppled communist regimes have also begun to sublimate themselves into the social and economic demands of the European Union. This is the European revolution of a strong euro, collapsing borders, and well-regulated capitalism—in comparison to the United States at least—where transnational corporations such as Microsoft are subjected to antitrust lawsuits. But in between the aforementioned nationalist revolution and the revolution of a unifying Europe lie possibilities for collective forms of postcommunity identity that are detectable in films made in the Balkans in the early 1990s—when the transition from cold war Europe to unified Europe appeared less historically inevitable. Focusing on two films in particular, Lamerica (1994), directed by Gianni Amelio, and The Suspended Step of the Stork (1991), directed by Theo Angelopoulos, this essay explores potentials for postcommunist identity that are either still culturally nascent or utopian projections of filmmakers responding to the spread of Western culture and free market capitalism into the nations of Balkans. Both films, I argue, attempt to imagine foundations for a new form of collective identity not grounded in either the politics of nationalist and ethnic belonging or free-market capitalism. The majority of my analysis will be devoted to Lamerica, since it is likely to be more familiar than The Suspended Step of the Stork to international audiences. Set in Albania 1991, six years after the death of its dictator Enver Hoxha, and a few years before financial pyramid schemes caused the economy to collapse in the late 1990s, the film provides a cynical outlook on the influx of Western capital into Albania and its attendant promises of democracy. The arrival of Western capitalism into Albania is ominously indicated early in the film by Gino, an Italian investment capitalist, who reassures his Albanian contact “the capital is coming!” in response to the latter’s description of the deep poverty of the Albanian population. The contact, however, is unaware of the ominous nature of Gino’s statement. Gino has come to Albania with his partner, Fiore, not to bring an influx of capital, but to start a fictitious business with the intent of pocketing the initial grants from the Italian government, something that Fiore and Gino’s father had done in the past in Africa. All Fiore and Gino need is an Albanian national to serve as the figurehead for their fictional firm. It all sounds simple enough, but what Gino, who is responsible for finding the Albanian figurehead after he disappears, discovers throughout the course of the film is that even capitalist exploitation and illicit profit schemes require some semblance of social and economic order to work. Instead, in Albania he finds social disorder, poverty, and streams of people trying to escape into Italy.

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In addition to representing the negative effectives of the proliferation of Western capital, Lamerica questions the legacies of fascism in post–World War II European history, and even as the film’s title suggests, the ideological meaning of America. Yet, what makes the film especially relevant for thinking about how to shift postcommunist identity away from either the politics of nationalist and ethnic belonging or free-market capitalism is the manner in which it represents Albanian refugees and, more broadly, the problems of exile and migration. These problems are most clearly explored through the character of Gino, and his transformation from a vain gangster capitalist into an indistinguishable member of a multitude of Albanian refugees.

The Cult of Exile, the Cult of Migration In thinking about how Lamerica represents refugees, and its implications for postcommunist identity, it is first useful to pose the problem of exile in more general terms, especially as it relates to cinema. Though the history of medium is full of stories of directors forced into exile, such as Fritz Lang, who were able successfully to continue their careers, one can ask: How many recent films adequately convey the mental anguish often involved in living in exile? Consider briefly Steven Spielberg’s film The Terminal (2004). It tells the story of Viktor Navorski, portrayed by Tom Hanks, as either originating from Eastern Europe or some unnamed former Soviet Republic, who because of a bureaucratic technicality lives in a New York airport for several months. While living in the airport, he finds love, helps others find it, and dispenses wisdom to all he meets. The inspiration for The Terminal is the story of Merhan Karimi Nasseri, who lived for nearly twenty years in a Paris airport because he could not attain citizenship from European nations. In the film, however, Nasseri’s story of liminality, and the questions about belonging and citizenship it raises, is reduced to a romantic story of how exiles have insights about the world that others do not have. Yet, the tendency at the heart of a film like The Terminal, of making exile and migration a romantic condition, is not unique to current popular cinema. One can detect a similar romanticizing impulse in much recent philosophical and theoretical work that explores the identity of exiles. Commenting on this impulse, Terry Eagleton observes the following: If men and women need freedom and mobility, they also need a sense of tradition and belonging. The postmodern cult of the migrant,

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which sometimes succeeds in making migrants sound even more enviable than rock stars, is a good deal supercilious in this respect. It is a hangover from the modernist cult of the exile, the Satanic artist who scorns the suburban masses and plucks an elitist virtue out his enforced dispossession. The problem at the moment is that the rich have mobility while the poor have locality. Or rather, the poor have locality until the rich get their hands on it.1 Much of what Eagleton calls “the postmodern cult of the migrant” seems inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. In particular, in the section entitled, “1227: Treatise on Nomadology—The War Machine,” Deleuze articulates the virtue of nomadic existence and its ability to challenge to the logics of state sovereignty.2 The assumption derived from Deleuze that one finds in critics of global capitalism such as Hardt and Negri is that existing between different identities, or having no clearly definable cultural affi liations, transgresses the dominant social and political orders of global capitalism. This assumption, according to Eagleton, is a hangover from modernist narratives of exile, where artists like James Joyce are able to overcome the confines of modern society through their very alienation from it. Today, though, it is not the elite artist who is championed, it is from the perspective of the “subaltern” or “hybrid” subject that the hypocrisies of the world are revealed. To be sure, there are critics who do not entirely romanticize migration and exile. The work of critic Edward Said is especially significant in this regard. In books such as Orientalism (1978), The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983), Culture and Imperialism (1993), and Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (2000), Said examines questions of exile and affi liation from a unique perspective that seems to exist somewhere between the modernist cult of exile and the postmodern cult of migration that Eagleton describes. Consider, for example, how often Said returns to the quote from twelfth-century monk Hugo of St. Victor that “he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land.” It appears in all aforementioned texts except for Culture and Imperialism.3 For Said, the virtues of estrangement advocated by the monk are the new forms of knowledge and awareness that it affords. He writes the following: This may seem like a prescription for an unrelieved grimness of outlook and, with it, a permanently sullen disapproval of all enthusiasm or buoyancy of spirit. Not necessarily. While it perhaps seems peculiar

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to speak of the pleasures of exile, there are some positive things to be said for a few of its conditions. Seeing “the world as a foreign land” makes possible originality of vision. Most people are principally aware of one culture, one setting, one home; exiles are aware of at least two, and this plurality of vision gives rise to an awareness of simultaneous dimensions, and awareness that—to borrow a phrase from music—is contrapuntal.4 Said’s explanation of the positive things about exile link him to the modernist tradition of championing exile. Who else, for example, would qualify as having the aforementioned originality of vision but the novelist or critic who produces great work while in exile? This does not, however, define his entire position on the subject, even if he frequently returns to the aforementioned quote from Hugo of St. Victor. In fact, Said’s writings on exile and migration are more complicated and conflicted than simply championing their particular pleasures and virtues. This conflict is most apparent in Said’s more autobiographical writings, as well as in his introduction and afterword to Orientalism, which has remained a foundational text for postcolonial studies. One of the more compelling aspects of Orientalism remains how Said positions himself in relation to the core binaries—for example, East and West, the West and Islam, or the Orient and Occident—that define his arguments about the logics of colonial representation and subjectivity. Regarding his personal connection to the material, he writes: Much of the personal investment in this study derives from my awareness of being an “Oriental” as a child growing up in two British colonies. All of my education, in those colonies (Palestine and Egypt) and in the United States, has been Western, and yet that deep awareness has persisted. In many ways my study of Orientalism has been an attempt to inventory the traces upon me, the Oriental subject, of the culture whose domination has been so powerful a factor in the life of all Orientals.5 Of biographical interest here is the fact that Said and his family were disposed from Palestine in 1948 and were forced to relocate to Egypt. Nonetheless, given his praise of the positive things about exile, this passage raises the question: Why does such a “deep awareness” remain of his cultural

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and national roots? Said states that all of his education has been Western in orientation, but apparently no amount of education is enough to efface one’s origins. Moreover, he emphasizes in the afterword to Orientalism that “I have traversed the imperial East-West divide, entered into the life of the West, and yet retained some organic connection with the place from which I originally came. I would repeat that this is very much a procedure of crossing, rather than maintaining, barriers.”6 Such a claim is what makes Said an intriguing and conflicted thinker about exile and migration. It seems as if for him, on the one hand, the condition of exile can produce new insights about the world, while at the same time, creating the melancholy burden of being unable to erase one’s “organic connection” to one’s origins. Taken together, Said’s conflicting descriptions point to the problem of trying to theorize the experience of exile. In other words, the truth about exile that emerges in Said’s work is that, for the critic, there can be no theoretical synthesis that ever encompasses the entirety of the experience of it. As he notes in Culture and Imperialism: And while it would be the rankest Panglossian dishonesty to say that the bravura performances of the intellectual exile and the miseries of the displaced person or refugee are the same, it is possible, I think to regard the intellectual as first distilling then articulating the predicaments that disfigure modernity—mass deportation, imprisonment, population transfer, collective dispossession, and forced migration.7 If, rightly so, one designates the experience of intellectual exile and forced displacement as incongruous, then no amount of theorization can adequately encompass the entirety of suffering inherent in living in exile. Yet, what is possible for the critic, in addition to articulating the historical terrors that disfigure modernity, as Said notes, is to imagine whether new forms of migration, belonging, and affi liation can exist that are not subject to such historical terrors. This is the focus of my analysis of the films Lamerica and The Suspended Step of the Stork: to explore whether the films’ representations of refugees and migration contain potentials for new forms of affi liation in a postcommunist Europe.

Lamerica and the Possibilities of Postcommunist Identity How Lamerica imagines possibilities for new forms of identity to emerge can be established through closely reading several key moments in the film.

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The opening sequence, for example, is a mock newsreel that provides the historical backdrop for the film: a piece of fascist propaganda from World War II that celebrates Mussolini’s “generosity” toward the Albanian population, especially its peasants. By beginning Lamerica with a newsreel, Amelio establishes a complex relationship between past and present. This is especially clear in how he shifts from the newsreel to the film’s diegesis. Using a subtle sound bridge, Amelio connects a shot in the newsreel of cheering Albanian masses with a shot in the film’s present, set in 1991, of a crowd of Albanian refugees crowded in a port, behind a gate and watched by police, cheering “Italy, Italy, you are the world!” Such a juxtaposition is significant for both how it does and does not relate the past to the present. The ominous implication to be drawn from connecting 1941 and 1991 is that Italian/ Albanian relations in the present are replicating the fascist model of the former dominating the latter. It is not, however, bombs or divisions of tanks and armed soldiers deployed along the Albanian countryside that signifies this domination. It is, as the film makes clear through its images of anesthetized Albanians watching Italian television and the suave appearance and arrogant demeanor of Gino, the infiltration of Western capital and culture that bespeaks this domination. Consider, for example, how Amelio visualizes Gino’s arrival in the film. The gate enclosing the Albanian crowd opens as several men try to rush past the police. From off-screen Gino and Fiore drive through the gate and into the port, parting the Albanian crowd. Amelio’s simple staging of movement, in other words, reflects the larger geopolitical relationship between the two nations, perhaps best summarized by Gino and Fiore’s Albanian business contact, who essentially says that during the communist era Albania was a prison because no one could leave or enter the country, but now that communism has collapsed everyone can enter Albania, but Albanians still cannot leave. If Amelio’s use of the newsreel immediately connects the events of 1941 and 1991, then how does one understand what it erases, namely the fifty years between? This erasure of history becomes a major theme in the film, most notably through the character of Spiro. Spiro is the Albanian figurehead Gino and Fiore find in a former prison camp. In reality, however, Spiro is a former Italian soldier named Michele Talarico, who has assumed an Albanian identity. Because of his years of imprisonment and torture he has become delusional, stating he is only twenty years old when asked his age, twenty being his age during World War II. Moreover, he believes he is still in Italy, having

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been arrested for desertion. Thus, if Gino literally embodies the historical correspondence between 1941 and 1991, a reconfigured colonizer marked by a devotion to sheer exploitation and profit instead of the fascist ideology of his immediate historical forbears, Spiro embodies the hidden obverse—not only fifty years of historical amnesia but also the actual erasure of fifty years of history that lies at the center of Albanian/Italian relations because of the cold war. Taken together, the intertwined instances of historicization, how the past transforms into the present, that Gino and Spiro embodies serve as an attempt on the part of Amelio to think through the possibilities for transforming cultural identity in the post–cold war world. In more straightforward terms, Gino’s and Spiro’s sublimation into the mass of Albanian refugees trying to enter Italy embodies one potential for redefining identity in a postcommunist Europe, a potential that does not depend on the economic and social privileges of one’s status as a Westerner. Throughout Lamerica, Gino’s sentiments toward the collective of migrants only slowly begin to emerge, until they are rendered stunningly visible in the film’s brilliant final sequence. These emergent sentiments can be traced throughout the fi lm in how Gino relates to Spiro and the Albanians he meets. The way in which Gino occupies the frame in relation to his surroundings and the multitude of refugees he encounters alters throughout the film, as he is stripped of his vanity and begins to understand Spiro’s delusions. For example, when Gino and Fiore first meet Spiro in a dilapidated and ruined worker’s camp, Amelio only reframes his hand-held camera to trace the progress of the Italians as they walk past the prisoners. The Albanian prisoners do not register as anything more than diseased old men, barely human, who disgust and threaten Gino and Fiore. One of the more ominous shots in this sequence is a point of view from Fiore’s perspective as he looks at a group of prisoners shuffling toward him. The sense of claustrophobia that Amelio conveys is intense, as he shows in reverse shot the prisoners, whose drab attire gives the impression that they are emerging from the walls, swarming Fiore while he pleads for help. Indeed, the fact that Fiore and Gino view the Albanians as animals and, at best, as children is reinforced in several moments early in the film. At one point, Fiore even says that Albanians are like children, “If you tell them the sea was made of wine, they would go and drink it.” More disturbing, however, is the casual cruelty Gino exhibits toward Spiro, for whom he is in charge of caring. After he urinates in his car, Gino tries to shove Spiro’s face into the stain as if he were a dog.

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It is not until midway through the film that Gino’s relationship to Spiro begins to shift. Having used him to sign the necessary papers for the fictional company, Gino leaves Spiro in a children’s orphanage—yet another symbol of the infantilization of the Albanian population by the Italians—until he needs to act as “the chairman” for the company again. Shortly after, Spiro leaves the orphanage, thinking he is returning his village in Italy, only to be swarmed and mugged by Albanian children who take his shoes from him. After Gino finds Spiro in the hospital, the story of their migration begins in full, as circumstances transform Gino into an indistinguishable member of the swarm of Albanian refugees. At a rest stop during their return to Tirana, all the tires from Gino’s jeep are stolen. Then, their attempt to take a bus to Tirana fails when the police raid and impound the bus on the grounds that it is taking Albanians from the countryside to the capital so they can sneak out of the country through the ports. Amelio devotes much time in the middle of the film showing Gino and Spiro’s journey to Tirana. Yet, he also changes how Gino is visualized in relation to the Albanians. Eventually, Gino and Spiro find a ride to Tirana on the back of a flatbed truck crammed with Albanian men trying to escape to Italy, where they believe jobs are plentiful and Italian women will be waiting with open arms. The staging in these scenes differs immensely from Gino and Fiore’s shadowy encounters with the Albanian men in the workers camp. Amelio often frames the medium shots of the cramped truck with Gino distinctly off-center, blending in with the other men on the right side of the frame, highlighting the sense of the absorption of Gino’s identity into the mass of Albanians. Still, at this point in the film, Gino’s absorption is far from complete. He is still the center of attention for many of the Albanian men, which Amelio emphasizes in several medium-close-up shots that show the men in the immediate vicinity surrounding Gino all facing him. Thus, the pattern of framing that Amelio employs in these shots is to first shift the viewer’s attention away from Gino onto the emergent sense of collective identity between Gino, Spiro, and the Albanian population, while at the same time emphasizing that Gino’s transformation is still under way. His sense of security as a Westerner and an Italian has yet to be entirely stripped from him. Only once, when finally Gino arrives in Tirana, does he become indistinguishable from the stream of Albanian refugees going to Italy. Having left Spiro behind in a retirement home because he discovers that Fiore has

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abandoned their scheme and returned to Italy, Gino is immediately jailed for his role in the illicit profit scheme. The authorities release Gino to await trail, but not before they confiscate his passport, stripping him in effect of his Western identity and the rights and privileges it affords. This forces him to find his way aboard a refugee ship headed toward Italy. It is here, in the film’s stunning final sequence, that Gino’s transformation from vain capitalist to impoverished refugee is complete. Beginning with a shot of a rusty old ship named, ironically, The Partisan that fills the entire screen, Amelio then cuts aboard the ship to follow Gino as he makes his way through numerous refugees. And while the camera still closely follows Gino, his appearance and demeanor cannot be differentiated from the numerous other people who populate the shot. Commenting on the final scene on the boat, Dina Iordanova writes, “At the end of the film Gino boards a ship bound for Italy: among a thousand hopeful refugees from Albania, he is indistinguishable from any one of them, and thus identical; from an onlooker he has turned into one of those who were originally looked at.”8 Gino’s absorption in the Albanian mass and the reversal of positions articulated by Iordanova, however, are not the conclusive images of the film. In the final moments of the film, Amelio not only directly alludes to the meaning of the title, Lamerica; he also leaves the viewer with images that ground future possibilities of imagining new forms of identity. Why, then, is America in the film’s title? On board the ship of refugees, Gino encounters Spiro yet again. Looking completely dejected, Gino sits next to Spiro and quietly listens to him speak enthusiastically about traveling to America, which is where he thinks the ship is headed. That America should figure so prominently in Spiro’s delusions is not an accident. The fifty years between 1941 and 1991 that Spiro has suppressed from his memory are precisely the years that saw the United States become a world superpower and win the cold war. However, for Spiro, who is ignorant of cold war geopolitics and subsequent realignments, America represents an ahistorical abstraction, the apex of Western opportunity available to him and the countless refuges on the boat. By naming the film Lamerica, then, Amelio is implying that these opportunities are as absent from history as are Spiro’s memory of the cold war. What hope is there for the waves of refugees from the Balkans or the Middle East, but to become second-class citizens in Europe and the West or shadowy presences on the margins of society? Some semblance of hope, paradoxically, lies in the presence of Gino in the film, in his transformation

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from a vain Western capitalist to an impoverished refugee, a transformation that gives Lamerica a more complex meaning than illustrating the decline of the West or suggesting the impossibility of ever integrating the Other. This, to be sure, is a distant hope, a hope that establishes no definitive meanings or literal applications for transforming the geopolitical conditions that Lamerica seeks to critique. But perhaps Lamerica can only be judged a failure for critics who privilege praxis over exploring the horizons of the possible. The lesson of Lamerica, in the seemingly improbable convergence of fates between Gino and Spiro, cannot be reduced to singular expressions that define the specifics of what form postcommunist subjectivity or identity can take and what type of historical rupture they might represent. These are only answered, in the film, through the simple yet inscrutable final images that Amelio shows, which are closeups of the faces of several Albanian refugees and, most definitive of all, an image of a disheveled Gino huddled next to Spiro who cheerfully goes to sleep, hoping to awake when he arrives in New York.9 The very determination expressed on the faces that Amelio shows serves as a reminder, as do the lessons drawn from Said’s work that the theoretical problems of identity, exile, and forced dispossession are never fully identical with the immense suffering and despair associated with the essentially unrepresentable experience of having the foundations of your subjectivity and identity thrown in flux. In this respect, however improbable the story of Gino’s transformation may seem, the final images of the film refuse to sacrifice the limits of the possible for probable. And this, as Theodor Adorno notes in his essay “Resignation,” is not a sacrifice that should be made. He writes, “it is the responsibility of thought not to accept the situation as finite. If there is any chance of changing the situation, it is only through undiminished insight. The leap into praxis will not cure thought from resignation as long as it is paid for with the secret knowledge that this course is simply not the right one.”10 The strength of Lamerica is precisely that it tries to examine the problems of postcommunist identity through images that reflect “undiminished insight” on the issue. That the film never fully achieves that level of insight makes its portrait of Albanian refugees even more heartbreaking.

Sovereignty, Border Zones, and Refugees Lamerica is not the only film about the Balkans, and Albania in particular, to contain at its core a fantasy about an elite Westerner transformed through

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his encounters with refugees. A similar premise can be found in Theo Angelopoulos’s melancholy 1991 film The Suspended Step of the Stork. Set in a Greek border town next to Albania populated with refugees, the film tells the story of a journalist trying to find a noted Greek politician who has disappeared and is believed to have begun a new life as a refugee.11 Less hopeful than Lamerica about the possibilities of transformations for identity, the film never gives the slightest motivation for the politician’s action. Likewise, the viewer is never certain whether the person that the journalist finds is in fact the missing politician. In one of the more stunning scenes in the film, a scene that echoes the final moments of Lamerica, the journalist listens to the alleged politician tell the following story about a kite to a child: When the earth comes too close to the sun and begins to burn, the people of our planet will have to go. It will be the beginning of “The Great Migration” as History will call it. People will leave their home with every available means and they will all gather in the Sahara desert. There a child will be flying a kite very high in the sky. And all people, young and old, and close to each other will hold on to each other. And the whole mankind will rise into space in search of another planet. Each one will be holding a small plant, a rose tree, a handful of grain, or a new-born animal. Others will be carrying all the books of poetry man has ever written. It will be a very long journey. Such a vision of migration, at once apocalyptic and utopian, is merely an intensification of the abstraction inherent in Amelio’s metaphoric use of America at the end of his film. At bottom, these abstractions derive from trying to imagine how, following the demise of communism, people relate spatially and existentially to their nations and Europe as a whole. In other words, the films resort to poetic abstractions to grasp what has yet to be made concrete. Filmed in the early 1990s, the films have no clear referents or images for what form the political contours and images of European unity will take. But beyond that fact, the “celestial journey” in The Suspended Step of the Stork and Spiro’s delusions in Lamerica about traveling to America also represent cinematic fantasies on the part of the filmmakers about the spaces where personal identity is not devoured by the all-consuming sovereignty of the state and transnational capital. In that respect, the films engage in a dialogue with recent theoretical accounts of the persistence of state sovereignty under globalization.

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Briefly consider, for example, the work of theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. In Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (2004), they continue their exploration of the darker aspects, as they see it, of the dominant geopolitical systems under globalization that they began to analyze in their previous book Empire (2000). In Empire, Hardt and Negri argue that national sovereignty has not in fact eroded under globalization. Though uncoupled from the state, national sovereignty has mutated itself into complex webs of transnational and international entities that still serve the dominant nation’s interests. This, according to Hardt and Negri, produces a new form of empire that “establishes no territorial center of power and does not rely on fi xed boundaries or barriers. It is a decentered and deterritorializing apparatus of rule that progressively incorporates the entire global realm within its open, expanding frontiers. Empire manages hybrid identities, flexible hierarchies, and plural exchanges through modulating networks of command.”12 However accurate an assessment of global politics dominated by U.S. national interests this may seem, Hardt and Negri disappoint in the next step of their argument, namely in their invocation of the emergent global identities they see as disrupting the above described logics of sovereignty under “Empire.” These newly emergent identities fall under the category of “the multitude.” As they describe it: We should distinguish the multitude at a conceptual level from other notions of social subjects, such as the people, the masses, and the working class. The people has traditionally been a unitary conception. The population, of course, is characterized by all kinds of difference, but the people reduces that diversity to a unity or a single identity— different cultures, races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations; different forms of labor; different ways of living; different views of the world; and different desires. The multitude is a multiplicity of all these singular differences . . . The essence of the masses is indifference; all differences are submerged and drowned in the masses . . . In the multitude, social differences remain different. The multitude is many colored, like Joseph’s magical coat. Thus the challenge posed by the concept of multitude is for a social multiplicity to manage to communicate and act in common while remaining internally different.13 To be sure, the idea of the multitude may seem conceptually intriguing, but one needs to ask how this “multiplicity of all these singular differences,” this

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amazing Technicolor dream coat of intertwined differences, can ever emerge in the world? Ideally, a commonality, an overlapping network between the local and global that is produced by the expanding global reach of empire no longer fettered by the boundaries of the state, provides the very basis for multitude to emerge. But even though the multitude, as Hardt and Negri claim, is to be distinguished from the centralized party politics of the past regardless of how international such politics may have been, the concept is really nothing more than a revamping of the utopian Marxist argument that capitalism will collapse from its own contradictions, leading to the ascendancy of the proletariat. As much as they try, they cannot make their old-fashioned model of revolution that swells from the bottom up cohere with the simultaneity of political action that they claim globalization allows. It is true, as Hardt and Negri mention above, that the multitude differs conceptually from the proletariat, but the structure of the argument remains the same: because of the contradictions of the system, a new form of identity, whether we conceive of it as a diff use network or a unified class, will emerge to establish authentically democratic political institutions throughout the world. Thus, however much Hardt and Negri distinguish their concept of the multitude from the failed class politics of the past, the basic impetus still remains wedded to a model of state sovereignty they claim has become obsolete and is much less global precisely because of its embrace of a model of revolution that travels from the bottom to the top. The essential difference between what Hardt and Negri argue and what films like The Suspended Step of the Stork or Lamerica offer is that rather than replicating the revolutionary politics of the past, they explore metaphoric possibilities for new forms of identity and for new forms of migration that exist beyond the horizon of current historical trends. Of course, as direct models for political action, this means they are fi xed upon the experience of failure. Yet, as an invitation to think deeper and more attentively about the sufferings of the world and the possibilities for recent history to redeem those sufferings, the films open up the space for nuanced reflection in a way that few contemporary counterparts have. The fantasy at the core of both films—a capitalist profit monger and an elite politician who either voluntarily, or for whom circumstances dictate, become refugees—is that it is possible to escape from the sovereignty of the economic and cultural claws of the elite Western nations for whom state borders no longer are an obstacle, and that one may do so without employing violent revolutionary means. In its

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representation of refugees, Lamerica becomes a metaphorical story of a truly global migration insofar as there is no longer any distinction between origin and destination, between wealth and poverty. It is a migration that originates in the wealthy West and moves to the impoverished Balkans only to end with a deferred hope for a new form of identity. In the end, both films use the figure of the refugee to reveal the paradoxes and failures of how national sovereignty and borders operate in the real world. In that respect, the films seem close in spirit to the work of Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben. Commenting on the relationship between sovereignty and the refugee, Agamben writes: If refugees (whose number has continued to grow in our century to the point of including a significant part of humanity today) represent such a disquieting element in the order of the modern nation-state, this is above all because by breaking the continuity between man and citizen, nativity and nationality, they put the originary function of modern sovereignty in crisis. Bringing to light the difference between birth and nation, the refugee causes the secret presupposition of the political domain—bare life—to appear for an instant within that domain. In this sense, the refugee is truly “the man of rights,” as Arendt suggests, the first and only real appearance of rights outside the fiction of the citizen that always covers them over. Yet this is precisely what makes the figure of the refugee so hard to define politically.14 If, as Agamben notes, refugees are difficult to define politically and reveal the crises of modern sovereignty, then the figure of the refugee can only become a symptom of an ever-increasing catastrophe. But what then about the act of abandoning privilege and becoming a refugee? The act of becoming a refugee for Gino and the missing politician in The Suspended Step of the Stork represent attempts to completely shatter the crises of sovereignty for the hopes of the emergence of a new form of identity. Still, Gino and the politician are also clearly fi lm images on the screen that have very few real world counterparts, except for perhaps those religious devotees who lead lives of solitude and material impoverishment. (How many vain capitalists like Gino become refugees?) They are, to a large extent, images as old as cinema itself. Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp invoked pathos at the end of such fi lms as The Circus (1928) and Modern Times (1936), with his romantic

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individualism and voluntary exile from all that is rotten in the modern. Yet the pathos that Gino, Spiro, or the missing politician invokes is different. It is the pathos of knowing that today such romanticized images of exile are even less plausible since Chaplin first turned his back to the viewer and walked into the sunset.

notes 1

Terry Eagleton, “The Politics of Amnesia,” in After Theory (New York: Basic Books, 2003), 21–22.

2

Slavoj Žižek raises a similar critique about what Eagleton calls “the postmodern cult of the migrant,” and the abuse of Deleuze’s ideas in The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (1999). He writes, “It is easy to praise the hybridity of the postmodern migrant subject, no longer attached to specific ethnic roots, floating freely between different cultural circles. Unfortunately, two totally different sociopolitical levels are condensed here: on the one hand the cosmopolitan upper- and upper-middle-class academic, always with the proper visas enabling him to cross borders without any problem in order to carry out his (financial, academic . . . ) business, and thus able to ‘enjoy the difference’; on the other hand the (im)migrant worker driven from his home by poverty or (ethnic, religious) violence, for whom the celebrated ‘hybridity’ designates a very tangible traumatic experience of never being able to settle down properly and legalize his status, the subject for whom such simple tasks as crossing a border or reuniting with his family can be an experience full of anxiety, and demanding great effort. For this second subject, being uprooted from his traditional way of life is a traumatic shock which destabilizes his entire existence [ . . . ] What is, for the concerned subject, an experience of utmost suffering and despair, the stigma of exclusion, of being unable to participate in the affairs of his community, is—from the point of view of the external and well, ‘normal,’ and fully adapted postmodern theoretician—celebrated as the ultimate assertion of the subversive desiring machine.” See Slavoj Žižek, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (New York: Verso, 1999), 220–221. See also his book on Deleuze, Organs without Bodies: On Deleuze and Consequences (London and New York: Routledge, 2004).

3

Said also reiterates the fact that Erich Auerbach wrote Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature while in exile in Turkey.

4

Edward Said, “Reflections on Exile,” in Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000), 186.

5

Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 25.

6

Ibid., 336.

7

Ibid., 332–333.

8

Dina Iordanova, “The Journey to the Poor Balkans: Raki and Bunkers,” in Cinema of Flames: Balkan Film, Culture and Media (London: BFI Publishing, 2001), 65–66.

9

Though only subtly suggested in the film’s original ending, an alternative ending available on the DVD makes it clearer that Spiro in fact dies.

10

Theodor Adorno, “Resignation,” in The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture, trans. Wes Blomster and ed. J. M. Bernstein (New York: Routledge, 1991), 200–201.

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11

Though the film never specifically refers to the neighboring country as Albania, several signs in the film indicate that it is in fact Albania.

12

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), xii–xiii.

13

Ibid., xiv.

14

Giorgio Agamben, “Biopolitics and the Rights of Man,” in Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 133.

BENDING IT LIKE BECKHAM

Sex, Soccer, and Traveling Indians

j K. E. Supriya America Sighing While Indians Say They Are Shining 1

The DVD jacket of Bend It Like Beckham quotes a review containing a quintessentially Americanized perspective on its theme: “to follow your dreams, you have to bend the rules.” Indian immigration to the West, particularly to Great Britain, the U.S., and Canada has introduced a new twist in this bent pursuit of dreams. To some of his devotees, soccer star David Beckham seems to offer an alternate approach to political equality and its perennially broken promises about a communal compact and covenant. Beckham embodies an approach to equality laid out in the agon of competitive sports, measured by the equal access to every means of overcoming an opponent: bend the rules when they become rigid and inflexible. In the sports world, you equalize precisely by going that extra mile or taking that shot from an acute angle knowing that it can be someone else’s turn the next time. Likewise there is a constant push and pull between oneupmanship and leveling of the edge that one player or team has over the other even to the point of deliberately fouling a player. Therefore, Beckham and the world of glam soccer offer a fitting backdoor to slip in Indian culture so as to reconfigure the domain of representation, interpretation, and communication with Indians, particularly Indian women. Bend It Like Beckham plays with the idea of racialized romance in a more orthodox sense with both white and nonwhite cultures, gently suggesting that postcoloniality can take a silent emotional toll on masculinity. In Bend

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It Like Beckham, the metaphor of playing and breaking rules unfolds into the film’s cultural relativist ethos. The Indian Jesminder, or Jes for short, her Anglo teammate and girlfriend Jules, and their Anglo soccer coach become embroiled both off and on the field as each plays to win the game of life. The movie works through the tension between native Indian culture and host English culture, bringing this to a peak to create its climax. The decision to hold the wedding of Jes’s prima donna elder sister on the same day as the championship game clashes with Jes’s athletic ambitions. Because the soccer field also draws talent scouts on that day, the portals of the Western world of soccer keep getting smaller for Jes the wider the cultural doors of the wedding hall are opened for family and friends. For Jes, the zenith of an Indian woman’s life, her wedding day, turns out to be the nadir of the Englishwoman’s life—the lost prospect of kicking the winning soccer goal. It seems that what could have been construed as a win-win game between cultures becomes a lose-lose game, an ominous reminder of colonial rule and postcolonial fall-out most poignantly embodied by Jes’s father. He bemoans having turned his back on cricket as a means to preserve his face, a symbol of dignity and masculinity, on account of being an Indian who was never allowed to join the pukka English team. And yet just as we are headed down the melancholy path of loss playing by the rules of culture, there is a dramatic intervention. Jes has a chance to play after all with the help of the persistent coach who presses her father to see the unfair timing of the Indian marriage to coincide with the championship game. And Jes continues to buck Indian taboos against bodily display, whether wearing her soccer gear or embracing her coach, bending it both ways as she is poised to pursue her newly found passions in the fields of soccer. In this film, we see interculturally binding identities emerge, or the coming of age of English chutney that thrives as a desirous Indian femininity. The film draws most effectively on the capacity of sports, at whatever level they are played, to carry this kind of a message about communities and communal relations. The wide angle shots of team play, confident movement, fluid yet instantly grasped as organized in the visual impact of the uniformed figures, communicates the exhilaration of individual ambition in a collective enterprise. The pinnacle of sporting achievement always comes back to international competition, the possibility of representing one’s nation in a test measured up against other nations. And nested within the portrayal

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of team members linked and integrated in their shared sporting ambition, the dream world of sports unfolds images that refer implicitly or explicitly to other aspects of national origin and the relationships that define participation in a heritage and an identity. In this case, while the viewer sees a story of sexual politics in an Indian émigré community, through the sports motif we also see the language of the game and the frame of competition on the soccer pitch move this story beyond the realm of the exotic. This film shifts an issue from the private realm of traditional familial relations to the setting where it plays out at the confluence between private formation of identity and an opportunity to make an identity out of an individual talent in a new sphere of achievement. Therefore, it exemplifies a struggle to negotiate relations in the general realm of modernity wherever a process leads out of an enclosed, separate tradition and extends beyond its particular, communalistic mediation of identities. The idiom of soccer mediates identities in a manner directly comparable to any other force of globalization. Just like global capitalism, the sport exists as a site that cannot ever, in the unfolding process of history, effectively close a boundary on any competitor who can mount a successful challenge. The appearance of a new kind of player—whether defined by color or culture, by social background or by sexual identity—will always delineate afresh what is at stake to be gained, what is in contention to divide, and what is at risk to be lost. Though Indian diasporic communities have expanded and competed successfully in the global job market through their adaptability in new economic and professional practices, this rapid evolution has not been paralleled by a comparable development in social and family relations. While eagerly and expansively forging ahead in the larger fields of work and wealth, émigré Indians in particular have responded to the perceived need to protect their base of operations in family and community by growing inward-looking to an extreme degree. While often quick to complain about prejudices in the new countries where they have become visible as competitors for jobs, or where they feel targets of hostility toward outsourcing, there is a powerful restrictiveness operating on their side of communal relations too. They will instinctively protect familial space by throwing up walls and stigmas, ostracizing those who do not fully adhere to the norms of their cultural identity. The speedy but radically unequal character of Indian émigré social development provides precisely the underlying point in Bend It Like Beckham,

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which thereby thematizes the peculiar balance struck between rapid adaptivity in economic relations with unbounded fields of profitable outwardoriented economic enterprise, and, by contrast, the preservation of a traditional set of familial and communal structures in the stabilizing foundation on which all that enterprise stands. Between the money-mindedness that directs their outward relations and the tradition-mindedness in the home, émigré Indians suffer from intense amnesia about colonial struggle. This attitude is rampant in India as well, manifested there as a kind of consumer-driven euphoria.2 Political apathy and cultural maladjustment in diaspora Indians persist alongside an often histrionic defense of a nationalized female sexuality that, from a strictly historical point of view, contradicts its own national identification. Its origins are mistakenly regarded as Hindu rather than a consequence of Hinduism’s entanglements with Islamic prohibitions and strictures. This Islamic element adds yet another ironic twist to the picture, since despite its non-Hindu ideological origins, the restrictive conception of Indian female sexuality has been incorporated into a rising Hindu fundamentalism. Diasporic Indians in the United States have shown particular energy in providing widespread financial support for nationalistic Hindu organizations that propagate such attitudes. Postcolonial feminism has likewise become monotonous and predictable, replacing modes of criticism exemplified by Gayatri Spivak, whose work derives from Marxist and deconstructivist models, with what repeatedly asserts itself as rejecting a neo-imperialist design of the United States and fundamental patriarchy implicit in those Western modes of thought. Bengali postcolonialism has become the romantic fetish of the critical turn in academia. Overall, Indian people remain substantially oriented toward their own group, and this precludes sustained conversations with Americans about their political and economic concerns. Against this narrow set of attitudes, the more expansive dream world of popular culture and film offers an attractive alternative. That attraction brings us back to the fantasy freedom of Bend It Like Beckham in the soccer fields of Hounslow, United Kingdom, which I place at the culmination of a textual odyssey via two other films—passing through the tropical, swampy heat of Mississippi Masala in the Deep South of the United States and chilly Toronto, Canada, where shadowy polymorphous sexualities provide the mise-en-scène for Seducing Maarya. The path through these three films will

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produce a critical cartography of the sexual politics and figurations of Indian sexual identity. I specifically argue that the films convey and participate in a view of sexual identity and intra- and intercultural romantic communication in the context of Indian émigré culture that sets sexual taboos adrift across the Atlantic or Pacific and mutates into transgressive play. This critical practice of sexual rhizomatics analyzes the erotics of the Indian diasporic cinematic imaginary. While remaining sensitive to the distinctness of these three films in their thematics and style, I read them together to argue that they play with cultural rules of expression and representation of sexual identity of the South Asian woman. The movies all break rules qua taboos of sex. In doing so, they provoke a globalized spectatorship to play by the rules of intercivilizational discourse. As such they occasion the construction of new rules for representation of otherness, particularly pertaining to desexualized representations of the non-Western woman under the tyranny of the regime of Western sexual liberation, on the one hand, and, on the other, a contrived nativist female sexual virtue. The rigidity and immutability of sexual taboos resurface as tenuous boundary conditions for membership in Indian culture, while other relational borders become fluid and permeable with respect to race, incest, and corporeal display. The carnal spaces of assimilation into the West show a commingling of sexual desires and longings that variously erupt and rearrange the terms of relations in family, social ties, and community. My reading within an axiomatic of playing with rules introduces a mode of invitation to play by the rules of intercivilizational communication in the commentary on chat room exchanges about these movies. This finally addresses a global praxis of rule generation where I delineate the space of alternate rules of representation of/for South Asian women that befit global times. The significance of such critical analysis is a manifold. The turn toward engagement of the sexual dimensions of Indian immigration suggests a renewed humanism of sorts in postcolonial discourse. The return to renewed awareness of how people choose and express their narrative paths as desiring individuals, which is so characteristic of popular media, produces a vivid perspective on how culture imposes itself upon the gendered Indian immigrant body. The representation of sexuality in those popular forms thus provides a way to intervene in the academic study of “othered” women whose lives as desiring persons give way as objects of study to deconstructive implosions, discursive constructions and contexts, and/or extreme emphasis

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on schematized forces of patriarchy, religion, and capitalism that complicate the personalized expression of one’s sexual identity. Gayatri Spivak has, with much sensitivity, noted the muteness of Indian women as they were shuttled between colonialist and indigenous discourses about social reform.3 Despite identifying participation in Indian beauty pageants as representing more than the contextual forces that combine to contain its meanings, Huma Ahmed-Ghosh places most of her analytic emphasis on the latter. “The Miss India pageants too,” she comments, “are located at the intersection of economic liberalization and the global approval of Western social norms.”4 In a critical reading of the Indo-Canadian film Fire, Jigna Desai argues that the significance of the movie relates to its preoccupation “with the ways in which the institutions of marriage, family, and heteronormativity, rather than state policies, constitute and impact women’s subjectivities at a variety of scales and locations.”5 Certainly, this essay is not a naive call for a return to some pure unmediated expression of sexual yearnings in Indian women. Yet it does address the ways in which Indian women directly negotiate sexuality at emotive and expressive levels within contexts and through texts of culture, politics, and economics. This style of cultural criticism also emphasizes a modality of study where diaspora culture is treated as being inseparably intertwined with mother culture. As such the representation of Indian women’s sexuality in the films I have selected is a means to consider how a global audience might regard the transmutations undergone within the sexual discourse of a culture and civilization, both visible and hidden in representation. In concrete civilizational terms, these movies are an interwoven assemblage of a narrative unconscious—to modify a conceptual usage of Fredric Jameson’s— as they bespeak a master tale of an indigenous form of foreign rule. The Mughalization of a Hindu epoch of evolved sexuality, transposed to the era of Victorian India, has altered the historical course taken by a form of feminine sexuality characteristic of the Indus Valley civilization. Spatially and aesthetically, the cultural coordinates in question can be mapped as the movement away from display and celebration of female sexuality to its concealment. This takes us from the erotic sculptures of the temples at Khajuraho to the gendered confines of the Zenana and to the racialized privacy of the hill station bungalow, a trajectory that is often obfuscated by the commodity-driven longings of diasporic film production. Therefore the readings undertaken in this essay are a corrective exercise to

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recover a contextual understanding of the films. It allows for inquiry into family and romance in the context of Indian immigration to the West, where the relational life worlds of Indians become a cultural vehicle for navigating the fissures and fusion in an ongoing transaction with Western culture, hence the shift in scrutiny from a methodology of politics to an erotics. As a form of cultural intervention, the pursuit of a civilizational trajectory of sexuality from ancient India onward to contemporary popular culture provides a means to unleash latent sensuous and feminized energies, whether in contexts of intimacy, family, or the intellectual lives of Indian émigrés. It combines the passions of the old and new worlds in a mode of synergy rather than containment.6 Niaz Zaman’s treatment of old and new passions is based on a forward movement dealing with the past in a manner that makes for a more amicable way of living in the present. Thus it can underwrite one of the arguments of this essay, which is to let the civilizational faces of sexuality coexist in the imaginative and practical universe of immigrants. In reference to the novels of Bharati Mukherjee and Bapsi Sidhwa, Zaman observes, “the stories of both Sidhwa and Mukherjee suggest that the quarrels and emotions of the old world are never far behind. But the stories also suggest a new beginning in the new world.”7 As such, the readings of the films can be considered as a modality of tantric criticism. It is meant to enable the citizen of the globalized nationstate, whether at home or abroad, to treat the precolonial as a crucial horizon of personal life. Thereby we sift through the layers of both indigenous and Western epistemic violences and silences upon the body of the Indian woman. It is also significant in this purpose to note the effect where she is increasingly designated through the emergent cultural signifier as South Asian. While this term is beneficial to represent people of Indian descent in a way that does not conjure up images of otherness, which is more likely in case of labels like “Third World,” or “developing country,” or even “Indian,” it is indicative of a present-oriented attitude, somewhat removed from a civilizational understanding. The specific cultural praxis envisaged as tantric criticism can return Indian femininity to its civilizational past of expression and display—though we should still bear in mind that there is no such thing as a precise point of origin for Indian sexuality. However, it is necessary to offer a representational countercontext to that in which images of the hand decorated by henna or a curry-laden dish become synecdoches for the femininity of Indian women that situate Indian women behind representation.

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I would emphasize that my argument reclaiming the female sexuality of ancient India is not meant to fan the flames of fundamentalist identification. The point is merely that Indians need self-reflexively to recognize how the myth of the chaste Indian woman prohibits their own connectedness to themselves in the aspect of expressive female sensuality. The realization that practices of concealment of the female body came about through a historical twist in the ebb and flow of cultural encounters in India may empower Indian families in their contemporary efforts to negotiate encounters with the sexual norms of Western culture. Accomplishing this with dexterity and boldness requires continuity with Indian tradition and mindfulness of the Islamic turn in Hindu culture. Similarly, Western judgments of Indian culture as being sexually repressive to its women suggests the need for a more enlarged understanding of India as a civilization, beyond the chain store retail feminism where every woman from “those” countries justifies a hawkish anti-Islamic foreign policy. While this is not a provocation toward vulgar sexual display or wanton sexual expression, especially given that AIDS has shown the precariousness of sexuality, it certainly is a manifesto for a spicier feminist critique within postcolonial criticism. If cultural critics have become complicit in representing Indian women as excluded from the domain of sexual desire through intellectual prudishness and through an institutional investment in female chastity, then they have capitulated to discourses of power that impose a chokehold on what, if anything, can be said about sexual identity. Approaching this intellectual work as a telling and retelling of female sexuality across cultures and borders can allow us to examine the prohibitions and excesses of our own sexual cultures in relation to one another. Cross-cultural comparative criticism of representations and practices of sexuality can help us negotiate issues on either side. For instance, a different perspective on the crisis in Western marriage appears through the Indian conception of marital identity. Even though karma does seem fatalistic to a divorce-friendly culture such as the United States, the Indian conviction that one’s marriage was “meant to be” acts against the hasty recourse to divorce. We see a similar contrast with the Indian consequence-driven approach to marriage, though this is no doubt overdone in shame cultures like India, where women are browbeaten into submission to oppressive husbands. In this view, the consequences of divorce are thought through not so much as a deterrent but as a way of reasoning that the strife between

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partners is “maya,” or an illusion in the larger scheme of the universe, a distinctly non-Western way of positioning humans in cosmic space. And, in general, we rise to an ethos of remedy and recovery when we realize why things strike us as awkward, inappropriate, and undesirable in the sexual mores of another culture. An American injunction to third world cultures to shape up sexually rings hollow to those concerned by conditions that render marriage a perilous and fragile institution in America. American liberal and secular values offer little basis of proper behavior between life partners other than the default pattern of individualism. Indian culture can modify its overreaching value judgments and the overprotective mores of the old world if the very idea of the old world is revealed as a fictive and arbitrary foundation for regulatory codes of sexual expression. Where they function as a basis of mutual critique, cultures can formulate norms that do not oppress expression while establishing ways to limit the risks and stresses that attend relational life across continents. Scholarship on popular cultural representations of South Asian women is primarily concerned with a critical politics. Exemplary studies on Indian women’s sexual identities and popular culture have scrutinized the portrayal of gender roles, the gender dynamics of political intersections and tensions, and the institutional policing of gender and sexuality. Anne Ciecko remarks about the limitations of gender role portrayal in the movie Bhaji on the Beach: Bhaji plays with conventional perceptions of the Asian woman through the representation of such a heterogeneous group, and in doing so, it demonstrates complicated and somewhat ambivalent acts of resistance . . . For the most part, Bhaji on the Beach reinforces old identities, if modified somewhat, as the women return to their respective expected roles. The possibility of a next generation, a truly “new” family, is ill-timed . . . Bhaji on the Beach uses stereotypes knowingly and intentionally, often critically, and sometimes sentimentally.8 Ahmed-Ghosh argues that “internally, while the nation waves its saffron flag of Hindu nationalism and the Muslim minority takes recourse to Islamic strictures, women’s images, statuses, and roles are being negotiated and renegotiated to reflect and symbolize a nation at a crossroads.”9 Desai justifies her heavily contextual criticism of the movie Fire as necessary to “address the manner in which processes at local, national, and transnational

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scales intersect to define the heteronormative communal norms that regulate women’s bodies and sexualities.”10 While Seducing Maarya, Bend It Like Beckham, and Mississippi Masala all flirt with the idea of racialized romance, Mississippi Masala foregrounds the transgression of the racial taboo with a particular twist. While the other two movies seize upon conventionalized understandings of interracial relations in terms of white and Indian, Seducing Maarya “coming out” with the presence of gay Indians in the West, I focus first on Mississippi Masala because it teases out the idea of a romance among peoples of color, the coloring of passions, in the Deep South. Mira is an Indian ingénue whose inner femme fatale seems to be youthful, which the film connects with the novelty of the social encounter between Indians and African Americans. Demetrius is a robust African American who is mechanically skilled and emotionally attentive. The movie counters the hostile regime of race relations with an aesthetics of serendipity. It seems to suggest that overcoming racial divides and building unity is a matter of turning accidental encounters between races into a matter of destiny, whether sexual or political. Mira and Demetrius flout the strictures of the Deep South, where segregation serves to police the heterogeneous flow of desire among multiple racial groups—Indian, African American, and Anglo-American. In short, the taboo of racially heterogeneous sexual and romantic relations is broken and this unleashes a torrential downpour of kama, Indian sensuousness. The movie conveys the moment of interculturally commingled identities, producing a sexual diaspora culture of American masala and a tempestuous Indian émigré femininity. Seducing Maarya, as its name suggests, is a tale of seduction, but told as an allegory of food. The preparation and savoring of Indian food with its assortment of ingredients that are constitutively evocative of the symbol of “curry,” a catch-all term, becomes the modus operandi for the transaction of the taboo of incest that comes about through marital kinship. While certain forms of intrafamilial marriages are sanctioned by Indian culture, the transgression of the in-law relationship in a fanciful retelling of an extended family Electra story certainly departs from allowable practices. Maarya is employed by an Indian restaurateur in Canada who becomes a protective father figure to this woman of fragile femininity. Father figure turns fatherin-law when his gay son goes along with the charade of the Indian dream—a happily arranged marriage between desis. The circle of longing includes a young Canadian male who plays in the band of the second-generation Indian

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son. The satiation of gastronomic desire exists in tension with the stimulation of passionate hunger for one another as the camera pans into the satisfaction of the appetites of Maarya and her father-in-law. Sex, like food, becomes a means of catharsis under conditions of dislocation as Maarya descends into a vertiginous spiral of traumatized sexual indulgence when a mysterious male—named “brother”—arrives at their doorstep from India to claim her. Maarya’s sexuality becomes the site of contestation over possession and ownership, resolved as a spiritual doctrine about pilgrimages. I would characterize the identities constructed in the movie as culturally intersecting; the Canadian curry moment is served up on the altar of a fragile Indian femininity that is tenuously positioned on the border of home and abroad. These erotic narratives can be seen as the ideological making of a global epic about Indian nationhood; we should note that Indian epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata were also micronarratives about female sexuality. Such a reading is justified by Kum Kum Sangari’s parallel argument that “‘Hindu womanhood’ as a compound referent for continuity and perpetuity came to serve a range of ideological purposes in the struggle for class and imperial domination.”11 Seen as an allegory of postcolonial politics, Mississippi Masala constructs a narrative reversal of the political exclusion and reification of racial borders between the Africans in Uganda and the émigré Indians whom Idi Amin expelled. American soil seems fertile ground for an inseparable intertwining of identities of color. Seducing Maarya accomplishes a binding of commonwealth countries to one another as a ludic display of carnivalesque energies. Such energies have been unleashed by the unpredictable twists and turns of colonial rule to temper the search for a connection beyond parallels of history with a reckoning of (im)proprieties as the limn of the homeland. Nevertheless the uplifting moment of cultural commingling occurs through consummation of homoerotic passions in the moment of postcoloniality, as if Indian-Canadian relations open an alternative sexual space for the negotiation of relations to colonialism on the fringes of memory and sexuality. In Bend It Like Beckham, the trauma of the colonial past gives way to the possibility of postcolonial triumph through civil sportsmanship. The movie shows the achievement of esprit de corps among Indians and British people befitting global times. The film intertwines these desiring subjectivities as an inevitable outcome of the colonial condition according to how one plays with its constraints. Jes and the soccer coach’s shared desire to see her

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play in the championship game, in seamless continuity with the embedded narrative about the burgeoning of romantic affinity, is read as political reconciliation between England and India. This entails three interrelated claims about the breaking of taboos of corporeality, race, and incest as aesthetic endeavors to capture the changes in Indian female sexuality through modernity and its aftermath. It also entails claims for aesthetic and life lessons. Mississippi Masala works because it shows what does not work. Community sanctions against an Indian woman feeling reciprocated desire for an African American man leave their romantic and sexual afterlife beyond the representational pale. For this reason, the movie is limited because it stops precisely where the norms of American culture would otherwise proceed to a conclusion. The film cannot follow the story beyond where the sexual relations of its protagonists would have violated real-life proscriptions. That restriction itself shows how much further American culture, no less than the Indian culture within it, has to go in order to realize its sexual freedom. The breaking of the incest taboo in Seducing Maarya is so far out that it makes good geographical sense to locate it in Canada. The atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance of off-limit behaviors there provides a perfect foil to ponder the quirkiness of Maarya’s passions for turbulent and torrid entanglements with Indian men under the sign of kinship—with her fatherin-law and the enigmatic “brother” from back home. In this case, the Indian immigrant finds the host community offers a far broader space in which to deal with issues such as incest than the narrow confines of the proprieties in the home culture. Breaking the taboo of corporeal display in Bend It Like Beckham triumphs in the new framework where the female body holds public attention in the popular consciousness. The movie teases the viewer into imagining the transgressive Indian woman’s unclothed body by couching the story as a drama of youthful seduction. The situation between female friends triangulates the romance rather than keeping it focused on the dyadic and binary unit. In breaking this taboo in the host society, the diasporic culture appears not to realize its own opportunity to bend back upon itself far enough to reach its own contradiction, Hinduism’s submission to Islamic sexual codes, now ossified as the quintessential normative framework for diasporic Indians. The caste aspect of Indian society, and the prohibition on intercaste mingling, does not negate my argument. Hindu society appears to have been

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very receptive as a civilization to internalizing that restrictive and proscriptive Islamic influence in the condemnation of public exposure of the female body or feelings. This, together with the influence of that patriarchal figure of Hindu scripture, Manu, led to a culture of sexual repression. Indeed, the reification of Indian culture as a tradition of bodily concealment has become a regulatory mechanism, a strict policing of intercultural romance now fi xed in its present place and entirely oblivious to its origins. Concealment of the body is constantly reasserted as typically Indian and non-Western, rather than as produced by a particular constellation of historical conditions in Indian culture. This civilizational amnesia about what is normatively Indian has its parallel in the schizophrenic diasporic attitude that makes Indian economic assimilation completely acceptable but repudiates social assimilation in dating as a cultural travesty. Reading the Indian woman’s desires within a civilizational framework can correct the outlook that relegates nonsexual Indian femaleness to the intellectual scrap heap. This misread condition can be traced back in part to the pervasive misapplication of poststructuralist and deconstructive criticism, and particularly Foucault’s work on the history of sexuality. Of course we do still need a critical framework that traces the motility of the culturally and nationally specific gendered traveling body within the horizon by which its desire was rendered textual in the past. I am certainly not calling for a vulgar phenomenology of the body or a reductionist empirics of sex. Rather, the significance of such an outlook on the Indian female body lies in the distinction it permits between the breaking of sexual rules by Indians upon immigration to the West and the ideology of the sexual liberation of oppressed people in the space of Western liberty. Construing the decisions Indians make about their sexual expression as drawn up within their own choice of an Indian identity depends on what counts as authentic Indian norms of sexual display within the grand narrative sweep of the Indus Valley civilization. Situating the expression of sexual identity within a more developed historical consciousness can enable a nuanced understanding of what freedoms do in fact lie open to women within their own heritage. The tradition of that civilization certainly includes the process through which an earlier period of free play in sexual codes and styles came to be lost. That freedom, preceding the much more orthodox sensibility about expression of femininity, came to be suppressed when Hinduism and Islam intermingled

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in a hybrid form of sexual repression and attendant overemphasis on covering the female anatomy. In this respect Indu Sundaresan’s novel from 2002, Twentieth Wife, offers a much needed radical break from the genre of the immigrant wife’s cultural predicaments. Even though the novel takes the sexual norms that surround her female protagonist as the point of civilizational stock-taking and departure, she delves into Mughal history to find fictional material to depict female sexuality. The sexual politics that I have endeavored to give form to in this essay is meant to revisit what I will defend as a golden era of Hindu female sexuality, insofar as women were not then policed into adopting an asexualized style of clothing. As such it is a genealogical and archeological excavation of civilizational life forms along the course of the Indus valley.

Patricia Chu construes Asian American cultural identity as taking literary shape through a cultural bildungsroman where categories of experience can be juxtaposed and fused for conveying life experiences.12 William Kirkwood has used classical Indian aesthetic theory, or rasa, to tackle the representational treatment of experiences that are unpleasant to the senses.13 I work with a notion of rasa as a repertoire of senses that can lead to the aesthetic cathecting of present predicaments and possibilities in the past. A synthesis of Chu’s interpretation of Asian diasporic writing and Lisa Lowe’s approach to Asian American identity through countermemory leads to a notion of an erotic South Asian bildungsroman that can serve as an aesthetic guide for the retrieval, reworking, and expression of civilizational sexual codes.14 As we have seen, cinema can achieve this also, giving expression to a Weltanschauung of sensuousness by localizing Indian civilization in terms of fables about sex and sexual display. Such a representation can explore the breaking of the rules of sexual taboo as a means to invite Western culture to abide by rules of intercivilizational communication in representing non-Western, specifically Indian sexuality. We urgently need some ground rules for expressing opinions about cultures. Ironically, the place I looked to in considering that need lies within the unlocalizable spaces of virtual communication about these movies. I went through the message boards of several Web sites and found criticisms that ranged from snide chiding of directorial experimentation to a heartfelt appreciation of the visual rendering of sexual stories between races. These textual fragments show various degrees of awareness across history

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concerning contextual elements of identity such as race, nationality, and gender. The acute need for folding sexuality into history and civilization is illustrated by one chat room participant who expressed dismay that Jesminder did not immediately protest against her parents’ overbearing attitudes in favor of liberation. We need these ground rules for conversation about sexual conduct across cultures, most particularly where the quotidian expressions of how we feel toward one another are distorted by a fervent belief in the sole sexual progress of Western nations and cultures alone. In “Dialogue of Civilizations: An Introduction to Civilizational Analysis,” Victor Segesvary proposes that the “only way to re-establish a pluralistic world . . . is to initiate an intercivilizational dialogue in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance and goodwill. A positive attitude toward civilizational dialogue is made easier if we accept, in accordance with the multilinear concept of cultural evolution, that various civilizations represent the adaptive processes in particular environments.”15 This is valuable as a rationale for playing by the rules of intercivilizational discourse when the matrix of consumption, pleasure, and entertainment impedes meaningful and respectful conversation across cultures about sexuality. Therefore, it is important to follow conversational ground rules that can be articulated as a communicative approach. Based on Drucilla Cornell’s philosophical inquiry into the concept of the limit, this means expunging the binary opposition of sexual progress by identifying with rather than as an other in a mimetic manner.16 Simply put, it is crucial that communicators be aware of conversation stoppers. To do away with them, it is important to jettison the hierarchical binary in the sexual domain. When approaching the apparent constraints of another culture, interlocutors ought to work very hard to overcome the conversational and symbolic hold of the “in those countries” attitude that underlies the tyranny of the binary. Playing by the rules of intercivilizational dialogue can be understood alongside the generation of rules for representation and participation in a global climate within and without the context of sexual politics. Popular culture can actively negotiate its role as a conversation starter. Here I make reference to the actuality of popular cultural references mediating the speech of individuals and the possibility that popular culture can rework its own conversational frameworks. The films discussed here do exemplify how popular culture can operate as a resource by whose means such issues and

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contradictions as familial constraint versus individual freedom can receive an open treatment in the most productive and generous spaces between traditions. For instance, the soccer coach in Bend It Like Beckham does not discredit the Indian family, but instead realizes its importance in Jes’s life, and thus understands that he must coax the father to be more yielding toward his daughter. Jes’s father is a blend of paternal protection and affection. These sorts of nuances ought to be the stuff of everyday cultural and communicative work so that the vulgar dichotomy of sexual oppression–sexual liberation is put into a more meaningful and pliable framework.17 Representational rules, accordingly, can take the composite form of development of contextual sensibilities, feeling of civilizational passions, and eliciting sportsmanship in the global field of relations. Their insertion as conversational codes and guides can then become a matter of creative experimentation when we make meaning. Samir Dayal offers an interesting reading of incompleteness in the diasporic condition: The health of a community, even a global community, may be measured in its capacity for civil debate, negotiation, and the negative capacity to resist the seductive illusion of closure, in every sense of the word. This kind of addition allows for tactics that do not add up to an ossified strategy of a rule-bound closed society—it remains true to the principle of the “incomplete” negotiation of the social.18 Representations in these popular media enable Western interlocutors to move beyond a hasty reading of diaspora sexualities as simply in need of a Western style of liberation in order to complete themselves. Conversely, members of a diasporic culture can open themselves up to the excitement of the same incomplete status. Niaz Zaman’s conceptualization of mores and norms as passionate attachments provides an impetus to postmodern citizens to adopt a larger orientation beyond the present while reacting to movies about the here and now.19 Geoff rey Kain celebrates Asian American identity, observing that “the creative contributions of Asian peoples to many nations outside of Asia have been realized in almost every field and institution of culture—in literature and the arts, science, technology, education, business and finance, family and community affairs etc.—and these contributions continue to impress themselves deeply and more overtly on public consciousness.”20 While Kain offers an optimistic reading of the “model minority” view, his comments occasion the need for a healthy recognition of diaspora cultures

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as bringing about changes in the host culture rather than upholding a unidirectional concept of Western culture as the sole salutary influence on oppressive native practices. In such a manner we can avoid being sore losers or take a dignified pride in victory. Such a sportsmanship can then provide the impetus for cultures to make strides in the twenty-first century through robust competition and cooperation. To sum up, these three films of the South Asian diaspora in the West present an ensemble of cinematic practices that break taboos of sexual conduct. I also took a cue from their playing with rules of sexual representation as a reconfiguration of taboos of race, incest, and the body to emphasize the need to play according to the rules of intercivilizational discourse and the need for representational rules in popular culture. In closing, a poignantly potent account of the aftermath of September 11 from Andrew Stephen comes back full circle to soccer. Stephen recounts that “everyone has their own horror stories . . . a fellow soccer parent, Michele Heidenberger, was the flight attendant on the American Airlines plane that flew into the Pentagon, and was invested with the normally routine task of holding the cockpit-door key. In the grounds of Washington’s National Cathedral, electronic bells ring out on Sunday lunchtime as a schoolgirl’s soccer match gets under way.”21 As experiences of relocation engender and are engendered by dangerous terror games, the playfulness of time across space can be felt as civilizational twists and turns of sensuousness. No one can speak to this more than David Beckham, who likes to bend it and inspires all others, in a manner of global good faith, to do so in turn.

notes 1

The Bharatiya Janata Party heralded its most recent electoral campaign with the slogan “India Shining” to persuade voters about the success of their economic liberalization policies. The media discourse over this slogan, however, suggests that it was open to misinterpretation and could have been their undoing, as scores of disenfranchised Indian people, particularly from the rural regions, turned to the Congress Party to deliver to them the global goods. A pithy encapsulation of this issue can be found in http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/ south_asia/3518029.stm.

2

See Dilip Bobb and Malini Bhupta’s article “Ambani vs Ambani,” India Today International, 6 December 2004, 16–23, and Aroon Purie’s commentary, “From the Editor-in-Chief,” India Today International, 13 December 2004, 1.

3

Gayatri Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 271–313.

4

Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, “Writing the Nation in the Beauty Queen’s Body:

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Implications for a ‘Hindu’ Nation,” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 4, no. 1 (2003): 218. 5

Jigna Desai, “Homo on the Range: Mobile and Global Sexualities,” Social Text 20, no. 4 (2002): 66.

6

Niaz Zaman, “Old Passions in a New Land: A Critique of Bharati Mukherjee’s ‘The Management of Grief’ and Bapsi Sidhwa’s ‘Defend Yourself Against Me,’” in Ideas of Home: Literature of Asian Migration, ed. Geoff rey Kain (East Lansing: Michigan State University, 1997), 84.

7

Zaman, “Old Passions in a New Land,” 84.

8

Anne Ciecko, “Representing the Spaces of Diaspora in Contemporary British Films by Women Directors,” Cinema Journal 38 (1999): 78.

9

Ahmed-Ghosh, “Writing the Nation in the Beauty Queen’s Body,” 224.

10

Desai, “Homo on the Range,” 67.

11

Kum Kum Sangari, Politics of the Possible: Essays on Gender, History, Narratives, Colonial English (New Delhi: Tulika, 1999): 103.

12

See Patricia Chu, Assimilating Asians: Gendered Strategies of Authorship in Asian America (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000).

13

See William G. Kirkwood, “Shiva’s Dance at Sundown: Implications of Indian Aesthetics for Poetic and Rhetoric,” Text and Performance Quarterly 10 (1990): 93–110.

14

See Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996).

15

Victor Segesvary, Dialogue of Civilizations : An Introduction to Civilizational Analysis (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000), 13.

16

See Drucilla Cornell, The Philosophy of the Limit (New York: Routledge, 1992).

17

I want to thank Patrice Petro for an insightful reading of the lesbian themes in the movie that was part of a conversational exchange with me during my presentation of this argument as a conference paper.

18

Samir Dayal, “Splitting Images: The Satanic Verses and the Incomplete Man,” in Ideas of Home: Literature of Asian Migration, ed. Geoff rey Kain (East Lansing: Michigan State University, 1997), 93.

19

Zaman, “Old Passions in a New Land,” 75–85.

20

Geoff rey Kain, “Introduction,” Ideas of Home: Literature of Asian Migration (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1997), 3.

21

Andrew Stephen, “The War that Bush Cannot Win,” in Taking Sides: Global Issues, ed. James E. Harf and Mark Owen Lombardi (Columbus, OH: McGraw Hill, 2003), 343.

COMING

TO THE

ANTIPODES

Migrancy, Travel, Homecoming

j Ihab Hassan

The topic of this volume has assumed the shifting boundaries of the world. Does it also assume, I wonder, any deep change in our idea of the human, our idea particularly of the so-called Other? (As if the Other does not dwell within us all, the stranger in our skin, the shadow walking beside us! As if the Other is not every external image in our cultures of frenzied simulation!) And what is it that right-thinking intellectuals do assume when they address miseries on so large and numbing a scale? And is their mission only to speak truth to power (as Edward Said thought), or is it also to speak truth to themselves, speak it against themselves? There are many ways out of human complacency, but none so hard as the way of self-dispossession, a “condition of complete simplicity . . . costing not less than everything,” as T. S. Eliot put it.1 That is the path of the elect. I have chosen a much easier path, that of testimony, witnessing my own errant life: I mean comfortable travel without rigor or exile. Call it trans-cultural remembrance or simply memoir. But in this essay, my logic, though sincere, is flawed: it assumes that my case is somehow exemplary, that in the particulars of one life we can discern patterns of the world. That is not so: the world reveals itself in a grain of sand to very few. Still, I believe that the vital ambiguities of experience reveal more than the proud abstractions of theory, that metaphor approaches truth closer than concept. The smell of a rutted street, the smudged stamp in a passport, the sewn lips of a woman, tell us what ideologies cannot. Memoir, anyway, is the best I can offer here.

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And finally I acknowledge that, as my text reaches across the globe, vacillating between past and present, anticipating the unknown, it will not, despite its best intentions, escape self-deception.

One—Westering I went to the Antipodes late in life—with my wife, Sally, as always—and became there a wintry celebrant. Somehow, I had escaped great pain in my life and put aside what sadness came my way. I wondered: could age become youth in Australia, gravity a lighter joy? Could surprise green all the senses? They said all was inverted Down Under. July brought snow; drizzle fell from clear skies; swans glided in black plumage; trees shed bark instead of leaves. And whoever had seen a wallaby, wombat, dingo, platypus, kookaburra, pademelon, gecko, emu, or bandicoot in the “right-side-up” world, or woken to the screech of galah, rosella, and sulfur-crested cockatoo? Australia struck me from the start with lingering wonder, a half-familiar strangeness like the after-image of a dream. It beckoned, not with the siren song of exoticism, but as a destination I had nearly missed. What had I actually missed? The query is spurious. Still, it pointed the right way: not to a cardinal direction or geographical place, but inward—toward my self. Friends ask, why did you really come to Australia? What brings you back? In a sense, Australia simply came my way during a vagrant life. In another, more personal sense, it became a place of final, no, of potential, reconciliations. Like Ovid’s Dacia in David Malouf’s An Imaginary Life, the darkly luminous place at the edge of the world, the place with the password. I admit it: that novel has become talismanic for me. In his exile to the frozen wastes of Dacia, Malouf’s Ovid feels a great opening to the universe, anticipating the “the lineaments of some final man.” Coming to Australia, I felt no trace of emergent divinity in myself, but I did sense a release, life fanning out unexpectedly into new channels and vistas. Call it sailing to Parramatta, if not to Byzantium. Parramatta? Let me explain. The first trip I took on the River Cat, in Sydney, out from Circular Quay to Parramatta, impressed me as might a low-key revelation. The river mouth gradually narrowed into swampy shallows, practically vanishing into scrub and mangrove, the muddy banks closing in. I felt the pathos of diminishment, the thinning of possibilities as in aging—or was it like riding time backward, back to origins, the dark womb of being? I certainly felt as if I was

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rehearsing modern history, gliding past those rusty vestiges of the Industrial Revolution on each bank—abandoned factories, derelict warehouses, empty tanks. And yet, how surprising after all, when I reached Parramatta, to find a widening there, a place and town at the end instead of some heart of darkness or nothing at all. The town may be a little tacky, provincial, like an earlier version of Australia, but it was a town still, with modern glass and brick buildings, with shops, hotels, schools, hospitals, police stations . . . And with people, too, a bit paler or plainer than in Sydney perhaps—the skin of women tended to a dead whiteness, I thought—but people, still, with children, dogs, hats, continuing life or starting it anew. A bend in the river had brought reprieve. Certainly, it was a personal impression, a concoction even more than impression, the drowsy fable of a jet-lagged tourist, which faded a little every time I returned to the real town. Yet the passage to Parramatta remained for me, somehow, a fable of “westering,” its double movement of confinement and release. Coming to Parramatta or to Australia—this bustling, imaginary Dacia—is experiencing both the infinity of nature and tenacity of civilization, experiencing them with surprise. Like most tourists, though I started in Sydney, I found my way to Uluru: the heat and flies and shimmering desert of the Red Center. There it was: the sheer, mad improbability of that rock, the size of a city cubed—so different from that other City on the Hill, the Puritan New Jerusalem, white like an angel’s breath—a glowing cube the size of a smoldering asteroid up-ended in the earth. Can you see it without sharing, at least for an instant, the Aboriginal’s sacred awe? Without thinking, something passed this way long ago? What message lies there, waiting aeons for mind to evolve, evolve enough to cipher its import? I felt modern civilization crumple like wax paper in my brain. (In Australia, in America, space is metaphysical; it swallows up the sky. Think of Voss or The Prairie, then, for contrast, think of Mansfield Park.) Civilization crumpled: is that what westering, westering all the way to Australia, means? This talk of westering begins to grate. Isn’t it just another private myth, a memorialist’s conceit? Why cling to a quirky compass? Again, I need to explain. I have been always drawn to horizons more than to origins, drawn to visions from the verge; I seek not crowds but sparsity; I feel no tyranny or bereavement in distance; and the idea of burial in a faraway land appeals.

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On dream roads, I have tended to travel West, North and West. I imagined America “another portion of the infinite.” I did not find proof of the body or evidence of spiritual clarity in landscapes of the sun (I have horror of heat). No, I fancied that beauty dwelt in jagged fjords and misty tundra, among alabaster people with golden heads. But there’s more to it than that, more than a personal preference, like a taste, say, for Kalamata olives or pickled herring. For the Eros of travel is not only ruttish; it is also a cunning inquisitor. In recent years, the inquisitor tracked me to the Antipodes to worry an old question that friends have always asked, and ask still under the Southern Cross: “You left Egypt, but why didn’t you ever go back to visit?” It’s clear enough: I did not like my years in Egypt. I considered my birthplace an accident, not a destiny—an accident resonant with memories. It is also clear: I never felt my years in America a life-long exile. But why the stony refusal of return? It might be that, in adolescence, reading English and American literature as if I would lose my soul to every page, I alienated myself irrevocably from country and home and believed myself a changeling of the Western Imagination. The answers, though, must be more shady, betraying fear, betraying shame of reversion. Going back to Nilotic earth, the primal horde, the “cradle of civilization.” Going back to the old matrix, and the chaos of Egyptian life. For me, return smelled of atavism, failed self-creation. I hated to discover how common, after all, I was to my native ground—how much I shared with Egypt. I hated to know how fragile self-fashioning remains. Still, if I refused nostalgia, I did not indulge amnesia; I tried to move on. And so I became addicted to displacement, an amateur of change. The Law of Return, I convinced myself, will find completion in eternity. So, I westered, first to New England, then to the Midwest, then, sporadically, to the American West Coast. I went to Japan but found myself back East. I westered north, too, to Germany, Denmark, Sweden, but Europe was not west enough for me. So I traveled south like some ghostly albatross, no, like some disoriented Horus, south to the Antipodes, where south becomes north again and west pulls short of east. No doubt, Australians will find these self-involved reflections of small relevance to the real, the new Australia. But that is part of my story. Coming to the Antipodes late, I felt I could look about with widened eyes. The Australian scene—people, places, things—called me out. I seemed lighter. It was

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a lightness, a vividness, that grew in the space between a real and imaginary Australia. In any case, the “the real Australia”—with a place on maps, a story in history books—does not block the spiritual horizon. There is also, for me, “Parramatta,” there is also “Dacia.” And as always, what you are looking for is under your feet.

Two—Out of Egypt Before coming to Australia, I came avidly to America, out of Egypt. Between the two journeys lay my life, the fullest part of it, if not the most raw, intense, vulnerable. Is that why the two events, the two comings, are so strangely linked in my head as I try to apprehend the intervening years? Spirit, I believe, inhabits our displacements, drives us about. It acts, like faith, as if it were independent of mind. Spirit may have driven me out of Egypt—that explanation, still another, seems as good as any. Perhaps the desert, through which the Nile cuts a living swath—silt, palms, cotton fields speckled green and white, shimmering emerald rice paddies, pullulating towns—the desert more than the river seduces my fancy. Like spirit, like the sea, the desert exacts; it abhors small comforts, sociability; it pulls the eye toward infinity. But these are all metaphors for obscure affinities. We do not know the genesis of our desires, what draws us hence or drives us hither, along what axial lines we go. At best, we know the puppet, not the puppeteer. And is not chance, the hidden principle, the very genius of the universe? Consider, if you must, the social facts. Egypt may have now become more observant of Islam; it has not become more spiritual thereby. Politics—the politics of poverty, crowding, disease, corruption—prevails. The passions for transcendence take other forms: terrorism, fundamentalism, xenophobia, simmering resentment, the bile of centuries spilling out in new names: Liberation Bridge, Victory Square, the Place of Revolution, the Avenue of Something October. Across the Atlantic, relatively safe from the afflictions of Egypt—can anyone say that after September 11? I wonder if dignity can live on shibboleths. Can self-worth thrive on suicide or spite? Has genuine selfcriticism, the unillusioned will to veracity, no role in the Arab world? Meanwhile, ancient Egypt, burnished by the years, has become a fad. Western tourists now flock, when zealotry recedes, to Memphis, Thebes, Luxor, Dendera, Abu Simbel. Imperial loot fills the cultural capitals—Nefertiti in Berlin, Tut’s treasures in London, Mykerinos in Boston, Setka and the

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Scribe in Paris—recycling itself endlessly in the world’s museums. And the Millennium Society—founded by an American college student, who else?— invites 1750 swells, transported blissfully on the QE2, to toast the second millennium at the foot of the Great Pyramid at Giza. Why this taste for an eerie, enigmatic past? Is it a longing for enchantment more than hunger for gold? “I see wonderful things,” Howard Carter whispered in 1932 to Lord Carnarvon from the depths of the boy-king’s tomb in Thebes, surrounded by the gold and silence of three thousand and three hundred years. Tut’s gold itself inspired sacred awe: that beauty, by some holy power sparked, could outlast death and the rot of years. In truth, I did not sense that aura as a boy, scuffling among ominous pharaohs in the sandy temples and dusty museums of Egypt. Perhaps I felt too much of a stranger among stony strangers, these presumed ancestors of mine. Still, I felt a touch of the glory that was Egypt, almost half a century later, at an exhibition in the Paris Grand Palais: “L’Art égyptien du temps des pyramides.” Where was I, then, in those early years of my life in Egypt, that I looked, unfeeling, on all those monuments staring eternity down? Perhaps the rigors of Islam, its implacable monotheism, blinded me to the long desire, the thousand-century stare, in the eyes of pharaonic statues. La ilah illa Allah, wa Mohamed rasoul Allah (No god but Allah, and Mohamed the messenger of Allah). On this rock rested the faith of the Koran. Chant the words of this sura, the jin vanished, and all those unclean gods with animal heads and uncouth monikers fled into the night. What remained was the Name (capitalized), invincible abstraction, the name of Allah. The rock, after all, was a word, palpable like bread, vacant like the sky. Islam, implicit in Arab cultures then, was unobtrusive, almost diaphanous, in our household. All the more reason for a self-alienated adolescent to flaunt it in the face of his parents. In my second year at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Cairo, I became insufferably devout. I prayed, I fasted, I gave away my petty cash to zakah. I performed my ablutions as if cleansing myself from all the dross of the world. Never a joiner, I considered the Moslem Brotherhood too fanatical, too narrow for my temper. It escaped me that I was also as narrow-minded toward my parents as the brotherhood itself was toward all “infidels.” This lasted eight months. The Malady of the Ideal, Baudelaire called it. Are all adolescents romantics suffering maudlin agonies? My own malady took the form of strangeness, errancy, something I would later call fortunate exile, a mode of self-creation.

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Even now, in this sullen, solitary act of writing, separation of a kind intervenes between life and the page. Still, exile is not exile if it leads to a wider comity, leads to at-homeness in the world. Strangeness in rejecting one’s birthright may become a larger estate. Home is not where one is pushed into the light; it is where one gathers it into oneself to become light.

Three—Passage to America For a long time, awake or sleeping, I have dreamt of America. Dreamt of sailing into its great Dream so different from the Aboriginal Dreamtime. But was America my ticket to freedom, the uncreated? Or was it simply a youthful folly, like the recklessness of boys who run away to sea, dazzled by horizons? And could such desire but contain its unraveling, a long, loose fraying of promise? Leaving Egypt was easy. The moment stands out, caught in the dull, amber glow of illusions in my memoir titled Out of Egypt (1986). On a burning August afternoon in 1946, I boarded a steamer at Port Said. The good Liberty Ship Abraham Lincoln carried its name painted blearily across its bow (Do the symbols of our existence precede its facts?). It had barely survived the war. Now it lurched toward New York on its last voyage, creaking, heaving, leaving in the ocean a wake of rust. Midway across the Atlantic, it received orders to divert toward New Orleans. A longshoreman’s strike had closed the Port of New York. A longshoreman’s strike—what was that? I had participated in student riots, deliriums of shouted slogans and male fellowship, but in preindustrial Egypt, I had never heard of a worker’s strike. As for the fellah, the fellah never struck: he endured, he fell to earth and rose again, on the rim of survival. The voyage of Old Abe, as I learned to call it, stretched; the empty days came and went, invariable. I could fill them only with febrile anticipations. My severance from everything familiar, the voices and sights that crowd and cushion our early years, freed my senses. Strong sea-smells everywhere— spume, fried fish, capstan grease. Oily soot floated continually from the single smokestack. Other smells, more subtle, persistent, of toasted white bread or milk spilt on zinc-tops. At night, I dreamt furiously, I roiled. At last, one morning, past the fury and tedium of the sea, the ship rounded Key West. A long night after, it began to glide through the Mississippi Delta. Bayou, weird sounds, clotted darkness. The low sky oozed as the ship slipped through muddy channels like a huge sea snail. The air was humid as I had

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never experienced in Egypt. Black men began to appear in curious skiffs around the ship. They wore frayed shirts, trousers, hats, and spoke English, a sort of English, which they hollered to impassive sailors on deck. I had entered America from its gloomy underside, not like Columbus or stout Cortez. I felt now, exhilaration contending with dread, that I had come to a land more strange, extreme, than any of my recent dreams. A country younger than Egypt but also older, claiming the precedence of a primeval jungle over the most archaic temple (Like Australia, I discovered later). Here I was, on my own at last. But what awaited me at the end of this dusky, swampy river? Liberty or some aboriginal power without bounds or name? Make no mistake, America is my home if anywhere I have a home. It became, paradoxically, both choice and destiny, a “complex fate,” as Henry James put it a century ago. And the complexity accrues every day. Consider, for a start, the ambiguity of America as a realm of nothingness and plenitude. Boundless in the eyes of its European settlers, space in America seemed a vacancy, fancy-filled. In emptiness grew the American Dream. For space unlimited is not place; it is nearer the Absolute. It is what drew migrants like myself to a far continent, then, as visitor, to another, farther still, Australia. In “An Explanation of America,” Robert Pinsky warns his daughter about a certain kind of immigrant: Such a man—neither a Greek adventurer With his pragmatic gods, nor an Indian, Nor Jew—would worship, not an earth or past Or word, but something immanent, like a shadow.2 I, myself, sometimes feel that arid immanence, feel it, I have said, as a “fortunate exile,” without discontinuity in my being, as if the Sahara could roll over the Atlantic, pass the Mississippi, the Great Plains, the Rockies, to lap the Pacific and beckon the Antipodes. We speak fluently now of “identity,” its murderous afflictions and global miseries. But what identity did that Egyptian beggar who called me khawaga (Mr. Foreigner) expect me to have? The French and the British, after all, had invaded Egypt only after Hyksos, Libyans, Medes, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Mamelukes, Turks, and Albanians had cleared the way for them. In America, natives noted my accent, of course. But they rarely asked where “I came from” (All Americans came from somewhere else, including those who came from Asia across the Pacific or Bering Strait). And if they asked, no hostility was

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implied. The tragic fault-line in America, no, the living specter, was not ethne, but slavery, race—at least until September 11. September 11. Here, now, I will say only this: I understand the motives, the intolerable longings, the transcendent passions, of terror, not its means. I also recognize the God-crazed. They tear open rocks with bare hands to find the Name and sit out nights listening to the Music of the Spheres. Or, like Simone Weil, they may uproot their lives, cut down the tree, carry it as a cross forever after. Or they murder. But I prefer those holy men who cry, meeting Sakyamuni, “Kill him,” meeting Bodhidharma, “Kill him too.” That is, for me, God remains an utterance of the unutterable. Closer than that I cannot go.

Four—In No Strange Land For many years, after coming to America, I had a recurrent, banal dream, relieving and reliving God knows what anxiety. It concerned a failed examination, a pet locked in a closet, a door left ajar, some urgent gesture, some broken sentence, trailing in the air. It had the discomfort of a cozy nightmare. The dream would take many forms, trite or strange, but felt always like floating darkly. Then, suddenly, at some far end, I would find the lost object or scene: the notched, ink-stained school desk, on which I wrote my examinations in glaring light; or the large, ramshackle, blue-gray country house, with a hundred doors and as many balconies opening on endless rows of cotton fields; or Café Groppi, in Cairo, beloved by my uncles, with marble-top tables and glistening glass cases and bare-armed efrangaya (foreign girls) serving pastries. Always, though, I struggled against going “there,” wherever it was, while feeling the numb attraction of the scene. At the crucial moment, I would wake. I have not had that dream for decades. But like everyone, I think furtively of exile and waste. The thought dies before it can give itself a name. We may be all born to exile, as Bellow says, but our singular need is still the light. For us, the road back and the road forward may meet in darkness, yet we all glimpse a flicker from afar. Some—not I—burn in knots of fire. If there is another world, though, it must fit seamlessly the one we have. Still, ankle or chin deep in worldliness, we ask: Why? How? When? Where? What? In childhood, the questions widen our eyes, later they cloud our sight. But they persist, a quizzical brightness in the air, till our eyes shut. Even then, those questions may still dance behind our lids.

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Sufis say we need to see with the “eye of flesh” as well as the “eye of fire.” Looking at Australia through the eye of flesh, I saw it as a vibrant, emergent culture, plagued by the usual human afflictions, carrying forward its harsh history. But it could hardly confer on me immortality. Would it step into the breach of my worn hopes? A latter-day adventurer like Tony Horwitz, retracing the explorations of James Cook across the seven seas, could consider these extreme voyages as a parable, not of colonial exploitation only, not just of ambition or personal renown, but also of some universal human trait. “If there was an overriding message in his [Cook’s] journals,” Horwitz writes in Blue Latitudes, “it was that people, the world over, were alike in their essential nature—even if they ate their enemies, made love in public, worshipped idols, or, like Aborigines, cared not at all for material goods.”3 Scandalous words in our age, sanctifying Difference. Still, though we may share an “essential nature,” we do fall into history, and Australia’s history is one of unease. Yes, Hannah Whiteley would follow her transported husband to the infamous colony and battle for his freedom, the heritage of nation. And May Wright would struggle a century later to make the stones of Dalwood home to shared memories and shapely lives, a fully inhabited place. Yet her descendant, Judith Wright, would also carry, in poem and memoir, the alien feeling, the old unease, well into the twentieth century: “None of my genes is indigenous,” she cried. Certainly, none of mine. How far, then, can I carry my metaphysical romance with the Antipodes? Admittedly, I have a history of broken romances with various lands. Must disenchantment follow me here? No, I thought, my life has fanned out in Australia, as it did on that first trip to Parramatta. Westering to the Antipodes was the very antithesis of returning to Egypt. Two days before our departure from Australia in 2003, Sally and I visited an old cemetery on a whim. Nothing reminds the living of the past better than cemeteries, and nothing reminds them more of their future. So, why not visit the place? Cavalcanti leaped over graves to remind himself of the lightness of his own being. A gun-metal sky, the air still and sultry: Sally and I visited Camperdown, nudging St. Stephen’s. A fig tree, like a pair of colossal, embracing squids, writhes at the entrance. It is an omen of the contortions within the cemetery: flung slabs, broken statuary, the earth heaving, overgrown with shrubs, as if

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to hide a desperate scene from the intruding gaze. Yet, paradoxically, the cemetery drew visitors of every kind: artists sketching, sextons trimming graves, vagabonds setting up “homes,” neighbors seeking a quiet spot in the shade, even stray tourists, like Sally and myself, looking—for what? The crooked sign at the entrance—nothing here stands perpendicular but the church steeple— the sign reads: “In this graveyard lie buried the remains of many people who are famous in the history of this country. Also buried here are many ordinary people whose names are not famous but who each helped to make the Australia we know today. The cottage and fig tree date from 1848.” But you learn more than the sign records. You learn how many men died in middle age, how many women died young, how many children just perished. You learn the names, mostly English and Scottish, rarely Irish—this is an Anglican graveyard—and a few Christian Aborigines. You learn something about the solid professions in convict times. What you learn most of all, though, is what you imagine, moving between tilted stones, twisted trees, wrought iron fences comically skewed. I imagined a great loneliness, in life even more than in death. I also imagined continual violence on the continent, such as I had always intuited in America, natural violence certainly, but also that other, stranger violence people draw from themselves to create or impose order on a wholly alien environment. It was not peace I felt in these old, Australian graveyards but some clenched attitude, some implacable design, in the face of vast, unfriendly things. Call it exile, if you wish, or call it the anxious, unrequited love of human beings for not one but two lands, the one behind them, the one in front. Tokens of this ageless struggle—does it not touch the very mystery of mind in the universe?—lay about, in poignant neglect. Here is an instance: in a clump of trees, underplanted with agapanthus, a marble cross, commemorates Eliza Emily, “who died in 1886, leaving her wedding breakfast untouched on the table throughout the rest of her life, waiting for the bridegroom who never appeared” (did Dickens find here the ghost of Miss Havisham, in Great Expectations?). The Australia Sally and I were leaving, the Australia to which we kept returning, the Australia of Manly Beach or the Sydney Opera House, had filtered itself through many stories, like the stories buried in these graveyards. But the stories had not ended at the dead end of the world. They went on and on, as tales from the verge, bringing news of mother night.

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Soon after returning from the Antipodes—we had stopped in New Zealand on the way back from Sydney—I woke up early one morning, Sally sleeping, my head thick with the haze of some irrecoverable dream. I tiptoed to my study in time to see the sun rise, pushing down the rim of the earth in red, soon-insupportable glory. It woke me up with a jolt. It woke me up to myself, from myself, as I shivered between three states: dream and Sally and the sun. Were these states of being one same, as some visionaries believe? The best, I suspect, enjoy triple vision, not always resolved into one. Look inward from time to time, I said to myself, and look always where love leads you, but look also farther. You cherish your spouse, your kin, your tribe? You defend your ideology, shabby approximation of reality? Well and good. But look beyond. See Australia, the world, all those flaming stars? They called it once earth, water, air, fire. But we think we know better now: pulsars and quasars out there; outrageous black holes in space; galactic strings braided like the genetic double helix or Heidi’s hair; cosmic “singularities”—and just how many universes or anti-universes burst like so many bubbles since time began to race or pulse or fold upon itself? And what, precisely, is time? Look around at life inexorably feeding on life, some, like tubular clams, breathing in the sulphurous exhalations of submarine volcanoes; others, like cancer or HIV, gobbling silently their hosts; others still, say the extinct hallucigenea of the Burgess Shelf, eating only dreams. And what does the kraken in its abyss continually slurp? Think, subatomically, of quarks and charms, sheer mathematical whispers of the brain, and the ghostly neutrino, forever cruising this “inflationary” (superexpanding) universe, in which all matter may ultimately disappear into some human conceit. Again unspeakable! Sally and I left Australia in the late spring of the year, returning to the American fall. Somehow, both seasons seemed a time of beginnings. Autumn always evoked for me the first commencement on a campus, the air crisp with promise, eagerness of minds. It was a beginning—for faculties, a beginning again, a kind of intellectual rebirth. It was more than that: possibility out there, scattered among red and yellow leaves, if only you knew how to gather it. And how is that different from the green latencies of spring? Or from the dazzle of October skies, say in Canberra, except when the mist curls on Lake Burley Griffin, as it does on Lake Michigan sometimes, reminding you in both places of another kind of beginning, however delayed. And so, going to the Antipodes, coming back to America, I felt in no strange land, no more than Malouf’s Ovid finally feels in desolate Dacia.

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notes 1

T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding,” Four Quartets, in Complete Poems and Plays, 1909–1950 (New York: Harcourt, 1967), 145.

2

Robert Pinsky, An Explanation of America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), 27.

3

Tony Horwitz, Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before (New York: Picador, 2003), 422.

AFTERWORD

The Dialectics of Identity

j Marcus Bullock

As Helen Fehervary’s final quotation from Anna Seghers reminds us, nowhere do we more vividly experience the inescapable immediacy of the powers that determine our lives than in the need to escape from one place and strike out for another. Whether we are leaving in the aftermath of a natural disaster like a flood, a crisis of violence like a war, an insurgency, a repressive tyranny, or are driven by intolerable social conditions of poverty and a hopeless future, we have to leave a world we know and enter another where we shall be strangers. We become foreigners, alien to those among whom we shall henceforth live, in fear that we might become so even to ourselves. And, as Seghers perceives, this moment of transition, the momentary arrest between one place and the next, connects us simultaneously with the active powers of our own historical moment and the age-old repetition of what human life has always had to contend with in leaving the past behind in one place and anticipating a new course through a different time somewhere else. The awareness of entering the condition of diaspora or moving from one situation to another within it, distinguishes itself both from nomadism, in which movement itself provides the means of sustaining the community, and is therefore “normal,” and from the temporary condition of the refugee who has every reason to count on returning home when life there returns to “normal.” Therefore, the most vivid moment in the diasporic imagination occurs when we contemplate the idea of bringing forth a new generation. It is this radical and irrevocable shift that connects a diasporic movement in space with what is most essential about the notion of modernity as a quality of time. Not just the word, but the very notion of the modern enters language

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and the human imagination in the world that Stefan Rossbach describes in his essay on the later Roman Empire. Every language, of course, contains a word for “now” as distinct from another time. Every civilization with a sense of its past, especially if it is preserved in a written record, will develop a narrative of connection in time—perhaps a decline from a golden age, perhaps a rise toward some manifest destiny or Messianic redemption. What emerges for the first time in the fourth century with the new force contained in the Latin word “modo”—right now—entails the intense moment of the present as a point of transit between two clearly visible images in time, a past and future that do not flow on together in continuous extension, one from the other. This present disseminates a radical new condition into the world still to come. Therefore, the word “modernus” entered speech to describe the new experience of a power in the present that lifts itself clear of the past with a hitherto unprecedented clarity of consciousness about future generations. Since the Christian present defined the pagan past as a world well lost, because sinful, benighted, doomed by God, its very apparent and monumental glories count for little against the balance of a new dispensation brought by the crucifi xion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Similarly, the failure of an imperial center with the attendant encroaching danger of barbarian tribes signifies something different in the light of this new order of hope. From that time, time itself has carried a new seed in its successive stages, so that the same sense of modernity has reappeared again and again in the West. Whether this sense of a power vested in the present arrives in the form of new ideas or of new technologies, the capacity to imagine that arrival as a moment of embarkation for a new world recurs over and over again, sometimes contemplated in the force of progress, sometimes in the throes of revolution. In either case, modernity involves an aftermath of a distinctive and powerful kind. And because this power will sweep away something that once represented power and continuity in its own right, the sense of historical forces at work may always have two aspects. The future can draw us onward with an eager desire for something better than the past, or we may struggle on into it with trepidation because we have no possibility of halting change, no place left to stand where we were. For this reason, too, we see strange hybrid phenomena as communities move across North-South and West-East divisions and enter a liberal modernity whose notion of transition between generations threatens the newcomers with that prospect of becoming alien to themselves. Modernity presents

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a world of seduction, of new possibilities into which those generations might stray that should continue an established heritage. The social space of Western sovereignty looks fraught with “temptations” from the point of view necessitated by the desire for a permanent identity of an integral community. Yet what is a seduction and a corruption from one perspective is a choice and chance for personal truth from another. Every temptation manifests a choice. The protection against bad choices might be wisdom, but it had better be one’s own wisdom, acquired as best one can, so the liberal conception of freedom goes, or there can be no individual life. Strictly religious communities draw tight reins of authority to confront individual desires and choices with explicit structures of threat and coercion. These may even institutionalize violent practices, such as, sadly, the practice of honor killings to enforce traditional roles on women that takes a horrifying toll of human life and liberty among some Muslim populations in Europe.1 This collection of essays does not address such circumstances. We have been more concerned with social and cultural relations under the legal theory of secular modernity that always leaves a new possibility open to individuals, families, and communities as they transit from one realm to another. Law in the West defines each individual as a citizen, as a subject with a direct relationship to the state. The development of citizenship as a universally disseminated quality within the domain of law has proceeded step by step with the secularization of modernity. This has been marked by a series of struggles in which one group and class after another has asserted its claims to equal protection on that basis of individual participation in the entire social space defined by the state. These struggles continue, of course, and the process is never entirely complete, but it has the momentum of history behind it, and it has the structure and theory of law as its permanent recourse against communal and traditional resistance. Obligations and privileges proceed on a universal basis, which thus leaves each individual free to move between separate communities according to personal desires and capacities to do so. A “white” profession cannot under the law exclude a black aspirant. A heterosexual community cannot impose its orientation on a gay member. At least, this cannot be made a matter of law, and that will always limit the resistance to choice and movement that emanates from prejudices within the traditions and mores of any such group. This individual mobility confronts immigrant communities simultaneously with opportunity and conflict. The protection under the rule of law

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that confers on them the ability to prosper materially turns against the authority of communal rules on which their continued identity would appear to depend. If law can only count as such, as valid and constitutional, where it offers equal protection to all, it becomes the instrument of dissolution to subordinate hierarchies. For example, freedom of choice in marriage, under Western conditions, defines the legality of a marriage itself—a union is only lawful if it expresses the desires of the parties themselves. Hindu family traditions regard the assertion of such a right against the will of the parents as more than just a scandal. It becomes a threat to the entire edifice on whose basis Indian identities are constituted within that community. As we read in K. E. Supriya’s essay, “Bending It Like Beckham,” even families that have established a prosperous, secure basis by their full participation as economic subjects in Western countries react against the porous communal boundaries permitted citizens of these states. Families from the “white” community whose children have married Indian spouses across those boundaries discover with utter astonishment how much negative reaction this causes. Yet that resistance should not be confused with the horror of miscegenation aroused by the tradition of white racism. The issue operates in such cases just as it operates among the castes in India. It addresses the integrity of rules, and the rules are established in order to provide the signs and the acts that mark out an identity. The brief line that Supriya quotes as quintessentially American, that to achieve your dreams you sometimes have to bend the rules, indicates something quite specific about the way that secular society does dream. It dreams of freedom as social mobility. The desire to become someone implies a very specific idea of social identity. What one achieves when fulfilling a dreamed ambition always takes the form of moving from one group to another. Fame constitutes an identity among those who have reached similar distinction in some sphere of mastery, fortune marks a rise to the level of one’s peers as identified by comparable material worth. To have become a millionaire or a billionaire will redefine us in our new social condition. But in India, persons are defined quite explicitly before their birth by their caste, jati, clan, and family. The acquisition of wealth or the achievement of success are valued in their own degree, but these do not lift a person above the degree of their birth. According to Hindu tradition, a jati or subcaste can decide collectively to raise its status, but this is not undertaken with direct reference to wealth. In a process known as “Sanskritization,” it can opt to

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impose on itself an additional set of rules, specifically those that regulate ritual purity, like habits of diet or sexual behavior. Conversely, neglect of the established rules by members of the jati can jeopardize its status by “deSanskritization.” For that reason, maintaining the rule of tradition becomes a collective interest in imposing conformity to those rules on all individual members as a single body. This collection of essays has placed particular emphasis on immigration from the Caribbean area because these communities demonstrate a particular order of fluidity, positive and negative, as they travel. The cultures of these populations, as described by Ricardo Ortiz, Paul Brodwin, and Natalie Melas, develop within a doubly and sometimes triply layered diaspora. Having been carried away from Africa as slaves, and perhaps having moved again within the Caribbean, if they migrate to a Western country such as the United States, the people of this region bring with them the burden of all the historical depletions suffered through each transit, and yet also unfold the richness and agility of resources derived from that long process of survival, each stage of which has brought gains and losses as new difficulties have been faced up to and lived through. The story of adaptation is clearly the most important theme that the collection pursues. Every situation makes demands on human experience and on human capacities to survive and to give something to others in their own struggles. Furthermore, in the condition of modernity, each person’s story opens up the process of time to make an independent route of choices and decisions. Individual actions spin a narrative in which each person emerges with a human significance beyond their role as representative of the collective history we could describe for their nation. Their stories represent a general condition beyond their communal affi liation by virtue of the very uniqueness they have achieved, which is also to say: of their courage. Each individual faces a moment in history from a unique perspective, and draws on the resources of history from an astonishingly deep level of engagement. These considerations inevitably bring us right through the different discourses of scholarship to complete the arc of inquiry in responsibilities encountered by individuals and articulated in personal narrative. Ihab Hassan and Helen Fehervary each explore the articulation of human integrity at a level of ethics that extends into the fabric of lived life while still informed by the horizon of historical understanding. In Helen Fehervary’s case, we see the labor that brings a child into the hope and fulfillment of

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life—not the biological labor of physical birth, but rather the effort to find speech and understanding that are true to this particular situation and the individual love of her own daughter. In Ihab Hassan’s case, we see the labyrinth of turns and returns in a motion that reverses the relationship to places that constitute conventional tourism. The tourist may travel, but does not move. The function of tourism derives from the comfort it maintains in the face of so much strangeness. It serves to reassure the traveler that there is nothing strange under the sun except the panoply of variable surfaces. All these fall together as entertainment for the eye. The tourist collects impressions and returns home with them. Yet since that home had always persisted as the standpoint from which everything had been surveyed, the return is prefigured in every glance. There is something quite different at stake and at risk in travel that undertakes an unprefigured voyage in which all frailty of vision may be wrecked and go down with each stage of the journey. The measure of its progress lies in the changed condition of the traveler who returns. What survives these risks confirms an integral human experience that, like the universality of harbor gossip that Seghers recognizes, is also part of something old and permanent. As a “countertourist,” Ihab Hassan’s travels have more in common with an epic journey that may reach down to the underworld, a counterpart to this life, since the voyage “westering” follows the call of the opposite to oneself. Yet, at the same time, its significance lies precisely in that it rises beyond the narrow bounds of a particularist tradition that centers itself and encloses itself in the regional or tribal quality of myth. In both these personal testimonials, that connection with an unchanging, inalienable level of human commitment to the human realm emerges with what one might call epic clarity. Like the moment of waiting at the quayside for one’s ship, and the flight to afar that one simultaneously longs for and fears, the intensity of all experiences that generate and transform life engage us as the most profound kind of remembrance. In such moments, ancient questions and uncertainties acquire the capacity to return, not as the opposite of history, but as the life of history. It is in this sudden and dramatic encounter with an ancient pattern that we understand ourselves as filled with our own unique manifestation of that life. This sudden vividness permits us to trace the longing for home and the longing for happiness in so many different cultures and among so many different nations back to the earliest of such manifestations. We see it in the sense of loyalty to a place that

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in the two essays on Ireland underlies the disciplined account of a history. This is a sense of home that lights up with the same fire, though refracted differently now, that once burned there in the hearths of the first times. When, in the Irish epic story of Cuchúlain, three foster brothers of the king of Ulster were forced to seek safety in Scotland, the messenger from the king lures them back by reminding them of how deeply they feel the desire to return home, for, he says, “no man can feel any pleasure, however great his good luck and his way of living, if he does not see his own country every day.”2 The new country was rich with all the things that the three men desired. The rivers teemed with salmon, the hills ran with game, and there they have found safety as well. But Naoise responds at once, “That is true . . . for Ireland is dearer to myself than Alban though I should get more in Alban than in Ireland.”3 Despite his wife’s vision portending treachery, he does resolve to go back home. And even though the Scottish landscape is neither distant nor strange to the Irish refuge-seekers, the way the text emphasizes its charms only serves to remind us that to the epic imagination, all foreign places are likely to have about them some air of death. The more powerfully the realm of village and landscape occupies the mind of a nation, the more powerfully the idea of leaving it takes on the association with death. We find this mentioned explicitly as part of the Irish understanding of emigration in Andrew Kincaid’s essay, but it is also fundamental to the epic side of experience wherever that persists. Not only might the hero ascend or descend to the realms of the afterlife, but the horrors and the seductions that he encounters in his journeys across the earth impress on him and the audience how overwhelmingly his life knows its true form only with the restoration of home. Yet the world of the epic is not our world. The many versions of modernity that have grown up in the many regions and traditions of the earth have this in common. The world of the epic in our times has gone, and the experience of home around which it weaves its images of adventure has gone too. But because our world is built on its ruins and loss, the consciousness that grows up and persists in every place reflects a difference in the closeness and the distance of what went before. In some places, a lingering force emanates from the past and still vivifies the desire for home with a remnant of that epic intensity. In other places, or perhaps just in other moods, we find only the utter collapse that smothers it. At this latter stage, we could define the outermost point of modernism: the final repudiation of past allegiances as

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outmoded and untrue. Out of this culmination of skeptical energy a new conception of home offers itself, or a new image of human enterprise that contrasts with all the older identities of Man. In their strange and fascinating critique of the secular tradition, Dialectic of Enlightenment, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer declare “Heimat ist das Entronnensein”—homeland is the state of having escaped.4 Their formulation reveals itself on inspection as completely unstable—as indeed it is intended to be—because it makes an extraordinary demand on the human mind and imagination. It demands that we resist and ultimately overthrow the irrational desire imposed on us by the circumstances of birth and fate. “Homeland” in their formulation is precisely not a land. The emancipated relationship to one’s home that they conceive does not constrict one’s mind and inspire territorial hostility. They conceive a rational expansiveness of understanding that extends to all our fellow beings and has abandoned the aggressive attachment to a place, to a territory that we hold by force and relinquish only under duress, and share with others whose identity does not directly confirm our own only with the gravest reservations. Our freedom as rational and ethical persons rises clear of that panicky attachment. Freedom depends on our being at home wherever we are, since everywhere provides the location to which rationality escapes and confirms our sense of truth in the world. Ethics depends on our finding ourselves at home to the rational appreciation of our relationships to other persons. Adorno and Horkheimer quote Novalis, the German Romantic, in his claim that “all philosophy is homesickness,” in order to distinguish between mythic identity and the rational pursuit of Versöhnung—reconciliation to overcome the state of alienation. This requires a philosophical transformation of our relationship to society and to nature. Yet here the argument takes its dialectical turn to place both epic and philosophy in a role to which the larger historical project in Dialectic of Enlightenment will not confine them. “It is homesickness that gives rise to the adventures through which subjectivity . . . escapes from the prehistoric world.”5 Here the prehistoric world represents the realm of all that is opposed to human subjectivity. The prehistoric offers another way of naming nature as the object of human terror, which is the way that Adorno and Horkheimer use the concept of myth. It takes on this alien, hostile identity as the consequence of human impotence in the face of natural forces and thus does not signify nature as such, but as the face of nature vivified by terror, conjured up and created by

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the human imagination. It is the dialectical product of subjectivity opposed to itself. The bewildering persistence of myth as Dialectic of Enlightenment locates this force and therefore expresses itself in all aspects of our relationship to land and place. Wherever our location entails an element of terror, there myth reasserts itself. As long as we can imagine being driven out into a diasporic existence, or as long as we remember a place from which we were compelled to travel, the essence of our lives suffers this diminution, this alienation. Threat of this foreign power may compel us to grasp at images of a contrary power to fight it off. Thus Adorno and Horkheimer are writing against a situation that has already collapsed into its opposite, and in which what they name as the original role of epic has already become a paradox that history has turned about: “The quintessential paradox of the epic resides in the fact that the notion of homeland is opposed to myth—which the fascist would falsely present as homeland.”6 Sadly, the simple rhetoric of opposition does not mark a completely reliable separation between the characteristic enterprise of philosophy, which is “true meaning,” from fascist discourse in its more sophisticated manifestations. Elaborate formulations of ideas can easily present dangerous temptations. They may pursue visions of power into the labyrinth of intertwined territories and deterritorializations, as though such struggles could promise to conduct the subject somewhere that feels like home and win him something that resembles happiness. The epic intellectual adventures followed by the contributions to this collection look at various histories of expatriation to document that other side of these travels, too. What the immigrant community will all too often encounter on arrival in a new place where they seek a home entails that myth-inspired ferocity of the fascist directed against any competitor who might seek a share in that space. The question that opposes such violence looks to philosophy to overcome the fetishization of national territory. The intimate connection that Adorno hopes will always hold philosophy in its inalienable relationship to ethics appears in the wonderfully striking line Conor McCarthy quotes from Adorno for his motto: “It is part of morality not to be at home in one’s home.” Here we are faced with an enormously important element of contradiction between the ancient and always persistent desire for home as emblematic of the tribe’s very essence and separate persistence, and the open and free intellectual recognition of a value that extends equally to all peoples and all places, out of which we derive the ultimate response of ethics in human relations.

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The longing that affl icts Naoise does not merely raise the value of his Irish landscape as the value of life itself over his exile in the midst of a foreign, therefore incomplete, happiness. What holds him enthralled and enchanted weaves together the essence of his identity out of the memory of his clan and his ancestors, his individual past, his remembrance of time from youth, his knowledge of himself through his belonging to a culture and its language, and the desire that his future should continue as an expression of the past. Yet the dialectic of enlightenment rests all its claims on the assertion that this amounts to myth in the sense of a dangerous error. The loyalty to one’s home necessitates the loss of freedom in the conviction that value and truth, one’s essence and reality, are eternally bound up with this one place alone. The movement of populations and of individuals from one cultural and natural space to another therefore threatens the emigrant with loss because it defines home as that which has been left behind, and it threatens the resident population when immigrants arrive because they diminish the purity of sole possession. Unless there is an objective loss of advantage in the material basis of life, which is explicitly not the case with Naoise and his companions in Scotland, the pain of exile proceeds from a false consciousness, and the desire to return promises the renewal of a delusion in fetishization of a locality. In its simplest terms, this fetishization violates the principle of morality because it disrupts the basis of human relations. The Irishmen are unhappy among the Scottish hills because they are unhappy among the Scottish people. Though they do not run into direct conflict with their host nation, they do not value that association as they do the companionship of those who share their origins and their heritage. This leaves us squarely before the large question that underlies each of these preceding essays. We cannot escape the knowledge that all human experience comes to us conditioned by accidents not of our choosing, and despite the appeal to our rationality made by Adorno and Horkheimer, those accidents are likely to determine where we feel loyalty. But though loyalty may be a true value in human relations, it can also conflict with ethics. For this reason, Aftermaths frames itself within the accounts by Helen Fehervary and Ihab Hassan, which illustrate the ways in which a lifetime of scholarly reflection impresses itself on the consciousness of an individual still placed, as all individuals are, within the concentric rings of birth, family, community, nation, and citizenship. These inevitably instill attachment in the

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human subject. We feel closeness to the things to which we belong most immediately. At each level, those with whom we share the companionship of existence in those domains look to us in the expectation of loyalty, and we look back at them. These are sources of our identity, the substance of our home. The dialectics of loyalty are always dynamic. Every loyalty contains the dialectical potential for a narrowing as well as a widening of consciousness. That is exactly the same as stating that loyalty contains the potential for a diminution of the ethical imagination as well as its enhancement. We can state this in terms of a positive and a negative imagination and a positive and a negative version of identity and identification. When identities are defined collectively, they draw boundaries between the group of which we bear the marks from the past (whether by birth or by adoption and conversion) that signify it as nearer and against that which is marked as farther. The features that divide up a binary arrangement on this basis relegate the farther realm to a lesser consideration. Indeed, if we insist on exclusive security in our home by relegating that which lies beyond it to essential enmity, then, as Dialectic of Enlightenment immediately recognizes, we merely create the empty and yet terror-filled enclosure of “myth—which the fascist would falsely present as homeland.” It is this structure in collective identities that makes the personal accounts by Helen Fehervary and Ihab Hassan so important in the context of this volume. The spaces of collective identity are never properly and truly filled, despite the attachments of loyalty to a community and to the land and place that these attachments frame through the rules and rituals of tradition. That fullness comes about in the more difficult imaginative enterprise of articulate language expressing the place where one person encounters another. That encounter provides a more positive security in the experience of a truthful identity, and its full acknowledgment of personal particularity guarantees a closer expression of ethical relations. Yet this enterprise has to take its place within larger structures, too. What Adorno presents as the ultimate emancipation of morality would suffer eternal postponement according to his own evaluation of its task. There would always be an insistent “not yet, not yet” while we continue to negotiate our predetermined entanglements of home and tradition. These will always intercept the beauty and serenity that might come to us within the circumstances under which we look for the happiness of a completely articulate and rational identity, and before we completely acknowledge all other persons in full ethical recognition. Therefore, Adorno provokes an alternate form of

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intellectual labor that refines our understanding of how it is that we make ourselves at home when we bivouac in the constrained places among the historical ruins that always ring us about. That is to say, our relations within our communities require another, and more complex, mode of morality that has to incorporate loyalty in its concentric positioning. We cannot go back in time to restore the history of destruction and humiliation that precedes us. We cannot reach forward in time to ensure a world in which such abominations will not recur. We live always in an aftermath, we belong to those among whom we live and to whom we are attached by the events that identify our community, the identities of suffering that make one person turn to another for help, loyalty, and trust. We belong to a community whose power to confer an identity on us always exceeds any freedom to modify our place in the world. Yet Adorno and Horkheimer speak for the desire to break out of such belonging. Thought itself, for them, commits us to the task of escaping our alienation, as they refer to the idea that “all philosophy is homesickness.” We pursue the intellectual power of philosophy in order to reveal the spurious claims made by the lame, unhappy artifice imposed on us at birth. The mark of civilization grows discernible in the urge to repudiate our enclosure within it. Conor McCarthy, once again, highlights the forces at work here when he places Deane’s relationship to Ireland in the context of Adorno’s call on a thinking person to think beyond loyalty: “One must have tradition in oneself, to hate it properly.”7 Deane has absorbed the Irish tradition, but he has hated it, one might say, with the power of one deeply immersed in his proper reflection on it. He has hated it, further, in a deeply Adornian manner that both acknowledges the happiness for which Naoise longed, and grasps its potential to seduce one into the aggressive selfenclosure of nationalist fervor, or submit one to betrayal. For this reason Conor McCarthy’s essay presents an exceptionally absorbing case in which to reconsider what the intellectual perspective on intellectual labor might contribute to our understanding of real existing community, that state of belonging to which we are born, and which comes to us as a gift we cannot return despite the cost that accompanies it in every history. McCarthy’s essay considers a closely defined set of cases to examine a very specific figure of forward-pointing nostalgia, the longing for a radical break. This clearly illustrates the negative homeland of progressive modernity, the identity with negation.

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But we also observe that, from Nietzsche to poststructuralism, one stream of intellectual history freezes into an eerie stillness as this formulation undergoes ever more intense and determined reformulations until it gives way, exhausted, to a resurgent notion of identity politics and of respect for traditional communities. This has produced a different form of negative identity that has eclipsed the dogma of rupture and replaces it with a contrary sense of identity, one that affirms loyalty with conditions of life that lie beyond or before the experiences of modernity. The essays in this collection have found the most powerfully effective exponent of this move in the figure of Edward Said. If Adorno stands as an emblematic figure of philosophic discipline holding up the standard of rational critique against all deceptive identities, Said presents a complex and in many ways profoundly equivocal alternative example of the intellectual in his relationship to exile. In his personal history of exile, Adorno had to flee from an immediate threat to find refuge in a New World he found highly uncongenial. Said was born an American citizen and flourished in America. Had he wanted to return to Palestine before 1967, nothing would have been simpler. Even if the fancy had taken him to go to Palestine after 1967, it could certainly have been arranged. As his reputation grew for speaking out against the occupation, American Jews of the Left would surely have been only too delighted to endow a chair for him at Birzeit University, and Israeli Jews of the left would certainly have made it impossible for their government to interfere with the academic independence of that institution. But according to his own account, he had no particular consciousness of a Palestinian identity until after the 1967 war.8 The events of that conflict and its outcome aroused in him both a renewed longing for the places and sensations of his boyhood, in the lands lost to what he regarded as a foreign conqueror, and a suddenly discovered mission to defend a denigrated Arab history. We cannot question his personal longing, that Sehnsucht with which the beauties of an idealized past enthrall any of us. With or without a military defeat of Israel, with or without a political solution, no one goes back to the past anyway. The issue that really separates him from the demand that Adorno assumes for himself concerns the notion of identifying with a more abstract image of national history and national tradition. Moreover, as we might suspect from the suddenness of this selfidentification, it does not spring from an imposed set of circumstances but

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from a conscious decision about which he has always been quite open and articulate. Thus he could not have, and never has, represented himself as what outsiders regard as an authentic instance of some cultural identity. The Palestinian component of his personal history supplied the occasion for a highly successful member of the Western intellectual elite to express the reservations about Western power and Western arrogance that a conscious intellectual owes to morality. The structure within which he pursued that entirely ethical critique of imperial and colonial interference in Arab history, however, took a strange turn as it sought out a rhetorical position. Indeed, he creates a double for his own identity that conflicts both with his actual history and with ethics. He does so because there are objective contradictions between the position on the rational left that stands against arbitrary power and oppression of the powerless, and the politics that Adorno identifies as fascistic that fetishize a mythic connection to a place. The failed genocidal war of 1948 in Palestine established a racist commitment on the Arab side to destroy an immigrant population. As we know from conditions in the United States today, large groups of immigrants are commonly met with racist hostility. The Jews in Palestine were a particularly large and assertive group, and they were met with a particularly violent reception. Yet Edward Said cannot possibly be called a racist. It is really quite offensive to reason to accuse him of anything remotely like such sentiments, even though the moment of his Palestinian identification occurred in the wake of what looked to the general climate of opinion in his country at that time as the third, albeit failed, attempt at that same genocide. The sentiments that the war set free in Said’s sudden new perspective clearly did depend, in the first place, on the drama of the Israeli victory itself in so far as that removed the specter of national destruction threatening the Jewish people. The sentiments themselves are rather different from what one might surmise had they been expressed by a more representative “Oriental” in whom one might identify a more “authentic” Oriental subjectivity. The impulse, moreover, is not a specific hatred of Israel, but what might be called a modernist self-hatred. Much like what Conor McCarthy describes in Deane and the hatred of one’s tradition, it offers the case of a dialectical identity formed in a process of negation. Of course the model for this term comes from the cliché of Jewish self-hatred, and it is no less misleading when taken too literally.

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Jews, or other minorities to whom parallel terms are often applied, do not hate themselves the way opposed individuals or groups hate one another. Selfhatred describes a structure of the self, not an odd or displaced appearance of hatred as a subjective emotion. It describes a doubling of consciousness that corresponds in its general shape to what Adorno sees as the condition of ethics—not to find oneself always and only “at home” in unreflective comfort granted by the single dimension of a “home” identity. Modernist self-hatred therefore occurs as that phenomenon whereby the intense movement of historical time and the complexity of worldly interactions alienate a thinking person from the unthinking and oblivious current of opinion in his or her own culture. The general phenomenon of double consciousness in politically alert intellectuals forms a diaspora in this sense, and accounts for the instinctive identification of intellectuals with the condition of minorities and disadvantaged immigrants anywhere. As a privileged member of a professional academic class, Said had to draw on what really were quite trivial irritations he had experienced as an “Oriental” in order to create the narrative through which he would identify with a community in its “uniquely punishing destiny.”9 In doing so, he becomes quite dependent on the artifice of his own category of the “Oriental” because this punishing destiny is, by his own account, reserved for Muslims, though he was an Anglican, and Palestinians, though he was an American. The real moral force of this doubled consciousness comes not so much from resentment of Israelis, who had managed to survive this time at the expense of those Arabs who had sought refuge on one side of the Palestinian terrain and abandoned the other a few miles away. The shock that produced his change of perspective on his national identity arose more specifically from what he observed around him in America. The aftermath of military victory in the Six Day War produced, in this obliviously triumphal moment, the “liberal American identification with Zionism.”10 Yet the intense and overwhelming revulsion that carries him over to a diametrical opposite of that feeling also entails a set of moral problems. These run straight to the heart of his scholarly project in the enormously influential book Orientalism, because what had once been necessary qualities of the left come into question when he analyzes one aspect of the liberal tradition of scholarship in the West. The scholarly practice that he attacks under the general heading of “Orientalism” belongs to the realm of progress in ideas that follows on as a settled and established heritage that the rising bourgeois

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world derived from romanticism and the French Revolution. Though, of course, this practice belongs to the society on whose wealth and stability it depends, which includes the advance of imperial power, and though some of the individual practitioners are pious Christians, as an institution the values by which this scholarship measures and justifies itself are those of progressive secularism. It is opposed to slavery, which had been abolished in Europe, in favor of representative constitutional reform, opposed to despotic hereditary power, in favor of universal education, opposed to theocracy, open to the recognition of women. This nineteenth-century liberalism thus develops a programmatic resistance to the culture it studied in the Muslim world. The institutional structure of Orientalism that Said traces from the 1840s to the present cannot divorce itself from a general framework of values entailed in liberal scholarship, and therefore cannot identify with this particular object of its study. Most specifically, Said undertakes to destroy the reputation of Bernard Lewis, the current heir to the tradition of Orientalism, because he also continues that characteristic disinclination to identify with the world he studies. What offends him in Lewis is a “verbosity” reflecting the conviction that scholarship represents a perspective of objective information as laid out in the ideology of historicism. Lewis’s “tranquil omniscient authority”11 flows in that relentlessly copious discourse from a sense that all one writes has already subjected itself to its own ample moral critique. In Said’s view, this writing, at best, makes tactical use of methodological and political principles in order to mask the ultimate governing principle of identifying with the Western homeland. Said’s study, Orientalism, does not offer a developed contrary political position that addresses material sufferings and the means to end them, nor does Said attempt to compete with the Orientalist heritage by making his own broad, objective presentation of information and fact. It comes down quite explicitly to the question of loyalty that trumps all else in the endeavor to break off the established voice of Orientalist discourse. Said’s book sets out to offer one change only in this unjust situation where, hitherto, “no person academically involved in the Near East—no Orientalist, that is—has ever identified himself wholeheartedly with the Arabs.”12 But here we see how far we have strayed from Adorno. To identify wholeheartedly with “the Arabs” would mean fetishizing the artifice of a national identity at the cost of the moral concern with a political misfortune. This brings no benefit to the homeless or disenfranchised. On the contrary, it will

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fail to critique violence as the absolute performance enacting a dehumanized notion of sacred and violated ground. From Adorno’s point of view, that version of politics merely expresses attachment to territory for its mythic meaning instead of rationally apportioning land as the basis for material support and human benefit. But the project of identifying wholeheartedly with the Arabs and destroying a tradition of nominally but deceptively disciplined scholarship does not correct the indiscipline of imperialist subtexts in such work. There may without doubt persist imperialist myths in such discourse, but the reversed impulse in the unequivocal embrace of an identity distorts the relations between different traditions and homelands and subverts ethics in the desire to embrace a “home,” exactly as Adorno insists it does, because this, too, substitutes myth for historical knowledge. The embrace of an identity with Palestinians in 1967 means first projecting the cause of that condition of suffering back onto the Orientalism of the 1840s, and then projecting the imperialist identity of French and British citizenship back to an ancient European condition. Said presents that claim in many formulations. In his introduction to Orientalism, he writes, “In a quite constant way, Orientalism depends for its strategy on this flexible positional superiority, which puts the Westerner in a whole series of possible relationships with the Orient without ever losing him the relative upper hand. And why should it have been otherwise, especially during the period of extraordinary European ascendancy from the late Renaissance to the present?”13 This passage reveals Said’s rhetorical strategy particularly clearly because the late Renaissance looks a little different within the perspective of a historian. For example, someone like Bernard Lewis would see it as the century that began with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, thus terminating Byzantine history, and subsequently witnessed the enormous expansion of Ottoman power into central Europe. This was the period in which Suleyman I (1520–1566) besieged Vienna, subjugated Hungary, and continued the nightmare of imperialist oppression in the Balkans, which would not achieve selfdetermination until the later part of the nineteenth century. Suleyman al Qanuni—The Lawgiver—was also known as “The Magnificent” because in his wealth and military organization he towered over all the kings of Europe. His alliance with France in 1536 clearly establishes that country as a junior partner in the relationship. Phrases like “extraordinary European ascendancy” thus do not enter the discussion as an argument over political or cultural history, but fulfill the program to “employ Foucault’s notion of a discourse, as

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described by him in The Archaeology of Knowledge and in Discipline and Punish, to identify Orientalism” that Said announces from the outset.14 That program will set one discourse over another. But it is also quite strictly limited in scope for that same reason. Orientalism is a book of rules. It sets up a new way of speaking that reflects our distantiation from the imperialism of the nineteenth century, and from its various aftermaths in history, culture, and ideology. Perhaps we could think of this as a kind of political dis-identity. It does not address the political or ethical responsibilities with which it leaves us, nor concern itself with those that remain from other imperialisms in other places and other periods of history. Clearly, the intensity of longing that this mode of identification signifies does require careful analysis. Said argues that his purpose is the negation of a hegemonic thinking, as he derives the term from Antonio Gramsci. Yet in every situation where we find a diasporic community, or any condition of minority status, exile, or disenfranchisement, the principle of hegemony itself exposes multiple intersections of domination, multiple positions of ascendancy, and multiple perils for any person who wishes to assert his or her rights of choice over the manner or the place in which he or she wishes to live. It turns out, as we see in the aftermath of having read this collection of essays, that “home” occupies the center point of the most complex and challenging of human spaces. To transit from one situation to another in our search to find that center for our lives, we express the most fundamental human desires, and in that longing we undergo the most fundamental of gains and losses in our condition. What longing imposes on us carries us to extremes of self-denial and self-actualization. Goethe described this life passage in his poem “Blessed Longing” (Selige Sehnsucht) with the phrase “Stirb und werde!”—die and become.15 We need to remember this well, to think carefully about what dies as well as what will subsequently become.

notes 1

According to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, these “honor killings” number five thousand per year worldwide, although it is clearly exceedingly difficult to count and document them in countries where they would be prosecuted as murders. See http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2000/english/ch03.html.

2

Cuchúlain of Muirthemne, trans. Lady Gregory (Gerards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1970), 102.

3

Ibid., 102.

4

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming (New York: Continuum, 1999), 78. Dialektik der Aufklärung (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1969), 71.

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5

Ibid., 78.

6

Ibid.

7

Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott (London: Verso, 1974), 52.

8

Asked about this by Tariq Ali, he said, “I was in New York when the Six Day War broke out; and was completely shattered. The world as I had understood it ended at that moment. I had been in the States for years but it was only now that I began to be in touch with other Arabs. By 1970 I was completely immersed in politics and the Palestinian resistance movement.” Tariq Ali, “Remembering Edward Said, 1935–2003,” New Left Review 24 (November–December 2003): 61.

9

Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 27.

10

Ibid.

11

Ibid., 342.

12

Ibid., 27.

13

Ibid., 7.

14

Ibid., 3.

15

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Selected Poems, ed. Christopher Middleton, trans. Michael Hamburger (Boston: Suhrkamp/Insel, 1983), 206.

notes on contributors

j

paul brodwin

is a professor of anthropology at the University of Wis-

consin–Milwaukee. He is editor of Biotechnology and Culture: Bodies, Anxieties, Ethics (2000), author of Medicine and Morality in Haiti: The Contest for Healing Power (1996), and coeditor of Pain as Human Experience: Anthropological Perspectives (1992). His current project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on ethics in American community psychiatry.

marcus bullock is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He is coeditor of Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume I, 1913–1926 (1997) and author of The Violent Eye: Ernst Jünger’s Visions and Revisions on the European Right (1992) and Romanticism and Marxism: The Philosophical Development of Literary Theory and Literary History in Friedrich Schlegel and Walter Benjamin (1987).

helen fehervary, born in Budapest and educated in the United States, is a professor of German at Ohio State University and specializes in twentiethcentury German literature, critical theory, and Central European intellectual history. Her recent publications include Anna Seghers: The Mythic Dimension (2001), a critical edition of Seghers’s Aufstand der Fischer von St. Barbara (2002), and Mit den Toten leben: Fragen an Heiner Müller (1999, with Jost Hermand).

ihab hassan is Vilas Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He is the author of fifteen books and over two hundred articles. Among his critical works are Radical Innocence: Studies in the Contemporary American Novel (1961), Paracriticisms: Seven Speculations of the Times (1975), and The Postmodern Turn: Essays in Postmodern Theory and Culture (1987). His autobiography and travel writing works include Out of Egypt: Fragments of an Autobiography (1986) and Between the Eagle and the Sun: Traces of Japan (1996).

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andrew kincaid is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. His book Postcolonial Dublin: Imperial Legacies and the Built Environment was published in 2006. His articles have appeared in College Literature and Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies. He is currently chair of the Modern Studies Program.

natalie melas

is an associate professor of comparative literature at

Cornell University. She is the author of All the Difference in the World: Postcoloniality and the Ends of Comparison (Stanford University Press, 2007). Her areas of research include postcolonial critique, transnational modernism, Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean literature and cultural theory. Her current project examines the link between colonial modernity and modernist poetics in two major poets of the periphery, the modern Greek Alexandrian poet Constantin Cavafy and the Martinican poet Aimé Césaire.

conor mccarthy

is a lecturer in English at the National University of

Ireland, Maynooth. He is the author of Modernisation, Crisis and Culture in Ireland, 1969–1992 (2000). His essays and reviews on literature, criticism, and cultural politics have been published in several journals, including Yearbook of English Studies, Journal of Palestine Studies, and Field Day Review. His study of Edward Said is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, and an edited volume of essays on Irish criticism is due from Four Courts Press.

ricardo ortiz is an associate professor of U.S. Latino literature at Georgetown University, where he teaches in the Program in American Studies. His work has appeared in Social Text, The Queer Sixties, The Futures of American Studies, and The Lambda Book Review. His book, Cultural Erotics in Cuban America, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2007.

peter y. paik

is an associate professor in the Department of French, Ital-

ian, and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He is currently at work on a manuscript titled “From Utopia to Apocalypse: On Science Fiction and Political Theology.” His articles have appeared in Postmodern Culture, Theory and Event, Religion and the Arts, and Yale Broch Symposium.

stefan rossbach is a lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Kent in Canterbury. He is the author of Gnostic Politics: The

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Cold War in the Context of a History of Western Spirituality (1999). His research focuses on the role of spirituality in political life, with studies of the works of Eric Voegelin, René Girard, and Karol Wojtyla.

zoran samardzija is an associate lecturer of film studies in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where he is completing a manuscript on globalization, European unification, and recent Balkan and Eastern European cinemas. He has published articles on the films of Theo Angelopoulos and Andrei Tarkovsky.

k. e. supriya is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She is the author of Remembering Empire: Power, Memory, and Place in Postcolonial India (2004) and Shame and Recovery: Mapping Identity in an Asian Women’s Shelter (2002). Supriya’s current work focuses on the India–U.S. job outsourcing controversy.

index

j

Aboriginal Australians, 212 Aboriginal Dreamtime, 216 Abraham Lincoln (ship), 216 Abu Simbel, 21 Achaean League, 78 Adorno, Theodor, 8, 133, 1–18, 19, 185, 190, 230–239, 20, 21; anti-Hegelianism, 17; on the emancipation of morality, 233; Minima Moralia, 1; negative dialectic, 17; on reconciliation, 230; “Resignation,” 185. See also Dialectic of Enlightenment Adrien, Leslie, 62 Aemilius Paullus, 78 Africa, 227 African Americans, 201 Agamben, Giorgio, 189, 191 Ahmed-Ghosh, Huma, 197, 200, 208 Akhmatova, Anna, 28 Alban, 229 Albania, Albanians, 9, 176–177, 180–185, 186, 217 Alföldy, Géza, 96 Ali, Tariq, 21 alienation: in gnosticism, 6; homelessness as universal condition, 90; as precondition of truth, 86; transcendence, 89 allegory, 28 al-Qaeda, 2 Alvarez, Julia, 153–15, 162, 163, 170, 171; How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, 153; In the Time of Butterflies, 162, 171; The Other Side/El Otro Lado, 153 Amar, Marianne, 7 Amelio, Gianni, 9, 181, 183–18 Amin, Idi, 202 Amsterdam, 5, 6 Anderson, Benedict, 129 Andrew, Stephen, 208 Angelopoulos, Theo, 9, 176, 196 Anglo-Irish, 0 Anselin, Alain, 12, 127, 132 Anthony, Saint (the hermit), 82 Antilles, Antillean, 63, 67, 68, 69, 70, 72, 111, 12, 126, 127–128 Antipodes, 10, 211, 213, 217, 219, 221 anti-Semitism, 26 Antoine, Claude, 59–60 Appadurai, Arjun, 73

Arabs, 217, 238–239 The Archaeology of Knowledge (Foucault), 91 Architectural Review, 6 archons, 88 Arendt, Hannah, 189 Argentina, 153 Arnold, A. James, 131, 132 Arnold, Matthew, 10, 15 Arzeni, Sergio, 7 Atlacatl battalion, 19 Auerbach, Erich, 190 Augustine, Saint, 82 Aurelius, Marcus, 77, 96 Australia, Australians, 10, 211–21, 217, 219–221 authenticity, 69 autonomy, 16 Babylonian exile, 103 Balázs, Béla, 29 Balkans, 9–10, 18, 189; introduction of freemarket capitalism in, 176 Bann River, 136 Banville, John, 17 Barcelona, 5, 6 Basch, Linda, 73, 7 Basilides (religious group), 97 Baudelaire, Charles, 215 Bauman, Zygmunt, 90, 98 Bebel-Gisler, Dany, 68, 7, 110, 130 Beckham, David, 192 Belfast, 3, 133, 135 Bellow, Saul, 218 belonging, 168; ethnic and nationalist, 176–177 Bend It Like Beckham (film), 10, 192, 195, 200, 202–203, 206; question of identity in, 19 Benìtez-Rojo, Antonio, 170 Berlin, 29, 30, 21 Bernabé, Jean, 105, 129 Bernauer, James, 91, 98 Beverley, John, 167, 171 Bhaji on the Beach (film), 200 Bharatiya Janata Party (India), 208 Bhupta, Malini, 208 Birzeit University, 235 Blanchot, Maurice: on Foucault, 91, 98 Bobb, Dilip, 208

248

INDEX

Bodhidharma, 218 Boehme, Jakob, 9–95; and idea of Ungrund, 95; influence on Hegel, 9; as likely influence on Derrida, 95 Book of Genesis, 76, 88; gnostic reading of, 77 Book of John, 97 Borges, Jorge Luis, 16 Bosnia-Herzegovina, 175 Boston, 6, 8, 21 Boym, Svetlana, 175 Bradley, Arthur, 98 Brady, Ciaran, 18 Brazil, 32 Brodwin, Paul, 5, 7, 75, 227 Brooklyn, 57 Brown, Capability, 3 Brown, Karen McCarthy, 75 Brown, Peter, 81, 82, 96, 97 Bruckner, Ferdinand, 30, 32 Brussels, 30 Buddha, 80 Bulgaria, 29 Bullock, Marcus, 15 Burckhardt, Jakob, 80, 96 Bureau pour le Développement des Migrations intéressant les départements d’Outre-Mer (BUMIDOM), 12, 127 Burgess Shelf, 221 Burke, Edmund, 15–16; Reflections on the Revolution in France, 16 Burton, Richard, 7, 12, 128, 130, 131, 132 Bush, George W., 2 Bussanich, John, 86, 97 Byzantine Empire, 79 Byzantium, 211 Cabán, Pedro, 172 Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land) (Césaire), 108–109, 11–116, 118–121 Cairo, 218 California, 36 Camperdown, 219 Canada, 25, 56, 200 Canberra, 221 Capécia, Mayotte, 123 Capitaine Paul Lemerle (ship), 30 Caputo, John: deconstruction as “absolute heterogeneity,” 93–95, 98, 99 Caribbean, Caribbeans, 57, 61, 69, 70, 71, 112, 227 Carnarvon, Lord, 215 Carter, Howard, 215 Carthage, 78 Carton House, 3; sale of to Powerscreen,  Casarino, Cesare, 132 caste, 203, 226 Castles, Stephen, 98 Cavalcanti, Guido, 219 Celan, Paul, 28 Celeste, Cherubin, 7 Celtic Tiger, , 3, 7

Césaire, Aimé, 7, 105–12, 129, 130. See also Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land) Chambers, Iain, 156, 170 Chamoiseau, Patrick, 7, 105, 106, 111, 11–129, 130, 131. See also Texaco Chaplin, Charles, 190–191 children, , 15, 16, 2, 3, 226, 227 China, 29, 80 Chinchontepec (volcano), 18 Chirac, Jacques, 6 Christian ascetics, 93 Christianity, 22, 238; confrontation with gnostics, 87; conception of worldly power, 91 Chu, Patricia, 205, 208 Ciecko, Anne, 200 The Circus (film), 189 Clark, Michael, 171 Cleary, Joe, 139, 18 Clifford, James, 73 coffi n ships, 37 cold war, 27, 18 colonialism, neocolonialism, 3, 36, 66, 202 Columbia University, 17 Columbus, Christopher, 217 Columbus, Ohio, 25 communism, 9, 181, 186 Condé, Maryse, 68, 7, 128, 129, 132 Confiant, Raphaël, 13, 105, 111, 129, 130 Confucius, 80 Congress Party (India), 208 Constantine, 77 Constantinople: conquest of, 239 Cook, James, 219 Corcoran, Mary, 9, 51 Cork City, 133 Cornell, Drucilla, 206, 208 Cortez, Hernán, 217 cosmopolitanism, 2 Covent Garden, 6 créolité, créoliste, 7, 68, 105–129; antifoundation of slavery, 111; claustrophilia and, 122; ideology of cultural hybridity, 123; locality and, 105; Martinican, 126; as medium of contact, 111; as urban memory, 116 cricket, 193 Croatia, Croats, 175 Cronin, Hume, 30 Cruz de Corvera, Gabriel, 20–22 Cruz de Corvera, Maria. See Fehervary, Maria Cuba, 156 Cuchúlain, 229 cultural geography, 37 cultural identity, 16, 2 cultural studies, 27; identitarian, 152, 165, 167; U.S. Latino/Latina, 151, 162 Curaçao, 58 Dacia, 211, 221 Danticat, Edwidge, 8, 153–168, 170. See also The Farming of Bones Davidson, Alastair, 98

INDEX

Davis, Mike, 150, 162, 169 Dayal, Samir, 207 Deane, Seamus, 7, 133–18, 19, 23, 236; Field Day Anthology, 15; as outsider, 11 decolonization, 7 deconstruction, 28, 20; negative conversion in, 96; relationship with negative theology, 92–93 Deleuze, Gilles, 178, 190 Dell, 36 Dendera, 21 Denmark, 213 Départements d’Outre Mer (DOM), 57, 105, 110 Derby, Lauren, 7 deregulation, 5 Derrida, Jacques, 6, 77, 91–96, 98, 99; “différance,” 92; diff érance as cosmic error, 9; negative theology and, 91–93 Derry, 8, 133, 1 Desai, Jiga, 197, 200, 208 Dialectic of Enlightenment (Adorno and Horkheimer), 230–231, 233 diaspora, , 15, 33, 36, 55, 65, 72, 78, 103–10, 120, 122, 128, 19, 205, 223, 237; critique of return, 10; diasporic cultural studies, 162; diasporic identification, 119; diasporic imagination, 223; and fantasy of return, 7, 103–10; hybrid, 12; Indian diasporic communities, 19; interdiction of dreamlands in, 122; and négritude, 107; versus nomadism, 223; Pan-Africanism and, 10; parallels to Plotinus’s idea of emanation from the One, 8; and subjectivity, 10, 56–57 Dickens, Charles, 220 Dingle Peninsula, 1 Diognetus, 96 Dodds, Eric, 77, 82, 96, 97 Dominica, 63 Dominican Republic: Dominicans, 72, 153–15, 157, 163, 16, 165, 167; border with Haiti, 16; Haitian sugar workers in, 159; persecution of Haitians in, 8, 156 Doricent, Mark, 60 Dove, Rita, 170 Drake, St. Clair, 10, 129 Dreyfus, Hubert, 73 Dublin, 36–39, 5, 13, 135; Custom House Docks, 37–38; International Financial Services Center, 38; Temple Bar, 37, 5–8 Eagleton, Terry, 11, 177, 190; on the cult of the migrant, 178 Easter Rising (Ireland), , 3 East Germany, 29 ecumene, 79–91 Ecumenic Age, 79–80; globalization and, 90 Egypt, 10, 179, 213–219 ekstasis, 86 El Chile, 20 Eliot, T. S., 210, 222 Ellis Island, 31 “Éloge de la Créolité” (manifesto), 105, 110, 111–112, 113, 11, 12, 125, 126, 128, 131

249

El Salvador, 17–26; civil war in,  emigrants, 33–37, 232 Enlightenment: Adorno on, 17 epic, 228–229 Epictetus, 81, 90, 96 epistrophe, 77, 8, 96 ethics, 2, 228–239 euro, 176 European community, 57, 176 exile, 6, 76–96, 103, 1, 20; deconstruction and, 95; gnosticism and, 78, 87; literary modernism and, 179; metaphysics and, 96; as ontology, 87; self-creation and, 215 Faneuil Hall, 6 Fanon, Frantz, 109, 132; on Mayotte Capécia, 123 The Farming of Bones (Danticat), 153–15, 163, 167; narrative strategy, 166; and question of belonging, 168 fascism, fascists, 29, 181, 182, 231–233, 236; legacy of, 177 Fehervary, Helen, , 223, 227, 232, 233 Fehervary, Maria (Maria Cruz de Corvera), 18–25, 27 feminism, 26 Field Day Anthology (Deane), 15 Finegan, James W., 50 Fire (film), 197, 200 Flores, Juan, 150 FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front), 17, 20 Fog Olwig, Karen, 7 Fort-de-France, 7, 110, 115 Fortune magazine, 36, 6 Foster, John Wilson, 10, 18 Foucault, Michel, 56, 65, 19, 20, 239; The Archaeology of Knowledge, 91, 20; Discipline and Punish, 20; The History of Sexuality, 91; negative theology and, 91 Fouron, Georges, 73 France, 29, 57, 239; expulsions of undocumented Maghrebians and sub-Saharan Africans from, 6–65 Frankétyèn, 130 Frankfurter Zeitung (newspaper), 29 Freedman, Jane, 7 French Guyana, 57 French Revolution, 28, 16, 238 Freud, Sigmund, 28 Friedman, Jonathan, 98 Friedman, Thomas, 11 Friel, Brian, 137, 139, 1 Fukuyama, Francis: and “the end of history,” 7 García, Cristina, 156, 170 Gatti, Maria Luisa, 97 Gauvin, Lise, 131 gender studies, 26 Genesis, Book of. See Book of Genesis Georgetown University, 167–168 Germany, Germans, 30, 37, 125, 13, 213. See also East Germany

250

INDEX

Gillespie, Rowan, 37–38 Gilroy, Paul, 10, 129 Giraud, Michel, 132 Glissant, Edouard, 110, 111, 11, 128, 129, 130, 132; on the “cultural genocide” of Martinique, 12 global capitalism, 19 global economy, 1–2, 36 globalism, globalists, 39 globalization, 1, 11, 36–8, 78, 90, 188; antiquity and, 95; persistence of state sovereignty in, 186; political action allowed by, 188; religious ferment and, 89–91 gnosticism, gnostics, 77–91, 9–96, 97, 99; analogies to postmodern theory, 77; doctrine of salvation by knowledge, 89; as form of self-assertion, 95; gnostics as metaphysicians of exile, 87; in postmodernity, 95; questioning of cosmic being, 9; redemption from secret knowledge, 88; retelling of the myth of creation, 6; role of archons in, 88 God: of Israel as demiurge, 87 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 20, 21 golf, 37, 39, 1–2 Gordimer, Nadine, 28 The Gospel of Truth, 76 Gramsci, Antonio, 20 Grand Palais, 215 Gray, John, 11 Great Britain: literary culture of, 7 Great Expectations (Dickens), 220 Great Pyramid (Giza), 215 Greece, Hellas, 78, 80, 186, 217 Gregory, Augusta, 137 Guadeloupe, Guadeloupeans, 5, 28, 56–73, 130; attitudes toward Haitians, 69–72; Caribbean identity and, 69; cultural assimilation of, 69; debates over sovereignty, 71; Haitian migration to, 58; immigration policies of, 6; labor organizing on, 65–66; paucity of intermarriage with Haitians, 59; reliance on Haitian vodoun healing, 71 Guadeloupean Creole, 69; compared with Haitian Creole, 68; suppression of, 71 Guarani, Luis, 75 Guattari, Felix, 178 Haiti, Haitians, 5, 8, 28, 56–73, 113, 125, 153, 163, 167, 168; Caribbean identity and, 69; border with Dominican Republic, 16; practice of vodoun, 70; subjected to immigration sweeps on Guadeloupe, 59 Haitian Creole, 61, 69; compared with Guadeloupean Creole, 68 Hall, Stuart, 56, 65, 73, 103, 105, 129 hallucigenea, 221 Hancock, Curtis, 97 Hardt, Michael, 178, 187–188, 191; category of multitude, 187–188; concept of empire, 187–188; Empire, 187; Multitude: War and Democracy in an Age of Empire, 187 Harlem, 118

Hart, David Bentley, 91, 98 Hassan, Ihab, 10, 227–228, 232, 233 Heaney, Seamus, 8, 137, 139, 1, 18 Hegel, Georg Wilhem Friedrich, 9–95, 98, 17; on Neoplatonism, 83 hegemony, principle of, 20 Heidelberg, 29 Heidelberg University, 28 Heidenberger, Michele, 208 Herzfeld, Michael, 75 Hewitt, John, 139 Hewitt, Leah D., 130 Hinduism, 195, 199, 203, 226; influence of Islam on, 195, 199, 203, 20 Hindu nationalism, 200 Hispaniola, 15; border between Haiti and Dominican Republic, 16; as unstable referent, 8, 156, 163 historicism, 26 history, 15, 26, 39; contrasted with myth, 17 Hitler, Adolf, 30 Hobsbawm, Eric, 15 Holocaust, 26 home, homeland, 37, 133, 18, 217, 228–23, 237, 20 homesickness, 230–23 honor killings, 225 Horkheimer, Max, 230–239, 20; on reconciliation, 230. See also Dialectic of Enlightenment Horner, Arnold, 50 Horthy, Miklós, 29 Horus, 213 Horwitz, Tony, 219, 222 How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (Alvarez), 153 Hoxha, Enver, 176 Hugo of St. Victor, 178–179 Hungarian Council Republic, 29 Hungary, 29 hunger strike, in Ulster, 3 Hurbon, Laennec, 7 hybrid identities, 2–3, 7 hybridity, 111 Hyksos, 217 identity, 15, 2, 30, 31, 233; Asian American, 205, 207; in Bend It Like Beckham, 19; messianic speech and, 120; politics of, 235 immigrant communities, 225 immigrants, 38, 232, 236 imperialism, English, 2 India, Indians, 10, 198; consumerism and, 195; diasporic communities and, 19; immigration to the West, 192, 198; nationalism of diasporic Indians, 195 individualism, 200 Industrial Revolution, 212 insurgency, 15 integrity, 16 Intel, 36 International Financial Services Center, 38 Iordanova, Dina, 18, 190 Iraq: U.S. occupation of, 3

INDEX

Ireland, 33–8, 133–18, 229, 23; AngloIrish landlords, 0–1; civil war in, 136; conversion of landlords’ estates into golf courses, 1–2; cultural and economic sovereignty of, 35, 37; cultural separatism, 137; emigration from, 33–37; Fianna Fail and Fine Gael as leading political parties, 136; immigration to, 38; laissez-faire economics and, ; nationalism, 138; national legislature (Oireachtas), 135; partition of, 35, 133; political separatism, 137; Protestant domination of, 0, 137; Protestant gentry in, 0–1; return of emigrants to, 5; tourism in, 1–2, 5 Ireland, Northern (Ulster), 7–8, 35, 39, 133–18, 229; Catholic nationalist minority in, 138; literary identity of, 139 Irish Americans, 2 Irish border, 13–136 Irish famine, , 33–3, 37, 38; memorialization of, 39; potato blight, 33 Irish Film Centre, 6 Irish Literary Revival, 137, 12 Irish War of Independence, 1 Islam, 2, 79, 195, 199, 200, 203, 21–215, 238; influence on Hinduism, 195, 199, 203, 20 Israel, 80, 235 Italy, Italians, 9, 29, 78, 181–18 Jamaica, 28, 153, 156 James, Henry, 217 Jameson, Fredric, 197 Jesus Christ, 22 John, Book of. See Book of John Johnson, Jennifer, 1 Joyce, James, 137, 17, 178 Juffer, Jane, 172 justice, 161 Kafka, Franz, 28 Kain, Geoff rey, 207, 209 karma, 199 Kenya, 118 Kesteloot, Liliane, 131 Key West, 216 Khajuraho, 197 Kincaid, Andrew, –5, 229 Kirkwood, William, 205, 208 Koran, 215 Kracauer, Siegfried, 29, 32 Kreyòl, 155–166 Ku Klux Klan, 118 Laffan, Michael, 13, 135, 18 Laguerre, Michel S., 73 Lake Burley Griffi n, 221 Lake Michigan, 221 Lamerica (film), 9, 176–177, 180–182, 18–185, 186, 188–189; question of postcommunist identity, 177, 185; theme of erasure of history, 181 landscape, 37–5 Lang, Fritz, 177 language, 16

251

Laotse, 80 latinidad, 150, 152, 155; present historicity of, 168; revisionary account of, 8 Lavie, Smedar, 73 Le Fanu, Sheridan, 1 Lefebvre, Henri, , 50 Leinster, Duke of,  Lenihan, Brian, 3, 36 Lesel, Livia, 132 “Letter to Diognetus” (Mathetes), 96 Le Vernet (camp), 30 Lévi-Strauss, Claude, 31; Tristes Tropiques, 31 Lewis, Bernard, 238–239 Lewis, Martin W., 153, 170 liberal democracy, 2 liberalism, 238 Libya, Libyans, 78, 217 Links of Heaven (travel guide), 1 Liverpool, 38 Lloyd, David, 136, 18 locality, localities, 105; specificity of Martinique, 122 London, 30, 6, 21 Longley, Edna, 7, 133–18, 19; project of producing “Ulster,” 11 Longley, Michael, 133 Los Angeles, 25 Lowe, Lisa, 205, 208 loyalty, 232–233, 238 Lukács, Georg, 29 Lustick, Ian, 13, 18 Luxor, 21 Lycortas, 78 Lyons, F.S.L., 138, 18 Macintosh, 36 MacLaughlin, Jim, 9 Mahabharata (Indian epic), 202 malnutrition, 18 Malouf, David, 211, 221 Malthusianism, 33 Mamelukes, 217 Mandelstam, Osip, 18 Mangan, James Clarence, 17 Mani (religious group), 97 manifest destiny, 22 Mankekar, Purnima, 73 Mannheim, Károly (Karl), 29 mano blanca (death squads), 20 Mansfield Park (Austen), 212 Manu, 20 Marenn, Lea (pseud. Helen Fehervary), 32; Salvador’s Children: A Song of Survival, 27 Marenn, M. J. (pseud. Maria Fehervary), 32 marriage, 226 Marseille, 17, 30–31 Martinique, Martinicans, 7, 30, 70, 105–129, 130; créolité and, 126; creolizing the metropolis, 127; ethnoclasses on, 111; as pigmentocracy, 123; specificity of, 122 Marxism, Marxists, 36, 188, 195 masculinity, 193 Mathetes, 82 Maya, 200

252

INDEX

Mazama, Anna, 131 McCarthy, Conor, 7, 231, 23, 236 McCracken, Ellen, 150–15, 162, 163, 169, 170, 171 McDonald, Frank, 5, 51 McGuckian, Mebh, 8, 139 Medes, 217 Mediterranean, 17 Melas, Natalie, 7, 227 Memphis, 21 Messianic redemption, 22 metanoia, 96 metaphor, 28, 103–10, 189 métissage, 67, 111 Mexico, 23, 29, 31 Microsoft, 176 Middle East, 18 migration, , 90; Irish, –5; migratory labor, 8, 35 Migration of the Peoples, 80 Millennium Society, 215 Miller, Kerby, 37, 9 Milosevic, Slobodan, 175 Milza, Pierre, 7 minorities: in German-speaking countries, 26 Mississippi Delta, 216 Mississippi Masala (film), 195, 200, 203 Mitchel, John, 33 Mitterand, François, 59 modernity, 16, 223–22, 229, 23; secular, 225; Stoic universalism and, 90 Modern Times (film), 189 Montreal, 57 Moscow, 30 Moslem Brotherhood, 215 Mukherjee, Bharati, 198 Muldoon, Paul, 8, 139 Müller, Heiner, 26 multiculturalism, 26 Muslims, 225; Bosnian, 175 Mussolini, Benito, 181 Mykerinos, 21 myth, 7, 28, 36, 55, 228–239; in Seghers, 17; persistence of, 231 Nairn, Tom: on “the breakup of Britain,” 139 Naoise, 229, 232, 23 Napoleon, 153 Nasseri, Merhan Karimi, 177 nationalism, nationalists, 8, 10–105, 135–1, 23; diasporic Indians and, 195; Hindu, 200; Irish, 33–8 National Socialists, 29 Nefertiti, 21 negative theology: Derrida and, 91; Foucault and, 91; Plotinus and, 77, 83 Negri, Antonio, 178, 187–188, 191; category of multitude, 187–188; concept of empire, 187–188; Empire, 187; Multitude: War and Democracy in an Age of Empire, 187 négritude, 7, 105, 110, 117, 118–119, 127; as diasporic form, 107, 109

neoconservatism, 26 neoliberalism, 2 Neruda, Pablo, 28 New Criticism, 13 Newsweek, 3 New York, 30, 8, 216 New York Times, 27 New Zealand, 221 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 28, 235 Ni Houlihan, Cathleen, 12 Nile River, 21 198 Arab-Israeli War, 236 Novalis, 230 Nussbaum, Martha, 11 O’Brien, Conor Cruise, 138, 11 O’Brien, Flann, 17 O’Brien, Kate, 1 O’Casey, Sean, 137 O’Dowd, Liam, 13, 135, 18 Odysseus, 122 Odyssey (Homer), 123 Ohio State University, 17 oikoumene, 78 O’Regan, Cyril, 98, 99 Orientalism, 237–20 O’Rourke, John, 3 orphanages, 21–22 Ortiz, Ricardo, 8–9, 227 O’Toole, Joe, 35 Ottoman Empire, 239 Out of Egypt (Hassan), 216 Ovid, 211, 221 Pachomius, Saint (the abbot), 82 Páez, Mariela, 169 paganism, 22 Palestine, Palestinians, 13, 179, 235–236, 237, 239 Pamiers, France, 30 Papastergiadis, Nikos, 98 Paris, 30, 5, 215 Parramatta, 211, 212, 219 Pasqua, Charles, 58 patriarchy, 195 Paulin, Tom, 8, 139, 13 Paz, Octavio, 150 Pearse, Patrick, 3 Pedreira, Anthony, 170 Peking, 125 Penelope, 122–123 Pentecostal churches, Haitian, 5–6, 59–67 periagoge, 96 Persian Empire, 79 Peters, J. D., 73 Petro, Patrice, 209 Phinney, Richard, 50 Pinsky, Robert, 217, 222 Piórczynski, Jósef, 99 Pipil Indians, 19 pleroma, 87, 9 Plotinus, 77–95, 97; on the absence of Ungrund, 95; analogous to postmodern theory, 77; on the ascent of the soul, 85; idea of

INDEX

the One, 82–85; narrative of emanation, 77 pneuma, 88 Pointe-à-Pitre, 57–59, 63, 66; effects of urban renewal on, 68 Poland, 29 political correctness, 27 Polybius, 78–90 Pope, Alexander,  Port-au-Prince, 58 postcolonial cultural studies, 162 postcolonialism 7; Bengali, 195 postmodernism, 6, 77; “theological turn” of, 91 postmodernity, 90; globalizing politics of, 95 poststructuralist criticism, 20, 235 Powerscreen,  pragmatics, 16 Price, Richard, 132 Price, Sally, 132 Princeton University, 16, 26 progress, 22 proodos, 8 Protestants, Protestantism, 3, 0; fundamentalist hostility to culture, 137 Pseudo-Dionysius: absence of Ungrund in, 95 Ptolemy, 98 Pugh, Simon, 50 Purie, Aroon, 208 Pydna, Battle of, 78 Quakers, 25 Rabinow, Paul, 73 Radványi, Lászlo, 29–30 Ramayana (Indian epic), 202 Randeria, Shalini, 98 Ranger, Terence, 15 Reagan, Ronald, 17 Reeves-Smyth, Terence, 50 regionalism, literary, 139 Rembrandt, Harmenszoon van Rijn, 29 Renaissance, 239 return, fantasy of, 7 revolution, 22 Richman, Karen, 7 Robbie, Vic, 50 Rodríguez, Ileana, 32 Roman Empire, 77–78, 80, 81, 217, 22 Rome, 155 Rossbach, Stefan, 6, 22 Rothenstreich, Nathan, 97 Rubenstein, Mary-Jane, 98 Russell, George, 137 Safran, William, 73 Said, Edward, 8, 12, 136, 10, 11, 13–1, 18, 19, 178–180, 185, 210, 235–20, 21; attitude toward Israeli victory in 198 war, 236; Beginnings, 11; on the coincidence of state authority and cultural legitimacy, 10; on crossing the East-West divide, 180; Culture and Imperialism, 13, 178, 180; on

253

exile, 179, 18; Orientalism, 178–180, 237– 20; Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, 178; The World, the Text, and the Critic, 178 St. Maarten, 58 Sakyamuni, 218 Samardzija, Zoran, 9 San Domingo, 31 Sangari, Kum Kum, 202, 208 San Salvador, 18, 21 San Vincente, 18–20 Sarapion, 93 Satan: as discloser of truth, 98; indistinction from God in gnosticism, 88 Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph, 95 Schiller, Nina Glick, 73, 7 Schnepel, Ellen M., 7 Scipio Aemilianus, 78 Scotland, 229, 232 Seducing Maarya (film), 195, 200, 202, 203 Segesvary, Victor, 206, 208 Seghers, Anna, 16–17, 28–32, 223, 228; Die Gefährten, 29; The Seventh Cross, 30; Transit, 16, 31 self-hatred, 236–237 September 11th terrorist attacks, 2, 21, 218 Serbia, Serbs, 175 Setka, 21 sexual identity, 195–201, 203, 20, 205, 208 Shaw, Francis, 138 Sidhwa, Bapsi, 198, 208 silence, 16, 23 Silesia, 13 Sinn Fein, 135 Six Day War, 235, 237 slavery, 218, 227, 238 Slessor, Catherine, 51 Smith, Michael Peter, 75 Smurfit, Norma, 37 soccer, 192–193 social mobility: as freedom, 226 Sommer, Doris, 171 Sommerville and Ross: novels of, 0 sovereignty, 225 Spielberg, Steven, 177 Spinoza, Baruch, 95 Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, 195, 197, 208 Starwood Hotels,  Stephen, Andrew, 208, 209 Stepick, Alex, 7 Stoics, 81 Stoker, Bram, 1 storytelling, 19 Suárez-Orozco, Marcelo, 169 subjectivity, 16 Sufis, 219 Suleyman al Qanuni (“The Magnificent”), 239 summit conferences, US-USSR, 27 Sundaresan, Indu, 205 Supriya, K. E., 10, 226 surrealism, 23 The Suspended Step of the Stork (fi lm), 9, 175, 176, 180, 186, 188–189; vision of migration in, 186

254

INDEX

Sweden, 213 Swedenburg, Ted, 73 Sweeny, Paul, 50 Swift, Jonathan, 1 Sydney, 211, 212, 221 Sydney Opera House, 220 Synge, J. M., 137 Szanton Blanc, Cristina, 73, 7 Tandy, Jessica, 30 Tarr, Carrie, 7 technology, advances in, 1–2 The Terminal (film), 177 Texaco (Chamoiseau), 7, 109, 115–116, 118, 120–123, 12–125, 128 Thebes, Egypt, 21, 215 Theodotus, 98 theoria, 85 A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Deleuze and Guattari), 178 time, 16 Torres-Saillant, Silvio, 171 tourism, 212, 220, 228; in Ireland, 1–2, 5 Tracy, Spencer, 30 transcendence: in Plotinus, 85 trauma, , 33, 37, 39, 190 Trevor, William, 1 Trilling, Lionel, 11, 19 Trujillo, Rafael, 8, 153, 156–158, 159, 160, 163, 167–168, 171 truth, 232 Turks, 217 Tutankhamen, 21 Twentieth Wife (Sundaresan), 205 Uganda, 202 Ulster Nationalism, Nationalists, 13, 136 Ulster Unionism, Unionists, 13, 136–137 Uluru, 212 United Kingdom, 13

United States, 37, 56, 227; literary culture of, 7; multiculturalism in, 15 universal: as assemblage of particulars, 113 Valentinus (religious group), 97 Vargas-Llosa, Mario, 171 Vergès, Françoise, 113, 131 Vichy France, 30 Vico, Giambattista, 12; The New Science, 12 Vienna, siege of, 239 Vietnam War, 17 Virgil, 79 vodoun, 70–71 Voegelin, Eric, 78–80, 96, 98 Voss (White), 212 Walker, Simon, 7 Walsh, David, 99 war, 15 Weeks, Andrew, 99 Weil, Simone, 218 Whiteley, Hannah, 219 Wigen, Karen E., 153, 170 Williamite Wars, 0 Williams, Michael Allan, 97 Williams, Raymond, 50 Wolf, Christa, 16, 26 Woolf, Virginia, 28 World Trade Center: attack on, 2 World War I, 1, 28, 29, 115 World War II, 10, 17, 26, 30, 115, 181 Wright, Judith, 219 Wright, May, 219 Yeats, William Butler, 1, 137, 17 Yugoslavia: disintegration of, 175 Zaman, Niaz, 198, 207, 208, 209 Zinnemann, Fred, 30 Zionism, 237 Žižek, Slavoj, 190