Critical Methods for the Study of World Politics: Creativity and Transformation 2019026203, 2019026204, 9781138097254, 9781315104997

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Critical Methods for the Study of World Politics: Creativity and Transformation
 2019026203, 2019026204, 9781138097254, 9781315104997

Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
List of figures
List of contributors
0.1 Three locations
0.2 Studying in world politics: a reading guide
0.3 In(ter)ferences
0.4 This book you are holding
1 Ephemeral language: communicating by breath
2 Untraining critique and the power of performance
3 Connecting with Others
4 The labour of political theatre as embodied politics: a conversation
5 Para-citations: fragments on the law and lore of genre
Feel (the edges)
6 Beyond a classroom: experiments in a post-border praxis for the future
7 Anticolonial intimacies: how I learned to stop worrying about IR and start teaching politics
8 A presence (m)otherwise
9 Teaching about sexual violence in war
10 Self-contact: the basis of presence
11 Decolonising visual ethnography: a transdisciplinary intervention
12 The drone cut-up project
Pull toy
13 An exercise in question and conversation: does creativity need to be evaluated?
14 Trying not to write an academic book (while at the same time trying to write one)
15 How do you make yourself a chapter without organisation?
16 The practice of queer method in International Relations
LEP Colouring
17 The politics of images: a pluralist methodological framework
18 Collage as an empowering art-based feminist method for IR
19 Trans-script
Editing collage

Citation preview

Critical Methods for the Study of World Politics

This book develops an approach to both method and the socio-political implications of knowledge production that embraces our embeddedness in the world that we study. It seeks to enact the transformative potentials inherent in this relationship in how it engages readers. It presents a creative survey of some of the newest developments in critical research methods and critical pedagogy that together go beyond the aims of knowledge transfer that often structure our practices. Each contribution takes on a different shape, tone and orientation, and discusses a critical method or approach, teasing out the ways in which it can also work as a transformative practice. While the presentation of different methods is both rigorously practice-based and specific, contributors also offer reflections on the stakes of critical engagement and how it may play an important role in expanding and subverting existing regimes of intelligibility. Contributions variously address the following key questions: • • •

What makes your research method important? How can others work with it? How has research through this method and/or the way you ended up deploying it transformed you and/or your practice? How did it matter for thinking about community, (academic) collaboration and sharing ‘knowledge’?

This volume makes the case for re-politicizing the importance of research and the transformative potentials of research methods not only in ‘accessing’ the world as an object of study, but as ways of acting and being in the world. It will be of interest to students and scholars of international relations, critical theory, research methods and politics in general. Shine Choi teaches Politics and International Relations at Massey University. She is also Associate Editor of International Feminist Journal of Politics and Co-editor of the book series, Creative Interventions in Global Politics with Rowman & Littlefield.

Anna Selmeczi is Lecturer and Programme Convener of the Masters in Southern Urbanism at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town. Erzsébet Strausz is Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations at Central European University, Hungary.


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes. We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics. We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors: • •

Jenny Edkins ([email protected]) and Nick Vaughan-Williams ([email protected]).

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, “knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting” In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR’s traditional geopolitical imaginary.’ Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, USA Edited by Jenny Edkins, Aberystwyth University and Nick VaughanWilliams, University of Warwick Critical Methods for the Study of World Politics Edited by Shine Choi, Anna Selmeczi and Erzsébet Strausz Necrogeopolitics On Death and Death-Making in International Relations Edited by Caroline Alphin and François Debrix

Critical Methods for the Study of World Politics Creativity and Transformation

Edited by Shine Choi, Anna Selmeczi and Erzsébet Strausz

First published 2020 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 selection and editorial matter, Shine Choi, Anna Selmeczi and Erzsébet Strausz; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Shine Choi, Anna Selmeczi and Erzsébet Strausz to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Choi, Shine, editor. | Selmeczi, Anna, editor. | Strausz, Erzsébet,  editor. Title: Critical methods for the study of world politics : creativity and   transformation / edited by Shine Choi, Anna Selmeczi and Erzsébet  Strausz. Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York : Routledge, 2020. | Series: Interventions | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2019026203 (print) | LCCN 2019026204 (ebook) |   ISBN 9781138097254 (hardback) | ISBN 9781315104997 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: International relations--Research--Methodology. |   International relations--Study and teaching. | Critical theory. |   Critical pedagogy. Classification: LCC JZ1234 .C728 2020 (print) | LCC JZ1234 (ebook) |   DDC 327.071--dc23 LC record available at LC ebook record available at ISBN: 978-1-138-09725-4 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-10499-7 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by Servis Filmsetting Ltd, Stockport, Cheshire


List of figures List of contributors Acknowledgements

x xi xviii



  0.1 Three locations


  0.2 Studying in world politics: a reading guide



 0.3 In(ter)ferences


  0.4 This book you are holding 





  1 Ephemeral language: communicating by breath  MARIJN NIEUWENHUIS




  2 Untraining critique and the power of performance  CATHERINE CHARRETT





Connecting with Others 

The labour of political theatre as embodied politics: a conversation  RICHA NAGAR AND ANNA SELMECZI


viii  Contents   5 Para-citations: fragments on the law and lore of genre  SAM OKOTH OPONDO


Feel (the edges)



Beyond a classroom: experiments in a post-border praxis for the future KONI BENSON AND ASHER GAMEDZE


  7 Anticolonial intimacies: how I learned to stop worrying about IR and start teaching politics  HIMADEEP MUPPIDI


  8 A presence (m)otherwise SARA C. MOTTA


  9 Teaching about sexual violence in war  KIMBERLY HUTCHINGS


10 Self-contact: the basis of presence NICHOLAS JANNI





Decolonising visual ethnography: a transdisciplinary intervention161 ROHAN KALYAN 12 The drone cut-up project  TREVOR MCCRISKEN AND ERZSÉBET STRAUSZ WITH IMAGES



Pull toy199

Re-form 13

An exercise in question and conversation: does creativity need to be evaluated? 

201 203



Trying not to write an academic book (while at the same time trying to write one) 



Contents ix 15 How do you make yourself a chapter without organisation?  PHIL GAYDON, CONOR HEANEY, HOLLIE MACKENZIE





16 The practice of queer method in International Relations CYNTHIA WEBER INTERVIEWED BY ANNA SELMECZI AND



LEP Colouring271 17

The politics of images: a pluralist methodological framework 




Collage as an empowering art-based feminist method for IR






Editing collage310 Index



  1.1   1.2   1.3 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 13.1 13.2 13.3 18.1 18.2 18.3 19.1

The drawing is Athanasius Kircher’s (1650, p. 23) The drawing designs are Athanasius Kircher’s (1650) Segment from Latham’s The English Language (1841, p. 127) Figure 1 (Kalyan) Figure 2 (Kalyan) Figure 3 (Kalyan) Figure 4 (Kalyan) Figure 1 (Cook) Figure 2 (Cook) Figure 3 (Cook) Figure 4 (Cook) Figure 5 (McCrisken and Strausz) Specimen 1: a collage of student collages from a class on globalisation (detail) Specimen 2: a post on Facebook of a selfie taken by Shine with Allison’s response piece in a seminar on North Korea Specimen 3: a doodle while thinking about what to say in honour of the late Alex Danchev (detail) Saara Särmä: Hanska Saara Särmä: Phallic discipline, mixed media collage, 2015 Saara Särmä: Underbelly, installation, 2018 Editing cut-ups, 2018 (Choi, Selmeczi and Strausz)

43 44 47 171 173 173 174 180 189 191 192 196 214 215 215 294 297 303 310


Koni Benson is a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of the Western Cape where she is currently working on courses on oral history; on activist archives; and on comparative histories of slave rebellions in the Cape and the Caribbean. Her research is on collective interventions in histories of contested development and the mobilization, demobilization, and remobilization of struggle history in southern Africa’s past and present. She is interested in creative approaches to history that link art, activism and African history, and draws on critical approaches to people’s history projects, and feminist collaborative research praxis in her work with various student, activist and cultural collectives in southern Africa. Roland Bleiker is Professor of International Relations at the University of Queensland, where he coordinates an interdisciplinary research program on Visual Politics. His research explores the political role of aesthetics, visuality and emotions, which he examines across a range of issues, from security, humanitarianism and peacebuilding to protest movements and the conflict in Korea. Recent publications include Divided Korea: Toward a Culture of Reconciliation (2005/2008), Aesthetics and World Politics (2009/2012) and, as co-editor with Emma Hutchison, a forum on ‘Emotions and World Politics’ in International Theory (Vol 3/2014). Bleiker’s latest book Visual Global Politics was published by Routledge in 2018. Catherine Charrett is a Lecturer in International Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London. She completed her doctoral study in International Politics at Aberystwyth University. She holds an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia. She works on Palestinian governance and policing, which she investigates through queer, decolonial and performative methods. Catherine received an Independent Social Research Foundation, Early Career Research Fellowship for her interdisciplinary approach to research. The author has produced two performance pieces ‘Politics in Drag: Sipping Toffee with Hamas in Brussels’ and ‘The Vein, the Fingerprint

xii  Contributors Machine and the Automatic Speed Detector’ on security, diplomacy and technology in Occupied Palestine. This work has also been published with the Review of International Studies and the European Journal of International Relations. Shine Choi teaches Politics and International Relations at Massey University,  New Zealand. She is also an Associate Editor for the International Feminist Journal of Politics and Co-editor of the book series, Creative Interventions in Global Politics with Rowman and Littlefield. Her research has focused on  how an illiberal state like North Korea creates the international as a space of politics. Other areas of research include IR theory; intercultural  relations;  visuality and aesthetics; postcolonial feminist theory; and critical/creative methods. In 2019, she completed a Social Science Research  Council Transregional Fellowship InterAsian Contexts and Connections. Ben Cook is a documentary and fiction filmmaker based in the UK. His documentary work has covered mental illness, food poverty, sustainability, asylum seekers, social housing, and biographies of artists and charity workers. In 2017 he co-founded the 12.01 Project, with the aim of documenting and sharing solutions to social and environmental issues. In a fiction film capacity, he is also the co-founder of Anti/Type Films. Asher Gamedze is a cultural worker currently based in Cape Town. Philip Gaydon is a teacher of Philosophy and Theology at St Paul’s School in London. His thesis explored virtue epistemology, children’s literature and education. Given this background, the story of how he sneaked into this collection is a mysterious one. It is filled with twists, turns and, most i­ mportantly, friendships built upon childlike adulting, tents and crayons. Conor Heaney is a Lecturer in Liberal Arts and Politics Education in the Department of Liberal Arts at King’s College London. He recently completed his PhD in Social and Political Thought at the University of Kent, Canterbury; his project, entitled Rhythmic Ecology: Mindscaping the Rhythms of Everyday Life, is an examination of the relationship between contemporary capitalism, mental health and digital technology, conducted through an engagement with the under-researched area of rhythmanalysis and as an affirmative development of Félix Guattari’s later ecological and ecosophical works, primarily The Three Ecologies. Conor’s primary interests at present are related to the concept of rhythm and its history, process philosophy, French theory and Continental Philosophy (Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault), philosophy of technology (Simondon, Stiegler), political theory, as well as critical university studies and experimental pedagogy. His website is www.

Contributors xiii Kimberly Hutchings is Professor of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London. Her research interests are in international political theory, global ethics, feminist philosophy and the political theory of violence. She is the author of several books, most recently Time and World Politics: Thinking the Present (Manchester University Press, 2008), Global Ethics: An Introduction (Polity Press, 2nd ed. 2018) and (with Elizabeth Frazer) Can Political Violence Ever Be Justified? (Polity Press, 2019). She is currently a co-investigator on the Leverhulme funded project (2018‒2022) ‘Women and the History of International Thought’. Nicholas Janni is a speaker, coach and workshop conductor. Ever since an awakening at age 16 Nicholas has devoted his life to the development of consciousness and to healing. In his first career, Nicholas was a theatre director. He taught acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and directed his own theatre company. He has spent 30 years researching the theory and the practice of ‘the zone’ of peak performance, and studying multiple mind/body disciplines. Over the last 20 years he has gained an international reputation for his transformational coaching and leadership development seminars. He works with organisations, NGOs and senior leaders worldwide and teaches at the IMD Business School in Switzerland. He bridges the worlds of creative, personal, spiritual and professional development in a uniquely powerful, relevant and accessible way. He also leads intergenerational and collective trauma groups in the UK, Israel and the Middle East. Rohan Kalyan is Assistant Professor of International Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. His work is located at the intersection of politics, culture and theory. Rohan is author of ‘Neo Delhi and the Politics of Postcolonial Urbanism’ (Routledge, 2017). Rohan is also a filmmaker. He has co-directed two short documentary films with his brother Gorav Kalyan: ‘Letter to the City Yet to Come’ (2015) and ‘Ka Wa Ma Hope: A History of the Future’ (2011). In 2018 they completed their first feature length documentary, entitled ‘Badiou’ (2018). Debbie Lisle is a Professor of International Relations in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s University Belfast. Her work explores the intersections of war, mobility, borders, security, technology, culture, materiality and visuality. She is interested in uncovering how global politics lurk in unexpected sites (e.g. museums, hotels, laboratories), and how unexpected counter-conducts flourish in highly securitized sites (e.g. border crossings; airports; battlefields). Her latest book, Holidays in the Danger Zone: Entanglements of War and Tourism (2016) examines the many cross-overs between tourism, leisure and war. She is currently e­xploring ­questions of failure, persistence, endurance and hope.

xiv  Contributors Hollie Mackenzie is an artist and a PhD candidate in Social and Political Thought at the University of Kent (UK). Her publications explore a feminist philosophy of labial art-politics and critical pedagogy. Hollie has been awarded multiple art awards and has received a teaching prize for her creative and experimental pedagogy (2018). She was the lead artist for the MA in Politics, Art and Resistance (University of Kent) in the Fairground at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern (2017). She also works collaboratively in authoring publications and organising workplayshops. Her collaborations include co-organising the first Feminist Reading Group in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent with Stavroula Soukara (2018); Joyful Nomads, a collaborative group formed at Professor Rosi Braidotti’s Masterclass in Posthumanism and Deleuze at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (2016); and Learning, Exchange and Play with Conor Heaney (2015‒present). More about her can be found at www. Iain MacKenzie is a Reader in Politics and Co-Director of the Centre for Critical Thought at the University of Kent. Recent publications include: Resistance and the Politics of Truth: Foucault, Deleuze, Badiou (transcript Press, 2018); co-editor with Fred Francis and Krista Giappone, Comedy and Critical Thought: Laughter as Resistance (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2018); co-editor with Nesreen Hussein, ‘Creative Practices/ Resistant Acts: Cultural Production and Emerging Democracies in Revolutionary Nations’, Contentions: The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest, vol. 5, Issue 1, Summer 2017. He is also co-editor, with Amanda Giorgio, of the book series Experiments/On the Political with Rowman and Littlefield International. Trevor McCrisken is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick. His research and teaching interests are in US foreign policy, US politics and popular culture. He is also currently an Associate Visiting Research Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford and Co-Chair of the transatlantic security think tank BASIC (British American Security Information Council). He has published extensively on representations in film and television dramas of US foreign policy and the US and UK intelligence services. He recently coauthored The Ordinary Presidency of Donald J. Trump (Palgrave 2019) with Jon Herbert and Andrew Wroe. His current research focuses on US security policy, counterterrorism and the narratives being constructed around the use of drones for military and civilian purposes. He watched the David Bowie documentary Cracked Actor in 1984 and decided then that he would use the cut-up method to write something ... eventually ... Sara C. Motta is a mother, critical political theorist, poet and popular educator who is currently Associate Professor in the Politics Discipline at the

Contributors xv University of Newcastle, NSW Australia. At present she is co-facilitating a number of projects including ‘La Política de la Maternidad (The Politics of Motherhood)’ with militant mothers and grandmothers in Colombia, Brazil and Australia. She has published over 40 academic articles covering the topics of decolonial feminism, an other politics, emancipatory pedagogies, and prefigurative epistemologies. Her latest books include Constructing 21st Century Socialism in Latin America: The Role of Radical Education with Mike Cole (2014, Palgrave Macmillan) and Liminal Subjects: Weaving (our) Liberation (2018, Rowman & Littlefield). Himadeep Muppidi is the Betty G.C. Cartwright Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. He is the author of Politics in Emotion: The Song of Telangana (2014), The Colonial Signs of International Relations (2012) and The Politics of the Global (2004). Richa Nagar is a scholar and creative writer whose work in English, Hindi, and Awadhi blurs the borders of academia, arts, and activism. She is Professor of the College in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, USA, where she holds the Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennett Chair in Excellence and Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts. Richa has worked closely with the Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan in India and with the multi-sited Parakh Theatre since their founding. Her publications include eight monographs and edited volumes, and dozens of articles, essays, stories, poems, and plays. Her books in English include Playing with Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism through Seven Lives in India, A World of Difference: Encountering and Contesting Development, 2nd ed., Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms across Scholarship and Activism, and Hungry Translations: Relearning the World Through Radical Vulnerability. Marijn Nieuwenhuis is an Assistant Professor in Human Geography at Durham University. His research is at the intersection of geography, philosophy and politics. His current research focuses on the politics of the air, the political imagination of sand, the strangeness of holes and the histories of breathing. Marijn also writes about everyday geographies in British cities. He teaches on a variety of subjects related to Human Geography and Political Geography. Sam Okoth Opondo is Assistant Professor in Political Science and Africana Studies at Vassar College NY. His research focuses on the dynamics of ‘mediating estrangement’ and the ethics and aesthetics of co-habitation in settler colonial and postcolonial societies. He has written journal articles and book chapters on the often-overlooked amateur diplomacies of everyday life, ­postcolonial cities, the politics of genre, and cultural translation in Africa.

xvi  Contributors Saara Särmä is a feminist, an activist, an artist and a researcher. She is interested in politics of visuality and image circulation, feminist academic activism, and laughter in world politics. Saara is the creator of ‘Congrats, you have an all male panel!’ and co-founder of the Feminist Think Tank Hattu, which has empowered numerous women in Schools of Daring and Cursing Soirées. Her doctoral dissertation in International Relations (University of Tampere, 2014) focused on internet parody images and developed a unique and innovative art-based collage methodology for studying world politics, which her postdoctoral project Making Meaning out of Meme-making expands. Recently, she worked at Finnish National Defence University researching Hybrid Terrorizing. In her artistic work, Saara is engaged in several projects aimed at countering the effects of hatemail and online misogyny. She is committed to making both academia and the world kinder and better places. Anna Selmeczi is lecturer and programme convener of the Masters in Southern Urbanism at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town. She is interested in popular political practices – their sensibilities as well as the acts of sense-making in and around them. Some of her current research and teaching focuses on embodied research methods and the processes and practices of knowledge production in urban studies. Erzsébet Strausz is Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations at Central European University. She holds a PhD from Aberystwyth University and her research focuses on critical security studies, critical pedagogy, the politics of everyday life as well as creative, experimental and narrative methods in the study of world politics. She was awarded the British International Studies Association’s Excellence in Teaching International Studies Prize in 2017 and her research monograph Writing the Self and Transforming Knowledge in International Relations: Towards a Politics of Liminality was published by Routledge in 2018. Cynthia Weber is Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex. She has written extensively on sovereignty, intervention, and US foreign policy, as well as on feminist, gendered and sexualized understandings and organisations of international relations. Her latest book Queer International Relations: Sovereignty, Sexuality and the Will to Knowledge explores how IR theories and policies about development, immigration, security, human rights and national and regional integration have long been and continue to be entangled with understandings of homosexuality. Marysia Zalewski is Professor of International Relations in the School of Law and Politics at Cardiff University (since 2016). She was previously at the University of Aberdeen; Queen’s University, Belfast and Aberystwyth University. She has published widely in the areas of critical and feminist theory in international relations, violence, gender and gender mainstreaming.

Contributors xvii She was awarded an Eminent Scholar Award by the International Studies Association in 2013 for her international research profile and mentorship of junior colleagues. She is currently working on creative writing and knowledge production in international politics, feminism and security in ‘Trump-time’ (with Anne Sisson Runyan), and sexual violence against men. Her latest book Sexual Violence against Men in Global Politics (co-edited with Paul Drumond, Elisabeth Prugl and Maria Stern) was published by Routledge in May 2018.


First, we must acknowledge the hard work, patience and commitment of our contributors through the long journey. We thank all those who over the years read various early versions of the book proposal and what became the introductory texts to the book and provided their invaluable encouragement, close readings and prodding especially, Elina Penttinen, Kate Schick, Marysia Zalewski, and participants of the International Studies Association (ISA) panel and the European Workshops in International Studies (EWIS) ‘Popular Culture and World Politics’ section in Tübingen in 2016. Ongoing conversations with co-travellers, such as Megan Daigle, Aida Hozic, Akta Kaushal, András Léderer and Davide Panagia have been inspiration and auto-critique throughout. The early proto-beginnings are numerous – we especially want to acknowledge all those who participated in the ‘What does aesthetics want from us and IR?’ workshop in 2014 and the generous funding for this workshop by the British International Studies Association (BISA) Art and Politics Working Group and the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. Thank you Nicola Parkin, Robert Sorsby and Ella Halstead at Routledge, and Jenny Edkins and Nick Vaughan-Williams, editors of the Interventions series, for their trust, support and patience. Thank you Book for finishing (and for falling apart).


0.1 Three locations

Current location, take one I am currently supported by a small university. My colleagues like to joke, affectionately, how only serendipity can explain how I washed up all the way here, the southernmost tip of the globe, a year ago, now approaching two. Washed up is the right word, as I have no ties or reasons to be here. I can do my job – teaching and researching questions that interest me – anywhere but even for me, being in a small university with agricultural pragmatic roots and being part of a politics programme with no real political or academic agenda (other than to continue to exist as part of a ‘core’ social science discipline) is disorienting. But, here, finally, I feel like life has quieted down a bit and I can now hear myself think, hear myself be. Really, the ‘campus life’ and service required of me is a wholly different pitch than in my previous institutional home. At times I fear this quietness because now all that busywork of an academic feels optional, and this seems like a way to get left behind. It is a sickly sweet and disorienting feeling. Our classes here are small and sometimes too intimate for me and for our students – the students here and I, unlike people in other places I have been, share in common our preferences for anonymity and quietness. Unlike many classrooms I have sat in or managed, there are no big lecture halls, no book smart and confident students to run the show for the rest of us here. No one here can hide, and perhaps because of this, students are perplexed and energised when I start a course with thinking about thinking, or gift them notebooks to doodle during class. These gestures lighten the classroom. I know some find this annoying because they came to our courses to be serious about the world and themselves. I am apologetic towards these students. Students in my class find me a novelty, a piece of the ‘outside’ world. Tyranny of distance, is a common phrase up and down people’s mouths here. Distance in relation to what? To where? I feel a distinct distance between me and where I work as well as what I do as part of my job – it is decadent and free, humiliating and all-consuming, a public contribution but requires a distancing, a removal from being with and a people – but this was always going to be the case. It may always be this case.

4  Three locations

Current location, take two In my current location, for the majority of people, lokshin/location refers to townships set up on urban peripheries by the apartheid order for black people whose labor power it needed but whose co-presence as human beings it detested. In my current location, within a couple words of meeting someone for the first time, I am asked where I’m from. Six years into living here, I am ­currently retraining myself not to cringe at that question. There is much to learn from that cringe, however – of the work that goes into creating, editing and censoring the narratives that respond and explain, or of the laziness that turns to the precooked ones to do the same. What is today’s story of why I’m here when I’m not from here? The university I currently work at boasts itself as the best university in Africa. The city and the country that it is located in is not, many argue, in Africa. The thickly layered hierarchy that is reinforced by ‘being on the top’ (i.e., the slopes of the wondrous mountain as well as of global ranking charts) is almost completely invisible from places that really count; places that tend to be located well above the equator. Yet, from within the city that, at least geographically, sits on the southern tip of Africa, it is plain to see that its universities are gauged against ideas of good education that still come from up above, well beyond the equator. No wonder it took a massive wave of student protests for these institutions – both the ones ‘on the top’ and the ones that aren’t only ‘previously’ disadvantaged – to face up to the violent disjuncture between what they offer (/ignore/deny) and the experiences and aspirations of young people in South Africa today. Although resistance to change is ever adaptive, teaching and thinking in South African universities will never be the same as before #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall. As tough a challenge as that presents to all of us who have not been urged to face our various privileges with such force previously, it is a challenge that, if taken seriously, makes trying to work from here the most worthwhile commitment. Pedagogical attempts at patching up the gap between the university and its publics are more likely to fail than succeed, but the practice of trying to work with one’s constantly questioned and unsettled sense of location (geographical, social, disciplinary ...) might still invite something new and unexpected, some surprising ways of dislocating and relocating knowledge and so too, new modes of being in the university and the world.

Current location, take three In short, I am living my dream here. Maybe I could dream bigger, wider, slightly less complicated and perhaps more secure. After a decade spent in British academia I am back in Hungary, back in my country of citizenship and in my alma mater, an American university

Three locations 5 in Budapest that first gave me the kick to venture abroad, spread my wings and fly to the ‘West’, enter it not only through the shared imagination of an epistemic community but also as a geographical location and what became an unlocalizable force in the fabric of my body; and before anything else, it provided me with that academic formation that enabled me to appear as a recognizable knowing subject within the discipline of International Relations in the first place. I arrived six months ago and ever since, I am in constant transition and translation. My friends keep asking if ‘the Hungarian reality’ – the multiple oppressive and parallel realities of ‘illiberal’ democracy in everyday life – ‘has kicked in already.’ The answer is a surprising ‘not just yet’. I often wonder if this is because part of me still lives in the UK, or at least, that energetic trail of knowledge practices, socialization and social capital – what granted me the privilege of global mobility to re-locate to an American university in Budapest now as faculty – is what is animating most of my interactions on campus and beyond. ‘Come out of your bubble already.’ ‘I know it’s there, but I don’t know how. That bubble is also me.’ In the classroom I have all the space and intellectual freedom to experiment with ‘thinking outside the box’. Inspired by Rancière’s figure of the ignorant schoolmaster I aim to cultivate relationships of equality and affirm everyone’s ability to make their own ‘sense’. As a teaching body, I misperform (Inayatullah, 2013). My neoliberal conditioning and the legacy of worry over ‘student satisfaction’ somehow do not let me leave behind the role of the ‘vanishing mediator’ (Rancière, 2011). At least I am making it explicit to the whole class. Making sense of our ‘third object’, the text, I give out cards to facilitate interaction at the level of ‘process’ (Rancière, 1991). ‘The card with an “E” on it stands for ‘explanation. Just in case you may feel you need me to explain something.’ The conversation doesn’t quite take off. There are some invitations, brief moments of sharing with long stretches of silence in-between. I observe my body grow tense and then I surrender. The exchanges are gaining momentum. Life is flowing through gestures. It makes me reflect and think. I randomly open Judith Butler’s Giving an Account of Oneself and I come across a particularly fitting passage. I want to read out her typology of dispossession as language and discourse robs us of our singularity. As I am reading, I am also adding a few thoughts. ‘And yes, this point ... also ties in with what we read earlier about ...’ An E-card is in the air. ‘Would you like me to explain ...?’ ‘You are explaining.’ There are no words to express my feeling of gratitude.

6  Three locations On a simultaneous plane, the university is being forced out of the country by the Hungarian government. After a year and half of struggle to conform to what the illusion of the ‘rule of law’ would dictate the institution is in the process of moving its activities to Vienna. It is now official. Anna, Erzsébet and shine Written between 2018 and 2019

Works cited Inayatullah, N. (2013) ‘Impossibilities: Generative Misperformance and the Movements of the Teaching Body’. In J. Edkins and A. Kear (eds.) International Politics and Performance: Critical Aesthetics and Creative Practice (pp. 150–157). Abingdon: Routledge. Rancière, J. (1991) The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation. Translated by Kristin Ross. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Rancière, J. (2011) The Emancipated Spectator. Translated by G. Elliott. London: Verso.

0.2 Studying in world politics: a reading guide Erzsébet Strausz, Anna Selmeczi and Shine Choi

Writing the world, reading ourselves It is 8:55 on a Tuesday. Lectures and seminars are about to start. ‘Business hours’ begin in offices, meeting rooms, cafés. Some of us ‘only’ need to make it to the classroom in the next ten minutes and find somewhere to sit, though what follows is never only easy especially for those who have to pry open crevices in a world that does not seem to see them. Others will have to set up the lecture slides first, focus and breathe, and make sure that this time technology of the self or electronics doesn’t break down. Others still have started even earlier (at 7am? 6am?), cleaning the floors, taking the rubbish out. The staff of catering facilities must have been busy preparing for the day for at least an hour already. Embedded in a milieu of simultaneously shared and unshared life-worlds, a caption on a construction site of a university reads: ‘What if our search for knowledge changed the world around us?’ At first this question sounds like a benign call for taking academic study more seriously as a form and exercise of power that has the capacity to make a difference to daily life and how we live in it. It underlines the desirability of impactful scholarship and draws attention to the possibility of social transformation by means of knowledge. Yet, walking past similar posters and advertising material every day on campus and elsewhere, one wonders what impactful knowledge means and how a thing called knowledge moves, shapes, causes change in the world around and in us in any meaningful sense. No doubt it is a good thing to think big and imagine what sorts of pressing issues and questions academic knowledge could indeed answer, even solve. But what if knowledge was already political and the world had already been changed through our practices of knowing? What if this banner is there to encourage and perhaps, remind us in a friendly and (seemingly) innocent manner that research matters because, despite the power it conveys and the effects it produces, it has been rendered mute, bureaucratic, and instrumental.

8  Erzsébet Strausz et al. Let us pause here for a minute Taking a closer look at the sites and scenes of knowledge production held together by the label, ‘university’ – the institutions, their architecture, our routines and habits, the spaces  we work in, the places we travel to and from, the people we meet and the ones we don’t, and the emotive and affective journeys that accompany our everyday interactions with and ‘handling’ of academic knowledge – ‘University’ opens up and brings to light an intricate web of practices, power relationships, subjects and subjectivities, senses and sensations that make up the experiences of the people that this book, Critical Methods for the Study of World Politics: Creativity and Transformation brings together. These experiences are infinitely diverse and might run on parallel planes that never appear to touch each other. Working within the structures of higher education means something very different for, a provost or chancellor, as it does for a cleaner, an administrator, an hourly paid teacher, students and staff from minority ethnic backgrounds, gender-nonconforming people, cisgender people, students from poor families, students from rich families, people with restricted mobility, people who go that extra mile, people with dreams and desires that do not fit the mainstream, people who try to resist, those who fail and those who feel comfortable failing, the high-achievers, the ones with low self-esteem, the many who suffer from mental health issues, the few who accept their own pace, those who grow their own vegetables, the ones who are seen and heard, those who seem to disappear in comparison, those who are recognised and the ones who are only visible when they fail, those who run for elections and the ones who run away, a temporary worker juggling four part-time jobs, a professor who can choose not to teach or a researcher supported by a large research grant. Our trajectories attached to our positions as ‘knowers’ and persons in universities have nonetheless become more and more intertwined by our shared exposure to the structural conditions that characterise today’s neoliberal governments. Although to a degree that varies across geographical locations, processes of marketisation have significantly re-shaped and re-engineered what it means to be involved in and with the life of universities around the

Studying in world politics 9 globe. Stephen Ball (2013, p. 132) writes that ‘at its most visceral and intimate neo-liberalism involves the transformation of social relations and practices into calculabilities and exchanges, that is into the market form – with the effect of commodifying educational practice and experience’. It represents an epistemological shift in both the techniques and technologies through which societies are governed and the ‘realities’ so produced. While liberal government presupposes the existence of various forms of freedom (such as that of the market, the free exercise of rights, the freedom of expression, etc.) and their distinct purview, neoliberal government seeks to re-wire the totality of social relations according to the image and rationale of the market. We do not have to go far back in history – postwar America and Britain for instance – to see higher education valued as a social good where, by means of a temporary exemption from the ‘market conscription’ of working life, critical reflection, democratic education and self-exploration could take place and flourish (Williams, 2006; Amsler, 2011; Cowden and Singh, 2013). Sarah Amsler points out, in the case of Britain, that democracy through education and promise of meritocracy in university rested on ‘an elite and “gentlemanly” understanding between elements of a ruling class whose exclusive education corresponded neatly to exclusive privileges of economic and political power’ (Amsler, 2011, p. 68). It is then useful to understand the introduction of market logic to where it had not existed before as a coupling of the malecentric elitist institutionalisation of intellectual life/autonomy and business-like universities. It is useful to think through how this coupling has created new marketised subjects and subjectivities, and new pedagogies to define and steer relationships within the formal structures of higher education. Neoliberal government as a modality of power operates through a practice of permanent, active intervention to generate market competition within which, as Conor Heaney (2015, p. 293) notes, students and teachers are increasingly seen as ‘sites of human capital.’ Students as ‘consumers’ and researchers as ‘entrepreneurs’ are just two of those familiar modes of being and action that incentivise and enforce individualised, rational behaviour and self-government under market pressures. Maurizio Lazzarato (2012) describes individualisation, inequality, insecurity, depoliticisation and financialisation as five states of being that constantly interlace in defining everyday experience, where our strategies of action – be that attempts to survive, match, capitalise on or challenge the neoliberal rationality – revolve around elements and technologies of self-making as a foundational relationship to ourselves, others, and the world we inhabit. Life filtered through the artificially constructed grids of the market turns into a never-ending struggle to enhance productivity and improve professional conduct always expressible in the self-referential terms of skills, employability, and numbers.1 As Rosalind Gill points out using experiential narrative interviews, these technologies work (on) us because they variously meet, appeal to and create for an already existing set of desires and ethics of professionalism, good citizenry, and lifestyle (2010, p. 238). Self-making works through anxiety, shame and pleasure

10  Erzsébet Strausz et al. that are gendered, racialised and classed; and yet, what is disconcerting is how this remains outside experiential knowledge of Gill’s interviewees who tell rich self-aware narratives. This poses for us serious questions about the limits of existing experiential or other forms of knowledge practices and formations of new epistemic communities. On the margins of neoliberal universities The picture of pressure and our critical reflections of inequities on the one hand, and the gap between professed ideals and achievements of universities and the actual university life as lived by variously positioned, raced, classed bodies on the other, look slightly different when viewed from a position of the supposed margins of globalisation that has fed the rise and fall of universities as we know it. The sense of being a belated consideration, a belated entrant to ‘global’ debates and critical narratives on university and disciplines that resonate across locations and differences is sharply felt in authorised spaces of academic conversations. In these spaces, dominant voices, often amplified by wilfully ignoring the power of privilege, keep reaffirming the epistemic structures and gestures of Orientalism and colonialism (Said, 1978). Important to note here however is that many of the conversations in and across the Global South on failures of the university predate current critiques of epistemic/ epistemological violence and nihilation inflicted by neoliberalising governments (King, 2017). Although decoloniality as a project of what Anibal Quijano (1992/2007) calls ‘epistemic reconstitution’ emerged only in the early 1990s, Walter Mignolo (2011, p. 276) reminds us that ‘the c­ onditions to raise the epistemic question were already there’ in the Bandung moment, that is, in the mid-twentieth century coming together of formerly colonised Asian, African and Latin-American countries and their refusal of the limited political imaginaries that Western capitalist and Soviet communist iterations of imperialism offered. Here Mignolo (2017) makes a distinction between decolonisation (Asian and African colonies’ struggles for independent nation states during the Cold War) and decoloniality (the project of d ­ elinking from the knowledge structure created and sustained by the co-articulation of modernity and coloniality). While important, attending foremost to the affective, or perhaps it is an experiential character of decolonial acts and imaginaries, amplifies the centrality of thinking as ­practice and aesthetics in

Studying in world politics 11 early and more recent waves of decolonisation alike. Bandung’s emotive and artistic interventions against imperialism and white supremacism resound and share decoloniality’s call for ‘border thinking/sensing/doing’ (Mignolo, 2011), and together represent ‘political sensibilities that disrupt the self-­ referential calculus of European “reason”’ (Pha.m and Shilliam, 2016, p. 10). As such, they might offer insights or ingredients for ways of being, knowing and relating that exceed those attached to subjectivities of the neoliberal(ising) university. Attempts at understanding decolonial disruptions and movements of our time are without doubt enriched by taking into consideration the story of decoloniality’s emergence through such layering and blending of political, economic and epistemic visions and sensibilities embodied through big and small acts of emancipation. All the while, it is impossible to generalise specific genealogies and pressures that are felt in everyday ways, in intimate and personal ways, and to then further map these onto how we describe ‘the margins’ in Fiji differently from Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur differently from Ipoh versus in Sabah, in Asia differently from Africa, in South Africa differently from Southern Africa, in francophone- or anglophone-connected locations differently from those only adjacent to these colonial-linguistic corridors. The ‘global’ movement to Decolonise the University might well be read as an attempt to make this specificity visible. By re-rendering the sense of supposed belatedness as a call for examining deeper and broader sets of inequities, violence and injustice, its demand to remake universities resonates with decoloniality’s tenet that epistemic reconstitution is a pre-condition for doing away with the multiple and intersecting forms of oppression inherent to our societies. In short, impossibilities of mapping the margins in their full complexity do not impede collective political action but animate them. So much good work has been and is being done in, from and beyond universities under the banner of decolonisation to mobilise, to act, to respond, to speak truth(s). The refusal to leave in place the public monuments of settler colonialism and slave-holding on university campuses in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Grahamstown and other South African cities to Oxford, UK, and several southern states in the United States is directly related to the myriad contemporary manifestations of (all too often state sanctioned) gendered, racialised and classed violence. These movements are historical despite denialist reactions that sought to confine the scope of militant iconoclastic interventions to the realm of history while at the same time wrongly constructing them as being against history (Matandela, 2015; AHA, 2017).2 The rearticulation of the South African #RhodesMustFall movement to #FeesMustFall within a matter of seven months is but one example of political forces and practices that make decoloniality their own by centring current experiences of oppression and thereby also reassessing the legacy of previous struggles for freedom (Naicker, 2016; O’Halloran, 2016). In their refusal of epistemic, psychological, physical and social violence and the power

12  Erzsébet Strausz et al. structures they are rooted in, these political practices are, then, both of history and the present. In this messy, global-yet-disjunctured, explicable-but-much-lost-inthe-process context, we ask: What modes of knowing and doing have they  carved  out to refute the spatiotemporal order of marginality and belatedness? In their exquisite meditation titled ‘What is the University in Africa for?’, Ross Truscott and Maurits van Bever Donker (2017) pose a series of pressing questions well beyond what is constructed as Africa. Truscott and van Bever Donker write partly in response to ideas and acts of decoloniality that have emerged at South African universities through militant action, curriculum discussions and other forms of intellectual and affective interventions all threaded through with multiple and often contrasting experiences and conceptions of urgency. From that context, they invite us to interrogate the limits of thinking in terms of linearity, even if our aim is to flip the traditional chronology. Instead of ­challenging the supposed belatedness of thought voiced in ‘marginal’ places like Africa by seeking to prove ­antecedence,3 they ask ‘how to intervene at the level of the ordering of the world in which Africa is produced as before – spatially in front of, an object, temporally behind  – Europe and the US’ (Ibid., p. 20). Is it perhaps more liberating and generative to refrain from drawing lines in space, time and modes of knowing, and work with the recognition that the margin leaves traces in the centre and vice versa (Derrida, 1982)? Rather than reordering dominant linearities whilst maintaining delineation, Truscott and van Bever Donker (Ibid., p. 22) ponder, could the university in Africa [and elsewhere] not concern itself with the ways in which these two ostensibly divided traditions of thought [that of the Enlightenment and Africa (and other supposed places of backwardness)] implicate each other, are never fully separable? If we respond to their question in the affirmative, how do we make our practice work against the variably and intimately felt hierarchies of sociospatial and epistemic positioning? How do we express and enact solidarity once we let go of familiar frames of imagination that often rely on the ontological centring of marginality? To ask, once again with Truscott and van Bever Donker (Ibid. p. 15), ‘[w]hat might it mean to think the margin of the university – its edge, that which sets it apart, which frames its labour [...]’ in reference to both the marginalised, for whom the university in Africa (and other places of supposed backwardness) ‘ought to exist’, and the marginality that is always already tractable in universities of such places since, like Africa, they were ‘produced as object[s] within Eurocentric institutions of culture’. And finally, what might all this mean for rethinking the edges of our ­disciplines, methods and genres of knowing – how do we dissent to the ­incorporation of creativity?

Studying in world politics 13

Questions (we started with, 2015 version) What if change in the world started with us, here, right now rather than in the world ‘out there’ in some distant future? What if how we touch what we see and how we see what we touch mattered, not only for how we know but also how we inhabit the world we study? What if by studying the world and how we go about doing this is already a form of change, an impact, a doing in the world? How might we develop new sensibilities and new imaginations to what these practices and experiences could be like and could be about? How can an alternative aesthetics to knowledge, self, other and world unfold from our efforts to stay curious, be creative and experiment with what there is? We started with these questions when we first got together for this book project. We were working with the conceptual triangle of teaching, research and transformation to propel the thinking process, and with it, turn our desire to (un)learn into some actionable object – an object that we take action to create in conversation with each other but also an object that acts upon us and by this process we learn what we otherwise would not learn in stasis, as individuals. We only had vague notions of what we wanted to (un)learn but we took rethinking the separation between research and teaching as our entry point. The triangulation of teaching and learning with transformation (the latter being why the other two seem to matter) provided us with a frame within which things could lose their familiarity and re-assemble in new constellations. Seeing this final version of the book on critical methods start with a discussion of the university is a testament to the productivity of this and the journey shaped by being curious together about the farce in our post-PhD lives. For us, questions of methods are broader, or rather, the broader contextual stuff of knowing is at the heart of why methods discussion is useful. Yet, in starting our journey with the triangulation, we did not understand the full implications of what this implies for how we relate to our contributors, how we manage a book project, how we ultimately give a publishable form to an object that has given us so much over the years. Then again, our writing from the early days of the project hints to how we did know this intellectually, all too intellectually perhaps: The approach we follow seeks to blur the boundaries of established genres in academic publishing that makes distinctions between original

14  Erzsébet Strausz et al. research output, edited collection and textbook. On the one hand, it offers easy-to-follow points of access into research practice and state-ofthe-art discussions of specific techniques and research methods that are suitable for advanced undergraduate and post-graduate students. On the other hand, as an experimental project, it also makes an important statement on critical pedagogy, in particular, regarding learning and teaching practices and objectives in the discipline of International Relations. As such, it provocatively addresses the broad research and teaching community of IR and seeks to democratically insurrect a network of those who nurture an interest in critical approaches and transformative methods. The key ideas in Critical Methods are that of working with academic research as lived experience and a corresponding pedagogical approach that embraces and channels research as a point of access to transformative learning. The purpose of this labour is to present and engage a variety of critical research methods in world politics in a reader-friendly and reflexive manner. The structure and composition of the book reflects our key ideas: the narrative framework of the project, substantive chapters that work at the intersections of method and lived experience, as well as shorter interventions that refocus our attention on a particular aspect of the everyday practice of research and learning as a means of creating a different aesthetic sensibility in research and learning. To know these words bodily, experientially and specifically is something entirely other. For us, what is important here is not how closely we have followed and developed the excellent and rather ambitious and serious sounding approach and scope of the book project (though reading back, that is hard to resist). Much more important is the heterogeneity of journeys from this supposed point of departure that we were able to nurture and keep discernible. It is in this spirit that we wanted to keep the story of triangulation in this introduction even though we find it no longer useful. We played around with it, but it no longer gives us the goose bumps it did in 2015. So, although the book still has traces of this triangulation and the coherence it seemed to promise, how the book falls apart is more where our thinking is at the moment. Not only the three editors but all the contributors started from different departure points and indeed, we are not all on the same page on questions of method, transformation and creativity. The point is not to be on the same page, but to show layered, momentary convergences, overlaps and repetition as well as divergences in not only substance but in tone, sensibilities and styles. The point is to not erase in order to create and make visible but to make visible our impulses to erase, the multiple versions of ideas both ‘good’ and ‘bad’, the processes of reading, writing, skyping, listening, and not ­working on the book yet being worked by it at the same time. Because research happens in different contexts, and from positions in the university which are inhabited specifically.

Studying in world politics 15 Questions of methods are matters of how we can stay attentive to the embodied/experiential (aspect of) knowledge making in the wake of the failures of the university. By starting with this broader context, we are trying to articulate the university as an experiential phenomenon rather than an ‘institution’, and scrape together what happens in the aftermath of this articulation. This way of entering into the question of method is productive because it shifts what knowledge production is. We are researching exactly when we are not researching, just as learning happens the moment we do not teach or are taught. This book is a scrapbook of this process.

Lose what gave coherence to the desire for self-transformation in the first place We started this scrapbook project because the current instrumentalised working and living conditions for academics and learners of world politics seemed impenetrable unless we got creative, collaborative and honest. It is an experimentation with methods and writing as a way to remain staunch optimists and firm believers that another world, another way, another mode of relating to self, other, knowledge and world is also possible. We draw from and make experiential knowledge, knowledge understood as encounters with multiplicity. To fully expose the labour and love involved in realising the study of world politics as ‘a science and art of facing, understanding and addressing difference’, we have invited the everyday contexts of our writing and thinking about critical methods into the centrefold pages of the book (Inayatullah and Blaney, 2004, p. 86; added emphasis). Like most matters of love, this effort to interrupt the existing boundaries of knowledge, discipline and value ‘is a losing game’ (Amy Winehouse). It is a losing game because reflexivity, unlearning and becoming otherwise is fundamentally about losing, failing, emptying out. They are fundamentally about transformation of the self through not only introspection but also simultaneously through attachment, investment and entanglement with bodies, processes and sites that wherein the ‘I’ that we start with lose what gave coherence to the desire for self-transformation in the first place. Thus, experiential knowledge is always experimental knowledge. In this book, Marysia Zalewski illustrates this in her attempt to ‘recall’ how her ‘highly unusual’ book, Feminist IR: Exquisite Corpse (2013) was written. Phil Gaydon, Conor Heaney, Hollie Mackenzie and Iain MacKenzie experiment with trying to write a chapter collectively and without the usual organisational parameters we set to writing projects. A conversation exercise that interrogates creativity and judgment between Shine Choi and Debbie Lisle tries to show how experiences can be further experimented with through conversation as a method. Trevor McCrisken and Erzsébet Strausz work with the thresholds of meaning-making by disrupting and reconfiguring narratives around the use of drones, and also the practice of academic writing. In all these chapters, the contributors show us different answers to the question:

16  Erzsébet Strausz et al. What happens when we try to do things differently and when we actually do writing that does not separate out experiences, subjectivities, genres? We lose because becoming otherwise crucially involves re-centring vulnerability as an organising concept that interrupts all subject positions that analyse, think and write with the express desire for coherence, clarity and closure. Birthing different languages, modes and positions of thinking, writing, doing and being in the world is always an art of losing. It is an art of disorientation. It is an art of ‘just’ breathing as Marijn Nieuwenhuis in his poetic contribution on communication by breath tells us. It is also a re-telling. Catherine Charrett talks about this in terms of untraining ourselves in the rituals of disciplining – be that academic research or professional diplomacy. In Catherine’s practice, excerpted into her chapter, this gave shape to a drag performance of European-Palestinian diplomatic relations. Richa Nagar and Anna Selmeczi’s correspondence prompted by the story of a chapter that had to become a book revolves around the possibilities and lessons of cocreating, in constant oscillation between sites of embodied learning, a just praxis of retelling the stories that make up world politics. Sam Opondo registers this through tasking genres, diplomacy, parasites, Africa in/for our re-­imagination; the telling of diplomatic otherness otherwise. It might also be a very slow process4 as it might take time and a lot of patience to unlearn our often-automated complicity. Transformation, for us, starts with a small but crucial gesture of recognition right at the site of our formation and ‘government’.5 We need to bring to presence what there is and how we are involved, immersed, embedded in it. As a matter of self-care, and an opening to a different mode of relating we need to stop for a moment and take a step to the side. Nicholas Janni guides us to deeper layers of awareness by pointing out the essential difference between thinking and paying attention. Learning to access the affective landscapes of our bodies and how to be with whatever may arise in us – be that a thought or a feeling ‒ a gateway is opened to connection, sharing and experimentation. As Lucy Neal writes in her book Playing for Time, ‘To speed up change, we need paradoxically, to slow down, to play for time: exploring dimensions of time that tap our creativity and the fullness of the present in which transformation can occur and from which the future can emerge’ (Neal, 2015, p. 6, added emphasis). In the hope of a more accommodating, emancipatory and gentler future we need to ponder more how we ‘know’ what we know, under what circumstances and through what ‘methods,’ lenses and gazes we might access the ‘world’, how we relate to others and negotiate our own relationship to what we look at, think and write about, and how this already changes both the world and ourselves in it. We need to dwell more into what Amy Sharrocks calls the ‘architecture of the moment that is made between people’ – you, others and us (Neal, 2015, p. 6). So once again, in a momentary break from our regular routine, what could we become, what could knowledge be like and feel like, if we took the lives, emotions and relations we live through seriously and as a continuation of our

Studying in world politics 17 task as academics, as students, as readers or writers to try to gain insights about the world and people around us? Images in this book are perhaps most illustrative of these breaks. The collages in Saara Särmä’s chapter, images and doodles in Debbie and Shine’s conversation, colouring page from the LEP workshop, scraps of inserts here and there. Exercises that find their way in many of the chapters are also these breaks, and they range from boxed-in breathing exercises in Marijn’s chapter to how in some ways Conor, Hollie, Phil and Ian’s chapter can be read as an exercise of its own. These are all part of this image/ination experiment, all experiments stemming from this little idea, a hunch really, that collecting and circulating these traces of slow thinking, however awkward or puzzling, means something. What? No idea and it will be differently meaningful for different people at different moments one picks up the book. The texts that invite a different kind of reading relationship are also these breaks from the routinised way we relate to written words especially in an academic context: the routinised way we enter and leave classrooms, the routinised way we move around, the left to right movement of our eyes across the page, the scripts through which we frame ourselves within. Kimberly Hutchings’ and Himadeep Muppidi’s sharing of their teaching experiences in their respective classrooms, and Koni Benson and Asher Gamadze’s centring of study (Harney and Moten 2013) that takes place beyond the confines of the university urge us to ask how this kind of learning is also a modality of research, a way of knowing, of finding out things about world, self and the horizons of community. What lies outside or in the aftermaths of these breaks, we cannot definitively say. But by saying this, we are also saying the edges of the project are important to register, edges that we as long co-journeyers with these texts are just beginning to make sense of, though they have bothered us and slowed us down throughout the process. As we experimented with the practice of writing an edited book and with questions of methods, knowing and creativity, the imperative to be intelligible, i.e. ‘accessible’ at the end of the day was challenging. The fear that the book is at the risk of becoming incomprehensible and/ therefore unpublishable was less a tangible boundary to the formation of the book than a pervading yet fleeting sense of slipperiness that surrounded our deep dive into writing and editing the lived experience of academic practice. In some ways we were using our conversations about existing thinking on critical methods beyond and between the stitches of texts to feel out academic practices and subject positions that structured our starting and endpoints of questions. The editorial concerns/experiments threatened to spill over our contributors’ chapters and interventions and spiral right out of the bounds of a book. We hope this did not happen and the heterogeneity of journeys through studying in world politics is readable in the pages. The edges of the book are also the edges that support the book – Roland Bleiker’s chapter that calls for pluralism in visual method, or Cynthia Weber’s sharing of the practice of queer method and how it translates into policy

18  Erzsébet Strausz et al. engagement, public discourse and pedagogy perhaps most explicitly do this supporting work. Looking back on our original questions that animated the book proposal and the journey that we travelled in the past four years, what emerges in lieu of ‘answers’ is a momentary, ephemeral constellation of life material, work material, creative energy and the potential for seeing, writing, being differently in the very process of curating, writing, moving with and being moved by this book. We sought to capture these lines and traces of attention and expression as a continuous interplay of interludes, organisation and chapters without holding them captive to our previous ideas and imaginations of what this project should be about. Writing this ‘reading guide’ made us more sensitive to place, positionality, embeddedness, immersion in worlds, con-texts, and our three locations the time of writing enabled (and sometimes forced) us to look at the ‘big picture’ of which this project was a small part those continuous In(ter)ferences of that life that ‘happens’ but also nurtures, challenges, keeps us alive. The invisible forces that are immune to the fictional division between the academic profession and what is often referred to as ‘life’ which we made into a continuous source of learning This book you are holding holds our vision and a story many stories, in fact

that help us stay with study explore the textures, shades, countless articulations of grey (Choi, 2016) or grey-ness?

and breathe while we write and in-between re-tell – rework, reorient, re-appropriate – maybe rest and feel (the edges) also cut

Studying in world politics 19

since cuts do not need to end up on editing floor

cross-cutting, cut-ups and -outs can be productive sites and methods of traversing books, genres, cities, thinking modes     so that we can re-form, reframe, reformulate what is already there acting as boundaries     perceived as boundaries to different degrees, in different modes, to different effects emerging and being diffused in moments that feel like the authors overstepped or misjudged the line ‘There simply isn’t a boundary ...’ (Zalewski, 2013, p.4)     we can just keep going     or can we? In any case, in our risk-taking and genre-bending, thinking, writing, colouring, composing, folding outside the box into the box and apart, onto new horizons     we feel safe and can’t be grateful enough for the (un)disciplinary support and playing-along     of our collective and     beyond. there is also a

Trans-script and an editing collage as archives of transformations of all scales, shapes and forms not always expressible in words     but certainly there as we are writing the world, reading ourselves

20  Erzsébet Strausz et al.

Notes 1 ‘Caught in the grip of performativity, the modern self hardly ever feels itself to be enough, it never measures up, it always falls short before the imagined gaze of the Other’ (Hoggett, 2017, p. 369). We thank Marysia Zalewski for this reference. 2 For details about the various waves of protest, see RMF (2015,) Sosibo (2015), Mlambo and Mngoma (2015) and Rossouw (2018) (on SA universities), Petersen (2015) (on Oxford), and Lopez (2017) and Drum (2017) (on the US). 3 Truscott and van Bever Donker discuss Martin Bernal’s Black Athena (1987) as a work that seeks to ‘recover’ Africa by reversing the order of African and Greek civilisations’ origination. 4 See e.g. Mountz et al. (2015). 5 See Ball and Olmedo (2013).

Works cited American Historical Association (AHA) (2017) ‘AHA Statement on Confederate Monuments’, American Historical Association, August 2017. https://www.histori aha-statement-on-confederate-monuments Amsler, S. (2011) ‘Beyond All Reason: Spaces of Hope in the Struggle for England’s Universities’, Representations 116 (1), pp. 62–87. Ball, S.J. (2013) Foucault, Power, and Education, Abingdon: Routledge. Ball, S.J., and A. Olmedo (2013) ‘Care of the Self, Resistance and Subjectivity under Neoliberal Governmentalities’, Critical Studies in Education 54 (1), pp. 85–96. Bishop, C. (2012) Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. New York: Verso Books. Choi, S. (2016) ‘Grey’. In M. Salter (ed.) Making Things International 2: Catalysts and Reactions (pp. 106–121). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Cowden, S. and G. Singh (eds) (2013) Acts of Knowing: Critical Pedagogy In, Against and Beyond the University. New York: Bloomsbury. Derrida, J. (1982) Margins of Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Drum, K. (2015) ‘The Real Story behind All Those Confederate Statues’, Mother Jones (blog). 15 August 2017. the-real-story-of-all-those-confederate-statues/. Gill, R. (2010) ‘Life is a Pitch: Managing the Self in New Media Work’. In M. Deuze (ed.) Managing Media Work. London: Sage. Harney, S. and F. Moten (2013) The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study. Wivenhoe: Minor Compositions. Heaney, C. (2015) ‘What Is the University Today?’ Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies 13(2). Inayatullah, N., and D.L. Blaney (2004) International Relations and the Problem of Difference. Abingdon: Routledge. King, J.E. (2017) ‘2015 AERA Presidential Address Morally Engaged Research/ ers Dismantling Epistemological Nihilation in the Age of Impunity’, Educational Researcher 46 (5), pp. 211–22. Lazzarato, M. (2012) The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition. Cambridge, MA: Semiotext(E).

Studying in world politics 21 Lopez, G. (2017) ‘The Battle over Confederate Statues, Explained’, Vox, 16 August 2017. ite-supremacists. Matandela, M. (2015) ‘Stagnant Debates, Stagnant Minds’, The Johannesburg Salon 9, p. 111. Mignolo, W. (2011) ‘Geopolitics of Sensing and Knowing: On (De)coloniality, Border Thinking and Epistemic Disobedience’, Postcolonial Studies 14(3), pp. 273–183. Mignolo, W. (2017) ‘Interview with Walter Mignolo: Activism, Trajectory, and Key Concepts’, Critical Legal Thinking (blog). January 23, 2017. http://criticallegalthink Mlambo, S., and N. Mngoma (2015) ‘Statue Row Hits UKZN’, Daily News, March 26, 2015. Mountz, A., A. Bonds, B. Mansfield, J. Lloyd, J. Hyndman, M. Walton-Roberts, R. Basu et al. (2015) ‘For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University’, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies 14(4), pp. 1235–1259. Naicker, C. (2016) ‘From Marikana to #feesmustfall: The Praxis of Popular Politics in South Africa’, Urbanisation 1(1), pp. 53–61. https://doi. org/10.1177/2455747116640434 Neal, L. (2015) Playing for Time: Making Art as if the World Mattered. London: Oberon Books. O’Halloran, P. (2016) ‘The African University as a Site of Protest: Decolonisation, Praxis, and the Black Student Movement at the University Currently Known as Rhodes’, Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements 8(2), pp. 184–210. Petersen, C. (2015) ‘Now “Old” Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford’, Cape Times, July 14, 2015. Pha.m, Q.N., and R. Shilliam (2016) Meanings of Bandung: Postcolonial Orders and Decolonial Visions. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield International. Quijano, A. (2007 [1992]) ‘Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality’, Cultural Studies 21(2–3), pp. 168–178. Rhodes Must Fall (2015) ‘RMF April 13 Press Statement’, The Johannesburg Salon 9, pp. 13–16. Rossouw, T. (2018) ‘Steyn, Like Rhodes, Must Fall’, The Journalist (blog). 27 June 2018. Said, E.W. (1978) Orientalism. Pantheon Books. Sosibo, K. (2015) ‘#RhodesMustFall Protest Spreads to Other Campuses’, The M&G Online, 26 March 2015. smustfall-protest-spreads-to-other-campuses/ Truscott, R., and M. Van Bever Donker (2017) ‘What Is the University in Africa For?’, Kronos 43(1), pp. 13–38. Williams, J. (2006) ‘The Pedagogy of Debt’, College Literature 33(4), pp. 155–169. Zalewski, M. (2013) Feminist International Relations: Exquisite Corpse. Abingdon: Routledge.

0.3 In(ter)ferences

Worry over unsigned contract Moving countries Break-up Packing up life Living with boxes Healing time Feeling too happy and uplifted to work Lost in daydreaming Nurturing, mending, growing relationships Supporting friends Political organising Pulled neck muscles Back surgery Recovery from conferencing and flying around Climate anxiety Writing grant applications Wiping my kids’ bums Celebrating a grant Netflix binge Accidentally creating a viral phenomenon, becoming ‘famous’ and giving a lot of time giving media interviews Mugged and lost laptop Manuscript rejections Work published Feeling cocky Reading too much Science Fiction Cat goes missing Doubting Meditating Job interviews Union activities Losing myself in teaching and enjoying it Made permanent

In(ter)ferences 23 Long commute Broken bone Father’s passing Listening to managers telling me to ‘think outside the box’ Unexpectedly mourning Family traumas Pregnancy scares Abortion New love Burnout Brexit (but do I care, enough?) Overload of work mansplaining Passing for human (Finck 2018) Insomnia Being asked to write a film script Making art Making art for a major exhibition Feeling lonely, wanting solitude

Work cited Finck, L. 2018 Passing for Human: A Graphic Memoir. London: Penguin Random House.

0.4 This book you are holding Anna Selmeczi, Shine Choi and Erzsébet Strausz

So, as you are holding this (e-)book in your hands or eyes, you might still be wondering how an introductory book on critical methods could possibly offer a break from the regular routine of institutionalized higher education. How, if at all, could you use it and what you could do with it, should you decide to respond to the above call to ponder the stakes of knowledge making? You are an essential contributor to this endeavour: our starting point is that we – readers and writers, as well as teachers and learners – all have equal stakes and capacities in re-imagining and re-making world politics and the modern university. We see our interactions with you and each other as a sequence of opportunities to learn and unlearn; to make, undo and remake ‘sense’, to share stories and weave new ones, to play together, to display, play up and affirm potential in how we can inhabit what surrounds us otherwise. Parts of our dialogue are proposed as a carefully planned and nurtured trajectory of chapters and interactive features – there is so much that we would like you to see, read, explore and engage with. This has already begun through the medium of words but a lot of our exchanges may well unfold through the many silences that thread through and engulf language as we know it and work with it, in silence, when nothing is said, when no one is reading or writing. It is in these quiet life worlds, we suspect, where some of the most radical life forms may grow. It is in the motion of being pulled and staying put and being in motion at the same time that we find the world/self in disarray (Barry, 2008, pp. 106–110). We invite you to join us in our journey of rethinking why and how knowledge matters in world politics and how we ourselves are involved in its production, politics and potential transformation. As a collective of senior and junior academics, activists and artists we engage with the everyday sites of our shared academic environment – such as learning, teaching, research, critique, selfhood, and community – and ground our explorations in the already familiar and often unnoticed habits and rituals of academic life. Key to the way we imagine nurturing such processes is through reworking the relationship between reader and writer. Among other moves, we seek to rework relations through this book as an object, as a materially existing thing that we perceive in various ways while paging through, touching, browsing,

This book you are holding 25 reading, or smelling it. Here we draw on Jacques Rancière’s (1991) adaptation of Joseph Jacotot’s pedagogy, the practice of universal teaching that sought to create the possibility for students’ self-emancipation by denying intellectual superiority to the teacher. The role of the book is central to this practice as it allows for undoing the hierarchical bind between the intelligence of the teacher as the knower and that of the student as the receiver of knowledge. In the classroom of the ignorant schoolmaster, instead, both parties’ intelligence is tied to that of the book, the book as an object and substance as the ‘third thing’ that embodies the ‘egalitarian intellectual link between master and the student’ (Rancière, 1991, p. 13). As this third thing, or ‘intermediary object’ (Bishop, 2012, p. 38), the book or an artwork could exist between teacher and learner, and audience and artist, as a common object both (be)hold, at an equal distance from both, offering itself for perception and reflection to everyone, without the constraints of authorial guidance and thus the predictability of what today we are supposed to call ‘learning outcomes’ (Rancière, 2009). Beyond materializing the equal and symmetrical relationship between learner and teacher, the thingness of the book is important for us because it articulates a tangible reminder that readers and writers share the sensible reality of world politics – that, together with those who are featured in the stories that the chapters tell, we can think of ourselves as a community whose members practise world politics by, among other potential modes of action, making sense of it. Our hope is, then, that as a third thing, this book makes the aesthetics and politics of knowledge-making palpable.

Knowing, sensing, unlearning: take one Michel Foucault (1994, p. 256) emphasised that there is a ‘reciprocal genesis’ of the ‘knowing subject’ and the ‘known object’, be that the ‘sane’ person who knows ‘madness’, the economist who is also a labouring subject, or students, teachers, researchers of politics who themselves are subjects of and subjected to the forces of the world they study. To become a ‘knowing subject’ in International/World/Global Politics is a complex experience and a continuously perplexing process. What we teach and learn about as the regular, daily matters of world politics bring war, violence, death, global inequality, conflict, competition or insecurity to the space of our interactions as much as understanding, cooperation and togetherness. These ‘problems’ feel (and will continue to feel) much bigger than us, but that’s not the only reason why we might leave the classroom disempowered, thinking that there is no hope, and nothing can be done. The language and logic of scientific analysis encourages detached, ‘objective’ discussions that create the impression that the ‘international’ is taking place elsewhere, that ‘politics’ and its many troubling faces are not already present in the very activities that we engage and participate in everyday life, in and outside the university. This might translate into a sense of control: as Oded Löwenheim (2010, pp. 1038–1039) writes, ‘theorising’ war is also a strategy to try to master and rationalize it. Putting ourselves in

26  Anna Selmeczi et al. the shoes of the external observer places us ‘above war’, in a place of nonplace, where war’s emotionally disturbing effects can be neatly sealed off, and momentarily, escaped. The refuge of the discipline’s abstract conceptual language is always only temporary though: as Löwenheim reflects on his own experience of war and IR scholarship, ‘The abyss is still there, no matter how hard I try not to look down’ (Ibid., p. 1041). Yet, encountering the discursive making and limits of both academic knowledge, and our subjectivities as simultaneously ‘knowers’ and embodied participants of the world we study can be transformative. In Naeem Inayatullah’s (2013, p. 150) words, ‘a direct engagement with the impossible can provide energy, courage, stamina and creativity for a lifetime’. In between the desensitized academic image of ‘world politics’ where things, events, people are readily ‘understood’ and the ways in which we have been shaped, formed, and marked by the complex ‘realities’ of power, the state system, colonialism, capitalism, various forms of oppression, struggle and resistance that constantly resist capture, there is an opportunity to see, feel, and think beyond the already familiar. Unlike the fictitious figure of the omniscient scientist, we all come from a place and inhabit a geo- and body politics of knowing, sensing and understanding (Mignolo, 2011). With some more reflection and active engagement with the stakes and potentials of what a shared, jointly authored and collectively performed learning process might be like and do for all of us, in our view, the default mode of academic study can be positively and productively turned around. To start pursuing the communal nature of this turn, how knowledge production is always a joint and enjoining effort. We are interested in learning what kinds of relation and epistemic communities can be created in thinking through what ‘aesthetics’ might ‘do’ as method, lens, perspective as well as a form of lived experience of both being in the world and studying it and how it might reshape our understanding of political action and the political. Knowledge production for Trinh Minh-ha (2013) is ‘no-name re-search’, which has creative relations at the centre of knowledge. Creating and knowing are processes of emptying out, which is a process of something becoming nothing wherein nothingness is not understood in the binary of full/lack but as reaching a state that allows the privileged self to accept, respond and make room and time for new ways of relating with the familiar, the conventions, our language, our senses. Trinh uses the hyphens in no-name re-search to emphasise the fullness of this process and state; no-name because research is not about aboutness (about an argument or an idea, about an event, about them or about us) but is a creation, a trace of the specific, particular ­non-representational exchange that must happen for (un)learning. Re-search because knowledge that serves transformative politics (a politics concerned with relations) is about finding dangerous creativity in the everyday politics and does not seek access to some off-limits quarters where decisions are made, revolutions plotted, truth resides. Writing then is not a research output when it is about something (accumulation of knowledge about our

This book you are holding 27 research objects) but it is an output, i.e. an object with value when it enables transformation of the subject and creative relations that unhinge pre-existing conventions, modes, and what we know. Writing is not about a subject but what writes relations. Research is less a matter of producing objects but more a matter of breathing, being in and of the world. As Trinh put it, ‘Perhaps, to practice the erotic science of breath is to learn how to perform simple activities such as to make a sound, to say a word, to pause, to be silent’ (Trinh, 2011, p. 83). Re-search is to put breath upon breath. This insistence on the not-merely-intellectual sensibility of knowledge production allies us to the decolonial challenge to Western delimitations of ‘proper’ knowledge and forms of cognition. As Mignolo (2011, pp. 274–275) points out, claims for the universality of Western ‘theo- and ego-politics of knowledge’ have been ‘grounded in the suppression of sensing and the body and of its geo-historical location’. In the face of such claims and gestures of suppression, the decolonial project mobilises border thinking/sensing/doing, which enables it to move beyond available binary categories that define political imaginaries. In delinking from such binaries, border thinking makes room for conventionally disqualified ways of life and modes of thinking and, as such, undoes the epistemic violence that is tied to the colonial construction of racial otherness (Mignolo, 2011).1 Challenging taken for granted associations of legitimate knowledge practices with a particular race, gender, territories, and cognitive faculties, border thinking thus performs the declaration that ‘another way [is] possible’ (Ibid., p. 276). ‘Delinking means that you do not accept the options available to you’ (Ibid.). In more ways than one, then, delinking can be read through the aesthetic, and the disruptive sensibility of what Rancière calls disidentification, which, in turn, leads us to some reflections on our choice of aesthetic or creative methods. Resonating with Trinh’s call to move away from research or learning outcomes in favour of the otherwise sensible aspects of the creative process, Claire Bishop (2012, p. 17) takes issue with dominant interpretations of socially engaged or participatory art for they tend to focus solely on the demonstrable social and/or political impact of the artwork, thereby marginalising ‘aisthesis: an autonomous regime of experience that is not reducible to logic, reason or morality’. As opposed to the impact-oriented perspective, foregrounding aisthesis makes pathways to account for politics, albeit not in the form of a causal explanation that proceeds from the artist’s or author’s intention to the political effect triggered (or not) in/through the viewer or reader. Instead, as Bishop recounts the work of aesthetic judgment as articulated by Kant and rearticulated by Rancière via Friedrich Schiller, its significance lies in suspending the faculties of reason and understanding. In the undecidability of the experience of aesthetic judgment (for it’s neither of morality, nor knowledge) lies a ‘new kind of freedom’ (Rancière 2004, p. 12); the autonomy of aesthetic experience presents the possibility of politics as delinking or disidentification for it ‘implies the questioning of how the world is organised, and therefore the possibility of changing or redistributing the

28  Anna Selmeczi et al. same world. When we engage with creative methods of (un)studying world politics, this is the possibility that we would like to foster.

Knowing, sensing, unlearning: take two, or, why does this level of theorising feel like it is not enough? Why are we still hungry? Survivor confessions are valuable not so much in content or details or even in how they move us. Rather, confessional mode of knowing is imperative to remind us that survivors who own up and confess – this ‘I’ – cannot be trusted. Mistrust – not distrust but misplaced trust – is then a starting point of knowing practices, of university as a site of learning and unlearning, and postcolonial university as a mode of doing our work as academics in a mode of struggle. The gifts of mistrust to these processes of knowing and realising the project of postcolonial university often arrive as betrayals, closed shutters, shame, mistakes, stupidity, rude interruptions and other offending realities that we have long refused to accept. When we accept these gifts, what happens? (1) I did not get the memo that university is a game. I did not get the memo that the university was meant to be a safe place where we learn by reading and discussing ideas, listening to well-crafted sentences that distil years of studies into manageable bite sizes, get hands-on experiences, meeting people from diverse backgrounds and exchanging ideas, experimenting with ideas and identities – all life’s challenges and problems faced under the loving care of the institution. I did not get the memo that an institution can be a safe place. What I knew was that I had to work hard to stay in – financially (don’t turn down jobs), psychologically (be strong, don’t let loose, ever), intellectually (learn you ignoramus!), culturally (what are bedsheets?), linguistically (practise saying ‘photography’ so you don’t tense up when you want to answer, ‘I am taking a photography class this semester’), materially (fucking stay in the room, don’t run, be there), emotionally (get angry at the right things but don’t show emotion when it shows itself to you the most), and and and. Long story short, there was no separation from ‘hands-on learning experience’ for me and ‘survive-for-real’. OK, maybe one story: for a semester, I went on a maritime semester-at-sea programme as a major in Philosophy, not because I had a particular interest in maritime anything or felt like I had to go away for a semester as many students seem to crave (the university was exotic enough for me). I joined the programme because I had run out of money. I did not have scholarship money lined up for the next academic year (yes, scholarship and paying for school was a patchwork of barely making things work as was surviving in the summer and winter ‘vacation’ months when I had to find my own housing

This book you are holding 29 and food – why do we even have vacations?). The maritime programme was a life-saver. When the on-campus recruiter told me I can get a free ride (they were trying to diversify the posh programme which was attracting mostly white students in elite liberal arts colleges), I did not need to hear more. I can survive this, sort the money problem for the final year in the meantime and then ... I had not figured out the ‘and then’ part then, and that was just how things rolled then. In this posh maritime programme, we, a cohort of 14 or 16 students, lived and took four courses together – maritime law, maritime literature, maritime biology and maritime history; and we lived surrounded by three senior professors and two junior professors all to ourselves in a quaint maritime tourist town, and travelled across country on land and by sea. Besides the academic courses, which all had hands-on components, we learned to sail, climb masts, sing sea shanties, and take care of ourselves as part of our extracurricular activities. In short, it was boutique and I was completely out of my elements. Why were we freezing and sweating to death when there were perfectly lovely, dry, comfy houses in the seaport town houses where we could all have stayed in? What is this obsession with adventure and experiencing life first hand? I did not get it. This concept of hands-on learning (making oneself miserable in a safe, well designed environment so one can learn the skills and be better prepared for the real world) was completely lost on me. On our sailing trip, we were on shift duties to help run the boat, and we rotated between tasks – lab work to collect data, kitchen duty, deckhand, and I forget. One night, all hands were called on deck. Lashing rain, choppy water, pitch darkness. The first mate calls us up to help furl down the sails. Everything is so serious; everyone is so serious. I think this is an emergency; I think we could sink and die. I have also been seasick and in the middle of pulling on the rope with a couple of others with all of our weight, my nose bleeds but I ignore this, absolutely focused on surviving. But at some point I decide I can no longer ignore the bleeding, I look at the first mate and she looks at me, and I ask if I can go get my bleeding nose taken care of. She laughs and says of course in a matter of fact way. I feel ridiculous. Then it hit me. Of course, this is all just a game. I had forgotten that nothing here is unsafe; everything is a simulation. There are no lives at stake here, just our learning about such situations, learning with our bodies how sailing this ancient vessel across a stretch of water where we feel like we are doing all the work/being grown ups/amateur sailors, marine biologist, lover of the arts and letters, but actually we are just students and the staff were making things happen behind the scene, managing the sails, ensuring everything was under control, and that we really did not do the work. This idea of being taken care, this was new. They wanted deep learning from their students that required complete emersion, but I was already in a deep learning mode. What I was learning was to survive them: they were the real world, and so the real world that I needed to survive was never simply out there. I was already in the real world; real world problems never left me. This lesson – that some people

30  Anna Selmeczi et al. live such padded lives that they can treat life, work, making it, thinking and being in the world as games, mental exercises, a learning experience – is a lesson I will learn over and over and over again in the various universities and beyond. While confessions cannot be trusted, they are necessary in universities where there is a lot of shame about and shaming of ‘trivial’ but ‘telling’ attributes like bad grammar and writing to one’s clothes and body To more ‘complex’ and ‘abstracted’ attributes like being unprepared or lack of professional/academic connections, of backing from established folks, of confidence, being simple minded and playing one’s identity politics. Understanding these as personal failures, shortcomings or problems have become a norm even as the socio-economic and cultural structural causes of intimate experiences of lack and of failure are the stuff that critical thinking and research supposedly make visible, parse out, deconstruct, and debunk. This is where questions of methods come in. From a postcolonial feminist perspective, these concerns are at the heart of why discussions about methods matter. ‘Methods’ is not simply a matter of rigour, systematicity and even reflection on how to make our research better, more ethical, more effective or learn from past mistakes, give kudos for good practice, or creation of a list of to-do’s and don’t, or even to unmask and reveal the messiness of doing research, writing and getting published. Questions of methods are as much opportunities for fight intergenerational/collegial gate-keeping; creations of intra- and interdisciplinary bubbles, hierarchies of knowledge in the very way new frontiers and more ethical knowledge sites are pursued; perpetuation of the myth that we are in the business of knowledge production rather than knowledge authorisation (which, by the way, is substantially eroding and so our institutions seem to be taking more desperate measures to stop loss); and the list continues. It is unfortunate that these fighting words are necessary among colleagues, students, allies, mentors, scholars, and otherwise nice people, amongst people so set on being one of the good guys. But if we in our institutions, our professions, and as ourselves individually are committed to participating in knowledge production and refuse to be pawns of knowledge authorisation, then we need to rethink the fundamentals of knowing practices. What we want to share are of course ideas and strategies of creation more broadly but also at the same time underscore how part of this is fundamentally questions of how

This book you are holding 31 to sustain collectives and ‘projects’ that keep us in the academe even though the academe seems so determined, at times, to push us out. In short, in this book, we are interested in all kinds of acts, modes and ways of being in all kinds of contexts and for all kinds of effects that help differently positioned researchers, teachers, students, passers by, ... stay, work, be present and struggle in inhospitable environments and corners of universities, research institutes, quasi- learning institutes, quasi-universities. We explore and amplify aspects of our work/collective shaped by toxicity, agents of debilitation, crushing encounters. Inhospitability is not an environment that can be opted out for some/all(?), and opting out is not a reality possible by leaving the academe and finding a better home, because inhospitable environments have ways of latching onto certain bodies, or homes and are impossible places to find or found. Then, this idea of critical methods as simply a case of new, exciting, interdisciplinary methods and methodologies (and debates about their differences) are not only deeply problematic but laughable. One can only laugh when one is erased in the very way many smart people with good intentions write out your continued contributions to the field at the very moment you become visible, the flicker of a moment you think, ‘ah so finally, a point in my education, in the discipline, in this point in history we can be more plural, poly-vocal, open, and there is a place for me to stand on and get to work’... at this very moment of recognition ‒ a spacing and an exhale – one is cast as only having special interests, a niche research, a boutique voice. When do some of us stop spelling things out for you and get to work? Are we going to retire having spent our entire lives trying to explain things to venerable, super well-read, clever Europeans and Europeanists? You’re smart; you do the work.

(2) Rude interruptions. In the middle of a rare, easy going conversation with a colleague outside The Hilton over a cigarette, a man with dirt under his fingers and trousers covered in grime interrupts holding a stub of a cigarette. Do you have a light? Yes, here! (faking cheerfulness) Are you a flight attendant? No, I’m not but funny you ask that. I wonder how this encounter is going to end. I am dressed up in my suit because that is what as a young woman who wants to be taken seriously, or avoid awkward encounters, I found myself doing post-PhD. My colleague is dressed down in a sense, leather jacket and a pair of trousers he pulls out

32  Anna Selmeczi et al. when he finds himself in a cold climate. Still, he is older and exudes authority. A look from him, or was it the way he looked away that made the man who could not tell the difference from a flight attendant and an academic walk away muttering angry words about the world to himself? A couple of days after, the same city, I go shoe shopping before hopping on the plane back home from an exhausting week of conferences, meetings, difficult conversations, tears, laughter, excellent ramen, brave smiles and chit chat, bitchy side comments in moments of weakness, early mornings every single day of this work trip. I am running late but ecstatic I managed to find two pairs of shoes I loved. Maybe it was again my black Zara blazer and black stockings, or maybe it was the anxious way I kept checking my watch waiting in line, but the girl at the cash register who I finally stand in front of is very unhappy. I first think it is just her feeling tired from working so hard (it is Sunday afternoon), and of course it is, but I notice (what gave it away?) that her anger is also directed at me. I can’t help but notice she is banging around my purchase as she rings them up. They are not cheap shoes though they are good deals for good brands. I am offended but I do not say anything and yet I say everything in the way I look at her. With my eyes, I let her know I can see what she’s doing. I have flashbacks of my high school days an uncool misfit geek. I walk off with my purchase and walk off the rude encounter, but the young girl, a Latina, probably a high school kid on minimum wage, has to stand there sulking, being angry at the bitch who has money to spare, has the audacity to give her an attitude and thinks she was all that because she’s standing on the other side of the till. A few days later, I am back in my university, still exhausted and now juggling exhaustion and returning to teaching. It is graduation week and a few weeks back, in a moment of good will/weakness, I had signed up to attend and ordered a gown that the school pays for so I can wear this borrowed regalia and perform the ceremonial role as staff with authority and knowledge of seeing new graduates depart in their own adventures armed with experiences and skills to help them move forward in the word. In between teaching, emails and fearing if I don’t squeeze this errand now, I might regret it later, I run down to the hall where I saw earlier, while rushing back to my office from class, people with robes and things. I do not remember seeing any instructions in emails on the process so I just walk in, wait in line and ask, I am staff. Is this where I can pick up the robe I ordered? You need an invoice. Oh, no one told me that. I have my staff card. We need something that tells us what you ordered (though clearly I see the lady has a folder with printouts of all the orders) Is there any way you can just check using my card? ... OK, I guess I will have to go print it out, but the instructions were not clear.

This book you are holding 33 I almost gave up. This is really not a priority, so optional. Why am I even bothering? But for some reason I dig in my inbox and return to the room and this: Ooooh, she’s staff. [side glance.] A conversation was had in my absence. I am paranoid for the rest of the day. Was I rude? Do I have this air of authority and entitlement that rubs people the wrong way? Why do other people act entitled and authoritative and people accept this with no visceral reaction or audacity/need to air it out, but when I slip in this mode, I am asked in no uncertain terms, ‘Who do you think you are, bitch?’ What do I do with these gifts? Good starts might include: monkish humility in all aspects of my life, ditching my black Zara blazer, not combining pleasure on work trips, following rules, not taking shortcuts that come with privilege, being super nice and super cheerful all the time to all people under all sorts of pressures ... In short, being a different person from what I have become over the years. These all seem to be good enough responses to the gifts of rudeness. But just as I am not convinced by myself and distrust myself, I am also not convinced that I have to give up bitchiness for the struggle. And the point of these confessions is that if we stay at this level of thinking about being better, responding better, etc., we are missing the point about gifts of mistrust and rude interruptions. And the question remains, how can a bitch also accept the gift that rude encounters have to give? Gifts are ambiguous objects, objects that have lives beyond intentions of the gifter and the gifted. Gifts by people you do not care about can be refused, and this perhaps is the beauty of gifts. They present themselves as things that can be refused though in their refusal the gift also performs its designed and undesigned role in social relations. But what if we start accepting gifts we have been refusing? As we continue our work, what do the shattered, refracted worlds that unwanted gifts open up and keep open for us? Part of this is keeping open social relations and intellectual collaborations that simply do not work, infuriate, abuse our senses and sensibilities. And maybe we already do this. This is why the classroom is always such a challenging place.

34  Anna Selmeczi et al.

Knowing, sensing, unlearning: take three

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This book you are holding 35

Note 1 Beyond Foucault’s (2003) notion of ‘subjugated knowledges’, his conception of limit attitude rendered as a practice of critique can also be an interesting parallel here. See Strausz (2011).

Works cited Barry, L. (2008) What It Is. Quebec: Drawn and Quarterly. Bishop, C. (2012) Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. New York: Verso Books. Foucault, M. (1994) ‘Interview with Michel Foucault’. In J.D. Faubion (ed.) Power: Essential Works of Foucault, 1954–1984, 3. London: Penguin Books. Foucault, M. (2003) ‘Society Must Be Defended’: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975–1976. Edited by M. Bertani and A. Fontana. Translated by D. Macey. New York: Picador. Inayatullah, N. (2013) ‘Impossibilities: Generative Misperformance and the Movements of the Teaching Body’. In Jenny Edkins and Adrian Kear (eds.) International Politics and Performance: Critical Aesthetics and Creative Practice. Abingdon: Routledge. Löwenheim, O. (2010) ‘The “I” in IR: An Autoethnographic Account’, Review of International Studies 36(4), pp. 1023–1045. Mignolo, W. (2011) ‘Geopolitics of Sensing and Knowing: On (de)coloniality, Border Thinking and Epistemic Disobedience’, Postcolonial Studies 14(3), pp. 273–283. Rancière, J. (1991) The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation. Translated by K. Ross. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Rancière, J. (2004) ‘The Sublime from Lyotard to Schiller: Two Readings of Kant and Their Political Significance’, Radical Philosophy 126, pp. 8–15. Rancière, J. (2009) The Emancipated Spectator. Translated by G. Elliott. London: Verso. Strausz, E. (2011) ‘Foucault’s Critique: A Topology of Thought’, Law and Critique 22(2), pp. 119–133. Trinh, M.T. (2011) Elsewhere, Within Here: Immigration, Refugeeism and the Boundary Event. Abingdon: Routledge. Trinh, M.T. (2013) D-Passage: The Digital Way. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.


1 Ephemeral language: communicating by breath Marijn Nieuwenhuis

hör dich ein mit dem Mund ‘hear deep in / with your mouth’ Paul Celan, Die Posaunenstelle (in Felstiner, 1995)

An alternative introduction to reading and writing Writing and reading make possible the crucial junction where the teacher and the student meet. Success or failure in the translation of emotions and ideas into language depends on nothing more and nothing less than the art of dealing with abstractions of text. A fragment of knowledge existing inside the speaker transforms to the outside in encrypted scribbling before being unlocked through the miracle of reading. But what if there is more to communicate than utterances orated in code moving between mouth and ear, hand and eye? What if we move our attention to the exercising air in and between those letters, commas and periods necessary for the very condition of language? Is it possible to think of language as something atmospheric? Language is the art of breathing rhythmically. Imagine every sentence and  every word filled with vibrations of air emerging from the  depths of  the author’s heart; longing to be swallowed by and form part  of whomever  wants  to receive by eye or ear. Allow us to ponder, together, in  this  intervention, the possibilities of understanding how the cadence of text not only transfers but also, and equally important, embodies knowledge. Few, I hope, would disagree with my assertion that reading is a trained and cultured practice. You might still remember from younger years that language in its written abstract form is not a universal category. It took a lot of hard work and crafty repetition before I was able to master the cursive


, , and s that I now no longer have the ability nor time to write as beautifully as I once could.

40  Marijn Nieuwenhuis Others have an even harder time trying to remember the 名字 (míngzi) that constitutes their Chinese names. It took me weeks to memorise the sequencing of the many hidden strokes that go into writing the simplest of these nonalphabetic characters. Now, having left China for many years, I no longer can recall how to pen my own Chinese name, although I still respond to the rhythmic calling of my identity’s signifier, my phonetically translated name.

Maˇ Lín, nıˇ zài ma? (‘Marijn, are you there?’)

Text is not necessary for a language to communicate effectively. In fact, the vast majority of languages historically found little purpose for a written variation. The syntax of written words comes across as dogmatic and wholly arbitrary. ‘Then’ or ‘then’? ‘Colleague’ or ‘colleague’? Don’t forget: one M, but two Rs in ‘tomorrow’; and a double S in ‘assessed’. Even Google has trouble recognising my ‘medeivil’ ... never mind, I go for ‘middle ages’. Memory works best orally. When I teach, I refuse to prepare a script, but when I present at academic conferences I read from prepared papers for stylistic purposes in a controlled performance of knowledge expression and make-believe mastery. Staccato (from Italian ‘detached’). Scripted. Academic. Unambiguous ...

(Yes, indeed, who I am fooling?) Plato (in Ong, 2002, pp. 78, 80) described writing as a ‘mechanical, inhuman way of processing knowledge, unresponsive to questions ... thing-like ... pretending to establish outside the mind what in reality can be only in the mind’. There might be some truth to that. There exists a peculiar but distinctive spatial-temporal distance between written text and oral speech. If I were to speak to you, you hear me because your ears need to be nearby to receive my words, but if I were to write you, you probably will read me from afar.

(Where are you now? On the couch? At a bus stop, waiting? On a plane, reading? Writing from here, I sense your absence. I would like to get closer. But how?) There are few things as unmediated as the floating words coming from the phonetic translation of your body’s breathing. Tonalities of voice, shaped by the body’s rhythmic respiration from heart to mind, touch us intimately,

Ephemeral language 41 intensely, because they reflect as much as they affect emotional states that originally spring from deep down inside the body. That is why I ask you, my reader, to search for my accent, listen to my tonality, and discover a voice in this text. Don’t worry, as you search for me, word by word, vowel by vowel, breath by breath, I will help you find me. However, for now, perhaps you would not mind reading me aloud? Amplify my sound. If you try to hear my words through and with your mouth, I promise you that I will write more carefully with my ear. It might be difficult in the beginning, but let us at least try to meet somewhere, at some time, in and in-between the lines and spaces of this forest of letters.

Listen late at night on unmarked calendar days in a busy city at home outside lanterns bright weather and darkness birth a wet summer’s night inside a lit room furniture and lamp on a woven carpet loom you me sit still prepare to listen to air orchestras of sounds released unbound ... music found lonely loafers tires busy engines roar and still more

42  Marijn Nieuwenhuis eyes shut a trusted sound the two of us breathing with an open heart We (late-)moderns often imagine that language is the subordination of body over mind. This claim, however, certainly is not altogether true. Language relies on an atmospheric exercise of respiration that requires all parts of the body to work together, intimately. Your waist, spine, lungs, larynx and other ‘instruments of voice’ participate collaboratively in the creative act of speaking (or singing, indeed!). Speech, then, is a rhythmic sensation and only one of the many talents of the voice. All languages, past and present, verbal and non-verbal, share common roots in their oral enactment. That is to say that I contend that every human language, with the interesting exception of sign language, which visualises sound (onomatopoeia – from ‘word-making’), depends on a vocal apparatus that has the propensity to translate breathing into sound. The modern mind might have taught the rest of the body to forget the corporal origins of language, superimposing itself and prioritising semiotics, but thinkers of other times (and places) revered the magical voice. Francis Bacon (1670 [1626], p. 46) wrote that [t]he Lungs are the most spongy part of the Body, and therefore ablest to contract and dilate itself; and where it contracteth itself, it expelleth the Air, which thorow the Artery, Throat, and Mouth, maketh the Voice: But yet Articulation is not made, but with the help of the Tongue, Pallate, and the rest of those they call Instruments of Voice. Bacon (Ibid.) conducted voice experiments with underwater buckets to better understand the workings of its sounding. His contemporary Athanasius Kircher, a Jesuit experimentalist and polymath, anatomised the voice (Figure 1.1) and offered an early theory of sound propagation. The Baroque musicologist designed several devices and a body of architectures to cultivate the invisible realm of voices and other sounds within the air (Figure 1.2). In Voice in Motion, a text which analyses the materiality of the speaking voice, Gina Bloom (2007, p. 79) remarks that these early moderns ‘define voice the way Derrida defines writing, as always conducive to rupture – by distance, delation and environmental interference’. The voice, composed by breath, carries with it a volatile and contingent force in and of itself. It is not by chance that Kircher also worked on the precursor of the magic lantern. Sound and vision for him and his contemporaries were not separate but connected and constitutive components of what would gradually emerge as the ‘doctrine of the affects’. In his Musurgia Universalis (1650), a

Ephemeral language 43 series of books that would inspire the likes of Bach and Beethoven, Kircher argued that ‘if, when a musical instrument sounds, someone could perceive the finest movements of the air, he certainly would see nothing less than a painting with an extraordinary variety of colours’ (Kircher in Dolan, p. 26). The ‘tuning’ and synthesising of the senses continues to be used to evoke emotions, feelings, affections and atmospheres (Stimmung, if you know some German). The talented sound curator and sociologist Michal Libera (2014, p. 32) reminds us that ‘the entire world around us – solids, gases and air – is a vibrating phenomena [sic] waiting for our tools of amplification to reveal its sonic character’. Speaking, the making of breath, is in this interpretation a bodily exercise of mingling and blending with atmospheric waves with an intention to channel ephemeral magical words from a mouth to, sometimes, an ear.

Figure 1.1  The drawing is Athanasius Kircher’s (1650, p. 23)

44  Marijn Nieuwenhuis

Figure 1.2  The drawing designs are Athanasius Kircher’s (1650)

Magical words The fact that oral peoples commonly and in all likelihood universally consider words to have magical potency is clearly tied in, at least unconsciously, with their sense of the word as necessarily spoken, sounded, and hence power-driven. Deeply typographic folk forget to think of words as primarily oral, as events, and hence as necessarily powered: for them, words tend rather to be assimilated to things, ‘out there’ on a flat surface. Such ‘things’ are not so readily associated with magic, for they are not actions, but are in a radical sense dead, though subjects to dynamic resurrection. Oral people commonly think of names (one kind of words) as conveying power over things. (Ong, 2002, pp. 33, 73) Perhaps Ong (2002, pp. 77–114), whose seminal Orality and Literacy argues that writing ‘is a technology that restructures’ thought and consciousness, was maybe a bit unfair to draw such sharp boundaries between people of written and oral traditions. I would prefer my words to follow in the footsteps of the more indeterminate strategy of the Ugandan linguist Pio Zirimu, who, before being silenced by Idi Amin, called for the idea of ‘orature’. Central to Zirimu’s thinking is the fusing of the oral word and the written text by introducing the dynamic rhythm of the former into the culture of the latter.

Ephemeral language 45 Orature liberates language from the rules and structures that were later imposed upon it. It constitutes ‘an oral system of aesthetics that did not need validity from the literary, the implied need of such validity being a product of the literary colonisation of orality’ (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2012, p. 73). Its open-ended quality blurs and abolishes rigid colonial distinctions between prose and poetry, melodic and verbal tones, formal and informal text, allowing us to draw from the ‘spontaneity and liberty of communication inherent in oral transmission ‒ openness to sounds, sights, rhythms, tones, in life and the environment’ ‒ [giving freedom] to a mindset ‘characterised by the willingness to experiment with new forms’, in short, a willingness to connect. (Ibid., my own emphasis) You, reader(s) of my breath, probably have already guessed that this chapter thinks about language as a relational, corporal, respiratory, shared (and, yes, quite magical!) connection with the atmosphere. It is through this atmospheric universality that I wish to invite you to help discover a mode of communication to connect differently. Such a connection, I propose, starts by breaking down the old unproductive and, I think, false Platonic division between systems of thought and creations of poetry. The former referring historically to a preoccupation of mind, the latter commonly, albeit somewhat boringly, to a passion of the heart. A famed Italian thinker recently explained that philosophy and poetry aren’t two separate essences, but two intensities that tend to the unique field of language in two opposite directions: the pure sense and the pure sound. There’s no poetry without thought, just as there’s no thought without a poetic moment. (Agamben, 2017) The two fields are entangled and fused in more than just one way. They are constitutive of and constituted by a rhythmic pattern of inhalation and exhalation. But while poetry acknowledges its indebtedness to the air, (Western) philosophers, as Luce Irigaray (1999) explains, oftentimes forgot about it. Poetry always has been the better listener of written words.

Body sounds Hear that? That is how my thinking sounds What is called thinking? The sound of one molar softly pressing onto another? Perhaps. But why? Why grate, why think?

46  Marijn Nieuwenhuis A thought, a good one, always cares about the world, giving meaning to us both. I like to think that my teeth are reminders of my body thinking. All parts connecting to another, and reaching out to the larger world around it. My teeth communicate the thinking that occurs inside my otherwise silent mind, translating it into sounds for ears to hear. My ears’ favourite sound, however, is that of us, every one of us, breathing.

Exercise 137 Listen and repeat in five slow whispers. Breathe.

In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.

Forget these distinctions. Sharing something with the world. Something as old as the atmosphere itself. A medium that brings us together, regardless of race, gender, or class. Not a word, an ideal, a political manifesto, but a simple materiality and a bodily desire to be here, with it, in it, that unites us all. Past, future and present. Whether we want to or not, the air filters through all our bodies, sharing its animating energies with big and small, old and young, human and nonhuman. It can be heard anywhere. The sound of our breathing. Listen more often to things rather than beings. Hear the fire’s voice, Hear the voice of water. In the wind hear the sobbing of the trees, It is our forefathers breathing. (Birago Diop, Les Souffles [‘Breaths/Spirits’] in Hughes, 1960, p. 19) The act of breathing connects the porous bodies of humans with other beings. It is the source of life and language. Our mouths and lungs sculpting the air

Ephemeral language 47 in such beautiful ways that it becomes an acoustic vibration of recognisable expression or unfiltered emotion.



The sound of our collective breathing is the composition of our being, becoming and belonging together. Speaking as the opening of mouths, allowing for the expression of moods, affects and feelings, and its closing to sculpt those feelings into the noise that makes up a language of recognisable words. We connect, are connected, always, through a materiality that defies the control of our gaze. Air is invisible but everything, indeed anything, depends on it. (An all-connecting breath, fusing life and language; is that not a nice thought?) As I talk, and I currently am, my entire body collaborates in perfect union with its various parts to shape words, sentences, stories, indeed, entire worlds, from oceans of air. By giving my oral word to whomever hears and maybe listens, I release something that was birthed by my heart and channelled through an ancient cosmos. The oral word is a universality, through which we make the world and connect with it, but it also is a deeply personal gift of a mouth to an ear. Breath is for that among other reasons, as any poet, any good poet, already knows, central both to written and oral language.

Figure 1.3  Segment from Latham’s A Handbook of the English Language (1841, p. 127)

48  Marijn Nieuwenhuis

The poet’s body I dare to argue that poetry historically recognises the value of a breath much better than any other occupation of the word (with the exception, perhaps, of the singer). Rainer Maria Rilke (in Kleinberg-Levin, 2018, p. 21 original emphasis) proclaimed a poet’s recognition of a breathing that poetizes, a breathing in which there is no longer an I who breathes, but only the transpersonal continuum of a breathing in which I rhythmically happen: a breathing, therefore, that holds me open in the wholeness of cosmic events. I remember asking Luce Irigaray during one of her talks about the reason for her to start writing poetry. Her response was simple; it had helped her to heal from a period of serious illness. One day I suffered from a fever, with temperatures as high as 41 degrees Celsius. It made me feel too sick to read or write philosophically, instead I started to compose rhythmically, poetically, and progressively noticed that I started to feel much better, healthier. This (no)thing that heals, a rhythm that worlds, is the poetic (from poiesis, ‘making’) that lies at the origins of life but which also can be found at the onset of language. The breath has a long history in both medical and prosodic thinking. The American poet Charles Olson (1997 [1950]), whilst elaborating on earlier ideas of Ezra Pound and Walt Whitman, wrote a manifesto for what he described as ‘projective verse’. It would come to form the philosophical foundation of the ‘New American Poetry’. The idea he had in mind (or breath he had in body?) is that we spend too much time on mechanically listening to language while ignoring that meaning already is imbued in and embodied through the breath. This perhaps is not a surprise considering that poetry is much older than the written word. Enacting a poet’s words originally ­constituted a performance of declamation and chant. Poetry is older, much older, than the paper it is written on. This perhaps also explains why poetry is closer to the voice than to the pen. Olson wanted to return to this tradition of orality, or orature, by recording and performing poetic rhythm on paper. Is it not ironic, indeed, that he turned to the typewriter to realise this? On second thoughts, maybe it is not as strange as it might seem at first. The machine for him was not an oppressive means of alienation but served rather as a prosthetic amplification for his voice. He saw an opportunity to redraw the geography of paper; creating pauses, stops, intermezzos, introducing yawns and an end to line breaks; suddenly capital letters started to emerge without warning and words appeared as if falling from the sky; the typewriter became the translator of his

Ephemeral language 49 breathing. Projective verse transitioned into free verse, helping to move the written word one step closer to its spoken origins.

Exercise IOI ‘Write a poem that lasts the length of a drag of a cigarette. A poem that commences after the inhale & ends with the exhale. And then write a series of poems that can be read to one cigarette. I don’t even know how many drags that is. Five, ten, twelve, twenty? Wait ... puff ... puff ... puff ... puff ... puff ... puff ... puff ... puff ... puff ... puff ... puff ... puff ... pufff. OK. I get thirteen.’1 The typewriter-machine helped instil Olson’s bodily presence in the T.E.X.T. It helped ‘the poet to indicate exactly the breath, the pauses, the suspension, even, of syllables, the juxtaposition, even, of parts of phrases which he intends, observing that, for the first time, the poet has the stave and the bar that the musician has had’ (McLuhan in Wershler-Henry, 2007, p. 167). This is not about form. Certainly not! Rather, as Olson’s poet friend Robert Creeley (2004) notes, ‘form is never more than an extension of content. They sort of go together is the absolute point.’ It would be a mistake to think that a poem is simply melodious, rhythmic or aesthetically pleasing for its own sake. A good poem, Olson wanted to say and said, is one that houses a meaning that is constructed by the author’s respiring body and, upon reading (with ear as much as mouth), is also capable of building affective and transformative relations with other bodies. Creeley (1972, p. 51) notes that ‘one of the several virtues of Olson’s “Projective Verse” was that of returning to poetry its relation with [the human] physiological condition’.

Exercise I08 Write a 100-word poem first and then read it while running on a treadmill (at 10km, or equivalent, speed). Does it sound better, the same or just different? Why, however, should poets be the only fortunate ones to reap the benefits of the orality of language? Why can they experiment but a social scientist or a student thereof cannot? When and what are the reasons for adults to give up on the wish of being a poet? Luce Irigaray (2004, p. 99), a poet as much as a feminist psychoanalytic theorist, observes that ‘forms that convey meaning have become arbitrary in our cultures, and they split our subjectivity from the body and the flesh’. She argues that modern cultures tend to privilege ‘nonfigurative’ language, the traditions of the logos, over other possible forms of communication. Language, the way it oftentimes is written, sexually represses the body. The supposed social value of language is determined

50  Marijn Nieuwenhuis by a predictable and instrumental economic syntax as if there never was a breath.

Towards a political economy of pneuma Formal language, marked by rationality and reason, is widely believed to reside in a separate, more serious, albeit bodiless, dimension of reality. ‘Giving meaning’, however, never simply refers to the sharing of objective facts, abstract knowledge or detached descriptions of emotion, but is also, and more importantly, a deeply bodily and subjective experience. That means that it not only carries the potential of evocation but that it also has a very personal and historical place of origins and creation. The delivery of the author’s breath – because that is what we are talking about here – is not separate from but one with the act of giving meaning. Speech is the bodily shaping of air that occurs through the act of breathing. However, when air is inhaled, when it travels through your lungs, it not only oxygenates your blood, channelling through veins, nurturing your heart, but it also feeds your mind. Without our breathing bodies, always ready to open-up, ideas as much as their utterance in speech are hypothetical at best, impossible at worst. When I talk, my heart and mind work in tandem with the air to get me as close as possible to you. The centrality that Olson ascribes to breath in poetry, a medium that transgresses and transcends the false objectivity of language, helps us to recognise and appreciate the intimate relationship that always has existed between respiration and, indeed, inspiration. It is no wonder that breath is central to religion. The staunchest evolutionary theorist and the mightiest of Gods converge on their secretly shared veneration for the miracle of respiration. It is central to music, vital to poetry and elemental to every birth and every death. In academia, however, the breath seems sometimes forgotten. It bears remembering that the author’s heart and mind dwell, quite literally, in the text. Words, commas and the endless suspension of line breaks should be felt and tasted with tongue and lip. The writing and reading of academic text too often feels estranged, unfelt and instrumental. We shouldn’t blame the reader or author, not really, because it is not their fault that the economy of the academy requires a syntax that is efficient, austere, straight, in other words, ‘academic’. Success here, in the factory of ideas, is more than ever measured by the ability to disarm and neutralise the subversive potential of language. So-called ‘failure’ often refers to non-compliance with historically determined, but arbitrary, expectations on structure, coherency, presentation, spelling, argument and the myth of transparency. The voice of the author’s body is deliberately removed from writing, which, instead, pretends to be hovering far above it, as if non-human, making difficult any relation between the reading self and the writing Other. This surgical dissecting of the author’s corporal breath from text, performed by fingers covered in sanitised polythene gloves, results in a disembodying and cleansing of language. The

Ephemeral language 51 presence of breath is quelled by a regime of semiotic valuation. If only the paper and the letters could speak ... but it could, and they do! What is needed, I think, to reinsert us here, in the text, is a re-joining with mouth, lung and heart through poetic strategies of orature and projective verse.

Exercise I6I8 ‘Why prescribe silliness? For possibility’ (Bonczek, 2018, p. 5). Take your revenge on Word’s spell check and write a poem with as many alternative spellings of words as you possibly can.

Combat breath Necessary wisdom to embody language can be retrieved from the oratures that the written word of colonialism prohibited. European colonialism, it must be remembered, was exercised on the premise of the imagined supremacy of the written over the spoken word. The spoken sound was considered inferior to the written word and demoted to the status of barbarity. Fanon (1986, p. 18) was among the first to recognise the violence colonial language inflicted on the body when he explained that ‘[t]he Negro of the Antilles will be proportionally whiter ‒ that is, he will come closer to being a real human being ‒ in direct relation to his mastery of the French language’. Colonialism in the Caribbean presented itself as an inoculated corruption of the breath by the dominant language of the oppressor. The linguistic mode of violence was psychological as much as it was physiological as slave bodies were forced to breathe and gulp alien vowels and consonants. The inhalation and exhalation of the coloniser’s words entailed a dispossession of both one’s life and speech. Atmospheric violence is known to use the necessity of breath and voice against the speaking breather (Nieuwenhuis, 2018). ‘Under this condition, the individual’s breathing is an observed, and occupied breathing. It is a “combat breathing”’ (Fanon, 1967, p. 50). ‘Respiratory resistance’ took shape in a dissident creolisation of the French language. Creolisation, in this context, is an oral technique and vernacular process of subversion that takes place from within, inside the mouth. The tongue forces its way back into text by decentring, confusing and disrupting the syntax, rhythm and intensity of the master language, corrupting it into a hybrid, open and nonconforming form of orature. Creolisation, by means of tongue and breath, disturbs established norms and disciplining rhythms. In a very physiological way, it challenges the breath of colonial English (or French) and questions it in an act of celebration. ‘Away with all those rules!’ The Afro-Guyanese poet John Agard (2006 [1985]) illustrates this very well in his poem ‘Listen Mr. Oxford Don’.

52  Marijn Nieuwenhuis I don’t need no axe to split/ up yu syntax I don’t need no hammer to mash/ up yu grammar ... I’m not violent man Mr. Oxford don I only armed wit mih human breath but human breath is a dangerous weapon ... So mek dem send one big word after me I ent serving no jail sentence I slashing suffix in self-defence I bashing future wit present tense and if necessary2 I making de Queen’s English accessory/to my offence

Exercise I26 Hip-hop and reggae are great example of creolisation. As languages mix, words have increased in number. Many of today’s rappers have a smoother flow and a larger vocabulary than Shakespeare. Listen to the poet and hip-hop artist Saul Williams on YouTube and study how words and breath are interwoven into rhythmic powerful speech: Do the same with your favourite rapper.

The French Caribbean poet philosopher Edouard Glissant (1976) reminds us that the foundation of spoken language is movement whilst formal written language tries to arrest it. A good orator does not only use his mouth, but also raises and lowers his hands, frowns the eyebrows, rolls their eyes, moves his feet, while a good writer sits her body down and moves, restlessly, almost always against the will of the pen to write, fingers forced to adjust to its cold metal. Her breath, whispering the words she writes, and her typing finger tips are the lingering traces of the original totalising movement of the spoken experience. Central to Glissant and other fellow Antillo-Caribbean poets was the question ‘how to stay true to the body and its poetics while immobilizing the body in order to write’ (Dash, 1989, p. 610).

Ephemeral language 53 What is written is based on non-movement: when I write, my body does not move in unison with the flow of words ... What is oral, on the contrary, cannot be separated from body motion ... The change from an oral to a written civilization means immobilizing the body, subjugating it, possessing it. Once dispossessed of his body, the slave cannot manage the immobility of writing. He moves constantly and only manages a shout. His speech and body pursue some undefinable lack ... To the Antillean the word is first and foremost a sound. Noise is a speech. Din is a discourse. (Edouard Glissant, 1976, p. 96) The fusion of body and sound in Creole provides the opening to what Glissant (1976, p. 97, original emphasis) described as a ‘counter poetics’, a projective orature that does not adhere to the semantic structure of the sentence which orders the scansion, but rather [follows] the speaker’s breath: it is poetic scansion par excellence ... In the Creole delivery the very syncopation of drums is heard again ... That is to say, the noise that it makes is part of the meaning, and if you ignore the noise (or what you would think of as noise, shall I say) then you lose part of the meaning.

Listening with Speech and breath both are a relation that is and always already has been shared. The sounding utterance of speech does not belong to a national culture, although the nation depends on its linguistic potential to create its own specificity, but instead it is a breath that is birthed in and enacted by a universal desire to be here and be with. Listening to the Other, one cannot and should not expect to find clarity, as if to convert difference into sameness. I might not grasp her opacity, and she might not get close to mine, but the representational quality of language is not required to hear or feel in solidarity. Nor will silence bring us any closer together. You say I am sound as a drum but that’s very hard to be as you cover your ears with academic parchment be careful you might rip the cover with your sharp nails and then I will not sound at all (Lorde, Dream/Songs from the Moon of Beulah Land IV)

54  Marijn Nieuwenhuis When the Jewish poet Paul Celan (in Felstiner, 1995, n.p.) asked his audiences (in the language of his mother’s murderers) ‘to hear in deeply with their mouth’, he did not appeal for meaning in translation, but, instead, insisted on a voice of presence to excavate the oral roots of written words. Language in this more vertical form marks a move from recognising words as formal semantics to sensing their origins in a breath that flows from heart to ear and from ear to heart. An animation of language, by remembering that there is ‘no presence without air’ (Irigaray, 1999, p. 8), is to acknowledge and be in a meditative relation with the breathing Other. Listening by means of mouth requires a travelling across geographies of different airs. The celebrated Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite (1984, pp. 9, 10) observed how the English pentameter, carries with it a certain kind of experience, which is not the experience of the hurricane. The hurricane does not roar in pentameters ... In other words, we haven’t got the syllables ... to describe the hurricane, which is our own experience, whereas we can describe the imported alien experience of the snowfall. From where, then, does the Caribbean breath speak? I have a thing that I call seametrics, because the sea influences the landscape. The sea influences the nature of poetry ‒ the pauses between the words, the tidalectic nature of the sea; which is different from the notion of the dialect of the marksman: all of these things are there in the poetry (Brathwaite in James 1994, p. 763, my emphasis) The ocean, it should be remembered, is both the geographic relation that birthed the cultures of the Caribbean as well as the silent witness to the most horrific of colonial crimes. Brathwaite’s poetics asks for a liberation of a native historical sound that is rooted in the historical rhythm of land and sea and carved in the tradition of the breathing word. This ‘nation language’, a language from below built on and from difference, intends to ‘break out of the entire pentametric model in the Caribbean and to move into a system that more closely and intimately approaches our own experience’ (Brathwaite, 1984, p. 12).

A new internationale Writing out of, but without definitively leaving, the (still) hegemonic tradition of English (or French) is not an easy thing to do, but a necessary one to recover a different relation to the wor(l)d. The appeal of techniques of creolisation and orature might not sound obvious to those said to have been ‘born English’, ‘born French’ or ‘born German’, for whom the inhabitation of language gives structure, stability and solace, but it does not come so

Ephemeral language 55 ‘naturally’ to those whose sensitised bodies (are forced to) dwell in and adopt to an overtly alien and alienating language. Imagine, just for a moment, that you yourself had just one language, as most of us do, but that this language was not part of your historical anatomy. That your ‘mother tongue’ was a question: that the voice you spoke-with channelled words in rhythms of breath that your body did not recognise as its own, as if your tongue was possessed by a strange force. Another postcolonial story, this one recounting the experience of a 12-year-old Jewish-Maghrebian boy, reflecting on being possessed and, simultaneously, dispossessed by the monolingualism of a French Master that came from overseas:3 ‘It is on the shores of the French language, uniquely, and neither inside nor outside it, on the unplaceable line of its coast that, since forever, and lastingly [a demeure], I wonder if one can love, enjoy oneself [jouir], pray, die from pain, or just die, plain and simple, in another language’ (Derrida, 1998, p. 2) A postcolonial sensitivity for the alienating quality of the French language, the only language he has, would lead this Sephardic émigré, an inside-outsider, to deconstruct language, showing how even ‘the language called maternal is never purely natural, nor proper, nor inhabitable’ (Derrida, 1998, p. 58). The word always overshadows the breath, domesticating its infinite energies for good or bad, forgetting that it would not exist without it. It is the nationalism of the word rather than the universal internationalism of the breath that constitutes the artificial boundary between you and me. Could we reverse this hierarchy and ask the word to surrender to the breath? Compatriots of every country, translator-poets, rebel against patriotism! Do you hear me! Each time I write a word, a word that I love and love to write; in the time of this word, at the instant of a single syllable, the song of this new International awakens in me. I never resist it, I am in the street at its call, even if, apparently, I have been working silently since dawn at my table. (Derrida, 1998, p. 57) To be understood in a foreign language requires the utmost dedication and concentration to conceal one’s own foreignness. There is no such expectation in speaking one’s own language in which meaning seems to flow as unmediated as breath. The Other takes on the cloak of Otherness as soon as the first words are exhaled and, sometimes, for many oftentimes, anticipations of Otherness have already been confirmed by the skin before even the first breath can make the first letter.

‘Your English is really good, where are you from?’

56  Marijn Nieuwenhuis Even a mother tongue cannot protect you from the racism of the word. More opportunities for a less representational and more intimate encounter, perhaps, exist in the atmospheric sensation of making language.

Exercise 462 Put a hand in front of your mouth and voice any word you like (...) Feel that warmth originating from deep inside? 34.5 degrees Celsius for men, a little bit warmer for women. Do it once more, if you like. (...) Blow a sentence into your hands. Do you hear that?












H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H That is the sound of your breath. Warm words travel even if you try to reason cool and wish to remain unstirred in the private bubble of your body.

Then again ... Speech has widely come to be accepted to exist independently from academic text. A good part of academic writing likes to pretend that it has successfully removed itself from breath, leaving it spiritlessly mechanical. Writing is imagined to be stuck in time, disembodied, serving a purely representational function through which myths of political neutrality and scientific objectivity can be upheld. Speaking, in contrast, is relegated to the realm of untrustworthy individual experience. The Hebrews solemnly sworn Truth by G*D’s divinity, but modern law complements the oath of justice with the affidavit and relies on written instead of spoken contracts. Oral examinations have been replaced by written ones and essays follow strict university formatting polices. Yet, hidden from academic sight, in the gaps, corners and cracks of the text, here, right there, is the author’s beating heart, her inspirited ideas, to

Ephemeral language 57 be unlocked upon your respiratory reading. To understand the author, to inhabit his/her body, to be part of her atmospheric embodied cycle, it is pertinent to read me out loud in whispers. To translate the word into sound, by echoing and amplifying the original breath, in an effort to commemorate, immortalise and, if possible, to reinvent the voice, by exhaling its speech, passing on words, and returning them to the air we commonly share. Make writing come to life, inspiriting it with breath, is what Olson (1997 [1950], p. 249) had in mind when pressing for a projective verse. A ‘projective poet’, he said, ‘will [go], down through the workings of his own throat to that place where breath comes from, where breath has its beginnings, where drama has to come from, where, the coincidence is, all act spring’. This location, however, it should be remembered, does not refer to that of the author’s own ownership. Here, I disagree with and bid goodbye to Olson’s masculine and sovereign anatomy. My body respires in orchestra with those of others. Through me speak many tongues; voices past, present and future. It’s been twenty years since I last saw my mother She starved herself to death ... I was in the cave where convicts read in the dark ... These days, when I’m alone I start to sound like my mother or rather, it’s as if she were using my mouth to voice her profanities, curses and gibberish the unfindable rosary of her nicknames all the endangered species of her sayings It’s been twenty years since I last saw my mother but I am the last man who still speaks her language (Abdellatif Laâbi, My Mother’s Language)4 Never trust the author who says that his ideas are his alone. Steal words, exchange them, reshape them bravely, plagiarise with kindness wherever and whenever you can, if you can. A speaker is the air filter whose writing and speaking body solely borrows, shapes and moulds what is always already existent in the potentiality of air. Breathing blurs divisions of inside and outside, you and me. My inhalation is your exhalation, and your exhalation is my inhalation. You might say: ‘this sounds too poetic’. Tell me, then, fellow breather, am I wrong to think that language is not a singular inalienable property, but a shared commons? Is poetry not a mode of writing that can escape the discourse of language and for whom formal rules do not apply? Have I not convinced you that language is an embodied, shared, respiratory relation of communication? Maybe my words failed to transcend my breath

58  Marijn Nieuwenhuis from the flatness of the paper it is written on. Then again, my aim was never meant to convince you; I merely wanted to be whispered. Censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time. Write your self. Your body must be heard (Cixous, 1976, p. 880)

Ephemeral language 59

(This breath intentionally left suspended)

60  Marijn Nieuwenhuis

Notes 1 From 2 I would like to thank Bloodaxe for their permission to republish this segment of John Agard’s poem. 3 ‘French is the only mother tongue I have, but while still a child I had a vague sensation that this language was not really my own ... I had the feeling that this language, which was the only one I had, came from somewhere else’ (Derrida, 2002, p. 38). 4 From I am grateful for Abdellatif Laabi’s permission to republish this segment of his poem.

Words from fellow breathers Agamben, G. (2017) ‘Philosophy as Interdisciplinary Intensity – An Interview with Giorgio Agamben (Antonio Gnolio/Ido Govrin)’, Religious Theory February (8). Available at: linary-intensity-an-interview-with-giorgio-agamben-antonio-gnolioido-govrin/ Agard, J. (2006 [1985]) ‘Listen Mr. Oxford Don’, Index on Censorship 35(2), p. 100. Bacon, F. (1670 [1626]) Sylva Sylvarum, or A Natural History, in Ten Centuries. London. Bloom, G. (2013) Voice in Motion: Staging Gender, Shaping Sound in Early Modern England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Bonczek, M. (2018) Naming the Unnameable: An Approach to Poetry for New Generations. Geneseo, New York: Open SUNY Textbooks. Brathwaite, K. (1984) History of the Voice. London: New Beacon Books. Cixous, H. (1976) ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’, Signs 1(4), pp. 875–893. Creeley, R. (1972) A Sense of Measure. London: Calder and Boyars. Creeley, R., and L. Schwartz (2004) ‘Robert Creeley in Conversation with Leonard Schwartz’, Transcription of a Radio Interview for KAOS 89.3 FM’, Jacket Magazine 25 (February). Available from: robert-creeley-conversation-leonard-schwartz Dash, J.M. (1989) ‘Writing the Body: Edouard Glissant’s Poetics of Re-membering’, World Literature Today 63(4), pp. 609–612. Derrida, J. (1998) Monolingualism of the Other; or, The Prosthesis of Origin. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Derrida, J., and M. Ferraris (2002) A Taste for the Secret. Cambridge: Polity Press. Diop, B. (1960) ‘Forefathers’. In L. Hughes (ed.), An African Treasury (pp. 183–184). New York: Crown Publishers. Dolan, E.I. (2013) The Orchestral Revolution: Haydn and the Technologies of Timbre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Fanon, F. (1967) A Dying Colonialism. New York: Grove Press. Fanon, F. (1986) Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto Press. Felstiner, J. (1995) Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew. London: Yale University Press. Glissant, E. (1976) ‘Free and Forced Poetics’, Alcheringa 2(2), pp. 95–101. Hughes, L., ed., (1960) An African Treasury. New York: Crown Publishers. Irigaray, L. (1999) The Forgetting of air in Martin Heidegger. London: Athlone.

Ephemeral language 61 Irigaray, L. (2004) Luce Irigaray: Key Writings. London: Continuum. James, C. (1994) ‘The Unknown Text’, World Literature Today 68(4), pp. 758–764. Kircher, A. (1650) Musurgia Universalis. Rome: Lodovico Grignani. Kleinberg-Levin, D. M. (2018) ‘Logos and Psyche: A Hermeneutics of Breathing’. In L. Skof and P. Berndtson, Atmospheres of Breathing (pp. 3–24). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Latham, R.G. (1841) A Handbook of the English Language. London: Taylor and Walton. Libera, M. (2014) ‘Amplifying the Sound: Technology of Delivery – Early Amplifiers, Mutes and the Politics of Volume’, Glissando 24, pp. 1–35. Lorde, A. (1995) The Black Unicorn: Poems. London: W.W. Norton. Nieuwenhuis, M. (2018) ‘Atmospheric Governance: Gassing as Law for the Protection and Killing of Life’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 36(1), pp. 78–95. Olson, C. (1997) Collected Prose. Edited by D. Allen and B. Friedlander. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Ong, J.W. (2002) Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Routledge. Wershler-Henry, D.S. (2007) The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting. London: Cornell University Press.


2 Untraining critique and the power of performance Catherine Charrett

Introduction I didn’t know I was going to be measured in this way. Maybe they told me and I wasn’t paying attention. Maybe they told me and I decided that I didn’t care. Maybe they told me and I thought this is great, but it’s not me. This chapter takes up the social and professional practice of ‘fitting in’ and it poses the following questions. How are we trained into ‘good’ academics? What are the implications of this training? And what is the substance of the ‘good’? Training into and within academia, as with other professions, provides a common grammar for transmitting knowledge. Training however, may also limit the possibility for expression and order epistemological considerations, what counts as proper knowledge. This moulding may in turn, hinder possible creative responses to the political questions we as academics explore. Creativity can be uncovered and fostered I suggest, by experimenting with knowledge production and in taking risks with alternative forms of research dissemination. How did I act before I knew what was expected of me? What aspirations for change did I hold onto before I was told they were impossible? This chapter presents performance and performance art as forms of expression, which may surpass existing disciplining practices and regimes of intelligibility. Performance, which encompasses daily practices and cultural and theatrical dramas, maintain social relations, but also include the possibility for transforming them. Performance acts as a tool for transformation, whereby the rituals of socialisation and training are reflected upon, i­nterrogated, and perhaps refused, inversed or transformed. In this chapter, I will introduce you to a performance piece I produced on European-Palestinian relations, entitled: ‘Politics in Drag: Sipping Toffee with Hamas in Brussels’. This drag performance re-inscribes European diplomatic rituals in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with tenderness, sadness, melancholia, satire and hyperbole. It looks at one political event

66  Catherine Charrett in particular, the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Elections and explores the regimes of foreclosure that led to the EU’s sanction of Hamas’s success. In the performance space, I enact an alternative political outcome to the EU’s support and implementation of the Quartet’s Principles, which placed conditions on the recognition of Hamas’s political party as the newly elected government. I display alternative configurations of formal diplomatic rituals. This performative practice, I suggest opens up epistemological limitations about what diplomatic rituals can entail. Those practices and utterances that have been taken for granted, such as ‘this is what diplomacy should look like’, ‘or this is what European foreign policy in the Middle East is’ are undone. Experimenting with the form of research dissemination invites ­creative and imaginative responses to political issues. This chapter encourages us to understand our work as a performance. In doing so, it allows us to reflect on the rituals that constitute our discipline, and it encourages us to use alternative forms of research dissemination as a tool to open up the foreclosures our training produces. Experimentation calls into question the fixity of norms and ritualised practices. But, importantly, ‘the action on the limit, we might say, produces a new possibility for a subject, one who was supposed to be bound by the limit, one who moves past the norms of civility that bound the “human” [...]’ (Butler, 2000, p. 33, emphasis added). In performing the ritualised practices that constitute our professional worlds differently new approaches to political impasses can emerge.

A Little Miss Sunshine moment Have you ever had a Little Miss Sunshine moment? Little Miss Sunshine is the 2006 comedy directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris that tells the story of young Olive Hoover played by Abigail Breslin (Dayton and Faris, 2006). Olive is passionate about, and dedicated to participating in a beauty contest. Through a twist of cinematic fate Olive discovers she is a finalist in the ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ beauty pageant in California. Her family, who are marked as strange and failing in numerous ways, embark on a glorious and eventful road trip to take her to the contest. The film captures Olive practising and training for the show, and it expresses her love for dance and for the process. Olive receives all the ‘wrong’ training from her grandfather, but the process allows Olive and her family to be together in beautiful ways. Have you ever had a Little Miss Sunshine moment? Where you may have not belonged, but that it didn’t matter? I did, growing up. I wanted to audition for a major musical production in my hometown. I played 1980s dance music and practised in my room, alone, when it made me happy. I put on my own costumes and made-up my own moves. When I showed up for the audition, I figured out quite quickly that the other girls had attended professional dance classes and received professional training. They knew the names of the

Untraining critique 67 moves and the gestures. When it was my turn to ‘audition’, I paraded across the dance floor, probably quite clumsily. I thank my mom for taking me; she must have known from the start that I would have no chance of actually ‘succeeding’. But if I had not taken part then what would have happened to the dancing in the room? Not really fitting in reminds us what fitting in looks like. It reminds us of what it takes to fit in. Who are the girls that win beauty pageants? What kind of discipline, training and professionalisation does it take to win a dance audition? What is the substance of the discipline? Queer methodologies, and a queer disposition do not suggest we abandon ideas of success, but rather, that we question the binary between success and failure (Rao, 2016, p. 106). Queer methodologies encourage us to think about what fitting into requires (Halberstam, 2011). The Little Miss Sunshine moment also reminds us that not fitting in can bring beauty into the world, and can fashion new moments for community, love and belonging in different ways.

Trained to want to belong I tried so hard to talk like them, write like them. And it felt so good when I finally got it, when I was able to do it. Just like them. And I said new things, and important things, just like them. But if I talk like them ... then who is going to talk like me? We are trained into depending on belonging, and as such we are trained to want to belong. Training into a profession involves learning the working culture of that profession. Social and professional roles and institutions are constituted by habit and by orientation. As new participants move into a professional space, they learn the habits and orders of that space. Sara Ahmed understands the formation of spaces through the orientation of bodies; ‘orientation involves aligning body and space’ (Ahmed, 2006, p. 7). Certain bodies or experiences are lived as being more comfortable than others in a certain space. Ahmed writes, ‘Whiteness may function as a form of public comfort by allowing bodies to extend into spaces that have already taken their shape’ (Ibid., p. 135). ‘The surfaces of social space are already impressed upon by the shape of such bodies’ (Ibid.). Social and professional institutions are not constitutively neutral, but are the products of lived histories, which allow certain bodies, experiences and ways of producing knowledge to fit in more than others. This fitting in occurs along racial, gendered and classist lines. There are punitive or disciplinary dimensions to failing to conform to the accepted practices of a social or institutional space. Performance scholar Jon McKenzie writes of an imperative to perform: ‘Perform or Else!’ (McKenzie,

68  Catherine Charrett 2001). This pressure to perform is noticed by institutions and individuals alike. Whereby institutions that belong to a system of commonly accepted practices, as well as individuals, who belong to an institution are pressured to perform the rituals associated with their cultural and professional spaces. These performances are imposed upon by a fear of failure and marginalisation. McKenzie’s analysis of performance in cultural, scientific, bureaucratic and business environments alerts us to the fear that is associated with not conforming. So, what is lost when daily practices occur under duress, out of a fear of not reproducing the institution? Ahmed elaborates on the assumed positive feedback that is associated with belonging. Ahmed emphasises that accomplishment and success become associated with the fulfilment of the ritual itself (Ahmed, 2010). Success and happiness become associated with the ability to belong, to be able to successfully perform the rituals of the institution. This leads to a forgetting of whether the ritualised practices fulfil their supposed intentions or not. What are those things that bind me to you? What are those things, those rituals that bind me to my workplace, to the profession I inhabit and perform? What are those things actually doing? Rituals provide community and an opportunity for communication (Durkheim, 2001), but they may also repeat social and cultural exclusions, which have overtime produced sedimented approaches to social and political problems. We must therefore interrogate what is lost in trying to conform, in having to conform. What is lost when we are more concerned in maintaining the rituals of the institution, rather than expressing ourselves within them? I look down at the page, and my words feel so distant. I do not recognise the tone anymore, so stern, what happened to the passion.

Experimenting through unbound exchange What was it that I really wanted to say? If training into professional and semantic fields1 limits what can be said and expressed, then how can we think about opening up those disciplinary mechanisms? This chapter presents one form of experimentation, performative writing and performance making as ways to open up modes of expression in the study of politics. Working between performance and politics is a growing area of interest in the field of International Relations. While the interest in aesthetics has been a long-standing area of methodological pursuit, the turn to performance art and performance theory is relatively new (Rai, 2010, 2015; Edkins and Kear, 2013; Jarvis and Legrand, 2016, 2017). The ethical position of turning to aesthetic work argues Bleiker is found in challenging the normalised practices of doing and studying politics, ‘whose problematic

Untraining critique 69 dimensions are no longer recognised because of years of habit have turned them into common sense’ (Bleiker, 2009, p. 11). Shapiro draws on Jacques Rancière to explain the importance of juxtaposition created through transdisciplinary work, which he says can create space for thinking. Aesthetic experience has a political effect to the extent that ... it disturbs the way in which bodies fit their functions and destinations ... It has a multiplication of connections and disconnection that reframe the relation between bodies, the world they live and the way in which they are ‘equipped’ for fitting it. (Rancière quoted in Shapiro, 2013, p. 13) Working between, across or amongst the disciplinary boundaries of politics and performance can take different styles. Edkins and Kear (2013) outline the possibilities that emerge through actively fostering ongoing conversations between performance scholars/artists and scholars of International Relations and Politics. The creation of a cross-disciplinary research group initially located at Aberystwyth University formed a significant part of this endeavour. The move they describe was ‘an attempt to open up frames and practices of aesthetic and political enquiry emergent in a post-disciplinary landscape of critical humanities and creative arts research’ (Ibid., p. 8). Rather, than taking the fields as separate and reviewing how insights from one discipline can inform the other, the editors suggest that the fields can be thought through together, as modes and practices of aesthetic thinking and modes and practices of aesthetic politics. As such, their approach is not only trying to foster a dialogue between the two fields, but rather how ‘politics and performance, thought in relation as practices of “dissensus” and agentic creation’ (Ibid.). Agency and creativity are located in the unbounded and unregulated connections, conversations, exchanges and coproduction of knowledges. What happens when we seek to learn from something because it feels right? What happens when we take risks with the ways in which we perform our professions? What happens when we listen to our passions? I am not a trained performance artist. Like Olive in Little Miss Sunshine I was passionate about what I wanted to do. I worked hard and created a different sort of training. My creative practice flourished through physically taking my body and intellectual activity into the Department of Theatre, Film and Television at Aberystwyth University, and specifically the Performance Studies section of the Department. This kind of cross-disciplinary activity reflects Edkins and Kear’s (2013) expressions above, about engaging in open and unbounded conversations through the physicality and closeness of the endeavour. I sat in Performance Studies classes. I sat in their classes, in their workshops, in their lectures. What was theirs became mine too. I shared in their knowledge production, and I allowed it to affect me. The discussions of performance art and theatre in these sessions made me feel politics differently. A single performative act provoked a phenomenological reaction in me. It allowed me

70  Catherine Charrett to see knowledge differently. The bodies of the performers express a need for change that pushes back against the academic undoing of experience. I learnt about the work of the indigenous performance artist James Luna (1987), who placed his body, alive in a museum casing display, along with various artefacts he felt composed his ‘being’ in the social and cultural space of contemporary America. Museum-goers, explains Luna, would circle the Artefact Piece display. They would circle the display and question the aliveness of the subject. Luna’s performance art challenges the discourses through which the ‘native’ is recognised. This performance piece interrupts the normal practice of the museum-goer, who would encounter the ‘native’ through an arranged, formal display.2 Through a dramatic, performative gesture the public onlooker is faced with the cultural codes that fashion and obscure how the ‘native’ is created and missed.3 Performance art encouraged me to want to affect my audience and my readers. To allow them to feel the political arguments I was making. ‘“Performance art,” explains Peggy Phelan, usually occurs in the suspension between the “real” physical matter of the “performing body” and the psychic experience of what it is to be em-bodied’ (Phelan, 1993, p. 167). Performance work can reflect on the limitations of expression in politics, and enact a stretching of these limitations. Performance art often strives to account for the experience of embodiment, of subjectivity, and the psychic experience of social and political encounters. It wants to affect its audience, rather than prove a point, win an argument or make an intervention into a debate. It wants to express and engender experience.

Sipping Toffee with Hamas in Brussels I decided I wanted to move people with my work. I wanted to generate movement in the telling of my research material. I work on Palestinian politics. My doctoral research was on the EU’s response to Hamas’s success in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. The performance work I developed tried to account for hope turned to disappointment. The 2006 Palestinian legislative elections was an event, a series of moments filled with hope for change, and disappointment from a failure to take up the possibility for change. Hope circulated around the earnest engagement of Change and Reform, Hamas’s political party in the democratic process and the EU’s political and financial support for the elections. Hope surrounded the absence of violence during the elections and the wide democratic engagement of Palestinians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The disillusionment that followed came from the EU’s refusal to recognise the newly elected government and the refusal to engage in diplomatic exchange with any of the newly elected ministers. Disappointment came from the decision to divert all financial support away from the elected government and towards Fatah controlled segments of regime, and from the siege on Gaza that followed. So how do I, as an International Relations scholar, respond to this hope

Untraining critique 71 and to this loss? How do I write of tired efforts for change and of political frustration? Many of my interviewees expressed sadness and frustration for a political response that did not occur. They discussed a desire to have seen a different political outcome, but that they themselves did not bring about. Performance art allowed me to attend to this melancholia for loss. I entered into an imaginative space in which I could attend to those expressions for difference and desire for change that were foreclosed by an attachment to ritualised diplomatic action. Through the use of performative drag techniques the show takes up the ritualised language and locations of diplomacy and it reinvigorates a hope for politics. I transformed my interviews with Hamas members and EU bureaucrats and ethnographic material into a 50-minute solo performance piece. The performance piece, ‘Politics in Drag: Sipping Toffee with Hamas in Brussels’ was first staged at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre in May 2014. The performance was open to the public and to the university’s community. The response was exceptional: audience members found the performance moving, tender, informative and funny. It allows participants to encounter academic research in an accessible, phenomenological, entertaining and educational way. The performance piece has since been shown in various academic and theatre settings, and the piece itself blurs the boundaries between these spaces. Within this hybrid academic/art form I can explore politics creatively, by stretching the epistemological and ontological considerations of formal text and training. I will now take us through the five scenes of the performance, providing segments of the script as an archive of the show. Scene One titled, ‘What a Fucking Shame’ acts as the introduction to the piece. It presents the performative ontology that informed the work, suggesting that life is a collection of stories, iterations, performances that can be performed differently. [Scene One: The following is a piece of fiction. But then again perhaps everything is a piece of fiction. A continuous performance of particular fictions. So what happens when we play with this idea of fiction? What happens when we try to de-regulate a particular fiction, to allow for new experiences; new observations to come in? What happens when we try to perform the fiction anew? Now of course this is my drag performance, as such it is also about my own hidden desires and excess wants. Perhaps this is my ideal of how I wish politics to be. However, the material upon which I am working is from four years of detailed research in this particular political event.]

72  Catherine Charrett In Scene Two, ‘Masked Excess’ I ‘get into the character(s)’ by putting on various layers of gendered male clothing. My ‘small’, feminine body inhabits the male suit. My high-pitched voice utters their ‘formal’ diplomatic discourse. I put on a blue suit while using segments from my interviews to introduce the audience to the various EU and Hamas representatives I met. Ignasi Guadans Cambo was part of the EU’s monitoring team, and he made wager with his friends that Hamas would win the elections; he won that bet. Khalil al-Aya is one of Hamas’s founding members, he was put on the candidates’ list for the elections and because he has been imprisoned by the Israeli occupying forces; imprisonment is not a difficult criterion to fill in Palestine. This scene critiques political rituals, such as the EU’s monitoring of electoral processes in places impacted by their colonial past and present. The performance uses hyperbole and camp language to critique the ritualised practice of monitoring an Other’s elections; stating ‘playfully’: [Scene Two: so when are the next elections we are set to monitor?] The Hamas representative shares with his European interlocutor that fourteen members of his family have been assassinated since 2003 by the Israeli state. He questions whether the Europeans can hear him. [But my story is not important. What’s important is why you can’t hear it.] (Melancholic voice spoken directly to the audience; make eye contact.) Scene Three: ‘Big men sitting on a little curb’ puts Hamas and the EU in conversation in a rather unfamiliar ‘diplomatic’ setting. I set the scene on a real curb outside a Gazan bakery following the assassination of Al-Qassam leader Ahmed al-Jabari, who was killed by an Israeli drone, provoking the 2012 war against Gaza. This scene is soft, tender and sad, as the diplomats sit and have a conversation, and try to explain themselves to each other. [Scene Three: What happens when those affected directly by a foreign policy decision sit down and discuss the impacts of these decisions with the executer of the policies?] Hamas leaders push their EU counterparts on the parameters of their policies towards the outcome of the 2006 elections. The ‘fictional’ Hamas leader stresses the pain and fear they faced after the elections due to an increase of assassinations and imprisonments. The fictional Hamas leader asks the EU [Scene Three: Hamas asking the European diplomat, why didn’t you try? we tried, why didn’t you? Hamas: But preventing anyone to work with us in the government; that was really mean. You refused to pay the salaries of any civil servant who would work in the Hamas government. 140,000 thousand employees

Untraining critique 73 sitting at home receiving their salaries just so they would not work for a Hamas government. Hamas: That was really, really mean. EU response: But that was the only realistic policy on offer. There was no way the EU could come with a policy which was different to everybody needs to respect the Quartet principles. Because the Quartet was such a strong anchor that was what everybody was always able to agree to.] The performance plays with this oscillation between the trained diplomatic tongue and the presence of those iterations of politics that clearly do not fit. It attempts to capture a simplicity of pain and hope foreclosed under the weight of political rituals. It uses the unruly narrative of the hopeful child, to comment on the rules of the serious adult world, which removes the possibility for creativity. In Scene Four, ‘The Tractor Café’, I play recordings from some of my interviews. I set this scene in Brussels. [Scene Four: This is the tractor café. It is located in the European Parliament in Place Luxembourg in Brussels. It is called the tractor café because the seats are made from recycled tractor metal. That’s nice, isn’t it? (Said sarcastically to audience.) Now perhaps this is a more comfortable space for a diplomatic conversation. But let’s shake it up a little.] Using my interview recordings, I stage a meeting between the EU-Hamas, which was never ‘allowed’ to take place in the ‘non-fictional’ diplomatic reality. Between each recording I hold up colourful cards with written camp interjections on them, in order to frustrate the constrained normalcy of their conversation. [Scene Four: I am speaking from within the heart of I HEART strategic interests. (Interview sound recording plays.) My voice: So do you think that after the elections there were signs that the European Union wanted to engage with Hamas? Interviewee One: Internally I think there was a wish to be engaged with Hamas. But again, because of the pressure from the Americans, pressure from the Israeli lobbies and their strategic interests with the Americans overweighed this decision to be engaged with Hamas. My voice: So internal. To individuals. Or? Interview One: Not individuals – I mean persons. In many countries I was in contact with many Europeans, politicians. I have always the feeling that through the discussion, that there is internally in the parties – in

74  Catherine Charrett the government/officials there is a wish to be engaged with Hamas, to hear from Hamas and to know exactly how can we come out from this impasse. But again, this is only though dialogue on a non-official basis. (Cards presented to audience with ecstatic actions.)

OOOOOH PART OF ME WISHES TO SPEAK WITH HAMAS OH BUT I CAN’T I JUST CAN’T I HEART MY STRATEGIC INTERESTS WAY TOO MUCH (Interview sound recording plays.) Interviewee Two: I’m almost sure that all of the ... I haven’t met one diplomat, except from Israel, who had agreed about this non-talking with Hamas. My voice: You haven’t met one diplomat who thought it was a good idea? Interviewee two: Nope. My voice: I know! Interviewee Two: Ya. Israelis. But they are the worse diplomats I have ever met. They create enemies everywhere they show up ... they are aggressive and they are telling lies. They have done that about me. For sure! So, I am furious at them too. But ... they are not acting as diplomats ... but as warriors. My voice: So I mean ... if diplomats you have met ... and I feel the same through what I have read, that refusing to talk with Hamas was a bad idea, how did the EU come to follow the conditions? Interviewee two: Well ... terrible mistake was of course not respecting these elections results in 2006. And I was observing these elections and I usually say at home it was as boring as observing elections in Denmark. Absolutely nothing happened. You know it was the true will of the people. Yup. Come on, that is called democracy. And, that Israel ... and then ... to say beforehand, would they recognise Change and Reform, which was the name of the party of Hamas, if they didn’t renounce on  that and that and that ... You know, how many parties in Israel could run for the elections if the same conditions were applied on them. Abstain from violence, recognition of the other parties and so on ... So you know, it’s absurd. Everybody knows that it’s absurd. So, this has nothing to do with logistics, logistics yes, but logic. It has nothing to do with the rule of law. It has nothing to do with anything in that area. It partakes and it’s of Israel’s ongoing campaign, using or misusing the holocaust for everything, which is still efficient in Germany, and the US, Czech Republic, Poland, that’s it ...

Untraining critique 75 (Cards presented to audience with ecstatic actions.)

OOOO I love it ... ITS ABSURD BUT I LOVE IT ... THE WARRIORS FILL MY STRATEGIC INTERESTS (Interview sound recording plays.) My voice: Was there a concern within the Commission that by continuing to fund the government who did not win? Support for Fatah, including not being able to pay the salaries of the civil servants in Gaza, was there a discussion of how this would affect the viability of the government? The newly elected government, which was Hamas? Interviewee Three: I think that, not that I remember. There was a fairly clear consensus that we had to do all we could to support the good guys, whether or not they were the ones who won the election. That reflects badly on our commitment to universal democratic principles but there was also the generally held belief that Hamas, while providing obviously appreciated services and support for the Palestinian population, which no doubt contributed to their popularity particularly amongst the disadvantaged people of Gaza who were and still are living in of course appalling situations. That the fact, that Hamas were unable to commit themselves to the Quartet principles, particularly their recognition of the state of Israel and renouncing terrorism and violence that ... there were big questions about whether that sort of party emerging from any sort of election was a proper electoral process. So, I don’t think there was really any discussion whether we should be giving matching support to Hamas or is what we are doing somehow distorting the democratic process in the Palestinian System? There was a general belief that Hamas ... I think it was more the question of whether we should have been so enthusiastic to let the elections happen in the first place. (Cards presented to audience with ecstatic actions.)

NO OF COURSE NOT WE DON’T NEED TO THINK ABOUT THE CONSQUENCES OF OUR POLICIES. ....YIPPEE THANK YOU STRATEGIC INTERESTS I LOVE YOU. (Interview sound recording plays:) My voice: I think Ms. Naim said last time that she, you blamed, or think  that Western involvement was largely responsible for the

76  Catherine Charrett split  between Fatah and Hamas. Can you explain a bit more about this? (Recording in Arabic first, and then translated live on the recording.) Interviewee Four: Blame the West and I hold them responsible for the split because they did not have any transparency and they were not honest with us. And they failed the principle of democracy, which is their own principle. And by refusing to deal with the government which was formed after the elections, and refusing to deal with the results of the elections, which they themselves supervised. Their response was disinterested and biased. I also blame them because the losing party, Fatah party, they took strength in the west; they made them feel stronger, and this contributed to the split also. (Said directly to the audience.) Yup ... that’s what happened. But perhaps the saddest part is that no one was surprised that the EU ignored the election results. Many were perhaps disappointed. But no one was surprised (Get up from chair and walk to the front of the table.) (Said directly to the audience.) Is there a ritualised and anxious attachment to a particular narrative of strategic interests which prevents the possibility of acting in interesting ways in politics? This takes us to the fifth and final scene of the performance, ‘The old bag who stole my ...’ In this scene I use the creation of the fantastical space of the Toffee Cup to take us through a Brechtian presentation of researching politics. I reflect on the making of the performance piece in a mode which works to both interrogate the practice of producing knowledge in IR, and of my own position within this process. I begin the scene standing on a table. I remove the costumes I had put on during the performance, as well as the layers of clothing I started the performance with. I stand on the table in a skimpy, but playful dress. I comment that, [Scene Five: The dress was from Oxfam ‒ so at least I was using my purchasing power for good right?’] Here I use the Brechtian critique on myself, interrogating my own social embeddedness in the assemblage of the objects/products for this scene. [Scene Five: Now as I continued on my journey to imagine the toffee cup ... I was on my way home at this point ... I did pause and think ... how wonderful is it that I have the space to think about such things as imaginable or unimaginable as toffee cups ... what a gracious place I

Untraining critique 77 occupy in the social hierarchies of the world whereby I am permitted such luxuries. So maybe I don’t need anything more for the toffee cup ... perhaps I need less Maybe I just need a little space; a little room. Maybe I just need a little break ‒ Just a pause ...] (Crouch down on the table.) The toffee cup may not be an actual place. Rather it is space ... the space at the top of one’s breath, the pause before the next step ... a slight break before we perform what comes next ... before we do what we always do ... perhaps in this moment there is the possibility to change, ever so slightly, what is the normal fiction of our lives ... a moment whereby we can observe how we got here and why, who is not here with me and why, what is not here and can it be here ... A pause ... an opening-up ... and then go forward ... or maybe not ... or then go forward but maybe just a little differently.]

Creative scholarly performances Sometimes we don’t need to know more; we need to know differently. The preface to Vikki Bell’s book Performativity and Belonging alerts us to the importance of the politics behind methodological decisions. Bell writes, The promise of performativity therefore must also be that those who utilize it reflect upon how their interventions themselves perform within a contemporary context of power relations. The political question does not come after the analytic therefore; they are entwined at the outset, (Bell, 1999, p. 5) If we understand research and writing as performative then we can consider, what we are doing with our words. How does our training limit what we want to say? And how does training shape the content of our words? This chapter promotes reflective and unruly academic performances. If writing and research dissemination are the performances we do as part of our profession and our social and scholarly environments, then perhaps we can think about performing them differently. Daily performances can be reflective and transformative. Victor Turner explains that the postmodern move in anthropology is increasingly concerned with process and with performance (Turner, 1988). Performance is central to how humans present their actions and communicate meaning. Humans do

78  Catherine Charrett not only perform to each other, but importantly, they also perform to themselves as a way of revealing themselves to themselves. ‘If man is a sapient animal, a tool making animal, a self-making animal, a symbol-using animal, [they are] no less performing animals [...] in the sense that [person] is a selfperforming animal-their performances, are reflexive’ (Ibid., p. 81). The anthropological study of social rituals and the field of Performance Studies reflect on how rituals allow for both the maintenance and the transformation of society. Moore argues that social processes should be understood ‘through the relationship between regularisation, situational adjustment and indeterminacy’ (Moore cited in Ibid.). ‘Performance gives us an occasion to “change in some ways while remaining the same in others”’ (McKenzie, 2001, p. 32). Performance can include ‘speech behaviour, the presentation of self in everyday life, stage drama or social drama’ (Turner, 1988, p. 7), which all oscillate between order and transformation. Cultural performances, such as performance art offer the possibility to reflect on the rituals and categories that bind society, and the possibility to experiment and be creative with those same social rituals. What was it that I really wanted to say? The lens of performance I am putting forward allows us to observe the daily practices and modes of communication that bind us together as scholars, and to interrogate the meaning of these performances. What work are these practices doing? What exclusions are they repeating? At the level of the psyche Butler (1993, p. 179) presents how the exteriorisation, or outward performance of the self can be understood through layers of foreclosure: Psychoanalysis insists that the opacity of the unconscious sets limits to the exteriorization of the psyche. It also argues, rightly I think, that what was exteriorized or performed can only be understood through reference to what is barred from the signifier and from the domain of corporeal legibility. Understanding daily rituals as a presentation of the self can offer the opportunity to present parts of politics and of political selves that may be foreclosed. Performance art can speak of an emotional intelligence that has been foreclosed through discipline and training, of what we and our bodies know to be right or important. Interrogating the form of writing and the form of research presentation allows for new things to be said. Performance and cultural dramas can be understood as the acting out of experiences that may be oppressed, subjugated or foreclosed. To reflect on what belongs to me, and what does not belong to me. To reflect on that which wants to discipline me.

Untraining critique 79 Turner’s (1988) work on liminality has identified performance or ritualised spaces as zones of indeterminacy, whereby hierarchies or social norms that structure daily living are undone. Liminal rituals or rites of passage often involve the reversal of hierarchies or gender roles. In this way performance can be regarded as spaces for potential transformation, as normal social structures become unfixed. Butler developed Turner’s work through a reading of Derrida’s concept of citation; this stressed that the liminal is always present. Subjects are in a constant process of being made and making. Importantly, every iteration of the self and the institution can also be understood as a possibility to reflect on those rituals that have trained us, and to imagine performing them differently. A performative ontology allows us to see the institutions we inhabit and produce as fluid. Butler challenges the idea that subjects encounter their discursively constituted environment in opposition. These environments are not fixed. They can be altered, transformed, manipulated. This view offers a more humble interaction with agency, whereby the subject may ‘take up the tools where they lie’ (Butler, 1990, p. 199), and use the tools for change. I took up the tools of academic training and I put them to work for me and for my desire to invoke an alternative conversation about Palestinian politics. I was a subject of my training, but also an active participant in the reproduction of my profession and my political field. Deleuze speaks of a creativity that is always present. Creativity already exists in being. ‘What has been, if not denied, then bracketed, namely the creativity of things, their self-activity, indeed, the very insistence of life, is put back into the frame’ (cited in Bell, 2007, p. 103).

Conclusion Performance draws attention to the expressions of the self and emotions foreclosed from politics as a professional site, and from academia as a site that comments on politics. Performance art can express the embodied emotions and psychic foreclosures of political experiences and events. It can rework the form of language and the form of knowledge dissemination in a way that creates phenomenological bonds with its audience. Performance addresses those iterations of politics that are trained out, and it provides a process for recollecting and reconnecting with that which had been disciplined. Queer interventions both in the field of IR and in gender and sexual politics more generally make crucial inroads into dismantling regimes of intelligibility based on binary systems that hinder the possibility for creative expression. In the production of political knowledge these binaries may include serious/ ridiculous; rigorous/banal; legitimate/illegitimate. Performance art creates space for an emotional intelligence that disagrees with how these framings structure approaches to political research, and research dissemination. First, these binaries hinder creativity, by deterring both students and researchers

80  Catherine Charrett from approaching political issues through methods that may be deemed less serious, but I argue no less rigorous. Second, these binaries create hierarchies of preferences, and often along gendered lines, in how knowledge is produced and responded to. So, when we, as scholars try to fit into our institutions and our professions, we may ask, what does it mean to be serious? Why do I have to fit in? What does fitting in do to me, and my ability to speak and to know my research? What is left out when an ‘I’ is in? So perhaps a certain amount of untraining needs to occur, whereby we reflect on the ritualised practices that bind us together as a scholarly community. Perhaps we can choose to start experimenting; we can choose to take risks. For me, I am always pleasantly moved by the thoughtful, emotional, surprised and caring responses the audience has to my performance work. Palestinian and non-Palestinian viewers feel the work makes a difference. The steps we take to make a difference do not have to be big, but I believe they should be done with care, and that care will be transmitted. Perhaps we can take small subversive steps against those rituals we feel do not reflect our intentions or objectives. We can let the experiences of emotions and the expressions of embodiment shine through our work.

Notes 1 Sally Moore and Barbara Myerhoff include speech as a performed ritual. Performativity theorists such as John Austin, Jacques Derrida and Judith Butler also treat language as ritual. 2 James Luna has another performance piece called James Luna, History of Luiseno: La Jolla Christmas, San Diego, 1990. 3 James Luna, Lusieno Indian, ‘Old site: The Artifact Piece’, accessed 4 March, 2019,

Works cited Ahmed, S. (2006) Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Ahmed, S. (2010) The Promise of Happiness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Bell, V. (1999) Performativity & Belonging. London: Sage. Bell, V. (2007) Culture and Performance: The Challenge of Ethics, Politics and Feminist Theory. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. Bleiker, R. (2009) Aesthetics and World Politics. New York: Springer. Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Abingdon: Routledge. Butler, J. (1993) Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’. Hove: Psychology Press. Butler, J. (2000) ‘Agencies of Style for a Liminal Subject’. In P. Gilroy, I. Grossberg, and A. McRobbie (eds), Without Guarantees: In Honour of Stuart Hall (pp. 30–37). London: Verso. Dayton, J., and V. Faris (2006) Little Miss Sunshine. Available at: com/title/tt0449059/ (Accessed: 25 February 2019).

Untraining critique 81 Durkheim, É. (2001) The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Translated by C. Cosman. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edkins, J., and A. Kear (2013) International Politics and Performance: Critical Aesthetics and Creative Practice. Abindgon: Routledge. Halberstam, J. (1998) Female Masculinity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Halberstam, J. (2011) The Queer Art of Failure. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Jarvis, L., and T. Legrand (2016) ‘Legislating for Otherness: Proscription Powers and Parliamentary Discourse’, Review of International Studies 42(3), pp. 558–574. doi: 10.1017/S0260210515000509 Jarvis, L., and T. Legrand (2017) ‘Preaching to the Converted: Parliament and the Proscription Ritual’, Political Studies 65(4), pp. 947–965. doi: 10.1177/0032321717694049 Luna, J. (1987) The Artifact Piece. Performed in San Diego, Musée de l’Homme. McKenzie, J. (2001) Perform Or Else: From Discipline to Performance. London and New York: Routledge. Phelan, P. (1993) Unmarked: The Politics of Performance. London and New York: Psychology Press. Rai, S.M. (2010) ‘Analysing Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament’, The Journal of Legislative Studies, 16(3), pp. 284–297. doi: 10.1080/13572334.2010.498098. Rai, S. M. (2015) ‘Political Performance: A Framework for Analysing Democratic Politics’, Political Studies, 63(5), pp. 1179–1197. doi: 10.1111/1467-9248. 12154. Rao, R. (2016) ‘The Diplomat and the Domestic: Or, Homage to Faking It’, Millennium Journal of International Studies, 45(1), pp. 105–112. Shapiro, M.J. (2010) The Time of the City: Politics, Philosophy and Genre. Abingdon: Routledge. Shapiro, M.J. (2013) Studies in Trans-disciplinary Method: After the Aesthetic Turn. Abingdon: Routledge. Turner, V.W. (1988) The Anthropology of Performance. New York: PAJ Publications.

A Reading List Butler, Judith. (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. Butler, Judith. (1993) Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits Of “Sex.” New York: Routledge. Butler, Judith. ‘What Is Critique? An Essay on Foucault Virtue’. Originally delivered, in shorter form, as the Raymond Williams Lecture at Cambridge University in May of 2000. Published in longer form in The Political: Readings in Continental Philosophy, edited by David Ingram. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002. Darwish, Mahmoud. (2007) ‘Edward Said: A Contrapuntal Reading’. Translated by Mona Anis. Cultural Critique 67 (2007). Halberstam, Judith. (2011) The Queer Art of Failure. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. McKenzie, Jon. (2001) Perform or Else: From Discipline to Performance. London: Routledge. Muñoz, José Esteban. (1999) Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

82  Catherine Charrett Paris Is Burning. (1990) Directed by Jennie Livingston. Miramax Films. Shapiro, Michael. (2010) The Time of the City: Politics, Philosophy and Genre Abingdon: Routledge. Tawil-Souri, Helga and Dina Matar. (2016) Gaza as Metaphor. London: Hurst.

3 Connecting with Others

Listening is one of the most highly prized ‘skills’ of human interaction, and is the subject of many training programmes. I regularly hear that a quality of attention and listening is one of the most significant things a leader can give to ‘followers’. Yet what do we actually mean by ‘listening’? I believe that if I am really listening to you, I of course hear and digest your words, and at the same time, I feel your interior. It’s as if I take you into myself, and your inner emotional landscape with all its layers becomes more directly available to me. My whole nervous system resonates with your emotional interior. This may sometimes include parts that you yourself may not even be including or be in contact with. We did this all the time as children. Our body/mind systems are hard-wired to feel people and our environment in this way. As children we felt everything that was going on around us, which is exactly part of what became too much at times, particularly when what was going on felt incongruent – a dissonance between what was being said and what was actually going on energetically and emotionally – and/or when the emotions/energies/impulses around were perceived as being unsupportive or threatening. And when I feel your interior, and you feel mine, and we are each aware of this happening, we can say that only then is there a beginning of actually relating, and that everything else is more or less transactional form of relationship.

Connection to Others in From Absence to Presence: Reflections on Corporate Culture, Nicholas Janni, 2017, p.5.

4 The labour of political theatre as embodied politics: a conversation Richa Nagar and Anna Selmeczi

Cape Town 29 August 2018 Dear Richa, It’s been so very long since you so generously shared with me an early version of Hungry Translations: Relearning the World Through Radical Vulnerability (Nagar in journeys with Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan and Parakh Theatre, 2019), a manuscript that, in less than a year, had grown into a book from the chapter that you drafted for our volume a few years ago now. So much has happened to us and our book projects since, and now, dreading that I might be too late, I would like to take your kind invitation and begin a dialogue on the work which that chapter-draft, ‘Political Theatre, Radical Pedagogy, and Embodied Politics’ took on, ‘A Syllabus in 13 Acts’ embraced and Hungry Translations moulded into fullness. At a later point of this conversation, I would like to return to an exchange about listening that we didn’t get to finish when you last visited Cape Town in June 2016 – just as in Muddying the Waters (Nagar, 2014), listening is a crucial element of the praxis of ethical engagement that Hungry Translations narrates. First, however, I would like to ask you to speak about ­translation – a notion that features already in Playing with Fire (Sangtin Writers and Nagar, 2006), threads through Muddying the Waters, and gains centre stage in your most recent work. In writing the early work with Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (SKMS), translation emerges in the process that you and your co-authors refer to as the transformation of Sangtin Yatra into Playing with Fire; a process that of course brought with itself the recognition that ‘no act of translation is without problems of voice, authority, and representation’, and did so under mounting pressure to publish the work in English, so as to gain wider support for the co-authors of Sangtin Yatra who were under intensifying attack in the wake of the book’s publication in India (Sangtin Writers and Nagar, 2006, p. xxiii). As such, active reflection on the complicated interconnectedness of languages, genres and dynamics of social exclusion and the corresponding elitist assumptions shaping the politics of

The labour of political theatre 85 knowledge production became indispensable for the collective’s praxis of alliance work and co-authorship already at this point. It challenged you all to keep negotiating, ever since, the risks of real and metaphoric border-­ crossings without giving up hope in the ability to build relationships of situated solidarity across differences of all kinds. In Muddying the Waters, it is through re-telling the very story spanning from Sangtin Yatra to Playing with Fire (and beyond) that you rearticulate your approach to positionality, feminist alliance work, critique and co-authorship, and note the increasing prominence of an ‘attention to language and translation’ in your work since those books (Nagar, 2014, p. 81). Indeed, Muddying the Waters is a beautiful account of the ways in which ‘the labour and praxis of translation constitute the core of engaged research’ (Ibid., p. 16). As the first truth of co-authoring tales in feminist alliance work underlines later in the book, this is a continuously evolving labour of love. It is the bonds made of ‘dreams, dissonance, affect, and trust’, themselves grounded in ‘everyday relationships, emotional investments, and creative skills’, that enable translating knowledge created through discussion and reflection in one place into a language that resonates in another (Ibid., p. 168). In Hungry Translations (Nagar in journeys with Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan and Parakh Theatre, 2019), the staging of Hansa, a version of Premchand’s last play originally titled Kafan, unfolds into a process that threads these same bonds, emotions, skills and dreams even closer together. In telling the story of this journey, the book offers an incredibly rich coarticulation of insights on alliance work, scholarship, theatre and teaching as sites of knowledge-making and politics. Hunger, that is, the interdependent yearnings of hunger for creativity and politics through theatre and the hunger of the belly is central for the ways in which you speak about the ongoing project of disrupting given logics and norms of knowledge production in this book. The hunger for theatre that you and your co-travellers experience and bring into the making of Hansa is just as (if not more) burning as the kind of hunger that is usually accounted for under the label of ‘the social’, the hunger that is supposed to consume ‘the poor’ i.e. those in need of ‘development’ and ‘empowerment’. It is through fully embracing this truth of equal fires that the book renders the call to ‘radically rewrite the scripts of caste, gender, and poverty politics’ (Ibid., p. 190) as the ‘interbraid[ing of] poetic justice and social justice’ (Ibid., p. 33). While critical pedagogy has been part of your reflections on co-authorship and alliance work shared in Playing with Fire and Muddying the Waters too, it is in the latest book that this evolving collective practice and, through it, the commitment to rewriting the scripts of poverty politics is most comprehensively ‘carried over’ into the US university classroom in the form of the course titled ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ whose syllabus makes up the Fourth Part of Hungry Translations. Journeying with Hansa was, as you say (Nagar in journeys with Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan and Parakh

86  Richa Nagar and Anna Selmeczi Theatre, 2019, p. 190), crucial for making this step seem possible, not least because it created and made available an expanded notion of staging for working towards just ways of telling and receiving stories in the academic learning context. Staging is the third word I would like to touch on later in our conversation, however, for now, can you please share with those who have not yet had a chance to read the new book, how translation features in ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ and the question that drives it: ‘Can there be an embodied process of learning how to tell and receive stories responsibly in and through the classroom?’ (Nagar, 2017, p. 155). How does translation help continue the interweaving of poetic justice and social justice in this setting? In the hope that you have the time and mind-body-soul-space to respond, warmest wishes, Anna Saint Paul 9 September 2018 Dear Anna, Thank you so much for the gift of this rich letter and for the labour of love that you put into arriving at it. You offer so much in your opening note, especially with your attentive reading of ‘translation’ as an evolving concept and vocabulary that is rooted in its own unfolding praxis: from Sangtin Yatra: Saat Zindgiyon Mein Lipta Nari Vimarsh to Playing with Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism Through Seven Lives in India; then from there to the collective movement making in Sitapur that birthed Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan or SKMS and inspired me to create Muddying the Waters: Co-Authoring Feminisms Across Scholarship and Activism; and then from there to Hungry Translations: Relearning the World Through Radical Vulnerability. As a way to acknowledge some of the layers that you so thoughtfully summarise above, let me begin this reflection on translation and embodied learning by specifying some of the stages in the making of our own conversation – stages that were also crucial moments in the making of Hungry Translations. I sent you an early version of the manuscript of Hungry Translations in October 2017, but it was not until May 2018 that I could submit it to the University of Illinois Press. A lot of changes happened in the book during that intervening period, including changes that were inspired by discussions on hungers and translations with members of SKMS in Sitapur in January 2018. These changes were part of the ongoing journeys that you allude to above. When – in 2015 – you, Erzsébet, and Shine first invited me to submit a 5,000 word-long chapter for your edited volume, I had just begun to process the huge learning experiences that had accompanied the making of the play,

The labour of political theatre 87 Hansa, Karo Puratan Baat, in 2014. Your invitation encouraged me to take a first stab at writing the piece (tentatively titled then as ‘Political Theatre, Radical Pedagogy, and Embodied Politics’). However, that writing felt grossly inadequate. I found it impossible to either summarise the power of that collective experience or offer a fragment of it as ‘embodied pedagogy’ for academic audiences without struggling emotionally, psychologically, and physically with the countless ways in which twenty people restlessly learned to breathe, move, and grapple with meanings of life and death together over a period of six months. Those six months of learning to play, sing, and act together had jarred each one of us in profound ways, such that none of us could ever be the same people that we were before Hansa. I could not find a language to analyse or explain what these intensely felt entanglements of theatre, pedagogy and embodiment were –or what their implications could be – for this all-encompassing yet seemingly amorphous thing that we call ‘politics’. Each person who had walked together over six months had been touched or shaken for life, and the difficulty of drafting a chapter for your volume was among the several experiences that made me realise that grappling with such learning could only happen in and through the body itself. That realisation, along with some other serendipitous encounters, is what set into motion the transformation of a course called ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ into ‘A Syllabus in Thirteen Acts’. My first attempt at that Syllabus, which tried to imagine the classroom as theatre – not just metaphorically but also in a very real, fully embodied sense – is what I offered when I visited Cape Town in June 2016 for the Radical(ising) Collaborations workshop that you and Sophie Oldfield had co-organised. The ­conversations in that workshop – especially a comment from our dear friend, the late Elaine Salo – were powerful and remained with me for a long time. Elaine casually asked a piercing question: why do US-based scholars care so much about looking for and claiming transnational resonances when that is hardly  a priority for researchers in South Africa while engaging a political issue or concern? While Elaine had not addressed this comment specifically to me, I took it to heart. It inspired me to guard against slipping into a romance of the ‘transnational’, and to keep grounding the Syllabus in my own journeys of unlearning and relearning with Sangtin Writers, SKMS and Hansa – all of which had shaped that Syllabus’ own form and priorities. Elaine’s comment also pushed me to create the conditions that would allow me to teach the Syllabus (by then, it was ‘A Syllabus in Fifteen Acts’) at the University of Minnesota for two semesters in 2017. The organising and teaching of this class over two semesters with Tarun Kumar, who had also co-led the making of Hansa as well as several plays with saathis of SKMS, became an essential part of continuing to till the field on which Hungry Translations could grow. Even as I describe some of these crucial moments in the making of Hungry Translations, one can already see how translation cannot be seen

88  Richa Nagar and Anna Selmeczi as a unidirectional journey from an ‘original’ version in one language to an ‘equivalent’ version in another language. Rather, translation becomes a dance where resonances, experiences and feelings; critiques and comments; agreements and disagreements circulate in complex ways to shape what is told or not told (and how), so that each retelling evolves and shifts from one site to another based on the demands of the context and audience where it needs to do its work. These are some of the truths of storytelling I discuss in detail in the last chapter of Muddying the Waters. However, Hungry Translations only begins with this premise. What it advances is the idea of translation as an intimate relationship between the self and another, one that always struggles with how not to make that another into an Other. In this conceptualisation of translation or retelling as a relationship, one must always yearn to do justice to stories that are lived and narrated on an unequal or violent terrain, while also recognising that such an exercise is always marked by mistakes and gaps. In terms of politics and praxes of solidarity and alliance work, then, the labour of translation is the collective labour of continuing to co-travel in search for justice, without assuming that the meanings of justice or ethical co-travelling can be learned outside of the travelling itself. Such co-journeying requires each person in the collective to become radically vulnerable before one another, while also recognising that such radical vulnerability cannot be demanded; it can only emerge as a part of an organic collective process and it comes at a different price and with different risks for each in the collective. The power of translation – as relationships in search for justice on an unequal terrain – then resides in the hunger to continue to search ethically for just translations, rather than arriving at perfect translation. For, the expectation or assumption of arrival at perfect translation implies the end of the relationship that is hungry translation. It is precisely such an awakening for perpetually hungry translation in collectivity that ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements: A Syllabus in Fifteen Acts’ seeks to awaken. Even as the course acknowledges and struggles against the institutionalised context of a university classroom, it tries to create an anti-hierarchical space in which the co-travellers can begin to appreciate and confront the (im)possibilities of collective learning. Learning to let go of one’s own story and to co-own strands of each other’s stories in an embodied journey, where each learns to recognise the protagonist and the antagonist – the human and the inhuman – that lives within each one of us are some of the principles through which every single person who inhabits the space of classroom begins to walk together on this path of hungry translations. I am truly grateful for your engagement, Anna, and look forward to continuing this dialogue with you. Richa

The labour of political theatre 89 Cape Town 7 October 2018 Dear Richa, Thank you so much for this rich and beautiful response. I feel honoured and excited about our dialogue, both its substance and spirit. In the face of constant and steadily increasing pressure to fulfil and produce, I find comfort in thinking about your work, despite struggling to trust my own writing and its capacity to match the powers of yours. Now, getting ready to finally respond to you so much later than I was hoping to, I’m holding on to what you wrote in an earlier email about the demanding time and timing of our exchange: ‘I hope that wherever we arrive with this conversation in the end feels deep and “loved” (rather than rushed in order to meet a deadline)’. Not every pocket of time that we peel away from other tasks and passions eventually grants us the ability to respond adequately, however. Resonating with so much of the process of imagining and editing this very volume, that recognition is one of several powerful lessons of your recollection of Hungry Translations’ coming into being. When texts take their time, beyond the dizzying juggle of all that is life and the simple physics of not having enough hours in the day to fit in everything, we have few choices but to allow ourselves to take the time, because giving the work love sometimes means facing the inadequacies of writing. Your narrative of the various junctures of the manuscript’s development shares that gesture precisely – the acknowledgement of an expressional insufficiency of the language of ‘embodied pedagogy’ available to you at that point. Without that acknowledgement, invoked by your deep commitment to Parakh and your co-creators, any revision or expansion of ‘Political Theatre, Radical Pedagogy, and Embodied Politics’ would have failed to be true to the collective experience of Hansa. Contrarily, a sense of inadequacy that keeps feeding translators’ hunger, one that emanates from the necessarily imperfect translation of stories from one context to another, arises exactly from one’s genuine commitment to the just telling and receiving of stories. Hungry Translations emerged, we could then say, through writing and travelling from the inadequacy of a language that fixes and disciplines, to the inadequacy of languages that keep moving between unscripted meanings of justice. This journey, this movement of carrying over the many-layered lifechanging experience of the making of Hansa into the space of academic knowledge-making at a prominent American university could not have happened, as you recall, without approaching Parakh as a pedagogical practice and, in turn, without finding a way to render the body as a valid medium of learning. Hence the commitment to honour – or abide by – the lessons of the very process of making Hansa. This you do so by introducing the notion of staging and inviting co-learners to (re-)enact teaching and learning as ‘a practice of strategic retellings and embodied performance’ (Nagar, 2017, p. 163).

90  Richa Nagar and Anna Selmeczi Staging allows the class to perform a whole set of oscillating movements that turn Parakh’s theatre as pedagogy into pedagogy as theatre for the course’s fifteen acts (and beyond). With the relational understanding of translation that, as you say, has come to be a point of departure for the manuscript, and another basic principle according to which ‘All politics are politics of storytelling’ (Nagar in journeys with Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan and Parakh Theatre, 2019, p. 205), the syllabus outlines a mode of engaging with global politics that moves back and forth between participants’ own stories and those of geographically distant others conveyed in readings, audiovisual material and interactions within the class. Throughout the syllabus you encourage participants to experience these stories not only intellectually and verbally, but emotionally and corporally too. You ask everyone (your students, readers, and facilitators, including yourself) to reflect on how reading and writing make us feel, on what triggers joy or sorrow, and thus to become aware of how our bodies, our senses and embodied memories shape the ways in which we perform our own stories and receive those of others. Central to this call and the broader epistemological and ontological underpinnings of ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ is the composite of mind-body-soul-being and, accordingly, a methodological refusal to insulate the classroom as the space, and the intellect as the vehicle of learning from the rest of the senses and sites in which we experience and inhabit the world. Could you please say more about how this refusal was received and performed during the course? How did co-learning and co-creation throughout ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ relate to the ways in which the making of Hansa was moved by the refusal to distinguish between the hungers of the body and the soul? How did the course add to or qualify the work of centring ‘hunger as an episteme’ (Ibid., p. 45)? In the part of Hungry Translations that precedes the syllabus, you insert fragments from director Tarun Kumar’s and actor Alok’s journal. Both sets of fragments speak powerfully to the affective and embodied aspects of alliance work and how they shape the political and creative process. Both offer remarkable reflections on the crucial catalyst signified by the co-, on how much depth the genuinely shared nature of translating Kafan into Hansa lent to that process. It was the intensity of collectively grappling with the various hungers of the text, as well as the intertwining of the text’s characters and world with the often very difficult events and experiences affecting some of the co-creators during this time, that amplified the transformative potential of staging Hansa. It was due to a complete collective immersion into the creative labour of the play that, as you write, ‘all workshop participants [became] researchers and thinkers of life’ (Ibid., p. 150). In reflecting on the magnitude of this transformation and the work of moving between the embodied pedagogies of Hansa and ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’, a question about the temporality of political and creative labour occurred to me. At the bases of co-creating Hansa are fifteen years of building your praxis of alliance work through radical vulnerability and trust. The all-consuming

The labour of political theatre 91 intensity of making Hansa adds a crucial temporal dimension too, as over a period of six months participants dedicated time to collective work sometimes well beyond their means and resources. When thinking about the transformative potential of university-based pedagogical practice in light of such history and dedication, how can one avoid feeling limited by the time-frame of a semester? How, if at all, do the multiple time pressures and the transience of university education modify your understanding of alliance and co-authorship? Hungry Translations’ co-authored Epilogue touches upon some of these questions in relation to academic writing through the provocation of ‘why bother’? Would you consider responding to these questions in terms of that provocation? With much love, Anna Saint Paul 11 October 2018 Dear Anna, I could not have asked for a more empathetic and engaged reading of Hungry Translations or of my response to your first letter. I love your crisp and concise embedding of hungry translation in the politics of language: Hungry Translations emerged, we could then say, through writing and travelling from the inadequacy of a language that fixes and disciplines, to the inadequacy of languages that keep moving between unscripted meanings of justice ... In reading the manuscript of the book, you seem to have embraced the spirit of a hungry translator. As you flow with this spirit, you observe how such translations go hand in hand with pedagogical practices that must necessarily work through the ‘composite of mind-body-soul-being’. Allow me to digress for a moment to confess that the use of those stringed words seems grossly inadequate even as I use them; for, connecting those four words through hyphens does not change their initial separateness. So right here, we have a good example of the ways in which language inevitably fixes our articulations, even as we try to challenge that very fixity ... In any case, it is this embodied and deeply affective journey of the inseparable ‘composite’ beings in a collective mode that allows the co-learners to both undertake, and to theorise/internalise through performance of strategic retellings, the importance of feeling and scripting, embodying and enacting, rehearsing and staging. This underlying belief, then, is the starting point from where ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ invites its co-travellers and co-actors to be fully present in the journey; it asks each co-traveller to learn to tap into, and to give, the

92  Richa Nagar and Anna Selmeczi whole of ourselves to the journey of co-remembering, co-telling, co-scripting and co-performing our own stories in intense entanglement with those whom we have been previously taught to see as an Other in our families, in our communities, in our institutions, however we choose to define these families, communities and institutions. As a methodology of grappling ethically and in fully embodied ways with a shared journey of composite beings, I also appreciate your exquisite distillation of ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ as a: refusal to insulate the classroom as the space, and the intellect as the vehicle of learning from the rest of the senses and sites in which we experience and inhabit the world. At the same time, however, this refusal cannot be seen as merely methodological. Rather, it is an insistence on a mode of dwelling in worlds – as well as on modes of knowing, learning, and being – that are intentionally or unintentionally othered in formal institutions of ‘higher’ education. Such a refusal asks us to inhabit the realm of learning through a radical vulnerability which is collective by definition, and which can only be proposed as a vision and a desirable commitment, but which must emerge organically and cannot be demanded from the participants. The course of such a journey can never be predicted or replicated – much like the making of books/journeys such as Sangtin Yatra/Playing with Fire, or of a movement such as SKMS, or of a play such as Hansa. For, even if you try to repeat exactly the same process, the journey of learning how to become vulnerable together will be different each time a new group moves together. In such a dynamic journey, the designated instructor or teacher cannot be the ‘expert’ who can pretend to fully know the content of the lessons that are yet to come just because that person has chosen the readings and created the plan and assignments. Rather, the organiser of the course – as a class – must also submit to the course – as a journey – in which each one must learn to absorb/respond to/grow serendipitously and spontaneously with the varied ways in which the collective of composites is moving with one another. As a co-creator and co-learner of the course, then, the organiser must be prepared to guide the collective as each member goes through the ups and downs of becoming (or not becoming) vulnerable, and the critique, agitation, and creativity that flows from all of this. In responding to the insightful provocations you pose in your last letter, I am realising that to try to summarise how the afore-mentioned refusal was received and performed during the first two semesters of travelling with ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ in the classroom is just as impossibly hard as writing a 5,000-word essay on the embodied pedagogies of Hansa was. There were so many intimate stories and delicate transformations, so many difficult moments and joy-filled discoveries that happened for each participant in the process of walking together. Yet, I do not want to inadvertently slip into a mode of citing examples from the classes’ experience in a way that the

The labour of political theatre 93 participants – with whom I walked, shared, and learned so much – are unintentionally represented as subjects of another research or pedagogical experiment undertaken by an academic researcher. In fact, some members of the classes – as well as a member of the audience – have written about instances from the journey that opened up new modes of (re)learning for each ‘I’ and the ‘we’s’ that were co-emerging in the class. For instance, Esmae Heveron (2017) wrote a senior thesis that drew on her experiences while she was taking the class in Fall of 2017, and Maria Schwedhelm and Sara Musaifer, both of whom journeyed with the class twice, joined me in co-writing a piece for a pre-conference workshop on “Unsettling the University” in Mexico City (Musaifer, Nagar and Schwedhelm, 2018). Also, Surafel Abebe, a scholar of theatre, wrote a letter to the class after watching the play we performed in Fall 2017, and that letter is now a part of the Epilogue of Hungry Translations that Siddharth Bharath, Sara Musaifer, and I penned together. So, perhaps the most honest analysis and ethical representation of refusals we experienced and participated in can only happen as some kind of self-reflection or co-reflection. Thus, I prefer to respond to your provocations by highlighting a few key lessons that I learned in organising, facilitating and guiding this course over a period of two semesters with two groups of co-travellers/writers/actors. As you note, the co-creation of Hansa as well as ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ emerged from fifteen years of co-building an embodied praxis of alliance work through radical vulnerability and trust. This is the main reason why I invited Tarun Kumar to join me in teaching the course as I embarked on the work of translating it from a syllabus to serious theatrical praxis. Thankfully, Tarun could join me in the middle of the first semester and stay for the rest of that semester and for all of the second semester – something that added a very specific kind of continuity between Hansa and the first two semesters of teaching ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ as a Global Studies course at the University of Minnesota. This continuity – which required quite a bit of logistical and bureaucratic work with the university and for which Tarun chose to sacrifice his on-the-ground work as a theatre worker and actor in India for much of a year – was driven by at least two hopes. First, that the course would enable the participants to internalise – through an embodied praxis – the necessity of becoming radically vulnerable in order to forge collectivity in the form of a ‘blended but fractured we’.1 A second hope was that all the participants on the journey would be moved to appreciate the political, affective, and epistemic labour of those whose lives embody a refusal to distinguish between the hungers of the body-mind-heart-soul. The lessons I learned with respect to these hopes were at once deeply difficult and infinitely enriching. To begin with, the journey of organising, guiding, and building this course over two semesters in 2017 was also the same kind of intense, all-­ encompassing journey that the making of Hansa in 2014 was. Each semester brought its own creativity, joys, challenges, and hardships. These were not merely in relation to what all the participants were reading, retelling, and

94  Richa Nagar and Anna Selmeczi creating together but also in relation to participants’ interrogation of what it means to have a course like this in the spaces of the institution which has historically participated in colonising peoples, lands and knowledges, and whose violence continues to this day. Students brought their uneven and difficult personal and community histories with respect to the institutional space, one that made some of them reluctant to, or suspicious of, the principle of radical vulnerability. I had already known that radical vulnerability – which involves a fundamental trust in one another – cannot be demanded in the absence of an organically felt need of a collective to do so. I had known that while an embrace of radical vulnerability can lead to a beautiful and allencompassing creative journey, resistance to radical vulnerability can pose challenges if that principle is imposed as a rigid formula. However, based on my experiences with SKMS, Parakh Theatre, and the first semester of teaching ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’, I also believed that people in a group could adopt this principle for the sake of all that which might be gained in the process – including tough lessons in why solidarity work feels so darned impossible and gut-wrenching at times. Therefore, I was not entirely ready for a theoretical and political position that warranted a firm refusal to become radically vulnerable in the university classroom when Tarun and I encountered it in the second semester of teaching this course. On the one hand, this resistance posed a major challenge in a course that was premised on trusting, sharing and embracing radical vulnerability. On the other hand, it forced the participants to grapple with the ways in which radical vulnerability can be experienced as an artificial demand in a space such as the university which has colonised, erased, or dismissed the experiences, knowledges, theories, and stories of the othered. As someone who had undertaken the responsibility to guide the course and make it a worthwhile and meaningful experience for all, the question that became salient for me was: how could resistance to radical vulnerability also allow us to be creative in ways that could engage and represent our emerging critiques and analyses, especially as they related to struggles against the violent histories embodied by the academy? What could it mean to do justice to the fragments, disjunctures, and scars that marked the process of forging collectivity? It was only by consistently grappling with these questions that the participants in the second semester could create the powerful play, Fractured Threads, which they performed before an invited audience on 18 December 2017, about three years after the staging of Hansa, and seven months after the making of the play Re-telling Dis/Appearing Tales, created and performed by the earlier class. With respect to the second hope – that all the participants on the journey would be moved to appreciate the political, affective, and epistemic labour of those whose lives embody a refusal to distinguish between the hungers of the body and the soul – I learned some important lessons also. I had assumed that in order for me to become a perpetual learner, especially in the context of ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’, it was important that I did not resort to

The labour of political theatre 95 lecturing in class. I wanted the key understandings to emerge through the process of walking together rather than through lectured points that could be communicated or grasped in advance of the journey. I had hoped that these key understandings would include recognising how one’s own yearning to share, to empathise, to trust, and to create feeds into a collective hunger. The emergence of this understanding could then organically connect the members of the class with (a) the epistemic labour and contributions of those who made Sangtin Yatra/Playing with Fire, SKMS, and Hansa and (b) the ways in which material hungers that reside in the body become inseparable from hungers to co-analyse and co-create, and to struggle collectively in a mode where the dances across the i/we/they/you are productive of new relationships in search of contextually grounded articulations of justice. These are essential ingredients of ‘hunger as an episteme’. However, after co-guiding the course with Tarun over two semesters, I see things a bit differently. Because of the temporal and institutional limitations of a semester-long course where students must read, write, tell, share, create and perform together within a set number of weeks, it cannot be guaranteed that all the lessons will emerge organically from the group’s journey. Co-authorship that is imagined as a genuine sharing of authority is a slow and difficult process in a collective of composites, which is itself in the making. It is not uncommon for the most critical lessons – as well as deepest moments of appreciation for one’s co-travellers and for the shared journey – to be felt most powerfully at the end of a performance that tests us, whether that performance be a rally, a book release, or a staged performance. Not surprising, then, every time we have done plays in SKMS and Parakh, it is after the first public show, that the most acutely felt hunger to perform in the next show emerges. In a semester-long course, however, where time is short, it is important to ensure that the lessons that are unfolding in the journey are being translated back to the class – and key connections with other struggles are being made – so that everyone is on the same page and so that all can move together toward realising and appreciating the complex meanings of hunger as episteme. This is a hunger that includes an abiding commitment to grapple with the antagonist that lives in each protagonist and the ways in which the human and inhuman live in each of us. It is only through such a perpetually hungry mode of being that we can hope to refuse the separation between the self and other as part of doing justice to the violent histories and geographies all of us have inherited, individually and collectively. To conclude with the words that you offer in your letter, then, despite the multiple and intense time pressures and the transience of the university education, it is worthwhile to continue the fights to create spaces where we can bring in epistemes from worlds of struggle that can never be fully accessed, contained or imagined from within the spaces of the neoliberal university. It is only through such epistemes that we can interrupt the violence institutionalised by colonial and colonising modes of thinking, relating, knowing and

96  Richa Nagar and Anna Selmeczi being so rampant in the academy we know. And this, I think, is a sufficient reason to bother, again and again. I would like to express, once more, my sincerest gratitude to you for making this conversation happen. Richa Cape Town 20 February 2019 Dear Richa, There is so much in your last letter that could sprout many more exchanges; I keep coming up with questions that I would love to ask you, only to realise that in this response I have to, at least for the time being, conclude our dialogue. I would like to do so by returning to the thread of listening that we didn’t have the chance to talk through the last time we met in person. Along the way, I will speak to the notions of the ‘fractured but blended we’, refusal and radical vulnerability – notions through which you share the experiences of teaching ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ – so as to think about the ways in which these ideas, which were born, reinforced and challenged in collective praxis, help us face up to the violence of the (post-)colonial university. You are very right to note that what I translated as ‘a methodological refusal to insulate the classroom as the space, and the intellect as the vehicle of learning from the rest of the senses and sites in which we experience and inhabit the world’ is not merely methodological at all. It is, you write, ‘an insistence on a mode of dwelling in worlds – as well as modes of knowing, learning, and being’ that are normally ‘othered in institutions of “higher” education’. A form of ethics then and, indeed, it is only as such that it can remain true to the formation and movement of the ‘collective of composites’. Your letter is a rich and heartfelt reflection on the implications of this ethics for, among other things, the ways in which we account for the experiences of co-learning (-knowing and -being), as well as on the unexpected challenges that taking seriously such collectivity might present. Let me attend to both of these implications, the acts of refusal through which they take form and the hopes and lessons through which you tell them, as I’m making my way to the question of listening. I hope not to contain your story’s dance between radical vulnerability, refusal and the collective of composites, when I approach the two bundles of hopes and lessons that your write about from the vantage point of the university as the site of ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’. Certainly, the locatedness of the course has been consistently present in our conversation, but it is in your last letter that the arising contradictions come to the fore most palpably. As you write, the ethics of refusing the othering work of the university asks participants to become radically vulnerable in the collective process of learning,

The labour of political theatre 97 which of course also means that the figure of the ‘expert’, ever so firmly reinforced by the neoliberal university, has to be rejected above all by the persons who are officially designated as the course’s instructors. The refusal to separate the modes of learning, knowing and being that take place at the university from those taking place everywhere else can also be read as refusing what Stefano Harney and Fred Moten (2013) refer to as ‘the call to order’ and, in turn, the firm recognition of what they call study. Through these acts of refusal, the deep struggle that you describe in the Syllabus under the heading of Contradictions – the struggle of working towards an entirely non-­ hierarchical space while acknowledging its impossibility – becomes inhabitable and, through that, the space for radical vulnerability opens up too (Nagar in journeys with Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan and Parakh Theatre, 2019, p. 210). Yet, even while so refusing the call to uphold spatial-epistemic orders, the temporal frames of university-based learning remain and, as you write, necessitate the presence of some form of instructive translation if the crucial learnings and connections are to be truly shared. Perhaps the task then is to find the fine balance between this kind of hungry translation and what might be regarded as a call to order? The past few days I have been wondering if your experience of co-authoring Sangtin Yatra/Playing with Fire with the autobiographers might offer a helpful perspective from which to look at this balancing act. In the Introduction to that book, you write about how the collective was moved to do away with the binary between political work and scholarly work within the collaboration and the movement at large, and interrogate what being an ‘expert’ means. Through the process of co-authorship, you recount, the sangtins had come to understand ‘what each of us could bring to the collective so that all of us could become better educated about the issues we had chosen to struggle for’ (Sangtin Writers and Nagar, 2006, p. xl). Thinking about each member’s contribution to the collaboration in equal terms of skills and labour allowed you to realise that deploying your own skill and talent of writing and editing did not turn into any form of authority, so the autobiographers’ express request that you and Richa Singh guide the process of writing Sangtin Yatra was not an act of reinstating your ‘scholarly expertise’. As your co-authors Richa Singh and Ramsheela summed it up: ‘There is nothing wrong in your undertaking the main labour of making the book. It will still remain our book’ (Ibid., p. xxxix). Would it be fruitful to think of your and Tarun’s guiding translation – as opposed to the call to order that the posture of lecturing issues – along similar lines? I think that your refusal to ‘inadvertently slip into a mode of citing examples from the classes’ experience in a way that the participants [...] are unintentionally represented as subjects of another research or pedagogical experiment undertaken by an academic researcher’ suggests that it might indeed be. I deeply appreciated this gesture in your letter, not least for its resonance with my own attempts at grappling with writing from here – this university, city, country and continent as well as this mind-body-soul-being.

98  Richa Nagar and Anna Selmeczi Mapping onto the experience of (e)migration, these attempts are framed by spatially oscillating views on the epistemic values and ethical stakes of what I do. There is a sizeable disjuncture between the post-#RhodesMustFall imperative to interrogate acts of speaking for and speaking with, and the ways in which our work is still being received beyond spaces affected by this recent iteration of the call to decolonise. In spaces of ‘global’ scholarship, what seems mostly to validate my work is its ‘ethnographic’ aspect. In spaces of critical self-reflection steeped in the current moment of South African knowledge politics, my engagement with communities of struggle provokes the undoubtedly valid question: why must black people always be written about as subjects of suffering? (This was my equivalent of how Elaine’s question landed for you at our 2016 workshop.) It seems to me that the resistance to radical vulnerability that you and Tarun have encountered in the second semester of ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements’ performed a similar critique of knowledge production in and from the university. It is perfectly illustrative of the intricate conundrum that this act of resistance presents, that the course dedicates multiple sessions to the very problem that you render above as the question of ‘what it means to have a course like this in the spaces of the institution which has historically participated in colonising peoples, lands and knowledges, and whose violence continues to this day’. Act Four is titled ‘Settler colonialism, refusals, pedagogy’ and its synopsis reads ‘From radical vulnerability to radical refusals. What makes a refusal radical?’ (Nagar in journeys with Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan and Parakh Theatre, 2019, p. 225). In preparation for Act Six, participants are asked to read, among others, Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang’s ‘Decolonization is not a Metaphor’ (2012) and Harney and Moten’s The Undercommons (2013). Tuck and Yang express their fundamental suspicion towards decolonisation as merely a pedagogical project, as a metaphor that, they argue, in much of critical scholarship stands in for what genuine decolonisation is: ‘the repatriation of indigenous  land and life’  (Tuck and Yang, 2012, p. 1). From this perspective, asking the participants of a university-based class to make themselves radically vulnerable  might indeed seem ‘artificial’, as you put it. For Harney and Moten, on the other hand, reparation cannot be (the sole) end as, for them, demanding reparation remains within the logic of debt and thus of existing orders of subjection. Instead, or beyond, such a demand, they offer the undercommons as a ‘we’ that, through acts of radical refusals and experimentation, is planning to tear down such orders. The university can be a site of such acts, if a paradoxical one at that: ‘it cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment’, and so, the subversive intellectual who works for the undercommons is ‘in but not of the university’ (Harney and Moten, 2013, p. 26). In this charged field of refusals, can Tuck and Yang’s (2012, p. 10) urge ‘to be more impatient with each other’ take shape through radical vulnerability?

The labour of political theatre 99 Can fugitive planning (Harney and Moten 2013) be practiced by bringing into being a ‘fractured but blended “we”’ (Sangtin Writers and Nagar, 2006)? If mobilising a completely different vocabulary, these were the questions I tried to work through in a piece for the 2016 workshop on ‘Radical(ising) collaboration’. In the face of routinely failing public dialogues on rethinking the university, it seemed unable to offer room for blending that fractured ‘we’. At that point, when authoritatively presented critiques of the neoliberalising university collided head-on with accounts of the university as the place of speech instead of action, the place that isolates itself from the world of the township and looks elsewhere to find answers to local problems. Amidst the reverberations of so strong a reinforcement of the disjuncture between what students experienced as the world of the university and their own, reconstructing teaching and learning around the practice of just receiving and telling of stories seemed illusory. From the vantage point of Hungry Translations and this very dialogue, the contrast between that disjuncture and the ethics of refusing to separate the classroom as the space and intellect as the vehicle of learning from the rest of the senses and sites of our experiences seems even starker. Yet, the same vantage point sees me joining you once more as you guide this dialogue to a place of hope. If, as invoking Frantz Fanon Fred Moten suggests, a most urgent task is to ‘critique [...,] destroy and disintegrate the ground on which the settler stands, the standpoint from which the violence of colonialism and racism emanates’ (Harney and Moten 2013, p. 132), then a militant commitment to creating spaces for ‘rescripting the undercommons’ and ‘stitching new wor(l)ds’ is certainly worth trying and failing again and again (Nagar in journeys with Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan and Parakh Theatre, 2019, p. 229). Thank you so much, Richa, for the renewed hope and all that I learned through this conversation. With love and gratitude for giving me a chance to share the spirit of a hungry translator, Anna

Note The book, Hungry Translations: Relearning the World Through Radical Vulnerability, underwent significant revisions during the course of this letter exchange. The quotations that appear here in Anna’s letters to Richa, then, come from two versions of the book – an early draft that Richa shared with Anna in 2017 and a later version from 2019. Both versions appear in the references because some of the sections that Anna quotes from were revised or reworded in the published book. For us, this is also a small way to acknowledge and underscore the making of this conversation as a continuously unfolding journey that cannot be contained by fixed words on the page. 1 This expression first appeared in my introduction to Playing with Fire (Sangtin Writers and Nagar 2006, p. xxxxiv–xxxvii).

100  Richa Nagar and Anna Selmeczi

Works cited Harney, S., and F. Moten (2013) The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study. Wivenhoe: Minor Compositions. Heveron, E. (2017) Unlearning and Relearning the Self and Other: The Pedagogical Potential of Stories in the Classroom. Senior thesis. University of Minnesota. Musaifer, S., R. Nagar and M. Schwedhelm (2018) ‘Stories, Bodies, Movements: Preliminary Notes from an Ongoing Journey’. In Unsettling the University: Special Workshop of Comparative and International Education Society, Mexico City. Nagar, R. (2014) Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms Across Scholarship and Activism. Champaign: University of Illinois Press. Nagar, R. (2017) ‘Hungry Translations: Relearning the World Through Radical Vulnerability (Draft)’. Unpublished manuscript. Nagar, R. in journeys with Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan and Parakh Theatre (2019) Hungry Translations: Relearning the World Through Radical Vulnerability. Champaign: University of Illinois Press. Sangtin Writers, and R. Nagar. (2006) Playing with Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism Through Seven Lives in India. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Tuck, E., and K.W. Yang (2012) ‘Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor’, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1(1), pp. 1–40.

What follows is an excerpt from the Introduction to Diplomatic Paracitations: Genre, Foreign bodies, and the Ethics of Co-habitation, forthcoming in Kilombo, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019. Written from the position of the amateur diplomatist, the text gestures towards experimentation with multiple styles and genres of writing, living, thinking, and teaching. The intimacy and ethics it enacts and articulates questions the quest for purity, immunity, and non-contamination that animates dominant laws and lores of genre.

5 Para-citations: fragments on the law and lore of genre1 Sam Okoth Opondo

Genres are not to be mixed. I will not mix genres. I repeat; genres are not to be mixed. I will not mix them. — Jacques Derrida (1980, p. 55)

I [...]

On genre As a multi-genre text that seeks to perform a method and ethics of amateur diplomacy, Para-citations takes seriously the laws of genre, immunitary orders of non-contamination, iterability (repetition/alterity), and co-habitation. In order to interrupt the haunting interdiction and immunitary regime that calls upon us ‘to mix or not to mix’, to classify neatly, and observe limits, norms, and presuppositions, Para-citations explores the intricate workings of the diplomatic corps and its entanglement with the ever-lingering presence of the diplomatic or colonial corpse in Africa and elsewhere. Among other things, I illustrate how entrenched ontologies of inequality, colonial logics, statism, and ethnological laws of genre continue to fix and match people to the forms of life, death, and even expression deemed proper to them. By writing diplomatic otherness otherwise, Para-citations brings diplomacy face-to-face with its unthought domains in ways that highlight the colonial and racial entanglements that are often disavowed from our conceptions of diplomacy, Africanness, and African diplomacies. *** However, invoking diplomacy, genre, and the law of genre as I do in Paracitations requires one to be concerned with more than generic forms of expression. This is because genre and the law of genre have more to do with ‘order principles’ than they do with questions of art and literature. For at the centre of genre, Jacques Derrida tells us, are questions of ‘resemblance, analogy,

Para-citations 103 identity, difference, taxonomic classification, organisation and genealogical tree, order of reason ... sense of sense, truth of truth, natural light, and sense of history’.2 Beyond its identarian and even eugenic conceptions, genre is also concerned with the broad set of conventions aimed at systematising, converting, or stabilising the genre itself and that which remains unthought, disavowed, purified, or converted in order for it to be recognised as such (Beebee, 1994, p. 4). This being the case, the law of genre manifests itself whenever genres are invoked as a matter of ‘generic or general determination’, as biological distinctions (gender or human genre), or as the designation of artistic, poetic, or literary texts (Derrida, 1980, p. 56). With this broad conception of the law of genre and concerned with the inhibition to ethical relation arising from fidelity to genre, the amateur diplomatic explorations and fabulations in Para-citations reveal and disturb the ‘classificatory’ and ‘genealogico-taxonomic’ ordering of bodies (Ibid., p. 61) (foreign, diplomatic, and colonial), which work to distinguish between ‘what belongs and what does not, or what is well-crafted and what is bricolage’ (Fabian, 1998, p. 42). More specifically, as a work of para-diplomacy, Paracitations disposes us towards practices that intervene in the ordinary coordinates of sensory experience. This enables it to redistribute spaces, times, subjects, objects, as well as the ‘common and the singular’ thus recomposing how we converse and co-habit with otherness (Rancière, 2009, p. 25). The interest in genre, immunity, aesthetics, and diplomacies beyond ‘Diplomacy’, also enables us to engage superfluous and amateur diplomatic bodies and practices that challenge prevailing conceptions of community, sensation, and common sense. To introduce the kind of uncommon sense I am calling for, we have to rethink the partitioning and hierarchy of the senses arising from the privileging of ocular modes of sensation over haptic and olfactory ones (Diaconu, 2006). This hierarchy of the senses and by extension humans is evident in modern diplomacy’s privileging of ‘the dialogue between states’, ‘observation’ and the ‘well-spoken’ subject after having defined what counts as speech, proper language, recognisable polity, or that which is proper to Man. Within the Western philosophical tradition, we find a similar ordering of the senses by figures like Immanuel Kant who excludes the sense of smell from his aesthetics (The beautiful does not smell), while Sigmund Freud speaks of smell as the least refined, the most animal-like of our senses, linking it directly to anality and repression (Corbin, 1986, p. 7). Beyond leaving the human/animal distinction or the genres of Man unquestioned, these sensory hierarchies and hierarchies of the human contribute to the foreclosure of the native informant or raw man which is in itself a ‘marking of the impossibility of [the] ethical relation’ (Spivak, 1999, p. 6). As Gayatri Spivak’s re-reading of the works of Kant, Hegel, and Marx illustrates, the imperative of writing against this aesthetic grain involves listening to the ‘raw man’, who in her view, is used to shore up the idea and identity of the European ‘Man’. This move to listen, read, and write otherwise interferes with the diplomatic

104  Sam Okoth Opondo and philosophical handicraft, mancraft, and statecraft that renders so many people mute. It also enables us to see how genre and the frontiers of humanity arising therefrom work to legitimise violence against those excluded from the diplomatic community or sphere of ethical relations because they are deemed to be terrified by what, for the ‘cultured’ or well-educated, is the sublime. [...] As I illustrate in multiple sections of the book, the same orientation towards ‘native informants’ is mobilised in the encounter with foreigners some of whom are considered to be parasites (in the bio-logical sense of the term). Presented thus, the physical and social mobility of migrants and other itinerant subjects is presented as an interruption of the established order of the home, the body, the diplomatic body, or the body politic. Not only are they seen as transitory interlopers on the way to becoming citizens (at the expense of the citizen), their very being is considered a threat and potential service to citizens – the privileged subject within the regime of stasis (Nail, 2015, p. 4). In what has become a familiar yet horrific scene today, the migrant as a mobile death-bound subject has become a target of juridical and extrajudicial killings, injury, abandonment, and capture at the border, at sea, or in the deserts yonder. In order to provide a critique of the law of genre and immunitary regimes that privilege citizenship, non-contamination, or the movement of specific types of human/foreign bodies, Para-citations mixes texts, bodies, and contexts. This mixing illustrates how ‘imagined immunities’ inform diplomatic and anti-diplomatic relations that expose already violated subjects to precarity, debility, and premature death.

II Laughter By juxtaposing multiple bodies, genres, and texts that cite and re-cite each other, the combinations in Para-citations reveal the counter laws within the genres themselves in ways that can deterritorialise them or provide ‘a line of escape’. This is based on the recognition that the political processes that question hierarchies and dominant forms of recognition sometimes leave the order of categorisation and laws of genre intact and unquestioned. As such, the amateur cuts and connections, falsifications, juxtapositions, and recitations in the book illustrate how diplomatic and colonial bodies make or affect each other and how ‘parts independent of each other function together’ (Deleuze and Guattari, 2012, p. 37). Read together, these para-citations also present us with a sense of ‘diplomatic’ practices and beings that exist alongside or below the threshold of diplomatic recognition while re-citing practices that point towards more life-affirming encounters. This mapping of associations, partialities, passions, and habits that restrict relations forces us to ask

Para-citations 105 whether we can create or ‘invent artifices’ that force passions to go beyond their partialities (Deleuze, 2001, p. 47). Through re-mixing and reading of multiple genres, Para-citations enables us to zoom in, juxtapose, or zoom out from a given diplomatic context or practice of everyday life in ways that redraw frontiers by enabling ‘things usually far apart [to be] brought closer, and vice versa’ (Foucault 2012, pp. x–xi). As Michel Foucault puts it, such a practice encourages us to ‘abandon the great divisions that are now familiar to us all’, while revealing the emergence or disappearance of the ‘common ground on which such meetings are possible’ (Ibid., pp. x–xi). Given its attentiveness to the law and politics of genre, Para-citations also creates a space where we can question the very operations of dividing, sorting, comparing, and combining central to how we make sense of the modern world. Clues to the significance of such a practice of reading/writing and a reconsideration of the ground(s) upon which it takes place are to be found —at least provisionally — in the preface to Michel Foucault’s Order of Things. Here, Foucault notes that his inquiry into ‘the archeology of human sciences’ is inspired by a passage in Borges that quotes: [...] a ‘certain Chinese encyclopaedia’ that details how ‘animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies. (Ibid., p. xvi) I will not attempt to go into the details of Foucault’s text so that this detour does not become the journey itself. However, it is worth reflecting on the laughter evoked by this passage, which Foucault states, ‘shattered, all the familiar landmarks of his thought’ and with it, our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other. In the encounter with this ‘exotic system of thought’ and ‘the wonderment of this taxonomy’ that is central to it, the limitation of our own thought and its inability to think certain things is revealed to us.

III Strange (im)possibilities It is worth staying with Foucault a little bit longer for he asks us to consider what it is that makes it impossible for us to think certain things and to question the ‘kind of impossibility that we are faced with here’ (Ibid., pp. xvi–xvii). By reading Borges’ Chinese Encyclopaedia critically, Foucault illustrates how this strange taxonomy and the response it elicits reveals that ‘there is a worse kind of disorder than that of the incongruous, the linking

106  Sam Okoth Opondo together of things that are inappropriate’ (Ibid., p. xix). Turning the gaze inwards, he asks us to interrogate the ‘table, the grid of identities, similitudes, analogies that we become accustomed to sort out so many different and similar things’ (Ibid., p. xxi). Beyond revealing the grounds upon which such ordering takes place, we also have to ask ourselves if pursuing this line of the unthinkable, the strange, or the unthought within the colonial order of things, enables us to think politics, ethics, and diplomacy in ways that disturb the laws of genre, and the ‘boundaries of all imagination, of all possible thought’. In addition to interrogating this impossibility of thinking certain ‘strange things,’ we might also want to consider how the ‘strangeness’ that underwrites these ‘strange categories’ is in itself an invitation to interrogate the familiar categories that we use to compare, classify, and order our relations to human beings and being in general (Ibid., p. xvi). In the African context, we have to ask how reconfiguring our ways of knowing and orientation towards the genres of Man can transform our modes of relation and co-habitation today. For further insights on what is at stake in Foucault’s elaboration of this ‘order of things’ and the possibilities of para-citation in and from Africa, we can turn to V.Y. Mudimbe’s The Invention of Africa where he elaborates on ‘questions of method.’ Following Foucault, Mudimbe illustrates how the principle of order functioned during the European Classical Age based on an ‘epistemological landscape’ determined by three major systems namely: (a) A general grammar, that ascribes names to things; (b) Natural history, that names and orders things by establishing ‘a general and complete table of species, genera, and classes’. And, (c) A theory of wealth, rather than a political economy (Foucault, 2012, pp. 86–226 Quoted in Mudimbe, 1988). As Mudimbe goes on to illustrate, the epistemological rapture that takes place in the eighteenth century leads to the disappearance of the ‘episteme that allowed general grammar, natural history, and the theory of wealth’ and replaced it with one that allowed for new ways of knowing and defining things. That is, history replaces order, economics replaces the theory of wealth, biology supplants natural history, and ‘philology takes the place of general grammar’ insofar as the analysis of language is concerned. This ‘epistemological caesura’, Mudimbe notes, becomes the basis for new knowledge about the world while its mapping and contestations by figures like Foucault (the unhappy historian of the Same) and Claude Lévi Strauss offer alternative theories about norm, rule, and system. In the case of Lévi Strauss, Mudimbe finds his relativisation of perspectives and rejection of the tyranny of history productive as it provides ‘a body of knowledge that simultaneously could undermine a totalitarian order of knowledge and push knowledge into territories traditionally rejected as supposedly nonsensical’ (Mudimbe, 1988, p. 33). For Mudimbe, this destruction of the classical frame of anthropology becomes one of the scenes upon which an African amplification takes place in ways that allow ‘for developing original strategies within the social sciences’ and other narratives of the (African) self (Ibid., p. 25).

Para-citations 107 These African philosophical insights also raise questions as to whether the principle of order was really supplanted by something radically different or if it only migrated to other domains such that its spectre still serves as the basis of knowing and relating to certain genres of Man within our (historical) present. As Mudimbe puts it in relation to the field of African Studies, it is important to note that the changes ‘within the dominant symbols have never fundamentally modified the meaning of African conversion, but only the policies for its ideological and ethnocentric expression and practice’ (Ibid., p. 22). While Mudimbe effectively illustrates how this haunting is reflected in the fact that ‘travelers in the eighteenth century, as well as those of the nineteenth and their successors in the twentieth (colonial proconsuls, anthropologists, and colonisers), spoke using the same type of signs and symbols and acted upon them’, we have to explore (heretical) African inventions that exist side-by-side with the Invention of Africa (Ibid., p. 22). *** Returning to the same ‘strange’ passage that evoked Foucault’s laughter and reading it alongside other texts reveals how older principles of order continue to haunt and structure knowledge and relations today. The shock of such a realisation arises not from the fact that the ‘powers of contagion’, ‘quality of monstrosity’, ‘proximity of extremes’, and ‘possibilities of dangerous mixtures’ has been exorcised or maintained by a discreet order of knowledge. The horror arises from the fact that in spite of elaborate mappings of different epistemes, there are things that remain unthinkable due to an imposed uniformity and generation of notions of the Same that persists in the present (Foucault, 2012, p. xvii). For instance, Hortense Spillers reads Foucault’s reflection on the strange taxonomy of Borges’s ‘Certain Chinese Encyclopaedia’ alongside a legislative enactment from Maryland (1798) where, owing to a racial order of things, it is impossible to draw a line between judicial and legislative functions as well as human and inanimate beings. In so doing, Spillers illustrates how these strange encyclopaedias are not so strange after all and that what may seem laughable (in Borges’s order of things) is not a laughing matter especially for those subjected to slavery and colonial thingification. If anything, their supposed strangeness can point to something horrific and worth mourning that transforms ‘personality into property’. Rather than occur in a distant time and space, this strange transaction takes place in the familiar or familial space where it is possible to list as personal property of the ward articles such as: ‘slaves, working beasts, animals of any kind, stock, furniture, plates, books, and so forth’ (Spillers, 1987, p. 79). The strange grammatical series, Spillers goes on to state, makes it possible for ‘a certain American encyclopedia’ to emerge and through its horrific power, it proceeds to impose uniformity on this strange mix of things. This imposition works not as fiction,

108  Sam Okoth Opondo but as the ‘same text of “realism,” which carries a disturbingly prominent item of misplacement’ (pp. 79–80). Reading these strange texts side-by-side, the list from Spillers’ American encyclopaedia turns the ethnological gaze inward. As Denise da Ferreira Silva puts it, such a reading would turn Foucault, the Western intellectual, into the figure of the native informant (in the manner of Spivak) while revealing that which remains unthought in his delineation of the classical order and its ‘double dismissal of the colonial context’ (2015, p 97). It also reveals us to ourselves by illustrating that the disturbing foreignness or strangeness that horrifies or causes laughter is not to be found in another place or another time. Through these para-citic juxtaposition of classificatory texts, it becomes clear that horrific and laughable things are not outcomes of old epistemological fields, but, depending on how one inhabits or reads the modern world, can be found even in the epistemological and ontological fields that are most intimate and familiar. This means that the horror can be found in that which we have learned to be at home with or consider to be the very basis of our being. The modern horror and that which remains laughable is that ‘we’ cannot imagine ourselves beyond certain genres of Man or create other fictions and artifices for being human in common. With attentiveness to amateur diplomacies or colonial re-orderings that bring together what we are told should be apart, we can see how genres work to partition the world in terms of people to be conversed with and those who are to be converted or eliminated (Wynter, 2003, pp. 287–288). [...] The erasure and the silencing of the past — much like the American grammar book that Spillers discusses above — is predicated on a will-to-truth that is at once epistemological, ontological, aesthetic, and ethical. This regime of truth and order marks those whose ways of knowing, and order of things is to be silenced, laughed at rather than laughed with or engaged as a serious matter based on their assumed veracity or conformity with the knowledge of the age. Following works such as Spillers’, Para-citations illustrates how sites of incredulous laughter can also act as points of mourning, horror and possibly ‘breaking apart or rupture’ of the ‘laws of behaviour’ that make the syntax of the American or any other colonial or slave encyclopaedia possible (Spillers 1987, p. 79). It is with recognition of these strange (im)possibilities that Para-citations assembles multiple grammar books, mixes genres and engages a multiplicity of voices that had hitherto counted as anti or un-diplomatic noise. Through revision and fabulation/ falsification, Para-citations seeks to make the diplomatic ‘discovery all over again’ while exposing the ruses of power and possibilities of co-habitation (Ibid., pp. 68–69).

Para-citations 109

IV The method and ethics of para-citation While it is not explicitly stated at every turn, Para-citations is characterised by a commitment to amateur diplomacies of everyday life which are performed through a side-by-side reading, re-writing, or composing of ‘African and non-African’ texts and bodies. This strategy of genre-mixing assembles multiple theoretical and fictional texts and contexts under a single title which is in its own way a textual experimentation with the ‘diplomatic method’. At a minimum, Para-citations seeks to continuously question the genres through which we constitute and encounter foreign bodies, foreignness, or imagine the ‘familiar’ sameness or otherness of Africans today. Through interferential genre-mixing, Para-citations interrogates the ethnological reason used to frame the knowledge of Africans today (Mudimbe, 1994, p. 59). Unlike the ethnological mode of comparing and contrasting cultures through labels and categories that fix identities, it explores systemic and aleatory dis-identifications and combinations between texts, times, bodies, their affects, and modes. In place of the familiar ethnologies and their ethnic frames, Para-citations experiments with ethologies that orient us towards an ethics concerned with affective becomings and the powers of bodies ‘acting and being acted upon’ by other bodies (Deleuze, 1988, p. 27). This means that bodies, as Gilles Deleuze illustrates, become ‘defined less by the abstract notions of genus and species than by a capacity for being affected, by the affections of which they are “capable,” by the excitations to which they react within the limits of their capability’.3 In putting colonial and diplomatic bodies, texts, modes, and affects side-by-side, Para-citations seeks to illustrate how a body’s encounter with other bodies aids or harms it or how bodies [diplomatic or otherwise] are composed, recomposed, and decomposed by other bodies. As a method and an ethics, Para-citations re-introduces difference into familiar spaces. This ethological orientation draws our attention to affective compositions that illustrate that we can never know beforehand what a body is or what a body can do (Deleuze, 1988, pp. 17–18). Such a reading of the world reconfigures our ‘order principles’ by illustrating that insofar as affects are concerned, there are greater differences between things often thought of as belonging together and vice-versa. With affective associations in mind, Para-citations hopes to illustrate that ‘there are greater differences between a plow horse or draft horse and a racehorse than between an ox and a plow horse’ (Ibid., p. 125). *** Beyond its critique of the ethnological reason and other comparative modes that underline modern/colonial diplomatic imagination, Para-citations forces

110  Sam Okoth Opondo an encounter and negotiation between bodies often considered to be outside the ‘diplomatic fold’ (Constantinou, 1996, p. 77). This play on diplomatic (un) foldings revisits some of the origin stories of diplomacy – a form of relation etymologically linked to folding/passports (diplomas/double ­documents)  – and mines them for insights on modes of relation and crafts that disturb the laws of order and non-contamination.4 These crafts/craftiness wrench diplomacy and its promise away from the ‘written acts of sovereigns’, statecraft, or the diplomatic bodies derived from Eurocentric genres of Man. In so doing, the diplomatic para-citations enable us to retrieve old meanings and make new combinations that apprehend the political and diplomatic lives of colonial subjects and many others who risk erasure or are silenced by old and new forms of violence. *** As an act of para-diplomacy, para-citation does not take the state and professional diplomats, or even the human being as the default subject of diplomacy. This means that the mediation of estrangement that exists beyond or below the state is not seen as a deviation from the norm. For instance, apprehending and mourning wounded African diplomatic bodies reveals the coeval emergence of modern diplomacy, modern states and colonial practices. Serving as aids to memory and diplomatic agents, the violated bodies act as potent carriers of the sign and memory of pain in ways that create a space where engagement with diplomacy’s others/otherness (which, Peter Mason (1990) reminds us requires one to write otherwise) becomes possible. Such para-citations of diplomacy recast all diplomacy as para-diplomacies and advocate for an amateur (amor) and undisciplined diplomatic practice rather than the hegemonic professional and disciplined form (Cornago, 2010, pp. 89–108). By recognising how diplomacy mediates otherness by citing and reciting the Same, or through citational forms calls upon us to ‘respect a norm’ or ‘a line of demarcation’, Para-citations questions the orders of recognition, protocol, ceremonial and history that fix diplomacy’s subject and subject matter. Unlike the citations and recitations that do not cross the line or ‘risk impurity, anomaly, or monstrosity’, Para-citations dwells on contaminations and abjections (Derrida, 1980, p. 57). It also recognises how the pledge of obedience, non-negotiation and faithfulness to a norm/ form that proscribes the mixing of genres places a limit on ethical encounters. In their place, Para-citations emphasises the capacity to invent or compose modes of co-existence or domains of ‘negotiation among practices’ that are amateur, philo-barbari, and monstrous. This is done with a critical vigilance and acknowledgement of how domains of possibility easily fold back into domains of actual violence and sovereign will. Acting vigilantly, Paracitations calls for amateur yet monstrous diplomats who acknowledge the force and instability of the ground on which they stand/speak. Diplomats who act as astute translators and possibly traitors of fixed or pure positions,

Para-citations 111 dispositions and identities (Stengers, 2011, pp. 382–383). With a love (amor) for diplomacy that acknowledges its potentialities yet does not disavow the havoc that it has wrought on the world, amateur diplomatists seek to amplify and multiply the life-affirming aspects of diplomacy. Their feel for the words/ worlds of others and the exteriority of things also call upon them to engage in the continuous work, play, craft, and even the craftiness that diplomacy demands with attentiveness to how bodies, relations, and genres affect, compose and decompose each other. *** In Para-citations therefore, the fidelity to forms or genres, if any, appears to be an abusive one. This is because I take the operations of genre and diplomacy seriously enough to illustrate how they work while at the same time exploring the contradictions and contaminations that are internal to them and the exteriorities that produce them. I also interrogate how certain genres of Man and diplomacies have come into being and engage that which exceeds or contaminates them. Such an orientation towards diplomacy, genre and the laws of genre is particularly useful in a world where the list of beings that one cannot or does not desire to negotiate or co-habit with is constantly changing. Under such circumstances, a critical and/or compositional amateur diplomatic practice enables us to question the very culture of the embassy, the home, the norm, and the dividing lines and fidelities that render things remarkable before questioning that which we consider strange or on the outside. With para-citation, the diplomatist does not only engage that which is outside but asks how the inside/outside distinction has been constituted, the frontiers it produces, and the power formations that make our habitual (diplomatic) selves possible. This hospitable orientation towards the outside and its multiple exteriorities points to multiple ways that we could become otherwise.

V Contaminations While certain acts of para-citation present diplomacy as a counter-force to the law of genre, it is important to note that ‘counter laws re-cite each other forcing each other to appear’. This is because lodged within the heart of the law of genre itself (a ‘law of non-contamination’) is a ‘principle of contamination’ thus creating what Derrida refers to as an axiom of ‘impossibility’ (Derrida, 1980, p. 58). Paradoxically, these contaminations and ‘disruptive anomalies’ are by their common law engendered in repetition and citation or even re-citation of the law of genre. As such, interfering with practices that present themselves as carriers of the pure concept of diplomacy requires us to cite and recite excessive or abjected bodies and texts in ways that reveal and

112  Sam Okoth Opondo disturb the principles of non-contamination and association that make up this order of purity. To appreciate the ethico-political and methodological significance of the para-citations that I perform here, it will be useful to say a few more words regarding the method itself. First, para-citation is a re-combinant play on citation that takes its ethical and aesthetic insight from the monstrous and parasitical acts of juxtaposition, insertion, proximity, infection, feeding-off of, and the heretics that compose the thresholds of diplomacy and hospitality. Taking seriously the violence that accompanies various injunctions to mix or not mix genres or bodies (be it through the logic of conversion, non-contamination and immunisation in anti-heretical religious doctrines, colonial commandment or eugenicist and nativist political discourse), I seek to experiment and explore ways of being-in-common-otherwise. These are derived from contaminated modes of reading, writing and listening that para-cite a familiar/familial reference and open it to an exterior that instantiates a more ethical mode of encounter and co-habitation. Here, the figure of the parasite ‒ a being who, according to Michel Serres, ‘has the last word, who produces disorder and who generates a different order’ ‒ becomes increasingly useful. In its quest for a different diplomacy, Para-citation also reveals the ‘the parasitic chain’ that is part of diplomatic and colonial encounters where ‘the last to come tries to supplant his predecessor’ (Serres, 2013, p. 3). Recognising the colonial/diplomatic and anti-colonial/anti-diplomatic potential of supplanting and reproducing predecessors, para-citation proceeds with a deep suspicion for laws of genre and principles of association and non-contamination that tell us what is or is not a diplomatic act. This is because these principles often reflect ‘our’ idea/ ideals of what the world is and by reciting laws internal to them, foreclose the ­possibilities of being with others or becoming otherwise. Second, para-citation is an intertextual diplomatic practice that always exceeds the recognised diplomatic context and the words/worlds it authorises. By bringing together or tagging heterogenous texts/contexts, Para-citations also seek to reveal the violence that is disavowed by political and diplomatic communities as they make authoritative or moral claims about the modern/ colonial world and the postcolonial African self. Acknowledging how regimes of recognition and non-contamination contribute to the disavowal of coevalness and its related category mistakes, Para-citations engages excessive or exterior subjects who are often considered to be anti-diplomatic or beyond the concern of diplomatic relations. Similarly, the itinerary of the modern diplomat is read alongside that of natives, slaves, migrants, aliens, monsters, and urban hustlers in order to interrogate the bio-logical u ­ nderstandings of the parasite and its immunitary regimes. However, I also acknowledge how a critical diplomatic discourse can offer other readings of the bio-logical understandings of the parasite. According to Noe Cornago, the extension of the semantics of diplomacy enables us to think of zoodiplomacies characterised by ‘mutualistic relationships between mammals and microbial communities’ (Cornago, 2013, pp. 16–17). From

Para-citations 113 Cornago, we see how the same zoological register that is used by eugenicists or the colonialists that Fanon is critical of, can be read against the grain and beyond colonial and racist reductionisms. These re-configured zoodiplomacies make it possible for us to think the diplomatic in-spite of humans while appreciating parasitic or symbiotic forms of life (Ibid., p.16). Third, and unlike the understanding of the parasite as a disease-causing and resource-draining creature in need of expulsion from the body of the host, I turn to a more generous reading derived from the etymological rather than biological conception of parasitism that disturbs the lines between the inside and the outside. As Jonathan Xavier Inda illustrates in his reading of the parasitism [via J. Hillis Miller], the parasite, much like the host, is always already ‘fissured within itself’. Inda also notes that ‘as a prefix in English, “para” means “alongside, near or besides, beyond, incorrectly, similar to, subsidiary to, isomeric or polymeric to, ... “Para” is a prefix that indicates simultaneously interiority and exteriority, similarity and difference, proximity and distance’ (2000, pp. 55–56). From this etymology, para-citation, like parasitism reveals how encounters with difference are always already potentially diplomatic and/or colonial. As a parallelism that disturbs the mind/body, guest/host, hospitality/hostility, immunity/community or body/ soul dichotomies and their hierarchies, Para-citations places bodies and texts side-by-side and looks at how bodies compose and decompose or spill into each other. Finally, and in line with the parasitic diplomatic orientation, para-citation always involves eating at the table of the other. Following Michel Serres, the parasite/parasitos is seen as one who ‘eats next to’ another (2013, p. 7). This means that the parasite becomes ‘someone positive, a fellow guest who ate beside you at the dinner table, who shared the food with you’, rather than ‘someone who ate at the expense of another’ (Inda, 2000, p. 55). However, there is no assurance that such acts of eating next to, or even within the other will remain positive as eating with the other also involves the possibility of consuming or ingesting the other. Thus, eating with the other demands a recalibration of our diplomacies, a critical care and vigilance with regard to our hospitalities, and ethics given that the scene of hostility is never too far or disentangled from that of hospitality. The ethic therefore becomes one of reaching towards a hyperbolic diplomacy or hospitality that is yet to come. A diplomacy that is not predicated on a culture of the home, a fixed conception of a people, or the embassy as this easily becomes the scene of sovereign and immunitary practices. Acknowledging the heterogeneity of the home, its multiple insides, and exterior domains, Para-citations rethinks the position of the host, the task and subjectivity of the diplomat, immunitary regimes and the question of hospitality. It also illustrates how habits and partialities inflect the ethics of co-habitation as illustrated by the violence/hostility that marks the presence of some guests, diplomats, and even parasitical settlers who do not only disrupt the culture of the home/homeland but the world at large.

114  Sam Okoth Opondo Ultimately, Para-citations is about diplomatic methods and hospitality. However, the subject, method, and site of diplomacy that concerns me here cannot be fully known beforehand. This being the case, the gesture of hospitality and diplomacy is towards a foreignness and culture of the home or the embassy that exceeds the recognised forms. In so doing, the chapters in the book draw attention to the stakes of the politics of genre, the diplomatic value of reading the texts ‘as if’ one was positioned otherwise, and the continuous need to experiment with amateur diplomacies and an interferential ethics of co-existence and co-habitation.

Conclusion In addition to trying to read ‘as if’ I were positioned otherwise, I also endeavour to write or re-write diplomatic theory and practice ‘as if’ I were oriented otherwise. Through textual juxtapositions, I assemble a montage of genres of expression that encourage us to retrieve diplomacies that remain silenced both within and beyond the recognised diplomatic methods and milieus. These experiments with diplomatic composition question the principles of identity and interiority while pointing to ways of being philobarbaric that reveal the strangeness that is always already part of the same. The aesthetic insight derived from reading and writing otherwise or as if one were positioned otherwise is well captured in Jacques Rancière’s assertion that theoretical discourse ‘is always simultaneously an aesthetic form and a sensible reconfiguration of the facts it is arguing about’ (2004, p. 66). In making the claim that theoretical statements have ‘a poetic nature’ and vice-versa, my hope is that we can simultaneously perform the politics of genre and a diplomacy through creative works that ‘break down borders and hierarchies between levels of discourse’ (Ibid., p. 66). Like breaking down borders and hierarchies, interrupting the law of genre requires that one engages what Derrida calls the ‘law of abounding excess’ (Derrida, 1980, p. 65). This is because attentiveness to the laws of genre and other discourses of non-contamination or threat reveals how these same laws are in essence laws of ‘participation without membership’ and therefore ‘contamination’ (Ibid., p. 65). In a world where new genres of Man are constantly being mobilised to mediate the encounter with metropolitan populations, attention to genre reveals how race, even when disavowed, remains a key factor in the definition of community, immunity, rights (of Man), and ‘the right to have rights’. This order of relations is manifested in the formations of ‘universalism and asymmetrical fraternity’, orientalism, xenophobia, as well as the post-racial ‘radical indifference to difference which translates to an indifference to discrimination’ (Mbembe and Roitman, 2011, p. 89). The same desire for purity and immunitary regimes also turns the problem of living together into one of ‘proximity without reciprocity’ while concretising the sacrificial conception of the nation, the people, and belonging (Ibid., p. 94).

Para-citations 115 Under such circumstances, being philobarbaric, or experimenting with amateur diplomacies becomes one of many ways in which ‘we’ can disturb the increasing desire for borders, hierarchical orders, non-contamination and separation. Heeding this ethical demand that we co-habit otherwise and the methodological imperative to write otherness otherwise, the diplomatic forms of interference, heretical inferences, and play on familiar references proceed through practices of philopoesis where philosophy and literature question each other, and in so doing, they ‘put the whole world into question’ (Casarino, 2002, pp. 78–79). In the same vein, Paracitations brings together  and re-mixes multiple polemical interventions that put ‘our’ familiar diplomatic worlds and some of their references into question  while  always  pointing to the (im)possibilities of living otherwise (together). These  interruptions, interferences and genre-mixings strive towards a more philobarbaric or even teratologic orientation towards foreign or exterior bodies. The task here is that of revealing the impossibility of more life-affirming relations under the current habits and order principles while speculating and composing other modes of relation, composition and co-habitation. In addition to learning how to read otherwise or as if one were oriented otherwise, the act of para-citation involves daring to write otherwise. By putting different forms of writing together, my hope is that the reader is drawn to reflect on the politics of genre, on questions of method (philopoesis and/as para-citation), on immunitary orientations towards various forms of ‘foreign bodies’ and on the ethics and aesthetics of experimentation with different ways of living/writing/dying (together). This experimental form of writing is concerned with the relationship between texts and textual communities in ways that inflect the tone, theme and style of writing ‒ and if successful ‒ styles of living. [...] As one reads the book, my hope is, as it was with Fanon who is cited and recited in many parts of the book, that we learn to recognise the inadequacy of the answer to the question of ‘Man’ and life as we move towards making new combinations, resistances, insistences and creations. This hope is not only diplomatic and methodological, it is also aesthetic and ethico-political and gestures towards forms of diplomatic relation and co-habitation that are too important to be left in the hands of the professional diplomat and are yet to be given a proper name. From Para-citations, we are invited to interrogate the order of things so as to sense and make sense of difference diplomatically as we are affected differently. With this aesthetic and ethical reorientation, Para-citations asks us to take on others and another’s world in ways that challenge the violences that emerge together with the modern idea of Man, its estrangements, and the diplomacies that it deploys. The speculative question ‘what if?’ is asked multiple times in the book so as to facilitate a projectional

116  Sam Okoth Opondo mode and an ethical disposition that enables the Wretched of the Earth, the damned, to ask what type of world they would want or would make after they have demolished the prevailing forms of power or when they tragically establish forms of violence and laws of genre predicated on the coloniality of being. *** In its quest for immanent diplomatic critique and new compositions, Paracitations does not shy away from making amateur combinations, juxtapositions, manoeuvres, and proposals. In this sense, it is very much like the informal Démarche or aide-mémoire of the professional diplomat but without the state or sovereign representative as its referent. In its amateurism and abusive fidelity to forms, Para-citations plays with the possibility of poetic theory and prosaic or cinematic diplomacies. It summons a style from one genre and makes it work in a different place or genre, thus providing refrains that reveal the ways in which Africa is falsified and in turn falsifies the world. In making these moves, I imagine myself as a roving amateur ambassador (at large) thinking about modernity/coloniality at large without taking residence (as a resident ambassador would) in the disciplines.

Notes 1 Excerpt from the Introduction to Sam Okoth Opondo: Diplomatic Para-citations: Genre, Foreign bodies, and the Ethics of Co-habitation (Unpublished manuscript). 2 As a boundary marker, genre (whose root word is shared by many other terms such as ‘general’ but also ‘gender’ and ‘generation’) is linked to power and authority. Derrida (1980, pp. 61, 81) also links it to genos (birth), and the generous force of ‘race, familial membership, classificatory genealogy or class, age class (generation), or social class’. See also Fabian (1998, pp. 41–42). 3 For more on ethology, see Deleuze (1988, p. 27, 125, and 128). 4 On the etymology of diplomacy, see Numelin (1950, pp. 126 and 125).

Works cited Beebee, T.O. (1994) The Ideology of Genre: A Comparative Study of Generic Instability. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. Casarino, C. (2002) ‘Philopoesis: A Theoretico-Methodological Manifesto’, Boundary 2(29), pp. 65–96 Constantinou, C.M. (1996) On the Way to Diplomacy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Corbin, A. (1986) The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Cornago, N. (2010) ‘Perforated Sovereignties, Agnostic Pluralism and Durability of (Para)diplomacy’, in C.M. Constantinou and J. Der Derian (eds), Sustainable Diplomacies: Studies in Diplomacy and International Relations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Para-citations 117 Cornago, N. (2013) Plural Diplomacies: Normative Predicaments and Functional Imperatives. Leiden: Nijhoff. Deleuze, G. (1988) Spinoza: Practical Philosophy. San Francisco: City Lights Books. Deleuze, G. (2001) Pure immanence: Essays on a life. New York: Zone Books. Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari (2012) Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Derrida, J. (1980) ‘The Law of Genre’. Translated by Avital Ronell, Critical Inquiry 7(1), On Narrative. Diaconu, I.M. (2006) Reflections on an Aesthetics of Touch, Smell and Taste in Contemporary Aesthetics (CA): pages/journal.php?volume=16. Fabian, J. (1998) Moments of Freedom: Anthropology and Popular Culture. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. Foucault, M. (2012) The Order of Things. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor & Francis. Inda, J. (2000) ‘Foreign Bodies: Migrants, Parasites, and the Pathological Nation’, Discourse. 22(3): pp. 46–62. Mason, P. (1990) Deconstructing America: Representation of the Other, London; Routledge. Mbembe, A., and J. Roitman (2011) ‘Provincializing France?’, Public Culture 23(1), pp. 85–119. Mudimbe, V.Y. (1988) The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Mudimbe, V.Y. (1994) The Idea of Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Nail, T. (2015) The Figure of the Migrant, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Numelin, R.J. (1950) The Beginnings of Diplomacy: A Sociological Study of Intertribal and International Relations. London: Oxford University Press. Rancière, J. (2004) The Politics of Aesthetics. Translated by G. Rockhill. New York: Continuum . Rancière J. (2009) Aesthetics and Its Discontents. Translated by S. Corcoran. Cambridge: Polity Press. Serres, M. (2013) The Parasite. Minneapolis,: University of Minnesota Press. da Silva, D.F. (2015) ‘Before Man: Sylvia Wynter’s Rewriting of the Modern Episteme’. In Katherine McKittrick (ed.), Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis (pp. 90–105). Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Spillers, H.J. (1987) ‘Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book’, Diacritics 17(2). Spivak, G.C. (1999) A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Stengers, I. (2011) Cosmopolitics II. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press. Wynter, S. (2003) ‘Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, after Man, its Overrepresentation – An Argument’, CR: The New Centennial Review, 3(3), pp. 257–337.

Feel (the edges)

6 Beyond a classroom: experiments in a post-border praxis for the future Koni Benson and Asher Gamedze

This chapter is dedicated to the spirit of our friend Pinky Mayeng, an artist, positive energy, a history nerd, activist and a traverser of worlds. All the love.

On borders The great West Indian men’s cricket teams of the 1970s and 1980s represented and signified somewhat of an anticolonial revolution in one of the world’s most imperial arenas: the cricket field. Of course, crushing victories against former colonists England and the settler colonists Australia, did not constitute revolution per se. What took place on the fields of the gentlemen’s game during those years – the decisive defeat of the colonialist by the ‘colonised’ – was largely confined to the field. But it also bursts its bounds. C.L.R. James (1963) suggests that what happens on the cricket field is both reflective and reproductive of social dynamics beyond the boundary. The field is also a site somewhat isolated from said dynamics’ broader contexts and thus potentially becomes a site of their concentrated playing out; a magnification, or a microcosm of society and its schisms, and a potential space for challenging them. As a somewhat synthetic and isolated, but simultaneously porous, permeable arena allowing for a struggle towards a new resolution, the field is in dynamic relation with what is beyond and outside it. The above-mentioned ascendant history of Black cricketers is intimately linked to decades of intensive anti-colonial struggle, proliferating ideas of Black Power and of course the production and circulation of Black musics resonating and echoing across the world. The classroom metaphorically stalks us here as a corollary to the cricket field. As one of the most significant products, producers and reproducers of society, as well as a site of radical possibility, the classroom remains a site characterised by contradictory potentiality. In the classroom’s encounter with the great beyond, we are with and for bell hooks, who is: Urging all of us to open our minds and hearts so that we can know beyond the boundaries of what is acceptable, so that we can think

122  Koni Benson and Asher Gamedze and rethink, so that we can create new visions, I celebrate teaching that enables transgressions – a movement against and beyond boundaries. It is that movement which makes education the practice of freedom. (hooks, 1994, p. 12) This chapter reflects on our experimentation with history education that is concerned with the construction and deconstruction of borders of different kinds both in and beyond the classroom, which we understand as a place that people learn together. From Kashmir to India’s ‘Red Corridor’, Syria to Kurdistan, from Myanmar and Bangladesh to occupation in Palestine and Western Sahara, from afrophobia in South Africa, the USA-Mexico wall and the hardening of racialised nationalist and anti-immigration sentiment in Europe, it is easy to see the political urgency posed by borders and their associated material realities of violence, repression and exclusion. Hugh Masekela improvises on the question as it relates to Africa and African ­history in the current moment: We even don’t know that we live in artificial borders. That these borders that we live in were created in 1886. And we fight each other over these borders. They were not created by Africans. We have lost our heritage.... We are bad imitations of the people that oppressed  us, and yet  there is no richer society in the world as Africans and the design  and  architecture and literature we have designed, but people don’t even know. We are living in an age where if we don’t do something  about  heritage,  in  20  years you will ask your children who they are and they will say, they say we used to be Africans long ago. It’s sad.1 Along a similar line of sadness, in Decolonizing the Mind, Ngugi (wa Thiong’o, 1981, pp. 2–3) maps relationships between colonisation, imperialism and the manipulation and silencing of histories, and cultural bomb: The effect of a cultural bomb is to annihilate a people’s belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves. It makes them see their past as one wasteland of non-achievement ... Amidst this wasteland which it has created, imperialism presents itself as the cure. He concludes by insisting that: The classes fighting against imperialism even in its neo-colonial-state and form, have to confront this threat with the higher and more creative culture of resolute struggle.

Beyond a classroom 123 How can we, today, build on this radical tradition that questions and challenges the depth of the colonial imperial project to divide us from each other and ourselves? With Bra Hugh and Ngugi, we are convinced that any relevant and radical politics of the future has to be based on a critical engagement with African history. It also has to be committed to a creative vision that imagines, a world beyond the borders we have inherited, and engaged in a struggle to realise that future. This requires both urgent challenges to the political and geographic walls that control the divisions and distributions of commodified resources, such as land and citizenship, as well as an unpacking of how these borders, and others, are normalised, internalised, maintained and reproduced daily by and between people. Next, we share some of our experiments towards a post-border praxis, our responses to the histories and contemporary political crises of borders. This is a praxis in process which we enact as part of a broader community through organising and education work with activists, artists, students, and educators across different spaces and borders in Cape Town, and South/ern Africa more broadly. We are particularly interested in acknowledging and in creating spaces, classrooms, where we can collectively and creatively study politics in the interests of changing them. Stefano Harney and Fred Moten (2013, pp. 110–111) put it this way: When I think about the way we use the term ‘study’, I think we are committed to the idea that study is what you do with other people. It’s talking, walking around with other people, working, dancing, suffering, some irreducible convergence of all three, held under the name of speculative practice ... The point of calling it ‘study’ is to mark that the incessant and irreversible intellectuality of these activities is already present ... What’s important is to recognise that that has been the case – because that recognition allows you to access a whole, varied, alternative history of thought. In our practice, which combines study, organising, imagination, and c­ reation, we have tried to take seriously and pay attention to the stubborn borders and schisms that exist inside a classroom, amongst comrades, and those which exist outside, between countries and disciplines.

Into the classroom: experiments and experiences We first started thinking together about the political question of borders as it might relate to an educational praxis when we worked on Know Your Continent (KYC) in 2015. KYC was a popular education African history workshop series that attempted to break the boundaries of colonial history and the various borders that the university is built on.2 That we so desperately needed an introductory course on African history, highlighted the problematic nature of ‘Säd Afrika’s’ (A Country Without A Name)’3 relationship to the rest of the continent. South African exceptionalism is a way of thinking

124  Koni Benson and Asher Gamedze South Africa as peculiar and unique, particularly in the context of the continent, to which it understands itself as separate and distinct, despite the fluid, intertwined histories and presents.4 Related to this exceptionalism, is what has generally been called ‘xenophobia’ but might more accurately be understood as ‘Afrophobia’. The basis of the pervasive violence targeted at African people who are assumed to not be South African citizens, which infamously erupted in 2008, is not only linked to questions of a country whose identity, a colonial and apartheid hangover, positions it south of Africa (and therefore ontologically separate from it), of political borders, and political imagination and imperialism; it is also related in a deep way to how South African citizens see and understand ourselves. Know Your Continent attempted to challenge the bases of these South Africanisms and also attempted to build links and relationships across the borders of spaces and communities in Cape Town. Asher at the time was involved in the #RhodesMustFall movement at the University of Cape Town (UCT), organising discussions on race and politics with high school learners, and thinking about postgraduate work on music and politics. Koni had been doing popular political education with a range of movements across the city with the International Labour Research and Information Group (ILRIG), and was then doing a post doc in the Department of History at UCT where she was turning her PhD thesis on organised resistance to forced removals into a graphic novel. We drew on and grew many  of  these strands  in  building the KYC course in 2015. Through KYC we became involved with the Popular Education Programme’s  (PEP) youth  programme, coordinated by  Derick Naidoo, which is trying to build a youth movement across different spaces in the city, the country and region, and across various organisational silos.5 Below we write about and reflect on some of the education work that grew out of KYC organising, the PEP connection and the approach to organise and educate across borders. Youth Without Borders As part of the PEP programme, in early 2016, we were asked by Derrick to come and do a workshop on borders on the continent with ‘Youth Without Borders’,6 a small group of about 10–15 young people from different parts of the continent who are currently living in Cape Town.7 We opened the session with introductions by saying a bit about themselves as well as marking on a laminated map of the continent where we came from and how we got here – to Cape Town and to the current session. This was interesting and important as not everyone within the group knew each other so it broke some of the ice, welcomed people into the process. It also meant that people’s own embodied experiences of borders and crossing them became the basis for the rest of the session. We prepared a presentation, ‘Migration is forever, borders are new’, to historicise both borders and migration on the continent, asking questions like:

Beyond a classroom 125 where do borders come from? How and why have they lasted so long? What are the material and ideological bases of borders, and who benefits from them? We explored various historical processes and events that have shaped the continent, including: the infamous 1884/5 Berlin Conference, 1963’s establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the crucial defeat of the radical Casablanca Group at the first conference in Addis.8 Importantly, to highlight borders’ relationship to imperialism and African underdevelopment, we also engaged a map of African exports by country. We closed with a clip of Thomas Sankara speaking at the OAU in 1987 about the origins and reproduction of colonial debt and dependency, and the need for self-reliance.9 Our intention was to start a discussion about what possibilities with regards to borders open up when you challenge neo-colonialism and have a more equal distribution of wealth. We asked questions like: would borders still be necessary in a socialist society? Why/why not? The past and the future often seem far away. As does the possibility of challenging national borders. Despite this, the session’s beginnings, with all of us inserting ourselves into the pedagogical process by bringing our histories and experiences of borders and crossings into the room, provided both a conceptual basis for the rest of the session, and acted as an invitation to participate in analysing the past and the present, and discussing possible paths forward. Sankara as an example of a radical approach to shifting neocolonial dynamics, opened up space for engaging different imaginations of the future beyond the tyranny of the present. PEP Youth Camp We developed the above workshop method further for a session at a PEP youth camp in August 2016 which we called ‘Historicizing and Politicizing Borders: Mapping Space and Race in Cape Town’. The group was about fifty people who came from all different organisations and parts of Cape Town – from community theatre, to young workers and housing activists. To start, we got everyone to draw or map their own world, asking people to draw all the places they go in a regular day, week, month or year and to draw in any style or format they wanted or were comfortable in. People really got into it, taking a lot of time and care to think about and draw their worlds. As inspiration and context we stuck maps of the continent and Cape Town on the walls in case people wanted to use their shapes as starting or reference points. We drew to the soundtrack of Abdullah Ibrahim’s trio album Cape Town Revisited. After drawing their maps, still with Abdullah swinging, everyone introduced themselves, via their maps, to three people in the room they had not met before. Through those map-introductions we got to see that people drew some really interesting and imaginative pieces. One person had drawn their neighbourhood with their house, school and local spaza shops, as well as his bedroom and the inside of his head (represented as a cloud on the map) as

126  Koni Benson and Asher Gamedze the place where he spends most of his time. Another activist collapsed spatial conventions and drew the outline of the continent and filled it with all the places in Cape Town where they go. Someone else drew familiar places in Cape Town as well as the airport because they would like to travel overseas one day. Some drew their rural homes which they visit a few times a year while others drew just their neighbourhoods or even just their own block. After introducing ourselves and our worlds, we worked our way through a presentation which we had prepared. Here we went beyond the broad history of borders on the continent, to think about land and why it was important, before moving through histories of some of the areas where people who had come to the camp, lived – places like Manenberg, Khayelitsha and Crossroads. The idea here was to try to give some historical context to the maps which people had drawn, and to give a sense of how Cape Town had been made. It was also to show that the borders, whether race, class or gender-based, that shape and dictate people’s experiences of the city, are not inevitable but were and are intentionally constructed and policed. And, importantly, that many details of their histories are intentionally hidden or glossed over making the conditions that people live in seem ‘natural’ or ‘normal’. Following the presentation/discussion we broke into smaller groups to collectively think and imagine a future Cape Town beyond the borders that characterise it today; what that might look like and what it might take to get there.10 Housing Assembly Political School It is one thing to try out this creative work with activist youth, but, how to take this approach into radical frontline struggle spaces of militant adults? We were compelled to respond to this question at a workshop with a similar focus but in a slightly different context in March 2017 when comrades and friends from the Housing Assembly asked us to come and do a history session at what would be their first annual Political School.11 The theme of the school was unity in the working-class struggle for housing. Our session was on borders and divisions within the working class, and challenges to building unity. Spaces in Cape Town, as well as being deeply gendered, are starkly constructed and segregated along lines of class and race. A significant aspect of construction of the white supremacist order that Cape Town so liberally reflects, reproduces, and revels in, has historically been the construction, separation and segregation of ‘African’ and ‘Coloured’ ‘racial’ groups. The classic colonial strategy of divide-and-rule has been weaponised here to divide Black people through mechanisms such as Coloured Labour Preference Policy (CLPP) which designated the Western Province (of which Cape Town is a part) the preserve of ‘White’ and ‘Coloured’ people (Erasmus, 2001). The CLPP was part of a series of laws which made it very difficult for ‘African’ people to live legally in Cape Town. The intention of these laws was to create a social buffer group, ‘Coloured’ people, between ‘White’ and ‘African’ people. ‘African’ and ‘Coloured’ were constructed and curated as

Beyond a classroom 127 separate and distinct groups, forced to live apart and forced to compete for scarce resources while White folks, bellyful, slept safe in the suburbs. These schisms within the Black working class still exist and are still reproduced in various ways in society and are present in organisations and movements too. Through the workshop, we wanted to highlight these racialised divisions and through exploring their histories show how they are very intentional constructions but can be collectively deconstructed.12 We were about 100–120 people altogether that included housing and land activists from all over South Africa, as well as a representative from MST in Brazil, and movements in Namibia and Zimbabwe. After introductions, we explained the mapping exercise, asking everyone to draw their worlds which they would then share with three other people. A lot of people were initially slightly sceptical and we felt a little uncomfortable asking people mostly older than ourselves, some in their seventies, to draw maps of their world. But once begun, most people got really into it and a lot of people were eager to share their own maps or what they’d seen in others’. With such a big group, this activity was really important. It would have been very difficult to pull everyone into the process and make everyone feel welcome and included without an activity like this where people were able to lay claim to the space and the process by interacting with other folks. It was also a space to breathe and laugh, chat and draw in the political school’s context of having long days filled mostly with lectures. After the maps, sharing and plenary feedback, we went into the presentation, a similar one to the PEP youth camp, which was animated by a number of people adding information, telling stories, asking questions, and generally waxing lyrical about Cape Town history, world politics and Selassie I. Due to time constraints out of our hands, we unfortunately didn’t get to the last bit of the session which was on Sun Ra, Afrofuturism, the importance of imagination and the last activity – mapping and sharing our imagined positive futures. Despite not finishing the workshop as originally designed, the session seemed to crack open new ways of questioning, seeing and speaking about these challenges. A number of people came up to ask questions and ask for the Powerpoint presentation to take back to use in their own organisations. Some conversations continued over dinner and into the next days. Beyond the confines of the political school, the main points of the session have come up in ongoing Facebook conversations and in other activist workshop sessions where issues of Afrophobia, resource extraction, and the role of borders in creating schisms outside and within movements, continue to be discussed as urgent political questions. History Workshop with Artists Outside of working with activists in Cape Town and South Africa, we have been working on building community across disciplines and across borders in the Southern Africa region. In preparation for a set of meetings in Namibia

128  Koni Benson and Asher Gamedze and Botswana in 2016, we organised a workshop with artists in Cape Town. In this session we explored some interesting and largely hidden African histories and made artworks through a process of collective engagement with those histories.13 The artists, eight altogether, came from various collectives such as Burning Museum, Afrikan Hip-Hop Caravan and iQhiya (of which our dear friend Pinky Mayeng, to whom this chapter is dedicated, was part of this gathering). At the workshop we had breakfast together and then we played a popular education game – radical history bingo14 – which introduced and then initiated extended discussions on the histories. The histories that we selected were Bisho Jarsa, Fathima Al-Firhi, Malombo, Dora Tamana, Clements Kadalie, Festac ‘77, Medu Arts Ensemble, and Cuito Cuanavale. After collectively exploring and discussing these histories, everyone was given a resource pack containing articles, images and other materials relating to the history of their bingo clue. Working with these materials, in their own time, everyone began to create something out of their own engagement with the history using any of the basic art supplies that we had provided (coloured paper and cardboard, pipe cleaners, pins, glue, spray-paint, glitter, etc.) and anything else they wanted to use. When everyone had finished their pieces, they shared their stories about them, speaking about how they made it and how it reflected the conversation between them and the history they explored. These informal presentations were really interesting because of the way people engaged the history and made it their own by creating something out of it. It became a new mode of writing history which wasn’t a regurgitation of the history but was a synthesised, re-purposed version of it. In the words of one of the participants, Kopano Maroga, ‘We made [the history] manifest’. Everyone who came gave a lot to, and took a lot from the workshop. Kopano further remarked that, taught in this way, history can be an entry point into collective healing, and another participant, Lungiswa Gqunta said that the workshop, through art, was teaching new ways to engage with people. A few people said that they learned history that they had never heard of before and that it was a completely new way of learning history to them, fun and fresh, and that, because of that, they paid much more attention than they would have in a school or university classroom. This approach confronted the ways that formal history education is still considered boring, as well as the fact that arts education, is increasingly isolated from any historical or political contact and content.15 PEP Spring School: Medu and The Artivists’ Manual Bringing some of anti-disciplinary moves back into the Youth Without Borders space, Koni, together with two other friends – Thuli Gamedze and Leila Khan, both radical artists amongst many other things – planned a session on ‘Culture and Resistance’ which Leila and Koni then facilitated at a PEP youth Spring School.16 The school brought youth activists together from

Beyond a classroom 129 across South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The intention of the session was to think about art and creative practice in its relation to struggle, explore some histories around that intersection, and to collectively create something out of that engagement. The first part of the session was a game where everyone has to take positions on various provocative statements. To do so, everyone moves to a point on a line drawn on the floor that most closely represents their position: strongly disagree, disagree, don’t know, agree, and strongly agree. The facilitator then asks a few people why they took particular positions, after which, everyone gets the opportunity to change their own position based on the lines of reasoning they have heard. The provocative, slightly polemical statements for this session were: art is a luxury; art is central to activist organisation; art is for specialists; culture is inherited. Interestingly, while most people took a fairly radical stance on art, insisting that everyone is an artist, when the time came for collectively creating something, a lot of those same activists needed slightly more convincing to get involved in the creative work, feeling like ‘art’ was not their field. This exposed certain borders that exist in the way that, not only normative society, but also a lot of ‘leftist’ organisational cultures think about different people’s roles, various divisions of labour and the position of art and creative work in organisations. Another substantive part of that session was an exploration of Medu Art Ensemble, which was a community of radical artists, mostly South Africans in exile, who were living in Gaborone from 1978–1985. Medu was making art in service of the struggle in South Africa and a lot of their thinking and practice engaged the question: how does culture become a weapon in struggle?17 As part of Medu’s response to this question, they developed a form of cross-border praxis in the collective processes that they undertook to produce art. This consisted of taking ideas which emerged from meetings, then collectively workshopping them amongst themselves and with comrades who were underground, and then, walking to the border get feedback from comrades who were in South Africa who could not cross into Botswana. The Medu praxis shows how people, in a highly politicised world, fenced by militarised borders, were able to create and sustain creative political community across those borders. In the workshop we experimented with Medu’s method of collective creative production. One group produced a chapbook which creatively consolidated the idea of an organisation or movement called ‘Youth Without Borders’ which asked what is the political work of an organisation named such? Another group produced The Artivists’ Manual, insisting on the productive togetherness of artistic and activist practice. On creative (&) political education A major reflection from these sessions has been that creative work offers a different way into a political education process. In the youth camp session on the history of borders, music offered a different backdrop and language into some of the discussions and debates to the usual inherited vocabulary of struggle in South Africa. And in both the youth camp and the Housing

130  Koni Benson and Asher Gamedze Assembly political school, the deep historical details of the imperialism and division within Cape Town and between South Africa and the rest of the continent were made relate-able and engage-able by the collective imaginative practice of mapping sharing worlds. Insisting on creative practice as an important element of political education has the potential to open up a classroom to a fun and more relaxed feeling, of ease and laughter, which is often repressed or dismissed as unserious by the left. Related to introducing creative practice to political education, in many political education spaces and traditions, people are seldom encouraged to think imaginatively, not even about a future we want or what we are struggling for. For example, in a movement committed to socialism, very rarely do people take the time and energy to consider, beyond workers owning factories, what a socialist future might look, feel, sound, taste and smell like. We are very stuck in struggle against the dire material conditions which oppress people that we forget the importance of imagining, and sometimes even remembering what we are struggling for. Es’kia Mphahlele was critical of the South African literary scene in the 1950s because he felt that writers were so stuck in the oppressive present that they couldn’t write, tell or imagine other stories.18 We think there is a parallel here to many radical movements and their educational projects which tend to subordinate the mind to material struggle of the present rather than create space to imagine, as part of the struggle for a beyond. What we realised through the experience of conceptualising and facilitating the mapping exercise is that when you give people the space to be creative, even (or perhaps, particularly) people who do not generally think of themselves as artists or ‘creative’ people, most people really enjoy it and fully immerse themselves in it. The map making experiment fed our sense of the possibilities of creative practice as a tool for disrupting some of the deepest spoken and unspoken boundaries reproduced in many political education spaces. These spaces, on the one hand, want to challenge hierarchal social structures outside but, on the other, often reproduce classroom hierarchies inside. In the name of political urgency the all-knowing teacher/leader is expected to inculcate ‘the masses’ with the ‘correct’ political line. This is an exaggerated view of some of the vanguardist political education tendencies or traditional leftist orthodoxies that persist in Cape Town (and elsewhere) today. Despite the exaggeration, it is certainly very rare for people to be encouraged to draw or do creative work more generally as part of a political education programme. Art is often seen as frivolous unless it is explicitly and unambiguously political, when it is used in very dogmatic ways to illustrate an ideological position. Creative practice tends to get subordinated to the political line, rather than creativity itself being understood as a liberatory orientation to the world and therefore something to nurture in and encourage in all people – especially activists. We think we need to make and defend the space internal to movements for thinking creatively and understand this creative space as central to sustaining ourselves, our souls and our organisations. We need to imagine what

Beyond a classroom 131 a liberatory future might be, and what it might take to get there. But we also need to move beyond the social realism that Marxist-derived political traditions often get stuck in, and not constrict our imagination to the political project. We need to dream and practice dreaming because, as Ben Okri’s Dad reminds us, ‘sometimes we are more awake in our dreams: we hear what the spirits are whispering ... [and] we become what we really are’ (Okri, 1998, p. 329). The liberation of the mind from the confinement and the disciplinary tendencies of Euro-modernity is as much the project as the material struggle, indeed they are intimately connected. In the words of an anticolonial Martinican marxist, surrealist and philosopher René Ménil (2009, p. 83): Nothing is more real than the imaginary especially when it is considered only imaginary. Reality and the imagination are not opposite the way that being and nothingness are, but rather the way being and what will be are. Of our dreams we ask questions, to their answers we listen, and we act in the light of their advice. Any possibility of a post-border world requires unlearning and unpacking the historical baggage of borders, imagining and dreaming something different, creatively devising and planning how to get there, and struggling to realise it. Creative practice should not be seen the exclusive preserve of people who self-identify as artists. Nor should politics be seen as the exclusive territory of explicitly ‘political’ organisations or movements.

Beyond... As one of the world’s greatest cricket players of all time, then West Indian captain Sir Viv Richards, along with other players, refused a blank cheque to break the sports boycott against apartheid South Africa and play in ‘rebel’ tours in 1983 and again 1984. Frank I recollects on the resonance of the South African struggle in the Caribbean: The anti-apartheid fight, the anti-colonial fight was very much a part of the Caribbean struggle also. It was a real sense of horror: Black people were just being shot down, mercilessly. And particularly those Alsatian dogs running through Soweto, biting up people etcetera. It brought tears to the eyes of Caribbean watchers man. There was always the feeling that we could do everything to assist them, not only in song and in cultural expressions, but in the field of cricket also, in imposing the sanctions against South Africa.19 While Viv and others expressed solidarity with the South African struggle, refusing flat out to go and play regardless of the pay, certain members of that

132  Koni Benson and Asher Gamedze team, ‘mercenaries’ as they were branded, went to play the apartheid cricketers. Michael Holding, perhaps the best fast bowler of all time, also part of that great team, was incensed at the players who agreed to play, who broke the sanction for a bunch of money. He rhetorically questioned, enraged: ‘how can you go and support a regime like that!?’ Colin Croft, one of those who elected to play, who was publicly shamed and rejected by much of the West Indian public, refused to be characterised as a mercenary, claiming that cricket was his job and he needed to play as it was his livelihood. Viv, on the other hand, refused to reduce cricket to a job: ‘You felt seriously embodied with the folks who were suffering in South Africa, these human injustices taking place for so many years’. Through this, he refused the borders between his emotions and ethics, his politics and his profession, as well as the borders between the Caribbean and South African anti-colonial struggles. What we are trying to do through our praxis is use forgotten or conveniently-ignored moments of this kind of beyond a boundary solidarity, and the debates around it, to show examples of alternatives that refuse political and disciplinary borders. The West Indian team refused to see the geographically-distant South African struggle as separate to themselves and they refused to be only cricket players. They insisted on being emotionally switched-on and ethically responsive political actors. While in the classroom we could just piece together and teach a history of exploitation and resource extraction, or the creation and reproduction of colonial borders, and borders within borders, or even resistance histories to any of these. But what we want to do is provide space for exploration, critique and creation. In small ways we are trying to push against the borders that discipline and depoliticise education spaces, the borders that divide and demarcate specialisations, and fragment a sense of urgency, agency, relationship, and responsibility to act on what we learn (by separating historians from artists from activists). Our anti-disciplinary praxis in the classroom has been focused on interrogating the political problems of borders – looking at what it is exactly that borders, of different types, hold in (place), and who benefits from their persistence. From that base, we collectively explore their history – how and why boundaries have been built, and how they are maintained. We try to interrogate how we have internalised these and other borders and how we perpetuate them either knowingly or (most often) unknowingly. Our praxis beyond the classroom, which shapes, permeates and, in various ways emerges from the classroom and attempts to extend it, necessitates working across borders – in the city, the classroom, in the conceptual, historical, and the political. This work has been focused on trying to extend the classroom to create relationships, solidarity and community across various divides and distances to enable prefigurative enactments of post-border futures in the present. Through the dynamic movement between the classroom and the broader context that constitutes it, we try to nurture and encourage freedom’s dreams toward imagining a world beyond borders, thinking about what it will take to bring that world into being through collective action.

Beyond a classroom 133

Post... Dear Radical Future, How are you, friend? We miss you and are looking forward to seeing you soon. Thanks for letting us know about the 2027 Hispaniola Revolution and the expropriation land, socialisation of wealth, and establishment of community art centres following the dissolution of the borders between Haiti and Dominican Republic! And great to hear that the revolutionary practice was historically so well-informed. By way of our news, at the moment we are thinking about trying to bring radical cultural workers together from across the Southern Africa region for a gathering/conference/celebration/engagement of some kind. The idea comes from reflecting on the 1982 Culture and Resistance Symposium and Festival of the Arts which was put together by members of Medu in collaboration with the University of Botswana and the National Museum of Botswana in Gaborone. Through thinking about the importance of cultural work to revolutionary movement and the seeming hardening of national borders on the continent in recent years, this historical example of a post-border praxis engaged in struggle seems to be a useful one for us today. The intention of the gathering would be to learn from each other about the various contexts in which everyone is struggling and develop collective strategies and approaches going forward. We are thinking about calling it The Continua ... Please let us know what you think! Love, Asher and Koni

Notes   1 Here Hugh Masekela is in conversation with Larry Madowo on #TheTrend, NTV Kenya, 13 August 2016. (accessed, heavy heartedly, on the day of his passing on, 23 January 2018).   2 Read Benson, Gamedze and Koranteng (2017).   3 Listen to Zim Ngqawana, ‘Abaphantsi (Ancestry Suite): Säd Afrika (A Country Without A Name)’, Zimphonic Suites (Sheer Sound: South Africa, 2001).   4 South Africa’s role on the continent, and in Southern Africa in particular, is one of a sub/imperialist power. The country’s military is involved in ‘peace-keeping’ missions in Congo and elsewhere, these missions are little more than defending capital investments such as mines. South African capital (which to a large part is hosted offshore and in Europe) dominates the region’s economy through supermarkets, financial services and other industries. Its ‘internal’ economy continues to attract people to work here from all over the continent while at the same time it criminalises immigrants, especially from Africa, deeming them ‘foreigners’ while depending on the exploitation of their labour.

134  Koni Benson and Asher Gamedze   5 The challenges to organising youth in Cape Town are multiple, two of the major ones are silos and space. Young workers are in work-based unions, students are involved in societies and activities at their schools or universities, community activists are based in their communities, and unemployed youth are generally left out of most things. In Cape Town – the colonial city that it is – this postborder work is a significant challenge. It is a challenge not only because of the logistics of coming together from across the segregated city, but also because the construction of space has historically also been the construction of race, racism and other schisms. Any attempt to cross the Cape’s borders is implicated in that dialectic.   6 This group has now been absorbed into PEP’s broader youth programme as one of a number of organisations/collectives which constitute it. At the time of our workshop it was very new and not everyone who was there knew each other or knew why they were there. One person had been invited by Derrick when they met whilst standing in the line at a bank!  7 ‘Migration is Forever, Borders are New – Discussion with Youth Without Borders’ (March 2016).   8 The Casablanca faction wanted to eradicate colonial borders and move towards an African federation; their position was defeated by the moderate faction, the Monrovia Group. For more information see Adedeji (1993, p. 408).  9 Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man, a 2006 documentary film by Robin Shuffield. 10 We have to give props here to Robin Kelley’s Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination. In the epilogue he imagines himself in a park in New York City, which is where he grew up, thinking about what it looks and feels like in his liberatory vision of the future. This opened up the importance of imagining as a radical and necessary practice, particularly for people involved in struggle. 11 The Housing Assembly launched in Cape Town in 2009 as a grassroots organisation mobilising for land, water, and housing. 12 The workshop was officially titled ‘Borders and Divisions in the Past and the Present ... the Future? Challenges to Building Unity’. It took place in Cape Town Housing Assembly Political School on 21 March 2017. 13 The Radical African Histories Workshop with Artists took place on 12 November 2016. 14 Human/history bingo works like this: each participant gets randomly assigned a historical figure, process, organisation, event, place, etc. They get a paragraph describing this thing on a cue card and a bingo sheet with short descriptions and space for an answer in small squares. Each cue card is one answer to a question square on the bingo sheet. Everyone has to fill in all the squares by finding out information about each person’s clue. The first person to complete their bingo sheet wins (it’s not about winning but winning is fun). After someone finishes, the group collectively goes through each clue and has a discussion on each of them. The facilitators can prepare additional resources such as videos and/or music or other interesting materials which contribute to the discussion. 15 For a history of the relationship between art and politics in South African arts education from the 1970s, see Thulile Gamedze, “WOW_3000ZF (8-21/05/2017)” 16 The workshop was called ‘Culture and Resistance/Creativity and Activism’ and took place as part of the Popular Education Program Spring School. It was held on 22 September 2017. 17 For other creative examples of how Medu has been used in activist and art education sessions recently see Library, 58 Years to the Treason Trial: Inter-Generational Dialogue as a Method for Learning, compiled by Keleketla Library.

Beyond a classroom 135 18 Mphahlele (2013) thought that writers should be able to push people to imagine new and different worlds rather than merely recount the miserable conditions of the present. 19 Interview in Fire in Babylon (a 2010 documentary film by Stevan Riley).

Works cited Adedeji, A. (1993) ‘Comparative Strategies of Economic Decolonization in Africa’. In A. Mazuri (ed.), UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol VIII. Woodbridge: James Currey. Benson, K., A. Gamedze and A. Koranteng (2017) ‘African History in Context: Toward a Praxis of Radical Education’. In A. Choudry and S. Vally (eds), Reflections on Knowledge, Learning and Social Movements: History’s Schools. London: Routledge, pp. 104‒117. Benson, K., and A. Gamedze (2016) Historicizing and Politicizing Borders: Mapping Space and Race in CT, PEP Youth Camp (9 August 2016) Erasmus, Z. ed. (2001) Coloured by History Shaped by Place: New Perspectives on Coloured Identity in Cape Town. Cape Town: Kwela Books and SA History Online. Harney, S., and F. Moten (2013) The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study. Wivenhoe: Minor Compositions. hooks, b. (1994) Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge. James, C.L.R. (1963) Beyond a Boundary. Trinidad: Hutchinson. Ménil, René (2009) ‘The Orientation of Poetry’. In F. Rosemont and R. Kelley (eds), Black, Brown and Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora. Austin: University of Texas Press. Mphahlele, E. (2013) Down 2nd Avenue. New York: Penguin Books. Ngqawana, Z. (2001) ‘Abaphantsi (Ancestry Suite): Säd Afrika (A Country Without A Name)’. In Zimphonic Suites. South Africa: Sheer Sound. Okri, B. (1998) Infinite Riches. London: Phoenix House. Riley, S. (2010) Fire in Babylon (documentary film). Shuffield R. (2006) Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man, (documentary film) https:// wa Thiong’o, N. (1981) Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House.

7 Anticolonial intimacies: how I learned to stop worrying about IR and start teaching politics1 Himadeep Muppidi

Intimacies Aarti, a Gujarati woman, sari-clad, middle-class, orthodox, of meek demeanour, is standing in the kitchen, heating oil in a wok-like vessel, sieved ladle in hand. As the hot oil starts leaving smoke, Aarti dips the steel ladle into it, brings it out carefully and pours the oil, drop by elegant drop, if such an act can be elegant, onto her outstretched and upturned, right arm. As she and I both flinch, I can see, extending from the wrist downwards, all the way to the red bangles pushed back to her elbow, other fleshy, red notches. I can also see that this was not the first time: Aarti’s been scalding herself for a few days now and might well continue to do so into the future. I do not wonder why she is doing this, because I know, by now, that Aarti frequently hears someone knocking on the front door and opens it, repeatedly, only to see no one outside. I do not wonder why because I know that Aarti also hears, over and over again, the screams of a woman fleeing her attackers, hears the woman begging to be let into the safety of the house, begging to be saved, from those intent on cutting her down. Confused, panic stricken, Aarti, an ordinary Hindu woman, a housewife stuck in an abusive marriage – a marriage tying her to a loutish husband, a brutish brother-inlaw, and an ailing father–in-law, all of whom she has to cook for and serve in many other ways and at least two of whom have taken part in the violence outside – this Aarti, cannot forget that she shut the door on a Muslim woman’s pleading face. Now, a month after the Gujarat riots of 2002, riots better described as a pogrom, Aarti keeps opening the door thinking she’s heard someone knocking. Aarti keeps seeing a woman’s face beseeching to be let in. In between meeting the insistent demands of the abusive and ailing males in the house, shuttling between the regrets of the recent past and the servility of the present, Aarti sears her pain, over and over, onto her flesh. Unable to dull one injury, is she transforming it into another? What kind of translation is this? This scene from Firaaq (Das, 2008) haunts me. Firaaq is a fictional narrative, but as Nandita Das, the director of this award-winning film, observes, ‘It is a work of fiction based on a thousand true stories.’ From this film of

Anticolonial intimacies 137 ‘a thousand true stories’, I have picked one scene. But that one scene hangs over me, stays with me. It brings back memories of the pogrom in Gujarat, reminds me of the stories I heard, the reports I read, the screens I clicked shut. It forces me to face up to the meanings of that event, to the failure of the self in the midst of such happenings. Is Das, through Firaaq, searing the pain of ‘a thousand true stories’, onto me? How do I carry this translation forward? When events overwhelm us, when the painful knowledge of what happened is unbearable, do we, shouldn’t we, find ways to transform that pain into injuries we can bear? The norms of teaching international politics, however, call upon us to refuse such intimacies, to observe, comment and learn from a neutral, seemingly objective, ground. They urge us and our students to accumulate knowledge dispassionately rather than transform the self in engaging it. These contrasting demands appear to be, at one level, questions of method. But maybe they are much more than methodological choices.

Keep calm and continue learning Like others in our discipline, I not only study international relations but also teach it. My regular teaching takes place at a small liberal arts college in the United States, where the classes are small in size (lower level sections capped at 25, senior seminars at 12 students) and the faculty-student interactions are intense and continuous. Through teaching as conversation, conversations as teaching, faculty and students work at generating some shared understanding of what is happening in the world, and how and why it is happening. Focusing, for now, on my side of the equation, I seek to provoke, in a space called the classroom and over a period of 15 or so weeks, a curiosity about the ways we think of or fail at thinking about global events and processes. But who or what is the I, this regulated self, who is authorised to teach here? What is the relationship between the self who teaches and those who gather expecting to be taught? Seen as a regular activity, teaching international relations presumes a reasonable subject who conveys to other expected-to-be-reasonable subjects some understanding about events in the world. While the issues that count as events in the world might be turbulent and overwhelming ‒ involving wars, famines, mass destructions, ethnic cleansings and human suffering in multiple other forms – the process of learning and understanding is assumed to be governed by the shared principle of reasonableness. In the routine teaching of international relations, the teaching methods we follow and the explanatory logics we offer rarely produce a state of disturbance for the recipients of our teaching and research. At the end of a class on genocide or mass destruction or economic sanctions or famines, it is understood that, disturbing as these issues may be, we can return to our normal lives and not carry forward or translate into ourselves the emotional burdens of those directly affected by these events. Though learning about these events might involve feeling the pathological heat of the human condition,

138  Himadeep Muppidi our procedures for accumulating knowledge strive to keep the heat and the emotions out. Or confine them to some reasonable bounds. What then, we must ask, is the politics of a reasonable self, teaching turbulent events reasonably, to other expected-to-be-reasonable subjects? Is an insulating distance from the pathologies of the human condition the methodological coating we supply so that we can all continue to be sane at home even as we study, research and teach the mayhem outside? Is our reasonableness, our cultivated distance from the issues, a strategy of colonial pacification?2 I wonder what would happen if the selves in question, the teachers and the learners, saw themselves as Aartis, trapped in conventional, constraining, and often abusive institutions, confined to small kitchens, wanting to help but helpless in many ways, repeatedly hearing a knocking on the door. How would an Aarti teach? How would she learn?3 What would she feel compelled to translate forward? An Aarti might not have opened the door the first time but we know that she is haunted by that failure. And that sense of an earlier failure to respond adequately pushes her now to the door. She seems ready to risk opening it now. In translating one form of pain (the pain of the other) into her own pain, Aarti is teaching herself. She is seeking ways to let others in through that door, maybe disguising them, but still bringing them inside.4 She is finding new ways of fighting back, rebelling, against the institutions that seek to contain her. Researching and teaching international relations, learning about and coming to grips with turbulent events in the world, understanding them and sharing that understanding, is more than a question of method then. It is or can be an act of searing self-transformation for students as well as the teachers involved. To learn and teach international relations then means evoking our shared capacity to be haunted by what happens in the world, by our failures to respond adequately to what happens, and through such engagements with our failures, not only to be dis-possessed in the now (in terms of our secure, if constraining, homes) but also, in letting the other inside, to open ourselves up to becoming other-wise.

Structured sensibilities But if reasonableness mixed with methodological distancing is a likely sign of colonial pacification in the classroom, then outraged emotions are not necessarily the guarantor of anticolonial dispositions either. Outrage can serve to shore up colonial forms of knowledge too and so our discussions of method and translation cannot rest on the reversal of that binary in the classroom. Maybe an illustration might be helpful here. It is a ritual I repeat, most spring semesters, when I teach POLI 160: International Politics, and might be worth recounting briefly here.5 On our third week into King Leopold’s Ghost, Adam Hochschild’s (1998) narrative of the Belgian colonisation of the Congo, I move past the vivid accounts of

Anticolonial intimacies 139 innumerable atrocities we would have covered by then, past the stories of hands and limbs chopped off, past the photographs of women shackled in order to get the men to collect rubber, past the calculations of how many millions (5 or 8 millions) were exterminated, to focus on a very tiny item, almost invisible amidst the corpses, severed limbs and bloodshed, to focus, on page 196, on two simple sentences. Sentence one reads: ‘[Roger] Casement was a better judge of [Henry Morton] Stanley, for although the explorer remained something of a hero to him, Casement recognised Stanley’s sadistic streak’ (Ibid., p. 196). Roger Casement was an officer in the British diplomatic service in the late nineteenth century, posted to the Congo. Henry Morton Stanley, I presume, needs no introduction. Sentence two reads: ‘After seeing that Stanley’s dog lacked a tail, he learned to his horror that Stanley had cut off the tail, cooked it, and fed it to the dog to eat’ (Ibid.). With those two sentences, Hochschild has framed our likely reading of Stanley’s subjectivity in many ways. He has suggested that Stanley’s act needs to be understood as an instance of ‘sadism’, one that evoked ‘horror’ in Casement, and most likely, should evoke the same in his readers too. Asking my class to turn to page 196, I wonder aloud if they noticed that act, and if they did, what they thought, as they were reading those lines, of Henry Morton Stanley’s action. Those who had read it would, generally, go along with what Hochschild has already framed for us to see. A few others read it as one more sign of the atrocities and cruelties conducted in the Congo. And many, if not all, are put off or, as the sentences and the action become more and more visible, disgusted by Stanley’s character as manifest through this act. Lingering on the shared disgust, I search, with the class, for likely explanations: why are we troubled by this act? How do we understand the causes of the outraged emotions we feel? What is it about this minor act on an animal (whose name we do not know and who does not appear again in the book) that upsets us all when the Belgian process of colonisation was filled with ‘a thousand true stories’ of grotesque horrors inflicted on fellow human beings? Why this partiality of feeling towards a small, unknown, otherwise marginal to the story, animal? Why this sensitivity towards an animal when there could be some other reasonable account of Stanley’s action? Don’t we, under certain circumstances, routinely cut the tails (and more) of dogs? Moreover, if it is not the cutting of the tail but the feeding of it to the dog, why should this bother us when the dog itself seemingly does not know or understand what it is eating or, if it does, doesn’t care not to eat? What’s behind the insurgence of emotions in the classroom here? Speaking, thinking, rationally, that is, objectively, that is from a certain distance from the event, where does all this emotion and outrage come from? Why are we moved viscerally by this act, in a way that we rarely are by accounts of much worse cruelty to human beings in that very same book? Does the cutting and feeding of a pet dog’s tail to itself unleash our emotions more easily than the slaughter of African/ Congolese lives?

140  Himadeep Muppidi What is relevant here is not the explanation for this outrage as much as the fact that the otherwise calm and reasonable space of the classroom can quickly be transformed into one of outraged emotions, emotions not easily justifiable, or at the least, somewhat disproportionately distributed in relation to the terrible events we are dealing with in the Belgian colonisation of the Congo. That ease of transformation, from reasonableness to outrage, should serve as a cautionary principle for us in these discussions of pedagogical methods and creative transformations. Outrage is an emotion that can be evoked easily in the classroom as well as in the public sphere. The substitution of outraged emotions for reasonableness is thus not enough to produce new and transformative understandings. The emotional and reasonable constitution of our social selves, the socially constructed nature of the sensibilities at potential play in the classroom, are a political issue. We need to investigate the deeper structures that are productive of those sensibilities in the spaces of our learning and teaching. What may be the politics underlying these seeming choices of method?

Transgressing colonial borders What this movement from intimacies of learning and teaching to the classroom as a space of reason and outrage to our choice of how to teach turbulent subjects alerts us to then is the subterranean and enduring connection between our dominant sensibilities and the colonial structures of global politics. At the deepest level, for me, this is the connection between culture and imperialism. As Said (1994, p. 9) expresses it so well: Neither imperialism nor colonialism is a simple act of accumulation and acquisition. Both are supported and perhaps even impelled by impressive ideological formations that include notions [emotions?] that certain territories and people require and beseech domination, as well as forms of knowledge affiliated with domination: the vocabulary of classic nineteenth-century imperial culture is plentiful with words and concepts like ‘inferior’ or ‘subject races,’ ‘subordinate peoples,’ ‘dependency,’ ‘­expansion,’ and ‘authority.’ If international relations, as a discipline, is one such ‘form of knowledge’ (i.e. one ‘affiliated with domination’), and its vocabulary is replete with ‘words and concepts’ that are constitutive of relations of dominance, hierarchy and destruction (for example: ‘hegemonic stability’, ‘great/super-power’, ‘core/periphery’, ‘developed/developing’, ‘advanced/backward’, ‘modern/­ traditional’, ‘rogues’, ‘failed states’, ‘mass destruction’), then how should we intervene, pedagogically, in this historically structured relationship between culture and imperialism? What do we need to do to disrupt the day-to-day domestication (in our classrooms) of an ‘ideological formation’ that is productive of colonial and imperial orders?

Anticolonial intimacies 141 I take my cue here from Aimé Césaire who, in his insightful and inspiring Discourse on Colonialism ([1955] 1972, p. 32) equates ‘see[ing] clearly’ and ‘think[ing] clearly’, with thinking ‘dangerously’. To ‘think clearly – that is, dangerously’ is to attempt to see what you are forbidden to see, to try to think otherwise than you are expected to think. It means looking, or trying to look, beyond conceptual structures that limit our reasonableness as well as our outrage. Perhaps this ‘thinking at the limit’ is what Lindqvist (Lindqvist, 1996, pp. 2, 172) has in mind when he opens and closes his evocatively anticolonial text, Exterminate All the Brutes, with: ‘You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions’. Taking Lindqvist seriously means deferring the accumulative aspect of knowledge acquisition in favour of a courageous interpretation and understanding of what is already with and around us. Implicit here is the sense that endless acquisition might be a way of running away from the pain of intimate truths. So rather than amassing more and more knowledge, what are the conclusions we could draw, courageously, dangerously, clearly, from what we know already? I do not, of course, read what Lindqvist suggests as putting a stop to our knowing more. But I do see it as offering an additional axis to our teaching/ learning – one that forces us to face what we would otherwise prefer not to face. This entails recovering or finding the Aarti within us, the Aarti who, drawing her conclusions from the turbulence around, risks moving beyond the domesticating spaces that secure her. What are the strictures then that domesticate my learning and my teaching? And how do I find the courage to be an Aarti? These are questions that I do not have proper answers to, but they stay with me and, occasionally, sear me.

Notes 1 An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the ISA workshop Parsing the Passions: Methodology and Emotion in IR. I am grateful to Quỳnh N. Pha.m and Erzsébet Strausz for a close and critical reading of this chapter and for their many helpful suggestions. 2 ‘For the colonised subject, objectivity is always directed against him’ Fanon ([1963] 2004, p. 37). 3 I am not claiming that Aarti doesn’t teach or learn in other ways. I am wondering how the reasonable subjectivity of the IR teacher and learner (assumed by our discipline) contrasts with that of a subject who is overwhelmed by the horrors she has seen or known or is finding out about. And how the teaching and learning orientations might be different as a result. 4 In the movie, Aarti brings into the household a Muslim child wandering in the streets. And also starts striking back against her husband and her brother-in-law. 5 See also The Colonial Signs of International Relations (Muppidi, 2012, pp. 145–148).

142  Himadeep Muppidi

Works cited Césaire, A. (1972) Discourse on Colonialism. Translated by J. Pikham. New York: Monthly Review Press. Das, N. (2008) Firaaq. Available at: (Accessed 3 March 2019). Fanon, F. (2004) The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press. Hochschild, A. (1998) King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. New York: Houghton Mifflin. Lindqvist, S. (1996) Exterminate All the Brutes. New York: New Press. Muppidi, H. (2012) The Colonial Signs of International Relations. London: Hurst & Company. Said, E.W. (1994) Culture and Imperialism. Vintage Books.

8 A presence (m)otherwise Sara C. Motta

The geopolitics of knowledge of patriarchal capitalist-coloniality erases the knowing-being of the raced and feminised (m)other. She is imprisoned between the logics of hypervisibility – always ripe for correctional interventions – and invisibility – negated as a subject with speech, rationality and reason of her own (Motta, 2016). Such logics and rationalities of nonbeing can seep undetected, into our space-times of feminist liberation, if they remain premised, as they so often are, on and through a logic of Whiteness (Ahmed, 2007). The existential (im)possibility of appearing in this script of Reason and Subjectivity demands of ‘us’ that we enact pedagogies of dignity (Motta, 2018a) in which we come into be-ing on our own terms, rupturing and decentring the word as disembodied Monological muteness which masquerades as Truth. Pedagogies of dignity enflesh an unlearning of the logics of coloniality that have traumatised and fractured our minds, bodies and souls through a telling-authoring of our stories otherwise and a mutual recognition of our conditions of exile. But we cannot stop at unlearning and a refusal to speak into the deafening enforced silence of the registers of the sayable, visible, desirable (Motta 2018b). To move beyond and beneath survival and towards our flourishing we are called to (re)learn and re-member through encounters of tender deep listening and mutual self-fragilisation (Ettinger, 2009). We are called to re-member like this, our ancient endarkened wisdoms (Hill-Collins, 2004) and chisel decolonised selves into be-ing, as Gloria might say, through the aesthetics of shamanic writing in which our words call forth new worlds (Keating, 2012). The poetic shamanism that follows brings to thought the unthought of falling through the cracks of hypervisibility and invisibility. It emerges from a non-encounter at an international feminist conference I attended with my youngest, then toddler, child. The words flowed viscerally and through tears the night after the conference closed. Perhaps the intensity with which she flowed came not from the experience of such a falling through the cracks, for it is the norm, but from the dashed hope I held that perhaps this would be an experience of embrace, care, safety and deep listening. Through it, now

144  Sara C. Motta feeling into this poetic emergence from a different timespace, I realise that she/I call(s) and yearn(s) for mutual self-fragilisation and a deep listening that might unsettle the raced and gendered logics of containment of modern Rationality to enable us to heal its wounds of alienation, separation and nonbeing. Importantly, now, things have changed, in that despite the repeated experience of such falling, it can no longer render me speechless, shamed and silent. Now my roar, my serpent’s tongue emerges into the radiance of a presence (m)otherwise. If You are ready to listen. This is my gift for You.

A presence (m)otherwise 145

A presence (m)otherwise ‘Please be quiet, there is a meeting on here.’ ‘Oh, I thought it was a dog.’ ‘No, he can’t crawl on the floor.’ Maternity of the margins I’m in a corner, again behind the piled-up bags on the floor picking up crisps and paper bits trying to block out the shame hold space for the pain as I’m told that child care Is heteronormative onto the black body of the single mumma violated by the police and the institutions of the state barely surviving anyway trauma of exile and rape of separation and self-negation stripping away the remnants of a life always-already in spite of. Walking out of Powell street station, a suit case, a jet lag, my three year old a war between abandonment and opulence. ‘It smells of poo’ says Zion. It reeks of rage Yet it is those we might name as abandoned that salute me and my son, wish us a happy Easter Sunday. Humanness and care lie in this place. The panel on at 4pm, when the baby might be exhausted and the layers of shame piled on as he screams in your face. There in the (in)visible space of black woman to black woman ‘Don’t say anything, but bring him up, we’ll help you.’ In the cracks of the spicy chips at the bar they call you zee zee and hold your hand and bring me the plate pick up the Lego pieces that have fallen laugh as he runs from room to room ‘Él es el presidente de aquí.’ And we say to ourselves de la importancia de ser visible en nuestros propios términos

146  Sara C. Motta de no aspirar de ser recibido por lo hegemónico que no nos quieren escuchar y no nos quieren tocar. And I dwell a little longer in this moment of interruption trying to reach for a place that is not a mirror shot through with rage and that somehow finds that third space in which categories are enfleshed by our materiality and the ease with which our realities are erased and effaced is tenderly faced as an other way of knowing-being-becoming is embraced. I wonder if that fragility of which I speak might rupture, care-fully, this space in a way that is not the mirror of the original trauma of encounter but an encounter in which my shoulders which have carried and my thighs which have borne are felt-known diamonds of a new philosophising an existential dwelling irreverence of integral healing a presence otherwise an epistemological gift, multiple, pluridiverse, and a caring shared place of embrace that becomes the conditions of possibility of an other queered politics of emancipatory becoming where my scarred brown body my big brown belly and womb that nurtured my babies need not be erased but rather embraced as the possibility of a re-worlding motherwise a return of the exiled a homecoming that is neither fixed nor effaced nor contained by the categories that have been used to brand and misname but a homecoming of multiplicity placed and untamed. (3 April 2018)

A presence (m)otherwise 147

Works cited Ahmed, S. (2007) ‘A Phenomenology of Whiteness’, Feminist Theory 8(2), pp. 149–168. Ettinger, B.L. (2009) ‘“Fragilization and Resistance” and “Neighborhood and Shechina”’, Studies in the Maternal 1(2), pp. 1–31. Hill-Collins, P. (2004) Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender and the New Racism. New York: Routledge. Keating, A. (2012) ‘Speculative Realism, Visionary Pragmatism, and Poet-Shamanic Aesthetics in Gloria Anzaldúa ‒ and Beyond’, Women’s Studies Quarterly 40(3&4), pp. 51–69. Motta, S.C. (2016) ‘Decolonizing Australia’s Body Politics: Contesting the Coloniality of Violence of Child Removal’, Journal of Resistance Studies, 2(2), Feminised Resistances Special Issue, pp. 100–133. Available at: product/volume-2-number-2-2016/. Motta, S.C. (2018a) Feminising and Decolonising Higher Education: Pedagogies of Dignity in Colombia and Australia’. In S. de Jong, R. Icaza and O.U. Rutazibwa (eds) Decolonization and Feminisms in Global Teaching and Learning (pp. 23–42). London: Routledge. Motta, S.C. (2018b) Liminal Subjects: Weaving (Our) Liberation. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

9 Teaching about sexual violence in war Kimberly Hutchings

This intervention focuses on the issues raised by the peculiar mixtures of empathy, discomfort, anger, and glamour that are experienced by teachers and students addressing the issue of sexual violence in war in the contemporary political context. It explores the difficulty of challenging pre-existing views of what counts as sexual violence in war, and of walking the shifting line between what can and cannot be spoken in the space provided by the classroom. It explains the ways in which I have attempted to negotiate these difficulties, and how this relates to my broader approach to pedagogy, and to the relation between research and teaching.

Context The main context in which I have taught this topic is to Masters’ students from programmes in Gender Studies and International Relations, with the majority of students being from Gender Studies. The course was taught in the period 2003–2010. The classes were quite small, ranging from around ten to 18 students. Women were always massively in the majority, with one or two men. The groups were always quite diverse in terms of nationality, generally including students from Asia, North America, and Europe, with a range of expectations about what was appropriate when it came to explicit discussions of sex and sexuality. In general, the students identified themselves as feminist, though with different strands of feminism. Many of them already had experience of, or were interested in, working for international organisations on ‘women’s’ or ‘gender’ issues. The specific course, on gender and war, was taught over 20 sessions, it was delivered weekly in a two-hour seminar format, with a small lecture component. The topic of wartime sexual violence was assigned for only one seminar. The learning outcomes I was looking for were: • •

The capacity to evaluate predominant narratives of ‘sexual violence as a weapon of war’ in the light of their understanding of the broader context of the discursive and practical interconnections between gender and war; The capacity to critically engage with a range of explanations of instances of sexual violence in war;

Teaching about sexual violence in war 149 • •

The capacity to relate ‘sexual violence in war’ to other phenomena, such as military/ peacekeeper prostitution and sexual violence outside of conflict contexts; The capacity to think about sexual violence in war as both gendered and gendering, regardless of the sex of perpetrators and victims.

At the time I was teaching this topic the scholarly literature on sexual violence in war was expanding, following developments in the 1990s and early 2000s, such as the explicit recognition of rape as genocidal in the wake of the wars in Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide, widespread sexual violence in conflicts in the DRC, events such as the scandals at Abu Ghraib, and the passing of UNSCR 1820 (2008). Since that time, the scholarly literature has expanded further, in parallel with sexual violence in war becoming an ever more major focus for national and transnational policy initiatives and media campaigns. As with many areas of research pioneered by feminist scholars, the impetus for research into wartime sexual violence came from activism in national and transnational contexts. Nevertheless, as scholarly research has developed it has increasingly complicated the narratives that have come to dominate media and policy discourses on the issue, which have often been focused on the mobilisation of outrage in order to facilitate action and change. The relation between feminist activism and research is never a straightforward one. For students in the class, many of whom had been involved in campaigns on sexual violence, the ways in which research undermined clear cut understandings of the issue could be seen as an unnecessary distraction from the fight against sexual violence in war, or as profoundly disturbing of settled truths, sometimes both. Over several years of teaching the topic, I was struck by the intensity of student interest in it, which was greater than the intensity of their interest in other forms of violence discussed throughout the course. Students were in no doubt that sexual violence in war carried particular significance. Bearing in mind that these were postgraduate students, mostly women and committed to some version of feminism, the kinds of positions that one might find in a large undergraduate class of IR students, that sexual violence in war was in some sense ‘natural’, were not generally evident (see discussion under ‘Reflections’ below). In my conversations with them two explicit reasons were given most regularly as to why students were so interested, and so convinced of the significance of the topic, along with a third reason, which was not stated explicitly but which emerged in the examples and materials that students referred to when discussing the issue, and the impassioned nature of the debates that the issue provoked. The explicit reasons were: 1. This was a new and exciting area of research, related to the novel development of the tactical use of sexual violence as a weapon of war/­genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda;

150  Kimberly Hutchings 2. Wartime sexual violence exemplified the victimisation of women in war throughout the ages. It not only resonated with familiar representations of wartime sexual violence in fiction and journalism, but also with a narrative which confirmed the oppressive nature of masculinity (especially in certain cultures) and the unique character of women’s oppression. The two explicit reasons are to some extent in tension with one another. One reason emphasises the exceptionality of wartime sexual violence and identifies it with a very specific type, in which sexual humiliation, rape, enforced pregnancy are used as tactics to defeat or annihilate an enemy. Within this way of thinking, it is not clear how organised phenomena such as sexual slavery, enforced prostitution or sex trafficking in warfare count, or how individual and group perpetrations of sexual violence that are not ordered as part of a strategic plan count, however widespread they may be. In addition, a sharp cut is made between sexual violence in war and sexual violence in other contexts. The second reason, rather than rendering sexual violence in war exceptional, normalises it as an ingrained aspect of warfare, reflecting widespread patriarchal norms, again especially in certain cultures. This account reinforces the narrative of women as victims of men’s violence in war that has dominated representations of wartime sexual violence in fiction and journalism, as well as in policy discourses emanating from the UN and other international and national actors. It also feeds into gendered civilisational discourses, in which certain cultural contexts are associated with hyper-­ masculine barbarity, and ‘other’ women are situated as in need of rescue. The third, unarticulated, reason why students were so interested in this topic reflected their emotional engagement with it. This was to do with affective responses to the embodied cruelty and humiliation involved in wartime sexual violence. Whereas students seemed able to keep some distance from the embodied harms of wounding and killing in war in general, and engaged in abstract discussion of them, this was not the case when it came to sexual violence. It seemed that sexual violence was more directly felt, more visceral than other types of violence that were being discussed second-hand. Although I did not directly use testimony of victims in the classroom, there was testimony in some of the reading that they did; in addition, it was easily available on the United Nations (UN), International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) websites. Every time I taught the course, it was most often in the session on wartime sexual violence that someone would introduce a graphic description of the infliction of a particular violence. This happened much more rarely when we were talking about wounding and killing outside of an explicitly sexualised context. It is this third reason that made teaching wartime sexual violence particularly challenging. There was a degree of emotional investment in it on the part of the students that was absent in relation to other topics. In some cases, this will have reflected direct experience (or knowledge) of the infliction of sexual violence. In others it may have

Teaching about sexual violence in war 151 reflected the identification of embodiment, in particular for women (most of the students being women), with sexuality, specifically sexual vulnerability, or perhaps a more prurient frisson following from the persistent association of sex and violence in western representations of love, romance, and chivalric rescue. It may also have been linked to a much deeper degree of certainty that wartime sexual violence was an absolute wrong than applied to different from other kinds of hurting. Whatever the reason, it meant that the topic of wartime sexual violence possessed a peculiar kind of glamour. The term ‘glamour’ has a history going back to the ideas of magic and enchantment, the principal contemporary definition is: ‘an attractive and exciting quality that makes certain people or things seem appealing’. Paradoxically, given that all of the students would endorse the condemnation of wartime sexual violence, they were nevertheless attracted to the topic. In any given class on war and sexual violence, I would not know which kind of reasons explained this attraction, but I did know that it intensified the affective context in the classroom, and that I would be in turn affected by that emotional intensity and need to respond to it in ways that enabled learning.

In the classroom When you teach a topic such as sexual violence, you know that at least some of the people in the classroom will have experienced it directly. At the same time, you also know that representations of sexual violence are pervasive in western culture and that sexual violence in war is a ‘hot topic’, which will be familiar to everyone. Sexual violence in war is being publicised by global celebrities, is the focus of major transnational concern and funding from governmental and non-governmental organisations. It is the kind of policy area in which students, in particular those interested in gender and international politics, may already have worked or may want to work in the future. As a teacher, I needed to think not only about the knowledge and understanding I wanted students to gain about sexual violence in war, but also about how to use the dynamics already at play in what students brought to the classroom discussion, in a way that would be sensitive to the possible reasons for students’ affective engagement with it. The pattern of teaching included the setting up of the seminar discussion through a short 15-minute introductory lecture at the end of the previous week. This introduced the topic and the key readings and questions (see below). In setting up this particular topic, I prefaced the introduction with an explicit comment on the difficulties inherent in discussing this particular issue and how it resonated with people’s experience and sensitivities. This provided the opportunity to let students know that they could raise any issues they had with the topic directly with me in private if they wished to do so. It also allowed the class to reflect on the differences between students in their expectations about how explicit you could be in public discussion of sexual matters. No restrictions were laid down on what students could or could not

152  Kimberly Hutchings say, but a request was made for mutual sensitivity in the discussions that would take place the following week. Prior to the class, readings and questions had been assigned. I allocated readings that challenged the exceptionalist and normalising discourses referred to above, and that shifted student perspectives, either through the abstraction of social science or through introducing less familiar first-person perspectives, such as those of male victims of sexual violence or the voices of perpetrators. Questions included: • • • •

What phenomena count as examples of wartime sexual violence? What does it mean to identify rape as a ‘weapon of war’? How is sexual violence in war to be explained? Are the explanations for sexual violence in war against women the same as those for sexual violence against men?

When it came to the seminar itself most students would have done at least some of this preparatory reading. The standard format of the seminar was to start with some whole-group discussion, then allocate specific questions to small groups, and end with reporting back and a closing whole group discussion. In the case of this session, the opening discussion enabled me, as facilitator, to take the emotional temperature of the students, and respond to that in structuring the rest of the session. As noted above, feelings of empathy, of discomfort, of anger, and a kind of glamour are all aroused by this topic. Empathy with victims may be accompanied by anger with perpetrators, or with the failure of the international community to address the issue. Discomfort about discussing explicitly sexual matters may be accompanied by attraction to the topic, for a range of personal and professional reasons. Depending on my sense of the emotional engagements in the room, I would be differently affected, and would need to adjust my own response. This was not only about being sensitive to the potential range of reasons behind students’ reactions to the topic, or about my own tendency to be more or less sympathetic to different emotional reactions to the topic, but because the students’ learning depended very much on my being able to build on their emotional as well as ethical, political, and intellectual engagement. For example, if the predominant feelings of empathy and anger in the group reflected investment in the narrative of the unique vulnerability of women to masculine violence, then I could use that empathy to get them to think about men as victims of sexual violence in war, and how that was or was not analogous to the victimisation of women. If students were excited about the ‘cutting edge’ nature of the topic, then I could use that to help tease out differences between different instances of sexual violence in war and get them to address the question of what was new and what was not. The opening discussion also gave me a chance to identify where students were finding it difficult to discuss the topic, and what the best arrangement might be for the small

Teaching about sexual violence in war 153 groups and the allocation of questions. In general, after a wide-ranging open discussion, in which a variety of views were expressed, the students were then better able to focus on specific questions related to specific readings, and to detach themselves more easily from their particular perspective. The closing ‘report back’ discussion was always more focused and more social scientific in tone, and provided a space in which students could articulate whether and to what extent they agreed with various explanatory narratives, and their reasons for doing so. Sometimes students had shifted their perspective in the course of the discussion, sometimes not, but they could all acknowledge that there might be different ways of understanding and explaining wartime sexual violence.

Reflections The students on this course did not need to be taught about the horrific and traumatic effects of such violence, or of its significance as an aspect of warfare. Instead, as a teacher, my role was more to diffuse and complicate what the students already felt and already knew. Learning is always a kind of ‘undoing’ as well as ‘doing’. In trying to teach these students something about sexual violence in war on the basis of the most recent research, the ‘undoing’ aspect came more to the fore than with some other topics. But this needed to be an ‘undoing’ carried out with care, given the strength of feeling, the range of experiences (including undoubtedly experiences of sexual violence) and the intellectual assumptions that students brought into the classroom. This illustrates the crucial importance of context when it comes to teaching this topic. I have also taught it in a lecture to over a 100 first year International Relations undergraduate students, as part of the ‘week on gender’ phenomenon in introductory courses. Here, the kinds of ‘doing’ and ‘undoing’ involved were different. The group included at least 40% men, and only a minority of self-identified feminist students, and there was much less awareness of, or interest in, the topic prior to the lecture. Within this context, the aim was precisely to point out that the topic had significance as part of our broader understanding of war and international politics. Like many others teaching the ‘week on gender’, I have found that one of the best ways to get students attention initially is to focus on sexual violence in war targeted at men. This displaces the standard assumption that ‘gender’ means women, and carries a certain shock factor. Even in this context, however, the emotional temperature of the room rises when sexual violence is discussed, and one needs to be extremely careful about the words and images used. Just as with the Masters’ students, there will be people in the room who have experienced sexual violence, and many more who have been entertained by its representation in a variety of media. Precisely because one cannot gauge the feelings of particular students when addressing a large number, one is likely to take fewer risks with students’ affective engagement with a topic when teaching a large class.

154  Kimberly Hutchings

What do you think is distinctive about your approach to research/ teaching as forms of knowledge production? My aim is to teach in an emotionally intelligent way (Mortiboys, 2005). The term ‘emotional intelligence’ was developed in social psychology (Salovey and Mayer, 1990). As I use it, it means that I understand research, teaching, and learning as having irreducibly affective dimensions which need to be understood and put to work in writing and in the classroom. These affective dimensions range from emotional investments in particular political and ethical issues, to one’s attachment to particular arguments and claims, and the desire of both teacher and student for affirmative recognition as scholars and people in the classroom context. Teaching with emotional intelligence means that you try to recognise and respond to your own feelings as well as those of your learners in the classroom in order to improve the effectiveness of the teaching and the learning. This can mean addressing things as simple as whether students are able to be physically comfortable in the classroom, or as complicated as how to manage your own or a student’s anger. Affective investments can both impede and enhance learning, a central role for the teacher is to be sensitive to affective dynamics and to be able to work with them to open up possibilities for thought, knowledge, and insight.

How might others work with your approach, thus engaging with it and the decisions and experiences that led to your crafting it as a ‘method’? Attempting to teach with emotional intelligence cannot really be called a method. To work with this approach is to be attuned to the affective dimensions of researching, teaching, and learning, and is likely to mean you will teach a class very differently depending on what students bring to the discussion. It is, unfortunately, often the case that one gets things wrong, misreading or missing the nature of emotional investments in the room. Nevertheless, there are techniques that I have found helpful. Two crucial ones are: first, that insofar as it is possible, you should relate to your students as individuals, directly, knowing names, knowing something of their background, making eye contact, checking for inclusion – creating a safe environment in which students may then be willing to take risks, especially the risk of getting things wrong that is so crucial to learning but all too often carries debilitating grief, shame, and anger with it. Second, vary your modes of teaching and ­assessment – students learn in different ways, if the seminar exercises are always the same, if you only ever get them to employ one set of linguistic or logical-mathematical skills, then you will set a classroom hierarchy in place that will impede rather than enhance what students can learn from you and from each other (Irons, 2008).

Teaching about sexual violence in war 155

How has research or/and teaching through this approach/method, or the way you ended up employing it, transformed you and/or your practice? The key effect has been to increase my reflexivity as a teacher over time. I have realised that I need to keep reflecting on my own practice if I am to teach effectively, and that I have to be flexible in the handling of classroom dynamics, and build up the knowledge I gain of particular classes in order to utilise that better during the delivery of a particular course. More broadly, taking the affective dimension of my work seriously, as scholar as well as teacher, has shifted my understanding of my own work as a political theorist. From assumptions about the nature of theory as a framework for normative judgment to one of political theory as a way of being and doing in the world that incorporates my affective investments within it.

How did your approach/practice matter for thinking about community, sharing ‘knowledge,’ and collaboration (within and beyond academia)? In relation to teaching sexual violence in war a literature has already emerged from academics and practitioners about how to teach this topic (Rittner and Roth 2016). My particular experience resonates strongly with some of the themes raised there, and reinforces the importance of taking the nature of the particular body of students and the pedagogic context into account. To teach Masters’ students about this as one session in a larger course, with a restricted set of learning objectives is one thing, to teach activists and practitioners, or large classes of undergraduate students in very different pedagogic and practical contexts about sexual violence in warfare is quite another. Nevertheless, one issue does remain constant, which is that some students will have had direct experience of sexual violence, and teachers need to find ways of dealing with that with appropriate care.

Works cited Irons, A. (2008) Enhancing Learning Through Formative Assessment and Feedback. London and New York: Routledge. Mortiboys, A. (2005, 2nd Edition 2012) Teaching with Emotional Intelligence: a Stepby-Step Guide for Higher and Further Education Professionals. London and New York: Routledge. Rittner, C. and Roth, J.K. (eds.) (2016) Teaching about Rape in War and Genocide. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Salovey, P. and Mayer J.D. (1990) ‘Emotional Intelligence’. Imagination, Cognition and Personality 9(3), 185–211.

156  Kimberly Hutchings

Recommended Reading on Sexual Violence in War These are texts that I used on the course discussed above. Since then the literature has expanded massively, a more up-to-date set of sources can be found in Rittner and Roth, cited above. Baaz, M.E. and Stern, M. (2009) ‘Why do Soldiers Rape? Masculinity, Violence and Sexuality in the Armed Forces in the Congo (DRC)’. International Studies Quarterly 53(2), 495–518. Seifert, R. (1996) ‘The Second Front: the Logic of Sexual Violence in Wars’, Women’s Studies International Forum, 19(1–2), 35–43. Skjelsbæk, I. (2003) ‘Sexual Violence and War: Mapping out a Complex Relationship’, European Journal of International Relations, 7(2), 211–237. Zarkov, D. (2001) ‘The Body of the Other Man: Sexual Violence and the Construction of Masculinity, Sexuality and Ethnicity in the Croatian Media’. In C. Moser, and Clark (eds.) Victims, Perpetrators or Actors? Gender, Armed Conflict and Political Violence. London: Zed Books.

10 Self-contact: the basis of presence Nicholas Janni

(1) What is happening in my body right now? (2) What is happening in my emotions right now? (3) What is the state of my mind right now and is it possible for me to observe my thinking? (4) Listen to all the sounds around you. In your room, outside, etc.


11 Decolonising visual ethnography: a transdisciplinary intervention Rohan Kalyan

It takes imagination and courage to picture what would happen to the West (and to anthropology) if its temporal fortress were suddenly invaded by the Time of its other. — Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other As researchers and creative scholars, the worlds we inhabit and seek to study do not come to us pre-packaged in disciplinary form. We do not simply encounter these manifold worlds as a collection of analytically distinct concepts and ready-made fields of data. These fields do not simply await our apprehension and interpretation. Instead, scholars produce the data they need by training themselves to see the world in ways that are conducive to the interests of knowledge production. Just as a documentary camera must train its lens on one part of the visual landscape and not another, in the human and social sciences especially, our truths are invariably produced through methods of selection, sequencing and representation that are geo-historically specific (Foucault, 1970, 1984; Said, 1979; Fabian, 1983; Trinh, 1993). In the interest of producing empirically consistent and truthful knowledge claims, modern scholars must in effect discipline themselves, their perceptions and their experiential life-worlds, to which they simultaneously belong and must stand radically apart. In this sense, they are no different than a documentary film camera, whose presence in many ways creates the very reality it claims to merely represent (Rancière, 2006). Writing as someone trained in postcolonial theory, world politics and documentary filmmaking, for me cinematic ethnography seeks to restore perception and subjectivity to worlds that Eurocentric disciplinary thought tends to evacuate.1 It is less a defined genre of film and more a practice of immanent visual critique. Cinematic ethnography, as I deploy it, is a critique of colonial ethnographies that visualise cultural difference in ways that reproduce historical structures of violence and inequality in world politics. In this chapter, I analyse how colonial visual ethnographies frame relations of distance and proximity, strangeness and familiarity, Self and Other, and in doing so reproduce relationships of domination and subordination at a world scale. I then explore two cinematic ethnographies that productively

162  Rohan Kalyan challenge such limited imaginings. First, I examine Trinh T. Minh-ha’s (1982) influential film Reassemblage, which uses the documentary mode and visual essay form to render strange and unfamiliar dominant colonial frames in visual ethnography. Second, I discuss my own ethnographic film that I co-directed with my brother Gorav Kalyan, entitled Letter to the City Yet to Come.2 Inspired in part by the work of Trinh and others, our film is framed at the scale of the postcolonial city (New Delhi, India) and explicitly raises questions about space and time, memory and movement, intimacy and alienation that resound with an ongoing decolonial critique of world politics. In this chapter, I employ cinematic ethnography not only to challenge historically colonial framings of space and time, which inform senses of Self and Other, proximity and distance, past and present, in world politics. I also use the particular example of my own ethnographic short film in Delhi to render an alternative cinematic imagination of world politics. By connecting the ethnographic to the political, and the urban to the cinematic, I suggest that such an exploration of alterity can potentially help us better inhabit and critique academic disciplines in the humanities and social sciences that are invested in the study of world politics.

Colonial ethnography Like many of the modern academic fields we have inherited from previous eras, particularly in the human sciences, ethnography was originally suited for distinctly colonial purposes (Fabian, 1983; Dirks, 2001). Colonial ethnography sought to produce knowledge of distant (read: non-white/nonWestern) peoples in the interest of better understanding and ruling over them (Said, 1979; Guha, 1983). But such knowledge at a distance was far from neutral: it was inextricably tied to the reproduction of empire and coloniality as an objective fact of reality (Quijano, 2000; Mignolo, 2012). Colonial power and state authority were ambivalent and paradoxical from the point of view of those it exploited and oppressed. The state was simultaneously near and far, proximate and distant, in terms of its relationship with those it governed. This proximate distance was famously critiqued in Frantz Fanon’s writing on the phenomenology of colonial and decolonial violence (Fanon, 2007). It was also integral to the urban plans and designs of colonial cities like New Delhi (Kalyan, 2017; Legg, 2006; Sundaram, 2010), which, like other cities in Asia, Africa and the Americas, spatialised racial difference in the built form of the urban environment (Abu Lughod, 1980). Difference as distance was also reproduced in colonial discourses of legal inequality between Europeans and non-Europeans in the colonies (Chatterjee, 1993), codifying distinct racialised groups in the institutional apparatus of the state. In each of these cases there is a spatio-temporal distance imagined and materialised between colonial state and colonised society, a distance that in turn comes to be translated as cultural difference and political inequality.

Decolonising visual ethnography 163 Colonial ethnography was thus a very specific strategy of mediating between different imaginations and experiences of distance and proximity in non-European spaces. It was a method of interpreting, describing and thus ordering the unfamiliar worlds that European imperialism had encountered and had brought into a certain kind of ‘global’ visibility. The legacies of this visualisation of Others remain with us today. Moreover, because these ethnographic interpretations and visualisations were invariably produced for European audiences back home, colonial ethnography in general sought to familiarise the ostensibly strange and distant cultures of non-European societies in terms of their proximity to – but ultimate divergence from – European norms, so that such societies were understood in terms of what they were not  – namely: white, Christian, civilised, modern, developed. In this way, colonial ethnography sought to make the strange familiar but not too familiar, still subservient, still fundamentally inferior, still somewhat distant and historically ‘behind’. For if there were no separation, no hierarchical difference, no space or time imagined between coloniser and colonised, then what justification would there be for their material inequalities (Chatterjee, 1993)? The anthropologist Johannes Fabian theorised this form of mediation and described the temporal expressions it found in discourses of colonial ethnography and modern anthropology more broadly. The differentiation and distance imagined between the Western anthropologist’s time (enlightened/evolutionary/historical) and the time of the non-Western Other (static/ backwards /ahistorical) constituted what Fabian called anthropology’s denial of coevalness, or its allochronic temporal imagination. Fabian defined allochronism as ‘a persistent and systematic tendency to place the referent(s) of anthropology in a Time other than the present of the producer of anthropological discourse’ (1983, p. 31). Though in fieldwork the anthropologist as ethnographer cohabited the same places and shared the same time with their ethnographic subjects, through prolonged cultural ‘immersion’, sustained interaction and participant observation, this shared experience was effectively denied in anthropological representations made after the fact. ‘What makes the savage significant to the evolutionist’s Time is that he lives in another time’, Fabian wrote (p. 27), underlining how, in their writings anthropologists historically framed their culturally distant interlocutors as inhabiting in some kind of pre-historical time, reminiscent of Europe’s imagined past. The allochronic temporal imagination of colonial ethnography found its direct corollary in influential ethnographic films of the twentieth century. This is in some ways paradoxical because film is a medium that allows for radical interventions in the construction and reimagining of space and time, as I will attempt to show in the second half of this chapter. But notwithstanding its status as a time-based medium, it would take decades for film to learn to actualise the virtual powers of its temporalisations (Deleuze 1989a, 1989b). The same is true for the specific genre of ethnographic film. Although these films relied on moving images and montage editing in order to ‘document’ aspects of distant cultures for the purposes of knowledge production, their

164  Rohan Kalyan inherited temporal and epistemic practices often wound up freezing these mobile forms in the name of reproducing dominant colonial constructions of Self and Other. One of the earliest such films, often regarded as the first ‘official’ documentary ever made, was Nanook of the North, directed by the American Robert Flaherty (1922). Nanook ... was a film ostensibly about the Inuit peoples of northern Canada. Film scholars have long debated its status as a ‘documentary’, in part because the main character in the film (‘Nanook’) was fictionalised and certain scenes involving him and his family were painstakingly performed for the camera to look ‘authentic’ and ‘real’. Such fictionalisations were nevertheless intended to look real for distant audiences back in the United States and Europe, where the film was a roaring success (Jacobs, 1971; Barnouw 1974). What is less obvious, however, is the fact that Nanook’s filmic thinking is largely consistent with the temporal politics of colonial ethnography articulated above. Flaherty sought to familiarise the strange ‘Nanook’ (not the main protagonist’s actual name) by ‘documenting’ the everyday life of a supposedly actual (but really fabricated) Inuit family in its ‘native’ environment. But by the time Flaherty had come to the area to shoot, people like Allakariallak (who plays the character of Nanook) were already living decidedly ‘modern’ lives in ‘postcolonial’ Canada (that is, after white settler colonialism had come to dominate the economic geography of the place). These indigenous peoples were afflicted, just like poor people everywhere, with modern conditions of poverty, illness, market dependence and labour exploitation. But these aspects of changing life were edited out of the film. Instead, Nanook and his ‘family’ are shown hunting for walruses with spears and building a traditional igloo, even though these ‘traditional’ practices were already outdated by the time the film was shot. This was not the only fictional aspect of the ‘documentary’. Several of the women depicted as Nanook’s wives were in reality the white director’s lovers. Yet Flaherty’s desire to ‘authentically’ portray these people as ‘other’ in his documentary film necessitated that he deny the coevalness of the ethnographic encounter between himself and the indigenous actors in the film. While the latter were actually local to the region (of the Itivimuit tribe), they were also products of a complex and dynamic cultural reality after several decades of contact with white colonial settlers. In other words, the Itivimuit tribe were historical actors negotiating the changing world around them, not simply static Others stuck in the past. But Flaherty was not interested in showing these people in terms of their synchronicity with his own present. Whether we classify Nanook ... as a proper ‘documentary’ or not, the style of ethnographic representation it practiced gave birth to the genre of ethnographic film as it is widely known and recognised today. Later ethnographic films added greater technical sophistication to their representations, aided by the availability of cheaper film stock, synchronised sound recording and more mobile cameras. Yet I would argue that a great many of these films remained invested in allochronic representations of the ethnographic Other.

Decolonising visual ethnography 165 John Marshall’s well known 1957 film The Hunters is a good example of colonial visual ethnography at work. Like Nanook ..., the film documents a hunting expedition, but this time it is of the !Kung tribe in Namibia. The film also incorporates narrative strategies that do the work of injecting distance between the visual ethnographer and the ethnographic subjects/objects in the film itself, denying the fundamental proximity, coevalness and entanglement between Self and Other that was constitutive of the synchronic ethnographic encounter itself. Marshall, for instance, never appears in the film. Nor is the presence of the camera or film crew ever acknowledged by any of the film’s African subjects. The narrative strategies employed in this film – use of a distant, omniscient ‘voice of god’ narrator, unobtrusive camera work, nonvisible montage editing and synchronised sound recording – rendered the filmmaking process itself invisible while giving the resulting images the look and feel of ‘objective’ reality. Today we take such filmmaking techniques for granted in films we collectively decide are ‘documentary’. If colonial ethnography found its visual representation in the works of directors like Flaherty and Marshall, soon after these a more radical generation of ethnographic filmmakers emerged that challenged the familiarising strategies and allochronic images of time found in visual ethnography. Encouraged by anticolonial movements in politics and knowledge production, on one hand, and technical advancements made in documentary filmmaking in various international ‘new-wave’ styles, filmmakers such as Trinh T. Minh-ha and others exemplify what I call cinematic ethnography. This is a modality of ethnographic filmmaking that, far from denying the coevalness and proximity between the ethnographer and ‘native’ subject, instead uses the synchronic and diachronic potentialities of filmmaking to challenge colonial imaginations of space and time. These counter-imaginings in turn create possibilities for alternative constructions of distance and proximity, past and present, Self and Other in world politics.

Cinematic ethnography ‘I do not intend to speak about, just near by’, the unseen, distant narrator informs us at the beginning of Reassemblage. It is Trinh T. Minh-ha’s voice. She is an academically trained ethnographer with specialisation in Western Africa, particularly Senegalese cultures (Trinh 1992, 2013). This is where Reassemblage was shot. But Trinh is speaking here not so much as an academic but rather as a poet. An academic speaks ‘about’ something she studies. A poet just speaks ‘near by’. To speak about is to assume the hierarchical perspective of the colonial state, which must stand above its objects of rule in order to gain a proper perspective, one that is consistent with the projection of impersonal rule and distant, impartial apprehension. In Reassemblage Trinh disavows modern political subjectivities of ‘aboutness’, which are always invested in reproducing the power and gaze of a distant ‘far order’ (Lefebvre, 1996, p. 101). To

166  Rohan Kalyan speak ‘near by’ is to affirm a radically alternative imagination of the politics of space and time, which in turns allows for the construction of different senses of distance and proximity, past and present, Self and Other. The Marxian theorist of everyday life, Henri Lefebvre, called this alternative imaginative realm the ‘near order’, in contrast to the far order of the state described above. The near order was the domain of everyday life that was only visible when one got ‘close up’ to it, beyond the distancing procedures of abstraction and generalisation that serviced the state, capital and their disciplinary knowledge protocols. Yet, as we have seen, getting close up to this near order, even with a documentary film camera, can be fraught with problems.3 The history of modern ethnographic film was, after all, about the desire to get near by ‘other’ (i.e. non-Western/non-white) cultures and represent them through documentary techniques, including the ostensive objectivity of the camera and the transparency of its audio-visual images. Yet these techniques, as we have seen, injected a certain abstract distance into even close-up shots and proximate perspectives. So how is Trinh’s ‘near by-ness’ any different from that of the colonial anthropologists that Fabian critiqued earlier? To answer this, let us briefly return to Marshall’s 1957 documentary The Hunters, which I argued suffered from the same allochronisms that Fabian found in Western anthropology. Marshall’s film bears all the familiar hallmarks of what we have come to associate with a certain genre of mainstream pedagogical film in the discipline of anthropology: factual documentaries that share ‘unbiased’ knowledge ‘about’ some distinct and distant (from the presumed audience) culture. Such documentaries were not without artistic licence to stylise the presentation of images and sounds regarding the distant culture in question, bringing the latter into a certain kind of affective proximity with the audience. This produced intimacy was often achieved through non-visual means, including reliance on dramatic narrative and plot structure, the personification of main characters, or clever editing in post-­production. Notwithstanding such creative mediations it is nevertheless taken for granted in this genre of film that the images and sounds the audience sees pertain to ‘facts’ belonging to the ‘real world’ and not to ‘fictions’ created in someone’s head, or produced in a studio lot, with sets, actors, costumes and the like (Kalyan, 2010). Trinh’s film Reassemblage, while sharing some superficial similarities with ethnographic documentaries like Marshall’s, reveals itself to be more of an immanent critique of the latter’s regime of visual representation. Both films are ostensibly about an ‘African’ culture. Both feature voice-over narration spoken by the ethnographer/filmmaker that is played over images of a ‘real world’ place, somewhere in Africa, the distant site of ethnographic research. But here the similarities end. Marshall’s film is ‘about’ the particular culture whose ‘real life’ it faithfully and truthfully documents through what philosopher of cinema Gilles Deleuze would call ‘organic descriptions’ of its everyday cultural reality. These are ostensibly ‘objective’ descriptions of whatever reality unfolded before the camera, without any acknowledgement

Decolonising visual ethnography 167 of projections, implicit biases or partialities supplied by the filmmaker. Trinh’s film is both a critique of ‘aboutness’ as well as a counter-presentation of what Deleuze would call ‘crystalline descriptions’, in contrast with organic ones. Both organic and crystalline images are unique to cinema. But whereas in organic images, the setting described is presented as independent of the description which the camera gives of it, and stands for a supposedly pre-existing reality ...[,] what we will call a crystalline description stands for its object, replaces it, both creates and replaces it ... and constantly gives way to other descriptions which contradict, displace, or modify the preceding one. (1989b, p. 122) In the crystalline image, the referential reality that the camera ‘documents’ is no longer an afilmic or pre-cinematic one. It is a fundamentally de-centred, fractional, mobile distribution of virtual experiences that are profilmic and essentially cinematic. Crucially, all films, documentary and fictional alike, employ organic descriptions to show various movements and spaces that constitute the world of the film. These descriptions establish relationships of before and after, cause and effect, action and reaction and so forth. But certain films are able to move away from the verisimilitudes of the ‘movement-image’ and create crystalline descriptions that are specifically cinematic. Deleuze calls these ‘time-images’ and Trinh T. Minh-ha conjures them into her cinematic ethnography. In Reassemblage we get long spells of ambivalent audio-visual content, building uncertainty and tension, followed by poetic, but often mysterious meditations from the filmmaker/narrator that accompany ethnographic images. Sometimes music plays – the sounds of hand drums that we might associate with the Senegalese culture that is depicted in the images we see. Yet the music is not synchronised with images that depict someone playing an instrument. It is instead rendered diachronically distant, almost haunting in its absent presence. We see black bodies that inhabit a village: women performing household work, children playing around them. These are familiar ethnographic visual representations, but they are disarticulated from their expected soundscapes and geo-political contexts. Implicitly or explicitly, we are not hearing about how these culturally different and distant people need to be studied in their ‘authenticity’, before they are ultimately made extinct by modernity itself. Instead we hear the filmmaker questioning her own desire or compulsion to render ‘her’ ethnographic subjects transparent to the anthropological gaze. Rather than organically rendering her subjects into such a hegemonic temporality of development and modernisation, they are instead inserted into a different time altogether, a temporality mediated by other words, sounds and virtual images. Such ‘lateral montage’ (Bazin, 1958), to borrow a term from French New Wave, creates a productive distance/ proximity, or ambivalence, between the narrative voice, the ‘documentary’

168  Rohan Kalyan images the filmmaker edits together, and the sounds or music (or absence thereof) that binds them together into a singular experience. Trinh’s cinematic method moves us from ethnography to ethno-poeisis, but in the latter lies a micro-politics of cultural production that is often ignored by modern academic disciplines, fixed as they are with studying and maintaining the far order. As she puts it in her book Framer Framed, with respect to the making of Reassemblage, ‘What seem[ed] most important to me was to expose the transformations that occurred with the attempt to materialise on film and between the frames the impossible experience of “what” constituted Sengalese cultures’ (1992, p. 113). Rather than attempting to define these cultures through representational images and framing devices, in the film her statements and sounds resist enclosing their corresponding images in unambiguous, unitary meanings that are immediately recognisable to some powerreproducing academic discipline. Instead, her images drive a wedge through meaning and its proper objects, opening up multiple possible significations in the gap she creates between the visible and the audible. Her film is thus able to challenge historically colonial technologies of knowledge/power that rely on the closure of meaning, the transparency of cultural representation and the hegemonic resonance of image and idea. Through crystalline descriptions and images, her work critiques the kind of omniscience that pervades many films, not just through the way the narration is being told, but more generally, in their structure, editing and cinematography, as well as in the effacement of the filmmakers, or the invisibility of their politics of non-location. (Ibid.) In this way, Reassembalge resonates with a larger shift in anthropological research and writing that took seriously postcolonial critiques of ethnography, especially the idea that knowledge production about colonised peoples can ever be ‘neutral’ or ‘objective’ (Clifford and Marcus, 1986). This is what makes Trinh’s film ‘postcolonial’, for it belongs with other critical works that challenge many of the foundational assumptions of modern Eurocentric disciplines that project and often protect the cultural difference, distinction and distance between the modern Self (i.e. the ethnographer that studies) and the non-modern Other (the ethnographic subject that is studied). These postcolonial works acknowledge that modernity is about what happens after the colonial/cinematic encounter, and the question for films and filmmaking becomes how images and imaginations of Self and Other, proximity and distance, can be shown as historical co-products of this encounter, not preexisting and immutable oppositional forces. Such a perspective explicitly politicises the process of identity formation and the construction of racialised hierarchies through a creative technique that privileges self-reflexive ‘documentation’ and self-aware representation over non-intrusive filmmaking and non-visible editing. When crystalline

Decolonising visual ethnography 169 descriptions are able to interrupt organic representations of cultural difference, the viewer is often invited to question the reality and coherence of what they are seeing on the screen, while introspecting on the multiple contingent forces and relations that shape our assumptions about cultural difference and identity. That is, the camera, the filmmaker, the editor, even the audience, become participants in a specifically cinematic event: an ethnographic encounter that de-naturalises hierarchical constructions of Self and Other and politicises the construction of ethnographic time by self-reflexively rendering it cinematically as a process of fabrication.4

Letter to the City Yet to Come (2015) Letter to the City Yet to Come premiered at the New York Indian International Film Festival in 2015 and is now publicly accessible at the website of The Journal of Narrative Politics.5 It is a short documentary film that exemplifies in my mind the potential of cinematic ethnography to open up lines of inquiry and intervention within decolonial thought. Here I describe the film and emphasise aspects that are inspired by the work of Minh-ha and others. I conclude by offering some general comments on the relationship between ethnographic (or place-/context specific) filmmaking, cinematic images and the decolonisation of world politics. Our film was very much shaped by the specific place and context in which it was shot. My brother Gorav and I were planning on spending two weeks in New Delhi to shoot a short film that would be a sort of time-capsule of the city, very much inspired by the work of filmmakers like Walter Ruttmann, Dziga Vertov, Chris Marker, and, of course, Trinh T. Minha. These practitioners and innovators of visual essays and ethnographic films were notable for how they were able to execute specifically cinematic interventions into contemporary realities, into dominant imaginations of space and time. In different ways they employed the documentary camera not so much as a vehicle to accurately represent reality ‘as it is’ but rather as a way to foreground the fact that we often take reality and its representation for granted. In other words, for these artists the documentary camera documented a reality only in order to radically pluralise it, to de-centre its perception and re-distribute its possible (collective) apprehension. Our original idea was to produce an ethnographic essay film that would juxtapose images of everyday life in the city with the narrative voices of real-life residents of the city. Our intention was to have these people write letters directed to someone they loved in the city. Except this person had to be located in the future. We would record these letters, read aloud by the writers themselves, and use these as narratives to guide various explorations of space in the dense, pulsating, heterogeneous city. Through impressionistic editing and indirect representation, we would offer possible audio-visual associations, resonances and juxtapositions between discourse and space, narrative and time, between words, sounds and images.

170  Rohan Kalyan This, at least, was our plan. But then, there is always a great deal of improvisation and uncertainty involved in documentary filmmaking. An intentional openness was actually part of our cinematic methodology. We wanted to be open to possibilities that we had not foreseen and could not expect, much less plan for. We wanted to let these unknown possibilities guide our filmmaking as much as our prior planning. But the context that unfolded just as we arrived in Delhi to shoot confounded our expectations to such an extent that the focus of our film quickly had to evolve to the changing circumstances. I have described this unfolding context elsewhere: ... we ended up landing in New Delhi to begin shooting our film just days after news broke of the shocking, ultra-violent rape of a young woman by a gang of young men in the capital. The victim and the assailants were all in their early-twenties or thirties, with the exception of the youngest of the gang, who was determined to be a juvenile at seventeen. The men had tricked the woman and her male companion into a nightmarish ride through south Delhi on a privately owned and operated bus. The violence was enacted while the vehicle was still on the move. The couple was eventually dumped on the side of the road: battered, bloodied and naked. The young woman, brutalized with an iron rode, succumbed to her injuries a few weeks later. The young man survived but was badly injured. (Kalyan, 2017, p. 36) The event cast an ominous shadow over the city that, as documentary filmmakers, was impossible for us not to notice. But how can one to render such a shadow cinematically? What is needed to capture the mood of a space as complicated, multi-layered, hybrid and fractured as that of contemporary Delhi? Just hours after landing in the city, we were already joining some friends and comrades who were organising a march in the centre of the city to bring attention to gender and sexual violence. We brought our cameras and sound equipment along and recorded on the fly. As we collected footage from this and other such political events, along with more mundane urban scenes and rhythms over the next two weeks, we also solicited letters that would serve to narrate and complicate the visual materials we were gathering. We collected these letters from comrades, acquaintances, and in some cases, random persons. In the final version of the short film that is publicly viewable we selected three letters to play over our urban montage of spaces and rhythms in Delhi. One was from a dancer, one from a poet, and one from an activist. All three were long-time residents of the city. All were invested in the city personally, emotionally and socially, having spent formative periods of their lives there. Yet the film isn’t really about these three individuals, about the psychological or social worlds that produced them. We wanted to treat the words of these letter-writers as belonging to the city itself, that is, to its inter-subjective, virtual narrative of changing urban life. We decided to keep these letter-writers anonymous and unseen, so that their words could float above the images

Decolonising visual ethnography 171 they accompanied, but did not determine the visual content of the latter. The resulting inter-subjective space between words and images, places and rhythms, reflects the emotional distance of fear, anger and foreboding that the event of the gang rape seemed to evoke among our interlocutors. The first letter is played over images of a tranquil and picturesque Lodhi Garden, a public park in the middle of Delhi that dates back to medieval times. We see lots of leafy trees, a pond traversed by a bridge, wildlife and people milling about, with crumbling stone monuments adding to the serene and peaceful backdrop. The letter writer, a classically trained dancer who has spent most of her life in Delhi (though the viewer does not know this), talks about the feeling of tranquillity that it is still possible to experience in the park, thanks to the British who originally put the park under state protection, she reminds us. She contrasts this serene image with the dirt, noise and pollution of the rest of the city. Her letter is nostalgic for a lost time when the city was safer, less chaotic, less violent. The imagery we use to illustrate her words is also in a certain sense nostalgic. For after the romantic tones of the park we move through the dense, vibrant spaces of Old Delhi on a cycle rickshaw, a mode of transportation recently declared illegal by the urban government and thus falling into decreasing use, an anachronistic mode of transportation in an anachronistic part of the city. Yet cycle rickshaws persist even today, just like Old Delhi does, despite also being declared ‘illegal’ a long time ago by the same colonial government that originally ‘preserved’ Lodhi Garden. The British classified Old Delhi (or Shahjahanabad, as it was called then) an official slum in the 1930s and scheduled it for eventual re-development, only to miraculously survive relatively intact even into the present, where it remains a classified slum, but one that is now more or less ‘regularised’ (see Figure 11.1) One gets a sense that the first letter writer might bemoan such

Figure 11.1 

172  Rohan Kalyan urban informality (and the chaos and confusion it breeds) even while herself taking advantage of the cheap labour and services it provides for urban residents. For middle-class Delhi-ites Lodhi Garden is an atemporal oasis in the midst of Delhi’s contemporary convulsions. After the first letter is finished, we enter another ‘anachronistic’ or untimely space: a centuries-old mosque and mausoleum dedicated to the Sufi saint Nizamuddin Aulia (1238–1325 ce), located in central Delhi. The camera is hand-held, the editing is fragmented and rapidly moves from one position in the mosque/mausoleum space to another. The cuts are in rhythm with the music, which fades in slowly. Our de-centred perspective bobs and weaves through dense crowds of devotees and visitors, many of whom are there just to see the live music that is being played. We get glimpses and impressions of the diverse people inhabiting the heterotopic space: a small person, a man with a long black beard selling incense, children shepherded by protective parents, transgender (hijra) people, beggars and the blind. The soundtrack is what one might hear at the mosque, traditional qawwali music (involving one of many singers, accompanied by harmonium and tabla) whose intensity increases as the scene unfolds, rising to an audio-visual climax that ends even more suddenly than it began, but not without clearing space for the next letter. Now we see a watery bucket packed full of fish that are on display in a market, waiting to be bought and eaten. Is this a metaphor for Delhi as a whole, full of people waiting to be eaten by someone bigger and more powerful than them? The second letter begins over this imagery. It is a man’s voice that reads in Urdu: ‘A letter to my nameless lover in the year 2063’. The tone in this letter is markedly different from the first. Instead of a nostalgic feeling of loss for Delhi’s past, this letter is about the ambivalence of the present. The writer, an Urdu poet, tells us: ‘No one actually falls in love in Delhi, or with Delhi’. But if you learn to love the city, he goes on, the city will love you back. And then your life changes. We move from the man selling fish in the market to a group of men at a barber stall in the street. At several points the men look straight into the camera, whether in a gesture of affection or something else remains unclear (see Figure 11.2). The scene transitions from a male-dominated public space to one that is populated with a healthy mix of young women and men. They are activists marching in mass numbers in protest against sexual violence, patriarchy, capitalism and more. They are heading for a confrontation with the police, who are positioned at the end of the street, waiting for them and forming a blockade (see Figure 11.3). The confrontation comes and goes. Later, several women take turns speaking on the megaphone, earning cheers from the assembled crowd of protestors. We see young college students forming a drum circle, singing songs of revolutionary change. The music bleeds out into the delirium of collective action. From here we transition to our third and final letter writer. In the backseat of a car we pass a dense and dilapidated urban landscape. We move through a crowded market, underneath a highway overpass. The

Decolonising visual ethnography 173

Figure 11.2 

Figure 11.3 

third voice comes in and reads her letter to Leeda, her imaginary niece of the future. It is the voice of a woman who sounds reflective, if also a bit wistful and tired. It is as if she is worn out by the city. The words of an older activist who is also an unapologetic Marxist feminist, she describes her struggles in Delhi’s male-dominated public spaces to Leeda, how she deals with leering men and sexist judgments every day. Then we transition back to where the film started, Lodhi Gardens. Now we see a family with two young girls playing in the grass, seemingly a world away from the crowded streets, the

174  Rohan Kalyan turbulent protests, the dangerous male-dominated world (see Figure 11.4). The third letter writer continues, as if speaking now directly to the young girls in the park: ‘One grew tired of talking gender, race, nation, equality, forever and endlessly. And at the same time knowing that one needs to do it so that people like you don’t have to do it in future. I guess for you things must have changed so much’. Fade to black. The end. Rather than performing an exegesis of our own film I will close this chapter by sharing a few thoughts on some of our influences in decolonial ethnographic film, or what I have called cinematic ethnography. On the one hand, we were influenced by early innovators of documentary and essay films, such as the aforementioned Walter Ruttman (Berlin, Symphony of a Great City, 1927) and Dziga Vertov (Man with a Movie Camera, 1929). These works toed the line between ‘documentary’ and “fiction,” creating virtual spaces and times and teaching audiences to inhabit their own worlds cinematically. Working in urban milieus their films involved de-centred, mobile perspectives that focused on visualising the often unseen sides of changing urban life. The ability of the camera to present near orders and far orders in dynamic relation, moving quickly and unexpectedly from one perspective to the other, brought the multiplicity of the city and everyday modern life to the fore. Arguably this allowed people to experience the city and its changing life like never before. We readily adopted such cinematic strategies in Letter to the City Yet to Come and sought to bring a dimension of insight and intelligibility to certain unseen aspects of changing urban life in Delhi, some of which are described above but many more of which are to be found in the film itself. We were also influenced by more modern and contemporary artists, particularly the work of the French filmmaker Chris Marker. We were especially inspired by the use of ‘lateral montage’ in his essay films. In Marker’s

Figure 11.4 

Decolonising visual ethnography 175 film montage sequences are composed not simply of images presented in linear succession. Rather, the images and sequence are themselves mediated by audio content (usually in the form of a disembodied narrative voice or abstract musical soundtrack) that frames and complicates the changing visual material. As the film critic Andre Bazin put it, ‘the basic element is the beauty of what is said and heard, that intelligence flows from the audio element to the visual. The montage has been forged from ear to eye’ (Bazin, 1958). This type of lateral montage has now become a hallmark of the essay film, where the words that we hear build up in the audience a set of anticipations and expectations that are either met or disappointed, but often also challenged and rethought. From ears to eyes and back to the brain. At their best these filmic essays produce a cinematic introspection into the socio-material fabrication of space and time, and how such fabrications shaped our expectations of reality. We were greatly interested in using such a lateral style of montage in our film as a modality of cinematic thought (Shapiro, 1999). We used the technique of lateral montage for a specifically decolonial purpose, along the lines suggested in Trinh T. Minh-ha’s Reassemblage: to directly challenge and overturn dominant colonial constructions of proximity and distance, Self and Other, present and past. By placing the scale of our analysis on the city and the urban (rather than the nation and the international, which is standard practice in world politics), we suggest that relations and imaginations of proximity and distance need not be thought through abstractions like nations and states. Rather, they can be experienced through the intimacies of the ‘near order’ and the proximate distances of changing urban life. Further, by dis-connecting voices from faces, narratives from individuals, we instead wanted to restore perception to the inter-subjective discourse of the urban itself. How does the city come to ‘make sense’? Who participates in this sense making? That is, who does the making? What is the nature of this participation in changing urban life, wherein to make sense of the urban is to actively change its very lived experience? This is a point of resonance between cities and the history of cinema more generally, namely, the shared community of sense that forms between a city and its residents, and between a film and its audience. Such actual and virtual sensible milieus are not static, and they can often be radically exclusionary or unevenly distributed. Yet the promise of film is to create a space in which such imagined exclusions can be confronted, challenged and transformed. Here the sense of multiple temporalities in a postcolonial city like Delhi offers a path forward for a more critical world politics. In Letter to the City Yet to Come this multiplicity is demonstrated through the juxtaposition of letters written in the future tense with scenes of contemporary urban life, all under the dark shadow of a violent event and its aftermath in Delhi. I would argue that such cinematic urban multiplicity has larger implications for the learning and unlearning of world politics, for it points us to scales of power and contestation that are rendered invisible in colonial imaginings of the international. In my work I have tried to

176  Rohan Kalyan bring attention to alternative v­ isualisations, ­particularly in the context of ­postcolonial Delhi (Kalyan, 2017). This chapter has attempted to demonstrate how certain filmmaking practices can inform decolonial thought by reimagining some of the ­spatio-temporal relations (of distance and proximity, Self and Other, past and present) which structure world politics. These transdisciplinary relations often go ignored (or are aggressively erased) in contemporary discourses of world politics and the international. Cinematic ethnography produces alternative images of thought and seeks to animate imaginations that think outside of these dominant presuppositions in world politics, opening up ‘untimely’ perspectives of our transdisciplinary, transnational present.

Notes 1 I define postcolonial and decolonial thought as an inter-disciplinary field that asks what the world looks like from the perspective of the historically marginalised. It broadly focuses on those parts of the world that have been subjugated by colonialism, capitalism and patriarchal/racial domination. For a partial collection of texts see Fanon, 1961; Said, 1979; Spivak, 1988; Bhabha, 1994; and Chakrabarty, 2000; Patke, 2000; Mbembe, 2001; Roy 2011. 2 The 12-minute film can be viewed here: default/article/view/56/57 3 For a provocative cinematic take on this idea see Abbas Kiarostami’s film Close-Up (1989). 4 I write about this at length elsewhere, in regards to another cinematic ethnography, this one about call centre workers in contemporary India (Kalyan 2010). 5 You can watch it here: view/56/57

Works cited Abu Lughod, J. (1980) Rabat: Urban Apartheid in Morocco. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Barnouw, E. (1974) Documentary: a History of Non-fiction Film. New York: Oxford University Press (1993). Bazin, A. (1958) ‘Film Comment’. Cahiers du cinema. Accessed online: https://chris Benjamin, W. (1999) The Arcades Project. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bhabha, H. (1994) The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge. Chakrabarty, D. (2000.) Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Chatterjee, P. (1993) The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Clifford, J., and G. Marcus, eds. (1986) Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. Berkeley: University of California Press ✓. Deleuze, G. (1989a) Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Decolonising visual ethnography 177 Deleuze, G. (1989b) Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Dirks, N. (2001) Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of British India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Fabian, J. (1983) Time and the Other: How Anthropology Constructs its Object. New York: Columbia University Press. Fanon, F. (2004) The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press. Foucault, M. (1970) The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Vintage Press. Foucault, M. (1984) The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon. Guha, R. (1983) ‘The Prose of Counter-Insurgency’. In Ranajit Guha (ed.), Subaltern Studies, II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jacobs, L., ed. (1971) The Documentary Tradition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Kalyan, R. (2010) ‘Ghostly Images, Phantom Discourses, and the Virtuality of the Global’, Globalization, 7(4), pp. 545–562. Kalyan, R. (2017) Neo Delhi and the Politics of Postcolonial Urbanism. London: Routledge. Lefebvre, H. (1996) Writings on Cities. New York: Wiley-Blackwell. Legg, S. (2007) Spaces of Colonialism: Delhi’s Urban Governmentalities. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Mbembe, A. (2001) On the Postcolony. Berkeley: University of California Press. Mignolo, W.D. (2012) Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Patke, R. (2000) ‘Benjamin’s Arcades Project and the Postcolonial City’, Diacritics 30(4), pp. 2–14. Quijano, A. (2000) ‘Coloniality of Power and Eurocentrism in Latin America’, International Sociology 15(2), pp. 215–232. Rancière, J. (2006) Film Fables. Oxford: Berg Press. Roy, A. (2011) ‘Slumdog Cities: Rethinking Subaltern Urbanism’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 35(2), pp. 223–238. Said, E. (1979) Orientalism. New York: Vintage. Shapiro, M. (1999) Cinematic Political Thought. New York: New York University Press. Shapiro, M. (2010) The Time of the City. New York: Routledge. Spivak, G. (1988) ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ In R.C. Morris (ed.), Can the Subaltern Speak: Reflections on the History of an Idea. New York: Columbia University Press. Sundaram, R. (2010) Pirate Modernity: Delhi’s Media Urbanism. London: Routledge. Trinh, M.T. (1992) Framer Framed: Film Scripts and Interviews. New York: Routledge. Trinh, M.T. (1993) ‘The Totalizing Quest for Meaning’. In Michael Renov (ed.), Theorizing Documentary. New York: Routledge. Trinh, M.T. (2013) D-passage: The Digital Way. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

12 The drone cut-up project Trevor McCrisken and Erzsébet Strausz with images and film by Ben Cook

Cut-up is for everyone everyone is for Cut-up for Cut-up is everyone is everyone for Cut-up for is Cut-up everyone1 The cut-up method is a technique used mostly in literature, poetry and songwriting. To our knowledge it has never before been utilised in the writing of texts in International Relations. The method has multiple variations but was first suggested by the poet Tristan Tzara in the 1920s, developed by the artist Brion Gysin and the writer William S. Burroughs in the 1950s and 1960s, and then brought to wider popular attention by the singer-songwriter David Bowie in the 1970s. The method’s main objective is to destroy and reassemble existing texts to reveal new, disrupted meanings on the subject being addressed such that ‘one’s range of vision consequently expands’ (Burroughs and Gysin, 1978, p. 18). As Burroughs (Ibid., pp. 3–4) notes, ‘a page of Rimbaud cut up and re-arranged will give you quite new images. Rimbaud images – real Rimbaud images – but new ones’. Methodologically, the cut-up links with the use of collage and other critical interventions in the discipline undertaken by, for instance, by Michael J. Shapiro, Christine Sylvester and Saara Särmä, that fundamentally challenge habitual performances of social scientific inquiry and re-envision the process of research as one of encounter, displacement and creative reworking. In our case, we have used the cut-up method to disrupt and reconfigure the narratives and meanings that are forming around the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or ‘drones’ for military and non-military purposes, but especially in the US policy of the targeted killing of suspected terrorists. We choose texts from different sources – such as an Obama presidential speech, a Yemeni survivor’s testimony and an announcement of the commercial use of drones by Swiss Post – and cut them up to expand our range of vision and understanding of the intersections of life, text and meaning. We wanted to unlock the words that we read and the words that we write; to allow chance and randomness to engage with our texts; to find new ways

The drone cut-up project 179 to express language when we are struggling to find the words to relay our thoughts. We experimented with the randomness of the process while we also manipulated some of the results and importantly, made five short films2 of these experiments that not only document but also further articulate the creative impulse of the project. We are now writing about what we did (while staying true to the spirit of experimentation) and how Ben Cook, our filmmaker friend, took the spark of cutting and creating anew elsewhere. In our view, this is what our project, including this text, has to offer at its best: inspiration to bring the ‘new’ out of the already existing. After all, ‘when you cut into the present the future leaks out’ (Burroughs, 1986, cited in Robinson, 2011, p. 138) and with that, so do opportunities to act, think, be, do otherwise. We have designed this chapter as a series of juxtapositions that framed and simultaneously unframed the process of two years of working with text, image, meaning and modes of perception across the multiple planes of academic knowledge, filmmaking and working together as a collective. We wanted to make present the energy of formation and transformation, that of different text(ure)s and equally, ways of inhabiting the process of disruption and remaking. We have learned to see and sense, make seen and make sense of layers and registers of experiences that were previously inaccessible to us as points of reflection and work material. From our efforts, trials and errors, and an ever-growing body of paper snippets, an archive emerged and we continued to cut things up to uncover even more, also about our academic conditioning, as we are writing this chapter. For Burroughs cut-up is a mode of being in the world, a way of using sense perception to continuously expand and rework the familiar properties of ‘time’ and ‘space’ and our experience of them: [...] cut-ups make explicit a psychosensory process that is going on all the time anyway. Somebody is reading a newspaper, and his eye follows the column in the proper Aristotelian manner, one idea and sentence at a time. But subliminally he is reading the columns on either side and is aware of the person sitting next to him. That’s a cut-up. I was sitting in a lunchroom in New York having my doughnuts and coffee. I was thinking that one does feel a little boxed in in New York, like living in a series of boxes. I looked out the window and there was a great big Yale truck. That’s cut-up – a juxtaposition of what’s happening outside and what you’re thinking of. I make this a practice when I walk down the street. I’ll say, When I got to here I saw that sign, I was thinking this, and when I return to the house I’ll type these up. Some of this material I use and some I don’t. I have literally thousands of pages of notes here, raw, and I keep a diary as well. In a sense it’s traveling in time. (Burroughs and Gysin, 1978, pp. 4–5) We have also been learning to appreciate the power and simplicity of life as cut up, as constant movement between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, bigger and

180  Trevor McCrisken et al. smaller pictures, worlds within and without, and the awareness, the space that their connections and disjuncture enable and bring to the fore. We have been surprised by what random occurrences in speech, images, silences, and even the gaps between two pieces of paper might open up as opportunities to re-make ‘sense’ and the already familiar. It encouraged us to appreciate even more the physical disruption of academic knowledge practices by taking a pair of scissors and cutting into the very materiality of ‘text’ and ‘image’. The films made by Ben took physical cutting, randomisation and creativity to a next level, beyond our imagination. This chapter offers itself to be read as a cut up, composed of parallel registers of things to read, see, watch, notice or ignore, as academic writing filmmaking experimentation older and newer versions of writing about cut-up and method, and cutting more texts up, including an earlier version of this chapter the experiences of doing all this and not least, Brion Gysin’s (1978, p. 44) invitation that gave us a lot of courage to re-encounter and re-appropriate our positions as academics as meaning-makers and time travellers: ‘Cut up this page you are reading and see what happens’. ,,,,,, ///////

Why cut-up?

Figure 12.1

The drone cut-up project 181 McCRISKEN:  I think the first time I came across the idea of cut-up I was watching the BBC documentary Cracked Actor, which was made in the mid-70s, and was a documentary about David Bowie. In the middle of that he explains how he used the cut-up method, which he got from William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, to write some of his song lyrics. And he demonstrated it on a table. I’d always been fascinated by that and the way that it was randomly taking pieces of writing that were already about a subject and then cutting them up, randomly putting them all together, reassembling them. And then many years later, became an academic, and never really thought about using this in my academic writing because it was so completely different. STRAUSZ:  I did my PhD as a project in experimental writing and all the way through it’s a first person narrative about being in the discipline and knowledge production and my own personal experience of becoming a knowing subject of some sort. It’s mostly continuous, unedited, very non-academic kind of writing. And all the way through I was expecting some invisible hand to slap on my wrist – that this is the boundary, you can’t go any further. But that never happened. So that made me reflect a lot on how we already internalise very narrow and limited perceptions of the horizons of the possible. And this is also I think the power of language over us, in some sense because academic language presupposes many different qualities which also limit imagination. McCRISKEN:  We’re tutored in being as disciplined as possible in the way that we write. So this method is destructive of language. It takes existing language, cuts it up. There are questions of authorship, because you’re using other people’s words rather than your own and reassembling them as something that is your own then. So I don’t think I thought that would be taken very seriously if I did this as academic writing. STRAUSZ:  That’s the thing with academic work isn’t it, that truth is seen as grounded in certainty. The kind of truth that scholarly work is designed to bring us will be something that is not about ambiguity, uncertainty. It’s not about surprise. It’s not about discovery in the sense that there would be an element of unknown. It’s all about the reduction of these random elements. So this method challenges the truth claims and what truth can be about, what it can be like, what it can sound like, or read like. McCRISKEN:  The academic environment should be a safe place for experimentation and doing things differently. I think one of my worries about recent years is that we’ve maybe lost a bit of that. While the disciplines that we’re in have allowed a bit more room for us to be experimental and different in the way that we critically confront the subjects that

182  Trevor McCrisken et al. we’re interested in, our institutions are being told they have to produce x, y, z and it’s all very based on how many numbers you have got and a quantifiable way of representing the worth of your academics. We believe cut-up to be a serious method that can actually give us a different way of working. One of the things also that we find attractive about it and William Burroughs talked about it in this way as well, that he said cut-up is for everyone. So, there’s something quite democratic about this method compared with other academic methods. Anybody can do this. Anyone can take pieces of writing, take a pair of scissors to them. This process is very democratising in that respect. So, it’s not just taking apart the language that’s on the pages that you’re cutting, but it’s also taking apart the whole idea that you’ve got to be a well-trained member of the elite in order to say anything intelligent. I guess what we’re saying is that in order to say something challenging, intelligent, interesting about subject matter you don’t necessarily have to have a PhD. You can do something much more liberating like this. ...\\\


The cut-up method and the ‘third mind’ The cut-up method involves taking two or more written perspectives on a subject, using scissors to literally cut-up the printed text into sections, small phrases or individual words, placing the cut-up pieces in a bag, box or hat, then drawing the pieces randomly to create a new text based on the component parts of the originals. The significance of the method, according to Burroughs and Gysin, is its ability to create new texts that offer a ‘third mind’ view on the original topic, revealing meanings and perspectives that were ‘hidden’ in the original texts. As they explained in a 1972 interview for Rolling Stone magazine: GYSIN:  ... when you put two minds together ... BURROUGHS:  ... there is always a third mind ... GYSIN:  ... a third and superior mind ... BURROUGHS:  ... as an unseen collaborator.

(Palmer, 1972, p. 53)

In the introduction to their 1978 book entitled The Third Mind, GérardGeorges Lemaire (1978, p. 18) explained more fully that the technique produced a ‘complete fusion in a praxis of two subjectivities, two subjectivities that metamorphose into a third; it is from this collusion that a new author emerges, an absent third person, invisible and beyond grasp, decoding the silence’. The technique, therefore, has the potential to reveal something unique and enlightening about the subjects and topics that are submitted to the cut-up. The original perspective of the author is destroyed and then

The drone cut-up project 183 r­ eassembled, interlaced randomly with the words of other authors, to arrive at a new perspective that can offer insights that were absent or only implied by the original texts. Burroughs (1978, p. 4) contended that ‘Cut-ups establish new connections between images, and one’s range of vision consequently expands’. The method, therefore, has the power to stimulate new thought processes and perspectives for the researcher that they may otherwise not have developed. The writer using cut-up can be taken to places that they have not expected or intended, opening up new avenues of analysis or understanding. Burroughs (1993, cited in Robinson, 2011, p. 26) observed that: ‘When you cut and rearrange words on a page, new words emerge. And words change meaning .... New words and altered meanings are implicit in the process of cutting up’. As Lemaire (1978, p. 14) reflected: Two – or more – messages, once assembled according to this strategy on the page, revealed another message, which its components were careful not to communicate. The use of this systematic method, uncontrolled by the intelligence, to relate divergent sources of information demonstrated the close interdependence of these sources. Burroughs saw the deliberate disruption of existing texts as something of a mission. He was determined to revolutionise the way that writing was undertaken, how it was read, and how it was understood. He argued that words and language were ‘one of the most powerful instruments of control’ in society. Burroughs contended that: ‘if you start cutting these up and rearranging them you are breaking down the control system’ (Burroughs and Odier, 1974, cited in Robinson, 2011, p. 43). According to Lemaire (1978, p. 17), the cut-ups of Gysin and Burroughs were centred on ‘castrating the continuum of meaning, on the breaking up of the Hegelian structure, ... on the abandonment of all discursive forms’. Indeed, Ranjeet Gill (2004, cited in Robinson, 2011, p. 5) has referred to the cut-ups as an ‘apocalypse of language’. Yet Burroughs wanted to elucidate as much as he wanted to destroy. The method was used not only to take language apart but to reassemble that language in new forms, and it was important to Burroughs that the revealed text should be intelligible. He was frequently concerned that his texts should be readable even though they did not adhere to the expected norms of written prose. As Edward Robinson (2011, p. 8) argues, ‘Despite working to produce texts which dispensed with conventional notions of plot and characterisation, Burroughs would remain insistent that it was never his objective to produce works that were not intelligible simply for the sake of experimentation.’ His purpose, and that of cut-ups more generally, was ‘to create or invent new text through the physical destruction of existing texts’, (ibid., p. 12) but in line with the notion of a ‘third mind’, with the desired outcome that the deeper meaning of the original texts would be revealed or enhanced by the process of disruption. The intention, therefore, behind the adoption of this method to interrogate a topic in the discipline of International Relations is to uncover meanings

184  Trevor McCrisken et al. within discourse that are not apparent when utilising traditional or other critical methods of writing. Bringing the “cut-up” to the study of world politics opens up new areas of methodological possibility, using a physical, participatory process that is at once intellectually stimulating but also i­ ncredibly accessible, democratic and adaptive. ||||”’’’’

Why drones? McCRISKEN: Very few of us have ever seen an actual drone. It’s a subject that’s got a lot of mystery around it and that gives a lot of power to those that are talking about drones in the public domain to establish meanings for that technological development and what they’re being used for. And so, what we’re doing is taking three very different perspectives in this cut-up that we’re doing now. We’ve got an excerpt from a speech by Barack Obama. We’ve taken one of his speeches because obviously he’s an incredibly powerful individual. He’s got great authority. And we’ve set that alongside a survivor testimony. A man who survived an attack on what he claims to be a wedding party in Yemen. So that’s an individual with no authority, someone who’s a victim. And we’ve set that alongside Obama’s words. Mixing those two together can bring some interesting outcomes when you reassemble them. And then the third piece is a Financial Times report on how Swiss Post are planning to use drones for deliveries. We thought it was important to introduce the commercial use of drones into our mix. The idea is to disrupt those narratives that are being built up about what drones are and what they’re for. One of the goals is to disrupt the official meanings, but also ... STRAUSZ: ...the enabling of possibilities, about making something new. In that sense disruption opens new space up. these strikes have saved lives these saved lives have strikes saved lives these strikes have have these strikes saved lives3 We specifically chose the political use of drones as our topic since this technology is already shrouded in narratives that suggest distance, remoteness, and both the consequences of their use and the nature of the technology itself involve processes of dehumanisation, all of which mystify and remove understanding and meaning from the subject of drones. Grégoire Chamayou (2015, p. 14) argues that there are ‘crises of intelligibility’ surrounding the use of drones relating to ethics, legality, strategy, ontology and geography. There are many ‘speculative narratives’ forming around drones that Adam Rothstein (2015, p. 97) suggests are ‘disjointed’ and ‘fractured’ leaving us

The drone cut-up project 185 with ‘a verbal sketch of a drone that is asymmetric, contradictory, and uncertain’. The word ‘drone’ itself is used to denote a ‘web of concepts, meanings, and esthetics [sic]’ (Ibid., p. 107) such that Rothstein argues it is ‘not so representative of any one thing in reality, but of a virtual confluence’ (Ibid., p. 136). For writer and artist James Bridle (2012), drones represent a certain attitude: ‘of technology used for obscuration and violence; of the obfuscation of morality and culpability; of the illusion of omniscience and omnipotence; of the lesser value of other people’s lives; of, frankly, endless war’. Drones and their political, social and cultural implications, because they are largely hidden, unclear, or invisible, are prime candidates for the application of the cut-up method. The focus of our research is on a wide range of issues relating to drones in their use not only for reconnaissance, air strikes and targeted killing, but also their non-military and non-security applications in package and food delivery, agriculture, journalism, disaster relief, children’s games, and a host of other activity. Sources such as the speeches and statements of public officials, survivor testimonies, investigative journalism, manufacturer reports, academic articles, fictional stories, and accounts of business entrepreneurs provide the raw materials for the cut-ups. The intention is to take the barely emerging and contested narrative meanings being attached to drones and submit them to complete disruption via the ‘cut-up’ with the aim of allowing language itself to reveal new perceptual positions on the subject. As Lemaire (1978, p. 17) contends, the ‘cut-up’ method ‘disconnects the concept of reality that has been imposed on us and then plugs normally dissociated zones into the same sector’. Cut-up has the potential to take the critical turn to its apotheosis. McCRISKEN: Drone narratives are being created at the moment. Certain people in power are constructing narratives around what drones mean. We’re trying to shake those up. It’s quite amazing how much it does reveal. You can’t always say very obviously, that’s taken from what Obama said. The words from the different sources actually connect with each other in ways we might not have expected. STRAUSZ: That’s exactly the point, that we give some of the complexity back to an incredibly complex life experience, situation, political decision. ------