I have a new piece, The cultural damage of the ‘war on terror’ up at the The Review, National UAE, September 2. 2010.
It was a difficult piece for me, mainly because I have perhaps too much to say on this, and I began to ramble and it was only the finest critical editing that the littoral Indian Ocean world has ever seen – by Jonathan Shainin – that it is this coherent. It all started with the thought of reviewing Amitava Kumar’s brilliant book, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb, and then, following his example, looking at the arts.
I find it intriguing that the most potent responses (for me) to the figure of the Terrorist, that I can point to are all from female artists – Lorraine Adams, Daisy Rockwell, Rajkamal Kahlon. Adam’s book, Harbor, was one of the only ones to actually grant some interiority and some ordinariness to its protagonists – who skirted at the edges of being and becoming terrorists. I highly recommend the book, especially for the ways in which it imagines the domestic lives of the newly immigrant in USA. I speak from experience. Kahlon’s work shifts the viewer’s relationship to the pre-understood, pre-categorized text – the autopsy reports in her Did You Kiss The Dead Body? or the colonial history in her Cassell’s. It is this capacity, to force a re-articulation of the already assumed, which stands in stark relief to most other American responses to 9/11. Sadly, I couldn’t include more discussion of all of these artists but that is why there is CM. Expect more on those fronts, here.
In any case, have a read, and come back to tell me what you think.