Going Dark

This site was only for our class, so it will now go dark.  I hope you will follow me at my blog kupoco.  Also, I hope you will listen to the podcast I do with Dr. Morris, Inside254.  If I can be of any help to you, please let me know.  Thanks for a great semester!

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Week Thirteen: Globalization

I am not as sunny as Thomas Friedman about the benefits of the world being “flat.”  I struggle with seeing “globalization” as a boon to people in “emerging nations” (what would a poco scholar do without quotation marks?).  As a post-colonial scholar, I often regard the spread of capitalism as a new kind of colonization, one in the name of capital building (for the few) instead of in the name of nation building.  In my mind, the global marketplace carries a high price.  A few years ago a hundred workers–mostly women–died in a garment factory fire in Bangladesh.  Earlier in my academic career, I devoured the work of Arundhati Roy as a way to reconcile my anxieties about contributing to a system that I also found deplorable.  In summary, her basic response is to accept culpability and move to make the world more just anyway.  Part of me feels like it was a terrible oversight not to include her work in the syllabus, so if I can leave with you some suggestions, pick up her novel The God of Small Things or one of her essay collections.

Though much of our reading this semester has dealt with the issues globalization forces–language, identity–the final readings deal more explicitly with the idea.  The definitions will give you some vocabulary to help you think about the Dirlik essay and the Rushdie stories.  For your final blog post, please discuss the readings and end with a discussion of the course in general.  What do you look at differently now (if anything)?  In what direction would you like your reading to go?  Do you need suggestions? (And for some films suggestions, I would offer OsamaThe TerroristA SeparationBrick LaneThe Namesake, and My Beautiful Laundrette, just to start).

The final week of classes you should dedicate to working on your final papers/project.  I would like them by May 8 , 11 PM on D2L so that I have time to grade them (I would suggest you also post them to your blog for your readers!).  If you are unable to submit your paper by that date, let me know ASAP.  I look at these papers as the opportunity for publication, conference presentations or teaching, and I see them as the beginning of a conversation that I hope will continue.

I hope that you have found the blog format to be useful to you as you create a body of written work, a foundation for your academic careers.  I would love to see some of you continue to use your blog when you have something to say.  I will continue to “follow” you, and I know seeing a new blog post in my mailbox will make me happy.  I have enjoyed getting to know each of you in the virtual world.  I was worried that I wouldn’t get a sense of your personalities, of your human-ness, but you did a great job of conveying not only your ideas but your personalities.  I thank you for your commitment to the course and to the subject matter.  You engaged openly and critically.  You honed your writing skills.  You kept me on my toes.  I thank you for all of those things.

I leave you with one last TED talk (stupid embed code isn’t working, so click here).  When I previewed them this summer and built the syllabus, I didn’t believe the semester would fly by as it did.  I credit you for making the semester a fulfilling endeavor.

Week Twelve: Queer Poco Theory

This week you are to read two of the four (at least) theoretical pieces for our way-too-short-but-we-only-have-4-weeks-to-cover-all-of-poco discussion of queer theory.

And that’s where queer theory comes in. It’s not really fair to write a short guide to queer theory. Queer theory is a diverse field of studies that involves a lot of disparate ideas. It’s a rapidly expanding body of literature that seeks to answer a series of questions about what is normal, how normal comes to exist, and who is excluded or oppressed by those notions of norms. In bed. So queer theory celebrates the figure of the queer, or more specifically, the act of queering. Drag queens, two-spirit peoples, as well as those who don’t quite live up to their gender expectations are disrupting the narratives that build the capitalist state. (from here)

A KU Master’s graduate Sean Weaver is now getting his PhD in postcolonial queer studies at Louisiana State University.  So like a good teacher, I asked him to consult with me on what are the most important voices in the field right now.

Here is what he said:

 

As a queer theorist, it’s difficult to reconcile the differences that come be with addressing postcolonial sexualities through critical queer readings. For one, Western understandings of sexuality and the body tend to be monolithic, placing colonized peoples into restrictive boxes. Side note: Take the Middle East and North African Regions, for example, which have seen a rise in homophobic backlash from neocolonial nationalists pushing back against American/European liberalism. Thus, Western nations in their desire to push an agenda of liberation of freeing the sexually oppressed “homosexuals” in colonized nations have actually created more problems. This is not to say that homosexuality doesn’t exist in the colonized world, it does, it’s just that labels of homosexuality tend to create problems and even greater homophobic backlash. The most important thing to consider when it comes to postcolonial states and queer critiques is understanding how citizenship is bound up with normative understandings of sexuality, religion, and nation.  See beginning of my current essay below:

 

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen entered Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. With an assault rifle, Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53. One of the deadliest shootings in recent history, the massacre at Pulse was reported as two distinctly different narratives involving the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Initially, it was reported that Mateen, the son of Afghan immigrants, committed this terror attack in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). While the FBI continues to maintain this record of events, following the attack, a gay man came forward claiming that Mateen was his lover who took revenge on the LGBTQ+ community for treating him as an outcast after having repressed his sexuality due to religious homophobia.  Through the lens of a national allegory, each story paints a greater whole, a collective response that challenges the space Mateen holds as a citizen/subject of a nation—be it an pseudo state such as ISIL or the established nation of the United States. However, both narratives work in tandem, creating an “other” unified through the regulation of a national allegory. Therefore, Mateen’s representation as radical Muslim or self-loathing homosexual can be read as a narrative of regulation by opposing nation states that determine who is and who isn’t a citizen based on the premise of sexual and religious normativity. It also indicates that the Western national allegory deliberately includes homosexuality while at the same time excluding Muslims (FBI/U.S.), whereas, the non-Western (ISIL) national allegory uses heterosexuality as a means of regulating who is a citizen. Yet, ultimately, this narrative demonstrates the/limitations that arise when nation-based formulas are used to establish sexual-based citizenships in a globalized world where people are often found between nations, citizenships, sexualities, and religions, as is the case with Mateen (Bell & Binnie 109-110). Through this framework, one must be careful not to nationalize Islam as the only defining factor of Iraqi citizenship through making it a “nonstate actor…of justice” (Dhawan 217). This means postcolonial queer critics must not reduce Islamic violence against gays to an act of justice outside of nationhood.  Instead, it is tied to secular fundamentalisms mutually influenced by religious fundamentalisms that both define Iraqi nationality (Dhawan 208).

He also says we need to know Saleem Haddad’s work.  I have watched these videos.  If you have time, watch them both for this week.  If you do not, watch the shorter of the two.

 

This week is the beginning of an exploration into a new path poco theory is moving.  I am grateful to Sean for sharing his expertise.  I love when the student becomes the teacher.

You are to read two of the four articles I posted on our D2L site.  If you want to read all four, I am not going to stop you.  There’s some great work happening that we need to engage with.  If you want to contact Sean about PhD work, he has generously offered his time and can be reached at sweave9@lsu.edu.

 

Week 11: Thinking about film

This week we read a filmic text instead of a written text.  If you need some models of how to write about film for an online audience, I humbly submit to you my body of work on bitchflicks, and I suggest you even consider submitting your post to their site when you are finished.  They are great to work with!

Choose one of the following films to view on your own:

Bandit Queen

The Terrorist

Persepolis (only if you have never seen it)

Battle of Algiers

Tsotsi

Osama

If there is a film you would like to watch that is not on this list, let me know the title and why you would like to work with it!

Blog Post Eleven:  Apply some element of po-co theory to the chosen film. This link might help you think about how to approach the blog post:  http://engl243.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/avatar-and-postcolonial-theory/

This week is a chance for you to spread your wings and start to engage with elements of poco that interest YOU!

If you need a nudge, watch this one.  It is genius.

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Before we leave Africa behind, some thoughts

I do want to draw your attention to two interesting non-fiction-ish reads, “How Not To Write About Africa” and “How To Write About Africa.”  They both make me smile, and, of course, think.  And if you want to read something with a “happy ending,” I humbly submit to you Adichie’s short story “The Headstrong Historian” that continues the story line of Things Fall Apart.  I love this story.  I love the work it does.  The last three paragraphs are perhaps some of the most beautiful and uplifting sentences written.

The semester is starting to come to a close, so continue to think about your final projects.  I want them to be useful to you. Some of you have been in touch about final papers. I would like to hear from you if you want to talk through some ideas!

I want to return to South Africa.  I want all of you to want to go to there someday, or somewhere.  Africa isn’t just animals and sadness and poverty.  It is a place filled with humans with needs, desires, and ambition.  It is a place of beauty and art.  And good food and wine.  It is a place I hope to explore with Matt and Ev sooner than later.

Week Ten: Critical Studies of TFA

I saved this piece from Granta–one of my favorite publications– in case you could use a few minutes of humor when it comes to thinking about “Africa.”  I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I do.  Also, I suggest you check out this group’s very cool efforts to disrupt the essential narrative of “Africa.”

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This week you are reading four critical essays on TFA:

Articles beginning on 159 and 209 and two other critical pieces from the collection at the back of the critical edition to read.

Your blog post should talk about the four pieces.  I would like to see an INFORMATIVE abstract of your two chosen pieces.  Writing an academic abstract is a valuable skill–you can often use them when teaching or can sometimes publish them.  Distilling a piece into 250 words is a great academic challenge!