Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

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Acknowledgments

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pp. v-viii

If there is not yet a tradition of acknowledgments that begins with apologies, I initiate one here. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to Rajiv Kaushik for sending mixed messages shortly after we were married when I departed for the mock insurgent training camp in Utah. In retrospect, I can see how this might have been perceived as an effort to sabotage our marriage. He then had to suffer through years of conversation that rarely strayed from the subject of this book. He has been the most constant and...

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

The field research for this book has taken me to a simulated terrorist training camp in the Utah mountains, mock Afghan villages at military bases in Canada and the UK, a fictional Mexico-US border run in Hidalgo, Mexico, and an immersive tour for settlers at a First Nations reserve on the Manitoba-Ontario border in Canada. My travels to these sites have been guided by one overarching research question: how are immersions used as a means of deepening understanding across cultural difference? As a corollary to that question I ask whether the first-person experiential encounters...

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One: Managing Affect in Mock Afghan Villages

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pp. 21-65

A foot patrol of soldiers enters the Afghan village in a relaxed posture. They smile at the villagers but their hands remain on their guns, eyes scanning the scene continuously with a gaze that conveys caution. How you enter the village is key, a sergeant major tells me: “Always look like you could flip the switch one way or another. You can’t look like you are slacking off. It’s usually your eyes that are always moving. . . . You aren’t taking your hand off your pistol, but you are showing respect.”1 Suddenly, a loud...

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Two: Insurgent Empathy

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pp. 66-105

The heads of mounted game indigenous to our location in the Utah mountains peer down at us in the main room of a large cabin where the ten participants—nine men and myself—are gathered around our cell leader, Haji Juma Khan, all dressed in the traditional Afghan “man dress” of payraan tumbaan and keffiyeh. We watch a video statement by blogger-turned-jihadist Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, released after his suicide bombing of Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province, Afghanist which...

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Three: Crossing Imaginary Borders

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pp. 106-129

“Oye, Gloria, aguantaras hasta California?” I was expecting the significance of this tourist’s question to be diffused by nervous laughter as we huddled along a dusty path among brush in the dead of night. Instead, the question was met with awkward silence as we tried to catch our breath. Two hours into this night trek through the desert canyon of El Alberto, Mexico, in the heart of the Valle del Mezquital—with our field of vision limited to the person next to us but imaginatively reaching all the way to...

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Four: Unsettling Immersions for Settlers

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pp. 130-162

In the final week prior to the official opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights—a colossal $351-million building enveloped in glass and situated in the historic Forks district of Winnipeg, the capital city of Manitoba, Canada—members and allies of the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation stand next to a comparatively diminutive teepee. They hand out brochures for their “living museum,” wryly called the Museum of Canadian Human Rights Violations. The brochures attempt to attract visitors in language that mimics the Canadian Museum for Human Right’s promise of an...

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Conclusion: On Not Knowing

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pp. 163-170

A point of return across these pages has been the ethical concerns that emerge when immersive simulations function as a form of performance pedagogy, purportedly fostering cross-cultural knowledge. The immersions I’ve examined here disclose the degree to which the “other” is epistemologically unavailable and unknowable, as Elizabeth Ellsworth and Gayatri Spivak have asserted, calling into question the pedagogical efficacy of immersions for cultural knowledge creation but also, more broadly, the investments in performance as itself a means of fostering understanding...

Notes

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pp. 171-196

Works Cited

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pp. 197-208

Index

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pp. 209-214