Representing Humanity in an Age of Terror
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Purdue University Press
Series: Comparative Cultural Studies
Title Page, Copyright Page
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Written in the context of critical dialogues about the war on terror and the global crisis in human rights violations, the articles in this volume ask a series of questions: What definitions of humanity account for the persistence of human rights violations? How do we define terror and how do we understand the ways that terror affects the...
Part One. Human Rights
Democracy's Promise and the Politics of Worldliness in the Age of Terror
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has become commonplace to acknowledge that post-civil rights America is characterized by a declining interest in and misgiving about mainstream national politics. In a society in which the public sphere is largely characterized by a culture of fear and the public realm is largely accredited through the discourse of consumerism,...
The Humanities, Human Rights, and the Comparative Imagination
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Imagine, if you will, the following scenario: a Danish newspaper publishes satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, setting off protests, riots, and heated debates about the tensions between "freedom of expression" and respect for cultural difference (see "Muhammad Cartoon Row"). Those who defend the cartoons claim that they were meant to spark debate and reflection. What is...
The Logic and Language of Torture
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The road from terror to torture is, alas, well traveled. Fueled by narrative constructs that evoke fear and anger, we embark on exercises in moral reconstruction and legal exceptionalism--rendering permissible (sometimes even mandating) what would otherwise be prohibited and making inevitable what would otherwise be inconceivable....
Narration in International Human Rights Law
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"The question of identification is never the affirmation of a pregiven identity, never a self-fulfilling prophecy--it is always the production of an image of identity and the transformation of the subject in assuming that image" (Bhabha 45); "International human rights law codifies the rights of the individual in increasingly concrete and...
On Linguistic Human Rights and the United States "Foreign" Language Crisis
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According to the myth of Babel, God intended that there be "one language and few words" "for the whole earth" (Gen. 11.1); but because of the misguided desire of "men" to build a city "tower with its top in the heavens," in other words, of a Promethean ambition and presumption, the God of Genesis scatters "men" "over the...
The Black Body and Representations of the (In)human
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In the opening pages of Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon assumes not only a white mask but a white gaze and addresses provocatively his race as "other than human." Consistent with the ambivalent vacillations characterizing the writing of this book, Fanon, however, does not simply interpellate his fellow blacks as either...
Part Two. Media
The Terrorist Event
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The eleventh of September, 2001 introduced the United States to the experience of domestic terrorism as no other event has ever done. For most people, word of this event first arrived as live television news. We are at home, or work. We see images of disaster of an extraordinary magnitude. As the morning of 9/11 unfolds, television...
Reading South African Media Representations of Islam after 11 September 2001
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Susan Sontag writes, in her Regarding the Pain of Others, that "The problem is not that people remember through photographs, but that they remember only the photographs" (89). Indeed, photographs seem to communicate directly. In fact, they generate a disorderly array of meanings and it is the role of words to discipline the...
Collateral Damage and the "Incident" at Haditha
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First news stories about the My Lai massacre (picked up from an army publicity release), March 1968: The New York Times labeled the operation a significant success: "American troops caught a North Vietnamese force in a pincer movement on the central coastal plain yesterday, killing 128 enemy soldiers in day-long fighting"...
The Tortured Body, the Photograph, and the US War on Terror
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The photographs taken at Abu Ghraib prison, graphically depicting US military officers inflicting torture on Iraqi detainees, burst into the US media on 28 April 2004. The eerie juxtaposition of tormented, unidentifiable Iraqis and smiling, identifiable US officers incited instantly worldwide shock and outrage. In the ensuing months,...
Mass-Mediated Social Terror in Spain
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On 11 March 2004, ten bombs exploded in and around Madrid's Atocha station, killing 191 people and wounding another 1,500. The 11 March attacks were executed by thirteen Islamic "terrorists" 911 days after the 9/11 attacks, whose modus operandi was imitated (four trains paralleled four planes) (Calvo 9). The attack occurred three...
Part Three. Analysis
Textual Strategies to Resist Disappearance and the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo
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More than thirty years ago, on 30 April 1977, Azucena Villaflor de De Vincenti led a dozen women to the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina's capital city. Coming from a range of backgrounds, the women had one thing in common: they all had children who had been disappeared by the military government. By choosing to demonstrate across...
The Global Phenomenon of "Humanizing" Terrorism in Literature and Cinema
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Writing about the events of 11 September 2001, Haruo Shirane concluded: "It is not enough to condemn and fight terrorism: we must understand its causes" (513). In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks, however, this was not an acceptable thought. Any effort to understand, explain, or investigate the cause of the...
Landmines, HIV/AIDS, and Africa's New Generation
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"Never leave the path. Not even by a metre. Never take short cuts." Mama Lydia gives this advice to her daughter Sofia every single morning (Mankell, Secrets 12). The admonition is reiterated again and again by Jose-Maria as well, who maintains the village school attended by Sofia and her sister Maria: "Use only the paths," he...
Dorfman, Schubert, and Death and the Maiden
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Numerous writers have tried to introduce musical elements into their works and some have managed it with great success. Some of these writers have themselves been sophisticated musicians, such as James Joyce--who would have won a vocal competition in Dublin had he not been edged out by Ireland's soon-to-be superstar...
Bearing Witness through Fiction
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In Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden Paulina, a victim of the state-sponsored terrorism that took place during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1973--1990), asserts her right not only to speak, but also to revisit the trauma triggered by her torture and rape at the hands of Chilean repressors: "And I can speak--it's been...
Part Four. Artists
Globalizing Compassion, Photography, and the Challenge of Terror
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We have grown strangely used to them over the last twenty-five years, the women with the small photo of a man pinned to their dark dresses, the extended tribe of those whose loved ones, from Chile to Kurdistan, from Argentina to Ethiopia, from Guatemala to Guinea, have been abducted in the night and never heard of again....
A Monk's Tale
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When I extracted the envelope from my post office box that crisp, clear January morning, I knew immediately what it was. The cream-colored square envelope had gold capital letters in the upper left-hand corner: THE WHITE HOUSE. I knew Laura Bush had sponsored several evenings with writers in her promotion of literacy....
Poetry and the Aesthetic of Morality
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The goddess Cantarita, known by some as La Verdad, bathed in cold clear water under a moon so full her breasts ached, her midnight aureoles dripping the deep blue milk of life. As she moved, the inchoate hum-of-being rose from her flesh, for she had left her amulet of syllables on the bank with her gown. A man peered from the...
Artists in Times of War
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When I think of the relationship between artists and society--and for me the question is always what it could be, rather than what it is--I think of the word "transcendent." It is a word I never use in public, but it's the only word I can come up with to describe what I think about the role of artists. By transcendent, I mean that the artist...
Part Five. Bibliography
Selected Bibliography of Comparative Studies on Human Rights Culture
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Page Count: 460
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: Comparative Cultural Studies