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Postcolonial Disorders

Postcolonial Disorders

Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good
Sandra Teresa Hyde
Sarah Pinto
Byron J. Good
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    Postcolonial Disorders
    Book Description:

    The essays in this volume reflect on the nature of subjectivity in the diverse places where anthropologists work at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Contributors explore everyday modes of social and psychological experience, the constitution of the subject, and forms of subjection that shape the lives of Basque youth, Indonesian artists, members of nongovernmental HIV/AIDS programs in China and the Republic of Congo, psychiatrists and the mentally ill in Morocco and Ireland, and persons who have suffered trauma or been displaced by violence in the Middle East and in South and Southeast Asia.Painting on book jacket by Entang Wiharso

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94102-1
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good, Byron J. Good, Sandra Teresa Hyde and Sarah Pinto
    (pp. 1-40)
    Byron J. Good, Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good, Sandra Teresa Hyde and Sarah Pinto

    This book is a collection of essays reflecting on the nature of subjectivity—on everyday modes of experience, the social and psychological dimensions of individual lives, the psychological qualities of social life, the constitution of the subject, and forms of subjection found in the diverse places where anthropologists work at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The essays are a conscious effort to find new ways to link the social and the psychological, to examine how lives of individuals, families and communities are affected by large-scale political and economic forces associated with globalization, and to theorize subjectivity within this larger...


    • 1 MADNESS AND THE POLITICALLY REAL: Reflections on Violence in Postdictatorial Spain
      (pp. 43-61)
      Begoña Aretxaga

      When I was invited to take part in this seminar I was happy to have an opportunity to discuss some of my current work with former colleagues and friends. I have been increasingly preoccupied with the problem of madness as it plays and as it is displayed in the theater of politics. This is for me the beginning of a dialogue about this issue that one could broadly call “politics and madness.” In this sense what I am speaking about today is more the beginning of a formulation than a crafted thesis.

      One of my worries as I started to...

    • 2 INDONESIA SAKIT: Indonesian Disorders and the Subjective Experience and Interpretive Politics of Contemporary Indonesian Artists
      (pp. 62-108)
      Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good and Byron J. Good

      Artists—painters, playwrights, musicians—imagined and re-imaged the state and Indonesian society as Suharto’s New Order regime unraveled after thirty-three years of autocratic rule. At the heart of this chapter are the work and reflections of three contemporary Indonesian painters and their efforts to constitute a space and visual language for critical engagement with their society. The chapter draws on our conversations about their subjective experiences of producing art and describes their ongoing efforts to carve out distinctive modes of subjectivity as artists and intellectuals during the period ofreformasi, or reform, that followed the fall of Suharto.

      The chapter’s...

    • 3 THE POLITICAL DIMENSIONS OF EMASCULATION: Fantasy, Conspiracy, and Estrangement among Populist Leaders in Post–New Order Lombok, Indonesia
      (pp. 109-131)
      John M. MacDougall

      This chapter explores the rise in political and religious vigilance in post–New Order Lombok, Indonesia, and the role that militias played in denying Soleh, a nationalist activist in Lombok, the social horizons (loosely, the nation and its youth) he once relied upon to define his political and, in the end, personal reality. The chapter provides an individual case study in order to examine how social disorder and political violence are experienced by a leading intellectual who has been deeply involved in Indonesian politics on the island of Lombok. It makes clear that resistance is at once a social and...

    • 4 HAUNTING GHOSTS: Madness, Gender, and Ensekirite in Haiti in the Democratic Era
      (pp. 132-156)
      Erica Caple James

      Haiti, the first black republic in the world, achieved its independence from France in 1804 and entered its postcolonial era in the complex position of being both a pariah for colonizing and slaveholding nations, as well as a source of hope for the enslaved and colonized. Since its independence, the nation has been plagued domestically by political instability, economic stagnation, and environmental degradation, while suffering political nonrecognition, military occupation, and economic management and sanctions by the international community. Two hundred years after its independence, Haiti is infamous for being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Statistics are often unreliable,...

    • 5 LABORATORY OF INTERVENTION: The Humanitarian Governance of the Postcommunist Balkan Territories
      (pp. 157-186)
      Mariella Pandolfi

      Since the end of the colonial era, many of the territories where anthropologists have worked have been witness to an increasingly visible “humanitarian presence.” The massive army of volunteer workers, international experts, local staff, and soldiers associated with humanitarian intervention has had a remarkable impact on local cultural landscapes. Despite the increasing proliferation of these zones of humanitarian and military intervention, anthropologists are only beginning to examine the theoretical and practical consequences of these new forms of intervention. Intervention studies present a perilous but necessary challenge to the anthropological community. They force us to consider both new sites of intervention...


    • 6 EVERYDAY AIDS PRACTICES: Contestations of Borders and Infectious Disease in Southwest China
      (pp. 189-217)
      Sandra Teresa Hyde

      When this policeman downplays AIDS, he is not ignoring the emergence of the epidemic; rather, he reflects a recurrent discourse around HIV/AIDS that emphasizes policing and surveillance of China’s border regions.¹ Borders here provide a liminal space where many transactions occur and where the spread of HIV in Sipsongpanna, an autonomous minority prefecture bordering Laos and Burma, symbolizes what Arjun Appadurai (1996) characterizes as late-twentieth-century cross-border migrations. These mass migrations of peoples, goods, services, and now viruses color a moving transnational canvas. This chapter focuses on the late-socialist Chinese state and untangles the actions of certain actors, such as the...

    • 7 OF MAIDS AND PROSTITUTES: Indonesian Female Migrants in the New Asian Hinterlands
      (pp. 218-237)
      Johan Lindquist

      Do an Internet search using the keywords “maids” and “Singapore” and a number of employment agencies with names like Maidpower and Noble Maids will appear.¹ Noble Maids, for instance, offers packages from S$488 (Singapore dollars) for an “Indonesian transfer maid.” A Christian Indonesian maid will cost you a few hundred dollars more, about the same as a Filipino maid with unlimited replacements within two years. For Indonesian maids there is a free replacement period if she is medically unfit or if you find her unsuitable, but only for the first thirty days. Optional additions to package deals include up to...

    • 8 AMBIVALENT INQUIRY: Dilemmas of AIDS in the Republic of Congo
      (pp. 238-259)
      David Eaton

      The emergence of AIDS has posed profound dilemmas of individual and collective diagnosis in societies of francophone central Africa, as elsewhere. The problems brought by the epidemic have been complicated by the social disruption, insecurity, and violence associated with difficult political transitions in the region over the past two decades.

      Field research in the Republic of Congo (hereafter “Congo”) revealed to me some of the contradictions these situations engendered in the years leading to the country’s devastating civil war of 1997. The volubility of modern medicine about the epidemic in the country during this time, especially in its capital, Brazzaville,...

    • 9 TO LIVE WITH WHAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE UNENDURABLE, II: Caught in the Borderlands of Palestine/Israel
      (pp. 260-276)
      Michael M. J. Fischer

      From the Balkan frontline trenches in Bosnian writer-director Danis Tanovic’s 2001 filmNićija Zemlja(No Man’s Land, in which three incapacitated Serbian and Bosnian soldier-enemies are trapped together in a no-man’s-land in a situation that the United Nations is incapable of mediating)¹ to the International Red Cross helicopter drops of prostheses to Afghans crippled by land mines, running on crutches to catch the humanitarian aid in Iranian writer-director Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s 2001 filmSafar-e Qandahar(Journey to Qandahar)—somewhere in the space between these Western and Eastern poles of the Middle Eastern theater sits theMauscartoonist Art Spiegelman slumped over...


    • 10 THE MUCKER WAR: A History of Violence and Silence
      (pp. 279-308)
      João Biehl

      The body of a beheaded woman was found in May 1993 in the woods near São Leopoldo, the first German colony founded in 1824 in the southern province of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. As if the brutal killing wasn’t bizarre enough, the stories that explained her death were equally strange—they speak to a history of violence in that region.

      Local newspapers reported that very little was known about the beheaded woman’s identity, aside from her dark skin, her scar from a caesarean section, and her age of roughly thirty years. No fingerprint matches could be made, and her...

    • 11 INSTITUTIONAL PERSONS AND PERSONAL INSTITUTIONS: The Asylum and Marginality in Rural Ireland
      (pp. 309-328)
      A. Jamie Saris

      This piece is a sustained reflection on three types of marginality found in Kilronan, a market town and its environs containing about sixteen hundred people found in the Sligo-Leitrim area of Ireland. The three terms I am investigating—“character,” “unrespectable,” and “mental patient”—all overlap in the life of one of my consultants who has been connected to the mental hospital in Sligo town, about eighteen miles away, for much of his adult life. My main purpose in this piece is to try to think clearly about the implications of the simultaneous presence of these seemingly different forms of subjectivity,...

    • 12 THE KNOT OF THE SOUL: Postcolonial Conundrums, Madness, and the Imagination
      (pp. 329-358)
      Stefania Pandolfo

      A young man and a woman sitting on a bench in the waiting area of the psychiatric emergency room, a crowded hallway in the old modular compound at the edge of the hospital grounds. The man is wearing jeans, has slightly long hair and the look of a university student. He is pale and tense, moves restlessly, and gazes through the room with a sense of imprisoned rage. The woman is older, wears a jilaba and a headscarf. The man was brought that morning by an ambulance of the Protection Civile, on a police order, RP, “requisition de police”.


    • 13 CONSUMING GRIEF: Infant Death in the Postcolonial Time of Intervention
      (pp. 359-377)
      Sarah Pinto

      In considering languages of grief in relation to languages of certainty, there is a tension in the ways death can be thought of in connection to modern knowledge. On the one hand, we can consider death as that which underlies the possibility of knowledge, as that end point to the fostering or disallowing of life that stands for the modern configuration of power/knowledge (as Foucault [1978] had it). And on the other hand, we can imagine death as that which cannot be spoken in languages of modernity (as de Certeau [1986] suggested). Put differently, this is the distinction between death...

      (pp. 378-396)
      Janis H. Jenkins and Michael Hollifield

      In this chapter we examine the problem of subjectivity as a transformation of lived experience in the wake of civil warfare and formation of the postcolonial nation-state. The specific terms of subjective alteration—collectively imprinted as a clash of political ethos¹ and personally imprinted as a shattering of identity and sentiment—are considered in relation to a culturally produced anguish in the aftermath of a conflict. Our ethnographic illustration of this process is the well-known case of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.² Prior to this political formation in 1975, multiparty warfare was waged throughout a fractured nation, as anticommunist armies...

    • 15 CROSS-CULTURAL PSYCHIATRY IN MEDICAL-LEGAL DOCUMENTATION OF SUFFERING: Human Rights Abuses Involving Transnational Corporations and the Yadana Pipeline Project in Burma
      (pp. 397-418)
      Kathleen Allden

      This chapter describes the suffering and hardship of several villagers from Burma who are now refugees in Thailand. Their life experiences reflect the large population of villagers whose families were forced to leave their homes and villages to make way for the construction of a natural gas pipeline in the Tenasserim region of Burma by US and French transnational oil companies in collaboration with the Burmese military government (EarthRights News1996b). The villagers, mostly ethnic Karen people, were subjected to forced labor, torture, rape, death of family members, and other severe human rights abuses. The consequences of the atrocities committed...

    (pp. 419-424)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 425-465)