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At the Limits of Justice

At the Limits of Justice: Women of Colour on Terror

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 632
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  • Book Info
    At the Limits of Justice
    Book Description:

    The fear and violence that followed the events of September 11, 2001 touched lives all around the world, even in places that few would immediately associate with the global war on terror. InAt the Limits of Justice, twenty-nine contributors from six countries explore the proximity of terror in their own lives and in places ranging from Canada and the United States to Jamaica, Palestine/Israel, Australia, Guyana, Chile, Pakistan, and across the African continent.

    In this collection, female scholars of colour - including leading theorists on issues of indigeneity, race, and feminism - examine the political, social, and personal repercussions of the war on terror through contributions that range from testimony and poetry to scholarly analysis. Inspired by both the personal and the global impact of this violence within the war on terror, they expose the way in which the war on terror is presented as a distant and foreign issue at the same time that it is deeply present in the lives of women and others all around the world.

    An impassioned but rigorous examination of issues of race and gender in contemporary politics,At the Limits of Justiceis also a call to create moral communities which will find terror and violence unacceptable.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1645-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction. At the Limits of Justice: Women of Colour Theorize Terror
    (pp. 3-16)

    This anthology began in response to a documentary aired in Britain on Channel 4 that showed shocking – and in our experience unprecedented – levels of terror against civilians. The images had been recorded as trophy shots and battlefield memorabilia by the victors in the final battle between the Sri Lankan state and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).¹ In the wake of that documentary, we, as academics in the global North, began to ask a series of questions about how to respond to such scenes of horror, especially when international institutions and our own governments were silent....

  6. Section One: Mundane Terror / (Un)Livable Lives

    • 1 Introduction to Section One
      (pp. 19-22)

      The power of violence lies not so much in its death-making function but in its generative force: its management of life. This is not at all to discount the destructiveness of terror but rather to contextualize how violence makes itself the rule. The chapters in this section illustrate how it is through the bureaucratic governance over life that violence reinvigorates liberal democracy, remakes nations, reinscribes binaries, and renarrates mythical stories about a clash of civilizations. By paying attention to circuits of knowledge and cartographic strategies that weave stories about the dangers out there threatening us in here, the authors of...

    • 2 Violence and Terror in a Colonized Country: Canada’s Indian Residential School System
      (pp. 23-37)

      These past few months have been really interesting for me. For some reason, I never thought about my work with former residential school students as an act of witnessing violence and terror. It was not until I received an e-mail from Dr Sherene Razack asking me to participate in the “Violence in a Far Country” workshop that I stopped to reflect on this research. Since then, I have been trying to determine my own particular dilemma in producing knowledge on the topic of terror. What do I have to contribute to this very important topic? Through my lifelong commitment to...

    • 3 Terrorism and the Birthing Body in Jerusalem
      (pp. 38-56)

      The past three days were the worst days of my life … having the baby under such stress, needing to catch a bus while experiencing the pain of severe contractions, knowing that I might have the baby on the bus … I had contractions, bad ones; I was dying from fear, pain,ruo’b[terror] … real terror … holding on to my bag … as if the bag can carry the pain, crying my body in silence, wanting to go back to my house … to have the baby there … but then, the baby would end up without an...

    • 4 The Manufacture of Torture as Public Truth: The Case of Omar Khadr
      (pp. 57-85)

      Torture is a powerful pedagogy, teaching each of us who we are in the nation and in the human community. Torture does its work as narrative, a story of power written both on the body and on the social body. Scarry reminds us that during torture, the torturer becomes voice. The torturer is civilization; he or she transcends the body, while the tortured becomes reduced to body, to the guttural sounds of pain.¹ It is perhaps obvious to point out that torture terrorizes. That is, regimes of terror rely on torture to communicate to the tortured, the torturer, and all...

    • 5 Surveillance Effects: South Asian, Arab, and Afghan American Youth in the War on Terror
      (pp. 86-106)

      The US-led War on Terror has been fought on battlefields in Iraq and killing fields in Afghanistan, in counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan and through drone warfare in Yemen, and it has been accompanied by a war at home. While dramatic military assaults overseas have increasingly been replaced by secret drone warfareover there, the counter-terrorism apparatus has shifted its focus to the “terrorists” and “terrorist sympathizers” (so-called terror symps)here. This domestic War on Terror is often invisible, for it is conducted covertly through a surveillance regime that targets, and also produces, gendered and racial bodies. The War on Terror...

    • 6 The Biopolitics of Christian Persecution
      (pp. 107-140)

      Why in this period of so-called liberal democracy are so many wars of genocide committed, yet these wars arenotseen as contradicting democracy? While we often articulate racism as an aberration of democracy or as a result of scapegoating in times of social crisis, Foucault argues that racism is endemic and permanent in the modern state. He contends that the rise of the carceral system entailed a shift from punishment to normalization. This shift was effected through a policing of the body through the technology of the soul. That is, the person who failed to follow the norms of...

  7. Section Two: Violence in a Far Country:: Other Women’s Lives

    • 7 Introduction to Section Two
      (pp. 143-147)

      This collection of essays explores the inner mechanics of the “War on Terror” and the epistemic frameworks through which we come to know and respond to histories of violence. The authors of this section persuasively and relentlessly write against racial and sexual violence, daily misogyny of multiple kinds, imperial wars of terror and the vectors of power that bind these seemingly dispersed trajectories together as intimately connected allies of empire. Their commentaries force us to confront the intricate continuities between politically powerful binaries: “local versus global,” “private versus public,” “traditional versus modern,” and “religious versus secular.” These binaries not only...

    • 8 “Collateral Violence”: Women’s Rights and National Security in Pakistan’s War on Terror
      (pp. 148-163)

      Pakistan’s ambivalent positioning in the War on Terror – as the United States’ least reliable but much desired ally – has not only amplified its present-day militarism, violence, and terrorism but also intensified long-standing cultural-political struggles that are affecting all aspects of Pakistani life, including gender relations, human rights, and violence against women. Even before 11 September 2001, Pakistani society was frayed by violence related to ongoing rivalries among a variety of sectarian and religious militant groups and the lasting effects of the US-Soviet proxy war in Afghanistan.² Soon after the 9/11 attacks, former President General Pervez Musharraf pledged support...

    • 9 Outsourcing Patriarchy: Feminist Encounters, Transnational Mediations, and the Crime of “Honour Killings”
      (pp. 164-190)

      In this chapter I examine how media representations of “honour killings” become part of emergent cultures in different parts of the world. I suggest this occurs because such concepts circulate among multiple media, scholarly, and NGO circuits even when the approaches, struggles, and agendas differ. Rather than suggest how to define or eradicate such violence, I examine how this concept produces meaning, culture, and identity in linked and divergent ways.

      I take it as a given that many forms of violence occur in order to control the sexuality of women (and men and others) and that women are subordinated and...

    • 10 Diasporas of Empire: Arab Americans and the Reverberations of War
      (pp. 191-214)

      These quotes are taken from ethnographic research among Arab diasporas in California and Michigan between 1999 and 2006, a period of massive US imperial expansion in the Arab region.¹ During this period, the effects of US war in the Middle East reverberated within the geographic boundaries of the United States, impacting the lives of Arab and Muslim diasporas in distinct ways. Hatem’s quote reflects how the Islamophobic discourse that has justified the War on Terror permeates the lives of Muslim students in Berkeley, California. Camelia refers to how communal engagements with the crises of war and racism can foreclose opportunities...

    • 11 Sovereignty, War on Terror, and Violence against Women
      (pp. 215-230)

      Violence against women is a global phenomenon. It cuts across the boundaries of social and economic class positions. The most pervasive violation of human rights that we know of today is violence against women: it is on our streets and in our homes, schools, prisons, workplaces, and institutions. Under-reporting makes it difficult to estimate its prevalence, but the available statistics show that at least one of out every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime and that the abuser is usually someone known to her. In a survey of about...

  8. Section Three: Terror and the Limits of Remembering

    • 12 Introduction to Section Three
      (pp. 233-236)

      During a trip home to Barbados in December 2011, I was visited by one of my “fictive” uncles. He, like my mother, is Guyanese, and we sat around the table “old talking” about family, politics, and life. As we eased later into the evening, I asked him to share his reflections on race and politics in Guyana. It was then that he told us of his experiences as a journalist during the racialized violence in Guyana in the 1960s,¹ of his friends who had been displaced as a result of that violence, and of the atmosphere of fear produced during...

    • 13 “Weeping Is Singing”: After the War, a Transnational Lament
      (pp. 237-262)

      Water–body–story–song. After a war, lament is fluid in these scenes from my novelFish-Hair Womanand its stage adaptation,River, River, excerpts of which are deployed with Philippine Indigenous beliefs as “a localised theoretical framework” of this chapter. It argues through stories about bodies: it argues towards the water.

      In my home region, Bikol, the termirayarefers to where water originates. InFish-Hair Woman, Iraya is the setting of the war, a mythical village that is the wellspring of water and stories. So in this chapter, I return to this wellspring in agrassroots storytelling-theorizing,³ a...

    • 14 Gone but Not Forgotten: Memorial Murals, Vigils, and the Politics of Popular Commemoration in Jamaica
      (pp. 263-288)

      It is commonplace to see, hear, and read about Jamaican violence and to encounter spectacular images of the “criminal Jamaican” in the mainstream media and popular culture around the world. But acts of mourning such as the vigil described above demonstrate that far from being pathologically and inherently violent, Jamaicans actively resist violence in ways that are rarely reported. Acts of public memorialization have proliferated in Jamaica, where one consequence of the geopolitics of neoliberalism has been a dramatic rise in violent deaths since the late 1990s. Caught between extrajudicial killings by the state on the one hand and militarized...

    • 15 “Lest We Forget”: Terror and the Politics of Commemoration in Guyana
      (pp. 289-308)

      These fragmentary notes encounter an out-of-the-way space – the Caribbean. Unusual because – except perhaps for Haiti or the holding pens of Guantanamo Bay – the region has been peripheral to contemporary discussions of terror. Unexpected because this requires us to engage not just neo-imperial but also neocolonial state violence. Unanticipated because until the 1980s, the anglophone Caribbean was described in several quarters as one of the world’s largest groupings of “stable democracies.” Only recently have we have heard calls to reckon publicly with the legacies of what anthropologist Veena Das has described as “critical events.”²

      But for those who...

    • 16 “Tortured Bodies”: The Biopolitics of Torture and Truth in Chile
      (pp. 309-328)

      “For torture to be effective,” they’d tell us, “it has to be limitless.”¹

      In Chile during the 2004 congressional debates over compensation for victims of political imprisonment and torture by the authoritarian regime, a member of the National Congress stated that while “it would be inappropriate” to describe “the atrocious methods of torture used” by the regime, everybody should be aware “that in this room, at this very moment, there is a [female] colleague … whose sister’s nipples were cut during torture.”² This sensational statement is hardly unique or isolated. In the months that followed the release of the Report...

  9. Section Four: Thinking Humanitarianism / Thinking Terror

    • 17 Introduction to Section Four
      (pp. 331-334)

      I am presently reading Sarah Schulman’sIsrael/Palestine and the Queer International.¹ I was drawn to it partly because I am curious about people’s political investments, how we learn to care about certain things, people, and places. As Schulman maps out in her “long, subtle, slow, stubborn journey”² regarding Israel and Palestine, we need to account for our carings and not carings. I bring up Schulman in the context of these remarkable chapters because they too ask us to account for what it means to respond to suffering, oppression, and terror and the ways in which our caring comes to be...

    • 18 From the Northern Territory Emergency Response to Stronger Futures: Where Is the Evidence That Australian Aboriginal Women Are Leading Self-Determining Lives?
      (pp. 335-355)

      It is now six years since the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), otherwise known as the Intervention, was imposed on thousands of Aboriginal people living in townships throughout the Northern Territory of Australia. The NTER was the Commonwealth’s response to allegations that Aboriginal children in remote communities were being subjected to sexual abuse. The measures that fell under the umbrella of the NTER included child health checks, prohibitions on alcohol and pornography, the auditing of computers, the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal lands, and the quarantining of social security payments.

      There was no prior consultation with those who would be forced...

    • 19 Power in/through Speaking of Terror: The Geopolitics and Anti-Politics of Discourses on Violence in Other Places
      (pp. 356-379)

      This chapter underlines the challenges of speaking of violence and terror in other places in ways that would inform and enable effective approaches to ending the violence and formulating just, democratic, and peaceful solutions. Empirically focusing on the Kurdish issue in Turkey and the ways it has been framed as an issue of terrorist violence, this chapter raises questions about whether, when, and how violence gets talked about in national and international discourses, and about the implications of these ways of talking or remaining silent about violence. After reviewing the “Kurdish question” in Turkey, I analyse two dominant contemporary discourses...

    • 20 Africa, 9/11, and the Temporality and Spatiality of Race and Terror
      (pp. 380-405)

      There are some moments we remember for a lifetime, such as the end of foreign subjugation that marked colonial rule in one’s home country; the assassination of civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr; and the release of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela from prison after he had served twenty-seven years for terrorism and treason. The 9/11 terrorist attacks are another such moment. Like many others, I recall where I was when I learned of them: I was in Johannesburg, South Africa, having just left a highly contentious UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related...

    • 21 Humanitarianism as Planetary Politics
      (pp. 406-420)

      In January 2010, newspapers carried a series of stories about homeless Chihuahuas in California being rescued and flown to new homes around North America – from New York City to Houston to Edmonton. In one case, Virgin Airlines donated $12,000 in travel costs for the dogs and their human companions. These flights – termed “Chihuahua airlifts” – were organized by philanthropists in concert with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA); in one case, theNew York Timeswrote that “15 homeless dogs from the Bay Area were flown to Kennedy by the airline so they...

  10. Section Five: Terror Circuits

    • 22 Introduction to Section Five
      (pp. 423-425)

      Visuality has long been a key site mobilized in imperial projects and in the constitution of hegemonic ways of ordering social life. Attempting to unpack visuality necessarily involves examining its entanglements with histories of colonization and violence and the ways in which racial and colonial logics structure visual fields. In the contemporary digital age, where visual culture has appeared to largely displace the privileging of the textual, the chapters in this section attempt to theorize the ways in which visual images, cultural productions, and digital technologies are bound up with imperial projects such as the War on Terror and its...

    • 23 Visual Colonial Economies and Slave Death in Modernity: Bin Laden’s Terror?
      (pp. 426-454)

      On the death of Muammar Qadhafi, Hillary Clinton said, “We came, we saw, he was killed.” Her comment points to how visual technologies contribute to shaping the “global” as an American controversy. Speaking of the Byzantine Empire, an ostensibly different topic but following a similar path, Mondzain writes:

      In the most learned translations, the word economy is rendered by different terms such as incarnation, plan, design, administration, providence, responsibility, duties, compromise, lie, or guile, as is relevant, without the reader being warned of the return of the same Greek word –oikonomia– in each case. To attempt to rule...

    • 24 Viewing Violence in a Far Country: Abu Ghraib and Terror’s New Performativities
      (pp. 455-471)

      A disturbing photograph from Libya, published in the New York Times, shows scores of anonymous arms hoisting cell phones up high to capture the last moments of Muammar Gaddafi. Accentuated against the somber stillness of the photograph with its disembodied assembly of anonymous arms, the luminescent miniature screens throb with imperceptible images, like so many exclamation points. The upraised arms confer a strange unity on the disorder of the crowd, its collective gaze turned toward the unseen. In these moments, outside the field of vision, in the crucial gap between the viewer of the photograph and the cameras of the...

    • 25 Fighting Terror: Race, Sex, and the Monstrosity of Islam
      (pp. 472-496)

      Although the initial instruction to US forces to “get” Osama Bin Laden “Dead or Alive” came from President Bush, it was President Obama who, transfixed in his chair in the White House (along with the rest of his team, including Hillary Clinton), oversaw Bin Laden’s assassination. The trophy photograph released by the administration reveals the intense fascination – horror and dread tinged with disbelief – marked indelibly on the anxious faces as they witnessed this macabre private screening of the reality show unfolding in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing of Bin Laden, US Attorney General Eric Holder was quick to reassure...

  11. Section Six: Theorizing (at) the Limits of Justice

    • 26 Introduction to Section Six
      (pp. 499-502)

      The temporalized vision of a homologous human subject as the privileged mode ofbeingposes for both Asma Abbas and Denise Ferreira da Silva the specifically modern, onto-epistemic condition that continues to reverberate within humanistic and social scientific modalities of knowledge production and inquiry and that underwrite invocations of justice and self-determination in racial emancipatory programs. In a similar vein, Omeima Sukkarieh challenges the universalizing thrust of a particularist conception of humanity in whose name global warfare is manifest: some lives protected and saved, others denigrated and dehumanized. A fraught conception of humanity, Sukkarieh suggests, that in every instance generates...

    • 27 In Terror, in Love, out of Time
      (pp. 503-525)

      When terror is pronounced a part of our current global human condition, I take it to mean that terror has come to live with and in us and that we are subjects being wrought in and through that conjugal relation. In the interest of returning politics to lives thus lived, this chapter seeks to comprehend our life with terror in this particular moment, by turning to our genealogies not only of terror but also of love.

      How have we loved in order to suffer this way?¹ How might our life in and with terror, and our status as subjects of...

    • 28 Radical Praxis or Knowing (at) the Limits of Justice
      (pp. 526-537)

      Let me begin with Hegel and Fanon:

      Negroes are enslaved by Europeans and sold to America. Bad as this may be, their lot in their own lands is even worse, since there a slavery quite as absolute exists; for it is the essential principle of slavery, that man has not yet attained a consciousness of his freedom, and consequently sinks down to a mere Thing – an object of no value.

      G.W.F. Hegel¹

      It needed more than one native to say “We’ve had enough”; more than one peasant rising crushed, more than one demonstration put down before we could today...

    • 29 Unsewing My Lips, Breathing My Voice: The Spoken and Unspoken Truth of Transnational Violence
      (pp. 538-547)

      I approached transnational violence recently after noticing it was walking around like a zombie and asked it what it was doing. It told me that it was combating stress and its negative effects through tactical breathing and that in law enforcement and military training over the years it was taught controlled breathing, combat breathing, to the point where it feels like it’s on autopilot, doing it without thinking. When I asked why it told me that they were combat breathing all the time and only sometimes because it felt like dangerous criminals who were heavily armed were trying to kill...

    • 30 Mori Cards: The Body Bags Installation
      (pp. 548-552)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 553-610)
  13. List of Contributors
    (pp. 611-619)