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2. Fitful Decolonization: Xala and the Poetics of Double Fetishism

Akinwumi Adesokan Indiana University Press ePub

Among the films of the late Ousmane Sembene, Xala (1974) has attracted probably the most extensive commentary. It is hard to imagine even a brief commentary or a notice, let alone a full-length essay about the filmmaker, which does not make the film a point of reference, usually seeing it as a decisive instance of his artistic politics, which a critic has recently termed “anti-neocolonialism.”1 Produced after a decade in which many African countries had attained political independence, this rich and mordantly uncompromising film is at once an unusual family drama and a satire, an allegorical fable of the emergent elite, the much-vilified “comprador bourgeoisie” whom Frantz Fanon had famously critiqued in The Wretched of the Earth only a decade earlier. The film is an important moment in the history of decolonization in the twentieth century, especially its relationship to the politics of tricontinentalism.

Scholars of African cinema and postcolonial studies have often seen Xala as a critique of the impotence of the ruling class that emerged at the end of colonialism. However, in this chapter I focus on the interplay in the film of aspects of the postcolonial asymmetry, and I see the xala (temporary sexual impotence)2 as a form of discourse which commentaries on the film usually do not engage. I argue that there is in Xala an unresolved tension between the filmmaker’s attack on that elite and the use of the cultural idiom of xala as temporary impotence. Available studies of the film, mostly dedicated to Sembene’s materialist critique of the double fetishism of imported commodities and marabout or animist supernaturalism, have not paid sufficient attention to the paradox of the power of the powerless, in this case women and the poor. Adding this important dimension, I examine an unresolved and irresolvable tension in the film between the filmmaker’s attack on the postcolonial elite and his complex use of the cultural idiom of xala. In order to problematize this tension, I discuss in detail the “marginal” stories in the film, especially the contradictions of class which the more spectacular story of El Hadji Abdou Kader Beye’s fall from grace have tended to overshadow, in a manner analogous to the way different kinds of identity and subjectivity are habitually neglected in the era of decolonization. In playing up these overshadowed narratives, I respond to James’s injunction in his analysis of Pan-Africanism that to vanquish elitism is to focus on the contradictions of class relations. These contradictions make it impossible for the beggars in the film to ally with the women in a polygamous marriage, and they are also embedded in the economic structure which makes the film possible. Sembene’s figuration of the impotence of the elite and the curability of xala is thus a case of “double fetishism” (of European consumer goods and an African mode of sexual censure), and from this figuration we can deduce that decolonization did not fully succeed in part because the aesthetic, cultural, and economic forms of the critique of double fetishism were intertwined. The filmmaker’s choice to make two Xalas (film and novel) available is also a response to this inseparability of aesthetic and economic questions.

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Medium 9780874259803

Cultural Hat Dance

Jonamay Lambert HRD Press PDF
Medium 9781574415193

30. Prairie Apaches

Sherry Robinson University of North Texas Press ePub


Prairie Apaches

Doubtless, the Indians that have left the Reservation are on the war path and driven to it by a class of outlaws whose highest aspiration is to pilfer and plunder.

—F. C. Crothers, 1875 1

The People returned to the Staked Plains. Comanches were settled on a reservation, and Apaches could roam freely. White men thought the Llano Estacado was dreary and monotonous, but Apaches knew where water stood in gleaming playas. Buffalo herds were thin, but the short buffalo grass still supported antelope. A thousand Apaches who had never lived on a reservation were in their former home, and their camps drew restless young men from the reservations. Troops were rarely seen, but scouting parties were beginning to thread their way across grassland and desert to etch new trails in the dust.

The No Water Lipans had been divided into small groups since the 1860s, when smallpox ravaged the tribes. Lipans suspected they got the disease from a shirt taken from a dead enemy along with his ammunition belt. They knew if they stayed together, more people would die. Chief Magoosh, who wore the scars of that epidemic the rest of his life, held a council and agreed to split up but rejoin when the sickness passed. Venego’s group settled in the mountains near Zaragosa, where they lived on good terms with the Mexicans. Chief Josefa and his people went to the Kickapoos near McAllen and then to Mexico. Magoosh took his people to live among the Naishans.2

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Medium 9780253356338

8 What Do Egypt’s Copts and Muslims Share? The Issue of Shrines

Dionigi Albera Indiana University Press ePub


Egypt is now one of the Middle Eastern countries where the interconfessional situation is most tense, and where the discourse on the other (Christian or Muslim) is most aggressive. With a few very rare exceptions, no Muslim will enter a church and no Christian will enter a mosque. Contemporary developments have seen an Egypt that was once multiconfessional become a biconfessional country divided between Copts (now less than 6% of the population1) and Muslims (the rest of the population). Copts are therefore very much in the minority, and have been for a long time, as Egypt appears to have become predominantly Muslim as early as the eleventh century, and increasingly so in the fourteenth and fifteen centuries (Mouton 2003). This phenomenon also explains why behaviors toward the religion of the other differ so greatly. For a Muslim, mixing with Copts, taking part in their festivals, or even, in extreme cases, attending their churches poses little threat. For Copts, the fear of conversion is a major obstacle to having any contact with the Muslim religion and means that entering a mosque is out of the question.

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Medium 9781626562141

6. The Alaska Model

Peter Barnes Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Our dividend program simply gives back to the people a portion of
earnings from invested oil wealth that belongs to the people.

—Former governor Jay Hammond

Jay Hammond, the Republican governor of Alaska from 1974 to 1982 and father of the Alaska Permanent Fund, led a life nearly as exciting as Thomas Paine’s. He was a Marine fighter pilot during World War II, then a bush pilot, commercial fisherman, and backcountry guide in Alaska. Friends urged him to run for local office, then the state legislature, and then for governor, all of which he did with some reluctance. After retiring as governor, he moved with his native wife to a remote lakeside cabin accessible only by float plane. He died in 2005, a state hero.

It’s unlikely that Hammond read, Agrarian Justice. Nevertheless, he conceived and then persuaded legislators and voters in a ruggedly individualist state to adopt the world’s first universal dividend-paying fund of the sort that Paine envisioned. He did this, and the people of Alaska approved it, not out of any ideology but because it just made sense.

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Medium 9780253348838

Part 2. Communities

Jeff Sahadeo Indiana University Press ePub

Communal units, in the past and present, have been of critical importance across Central Asia. For pastoralist nomads and settled peoples alike, groups linked by kin, territory, religion, or a shared sense of identity have not only offered camaraderie and shared values, but also provided support vital for everyday existence. In a region endowed with a harsh climate and scarce resources, communities secure food and shelter; arrange marriages and distribute labor and supplies; and defend against unwelcome incursions from outsiders. Communities have also acted as anchors in times of transition. Group loyalties today remain multilayered, even as many residents of Central Asia identify themselves as Afghans, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, Turkmen, or Uzbeks, or, in a larger sense, as Muslims. Extended joint families, tribes, clans, villages, and urban neighborhoods (mahallas) are central to individual and group identities and relations, as described in the articles written by Adrienne Edgar, Robert Canfield, and Morgan Liu. Edgar discusses kin-based communities among nineteenth-century Turkmen nomads as vital sources of political and economic solidarity in regions where police or courts were virtually nonexistent. Resource scarcities and power imbalances perpetuate village solidarity in twentieth-century Afghanistan, according to Canfield. Even in contemporary urban Kyrgyzstan, Liu finds a high degree of identification with the centuries-old mahalla, where residents share common courtyards, work, socialize, and pray together. Communal loyalties are less evident, however, in mixed, new districts constructed following the British and Russian conquests.

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Medium 9780253012586

5. Pudur, 2012

Anand Pandian Indiana University Press ePub

The imposing facade of the Hindu Nadar Primary School looms over the small dirt lane. The two entrances to the school open out onto either side of what was once the village’s main bazaar, now quiet, nearly still. Built into the thick whitewashed walls are small alcoves for candles—empty now, they look like ornamental motifs.

The bazaar was once bustling with trade in grain, cloth, and other goods, and there is wealth still evident in the way that the main school building was built in 1920: the peacocks carved into wooden supports for the rafters, the thick pillars flanking one entrance, the elaborate flowers carved into the blue lintels above the many smaller doors.

In this village, like so many others nearby, the school was financed and built by a Nadar community association. These associations relied on the wealth newly accumulated by traders and merchants of the community: in village bazaars like that of Pudur, in the new market towns that began to develop in the late nineteenth century, in the mercantile networks that sent men like Ayya’s father to overseas colonies such as Burma and Malaysia. These associations insisted upon strict codes of collective discipline. This was how they had stewarded the transformation of a disdained community of toddy-tappers into an upwardly mobile population.

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Medium 9780253017543

5 Beneath the Horizon: The Organic Body’s Role in Athletic Experience

Kalpana Ram Indiana University Press ePub

Greg Downey

CONDUCTING ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH on sports, one encounters individuals who almost seem to transcend the boundaries of human capacity. Arguably, one of the thrills of athletic spectatorship is to witness skills and physical abilities honed to such an exceptional degree that an athlete’s performance beggars normal imagination, at once humbling us and at the same time thrilling. For an anthropological discussion of phenomenology, these kinds of people—agents operating at a level of efficacy beyond what is normally possible—offer an opportunity to interrogate the variation of human experience.

Specifically, I conducted ethnographic research on and apprenticed in capoeira, an acrobatic Afro-Brazilian martial art and dance, from 1992 on and off until 2005 (see especially Downey 2005). During this time, I was privileged to meet, interview, and even apprentice with a number of extraordinary practitioners, some of them legendary teachers and players in the globalized capoeira community. In particular, during fieldwork in Salvador, Brazil, from 1993 to 1995, I trained frequently under the watchful guidance of Valmir Damasceno, a charismatic contra-mestre, or drill leader, at the time with the Pelourinho Capoeira Angola Group. Valmir has since become widely recognized as a mestre, or “teacher,” the most prestigious title that can be attributed to a capoeira practitioner.

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Medium 9781574416329

7. White Privilege

Richard Gonzales UNT Press ePub
Medium 9780253334121


Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

The present volume is a progress report from a case history study on human sex behavior. The study has been underway during the past nine years. Throughout these years, it has had the sponsorship and support of Indiana University, and during the past six years the support of the National Research Council’s Committee for Research on Problems of Sex, with funds granted by the Medical Division of The Rockefeller Foundation. It is a fact-finding survey in which an attempt is being made to discover what people do sexually, and what factors account for differences in sexual behavior among individuals, and among various segments of the population.

For some time now there has been an increasing awareness among many people of the desirability of obtaining data about sex which would represent an accumulation of scientific fact completely divorced from questions of moral value and social custom. Practicing physicians find thousands of their patients in need of such objective data. Psychiatrists and analysts find that a majority of their patients need help in resolving sexual conflicts that have arisen in their lives. An increasing number of persons would like to bring an educated intelligence into the consideration of such matters as sexual adjustments in marriage, the sexual guidance of children, the pre-marital sexual adjustments of youth, sex education, sexual activities which are in conflict with the mores, and problems confronting persons who are interested in the social control of behavior through religion, custom, and the forces of the law. Before it is possible to think scientifically on any of these matters, more needs to be known about the actual behavior of people, and about the inter-relationships of that behavior with the biologic and social aspects of their histories.

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Medium 9780253019028

100,000 Men

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

“HUSH, HUSH,” HE said expectantly, jittery, running about the camp, the gaping hole in his brown shorts thoroughly visible, as was his entirely emaciated state. “Do you not hear them?” he turned around and around, looking about, pausing, staring intently at each face, as if to will them, to force them to apprehend what he was saying. “Do you hear them coming?” He breathed heavily. “They are coming! I saw them with my own eyes, my own two eyes! I swear they are coming.”

“Taidor, Taidor, Choul is having another of his fits again,” Alek said to her husband, stating the obvious.

Taidor looked on, unable to shake off the melancholy expression on his visage. Of course he knew there was no one coming. He was the sober one, calm, collected, resigned to fate without complaint. And he knew there was definitely no one coming. He hated the hopeless optimism of Choul. Even from their days at the university in Khartoum, Choul had entertained and nursed this ridiculously hopeless idealism. “They are coming where?” he scoffed. “Who? Who is coming?” He shook his head sarcastically and proceeded to scratch his unkempt hair.

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Medium 9780253015846

6 I Want to Be Committed

Samuli Schielke Indiana University Press ePub


Within a few months’ time in 2009, three friends told me independently of one another that they “wanted to be committed” (‘ayiz or ’ayza altazim) but found it surprisingly difficult and frustrating. They all share an experience that in the first decade of the twenty-first century became a paradigmatic case of intense spiritual and moral dedication: Salafi activism. Of the various movements and currents that characterize the Islamic revival, Salafism emerged in the first decade of the twenty-first century as one of the most powerful in setting the tone of what it means to be truly religious. And “commitment” (iltizam) has become a very compelling keyword for discussing and describing what it means to be a good Muslim.

Why is it difficult to be committed? Difficulty is definitely not the impression one gets from the sermons of preachers who emphasize the ease and simplicity of Islam as a comprehensive guide to life. Much of the attraction of the revivalist turn to textual knowledge and moral perfection in general, and Salafi Islam in particular, lies in its apparent simplicity and straightforwardness, typically expressed in ritual and moral rigor, a quest to leave no gray areas, the world neatly divided into the permitted and the prohibited. And yet most of those who sympathize with the idea of commitment do not try to turn it into reality. And many of those who do try (and increasingly many do, as Salafi preachers have been gaining more ground as representatives of the correct, standard Islam) eventually find their activist drive inexplicably receding, face problems in living a committed life, and discover more and more contradictions in the teachings and teachers they follow. When people try to be perfect, there is trouble involved.

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Medium 9781574414714

“Songs of the Depression”

Edited by Kenneth L. Untiedt University of North Texas Press PDF

SONGS OF THE DEPRESSION by Francis Edward Abernethy

“Beans, Bacon, and Gravy”

I was born long ago, in 1894,

And I’ve seen lots of hard times, that is true;

I’ve been hungry, I’ve been cold,

And now I’m growing old.

But the worst I’ve seen is 1932.


Oh, those beans, bacon, and gravy,

They almost drive me crazy,

I eat them till I see them in my dreams,

In my dreams,

When I wake up in the morning,

A Depression day is dawning,

And I know I’ll have another mess of beans.

We have Hooverized our butter,

For blued our milk with water,

And I haven’t eaten meat in any way;

As for pies, cakes, and jelly,

We substitute sow-belly,

For which we work the county roads each day.

There are several advantages to living a long time, one of which is that you become historical. You begin to find the commonplace times of your life in history books. The Depression was a distinct part of my life, and I talked to my father about these years and it was even more distinctly a part of his.

Every generation is the product of its parents. The Depression was the offspring of the Roaring Twenties. Will Rogers said of the

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Medium 9780253009913

3 - Socialist Modern and the Production of Demanding Citizens

Fehérváry, Krisztina ePub

IN 1963, THE Dunaújváros newspaper published a particularly strident article on home décor, part of a nationwide campaign to convince residents moving into new apartments to rid themselves of their old, heavy furniture and adopt more appropriate tastes for their new surroundings. The author begins with “What there should not be!” She denounces the complete bedroom set, the permanent dining room, the display cabinet, and the “monstrous wardrobe” (Bars 1963). In the “apartment of today,” she proclaims, “furnishings cannot be monofunctional display items but must be useful objects.” They cannot have “useless decorations, carved angels, and twirled columns…. The fashion is clean lines, low sizes…easy to use and clean.” To create the all-important open room plan, “furniture is placed against the wall so that the center is left free…allowing space for movement, work, comfort, hominess.” One multifunctional room, the writer insists, will “better suit the family's time together and the working person's needs,” as long as the residents “avoid all that is superficial.” She concludes by assuring readers that “lighter, brighter forms and colors will satisfy the modern person's demands (igény) for a home.”

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Medium 9781607321675

SIX Silent Hazards, Invisible Risks: Prehispanic Erosion in the Teotihuacan Valley, Central Mexico

Payson Sheets University Press of Colorado ePub

Emily McClung de Tapia

The prehispanic urban center of Teotihuacan (ca. AD 1–650) dominated the landscape of a watershed situated in the northeast sector of the Basin of Mexico (figure 6.1), a closed hydrological basin characterized in prehispanic times by a lake system that has since been largely drained and otherwise modified in historical and modern times. It is the site of the first major city in the Americas, the capital of a complex state society that grew to dominate the basin and adjacent valleys of central Mexico, with contacts in southern Mesoamerica (Millon 1988). While the region undoubtedly offered an attractive habitat for early Holocene hunter-gatherer-fishers between volcanic events (González et al. 2006), the earliest agricultural settlements date much later, to approximately 1150 BC (Sanders, Parsons, and Santley 1979). The results of detailed settlement studies in the region provide a framework for understanding the evolution of human communities, their spatial distribution, and potential resource use (ibid.).

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