206 Slices
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Medium 9780253340481

Chapter One The Pinkas

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253013873

5 Zombie Health Care

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Wouldn’t it be kinder, more compassionate to just hold your loved ones and wait for the clock to run down?

Dr. Edwin Jenner in “TS-19,” The Walking Dead (2010)

“Wildfire,” the fifth episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead’s first season, shows a crisis many Americans are currently facing.1 In the aftermath of a zombie attack, the human survivors must prevent their killed loved ones from returning as zombies. One woman, Carol, refuses to let the group’s men take responsibility for “decraniating” her prone life partner. “He’s my husband,” she says before splattering his gray matter onto the viewing lens. The scene cuts to another woman, Andrea, cradling her dead sister and waiting for the first sign of reanimation. Over a soundtrack of sentimentalized music, Andrea mournfully says, “Amy. Amy. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not ever being there. I always thought that there’d be more time. I’m here now, Amy. I’m here. I love you.” When Amy’s groans indicate her undead return, the men move to dispatch her. But Andrea preempts this outsider intervention by shooting her own sister’s brains out.

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Medium 9780253008145

ONE Veiling, Fashion, and Social Mobility: A Century of Change in Zanzibar • LAURA FAIR

Elisha P Renne Indiana University Press ePub

“The Veil” has never been a static thing, nor have its use and meaning been firm. In this chapter, I explore changes in veiling habits in Zanzibar over the course of more than a century, illustrating both how and why the veil has changed over time. Though “the veil” is often condemned in the West as a sign of women’s subordination, here I illustrate that in Zanzibar women have often used the veil to assert both their freedom and their economic might. The bulk of this chapter examines changes in veiling fashions over the course of the twentieth century, but I begin with a brief discussion of a more recent trend to illustrate that the uses and meanings attributed to the veil worn by women in the Isles of Zanzibar—which includes two large islands, Unguja and Pemba, and several smaller ones which came to be known collectively as Zanzibar—are often completely hidden from casual observers in the West.

At the turn of the twenty-first century a new veiling fashion was increasingly seen on the streets and in the markets of Zanzibar. Suddenly, it seemed, growing numbers of women were donning the niqāb, choosing to cover their faces entirely when in public rather than wearing the more common buibui, which left their faces open, or the more casual kanga,thrown over the top of the head and draped over the shoulders and chest. Where did this new style come from, I wondered? And what was the impetus for this change? (Plate 1).

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FOUR Religious Modesty, Fashionable Glamour, and Cultural Text: Veiling in Senegal • LESLIE W. RABINE

Elisha P Renne Indiana University Press ePub

By its metamorphosis from austere religious symbol into fashionable adornment, the veil in Senegal illustrates the power of fashion to transform social polarization into dialogical process. This process began in the 1990s, when Islamic sects from Iran and Saudi Arabia, quite foreign to the Sufi brotherhoods that compose most of Senegalese Islam, gained a foothold among young people. Although the population of Senegal is 95 percent Muslim, Senegalese women have historically not worn Middle-Eastern-style veils. But for young women in the orthodox movements, hijab-style veils symbolized a “purer” form of Islam, in part as protest against a complex conjunction of historic forces. These included economic crisis, immense unemployment, out-of-control political corruption, and the post-colonial dominance of Western powers, as well as disillusionment with Sufi leaders. Through orthodox Islam, young people rebelled against the local “traditions” of their elders, and identified with a powerful anti-Western global movement (Augis 2009:217–219).

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Medium 9780253353801

7 Lebowski and the Ends of Postmodern American Comedy

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Matthew Biberman

What kind of humor is Coen comedy?

The question is difficult in no small measure because comedy itself is difficult to explain. In this essay I offer a reading of The Big Lebowski that situates the film in a tradition of Jewish humor animated by social anxieties about nonconformity and collective psychotic behavior. My thesis is that Coen comedy ceaselessly dramatizes such anxieties and presents them as a kind of psychological training ground for surviving the future.

The standard argument about classifying Coen humor argues that it is best categorized as an instance of “postmodern parody” or “postmodern pastiche.” Clustering Lebowski with such “dark” 1990s comedies as The Cable Guy (1996), The Truman Show (1998), Serial Mom (1993), and Pulp Fiction (1993), Christopher Beach, for example, asserts that such films display “a mastery not only of the comic tradition but also of various other film and television genres, any of which are fair game for its postmodern pastiche” (205, emphasis mine). Similarly, Peter Körte and Georg Seesslen argue that “Coen films positively encourage us to use words like ‘post-modern’ or ‘manneristic’ to describe them” (260). The film is, they write, “a parody of plot twists of so many films noir or contemporary cop movies” (196) and, further, that “Coen country . . . has always been a pastiche,” and in this case, they produce a filmic landscape in which “the 1960s and 1970s almost simultaneously return as parodies of themselves” (200–201). Underscoring this point, R. Barton Palmer has a chapter in his study of the Coens simply called “The Coen Brothers: Postmodern Filmmakers,” where we again learn that “The postmodernist’s characteristic mode is pastiche, the so-called flat parody famously first identified by Fredric Jameson as one of the most distinguishing features of the aesthetic” (58).

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Medium 9780253007414

6. Rethinking Mbari Mbayo: osogbo Workshops in the 1960s, Nigeria

Kasfir, Sidney Littlefield ePub

Chika Okeke-Agulu

On the contrary, no experience that is interpreted or reflected on can be characterized as immediate, just as no critic or interpreter can be entirely believed if he or she claims to have achieved an Archimedean perspective that is subject neither to history nor to a social setting.

EDWARD W. SAID (1993:32)

The Osogbo group of artists, particularly those identified with the Mbari Mbayo Club and summer schools and art workshops between 1962 and 1966, has been compared with other contemporary workshop-trained artists elsewhere in Africa. Often their work has been treated as direct products of the colonial or romantic imaginations of European teachers. However, critics have questioned the cultural authenticity of such work—produced, as it was, under the influence of primitivist European teachers. These positions presuppose the gullibility, even naïveté, of the workshop-trained artists; the cunning, imperialist ideas of their European teachers; and a skewed, unequal power relationship between the semiliterate African student and the European teacher.1 Put simply, they raise questions about the authenticity of the work produced by these artists and, related to this, the pedagogical and thus power relationship between the European workshop masters and their African students. I am equally interested in these issues, but not along the same lines as previous commentators on the work Osogbo artists. Whereas most observers see another familiar story echoed in other workshops elsewhere on the continent, I argue that Osogbo was a trans-genre phenomenon in which the person and creative vision of Duro Ladipo loomed large in previously unacknowledged ways. Ladipo’s contribution to the making of Mbari Mbayo was not only fundamental but also significantly placed it outside the horizon of one single disciplinary domain. In other words, Osogbo’s uniqueness, it seems to me, lies in its production, through individual and collective work of those involved in it, a veritable Gesamtkunstwerk in the Wagnerian sense, which ultimately calls for a closer examination of how this might dislodge assumptions about the work produced by the artists, their relationship with their so-called teachers, and the nature and vectors of influences and ideas within the collective.

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Medium 9780253015976

6 Le Freak, C’est Critical and Chic: North African Scholars and the Conditions of Cultural Production in Post-9/11 U.S. Academia

Kenneth W Harrow Indiana University Press ePub

Lamia Benyoussef

IN AN INTRODUCTORY English composition class I taught a few years ago, an African American student asked me if she could write her comparative essay on the immigration and integration experiences of Arab and Caucasian Americans. When I pinpointed that the U.S. Census Bureau classified Arab Americans as Caucasians and suggested that she drop the racial categories in favor of a geographic terminology (that is, Middle Eastern and European immigration), in total shock and disbelief she exclaimed: “Arabs do 9/11 and they are still whites?” For a moment I froze there, not knowing what to say. I was not sure if she was angry at me because I was guilty by association or at her own self for still failing to be “white,” even though she was no evildoer like me, her teacher. That life-altering teaching moment repatriated me in W. E. B. Du Bois’s discourse on the Negro veil in The Souls of Black Folk. “It dawned upon me with a certain suddenness” that North African women academics too (alias moukéres or les négresses des sables) “are different from Others; or [like them perhaps] in life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil.” If the point of this essay can be summed up in one sentence, it is the desire to tear down that veil, to creep through the silences and wonders of the academic world “and live above in the blue sky,” free from the pitfalls of colorisms and the haunting shades and “shadows”1 of diversity. This chapter is inspired not only by my own experience as an Arab and Muslim academic in the South but also by the scholarly work and experiences of other North African scholars who find themselves, like me, in the double bind functioning as a native informant (after all, Islam keeps enrollment high) while remaining on the threshold of American academia because their physical presence is as critical as the critical languages they teach.

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Medium 9780253353801

8 Found Document: The Stranger’s Commentary and a Note on His Method

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Thomas B. Byers

The origins of the document reproduced in the following pages is shrouded in mystery. I will only say with certainty that it first came to the attention of the author of this commentary fully formed. Its narrator is, of course, a fictional character, derived from the Stranger (Sam Elliott) in the Coen brothers’ Big Lebowski. The document makes no secret of the artifice of this act of homage. The brief setup provides a decisive allusion to the almost identical language used to introduce the character in the screenplay: “We are floating up a steep scrubby slope. We hear male voices gently singing ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds’ and a deep, affable, Western-accented voice—Sam Elliot’s, perhaps.”1 The rest of the document is written in the sort of cowboy lingo that Joel and Ethan Coen employ.

Given that the author of the document seems himself to be agnostic regarding questions of reference, there is no reason for us to posit direct identity between this character and any other, including the character of the Stranger played by Sam Elliott. For purposes of convenience in this commentary, I only note a pronounced similarity between the two characters’ voices and refer to the “speaker” of this text as the Other Stranger. His antecedents, like those of the Coens’ Stranger, are to be found in the fictional genre of the Western, and particularly in that tradition’s Hollywood instantiations. Perhaps the text may provisionally be considered an example of that “blank” parody identified by Fredric Jameson in his well-known essay on postmodernism as “The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” (Postmodernism, 1). Jameson himself figures prominently in the mystery text, for there seems little doubt that he is the “fella from back east in Durham” referred to in the Other Stranger’s opening sentence. Jameson’s “blank parody” is ungrounded parody whose target is unspecified, or perhaps even non-existent. It is parody without a point, one in which whatever is parodied is appreciated as much as critiqued, and in which the primary end is the parodic performance itself. What we have here largely fits that description, but it may differ in certain interesting ways—ways consonant with the larger phenomenon of postmodernism that is Jameson’s subject. The Other Stranger’s discourse may be a form of what I would call “disseminated” parody, in which there is no single target, and the satiric and comic effects arise at any given moment from the juxtaposition of two equally appreciated and equally critiqued discourses. Thus, when the Other Stranger “does” a version of academic cultural studies in his Hollywood Western voice, the reader may smile both at the expense of and in appreciation of both discourses.

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Medium 9780253007414

CODA: Apprentices and Entrepreneurs Revisited: Twenty Years of Workshop Changes, 1987–2007

Kasfir, Sidney Littlefield ePub

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir

The original version of chapter 14 was prepared for a graduate seminar taught by John Picton at the School of Oriental and African Studies. It was further developed several years later for “The Artist and the Workshop in Traditional Africa,” a conference organized by Christopher Roy in 1985, and appeared in the 1987 The Artist and the Workshop in Traditional Africa as “Apprentices and Entrepreneurs: The Workshop and Style Uniformity in Subsaharan Africa.” It included comparisons of training and innovation among Akweya, Idoma, Ebira, Tiv, Kalabari, Dogon, Dan, Gola, Kulibele-Senufo, Maconde or Makonde, Yoruba, and Annang or Ibibio sculptors. The first five were chosen as examples of woodcarvers who learned their techniques and styles informally, without serving as apprentices to master carvers. The last seven went through apprenticeship systems of various kinds and were therefore trained by experienced members of their profession; some of these artists went on to set up their own individual practices, others were expected to join the kin- or ethnicity-based workshops or cooperatives where they apprenticed.

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Medium 9780253015754

5. Nollywood’s Progeny: Stardom and the Politics of Youth Empowerment

Noah A. Tsika Indiana University Press ePub

5

Once Oge Okoye had achieved star status, producers worked to solidify her specific star qualities by casting her in a series of similarly themed films. That, of course, is partly how Nollywood’s star system functions—through a process of conscious accretion. Indeed, film roles tend to multiply in ways that recall one another, inviting consumers to see something old in something new—something familiar and comforting in something fresh and untested. Casting the same singular star in even the most divergent of roles offers obvious corporeal and affective similarities, creating a complex creative fabric—an iconic through-line connecting narrative experimentation. “Stars are the product of intertextuality,” writes Gaylyn Studlar. “Their reception by audiences is produced by a succession of textual sources as well as by extratextual ones such as advertising and publicity.”1 That is as true for Nollywood as it is for Studlar’s subject, the Hollywood studio system. Discourses of craft and authenticity dictate that Okoye could only play Lady Gaga after having first cut her teeth on similarly driven characters, but according to the basic market logic of stardom, such a casting choice was all but inevitable: Okoye had already donned a series of Gaga-style wigs and dresses in public as well as in her previous films about the search for superstardom (such as Show Girls), and she had long since demonstrated a willingness to explore her own androgyny on screen. Her past roles and complex public persona thus comprised her audition for Lady Gaga, as the film’s producers have themselves suggested. Simply “being Oge” was better—more convincing—than any formal screen test.

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Medium 9780253013064

3 • Mapping Drigung Activity at Nako and in the Western Himalaya

Melissa R. Kerin Indiana University Press ePub

The task of tracing Nako’s ’Bri gung (Drigung) religious history has been a challenging one in large part because there is no documented religious history for Nako and no known inscriptions that provide substantive political and religious information. Given the paucity of such textual and inscriptional information at Nako, the artistic remains become that much more crucial in piecing together Nako’s devotional history. Although research on Nako’s early painting programs of circa twelfth century have been studied and published, the material of the late medieval period has been neglected. This body of work, and in particular the Gyapagpa sixteenth-century painting program, is of crucial significance in piecing together what has otherwise remained an opaque religious history for Nako and the surrounding region of Kinnaur.

As the last chapter established, the murals at Nako’s Gyapagpa Temple unequivocally align the temple with the Drigung community of the larger Bka’ brgyud (Kagyu) tradition. One of the most revealing pieces of information from this temple’s iconographic program was the six-person lineage painted on three of its four walls. While this has been useful in establishing the temple’s sixteenth-century religious affiliation, many other questions linger. For instance, who are these lineage members and what lineage, exactly, is being referenced? A survey of various texts listing Drigung abbot lineages has not yielded correspondences with the particular combination of names, or partial names, depicted in Gyapagpa Temple.1 Furthermore, I have consulted several scholars of West Tibetan and Drigung history from India and Tibet, but none has been able to identify the lineage depicted.2 The inability to identify this six-member group as part of an established and recognized Drigung lineage raises the possibility that Nako’s grouping represents a lesser known and little documented—Drigung lineage, specific to this area of Kinnaur. That there are no other temples in the region with Drigung iconography makes it impossible to verify that what we see at Nako is, in fact, a local lineage.

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Chapter Two How All This Writing Began

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253349118

8. Shopping along the Vishvanath Gali

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

READYMADE CLOTHING, including salwar suits, is sold in the garment district on Dashaswamedh Road, while saris are available in shops south of Godaulia along Madanpura Road. Silver and gold ornaments can be purchased from small shops in Chauk and Godaulia or from one of the big Kanhaiya Lal stores. The last need women have in the creation of their body art consists of daily items such as toiletries, nail polish, henna and hair products, bindis, sindur, bangles, and “artificial jewelry.”

Women buy these everyday essentials with frequency, for personal pleasure and with little concern for cost, since they are inexpensive and ephemeral; they will be used immediately and not kept for posterity. As women browse through the markets, their choices are spontaneous and casually considered, being inspired by whim or late-breaking fashion. They plan little in advance and do not seek the advice of their husbands or girlfriends, as they do when purchasing expensive jewelry or saris. Shopping for bindis, bangles, and imitation jewelry, women are on their own. They engage directly with the salesmen, listening closely as the merchants provide no end of expert guidance.

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4. Shopping for Clothes

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

THE OLD CITY OF BANARAS runs along the Ganges, the river of the goddess Ganga. Wide steps of stone lead down to the ghats at the riverside. Pilgrims and local people descend for prayer, for bathing and washing clothes. Ghats in sequence line the riverfront. Two of them are “burning ghats,” used for cremation—Harishchandra to the south and Manikarnika to the north1—where the continual burning of bodies attracts curious tourists and the local hustlers who offer to take them to see the “dead body fire.” Eighty-four ghats string along the river, but most of the activity, social and religious, takes place on the steps of the “main ghat.” Situated in the middle and numbered forty-one, Dashaswamedh Ghat is the place of the ancient Ten Horse Sacrifice. Here, Lord Brahma came disguised as an ascetic and requested the King of Kashi, Divodasa, to sponsor an extravagant version of the horse sacrifice, the aswamedh. The ritual was flawlessly performed, and now all those who bathe here receive the blessings of the horse sacrifice.2

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Medium 9780253009036

3 What’s Left of the Right to the City?

Daniel J Sherman Indiana University Press ePub

JUDIT BODNAR

An undeniable legacy of 1968 is the proclamation of the right to the city. What happened in Paris, Prague, and many other cities, however, was merely the crystallization of long-existing conditions: even the concept was formulated earlier. Henri Lefebvre finished The Right to the City in 1967, on the centenary of volume 1 of Marx’s Capital, as Lefebvre himself noted, but it was not this temporal coincidence or the intellectual kinship that determined its significance. The concept of the right to the city came into its own with the events of 1968; it received justification in people reclaiming the streets for radical politics, people who acted as if they had all read Lefebvre and were staging his work in the streets of Paris. The right to the city has informed urban theory and inspired urban justice movements ever since. Some also note the radical transformation this notion has gone through since its conception, what with the “undeclared vulgarization” of some of Lefebvre’s ideas, and their circulation in severely abridged forms undermining their original meaning.1

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