Following Ann Stoler's analysis of 'imperial debris' and Gastón Gordillo's notion of the 'void', this article examines how, in the context of the Mexican-American War of 1846–1848, imperial and religious impulses have endured from the mid-nineteenth century to the present at the US-Mexico border. Using photographs taken at different 'sites of memory' located along the 60-mile corridor that connects Las Cruces, New Mexico, with El Paso, Texas, this analysis demonstrates that the continuing American occupation of Mexican lands has contributed to the oblique inclusion and parallel exclusion or erasure of the historical presence of the Mexican community, as well as its political, cultural, and historical legitimacy in the region. However, the essay argues that ultimately the 'voidable' status of the American presence in the US-Mexico border region continues to reproduce itself. The article closes with a series of photographs of churches that capture religious landscapes that manifest, challenge, and transcend the occupied borderlands through the materiality of their presence.
Playing at Diminished Reality in East Jerusalem
Fabio Cristiano and Emilio Distretti
Augmented reality enables video game experiences that are increasingly immersive. For its focus on walking and exploration, Niantic’s location-based video game Pokémon Go (PG) has been praised for allowing players to foster their understanding and relationship to surrounding spaces. However, in contexts where space and movement are objects of conflicting narratives and restrictive policies on mobility, playing relies on the creation of partial imaginaries and limits to the exploratory experience. Departing from avant-garde conceptualizations of walking, this article explores the imaginary that PG creates in occupied East Jerusalem. Based on observations collected in various gaming sessions along the Green Line, it analyzes how PG’s virtual representation of Jerusalem legitimizes a status quo of separation and segregation. In so doing, this article argues that, instead of enabling an experience of augmented reality for its users, playing PG in East Jerusalem produces a diminished one.
John P. Willerton and Martin Carrier
The April 21st defeat of Socialist party candidate Lionel Jospin in the first round of the 2002 presidential elections shockingly ended the five-year reign of arguably the most productive government in Fifth Republic France.1 The Jospin government of the Gauche Plurielle departed as surprisingly as it had come to power five years earlier, its legacy of unprecedented success in Left coalition building and far-ranging policy construction seemingly voided by Jospin’s embarrassing loss to Jean-Marie Le Pen and the Far Right.
The Rhetoric of White Supremacy in Post-Civil War Louisiana
Marek D. Steedman
Did white supremacists successfully appeal to a right of resistance in Louisiana in the 1870s? I argue that they did. White supremacists self-consciously defended their own actions within the framework of an Anglo-American discourse of resistance against tyrannical government, and they broadly succeeded in convincing fellow (white) citizens. Can we deny them the cover of legitimacy this tradition affords? We might suggest that a right to resist is rendered void by the fact that white supremacists were resisting constitutional democracy itself. I argue against this strategy (or, more precisely, for a right to resist constitutional democratic government), and suggest that the problem is not what white supremacists were fighting against. The right to resist is bound up with a defense of the just demands of the people, and this claim, as articulated by white supremacists, rests on decidedly shaky ground. Deciding the issue, however, is a matter of political contestation.
Helen A. Robbins and Leigh Kuwanwisiwma
Religious practice, in all its forms, is intrinsic to the Hopi way of being. The Hopi people have performed rituals of balance and renewal continuously for thousands of years, but the collection and removal of ceremonial items have created a spiritual void. Repatriation legislation has given hope that items can come home, go back to ritual use, and, simply, by the act of their return, nurture the Hopi spirit. Paradoxically, legal and bureaucratic requirements in federal legislation such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) both constrain and subvert Hopi authority over their own repatriation efforts and the items returned. To engage in repatriation, the Hopi must participate in what have become highly ritualized processes outlined in law, as well as submit to a museum’s procedural requirements, also legitimated in law. In this way, the repatriation process ultimately reproduces and reinforces the existing power of the nation-state.
Jeremy J. Kingsley
This article demonstrates how an integral element of the fabric of governance on the eastern Indonesian island of Lombok, and many other parts of the Indonesian archipelago, are non-state local security arrangements, such as night watches and militias. These groups play a significant role in the local infrastructure of security and law enforcement. Consequently, this article challenges a common assumption by legal scholars, and many other observers of Indonesia, that state-based institutions such as the police are the exclusive, and only legitimate, mode of law enforcement in Indonesia. Through an ethnographic engagement with the idea of law enforcement on Lombok, I seek to broaden these assumptions about legitimate modes of statecraft. These non-state entities fill a void in the Indonesian law enforcement architecture that the state is unable or unwilling to fulfil (or potentially finds it more practical to delegate to local non-state institutions).
Global Memory, Trauma and the 'Negative Sublime'
Andrew S. Gross
This essay argues that the construction of the Jewish Museum Berlin and the Berlin Holocaust Memorial constitutes a paradigm shift in Holocaust commemoration in Germany. The structures architecturally resemble their US counterparts and particularly the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum more than they do the other memorials and museums in Berlin’s complex commemorative landscape. American responses to the European catastrophe have significantly impacted European commemorative forms. Indeed, an internationally recognizable memorial architecture seems to be emerging, one emphasizing gaps, voids, incongruities and the personal relation to what theorists and commentators have begun to call ‘negative’ or ‘evil sublime’. Contemporary memorials and museums are not designed to ‘merely’ house collections; rather, they draw attention to themselves as symbols and symptoms of traumatic memory. They act out the trauma of the Holocaust as architecture; walking through them is supposed to be a step towards working through that trauma as feeling and experience.
An Impersonal Subjectivity
Caroline Humphrey and Hürelbaatar Ujeed
For Mongols, fortune is not just acquired or lost accidentally. Rituals are held to create an upsurge of fortune, to beckon, absorb, contain, and act upon it. This article focuses on two kinds of fortune-sülde (potency) and hiimori (vitality)-and the ritualized means to restore these qualities that otherwise become depleted of their own accord. It is argued that these ideas of fortune are ways of linking subjects to cosmological forces 'out there'. The paradox is that, by binding fortune into their bodies in an attempt to garner invincibility, bravery, and energy, people resonate to pulses that glide among, and fly beyond, their other constitutive physical bodily elements. Such occasions when sülde and hiimori are in play call into being a certain kind of person who seems to be rendered, at least for a moment, at one with the void.
Ajume H. Wingo
Conceiving of the problems of African colonialism in geopolitical terms offers an incomplete and ultimately misleading view of the significance of the African colonial experience on the present character of African politics. Unhappily, the track record of much of ‘independent’ Africa suggests that the colonisation of Africa was not so much the cause of Africans’ lack of freedom as a manifestation of the lack of freedom, without which Africans were unable to defend themselves. Colonialism is a force that probes for a certain type of weakness or limitations in a population. Colonialism seeks out certain ‘freedom voids’ – populations that lack the qualities of a free citizenry. I argue that Africans would do better to focus instead on the more general political problem of how any state, regardless of its experience with colonialism, must create and sustain the institutions that support the security and freedom of its citizens.
A Wittgensteinian Response to the Very Idea of a Social Contract
In the ordinary way, we all know very well what a contract is. It is a mutual undertaking or promise by two or more parties to do or refrain from doing something or another. Such promises may be made verbally, by means of gestures, or expressed in writing, but they must be expressed or else the contract is not merely null and void, but nonexistent. There is no such thing as an inaudible and invisible contract. To think otherwise is to mistake metaphorical for literal language. Yet the history of political philosophy from the 17th century until the present day has been dominated by the idea of a contract to which no persons living or dead ever affixed a signature or so much as nodded assent; a promise binding on the whole of civilised humankind, on which are thought to rest the complementary edifices of civil society and the state.