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Michael Brass

Abstract

Different emphases on ideological, socio-economic and technological changes have been brought to bear on the cultural variability made materially manifest in pre-Iron Age Saharan pastoral societies. The models have ranged from limited or no complexity before iron production to transient mobile elites across the Sahara, to socially complex communities from the mid-Holocene onwards in the Central Libyan Sahara, and to permanent elites with complex social structures. Here, ethnographic cultural variability is stressed, previous models detailed, and data for the Eastern and Central Sahara summarised and analysed. The emerging picture is of a mosaic of population movements, clustering and experimentation resulting in transient peaks of wealth and the potential for incipient social complexity to become temporarily or permanently manifest. Saharan social diversity serves as a warning against linear models and highlights the importance of an explanatory framework for investigating the evolution of social structures outside of permanently settled communities for North Africa.

Drawing the Divine Seed

India, Alterity and the Real in the Works of J.M. Coetzee

Anas Tabraiz

Abstract

This article connects the disparate references to India in Coetzee’s writings to his core debate on ethics. Coetzee’s novels are in dialogue with the Western philosophical and psychoanalytic tradition that privileges an intersubjective reality over the reality of the objective world. This tradition sees the common Indians, and the natives of colonies, indifferently poised at the threshold of humanity. Being barely human these indifferent multitudes are seen as dispensable objects devoid of ethical claims. Coetzee’s metafiction highlights the ways in which the intersubjective community uses language and signification to produce a closed consensual reality against the open truths of the objective world. Coetzee’s snippets from India interweave the reality of a world oblivious to Western sentience and cognition. His efforts at pulling the obscure into the divine light of the rational community becomes comparable to drawing the divine seed to fertilize an abandoned and banished version of the Eternal Feminine.

From the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific

Creolisation, Magic, and Mimesis in Oceanic Networks

Fernando Rosa

Abstract

In this paper I attempt to tackle the issues of creolisation, magic, and mimesis, as well as colonialism. I will approach this last via the the first three. I begin by discussing two travel and ethnographic accounts, and then a piece by Diderot. I also discuss Taussig’s work. My overall argument, following closely on the heels of Diderot’s and Taussig’s work, but also somewhat expanding them, is that writing ethnography or any account of ‘others’ involves closely linked and complex processes of creolisation, mimesis, and magic. There is also, of course, a personal dimension to them. Such processes in fact affect not only ethnographic writing, but perhaps any writing. I also include myself in this narrative, albeit only marginally, as someone born and raised in Brazil, perhaps the most famous hub of creolisation ever, and who ventures not only across the South Atlantic, but eventually also into the Indo-Pacific world.

Michael Cawood Green

Abstract

In this creative/critical paper, a recent migrant to the UK attempts to negotiate ideas of Africanness and Englishness through the rewriting of places linked by a statue in a small Northumberland village commemorating the death of a local officer killed in the ‘Anglo-Boer War.’ Drawing on two recent and influential theoretical developments, the ‘mobility turn’ within the social sciences and the ‘spectral turn’ in cultural criticism, this paper is a ficto-critical experiment in finding an appropriate creative form to test the generic implications of the major, and yet largely still unreflected, issue of migration and immigration/emigration in post-apartheid writing. It explores the unsettling ways in which places are not so much geographically fixed as implicated within complex circuits at once contingent and the product of material relations of power.

Majid Daneshgar

This essay will explore how the intellects of both scholars and their audiences are censored. In addition to various Western thinkers, particular attention will be paid to Ali Shari'ati, one of the most influential thinkers of modern Iran, and how he represented an important Islamic tradition. Not only did his ideas inspire revolutionary acts by generations of Iranians, but Turkish, Arab, Malay, Indonesian, and Indian philosophers, sociologists, theologians, and politicians have all employed his definitions of concepts such as justice, injustice, revolution, corruption, and bliss. This article sheds light both on how intellectuals influence their audience, and their long-term impact on broader communities. In order to do so, it will analyze the material and political conditions that censor both what scholars are able to say, and what their audiences are allowed to hear.

Annie Gagiano

Abstract

This article assesses representations of imprisonment without trial and inmates’ torture in three novels depicting severely repressive, murderous regimes—Malawi’s under Hastings Banda, Ethiopia’s under the Derg, and Kenya’s under colonial and successive post-colonial rulers. In The Detainee (Kayira 1974), the narrative of a naïve, apolitical villager’s unjust detention highlights unrestrained power abuse through minions and gradually uncovers atrocities. Under the Lion’s Gaze (Mengiste 2010) depicts several visceral, appalling scenes of torture as a technique of intimidation. Dust (Owuor 2014) has fewer, but harrowingly intense scenes of pain infliction on prisoners as a political tool to silence opposition. All three texts establish their importance as archival evaluations of under-reported regimes, African literary artworks, and morally responsible evocations of undeserved suffering, communicating effectively with both local and international readerships.

Stephen David

Abstract

When the Nigeria-Biafra civil war ended in July 1970, the Commander in Chief of the Federal Army, General Yakubu Gowon, declared that there was “no victor no vanquished” and, consequently, drew an iron curtain on a painful historical moment. This closure foreclosed further engagements with the events of the war in a manner that imposed a “code of silence” on its historiography. However, in the face of this silence and the silencing of public remembrances, private remembrances have continued to bloom. And in recent times, these remembrance(s) have fertilized a virulent demand for secession. I argue that literary accounts of the conflict question its ‘closure’ through what I call ‘lack of return.’ Relying on Van der Merwe and Gobodo-Madikizela’s conception of narratives as spaces of healing, I engage in a close reading of one fictional account—Saro-Wiwa’s Sozaboy—and two memoirs—Achebe’s There Was a Country and Chukwurah’s The Last Train to Biafra—to examine how narratives of Biafra call attention to the persistent freshness of the wounds and trauma of the war by creating stories that lack denouement. I find that in these texts, the silencing of ordnance doesn’t herald a return home—whether spatially or mentally. Consequently, these stories could be read as palimpsests that reveal a need for spaces of narrative engagements, abreaction, and healing.

Reem Doukmak

Reem Doukmak was born in Syria and studied English literature at al-Baath University. In 2007 she completed her Master’s degree at the University of Warwick. With the help of cara she continued her studies at Warwick where she is now starting her academic career. Her work investigates how the right pedagogic interventions can help children in refugee camps. The use of drama plays a key role in her research and feeds into broader questions surrounding self-representation and agency. These are among the vital issues The Journal of Interrupted Studies has also sought to explore. We were lucky to engage Reem on her research and its implications for addressing the problematic discourses that surround refugees and yet neglect to include their voice.

Nasser Karami

Due to its widespread political and social consequences, the relationship between drought and climate change in the Middle East has been widely reported on by the media. Climate change is mainly understood within the paradigm: “prolonged drought is created and intensified by global warming.” The purpose of the study is to review this paradigm and examine aspects of it. Thus, climate trends in the Middle East are studied across three periods: 1900–1970, 1970–2000, and 2000–2017. Due to the importance of studying sequences of drought occurrence based on timescales of climatic patterns, the climatic trends of the Khuzestan Plain, were examined too. The results show that to have a clear understanding of both the modality of climate change in the Middle East and the current dominant paradigm, predominant assumptions of the paradigm should be reconsidered. For example, prolonged droughts are part of the natural pattern of climate in the Middle East, although the current drought has not been recorded for at least 100 years. This claim is based on the fact that prolonged droughts in this region can have natural causes, which can be studied as long-term climate trends, although the impact of global warming on the escalation of the Middle Eastern drought is undeniable. However, the exacerbating effect of non-anthropogenic factors on the impact of drought in the region should be studied, too. Additionally, as an epistemological assumption, the term “drying up” (as a new normal and permanent climatic pattern) should be used instead of “drought” (as a normal and reversible pattern) to determine the current climate change situation in the Middle East. The author concludes that the findings emphasize the need for further research in order to identify the modality of climate change in the Middle East.