Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Displacement VII – Panel 1

Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Displacement VII – Panel 1


So let me say a few
words about the event. This symposium was conceived
as part of the Photographic Archives Research Group,
which is working here at Brown and is preoccupied
with the question of photographic archives. What are they? Who put them together? What does it take to
set up an archive? And who is capable and
authorized to do that? How do procedures of
self-authorization or nomination modify access,
accessibility, and the right of and to the archive? Why do states and empire
need archives in which their crimes are registered? And why so much of the
non-imperial archival work doesn’t affect the crystallized
neutral imperial concept of the archive, still
imagined as an apparatus that works even for itself with
people only as its auxiliaries? What has motivated
this gathering today, however, was a
phenomenon and a force much more specific than what
these broad questions may indicate. It was, as the
workshop’s title implies, the activity and inspiration
of the movement Black Lives Matter, along with the
support with its engagement in incriminating imperial
violence as received, and its impact has been
resonated worldwide. This requires a triple
comment on temporality, on violence, and more
specifically on racialization through archival violence. Black Lives Matter is a
relatively new movement that has inspired many. However, when trying to
theorize Black Lives Matter, it would be wrong to do it while
using imperial temporality that foregrounds the
movement’s newness, places it within a progressively
narrow historical narrative, and presents it as
a brand new approach to the violence
of racialization, or as a new practice
of resistance. When temporalizing the
movement in this way, one might think that black
lives didn’t matter earlier. The importance of
Black Lives Matter is not its newness,
but rather its refusal to tear itself apart from its
predecessors in this struggle for the sake of being new. This refusal has enabled all
previous similar instantiations of resistance to imperial
violence of racialization to reverberate through the
activity of Black Lives Matter. This is even more crucial given
the fact that imperial archives are inseparable from, on
the one hand, the violence of racialization in which
they are implicated, and on the other hand, from
their investment in relegating imperial crimes to the
realm of a sealed past. Thinking about Black
Lives Matter in a wider historical perspective, we hope
to use this gathering today as an opportunity to share
non-imperial archives and archival approaches
to imperial violence and modes of resisting it. And yet again, to claim
Black Lives Matter, which the movement’s name
pronounces, should by no means be understood as a
temporal claim, one which says that now, at long
last, black lives, too, matter. It is rather a political
claim, a position to be taken that had been
taken every time when lives are racialized, and which
involves an attempt to contest imperial violence
whenever and wherever it occurs. Refuse to let it be
relegated to the past before its apparatuses
are problematized and its perpetrators
are made accountable. Racializing lives is a
particular type of violence that is inseparable
from imperial archive, because the archive is
responsible for introducing abominable categories, such as
“slaves,” with quotation marks, or “refugees,” with
quotation marks, into the political sphere. And let me just
briefly show one image. I won’t have time
to dwell on it, but just wanted to
briefly call the attention to the presence of the
document in this scene of crime known as auction. It is seen as a document,
as you can see here in this pixelated image,
even before becoming an archival document, that we
are encouraged to consult when we are going to the archive. Racialization itself,
though, is a form of archival violence, which
classifies racialized bodies and forces them to enter a
taxonomic order that transforms individuals into embodiments
of political and racial categories. In a sense and
also by definition, Black Lives Matter is
co-extensive with imperial violence and started
to exist with it, since black lives have always
mattered when others acted as if they didn’t. For the claim Black Lives
Matter to be pronounced publicly in the streets with
protesting bodies, the obvious should have
ceased to be obvious. It means that before being
racialized, lives had mattered. And then, once
racialized, they had to be actively protected
and specifically protected against racializing
forces and institutions. This is not the origin
of the movement, but the origin of the urgency
to have such a movement. And this origin, as the title
of this gathering suggests, is its imperial origin. Enslavement,
segregation, apartheid, and other forms of partition
should be construed as over, as belonging to the past,
as belonging to the archive, and in the form of disconnected
episodes for a movement like Black Lives Matter
to emerge each time anew as new rather than a
continuous present. This fact of newness testifies
to the imperial archival of violence that classifies
imperial crimes separately from movement that cry out
loud that Black Lives Matter and relegate these crimes to
the realm of the past, where accountability does not exist. Moreover, the recurrence
of this archival violence that racializes and that defines
these crimes as already over so as to exclude accountability,
reversibility, remedy, and reparations, proves
that the temporal, spatial, and political principles imposed
by the imperial condition were not yet undone. Responsible actors have
not been made accountable. Institutions have
not been transformed. And diverse practices,
cultural institutions, and academic disciplines
have not been decolonized. Given the scale of
imperial crimes, the legal abolition of
slavery, or segregation is never suffice to undo
the imperial condition. These changes, often declared
with temporal markers of “end,” with quotation marks, or
“beginning,” with quotation marks, took place without
a wholesale reversal of the different forms
of imperial accumulation of wealth, power, arts
and crafts objects, and archival substance
and their redistribution. Short of this
wholesale reversal, lives will continue
to be racialized, and the imperial
formation within which archival violence operates
is likely to be reproduced. This means that
the racialization of lives in which the
archive is involved will not cease and be
resisted accordingly. This imperial condition
of non-accountability is precisely what non-imperial
archival work seeks to reverse. And join me in welcoming the
presenters, the participants of this conference
today, who agreed to share with us their archives
and their archival approach. So thank you all the speakers,
and join me in welcoming them. [APPLAUSE] Sheila, Michael, and
Anne if you can sit, and I will present
you, and I will leave you, so just say a few
words and then [INAUDIBLE] So I would like to present
the first speaker, Sheila Pree Bright. Sheila Pree Bright is an
acclaimed fine art photographer and a visual cultural
producer portraying large-scale works that
combine a wide range of contemporary culture. She holds an MFA
degree in photography from Georgia State University. In recent years, Bright
has documented responses to police shooting
in Atlanta, Ferguson, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. She observed young
social activists taking a stand against
the same struggles their parents and
grandparents endured during the era of Jim Crow. In 2013, while photographing
under-recognized living leaders of the civil rights
movement, she made a connection
between today’s times and the climate of the ’60s that
inspired her ’60 Now project. Bright’s current and most
ambitious project to date, 1960 Now, examines race,
gender, and generational divides to raise awareness
of millennial perspectives of civil and human rights. 1960 Now is a
photographic series of emerging young leaders
affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Bright’s work is included in
the book and exhibition Posing Beauty in African-American
Culture, edited by Deborah Willis, 2009. Bright’s photographs
appeared in the 2014 feature-length documentary
Through the Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the
Emergence of a People. Venues that featured her
work include the High Museum of Art Atlanta, Smithsonian
Anacostia Museum Washington, DC. She is the recipient
of several awards, including the Santa
Fe Prize, and her work is included in numerous
private and public collections. So, Sheila, please,
if you can come here. And I think that we should
better sit there in order to see your presentation. And while they’re
doing that, I want to thank Brown University
for inviting me through Dr. Deb Willis, and
also Ariel and her team. Thank you. And I’m basically
going to take you through a visual story
of my experience. But I feel that I need to talk
a little bit about black bodies. Because black bodies
in every generation is born into a movement, whether
they’re conscious of it or not. And that is the ongoing struggle
of the black freedom struggle. So I’m going to start
off showing you images of the abolitionist movement. And I was particularly
interested in Harriet Tubman, Sojourner
Truth, Frederick Douglass, and Nat Turner. All of them were
born into slavery, and they all had some type
of resistance and disruption within them. Harriet Tubman was always– well, all of them have, though. But I want to say that what
was really interesting to me about her is that she always
had physical violence every day, in which all of them have. But, for example,
when she was taking care of maybe one of the
slave master’s child, they would beat her or whip her. And from that,
Sojourner Truth, she was a women’s rights activist. Let me bring that
picture back up to you. This is Sojourner Truth. And she had a speech
called “Ain’t I a Woman.” And her speech was in 1851. And she actually won a
court case with her son because they– I don’t know
specifically if they sold her son to slavery
and to the South, and she actually won the court. So moving on from
that, with Nat Turner, I don’t know if you guys
saw the movie of Nat Turner. And this is an adaptation
of Nat Turner when he led a rebellion of
slaves in plantation in South Hampton, Virginia. And he actually was
actually a symbol of what they called terrorism. But who was really doing
the terrorism back then? And they executed 55
slaves because they felt that they were with him. And they actually
murdered and hung him. And so they created new
laws back then where they were really on education. Free blacks were not
right to assemble at all. And they had to withdraw
rights to bear arms. And from there, as this
ongoing freedom struggle is the Civil Rights Movement
that was in the 1960s. And I had the
fortunate experience to go back and reach
to the elders that were in the movement in the
1960s, because a lot of stuff that we read in books
or see, we don’t really know half the truth. To the left of you,
this is Dr. Roslyn Pope. And she authored the
Appeal for Human Rights. She was in the Atlanta
Student Movement. And the gentleman
is Dr. Lonnie King. He actually started the
Atlanta Student Movement, where he got all of
the HCBUs centers like Clark Atlanta, Morehouse,
Spelman, Morris Brown all together, and he
did sit-ins in Atlanta. And I live in Atlanta. I’m not from Atlanta. And I didn’t even know
anything about that at all. And from there, in the South,
it was just a social movement to end racial segregation
and the extreme behavior against blacks. And this was in Birmingham. And this image I found
very fascinating. This was taken in
1966 in Chicago. And it was the Chicago
Freedom Movement rally. And you had these young men
with the symbol of white power. And these are women
waiting to get on the bus to do a boycott in Montgomery. And that was in 1955. And this image was at
Montgomery High School. And it was a bunch of women
yelling at black students while they were coming
into the school, yelling, telling
them to get out. Niggers get out. The same thing with
the Confederate flag. They called this– I thought
this was really interesting– Student Holding
Confederate Stars. And these are white
Mississippians rally at Jackson, Mississippi. Even though I was taught that in
the ’60s Civil Rights Movement started, but it was long
before that, in 1942. In St. Louis, Missouri,
a group of men got together in
protest because they wanted to work at a
manufacturing plant. It’s called the Carter
Carburetors, where they were making
carburetors back then, and they wanted to work. And this was in 1942
in St. Louis, Missouri. And this was also in
Monroe, North Carolina, at counter-protests. And they were picketing at the
courthouse in which they was telling them, niggers go home. And from there, you have
the Black Power Movement. This movement is
constantly going on. The struggle is
constantly going on. And this image is– I guess I don’t have it in here. I’ll show these. These are the Panthers. They’re members of the
Seattle, Chicago chapter. And it’s at the state capital. And they were actually
protesting limiting the ability to carry firearms. And the Black
Panthers was much more than just what the
media projected of them, of a terrorist group. You see the young girls where
they were protesting because of police brutality back then. A police officer killed
and murdered a black male. And this was in 1974. And the women were
actually very responsible of leading in the
Black Panther Movement. And this was a rally in
1968 to free Huey Newton. This was in Oakland, California. And one thing that I
do want to talk about is that they were actually
about economic justice, adequate housing, health care,
education, clothing, and food. They were about
serving the community and controlling
their own destiny. And that’s what they were
actually trying to do, the Black Panthers. And this is a woman where
they were having a conference, and it’s called the
Black Community Survival Conference in Oakland. And they were preparing
bags for food distribution in the community. People free food program. Angela Davis was at a
rally to free Huey Newton. And she actually wasn’t
with the Black Panthers. She was actually with
the Communist Party. And this image is
by Gordon Parks. And it’s of Eldridge and
[? Kathleen ?] Cleaver. They were living in
exile at the time. And from there, this
ongoing struggle is with the hip-hop movement. And it actually came from out
of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement. And it was the inner-city
youth that paved the way. And they were actually talking
about these same struggles that were facing the community–
drug, mass incarceration, and police brutality. And what I basically
focus on is gangsta rap. You had Queen Latifah, Nas,
KRS-One, and Public Enemy. But at the time my
experience, believe it or not, in the ’90s was I was
around the gangster rap. I was the young girl to
photograph album covers in the South. And I remember when not Ice-T
but Ice-T came out in 1992, where he was in a group
called Body Count. And he had a song
called “Cop Killer.” That was the first thing
coming from the West Coast. And then you had N.W.A., the
world’s most dangerous group where– I’m going to read this to you. They were talking
about police brutality. They said, “A young
nigga got it bad ’cause I’m brown and
not the other color. So the police have the
authority to kill a minority.” And that really light a lot
of fire back in the 1999 with their song. And then you had Tupac in 1991. And he basically talked
about police brutality, mass incarceration, injustice. And he has a song
called “Trapped” that I thought was very interesting. And this is an image of
Scarface that I actually shot in the South where he
talked about dead bodies all in his neighborhood
all the time. Here come the white sheets. And this was in 1994. And from there, this is where
I decided to get on the ground. In 2012, Trayvon
Martin was murdered. In 2013, that’s when George
Zimmerman was acquitted for murdering Trayvon Martin. And three young women
from California– well I don’t know if all of
them were from California, but I know Alicia Garza– they wanted to
uplift black folks. And so we have
social media today. They created a hashtag
called Black Lives Matter. They had no idea that this was
going to explode like this. This was for black folks. But when you put it on social
media and everybody sees it, it’s like, all lives matter. But it wasn’t for all. It was for black folks. And so I started a body
of work called 1960 Now. Now I’m going to play this. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [INAUDIBLE] influenced. Sometimes I did the
same, abusing my power for the resentment–
resentment that turned into a deep depression. [SHOUTING] I found myself screaming
in the hotel room. I found myself distracted. The angers of Lucy
was all around me. So I went running for answers. I would not say that the
Civil Rights Movement is dead. It’s simply that we are moving
to a new phase of the movement. Well, now 12 years,
we struggled to end legal segregation and
all of the humiliation surrounding legal segregation. So it was a struggle
for decency. It was a struggle to get
rid of extremist behavior toward negroes. Now we are in a
new phase, and that is a phase where we are
seeking genuine equality, where we are dealing with hard
economic and social issues. And it means that the job
is much more difficult. It’s much easier to
integrate a lunch counter. From this day forward,
we will say the people [? won’t nope ?] again. And we started to treat
Martin Luther King Day as a day of resistance for
a resistant, militant fighter. It is our duty to
fight for our freedom. It is our duty to
fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. It is our duty to win. I was born again on the
streets of Ferguson. i saw it in the faces of young, black,
angry, queer, single mothers, kids with tattoos, sagging their
pants, standing up before tanks and tear gas night after night. And so it changed me. It changed my belief in
the capacity of the church to be able to support and
celebrate our children who are victimized daily. Our street! Whose street? Our street! Whose street? Our street! Whose street? Our street! Whose street? Our street! Give us our queue. We’ll shut the street down! Give us our city. We’ll shut the street down! Who shut the street down? We shut the street down! Shut, shut, shut. We shut shit down. No justice. No peace. What? No justice. No peace. What? No justice. No peace. What? No justice. No peace. United we stand. Divided we fall. United we stand. Divided we fall. United we stand. Divided we fall. United we stand. Divided we fall. Show me what
democracy looks like. This is what
democracy looks like. Show me what
[INAUDIBLE] looks like. This is what
democracy looks like. Dr. King’s policy
was that nonviolence would achieve the gains for
black people in the United States. His major assumption was
that if you are nonviolent, if you suffer, your opponent
will see your suffering and will be moved
to change his heart. That’s very good. He only made one
fallacious assumption. In order for
nonviolence to work, your opponent must
have a conscious. The United States has none. There are days–
this is one of them– when you wonder what your
role is in this country and what your future is in it. From my point of view, no
label, no slogan, no party, and no skin color,
and indeed no religion is more important
than the human being. Abusing my power, full of
resentment, resentment that turned into a deep depression. I found myself screaming
in the hotel room. I didn’t want to self destruct. The evils of Lucy
was all around me. So I went running for answers. Dang. It’s election week. No, no, don’t walk away
once we start talking. That’s the problem with media. Because you want to report
that we’re thugs and we’re breaking shit. [SHOUTING] You got these two big
black dudes protecting you from all these black folk. We’re the ones that
need protection. Report for us. You’re working for Fox News. Adam Jackson just
went on Sean Hannity. Why are you running away? I’m not [INAUDIBLE]. [SHOUTING] Hey, just talk to me. Just talk to me. [INTERPOSING VOICES] But listen, a black man
can raise his voice. A black man can raise
his voice, and you don’t have to be intimidated. Because I want you– I want you and Fox News to
get out of Baltimore city, because you’re
not here reporting about the boarded up homes and
the homeless people under MLK. You’re not reporting about
the poverty levels up and down North Avenue. Two years ago, when
the 300-man march, we went from [INAUDIBLE]
you weren’t here. But you’re here for the
black riots that happen. You’re not here–
you’re not here for the death of Freddie Gray. I’m
[? here trying to tell your ?] story. No, I want to talk to
you without the cameras. Hey. Where were our brothers and
sisters to stand with us? Where were the clergy
people to stand with us? Where were the politicians
to stand with us? An honest duty as
far as I’m concerned is to reflect the times. I think that is true of our
painters, sculptors, poets, musicians. As far as I’m concerned,
it’s their choice. But I choose to reflect the
times and the situations in which I find myself. That, to me, is my duty. And at this crucial
time in our lives, when everything is
so desperate, when every day is a
matter of survival, I don’t think you can
help but be involved. Young people, black
and white, know this. That’s why they’re so
involved with politics. We will shape and
mold this country or it will not be molded
and shaped at all. So I don’t think
you have a choice. How can you be an artist
and not reflect the times? Say her name! Sandra Bland! Say her name! Sandra Bland! Say her name! Sandra Bland! Say her name! Sandra Bland! Say her name! Say her name! Say her name! Say her name! Say her name! Say her name! Say her name! Say her name! Hell. (SINGING) Hell you talmbout. Hell you talmbout. Hell you talmbout. Hell you talmbout. Hell you talmbout. Hell you talmbout. Hell you talmbout. Hell you talmbout. Hell you talmbout. Hell you talmbout. Hell you talmbout. Hell you talmbout. Sean Bell. Say his name! Sean Bell. Say his name! Sean Bell. Say his name! Sean Bell, won’t
you say his name. Michael Brown. Say his name! Michael Brown. Say his name! [MUSIC PLAYING] We gon’ be all right. We ought to come together. And we should not let
the police, let no hater, let no spectator, or
let somebody listen. Look around you. They don’t live around here. They don’t know
what we go through. And it’s time for them to
[INAUDIBLE] how we live. And it’s not right,
how we’re living. We love each other. We love each other, and they
want us to kill each other. We do love each other. United we stand. Divided we fall. And divided we fall. No justice. No peace. No justice. No peace. No justice. No peace. –and support each other. We must love each other
and support each other. We have nothing to
lose but our chains. We have nothing to
lose but our chains. Thank you. [END PLAYBACK] This was a video
that I produced, and a lot of the
footage that you saw– I’m trying to get out of here. How do I get back to the– [INTERPOSING VOICES] The arrow mark? OK. So I was on the ground. That was a video
that I produced, and was my video footage except
for the one in Baltimore. And I wanted to show the
scholars of that time to show how things
have not really changed and the young people. I’m going to go through this
real fast, because I only have five minutes. These are images that I took in
Atlanta, Reclaim Martin Luther King Day. It was about
reclaiming his name. And it’s not about
having a dream because of the commercialization
of that. I saw the pain. I saw the love. And I saw the hurt. I’ve been to Baltimore,
Atlanta, Ferguson, all of that. I’m just going through
this real fast. Mike Brown’s father,
Chosen for Change. We are not disposable. Be a part of the solution,
or get out of our way. Young people are hurting. In conclusion, what
I would like to say when it comes to Black Lives
Matter is that it’s young. A lot of people want
something to happen real fast. Mr. Lonnie King told me this. He said, we were sick and
tired of being sick and tired. The young people are sick and
tired of being sick and tired. And a movement is not
going to– in two years. He said it took
us seven or eight, 10 years to get the signs off,
the black and white signs off. But racism didn’t go anywhere. And they were actually
fighting for human rights, not civil rights, because you
could lose your civil rights. And I’m going to leave
you with this video. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] Freedom
is like a religion to us. Justice is juxtaposition enough. Justice for all ain’t
specific enough. One son died. His spirit is revisiting us. Resistance is in us. That’s why Rosa
Parks sat on the bus. That’s why we taught
through Ferguson. [INAUDIBLE] [MUSIC PLAYING] [END PLAYBACK] So with Black Lives
Matter, like I said, it’s an ongoing movement. And we actually, it’s
making history right now. But we don’t know
how that history is going to shape and form itself. And it’s continuing,
ongoing and ongoing. And with the new
administration right now, you still have
black bodies falling. But they’re not showing
it in the media anymore. All of a sudden, it went away. But it’s still happening
everywhere, of the black– the young girls in DC. Nobody– they don’t
know where they’re at. But with this Black Lives
Matter is an early movement. And it’s a movement that’s not
going to go anywhere at all. And with that, anybody
have any questions? [LAUGHING] [APPLAUSE] Thank you so much, Sheila,
for your presentation. Sorry I didn’t say
anything about the order. We will have three
presentations, and at the end we will have the Q&A. So I would
like to present Michael Sawyer. Michael Sawyer is
assistant professor of Race, Ethnicity,
and Migration Studies at Colorado College. Michael’s work is
multi-disciplinary, employing political philosophy
and theory, literary theory, and aesthetics to examine
the revolution, potentiality, and the praxis of
subaltern subjects. His monograph, “Homo Liminalis,
The Tears of the Caterpillar,” is currently under review. And he’s completing a project,
Black Minded, The Political Philosophy of Malcolm
X, for Pluto Press. He holds a bachelor of science
from the United States Naval Academy, a master in
international security policy from the University of Chicago’s
Committee on International Relations, and an MA in
comparative literature, and PhD in Africana Studies
from Brown University. So welcome, Michael. [APPLAUSE] First, just it’s
really a pleasure to be home in real ways. And I really appreciate the
invitation and the opportunity to share this relatively new
project that I’m working on. The title of the
symposium that brings us together, Imperial Origins
of Racialized Lives, from Enslavement to Black Lives
Matter, allowed both the space and restriction to focus
on the relationship between something
broadly known as violence and its causal
relationship to subjects finding themselves racialized in
the negative sense of the term. The tag line “enslavement
to Black Lives Matter” further concentrates the
focus of the thinking I intend to present here. It establishes a temporali
or genealogy of subjection that extends from
the compromising of apparent humanity
to accommodate Madison’s ruminations on
the black bodies whose presence presented
barriers to the logic of a democratic experiment
to continue resistance in the 21st century. In order to mark out
and render concrete the boundaries of
the [? Deimos, ?] Madison weaves a magic spell of
law establishing violence that requires black bodies to
be understood as, quote, “inhabitants but as
debased by servitude below the level of
free inhabitants, which regards the slave as divested
of 2/5 of the man,” close quote. This ontology presupposes
the necessity of the hashtag turned political
imperative that brackets this intellectual
ecology and seeks to dismantle this
logic by hollering that those debased lives
matter in the sense of a positive rather than
negative apparition in the body politic. Stated differently,
Madison’s thought experiment in “Federalist 54” marks the
mattering of black bodies and that they mattered in not
mattering, and in doing so presented a platform
from which to articulate a virulent form of
categorization of humans, with some presenting the
real or imagined prostration of their bodies as always
understood as an other and subject to death in order
to reify separation of one species from another. There’s a foundational
claim sketched in this opening paragraph
that bears illumination. And in doing so, I’m asking
the privilege of its presence as axiomatic to the logic
of this thought experiment. Stated plainly, the
foundational claim of this meditation
on violence is that coercive force
generally, and police violence specifically, are not
aberrations of an experiment of state making gone bad. Which, following
Jefferson’s early drafts of the Declaration
of Independence, might have never spiraled into
the paradoxical appearance of slavery as co-equal partner
to a project of realizing liberty out of
tyranny had it not been for the intolerable acts of
a monarchy without conscience. But it can’t quite be that
simple in that almost 100 years later, the 13th Amendment
dismantles and reconstitutes slavery with a tragicomic
“oh, by the way” contingency that flattens the
relationship between something like criminality and something
like involuntary servitude. Quoting Ronald Reagan,
“There you go again.” The zombie-like
appearance of slavery that can lead one to believe
that it is the thing itself, when I propose that the common
element spanning the time and space from the
enslaved condition to Ferguson, Missouri,
is the coercive force of police violence. The phenomenon in
specific context manifests itself as chattel
slavery, colonialism, empire, neocolonialism, or
the [INAUDIBLE] state. But common to each
appearance is the imperative of originary acts
of violence that establish particular
ways of being that are stabilized through the
maintenance of a steady state of coercion. The challenge presented
here is to open an analysis of the
existence of police violence as a load-bearing wall of
social contract theory, as the foundational logic
of modern forms of state making and maintaining. The argument made here is that
to dismantle rather than modify the terms and conditions
of police violence is to remove the
internal superstructure of the modern state. And it’s that
reality that speaks for the persistence of
this phenomenon across time and space. This is not to posit
that the notion that the state’s
possession of the franchise on the legitimate
employment of violence has not been thrown into
question or even imploded. The events of France of
July of 1789 assert this. But the contention here is that
as the existing superstructure of coercive violence
is dismantled, the force of that
deconstruction is steadily assembling a matrix of
violence of its own making to save the walls
from tumbling down at the moment of their
most dire crisis. Again, the logic of late 18th
and early 19th century France, broadly considered,
is instructive. The falling of the Bastille
opens the discursive space for the anti-colonial violence
of [? Sait-Domingue ?] that mirrors the [? Jacobin ?]
and the metropole that, at the moment of its most
cannibalistic violence, ushers in the imperial
presence of the Napoleon, who thrashes around Europe to
reassert the notion of France not just as nation but empire
bent on restoring slavery to its possessions. All the elements are here–
slavery, colonialism, empire, terror, and neocolonialism. And the dragon whose
tail whips throughout is that of the violence of
internal and external coercive force. As point of departure,
I would like to establish the utility
of three thinkers to present points of
intellectual observation to interrogate the phenomenon
of police violence. Fanon had The Wretched of
the Earth, Bernard Stiegler’s “Technics and Time Vol. 1,” and Kant “What
Is Enlightenment.” Second, once that theoretical
tool has been established, the specific apparition
of police violence I intend to examine is
its cinematic presence in the form of modern video
evidence, generally distributed via social media of
instances of brutality. There are two passages of Fanon
the opening chapter concerning violence from The Wretched of
the Earth that concern us here. Having established the physical
and metaphysical binary position of colonized
and colonizer, Fanon posits that it is the
presence of violence that serves as the common
language of the interaction of these coercion-established
species of human. Recall the following,
quote, “The colonized world is a world divided in two. The dividing line,
the border, is represented by the barracks
and the police stations. In the colonies, the
official legitimate agent, the spokesperson
for the colonizer and the regime of oppression
is the police officer or the soldier,” close quote. I’m interested here in both the
identity of the spokesperson as well as, and perhaps more
so, the language being spoken. What we understand here is
that the language is violence against colonized bodies. The regime of oppression,
normative power, has to assemble itself
into a mechanism, physical and metaphysical, that is
capable of presenting itself for the express
purpose of maintaining this hierarchical and
oppositional way of being. Bernard Stiegler
intercedes here, proposing in his text
“Technics and Time Part 1” to expose the identity,
character, form, and content of the
technical object, arguing broadly that
these objects have distinct temporality
and dynamic. Stiegler proposes
that what is important here is that technical objects
as such present themselves as points of interaction between
inorganic and organic material, writing, quote, “that these
two regions correspond to two dynamics,
mechanics and biology. Lodged between them,
technical beings are nothing but a hybrid,
enjoying no more ontological status than they did
in ancient philosophy. Lodged between
mechanics and biology, a technical being
came to be considered a complex of heterogeneous
forces,” close quote. This allows a return
to the quote from Fanon that established
that the division between the biological existence
of the bodies of the colonized and colonizer, what he
describes as distinct species, exists as what I
wish to now mark as the technical
object of the police. Further to push
on this thinking, Fanon later offers his canonical
definition of colonialism as a particular type
of mechanical object. Quote, “Colonialism is
not a thinking machine, nor a body endowed with
reasoning faculties. It is violence in
its natural state, and it will only yield when
confronted with greater violence,” close quote. What we have here
is the possibility, by linking the thought
of Fanon and Stiegler, of forming a theoretical
foundation for proposing that policing and police
violence is best understood by disaggregating the biological
presence of the officer from the discourse
and to examine the language of this
violence as the lingua franca for the mechanics
of communication between biological
beings, what I wish to call coercive technics. I entitle this section
parenthetically Ex Machina as a gesture
at modern concerns exposed in the film of the
same name with respect to artificial intelligence. What I’m proposing here is that
the quote from Fanon regarding the unthinking
nature of colonialism is not to understand it
as being a technology that operates outside of a
particular form of rationality– far from it. The dubious and devastating
success of imperialism is literally the reason
we are in this forum. What I mean by
this formulation is that colonialism and its
manifestation as police violence is a machine
assembled by humans that is imbued with a form
of artificial intelligence whose first philosophy is
a practice of ever more complex methods of subject
creating and maintaining violence. The unthinking nature that Fanon
exposes of the coercive technic is a programmatic
firewall and its software that prevents the consideration
of the implications for humanism,
ethics, and morality of its violent practices. We have seen this in popular
media, not just in Ex Machina, but I argue in the popular
novels and cinematic adaptation of the Jason Bourne stories. The central plot line in the
popular Hollywood adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s
Bourne series requires that viewers grapple with
the complex relationship between controlled
and controller in that the plot follows
a highly trained killing machine that has
slipped the reins held by those who did the training. Jason Bourne, in the first
film of the trilogy, The Bourne Identity, is a seasoned assassin
operating deep undercover out of Paris, who has been tasked
to assassinate the deposed leader, Nykwanna
Wombosi of Nigeria, who threatens to expose
the post-colonial antics of the CIA. It is his failure to murder
Wombosi when he has put himself in a position to do so that
is the catalyst for the loss of Bourne’s identity,
which is in substance only about his
unquestioning allegiance to orders he is given. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] You sent me to kill Wombosi. Kill Wombosi? Yeah, we can do that
anytime we want. I can send Nikki to do
that, for Christ’s sake. Mr. Wombosi was supposed
to be dead three weeks ago. He was supposed to have
died in a way where the only possible
explanation was that he’d been murdered by a
member of his own entourage. I don’t send you to kill. I send you to be invisible. I send you because
you don’t exist. Now, I want to know what
happened in Marseilles. I don’t remember what
happened in Marseilles. Bullshit. This is unacceptable, soldier. You hear me? You failed. Unacceptable? You failed. You failed, and you’re
going to tell me why. I can’t tell you– I can’t– I don’t
remember a goddamn thing. You brought John
Michael Kane alive. You put together a
meeting with Wombosi. You found the security company. I don’t– You broke into the office. For Christ’s sake,
you’re the one who picked the yacht as
the goddamned strike point. [CRASHING] You picked the boat. You picked the day. You tracked the crew,
the food, the fuel. You told us where. You told us when. You hid out on that
boat five days. You were in, Jason. You were in. It was over. [MUSIC PLAYING] [MACHINE GUN FIRE] [BOOM] [GUNSHOT] No, you do remember. Don’t you? I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t think that’s a
decision you can make. [END PLAYBACK] The writers, either
consciously or subconsciously, in their development of
Wombosi as the 20th century doppelganger for the
CIA-assassinated Patrice Lumumba, posit an important
element of post-colonial reason on the part of the exploiter. The problem with
Bourne seems to be that if a trained
killer can’t be expected to shoot a person of
color in the head, he must surely have
slipped the leash. Bourne, at the point of
the denial of his training, humanizes his targets and
causes his programming to fail, leaving him with
mechanical functionality but unable to locate himself
as a subject historically or from a perspective
of his relationship to chains of command. Bourne, like the computer
HAL 3000 in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey or the androids
in the recent film Ex Machina, eventually turns on
his creator/masters and sets a path for himself
independent of the will of his human counterparts. Here we witness the failure
of colonial technics, which I broadly defined as the
coercive technic designed to mortify the black bodies
it is programmed to attack. In the time that
we have, I would like to use the
argument developed here to inspect the frame of
thinking for rebellion or even revolutionary protestation
against coercive technics in the form of police violence. My argument is that the
spectacle of police violence, memorialized through
the substantive reversal of Foucault’s concerns
regarding the state’s employment of the panopticon
through the broad and deep distribution of the
technology to videotape and distribute at
the speed of light the events in question
among the populace is itself a technic
that is in need of study and service
of its development as a tool of
revolutionary change. What I’m questioning is the
revolutionary potentiality of understanding the existence
of video capabilities as a counter technic to the
state and subject forming technic of coercion. What I mean is that
it is perhaps true that this technical
innovation is best employed as an effective
mode of dismantling oppression by
refusing it as a means to attack the
individual purveyor, the offending officer,
but instead to marshal it in the register in
which it operates, physically and
discursively, at the level of the mechanical
operation of the state. Meditations one and
two, this section is about spectacle
and distortion. Elements of this talk
are from a larger project that interrogates
police violence as the load-bearing
wall to state through a series of
meditations– first alienation, second spectacle, third
distortion, and fourth erasure. Here I would like to link two
mechanical phenomena in order to frame a relationship
between them and questions of the existence
of modes of resistance to coercive technics. The first of these
is simply the ability to walk that will represent
the presence of alienation, the first of these
meditations, before focusing on spectacle and distortion
for the balance of this talk. Catherine Malabou’s recent
text, Before Tomorrow: Epigenesis and
Rationality in the chapter “Irreducible Foucault”
proposes the following and ushers Kant into
the conversation. Quote, “In the
development of the child, the passage from
minority to majority is figured by another
stage, learning to walk. Having the courage
and audacity to know was having the ability to walk.” Malabou then turns to reading
elements of Kant’s “What is the Enlightenment” where
the image of walking appears. Kant writes, “Precepts
and formulas, these mechanical instruments
of rational use– or rather misuse– of
his natural endowments are the ball and chain of
an everlasting minority. And anyone who did
not throw them off would still make only
an uncertain leap over even the narrowest
ditch, since he should not be accustomed to free
movement of this kind. Hence there are only a
few who have succeeded by their own cultivation
of their spirit in extricating
themselves from minority and yet walking
confidently,” close quote. The mechanical process
of walking preoccupied the thinking of Ray Bradbury
in the events and writing that informed the
canonical exposition of the telos of runaway state
power in Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury reveals in the
notes preceding his 1951 story “The Pedestrian” that
the arrest of the protagonist for merely walking down
the street near his home was informed by the author’s
harassment by the Los Angeles Police Department
for doing the same. It is the notion of walking
down a sidewalk that serves as the opening
scene of 451 that is in effect of the causality
of police coercive force that restricts the ability to
walk that Kant understands as evidence of maturity,
and I situate here in its restriction, as a
technic for the creation and maintenance of
marginalized subjects. The second technic that
concerns this section is that of the video
presentation of police violence or the meditation on spectacle. I do not believe that there is
a person in this country who can plausibly propose
that they were unaware that people of color
suffer more violence at the hands of the
police than white people. The utility of video
in this moment– and I mean that video is an
essential element of this epoch but not definitive of it– is not to bring
awareness to the unaware. Utility of video,
in my analysis, is to force a public that is
duly aware that, one, police use coercive force,
and two, police use coercive force
against non-white people differently than they do
white people to grapple with a single data point,
the video of the event, and in so doing take sides. The sides in this
thinking here relate to oppositional
stances with respect to the presence of
violence against the other as either forming or disforming
of the logic of the state. Discourse surrounding
police violence is not new. The phenomena of people of
color being beaten or killed by the police
without provocation can be found in the
text of W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk in
the essay “Of the Black Belt” where the author
presents the following. Quote, “He stopped us to inquire
after the black boy in Albany who, it was said, a
policeman had shot and killed for loud talking
on the sidewalk. And then he said slowly, ‘Let
a white man touch me and he dies.’ I don’t boast this. I don’t say it around loud
or before the children, but I mean it. I’ve seen them whip my
father and my mother in them cotton rolls till the
blood ran,” close quote. Several things here– the boy
is attacked on the sidewalk, and that Du Bois categorically
links the violence of the state policing
to the violence on the part of
white people outside of an official relationship
to state authority. These echoes of
unaccountable violence by the police against
people of color reach across the expanse
of the 20th century without being
interrupted by progress and plague the project
of democracy in the 21st. The contradictions that
began roughly with Madison are exacerbated by the presence
of videotape of these events that in counterpoint
to the endless analysis of the Zapruder film,
where the effort centers around adding things
to the depiction that do not seem to appear. The discourse surrounding
videos of police violence that focus for those
invested in the primacy of coercive technics on
subtracting from the analysis things that do appear. The following video
will allow examination of all four meditations–
alienation, spectacle, distortion, and erasure. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] Can you put that– Huh? Put that down, please. What? Aren’t you holding a golf club? Excuse me. I can’t hear you over there. Your golf club. What about my golf club? Can you please set it down? Huh? Can you please set it down? What’s going on? Set it down, please. I know, but what’s going on? Put it down! But this is my golf club. I’m not going to
take it from you, but it’s a weapon,
so set it down. [INAUDIBLE] I had this
golf club for 20 years. Set it down please. Huh? I’m not going to ask you again. Set it down. [INAUDIBLE] I’ve been
walking with this golf club for 20 years. Set it down. Well, you call somebody. I am calling someone. Well, go ahead. Put your golf club down. You call somebody. You’re being audio
and video taped. No, you call somebody. I ain’t done nothing to nobody. You just swang that
golf club at me. I did not! Yes you did, right back there. I didn’t see you. I didn’t wave no
golf club at you. It was on audio and video tape. [END PLAYBACK] Here the progress
of the subject is alienated from the human
species by the pronouncement of this officer that weaponizes
his body and possessions. The shift in
spectacle occurs when the officer asserts
that the subject is being audio and video taped. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] Sir, put it down! No, you call somebody. I ain’t done nothing to nobody. You’re not free to
leave right now. Please set it down. I tell you, call somebody. I want a witness. You are being audio
and video taped. [END PLAYBACK] The restriction of
his mobility occurs through the assertion
by the officer that he is not free to leave. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] If you do not set
your golf club down, you will be subject to
arrest for obstruction. I just want to talk to somebody
because I ain’t done nothing. [INAUDIBLE] because
my church is up there, and everybody known me. You’re not free to leave. [INAUDIBLE] call somebody. You are not free to leave. [INAUDIBLE] Put your golf club down. [END PLAYBACK] He [? cannot ?] walk, and
his immobility is contrasted by the hyper in comparison
mobility of the humans around him. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] You swang that golf club at
me when I turned the corner at 11 and [? Pike. ?] [INAUDIBLE] You got him? I got him. [END PLAYBACK] His possessions are
confiscated and inspected. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] I am going to stop this
video and restart it immediately so that I can review
the very first part to see if anything is captured on
video of him swinging that golf club at me as I turned. [END PLAYBACK] The officer asserts
the employment of the video to
check for evidence of the attack she witnessed. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [BANG] She said [INAUDIBLE] Um, no. Oh boy. Here. Y’all got a stool or something? Watch your head. It’s actually better if
you sit on this side, because when we
get down to jail, the [INAUDIBLE] lanes are hard. And while you’re
back here, you’re being audio and
video recorded, OK? Do what now? You’re being audio
and video recorded. [END PLAYBACK] Finally, witness the third
and fourth meditations and a return to the second,
the third, and that the video in fact showed no such
employment of the golf club as a weapon but
is employed anyway to inform the arrest of
the subject distortion. The fourth term of
meditation, erasure, appears in the disappearance
of this body that still cannot walk into the bowels of
the [INAUDIBLE] technic. And finally a return to
spectacle, meditation two, in the assertion
that he continues to be audio and videotaped. To close, my goal
here was centered on situating the
potentiality of video as transcendent of its utility
in the realm of spectacle that serves to reify
a fact of society that we are all
already too aware. The idea here is to
recognize the fact that Fanon’s understanding
of colonial power only yielding to
greater violence while expanding the horizon
of possibility to include an expansive and
evolved definition of the same. The way in which it may be
productive to consider this is that the technical
innovation of the omnipresence of video evidence
of police violence offers a platform for a leap
forward for radical politics. To employ it as an organizing
principle and catalyst for launching long-established
modes and methods of protest seems to miss the
utility of the tool. And further, it may be the case
that in the information age, protest as we understand
it has reached a point of technical
exhaustion, requiring fresh ways of thinking about
and practicing radical politics. I’m proposing that the assertion
Black Lives Matter is itself a linguistic technic that is
formed from and maintained by the technic of video. The argument I’m
developing here is that the rhetorical
assertion, accepting Fanon’s powerful understanding
of physical violence as a manifestation of language,
is framed by opponents as strictly a form of bias
against the police force, but is perhaps better understood
as linguistic violence aimed at the ideological
pulse that informs the creation of the mechanical
existence of policing as the point of translation
between the biological existence of the
separate species under consideration here. Stated differently, to
understand the assertion Black Lives Matter as informing
an attack on the police is only partially and
reductively factual. In the language of
violence and the barrier to coherent mutual
understanding it is indeed mistranslated as
a call for physical attack on the police. But it’s most
powerfully understood as a new technic of counter
coercive violence that de-stabilizes the
foundational disinclusion of the radical other. By asserting that
Black Lives Matter, we necessarily do
violence to the enemy establishing disinclusion
of the radical other. A disinclusion that renders
these subjects outside of the predictability
that separates law-establishing from
law-maintaining violence. The development of a
transcendent employment of video and its
rhetorical companion into a tool of
state-making requires recognizing police violence
as the state rather than epiphenomenal to the
operation of the state. What this seems to mean from
a perspective of small c constitutional violence
is the necessity of an evolutionary
step in movements against the
institution of policing that theorize alternative
forms of political existence that prevent the collapse
of the state from the loss of the superstructural violence
through other modalities of support. Something like Fanon’s
new human, in this logic, exists as the biological
inventor of mechanical technics of counterviolence that
recede into extinction at the point of
dismantling their target, rather than forming themselves
into a reaffirmation of the thing that they deposed. Recognition of movements
against police violence as actually movements
to dismantle the state require that the activism
operate as intellectually conscious of that
fact and structure the ideological horizon of their
goals to serve that reality. This new greater
violence that desires to break the hold of the
colonial-based existence of police violence as
the essential element of Western societal order
recognize the existence of force as a necessary
component of state breaking and making. This understanding exists
alongside a radical politics that imagines the existence
of an orderly relationship to this power. In reforming the
superstructure of governance, it does not rely upon the
friend/enemy distinction that presupposes
coercive policing. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you so much, Michael. Let me present the third
speaker of this panel, and then we will
get together for a Q and A. Anne McClintock
is a Barton Hepburn professor at Princeton
in Gender and Sexuality Studies and the Princeton
Environmental Institute. Her transnational work,
both creative and scholarly, explores the intersections
between race, gender, and sexualities, visual
culture and animal studies, sexuality studies and gender
violence, militarization and environmental justice. Selected publications
include Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality
in the Post-Colonial Contest, Dangerous Liaisons: Gender,
Nation, and Post-Colonial Perspectives, short biographies
on Simone de Beauvoir and Olive Schreiner, Sex Work
and Sex Workers editor, and Race and Queer Sexualities. McClintock’s public
essays and photographs have appeared in the New York
Times, The Guardian, Guernica magazine, The Nation,
the TLS, Truthout, Women’s Review of Books. Her forthcoming books are
Unquiet Ghosts of the Forever War, of Duke University
Press, and Planet of Intimate Trespass, Routledge. McClintock’s work has been
translated into 14 languages. And it’s a pleasure
to call you here. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you so much. Thank you. I have a quiet voice. Can you hear me? Is that good enough? Thank you so much,
Ariella, for inviting me and for everybody who I
know has worked so hard to bring everybody together
and make this happen. The title of my talk
is “Ghostscapes.” And the talk is on
imperial militarization and environmental violence. And we’ve been invited to talk
about the imperial beginnings of racialized lives. And what I want to do today
in part one, which is called “Premonitions” is
trace the ghostings from official US history of
its foundational violences, from Indian country
in the 19th century, towards the end of
the 19th century to the current War on Terror. And this is drawn
from my book called Unquiet Ghosts of the Forever
War, which is a creative book, and it’s written as a series
of fugues and broken fragments around photographs. And part two is drawn
from another book, which is of my own photographs,
which is called Ghostscapes. And in this book,
what I’m trying to do is illuminate, again, the
ghosted imperial hinge between the militarization
of environmental catastrophe and the environmental
catastrophe of militarization. And in so doing,
what I want to do is to address what
I see as three of the greatest crises
facing our time, which is catastrophic climate
change, militarization, and the forever war– this I
took at the Trump inauguration, which was heavily militarized,
as the whole of the US is currently– and mass
displacement of people and species and habitat. And when I talk
about displacement, I mean not only the violent
removals and movement of people, but also the violent
removal of literally place underneath people. And I’m looking particularly
at water, at rising waters. I’m going to go through
this part very quickly. I have a series on Far
Rockaways and the ghosting of the geography of
racialized and class violence at Far Rockaways, which
Hurricane Sandy punched a hole in climate denial. And I went there. It was heavily policed. Far Rockaways is divided in two. There’s the gated community,
and I could not get in. But I managed to get behind the
police and get in the next day. And I took these photographs. I’m not going to be
talking about them. Perhaps I can at question time. The second ghostscape
is I flew over Greenland and the melting of the icecaps. And what I’m looking
at there in my writing is to explore the violence
of militarization, which is the number-one cause of
the melting of the icecaps and the rising of waters. Thirdly I’m looking at
what Rob Nixon has called slow violence in toxic waters. This is down in Louisiana,
where land is vanishing. It’s the fastest
vanishing land on Earth. In the time that I take
to give my talk, land the size of a football field
will have vanished under water. And then I’m ending
with water rights at Standing Rock and
Native Lives Matter. So, why ghosts? In the shocked
aftermath of 9/11, I came to notice how, in
the shadowlands of empire, in the terminology of
the CIA and the Pentagon, in countless films and
in books, the US forever war has become haunted
by persistent evocations of ghosts. Consider ghost
wars, ghost prisons, and ghost prisoners, ghost
planes, and ghost flights, the Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, and
orange ghosts of Guantanamo. But I also became
fascinated how, in the long aftermath
of 9/11 inside the US, the ancient cult
of the paranormal rose up with
startling intensity. The whispering phantasmagoria of
vampires, ghosts, and zombies– and look at the wire– of zombies and ghosts that
haunt our most popular films and television series,
our bestselling novels, and social media, our
bedrooms and boardrooms, as dreamworld and catastrophe. In other words, what I’ve come
to think is that inside the US, the unquiet dead of the
far away forever war has returned as
unmourned revenants from the ghost
prisons, the ruined drone scapes and labyrinths
of torture of the forever war. And that’s returned
back to the US as The Walking Dead
of the paranormal. And if you look at
that image, just look in the back, the
ghosting of the wire. And the wire here– Donald Rumsfeld talked
about the prisoners at Guantanamo as
dead men walking. And you can see the ghosted
hinge here of the wire and the hinge at the back. But the hinge that connects
the imperial forever war and the national paranormal
has been ghosted. So what fascinates
me is how this hinge that connects
the unseen dead of the faraway forever war,
the dead that we in the US are not allowed to see, and the
unquiet dead of the paranormal, the walking dead,
who refuse to die. This hinge that connects
them is invisible. In other words, the shadowy
hinge between nation and empire has been ghosted. And the largest ghost is that. And so it became predictable
that the latest James Bond film would be called Spectre,
and the largest ghost is empire itself. Because the
fundamental edict of US imperialism is that it
is no empire at all. In his book Silencing the Past,
Michel-Rolph Trouillot writes, “The ultimate mask of power
may be its invisibility, the ultimate challenge the
exposition of its roots.” The Pentagon itself
said in 2005, “Perhaps more than any
other people, Americans display consistent
amnesia concerning their own past, as well as the
history of people around them.” Michelle Cliff writes of the
half-denied memory of slavery, where, quote, “the
past co-exists with the present in
this amnesia country, in this forgetful century.” Or, as Toni Morrison puts
it, “The American Dream is innocence and clean
slates and the future.” So the question that animates
my talk today is, how do we write a history of fragments? How do we account for
the persistent ghosting from official US history of
these foundational violences of slavery, the near genocide
of indigenous peoples, a violence that has continued
unabated for five centuries and continues every single day,
and the atomic obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
without also understanding how these great
forgettings have come to haunt the current
global War on Terror, and as well now the
corporofascist national landscape as
accusatory revenants and relentless
cycles of violence? For as Ned Blackhawk
observes, “A nation that is unable to
confront its past will surely compromise any
hope of a shared civic future.” And as Baldwin
has said, “Nothing can be changed
until it is faced.” So I am interested in historical
ghosts in this first section. Because, as Avery Gordon has
noted, ghosts point to those places where concealed or
disavowed or unresolved violence has taken place. And I’m particularly preoccupied
with photographic ghosts and what I call
imperial ghosting. And what I mean by that is
an historical doubleness, what I call the
administration of forgetting, by which I mean the calculated,
the administered and often very brutal amnesias by which a
state tries to erase or conceal its violence. You only have to think of
how fast Trump is trying to erase data at the moment. How the administration
of forgetting, the attempted
erasure, interested in how it leaves telltale traces
as a kind of counter-evidence, shadowy after effects, and
material disturbances that carry across time as
transgenerational hauntings and cycles of violence. This is the Negev Desert,
where the military, the Israeli military,
had forcibly removed the Bedouin, who
have refused to be removed. However, these
transgenerational disturbances offer, if animated,
the possibilities of strategic witnessing and
strategic transformation. And I found here, Ebermann
and Turek’s terms, the [? tripped ?] and the
phantom, really very valuable. For them, the crypt represents
an inadmissible or guarded crime or secret in a
nation or a person’s life. And it’s so
disturbing that it has to be sealed off from
collective or personal memory. But the sealing
off is incomplete. This forgetting is incomplete. And the attempt to
erase the inadmissible leaves these telltale memory
traces or disturbances in the next generation. And it becomes part
of the landscape in the next generation
of national secrets. And they call this
submerged family stories. And they call these the phantom. So the secret in the first
generation is the crypt, and the phantom is the haunting
of the next generation. And they’re
interested in the way the phantom wreaks its silent
havoc and disarray on language. And I’ve become
really interested in looking at the way
it produces disturbances in photographs, and
how then we can– what I’m calling a
phantomogenic reading, how we can trace those. From those disturbances,
we can go back and re-animate the
submerged history and offer strategic
possibilities of transformation. And that’s what I call
a phantomogenic reading. So I’m particularly interested
in photographic ghosts, because these disturbances can
offer strategies of refusal, what Wiseman called strategic
witnessing, as testimony to the persistent presence
in history of the officially forgotten, and the possibility
of alternative histories and alternative futures. So the one– first for
Ghostscape, and I’ve just got three fragments. The book is written as a
series of fugues and fragments, and I’m just going to try and
gesture to three very rapidly. First is spectres
from Indian country. Consider, to begin with,
the photograph of a clock. Between the official end of the
wars on the Indians and Second World War, the
photographer Edward Curtis, who is funded by Pierpont
Morgan and backed by Roosevelt, set out with the modest
ambition of capturing in one monumental– or one called abominable,
as Ariella calls it, 40,000 photographs
in all, in what he saw as the tragic but inevitable
vanishing of American Indians. But you may say, where is
the clock in this photograph? If you look more
closely, you will see a kind of shadowy blurring
between the two men, Yellow Kidney and Little Plume. What looks like a basket– it’s slightly spectral– marks
a disturbance because that’s not the original photograph. Origins are never originary. Something’s always gone before. Here is the original,
and there’s the clock, with all its unseemly
connotations of modernity, which Curtis removed by
retouching the photograph, ghosting the men
from the present, and embalming them in what
Louis Owens has called the tricky mirror of
the colonial invention of the perpetual archaic
past, in which men become living monuments of their
own tragic vanishing. I’m preoccupied, though, less
on what Curtis’s photographs reveal than what they
conceal, what they don’t tell, what lies half-hidden, haunting
the edges of historical memory. I’m interested, in other
words, by how spectacle can become a form of camouflage. What does the tricky mirror
of imperial photography record in order to forget? Why did you remove
the clock, Curtis? Was its white face
too accusatory? Did its thin, black
hands point to something outside the frame
of your photographs that you did not want to see? Here, if you look at
these men, they’re wearing ceremonial costumes,
but then really not clothes, but colonial props. In fact, Curtis had
staged the entire scene. The lodge, the
props, the clothes were taken from
Curtis’s own collection. They’re a costumery invested
in a colonial choreography of erasure, the
administration of forgetting. What we don’t see in
Curtis’s photographs is that these men really do not
inhabit some kind of tragically disappearing tribal
archaic, but were in fact violently removed,
displaced prisoners of war who had been living for
many years in that most contemporary of
geopolitical spaces, the concentration camp
of the reservations. Remnants of near-genocide, they
inhabited no traditional past, but rather the shattered
consequences of modernity, which we cannot properly call
modernity because as Latour says, we have never been modern. Curtis’s photographs do not
show what Ned Blackhawk calls the indigenous trauma and
epic ordeals of native peoples caught in the maelstrom of
white imperial dispossession and displacement, massed
forced removals, the starvation years, and scorched earth, the
encroachment of the railroads, land theft, broken
treaties, massacres, and the near extermination
and ecocide of the buffalo. Instead, I argue that the Indian
reservations were actually the first concentration camps
before the British interred the Boers during
the Anglo-Boer War. And [? Bosque ?] [? Redondo ?]
was actually used as a model by Hitler and is referred
to in Guantanamo records. In short, the ghosted
clock in this photograph makes visible the fact that
the vanishing Indian is not the precursor to modernity,
but rather the consequence of the violence of
imperial modernity in the form of empire. Very briefly, Christopher
Lyman has pointed out that Curtis removed all
intrusive signs of modernity. These were industrially
made teepees, and he took off all
the industrial tags. In this scene, there
was a car, and the women were holding parasols. He removes those. He removed trains. I’ve hunted everywhere
for signs of barbed wire, and I’ve found only one
image of barbed wire. He re-engineered canals
to make this look like a primordial scene with
exotic reflection in the water. And it’s 1924, the
photograph is taken. And the caption is “before
the white man came.” And I’ve become very interested
in Curtis’s violent engineering of the natural landscape. This was, in fact, a canal. And he gets them
to close it off. But I’m particularly
interested in what I call geographies of enmity. And I think both Sheila and
Michael talk about this. This is the beginnings
of the invention of the enemy, to which
public enemy number one is a response, the
invention of the hostile. And he does this with
ritualistic repetition. These men were not
on war parties. They were actually prisoners of
war living on the reservations. And Curtis staged these
scenes again and again. As Vine Deloria has pointed
out, it’s entirely inaccurate to call these men warriors. None of them were waging war,
but they were prisoners of war in their own country,
re-enacting fictions of war for the colonial imaginary. So what Curtis does is that he
creates an untouched archaic by violently retouching
the photographs, thereby erasing all
signs of settler guilt. And in I Am Not a Negro,
Baldwin talks about, we need these legends so that
we don’t admit that there was a crime going on. So his project is to salvage
an after image cleansed of violence, ethnic cleansing at
the level of the image in order to erase the administration
of forgetting, the ethnic cleansing of
the level of history. As Indians were forcibly
removed from their land by settler violence,
so he forcibly removes all signs
of settler violence at the level of the image. Just look at this one image. It’s the Apache, 1928. That’s what Curtis says. “This picture might be
titled ‘Life Primeval.’ It’s the Apache as we
would mentally picture him in the time of the Stone Age.” And it was a completely
staged scene. This is in 1924, Kiowa
photographer Horace Poolaw. That’s what Curtis could
have been photographing. That’s four years before
he photographs that. And so I’m interested
in archives of refusal. It’s crucial to point out that
these images are for archives of refusal, fugitive gestures
and spectral disturbances, despite his efforts
to erase them, revenants that invite us to a
completely alternative history. For as Rolph Trouillot
says, “We are never so much steeped in history as
when we pretend not to be.” How am I doing for time? I can’t see a clock. Five more minutes? So I’ve seen four– I’m going to have to
really edit fast here– so four fugitive
gestures of refusal. I’ve been looking at
photographs of how– you see these blurrings? Somebody hiding her hair,
running, the movement of hands, but also how people
will deliberately– this was an ethnographic film, and
they danced backwards in order to desacrilize the film. Geronimo– this is in
the late 19th century. Curtis created this figure
of archaic Geronimo, but he’s actually been wearing
contemporary Western clothes for quite some time. And that’s Geronimo in
what Jimmy [? Duran ?] calls auto-mobility
sitting at the wheel. He manipulated photographs
in his own interests. And auto-mobility, Indians
in Unexpected Places. This is Poolaw extremely
aware of these ironies. He was a photographer
in the Air Force, and he dresses his children
in colonial cross-dressing. And I’m now just going to move
quite fast through this one. I’m sorry. I thought we had half
an hour to speak, so let me just think what
I should do here. How much time do you need? I probably need 10 minutes,
but I can– let me just see. What I think I’m
going to do is– [INAUDIBLE] Yeah, we can do that. Can you? Are you sure? [INAUDIBLE] Are you sure? OK. I’m going to try and do this. I’ll tell you what. I’ve got two more
fragments, and I’m going to try and gesture
to them very quickly. So why are these
photographs important today? You can hardly overstate
the pervasiveness in US history of this returning
figure of Indian country to define as-yet unsubjugated
territories in active war zones around the world. Throughout US history,
to be in Indian country was to be behind enemy lines,
from the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan,
Yemen, and [INAUDIBLE].. In Vietnam, Colin Powell
called the My Lai Massacre understandable, he
said, as the troops were stuck in Indian country. Throughout the
War on Terror, you see these Fort Geronimos,
Fort Apaches, Fort Geronimos. The soldiers wear war paint. They wear mohawks,
Indian patches, and dress up as Indians. And we know that
disproportionately, indigenous peoples are most represented
in the US military, and all the US helicopters are
named after native peoples. And they fire from missiles
called Tomahawk missiles. I want to just look at
this one image of what I mean by imperial ghosting. Because if you look at
this image, what it is is in October 2003,
which was just after the illegal
invasion of Iraq, Rumsfeld went to Fort
Carson in Carolina, which is of course named
after the infamous Kit Carson, who had been dispatched
to put an end to the Navajo. It culminated in the
long walk of the Navajo to imprisonment at Bosque
Redondo, the concentration camp. And Rumsfeld came
to Fort Carson, and in his address
to the 7th Calvary, he invoked the ghost of Carson. And he said– and
I’m quoting him– “The global War on
Terror, US forces have lived up to the
legend of Kit Carson, fighting terrorists in the
mountains of Afghanistan, hunting the remnants
of the deadly regime.” And he said, “Every one of you
have been chosen by destiny. Every one of you is Kit Carson.” But if you look at that
image, at the back, you see these men dressed up
as the 7th Cavalry on their way to Iraq rising up bizarrely
behind them dressed in period costumes of the 7th
Cavalry of the 1870s and 1880s, who hunted down the Navajo. So in other words,
what’s happening here is you have this legitimizing by
visual analogy of the invasion of Iraq by equating
it explicitly with the violent
occupation of Indian lands. And when he returned
shortly later, he had another statue
built to Kit Carson. And these men are
chasing after an enemy. But again, who is the enemy? It’s the invention of the enemy. And in this deeply disturbing
image, the insurgents in Iraq are visually equated
with native peoples. And the operation
to kill bin Laden was called Operation
Geronimo, which is a symbolic violence that
has produced a storm of protest and Senate hearings. What I’d like to
do is just I’m just going to summarize what I
was going to talk about. I was going to talk
about how the task of an alternative photography
is to incorporate photography into social and
political memory, as John Berger has said. And in 2010, the BP oil
spill disaster happened. And I heard that the media
had been completely blockaded from across five states. No one was allowed to go
near the boom, the birds, the islands, the boats. No one was allowed
to go on the beaches. And if you did,
you got a $40,000 fine or possible felony charges
of one to five years in prison. So I decided to go down to
see what they were concealing and why. And you couldn’t go anywhere. The police were everywhere. So the forever war
had come ashore. And what I explore
in the longer piece is the militarization
of environmental crisis. But I managed to
get up onto a plane. And so I took these photographs. So these all belong in the
regime of the criminal. They were all
illegal photographs. And the reasons why they
were blockading this, that’s what I
wanted to find out. They had put carpet
bombing the entire Gulf with highly toxic Corexit. It’s banned everywhere else. And what I mean by a
ghost, this attempt to erase producing
these ghostly traces. That is Corexit. Where you see the pink, that
is oil mixed with Corexit. And it did not get
rid of the oil. It just ghosted it. It disappeared it. And the entire Gulf of
Mexico, the basis of it is covered in oil,
and species are dying. People down there are
becoming extremely sick. And I want to just end,
then, with revenants. Isle de Jean Charles, which
is very close to where the BP disaster happened,
and it’s now been hailed as the place
where the first climate refugees are being forced
to leave this island. And I wonder how many of
us could place on a map this tiny sliver of land
called Isle de Jean Charles. But they’re caught in a tragic
paradox between rising waters and the desire to remain. Because they are–
and this is where the story comes full circle. They are Biloxi-Chitimacha,
Choctaw Indians who had refused the forced
removals of the 19th century and fled down to the
Louisiana marshes, and had led very sustainable
lives down there until they are now being forced to move. And I went down there, and
I flew over the island. And I met with Chief Naquin,
who took me around the island. And because the result of the
devastation of the drilling and of the rising waters as
a result of militarization, militarization is
the number-one cause of environmental
destruction on the planet. And they are being
forced to move. But they’re also caught
between a tragic paradox. They are being hailed as
the first climate refugees, but they’re not being recognized
as existing as a people. So they exist enough to
be discriminated against, but they don’t exist
enough to be recognized. So I took these
photographs, and I’m just going to end with these. I stopped to talk
to these young boys, and they were playing on
this plastic water chute. And it struck me as
so tragically ironic that everything was made of oil. And were they
practicing in play how to survive this
larger wave that is rising behind their childhoods
and behind their lives. Some of the islanders
are clinging to the frail scaffolding
of their lives and refusing to move. This is Chris Brunet,
who I spent a lot of time with describing how high
the waters had risen. Some are staying and learning
to lead amphibious lives. And this is the
ghostscapes, where you can see where the
intrusion of the salt water has killed off huge
amounts, and where you had huge, huge forests. All of the people I talked about
described these immense forests that they grew up with
that now are either just water or dead, what they
call skeleton or ghost trees. And that’s the last tree in
the forest that Tommy Dardar, he said he remembered
huge forests there. And as the waters rise,
but so the people’s houses rise with them. And this is Man of Sorrows,
the statue at the end. And the ghost ships of
the shrimp industry, which has virtually been
destroyed, is passing by them. So I wanted to end with
this last image, which is, I think it’s incredibly
important that the people who are called ghosts
are not ghosts, but ordinary people
living ordinary lives. And this is a global phenomenon. This is an image
that was created in Pakistan by villagers
and an art enterprise. And what they did is
they took this photograph of a young girl who’d been
orphaned in a drone strike. Her parents had been killed. And that image was also taken
to Washington by the journalist to appeal to Obama to
stop the drone strikes. And I want to close
with her face, this gesture that reaches beyond
the drone scapes of empire, as she looks back at
us living in the US in an unforgettable invitation
to be witnessed as human. So we must never forget. We must animate
the histories that have been officially forgotten. We must commemorate the dead
and bring justice to the living. And we must also learn how to
speak with ghosts, for spectres disturb the authority
of supervision. And the hauntings
of popular memory will return to challenge
the great forgettings of official history. For as the great
writer Eduardo Galeano has said, “History does
not really say goodbye. History says see you later.” Thank you. [APPLAUSE] So thank you, Michael,
Sheila, and Anne for amazing presentations
and for you to ask questions. So I think that we will collect
a few questions together and one round of answers
and then another one. yes. Is it possible for
all three of you to talk about, why is it
that, A, the US refuses to recognize itself as an
empire, although it is? Is it possible to also, when we
talked about Native Americans, a nation within a nation,
although not really true, that African-Americans,
blacks, are indeed the colonized people, and
still in a sense living within an intracolonized space? Could you talk about that? I mean, you see yourself
as internally colonized and therefore not
fully ever granted citizenship given the
history of the United States? And I will also link–
because I’m from Haiti. Napoleon Bonaparte said in
1802 that Haitians will never be a nation, will
never be granted the right to citizenship. And we’re seeing it in a
sense today with Sessions and so forth and so on. Am I going too far
to say that, would it be OK for African-Americans
to start really calling themselves,
label themselves as internally colonized people? Thank you. It was really amazing. I would like to ask Michael
Sawyer and Anne McClintock to relate to each other talk. And this is how
I think about it. Michael, when you presented your
three sources of inspiration, I was expecting you to mention
[INAUDIBLE] about the police. The main thing here
is the association of the police with the ghost,
with the ghostly presence. Now I think that
there is something really distinct and different
between the two kinds of violence that you describe. And they go along
together, of course. They are intimately associated,
but they are very different. And I think that it calls
for some reflection. And there’s one particular thing
that interests me especially, is that a lot of what you
said about the police, especially the differentiation
of types of people and sections in the population and the
hyper-documentation is true for many other kinds of police
action, many other situations, many other contexts– persecuting communists or
socialists or whatever. And does it have to be within
a colonial and rationalizing context? On the other hand, I think that
the destructive and erasing violence that Anne
McClintock described, especially with
respect to its scale, is particularly American. Maybe not, but I think there is
something particular American about– or at least it is not present
everywhere in the same way that the police violence
Michael described is really present in
so many other places. So this is my invitation. Other questions this round? I think we have enough to. So Michael, maybe
you can start to ask general question and then the
question that you received. OK. This question of the internal
colony has been around. I mean, this is fundamental
to the political thought of Black Panther Party to
assert that black America and the ghetto is itself a
colony out of this thinking from Fanon, et
cetera, et cetera. And I think that
one of the ways– interesting the
way you framed it– I think the critical
term may be the native. Like I would never
describe myself as native. And I don’t know any
African-American people who describe themselves
as native to this country. So I think that there
is a way in which that we already have
acknowledged that fact and kind of a self-definitional status. And then the next
question becomes, what does that all mean? From a perspective of
practical political praxis, how do you deal with the
existence of a colony internal to an actual existing
nation state when the colonialized subjects and
the colonial geographic space both rely upon the surrounding
geography and metaphysics? I mean, this is the toughest
move in the business, right? I mean, this is the
question of what does black nationalism
mean outside of the institution of an
actual geographic nation state, going back to Sherman and the
40 acres and a mule routine. So when I was talking
about this kind of question of getting past this kind
of technical exhaustion of particular types
of protests, I think that this problem
is one in which we need to marshal new ways
of thinking to address it, this question of
the internal colony and colonialism in this kind
of particular manifestation. To that particular question,
[INAUDIBLE] particular question with respect to [INAUDIBLE]
is in the longer piece. This kind of notion–
where I gestured this notion of law-establishing
and law-maintaining violence is essential. The reason that I focused
on police power and the way I understand your
question is, this notion of the internal and external
existence of enemies, the necessity of having
both in order to– the way I imagine this is almost
like an architecture, where there is a wall,
and there is forces pushing from the outside. And so you erect a
certain type of resistance to that, which is
external force. And then at the same time, in
order to resolve that tension, you also have enemies
within the state that help it to constitute
itself in ways that are firm against
both internal and external opposition. I think that in the
present manifestation of this phenomenon,
Trumpism, to me, is this kind of blurring of
internal and external enemies, where at the point where the
used-to-be external enemy can be used to address
internal enemies. The notion that a kind of
global white supremacist stance allows you to team up with
other external enemies in order to reify
a particular type of internal white
supremacy, which I think gets to this point
of where policing– I’m using policing
kind of broadly, this notion of a type
of coercive force that exists, whether it’s
internal or external, I think is the way
of approaching it. Thank you. Sheila? So, I know through
my experiences and what I said in the
beginning of African-Americans or black bodies have been
born into a movement, whether they are
conscious or not, it’s like, how can
you move within that from your oppressor? And it’s very hard. So that, to me,
is very difficult and very kind of problematic. I can use the example of
what just happened recently that went viral over
the web with Pepsi Cola and the image of how they
use protesting as something glamorous. Where you have people are
being hurt, being killed, and they’re using culture as
a weapon to really control all of us, believe it or not. I mean, from the politicians– politicians, everybody
[INAUDIBLE] the advertisers. So it’s really difficult
to answer that. How does one, especially
an African-American where, when you’re born,
you don’t look at yourself as like everybody else. But then you have
that experience, and then you’re actually
in the movement. So how do you deal with that? To try to maybe answer or
address both questions at once, I think the title of Claudia
Rankine’s book, Citizen, that’s part of the force,
the tremendous force of that. What does it mean
to be a citizen? And on the other hand,
you know, Michael, I was really struck by
that segment of video– appalling. You know, you used the
word abominable, Ariella, where the mobility, the
violence of the creation of, to be a free black
person in this country is inherently to be criminal. To be in a state of freedom,
to be in a state of mobility is to be a criminal, because
your body– and Ta-Nehisi Coates describes that quite
eloquently, that violence falls so directly and so intimately
on the body, and part of that is immobility. But I grew up through
what I consider to be one of the
great revolutions of the 20th century, the black
South African revolution. And when I came– I came to the States
because my partner is a conscientious objector. So I just found myself
here as a result of that and was not a citizen,
could not become a citizen for many,
many, many, many years. But when I arrived here, what
struck me with great force is that I felt as
that in a certain way, I was back in South Africa. And I had felt the sense
of imperial deja vu. And I’ve for a long time
tried to understand, in a sense, the US, then is
part of a global phenomenon of empire. And I was struck by how people
would constantly tell me, no, but the US is not an empire. It’s not an empire. It’s not an empire. And go home if that’s
what you think of it. But I’ve become as a
result of that experience, I started to need to understand
the history of this country. And I was so shocked
by how hard it was. And that’s why I’m trying to
write a history of fragments, because I kept encountering
the ghosting of these violences and these lapses,
these forgettings, and how difficult it was
for me to try and understand this country that
I had arrived in. And so the question of
incarceration I think is absolutely at the core of it. And it’s why I’m
taking this notion of environmental violence
back to the 19th century. Most people are thinking
about environmental violence. My partner’s got a book
called Slow Violence. They mark it really
from the 1940s, and I’m saying it really
begins with the arrival of violent settler colonialism
and the attempts to manipulate the environment through
the poisoning of orchards, poisoning of wells,
slavery, et cetera. But the concentration camps
of the reservations, I think we need a history. Because the hinge between
them has been ghosted. The history between
the concentration camps of the reservations and the
mass incarceration system inside the US. And when I say– and
maybe I’ll stop there– I am not interested
only in the ghosting or the great
forgettings, but the way in which the hinge between
that and the everyday lived violence that falls so
heavily on people’s bodies. That hinge has been ghosted. I mean, every place I’ve gone
to do this kind of work– look at Standing Rock as well. How the images of the
militarized policing and the destruction
of that place, it reminded me of the
images from the 1960s. That’s why I think your
project is so important. In this fugue-like way,
you’ve got the water cannon at Standing Rock,
water cannon, the dogs. It’s like this imperial
deja vu keeps happening. Because– well, we
know what it’s– well, oil is one of the
ghosted changes there. Please speak into
the microphone. I’m sorry? Speak into the microphone. Oh, sorry. Thank you. So we’ll start another
round of questions. Yes. So my comment or question
is for Anne McClintock. With our culture of continual
amnesia and forgetting, I wonder if you could comment
on America’s, United States’ insistence on human rights
everywhere else in the world. [LAUGHTER] Yeah. I’m sorry. We have questions, yes. I just want to thank
the panelists, again, for everything that
you contributed. I want to push the question
about these so-called viral videos a little bit further. I don’t think we need
any more descriptions of what we see in them. I think we need to assess
and intervene in the work that they do on everybody. And I think haven’t heard that. So I’m wondering
what the analysis is about their existence
and their circulation, and the reproduction, and their
immediate access on demand. Thank you all for your work. The eye of the
camera seems to lurk across all of these pieces. And, Sheila, I wondered
if you could just talk about your experiences
about people’s reactions to you taking photographs
and your relationship to folks in that space and
the diversity of reactions, I’m sure. And to, I think,
part of what you’re talking about with Curtis is
like what Jane Blocker talks about, about the camera
in Seeing Witness, that the eye of the
camera is the one eye that can’t look back. You can’t turn the eye
back on the camera. So, yeah, I think your
work is excavating that in really powerful ways. So broadly a question about
the eye of the camera. Thank you. This was wonderful. Thank you so much. I want to make a comment
about Sheila’s work because I think it’s
really important and relates to a
question I want to pose. I think you did such a great
job technically collapsing time, the gray scale,
even Kendrick’s inter– he’s talking to Tupac, so
there’s a mediated time there. And I want to think
about what other– so I think your work
just demonstrates that public-facing
kind of work that we have to do in being able
to articulate or have a more nuanced idea
of how time operates. So I’m wondering if each of
you can speak a little bit more about time as an
analytic in your work. Because we’re all
trying to disrupt this idea that the past is
there and the present is here. And I think you technically
do a great job of, there are just these
small movements you make. And then in Raoul Peck’s
I Am Not Your Negro, he does the same. There is this overlapping
of all the times presidents have said I’m sorry
overlaid on scenes of protests. So I think technically,
you’re doing the public work we need to do, Sheila. And I’m trying to think
scholarly and intellectually, or my written work, how I
incorporate those things. So thank you. It was really powerful. And then, Michael, can you
also talk a little bit more about artificial intelligence
as the operational logic of– I think there’s something
really important there and [? Winterian, ?] and
I’d like to probe that. And this was great. Thanks. Let’s do a second round. Let’s start this
time for you, Sheila. Within my work and going on
the ground in the communities, even though I’m
African-American, when I first went
into West Baltimore, I was there when Freddie
Gray passed that Sunday. And I immediately went
into West Baltimore. I literally got cussed out and
told me to get the hell out. They didn’t want me
there, white people there, or the media there. Because when you come
into our communities, it’s always something negative. And I had to really
think fast on my feet. And Don Lemon came to
mind, because in the media, he talked about, in Ferguson I
smelled marijuana in the air. And they actually related to
that, because on the ground they do not like him. And so that’s how I was able
to get into the community. And a woman came
up to me, and she said, to tell you the
truth, I’m on crack. I just got out of jail. Do you have any money? And I told her, ma’am,
I don’t have any money. And I gave her a hug. And we cried. So I think as a
photographer, versus what you see in the media,
I don’t know if you– I had to go real fast
through my images. I don’t want to
show what they’re projecting in the media of the
rage, the angry black male. I want to show black
bodies, they’re human. And so that’s what I try
to portray in my work. And I actually connect, even
though I’m African-American and I don’t live in
those communities, you have to find
a way to connect and for people to trust you. If not, it’s not going to work. So I feel a lot of compassion. I saw a lot of love there. And that’s how I was able
to get into the communities in Ferguson. I went there in the aftermath. It was so much tension. You could feel the
tension in the air. I mean, people would
immediately come up to me and talk to me about what was
going on in the neighborhood. And they welcomed me in. And one thing that I do do
when I go into the communities, I call the Nation of Islam
and let them know I’m here. So I do that. I can’t remember
everything else you– yeah. And you talk about
the viral videos. Somebody talked
about the videos. I’m going to give you
this little story. I’m on Instagram. An advertising
company called me. They said, I’ve
been stalking you. I want you to come
into our office. And this was around
the time last year. They wanted to do something
about Martin Luther King Day. That’s when the young people
shut down Martin Luther King parade in 2015. And it was amazing to me to
see no diversity at the table. And they were looking at
me to give them answers. And some of the things
that they were saying, they just could not relate. And they thought it was cool. And I told them
that if you really want to get into the
community, you’re going to have to take a stand. But they’re not going
to take a stand. To me, it’s about the control. And it’s going to
always be there unless people of
color, our people, we have to start telling our own
stories and our own content. And we can’t wait. Someone called me
about the Pepsi Cola. And they said,
well, I need to let them know that I could do this. I said, no. Do your own Pepsi Cola, and show
them, and put it on Instagram. That’s how Devin Allen,
the young photographer in Baltimore, he
photographed the uprising. The young people
call it the uprising. I wasn’t there. I was in DC at the time. And so what he did, he took his
work to the local newspaper. They didn’t put it in. So he said, I’m going to curate
this on my own Instagram. And that’s how he got
the cover of Time. So we’re going to
have to control– the people are going to have
to control our own content. Because what it is,
it’s a distraction, and it’s all about control. In order to keep the masses
of the people confused, you have to keep it
in a chaotic state. And you asked me
something about time? No, I just wanted– I think you did a great job. I wanted to thank you. Oh, OK. –ask the others maybe about
the time offerings [INAUDIBLE] OK. OK, so maybe Anne? Well, I’m so interested
in what you were saying about being a photographer. Just a quick reply to your
question about human rights. I think the US has
come to be haunted by two grand hallucinations,
which is, on the one hand, the idea of itself
as a benign power, a neoliberal imperial– it’s
sort of a neoliberal power. And on the other hand,
as constantly awaiting the next attack, the next enemy,
the invention of the enemy, the invention of the hostile. And currently the Pentagon– in 2006, after the Iraq
War was really tanking, the Pentagon declared climate
change to be the new hostile. And they welcomed it
as a silver lining, because they said
climate change was now going to give the
opportunity for intervention anywhere in the world at
any time at any place. So the entire world becomes
a million Ground Zeros. So I think what you have,
again, is this hinge. So when talking
about human rights, I think it goes to
what Jimmy Baldwin says in I Am Not a Negro, where he
says the horrifying Wild West films were legends that
this country needs. And I’m talking about white
sort of official history– needs in order to
display, he says, that there wasn’t a crime. And so I think gesturing
toward other countries is that attempt to erase. It’s a form of amnesia. It’s a way of saying, we are
the benign imperium on the hill, and other people are– But if you look
at the drone wars, you’ve got– this is official. This is a violation of Geneva
rights, Geneva Conventions, and a host of other ways. Just a very small
point about what you’re saying about a photographer. The idea of the camera as the
tricky mirror, that I think is something, as
I carry my camera. I am incredibly,
incredibly aware of that. So just to focus on my most
recent experience of the Isle de Jean Charles, how do I go in? I’m Irish. My background is Irish. But how do I go to a place
like Isle de Jean Charles? I can’t just walk in
there with a camera. So what I did is I contacted
people beforehand and spoke to people and said,
do you think people would want me to come down? And who could I speak to? So I introduced
myself to people who I made contact with beforehand. It was really interesting,
because they said, yeah, come down. And I flew down, went to Houma. And they said you could meet
Tommy Dardar, who I’m not sure if I showed his image
in the photographs. And so I drove down,
and I met Tommy. But who I was actually
being brought to meet was chief Albert Naquin. And they hadn’t told me that. And we talked. And instantly we just somehow
got on incredibly well. But it was really he
was interviewing me, and he was basically
checking me out. And then he said, come with me. And he and Tommy took
me around the island and introduced me to people. And I think one of
my fundamental ethics as a photographer is to always
ask before I take a photograph. And I asked people, even
on marches and so on. I say, would you– I put my camera down, and I
say, can I take your photograph? And when I was there,
they said, would you please take photographs? And I was so struck by that. And when I went down
during the Gulf of Mexico, the same thing happened. I was renting a car, and the
young guy at the car rental said, my father was on the rig. We’ve got photographs. We desperately need
this to come out. And would you
please– we don’t want to go with the regular media. Would you please get
these images out? And so often, people– it’s a weird trust, I guess. Yes, and they want their
stories to be told, not what traditional
media is doing. Because you always
had fake media. But Trump is using
it to his advantage. Michael. I’ll start with the question
of artificial intelligence and back into this question of
the viral nature of this video. And time, right,
because I think they’re all kind of related in the way
that I’m working through this. What I’m working through
with this question of artificial intelligence
is to understand how the artificially
intelligent mechanism begins to transcend itself and what
is the impetus for that. I think it’s this
question of perfection. Because the notion of
designing a perfect machine means that as context
alters itself, the machine, in order to
try to perfect itself, will then begin to
transcend its initial kind of programmatic stance, right? So what I’m thinking
is that this is why Stiegler became
so useful for me in thinking through
this question of technic and the mechanical as
between the biological. Because then what I was able
to understand more clearly is that kind of
quote from Fanon that had always kind of troubled me. This notion that colonialism
doesn’t seem to be intelligent was something I
didn’t quite get. But I think what
it means for me now in linking artificial
intelligence to it is that it’s intelligent in a
very narrow kind of way that’s not intelligent in
the way that it needs to be to think about itself. So it’s thinking about
externality and not about itself. And what Bourne
seems to be doing is he begins to
think about himself instead of thinking
about the things that he’s supposed to be doing
external to himself, right? Which then creates
this kind of breach where then he begins to
try to perfect himself, transcending his initial kind
of programming, fracturing. He becomes hyper intelligent,
not artificially intelligent. And so then time
is always something that I’m struggling
with in all of this. And so what interests
me here is that there seemed to be a series of
discrete temporalities that then meet at
certain points. And the question is, how
do we account for that? So what I’m thinking is
that the viral nature video, since roughly the
Paleolithic age, we’ve been able to
take in information and progress ourselves
in certain ways. And actually the
picture from Fort Carson was fascinating to me. Because I’ve been working
through this argument that there was a time
when we understood the progress of
something like violence depended upon how
fast a person can move on a horse to go kill someone. You can only move but so quickly
across the planet in order to do that, to move the
things that you needed. And so now Fort Carson
becomes this kind of weird kind of
anachronism, where they call themselves a cavalry,
but they no longer used horses. They use helicopters or drones. And so the temporality
is fractured. So their thinking
is about– what Rumsfeld is saying is
that the thinking is like something idiotic
like Kit Carson riding around on a horse, when
really these people are flying around in Blackhawk helicopters
at 200 and 300 miles an hour, which creates this
kind of temporal shift. And so then to get to
this question of how viral video operates, and it
occurs to me that now what’s going on is the kind of speed of
light that this is happening at does not allow us as
kind of biological beings to kind of absorb
this information and create ways and kind of
react relating to it because of this long kind of notion
of how we absorb information, react, protest, all these
kinds of things, right? I’m not certain that protest
seems to happen very rapidly, then end. And I’m not certain that
it hasn’t resolved itself. Because, I mean,
how long would it taken Thomas Paine to
distribute a million copies of Common Sense, right? Like never. It’s not possible. Well, I can send it out
right now from my phone, and there’ll be a billion
people can see it. So I don’t think that
we’ve been able to grapple with this kind of
temporal shift. And I think that
what’s happening is– and this is why I’m
arguing that maybe the call is for a type of counter artificial
intelligence that allows protest movements to grapple
with this kind of rapidity and then be able to create a
type of implementation that allows it to address the kind
of artificial intelligence of colonial
violence, is what I’m kind of trying to figure out. We have time for [INAUDIBLE] For Anne– thank you– I know of a photographer
who’s heading to Greenland to photograph the preparations. I don’t know if you’re
familiar with this, but they’re anticipating,
with climate change, they’ll be able to
extract resources that will give them the
wealth to gain independence from Denmark. So I was curious what your
thoughts are on something like that, that
relationship between nation, empire, militarization,
and climate. That’s exactly what is– If we can just take
two more questions. Oh, sorry, yes. Yes, Michelle. I also have a question for Anne. I’m really intrigued about your
argument about the reservation being a concentration camp. But I’m interested in whether
you could clarify if that’s a historical argument. Because reservations
still exist, obviously. So are the reservations
in their present form, are they a kind of ghosting? And if so, of what? Because contrary to
what people think, they’re not surrounded
by barbed wire. You don’t have to show
a passport to get in. It’s not a theme park. They’re not marked. I’m from South Dakota,
so people come to visit, and then they want to
go see a reservation. They imagine that
there’s going to be this sort of Disneyland-like
environment with teepees and powwows and everything. And really, what is overwhelming
is abject poverty more than anything else. But there isn’t any sense
of enclosure at all. So if there is a
contemporary ghosting, how does that operate? Yes, [? Sabian. ?] From
here, [? Sabian. ?] Hi. I just have a question
for Anne and for Michael to connect this fugitive
gestures of refusal with radical forms of
protest and new movements. So if you can answer the
questions and say what you want to say to
end our session. So let’s start with you. With me? Yep. Can you remind me– I’m so sorry. I’ll remember my answer if you
remind me of your question. It was about Greenland. Oh, that’s right. Yes, of course. OK, very quickly, absolutely. It’s so critical. And in fact that’s the arc. And what’s so uncanny for
me is– and horrifying– is what is happening is
that as the waters melt, there are of course these
national competitions for territorial possession. Resources are emerging. So you have a kind
of return to what happened with the forced
removals of native peoples to reservations,
which was exactly the same as in South
Africa, to the most broken, arid wasteland. And then, lo and behold,
that’s where the resources are. And then when that happens, then
you have the termination act. And so you try and say
they don’t exist at all. And some of the things are
going to be happening up there. But what the US military– I’m not sure how many
of you know this– what the US military
is now engaged in not in the Gulf of Mexico,
but in the Gulf of Alaska, the forever war came ashore
in the Gulf of Mexico. And with it came the
weaponry that we now see in the heavy
militarized police forces– in Standing
Rock, Ferguson, everywhere else
there are protests. And the ways in which
environmental activists are now being described as
terrorists by law. And that was
actually under Obama. So if you do
environmental activism, you are on a terrorist list. And I’m stopped at every
single airport I go to. And what have I done? But they now have what is
called the Northern Edge, which I’ve got war games. And I use the term
games advisedly, because it’s another
abomination to call that a game. They’re bombing salmon runs. They’ve got this new
laser technology. So they are preparing. The US military is preparing. I’m going to stop there. I have so much more I
want to say about time. And there was another– the question about
the reservations. I’ve been thinking about
what the [INAUDIBLE] is and rethinking [INAUDIBLE] work
is fantastically important, I think. Because to be– I loved, Michael,
what you were saying. To be immobilized, you don’t
need a wall around you. And I think Trump’s
phantasmagoric image of the wall is almost
a phantasm of a kind of national hyperbolic
national refusal to acknowledge
the walls that are built around the bodies
of people every day. So the immobilizing of
people, the forbidding of, you can’t go anywhere. You don’t need an actual wall. So the native, I think
the reservations, there may not be official
walls like Trump fantasizes, but there are the
walls of poverty. And those walls can be as
impermeable as barbed wire. So I do think that they are
still concentration camps. And those terms and
those phenomenons, those geographies of
containment, incarceration, and the imposition of
territorial violence, and the policing of space and
how bodies move through space, they shift through time. And I think that is
one of the invitations for us, is how do
we convey that? And to go back to
this question of time, I’m become preoccupied
with strategies of refusal right now. What can we do right now? Corporate fascism, I
believe, has come– we are now living under a
corporate fascist regime, full blown. It’s been coming
for a long time. I’ve been saying it’s
coming, and we’re here. So what are our
strategies of refusal now? And I think one of the
things we can look to– and this goes, perhaps,
to Michael’s question about technology– is to the points of
contradiction in power. And one of these nodal
points that the hinge, the invisible hinge, to make
the invisible hinge visible, is I think a very
powerful strategy. It’s not the only one. But imagine the cell phone. Foucault described
the cell as the unit of discipline and punish. And we all live in cells–
in our cars, in our offices. And I talk a lot in my classes
about the cellular nature of power. And it doesn’t need
an actual wall. You can sit with
your cell phone. My students do, and
they surround themselves by a certain kind of solitude. But there is a
contradiction, which I think has been astonishing
in the last five years. We’ve witnessed two
very powerful movements emerge, the Black Lives
Matter movement, and alongside the campus rape movement, which
are using the social media and technologies to combat
certain forms of violence. And if you think of the
contradiction in capital, capital needs to
sell cell phones. At Abu Ghraib, the use by
the military soldiers of cell phones to take
those images nearly brought the Bush regime to
a halt. It was so powerful. And so there’s this
contradiction between– and now what we’re seeing is
these cell phones being used to make visible what black
people in this country have lived with, and so many
white people do not know, do not want to know. But what is the daily
violence now cannot be denied because somebody is
holding a shaky cell phone, knowing they may be shot. But they’re going
to take that image. And that is
extraordinarily powerful. And I think one of the other
nodes of these nodal points of weakness is the conscience,
the human conscience, the decision to stand there and
video something with violence while it is happening. Thank you. Michael. I think, to get to this
question of fugitivity and its relationship to radical
politics, I think that the– the fugitive in the way
that Anne is describing it now becomes a type of
rejection of technologies of coercive boundary. So to transcend that,
immediately the fugitive to me becomes immediately
transgressive. The question then
seems to be, how is that transgression
then marshaled as a type of political force? Because the image of the blues
traveler, the kind of person who checks out from normal
life, or checks out, goes off the grid in certain
kinds of ways, is one type of a political act. The question then
becomes whether there’s a possibility in marshaling
that type of distance from order in order to
dismantle order external to it. And so I’m fascinated
by the question of how– and the notion of
the fugitive is different than the criminal
in certain ways, right? Because the criminality
gets this question of the embodiment
of these walls. Because I would argue that the
reason that there don’t need to be walls around
reservations is because the actual physical
presence is itself a wall, right? It’s this walking,
mobilized kind of exemplar. And just like that poor
man who was being attacked by the police because
he was walking, it’s his body that becomes
the political presence of a particular type of
walled off from society. And recognizing that
can either become a type of kinetic
violence that happens, like we saw with the police
officer attacking him. Or it becomes this
kind of movable wall that’s always kind of
transporting itself from one place to
the other, where anywhere that type
of body happens to be becomes a kind of space. And then the question becomes,
how do you become a fugitive from that type of restriction? How do you become a
fugitive from your own body? To me is a type of
ontological terror of the self that’s very, very
difficult to resolve. So where does that
body come to land? That’s why I was
arguing that there needs to be kind of a larger
technology of thinking that allows this
type of fugitivity from this understanding
of the body as always being other to
find a place for it to land and then begin to resolve
itself in certain ways. It then becomes a launching pad
for a type of political praxis, I think. Thank you. Sheila, do you want
to say the last word? [LAUGHTER] No, I– [LAUGHTER] So I’d like really
to thank heartfully to our three speakers. And I think that– [APPLAUSE]

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