Mar. 14th, 2012

  • 10:45 AM
la_vie_noire: (kashira kashira)
Postcolonials Read Comics (And We’re Pissed).

Gail Simone depicted Singapore in Birds of Prey as a crime-riddled, totalitarian state inhabited by decadent drug lords. That’s not as bad as Marvel’s Principality of Madripoor, a parallel Singapore of authoritarianism and corruption eventually salvated by neo-colonial occupation; but that’s still better than in The Authority, where the fictional PRC destroyed the fictional Singapore in a secret nuclear attack.

Another interesting relationship between Singapore and superheroes: Ng Chin Han played the villainous Hong Kong accountant Lau in The Dark Knight.

[...] I want to see a Singaporean superhero genre that can amply offer critique on issues like race and gender politics in Singapore without relying on orientalist tropes or orientalised narratives of Asian political authority. [...] Asian political systems are either failed states or dictatorships, because the Orientals cannot be trusted to govern themselves. – A sign of how deeply we have internalised this discourse is evident in even homegrown criticism of the political system. I trust we can analyse and critique without resorting to such imagery, such portrayals.

Singaporean superheroes? I’ve been dreaming of this for years. If we postcolonials could take steampunk – with its intrinsic Victoriana – and subvert it, can we do the same for the superhero genre?

I could talk about the depiction of every non-western/developing nation in western comics. But I wouldn't end.

Feb. 14th, 2012

  • 2:33 AM
la_vie_noire: Anthy painting a portrait (Anthy painting)
Always brilliant [personal profile] deepad has a great post: On JLF, Rushdie, but also, On Violences. I think you should read it all because I cannot quote it enough.

As totemic bineries go, Valentine's Day vs. right wing religious fundamentalists is just about as irksome as Salman Rushdie vs. right wing religious fundamentalists. I saw Valentine's Day being cooked up in India as I was growing up along with Archies Gallery and the desire to market greeting cards; it's an festival imported by capitalist marketeers that is embarassing in its conspicuous display of materialistic measurement of heterosexual conventional romantic relationships. Of course no one should be stoned for wanting to flaunt pink heart-holding teddy bears. (Of course, Salman Rushdie should not be threatened with any form of violence.) It's just a little wearying, though, to be asked to make Valentine's Day a symbol, when having a conversation about gay rights, or honor killings, or polyamorous relationships, or marital rape with the average person who wants to buy a greeting card for their sweetie is an exercise in verbal violence more often than not. And Salman Rushdie, defender of rapist Roman Polanski and U.S.'s war against Afghanistan, advocate of declaring Pakistan a terrorist state, and disparager of all post-colonial vernacular writing is hardly a poster child for the virtues of a self-righteously unrestricted tongue.

One of the posters designed for flashreads has a quote by Salman Rushdie: "Free Speech is the whole ball game. Free Speech is life itself."

The hubris of such a sweeping statement does not appeal to me, not when people are fighting to liberate their bodies from physical violence, not when they weigh their words against the impact it will have on their life, and choose silence, or obfuscation, or tempered disagreement because they know that death of words is not actually the same thing as death of a living, breathing body, whether that is of a loved one or one's own.


Ah yes. The benevolent white USian church ladies who feed the starving children in 'Africa'. From the book donation guidelines at Books for Africa and The Book Bus, it seems that there is a pressing need to send books written in English and published in the U.S. and U.K. thousands of miles across to those deprived, needy children, though nothing says that maybe what those books say about race, and class, and nationality and normativeness is really important to think about.

I've known what its like to be yearning for books, but I've also known what it is like to yearn, while surrounded by books, for ones that represent people like me. I can't speak for the child I was, but the adult I am is happy to have not been exposed to some of the more virulent books I know about now back then, when I was more desperate and less discerning.


I defend the rationality of being offended by a misrepresentation of what one holds sacred. I defend the right of those in the marginalised, threatened or oppressed position in a hierarchy to challenge and question and reject those ideas and stories that reinforce the injustice being done to them.

But no matter how much value I may want ascribed to non-physical violence--be it economic, ideological, legal or cultural--I do not wish to downplay my rejection of physical violence. In the hours it has taken me to write this, I scroll up and compare my kneejerk irritation at the JKF Rushdie imbroglio to the aching empathy I felt for Rashid in Haroun and the Sea of Stories, exiled from the source of his stories. Free speech and it's consequent debates around book banning, censorship and the like is one thing. But bodies imprisoned or exiled because of threat of violence, translators stabbed, defenders beaten;** this is wholly more absolute injustice. I consider the written word sacred enough that though I have felt the desire to do damage to a book, I could never imagine ripping, or burning or physically harming even the most loathsome text. How much more sacred then, is even the most antagonistic human soul, the source for those words, enshrined in a fragile and totally irreplaceable body.

A banned book may be resurrected, a dead person cannot be.

In things you should read

  • Jan. 15th, 2012 at 5:48 PM
la_vie_noire: Anthy painting a portrait (Anthy painting)
Here, in Colonialist Criticism & Culture, [personal profile] thatlitgirl quoted a segment of Chinua Achebe's essay, Colonialist Criticism:

Does it ever occur to these universities to try out their game of changing names of characters and places in an American novel, say, a Philip Roth or an Updike, and slotting in African names just to see how it works? But of course it would not occur to them. It would never occur to them to doubt the universality of their own literature. In the nature of things the work of a Western writer is automatically informed by universality. It is only others who must strain to achieve it. So-and-so’s work is universal; he has truly arrived! As though universality were some distant bend in the road which you may take if you travel out far enough in the direction of Europe or America, if you put adequate distance between yourself and your home. I should like to see the word ‘universal’ banned altogether from discussions of African literature until such a time as people cease to use it as a synonym for the narrow, self-serving parochialism of Europe, until their horizon extends to include all the world. If colonialist criticism were merely irritating one might doubt the justification of devoting a whole essay to it. But strange though it may sound some of its ideas and precepts do exert an influence on our writers, for it is a fact of our contemporary world that Europe’s powers of persuasion can be far in excess of the merit and value of her case. Take for instance the black writer who seizes on the theme that Africa’s past is a sadly inglorious one as though it were something new that had not already been ‘proved’ adequately for him. Colonialist critics will, of course, fall all over him in ecstatic and salivating admiration – which is neither unexpected nor particularly interesting. What is fascinating, however, is the tortuous logic and sophistry they will sometimes weave around a perfectly straightforward and natural enthusiasm. […]

The colonialist critic, unwilling to accept the validity of sensibilities other than is own, has made a particular point of dismissing the African novel. He has written lengthy articles to prove its non-existence largely on the grounds that the novel is a peculiarly Western genre, a fact which would interest us if our ambition was to write ‘Western’ novels. But, in any case, did not the black people in America, deprived of their own musical instruments, take the trumpet and the trombone and blow them as they had never been blown before, as indeed they were not designed to be blown? And the result, was it not jazz? Is any one going to say that this was a loss to the world or that those first Negro slaves who began to play around with the discarded instruments of their masters should have played waltzes and foxtrots? No! Let every people bring their gifts to the great festival of the world’s cultural harvest and mankind will be all the richer for the variety and distinctiveness of the offerings.

My people speak disapprovingly of an outsider whose wailing drowned the grief of the owners of the corpse. One last word to the owners. It is because our own critics have been somewhat hesitant in taking control of our own literary criticism (sometimes – let’s face it – for the good reason that we will not do the hard work that should equip us) that the task has fallen to others, some of whom (again we must admit) have been excellent and sensitive. And yet most of what remains to be done can best be tackled by ourselves, the owners. If we fall back, can we complain that others are rushing forward? A man who does not lick his lips, can he blame the harmattan for drying them?

Pretty brilliant entry

  • Dec. 25th, 2011 at 8:41 PM
la_vie_noire: (Anthy flower)
Gender Imperialism.

It has been and continues to be a challenge for me to resist the Western, imperialist constructions of gender. This conflict has been my *only* source of gender confusion and dysphoria. Before I was kicked out of my dad’s house, I was perfectly comfortable with my gender. But as I became entirely surrounded by the Western gaze, with no refuge, I began to feel discord with my gender and body. I have spent years struggling with my gender only to realize that the issue was not about my relation to my body but my relation to how the West views my body. My gender dysphoria was the result of Western imperialism.

[...]Eventually, these experiences (and a toxic friendship) convinced me to throw my skirts away (lovingly hand crocheted by myself) and make up, so that I could be a ‘man.’

Trying to live up to this Western, gender normative notion of ‘man’ did a lot of damage to myself. I’m getting over it, but it hasn’t been easy. And as I exit this stage of my life I’ve been re-examining my relationship with the trans umbrella (and the cis/trans binary). Ultimately, I’m resisting this label too, partially out of mistrust and a fear that even trying out this better, but still Western, conception of gender will still do damage to me. And I think it would. Because accepting the trans label as a bakla means that I’m defining and understanding my gender within a Western context. It is an acceptance of the imperialism and continued colonization of my body by the West.

My gender identity, and its expression, exist outside of the Western construction of gender. It is the product of a culture that, while it has a colonial past, is its own.


  • Dec. 17th, 2011 at 5:43 PM
la_vie_noire: (Stop with the idiocy)
This is the kind of shit that is very Latinoamerican. Which means, it's not really different from every other place.

picture of Powerful Colombian white-looking women in a mansion, and their black maids in the background

The pic despicts the "Valle de Cauca's (Colombia) most powerful women in the formidable Sonia Zarzur's Hollywood-like [*] Mansion, in Cali's Beverly Hills."

*Hollywodiense: kinda shows how our standards are.

So, we have the black maids in the background, being completely decorative to the Powerful White Women. In their Mansion.

And we even have the "you are just looking for racist things!" argument from one of the Powerful White Women.

Seriously, I don't even want to translate it:

“Son niñas que nos trajeron el tinto y el jugo, nosotros nunca nos imaginamos que hubiera gente que vería la foto de otra manera. No entiendo. ¿Indignante es trabajar? ¿Indignante es servir tintos?”, indicó Rosa Haluf de Castro, madre de Zarzur y quien también aparece en la revista.

I don't have idea who these women are, to be honest, but I wouldn't mind if these kind of Celebrities Magazines disappear. Completely. We are flooded with these. They are all about pretty, millionaire, white-looking celebrities posing in their mansions, being "fashionable," whatever that means, talking about frivolities in their uber-rich privileged lives, showing the pretty European/Global North ideals that plague our colonized existences. And these magazines are targeted to developing Latin American countries. It's kinda obscene.


I haven't written in english in a long time. And it probably shows.
la_vie_noire: (Stop with the idiocy)
WikiLeaks Haiti: The Aristide files

US officials led a far-reaching international campaign aimed at keeping former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide exiled in South Africa, rendering him a virtual prisoner there for the last seven years, according to secret US State Department cables.

The cables show that high-level US and UN officials even discussed a politically motivated prosecution of Aristide to prevent him from “gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti.”

The secret cables, made available to the Haitian weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté by WikiLeaks, show how the political defeat of Aristide and his Lavalas movement has been the central pillar of US policy toward the Caribbean nation over the last two US administrations, even though—or perhaps because—US officials understood that he was the most popular political figure in Haiti.

They also reveal how US officials and their diplomatic counterparts from France, Canada, the UN and the Vatican tried to vilify and ostracize the Haitian political leader.


President Obama and Kofi Annan’s successor, Ban Ki-moon, also intervened to urge Pretoria to keep Aristide in South Africa. The secret cables report that Aristide’s return to Haiti would be a “disaster,” according to the Vatican, and “catastrophic,” according to the French.

But the regional and Haitian view was quite different. US Ambassador James Foley admitted in a confidential March 22, 2005, cable that an August 2004 poll “showed that Aristide was still the only figure in Haiti with a favorability rating above 50%.”

Uhm. But of course.

Dude, what more do you need?

  • May. 27th, 2011 at 11:22 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Via The Angry Black Woman.

Perspective On 9/11 And The Invasions Of Iraq & Afghanistan.

Infographic: Casualties From The War On Terror, 9/11, And The Invasion of Iraq

The stats breakdown are as follows:

September 11th Victims: 0.28%

American Casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq: 0.55%

Afghan Civilian Casualties: 4.39%

Iraqi Civilian Casualties: 94.78%

Also, the comments are pretty... uhmazing.

[Stats were transcribed in TABW blog.]

Mar. 19th, 2011

  • 11:02 PM
la_vie_noire: (Claymore10 about to cut)
International forces bombard targets in Libya.

For God's sake. This is a mess.

Yes, Gaddafi is a killer. But this has no excuse. Weren't Iraq and Afghanistan enough?

Two things

  • Mar. 13th, 2011 at 3:19 PM
la_vie_noire: (Anthy flower)
[personal profile] sanguinity has an amazing post: Settler Colonialism and the Imagined Indigenous Viewpoint.


I just read all scanlated out there of Sasameki Koto and found it most delightful. Does someone has good yuri manga/lesbian fiction (reading material, I have no Internet for anything else, sadly) to recommend?


la_vie_noire: (Default)
[personal profile] la_vie_noire

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