Having finally got my hands on a copy of Daniel Barber’s recent book On Diaspora I am trying to carve out enough blocks of time to get it down before the book event. I am only two chapters in and a question is forming in my mind. It may well be that Dan answers the question in the course of the book but the question relates to other accounts that attempt to furnish a theoretical engagement with ‘the powers’ and how they might be named, undermined, overthrown, etc. My experience with these accounts is that they seem to function with the implicit need of a ‘strong subjectivity’. What I mean by this is that there is much language about and call to de-centering, deconstructing, dispossessing, or decomposing (I am of course not assuming these are all the same) while many people simply live in the midst of such processes at the mercy of those who hold power over them. This question reminded me of a post by Tim at Veeritions. What I will be curious about understanding as I continue to read Barber’s work is the extent to which this is a work for the oppressors or at least the strong. Is that inevitable in this medium? I struggle to think of valorizing those who already experience this undoing and can’t understand why I would want to perpetuate it. Barber speaks of endless deterritorialialization and undoing identities, will this mean then I must ‘submit’ in the face of those for whom such a process is enforced so that some other movement might be possible? Can we only ever speak either to the mountain that must be brought low or the valley that must be raised but never both?
In any event these are pre-mature questions, at least with respect to Barber’s work. If you have not already decided to come on board for the event I strongly advise it.