Lynching: a thread

Since several of my most recent blog posts have touched on lynching on United States soil, I’ve discovered some interested threads between my Wikipedia research and some course concepts I’ve been wanting to unpack since we first started reading Roach. One of my favorite things is when themes overlap between my classes and as it happens, I had just learned about the Exclusion Crisis with Dr. Paku a few days prior to reading about it in Roach’s “Echoes in the Bone” (44). That very day I wrote a big, underlined “BLOG POST” next to the passage, highlighted with three ginormous starts. I guess what you could say is that this post has been a long time coming.

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“I will kneel to him”: Caliban’s Gods

The body of folk wisdom that encircles the history of European colonization of the Americas is both deeply flawed and widely pervasive. It’s widely enough believed that a professor I took a required class for my Latin American Studies minor with this semester, skimming over the early colonial period so that we could advance towards more modern history, repeated at face value the same stories we have heard over and over: that Aztecs believed that the Spanish were returning gods, that the Aztecs believed that Spaniards on horses were centaurs, that the Spanish were able to conquer indigenous empires simply by virtue of imported technology, and so on. I was lucky enough to have taken a class on early Latin American history before this semester and had to have been exposed to more up to date scholarship on the topic, but it bothered me that these classic truisms were being reaffirmed in a scholarly setting. This may be why I was drawn to the scene in The Tempest where Caliban, coming upon the drunk Stephano and Trinculo, believes that they are gods and swears his loyalty to them in overthrowing Prospero. In many ways, this interaction reproduces the same fallacy that began to be propagated about the Spanish/Aztec (by extension, European/Native American) conflict in the decades prior to Shakespeare’s completion of the play. Continue reading ““I will kneel to him”: Caliban’s Gods”

Unpacking Caliban

William Shakespeare did not write his characters as inherently “good” or “evil.” Rather, they would come in various shades of gray. Shakespeare understood the human condition, that every person has flaws and virtues of their own, and that’s what makes interesting characters. However, there are some notable exceptions to this: some Shakespearean characters aren’t fully “human,” and aren’t limited by this property. Most notably, the Three Witches of Macbeth are inexplicably evil: they are disproportionately vengeful, cruel, and mischievous. They knowingly drove the title character of Macbeth to madness and a kingdom to ruin for no clear benefit for themselves other than amusement.  Continue reading “Unpacking Caliban”

Care as a way to avoid catastrophe

On April 26, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened it’s doors in Montgomery, Alabama. According to it’s website, it is the nation’s first official memorial dedicated to the remembrance of enslaved and repressed African Americans. When I read that I couldn’t help but feel a sense of discomfort due to the perplexing irony found in the close proximity between the Charlottesville rally in August 2017, which in case you’ve forgotten was a rally that violently opposed the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue (who has become a Confederate icon), and the long overdue arrival of the first U.S. slave memorial. Initial discomfort aside, I am extremely glad that this monument is finally able to open it’s doors and remind us all of the horrific events (past and present) that many of us are so willing to forget.

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Y2K? What’s that?

Y2K What is going on? The end of the world, that’s what! At least an apocalyptic ending is what I thought at 13 years old listening to the mass media, in addition to my friends in high school. A simple computer date change glitch caused thousands of people to flock to supermarkets to stock their homes, register for survival classes, and purchase more firearms. I, a very gullible and impressionable teenager, thought the very worst was coming. Because my mother and I were very poor, I started selling whatever I could of my things, board and video games, clothes, and even a gold cross I received as a First Communion gift; along with doing odd jobs to buy extra water and canned food, just in case this really was the end. Many times during this semester we have broached, as a class, the topic of what we would do in a time of crisis, and how we would handle it. In the case of 13 year old me, and several of my friends, full blown panic ensued. Relating this back to course concepts like waste, care, memory, forgetting, and performance every one of these was present in 1999. Continue reading “Y2K? What’s that?”


By: Cam Rustay and Neha Marolia

We would like to accredit the entire film team including: Clayton Smith, Caroline Mossel,  Jennifer Bender, and Lily Cordera

One of my favorite Insomnia Film Festival viewings starred my friend Clayton Smith. His short film can be found here. Memory and forgetting played a role as I thoroughly enjoyed his film as a form of entertainment, or a performance. It wasn’t until the other day that I ran into him that I recognized the parallels between his film and course concepts. Continue reading “Drip…Drip…Graduation”

Another bigger picture to unpack behind _Zone One_

All semester I have been returning to Dr. McCoy’s word of caution about the seduction of scorn and by extension, returning to the scorn many communities receive in the wake of natural disasters for not leaving before disaster strikes. To start, I want to go all the way back to the “Dear Facebook Nation” post that Dr. McCoy shared early in the semester, a sort of “listicle” rant to those who pass harsh judgement on individuals who didn’t evacuate the effected areas of Hurricane Irma. These “rules” remind readers of the intricacies surrounding evacuation to remind fellow Facebookers from making scornful, snap judgments about the individuals who decided to stay (and I use the word decided very loosely).

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Unpacking the symbolically central importance of skels

Growing up, I’ve been fortunate enough to have an aunt who values and prioritizes listening to female artists in the music industry. These artists that she inevitably shares with me have some consistent qualities: they are brash, they are political, they are powerful. One artist that has left an imprint in my heart and mind is Ani DiFranco, an American poet, singer, songwriter, activist and owner and founder of Righteous Babe Records among other things. DiFranco has always had a way of instilling me with a sense of empowerment and insight, even when I was a young kid and didn’t exactly know what she was singing about.

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Subjectivity of Post-Mortem Identity

Since writing about my experience at the wake/funeral services that I attended this past weekend, I have had an urge to talk about the body politic and what social factors are capable of altering it. Specifically, I would like to talk about the social implications on the subjectivity of post-mortem burial rights. An identity is only what the actions of the person make it. After someone becomes deceased, who has the right to speak for an identity that’s been, to society, used up? A person’s identity is only useful to society after death to remember; serving as an agency to the performance of memory – but it is too subjective to claim that everyone’s identity is “useful” in the grand scheme of things. Now, that’s not to say that identities are not important, because self-expression is important in everyone; but to further a societal gain, one’s identity must impact the factors that benefit a society. For example, my identity means nothing to someone who is involved in the Labour Party of the U.K. – they do not benefit from my existence, I do not benefit from theirs.

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Not Fade Away

Imagine you’re a server at a downtown bar and grill in the city. It’s open until 3 am and the surrounding area has gone completely silent and dark by the time you and your co-workers lock the doors and say good night. You’ve made cash tips on a Friday night, and it’s just in time too. Your rent is due and you had to make some emergency payments for your school loans and also to buy the parts for your car. It wasn’t a big deal, though, as you were able to make repairs yourself and save yourself quite a bit of money. So you’ve got a fat wad of bills in your pocket as you make your way home, through a small but poorly lit park. You eventually come to realize there are footsteps accompanying your own, behind you. Before you can react, a sharp discomfort hits you in the back and you go down, helpless and in immense pain as someone goes through your pockets, taking all that money you needed to pay rent with and escaping into the darkness. Luckily, a bystander hears the commotion and calls for an ambulance which arrives within minutes. The medics put you on a stretcher and rush you to the nearest hospital, where you’re stitched up. You can’t stop shaking, no matter what you do.

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