It all began during a merciful South African winter. Words, sentences. Strung together into random stories about the unimaginable. About rape. About sexual violence as a tool of political and social oppression. About the intersection of rape and the state. About the suffering. And its silence. This blog will continue to explore this deeply troubling nexus - its society-centred and state-centred character. And the manipulation of its narrative.
This is our story. Yours and mine.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
May I spam your world?
Ok. Here we have it. It’s time to give this thing, called dissertation, a serious go and push into some finite and final direction. I have a timeline and a deadline – and it ain’t pretty. I am kind of (consistently) in despair over it, and I don’t want to bore you with my daily back and forth, ups and downs. But not to fear, given that the subject is kind of a downer by default, maybe you’ll find a few of these entries interesting, thought provoking, weird, controversial, horrific and maybe yet surprisingly hopeful. As a writer, I think, you write mainly for yourself . Secondarily, however, there is always this hope to touch somebody else. So, I found this book “A Problem from Hell. America and the Age of Genocide” by Samantha Power. Published in 2002, she won the Pulitzer in 2003 for examining the reluctance of the U.S. Government and its foreign policies to act when it comes to genocides. She chronicles the events from the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century, to the Holocaust, Cambodia, Iraq to Bosnia and Rwanda. I haven’t gone very far yet. But one sentence, for example, that kind of stood out was the advice she received when she started interviewing people : Guard yourself against two things: selective memory and absolute dishonesty. This reminded me of my trip to Rwanda, the testimonies I’ve read and the conversations I had. The reluctance to talk about rape during the genocide. The stigma attached to it. The coding of the truth. But how insular is this really? Isn’t it also a coding that goes beyond the local and the individual? Stretches into the media and international institutions, international law and foreign policies. When do we as the collective practice and apply selective memory and absolute dishonesty ourselves? Willingly. Consciously. Purposely. Conveniently. As I am framing my argument around why rape used for centuries as a systematic tool of war only recently has been recognized as such, when does such selective application (in foreign policies; security decisions) bother us ? When does it matter? Does it?