DEATH BY HANGING CONTRA THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS BY WAY OF RANCIÈRE - In this essay I examine the status of political representation in Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (La bataille d’Alger, 1966, ITA) and Nagisa Oshima’s Death by Hanging (Koshikei, 1968, JAP) through the political theories of Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Rancière. Death by Hanging, I argue, is a direct response to the aestheticizing of politics in The Battle of Algiers, a film that Oshima provocatively called a “trashy” melodrama. The two films present radically different ways of approaching political subjectivity and alterity, thus both works take “fight or flight” as a central theme. Within the films, terms such as “criminal,” “terrorist,” “Korean,” “Algerian,” “citizen,” and “nation” are uttered, performed, and explored to uncover the ways each word produces conflicting meanings and effects dependent upon the spaces in which protagonists appear. Ultimately my analysis finds that Habermas’s approach to politics falls short of its lofty ideals. Habermas’s political theory does not aid the protagonist of Algiers in his fight against colonialism. Rather, by placing Algiers against Oshima’s absurdist film, and finding the latter’s parallels in Rancière’s theory, I uncover new ways to cinematically represent individuals who have no formal role to play in state politics.
REFUGE AND SUBTERFUGE: THE AMBIVALENCE OF MIGRANT IDENTITY IN THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN ROAD MOVIES LA MISMA LUNA AND SIN NOMBRE - In Patricia Riggen’s film La misma luna (2007) and Cary Joji Fukunaga’s film Sin nombre (2009), the road is not depicted as a place of escape that represents the freedom of the road often seen in traditional North American road movies; rather, the road in these films becomes a means of escape towards the ideal of freedom that lies across the United States border. In each of these films, crossing the border from Mexico becomes an objective for the protagonists that hope for a future filled with economic stability and political equality. This is, however, an ‘American dream’ that can never be fully realized across the border when a tragic loss of home, family, and belonging has been manifested on the southern side. The following article reveals how the identities of these migrants are caught between the acts of subterfuge and the desires of refuge, creating an ambiguous formation of cultural identity different from that which is established in their homeland. The road, in this way, creates new hybrid identities that illustrate well the modern Latin American condition of cultural mobility across borders.
SPECTRES OF MEMORY AND LANGUAGE IN THE POETRY OF PAUL CELAN - The poetry of Paul Celan revolves around a constant, intimate play of remembrance and oblivion, repeatedly unfolding an unrepeatable past. Following the lines of interpretation proposed by Jacques Derrida in Sovereignties in Question, by Anne Carson in her Economy of the Unlost, and by Edward Casey’s phenomenology of remembering, the present article aims to describe how Paul Celan’s poetic images generate and surround the void, abandon themselves to self-effacement and oblivion, while retracing an abstract practice of remembrance and inscribing memory into language.
ALL THE DANGEROUS STUFF IS ON TOP: HELEN’S QUILT AS EKPHRASIS IN THOMAS KING’S TRUTH AND BRIGHT WATER - The description of Helen’s quilt in Thomas King’s novel Truth and Bright Water is a reinterpretation of ekphrasis that shows the potential for collective healing and support among Indigenous communities offered by artistic endeavours that validate Indigenous peoples’ lived experiences. Focusing on the similarities between the quilt and two famous examples of ekphrasis from Homer’s Iliad, this paper argues that King’s novel has repurposed ekphrasis in a way that makes room for the narratives of Indigenous people by describing works of art that double as works of healing and resistance for their creators.
TRANSGRESSIVE TECHNOLOGICAL WEAPONS OF WAR: CONTROLLING WITCHES, WEARING UNIFORMS, MANAGING VOIDS, AND ENHANCING BODIES - The growing popularity of anime and manga since the early 1990s not only generated passionate community of fans around the world, but also an increasing body of academic work taking the emerging media more seriously than ever. Topics such as gendered stereotypes, the psychology of the otaku’s desire, unconventional gender representations, and so on have contributed to this relatively new field of study. Analyses of the ‘technological body’, dealing with questions of post-humanism and its relationship to gender, have paved the way to rethinking the body in significant ways. The complexity of the technological body and its depictions in anime and manga, however, requires exploring new avenues that further challenge the boundaries of the body. This essay will present a fresh perspective on the technological body by building on current scholarship emphasizing its transformative features, as well as adding a layer of complexity to the analysis by examining the intertwined nature of technology and war in reshaping the human body into a weapon with which to wage war, in the context of four selected works: Strike Witches, Kill la Kill, Guilty Crown, and Saikano: The Last Love Song on This Little Planet.