Between Me(e)ting & Mimesis: The Performance of Colonial Identity? – Chris Campanioni

“I am I,” Gertrude Stein wrote, “because my little dog knows me” (149). Yet there is also an “I” in exclusion and so much of our identity formation, as we well know, is dictated on the grounds of difference: I am I because I am not what you are, a fact or feature of identity made explicit in any discussion of belonging, but particularly a viewpoint fashioned through the gaze. “To exist is to be called into being,” Homi K. Bhabha wrote, “in relation to an otherness, its look or locus” (44). In the push and pull1 between demarcation and resemblance, we can see the performance of colonial identity as a permanent stage set in which reciprocal, interdependent ensemble cast members take turns making History, forging a narrative that is by turns individual and collective but by no means changing or changeable, a revolutionary war game robbed of actual social and political exigency. Frantz Fanon makes this explicit in his opening chapter to The Wretched of the Earth: an argument out of the exchange, submission, and ultimately, repetition of the colonial spectacle, an experience whereby nothing is new, only newly arranged.

Fanon begins his chapter “On Violence” by introducing the “substitution” as a motif for a fungible coupling of identities that is indebted to the colonial situation for its very production. Just as the colonist derives his validity from the colonial system, during decolonization, the colonized transforms from “the spectator crushed to a nonessential state into a privileged actor, captured … by the spotlight of History” (my italics; Fanon 2). Make no mistake, the “privilege” is all the oppressor’s; although one would literally not be possible without the other—colonialist and colonized implicate each other in the same way that a citizen-self and foreigner-other do—the white oppressor persists through creating his correlative; the oppressed do not wield the same agency. As Fanon reminds us: “For not only must the black man be black; he must be black in relation to the white man” (Black Skin, White Masks 2). No such stipulation exists, however, for white men; for to be white, one needs only to look in the mirror—self-assurance within the white imagination as one’s only frame of reference within a white world. This dependence upon the scene of oppression is unceasing; even at the moment of decolonization, it is the colonized who seeks to replace the colonizer, to reverse the roles, to balance the equation through substitution; in order to exist then, to keep existing, one must be two: co-existing. Put another way, under the spotlight of History, any actor must be required to swap one role for another, to keep playing the game, for the sake of the performance, for the performance to come off right. What signifies Fanon’s departure from the Hegelian dialectic between slave and master is precisely this role-reversal: for Hegel, the slave turns away from the master to turn toward the object, finding freedom in work. Fanon, knew, however, that in the colonial screenplay, the slave abandons the object; the slave turns toward the master because the slave wants to be the master.

Everything in fact, must be swapped, substituted, exchanged. Yet nothing in the compartmentalized colonial screenplay can actually be shared, besides, perhaps, actual screen time. “The colonized world is a world divided in two” (The Wretched of the Earth 3) Fanon argues. Yet it’s not just the world that has been divided, it’s also the mind and personality of the colonized subject that has suffered disintegration, a “dissolution or splitting of the personality [which] plays a key regulating role in ensuring the stability of the colonized world” (20). And it is this stability of the colonized world, its stasis, its unending, bending blur of musical chairs that is at stake for both parties, precisely because, as Fanon declares, “the colonist is no longer interested in staying on … once the colonial context has disappeared” (9). And why would they? The colonist’s power is derived from difference, but specifically from a difference that is recognized, hailed, saluted by the colonized, a companion or commanding. I am I because my little dog knows me. It is knowledge itself that becomes a proof of purchase, the actual remainder from an otherwise indivisible equation, investing its participants with and through a form of direction. “The master-slave dialectic …” Giorgio Agamben writes in Remnants of Auschwitz, “is the result not of a battle for life and death, but rather of an infinite ‘discipline,’ a meticulous and interminable process of instruction and apprenticeship in which the two subjects end by exchanging their roles” (108). Every performance in which subjectification and desubjectification circulates, in which sovereign and servile bodies momentarily coincide, is predicated on this pretense, and promise.

And yet without the other, I am nothing. While Fanon was in Algeria, having left France to investigate the psychological repercussions of colonization and the “Sleeping Beauty” effect of the Cold War as the ultimate dead-end to revolutionary struggle, Jean Genet was in Paris,2 writing The Balcony, a play set amid insurrection in an unnamed city. While the potential for social upheaval rages out on the streets, off stage, the action itself is wholly situated inside a brothel, where various characters engage in role-playing scenarios and elaborate wish-fulfillment fantasies, sometimes mirroring their counter-revolutionary counterparts (the Chief Justice, the Bishop, the General, etc.) … that “phantasmic space of possession” that Bhabha tells us permits the “dream of the inversion of roles” (44), ultimately climaxing in the effort to restore the status quo and quell the violence. Pose, from Latin pausa, to stop, rest, pause—every pose becomes a weapon, or a shield. If the exposure is right. Dodge, burn.

Just as Fanon’s far-reaching social-political analysis in The Wretched of the Earth suggested, Genet’s characters also have no agency without their counterparts, as evidenced early on, in a dialogue between the Thief, the Judge, and the Executioner. Once again, the question of whether they are only acting, or whether they are acting out in accord with their private desires is almost irrelevant; what matters here is the psychological effect of the role itself; the motivation to perform the social script and the contingency of the other to play along. In other words, the extras that populate the scene are more than simple supplements; everyone in fact becomes integral in an effort to re-member the self, since, without the other’s gaze, without the other’s recognition of difference, all we have to embody experience is literally our own body; our flesh and blood—a fact the Judge well understands.

Arm, hundredweight of meat, without you I’d be nothing. … (To the Thief) And without you too, my child. You’re my two perfect complements. … Ah, what a fine trio we make! (To the Thief) But you, you have a privilege that he hasn’t, nor I either, that of priority. My being a judge is an emanation of your being a thief. You need only refuse—but you’d better not!—need only refuse to be who you are—what you are, therefore who you are—for me to cease to be … to vanish, evaporated. Burst. Volatized. Denied. … You’d deprive me of being! (Genet 19)

Everyone is a willing performer, even if the line between real life and its representation are never quite clear—and never more crucial—than when bare life, in all its costumed glory, is at stake.

Well, what about Arthur?

He’ll be dead this evening.

Dead? You mean … really … really dead?

Come, come, George, the way one dies here.

Indeed? Meaning … (53)

The ambiguity is intentional but the actual answer is beside the point; in the colonial situation as it is represented in The Balcony, state-sponsored suppression is an encore performance that plays nightly, meant to redirect attention of those marginalized and dehumanized persons in the same way that Fanon sees the inhibiting effects of religion and myth. Speaking of the magical, he writes: “The colonist’s powers are infinitely shrunk … There is no real reason to fight them because what really matters is that the mythical structures contain far more terrifying adversaries. It is evident that everything is reduced to a permanent confrontation at the level of phantasy” (my italics; The Wretched of the Earth 19). The Envoy’s probing question to the Chief of Police—real or imagined—halfway through the play is never actually answered and never fully realized. “Would it perturb you to see things as they are? To gaze at the world tranquilly and accept responsibility for your gaze, whatever it might see?” (Genet 64) It is no coincidence that it is The Envoy who begs the question; in our dealings with the relationship between self and other, difference and likeness, the interjection of an intermediary, an in between, but moreover, a being-between-selves,3 becomes the actual agent for subversion.

It might be true that we are nothing like our reflection, but we are also nothing without it. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, developing his unfinished The Visible and the Invisible until his death, knew that the relation between things and the body is singular and often paradoxical; it’s what makes us “remain in appearances, and it is also what sometimes brings me to the things themselves” (8). Even more, every gaze carries with it a function that is by turns imperialistic—“an attempt to return to … the value of my thing” (10)—and narcissistic, emanating in and from the body. “The other is born from my side, by a sort of propagation by cuttings or by subdivision” (59) Merleau-Ponty writes, echoing Bhabha’s assertion of “epistemic violence” (42) the black man’s body broken up by the white man’s eyes. Our inclination to re-make others in our gaze is matched only by our habitual need to also be made, to be looked at and formed in one’s image, a profound narcissism that might have its roots in Genesis but reaches outward, into the stage of everyday life and its locus as a site of performativity and mutable identity: “not to see in the outside, as the others see it, the contour of a body one inhabits, but especially to be seen by the outside, to exist within it, to emigrate into it, to be seduced, captivated, alienated by the phantom, so that the seer and the visible reciprocate one another and we no longer know which sees and which is seen” (my italics; Merleau-Ponty 139).

Again, the identification of who is what—in other words, who is performing in which role—is irrelevant; it’s only the fact of our dependence on the other that matters, the scenario we each inhabit or which inhabits us, because, as Merleau-Ponty points out again and again, in different contexts and to different effects, being nothing, I have to be my situation. Being nothing, I have to play the role the other has given me, in accordance with the role the other is playing. If Fanon’s colonist is indeed an exhibitionist, it is only due to the subservient surveillance of the colonized. This bilateral relationship is developed throughout The Visible and the Invisible in terms of “being” and “nothingness”—Merleau-Ponty, taking up Sartre—as well as the eponymous “visible” and “invisible”: two points of seeing “which belong to the same system of being for itself and being for another … moments of the same syntax … in the same world … we belong to the same Being” (83). In his working notes, Merleau-Ponty explains his logic; not surprisingly, his language veers toward the potential of the performative: “There are two caverns, two opennesses, two stages where something will take place—and which both belong to the same world, to the stage of Being. … They are each the other side of the other. This is why they incorporate one another …” (263). Fanon saw the colonial simulacra as an experience of assimilation, in which the oppressed “turns into a kind of mimic man” (The Wretched of the Earth 13) who mirrors their oppressor. By contrast, Merleau-Ponty accounts for this necessary doubling to show how we perform all the time for one another—not necessarily in the Baudrillardian sense of simulation or manufacture, not in opposition with or as a binary to the real, but in the implicit, everyday ways4 in which we are for another or by virtue of another, Stein’s “little dog” (of which there were two, or double: Basket, and when he died, another Basket) or simply our own gaze reflected back at us, but different.

“The picture is in my eye,” Lacan wrote. “But I am not in the picture” (96). And what he meant was the gaze always annihilates, even as it allows the creation or beginning of perception; even as it silences in the moment it thrusts us into the world. Sometimes I feel as if I have lost myself in a mix of cinema and TV, memories and the memory of watching someone else’s life. I mean moving images. Every photograph, even the ones that are not spun on a projector, are moving, deferring absence and fixing memory in a moment that is always elsewhere. Sometimes this lack of clarity is like failing to locate one’s eyeglasses. I look for them upon waking. My hand reaches out on my nightstand. They are not there. But they are not not there. They exist; they are only not visible.

What does it mean to be not visible, to be not legible, to be not capable of being seen by another? Certainly, and perhaps from the start, it is an experience of dehumanization. But even and especially in the alienating scenario, the scene of oppression, to not be seen is an escape from the repetition of the brutality of the oppressor and the violence of their gaze, and perhaps, too, a turn from the repetition of its trauma.

To re-articulate then; to reticulate or to bear reticulation; to be in between or both, to be also. See again: Frantz Fanon, and his opening remarks to the “clinical study” which constitutes Black Skin, White Masks:

There is a zone of nonbeing, an extraordinarily sterile and arid region, an utterly naked declivity where an authentic upheaval can be born. … Of those who heat the iron in order to shape it at once. I should prefer to warm man’s body and leave him. We might reach this result: mankind retaining this fire through self-combustion. Mankind set free of the trampoline that is the resistance of others, and digging into its own flesh to find a meaning. (2-3)

All of Fanon’s attempts to slip into corners, stay silent, and “strive for anonymity, for invisibility” (88) are born of this wish to remain unnoticed. The oppressed is able to disrupt the systematic onslaught of oppression because, not in spite of, the fact of their invisibility. And moreover, this disruption occurs without the dependency of the other; the rupture enacts as a literal rupture from one’s self—the “digging into” as a violent and voluntary site of self-ethnographic inquiry. The terms, Bhabha writes, have now changed. And instead of that mutual exchange, we are met with mimicry; we mete out resistance, evasion. “Each time the encounter with identity occurs at the point at which something exceeds the frame of the image, it eludes the eye, evacuates the self as site of identity and autonomy,” Bhabha writes, “and—most important—leaves a resistance trace, a stain of the subject, a sign of resistance” (49). The fundamental structure of Western ontology that Merleau-Ponty had endeavored to revise—the relationship between subject and object5—has been dismissed from the conversation, replaced by a demand for an identification that probes, instead, questions of desire and negation—and ultimately, the remainder. But it is important to note that even this discursive strategy is dependent upon the other, even if what’s being received by the oppressed is only being taken in to turn it back on their oppressor, a sublimation of both voyeuristic and fetishistic desires, an alienation of both monitoring-master and slave-as-witness. “The evil eye—like the missing person—is nothing in itself,” Bhabha contends, “and it is this structure of difference that produces the hybridity of race and sexuality in the postcolonial discourse” (53). Even more than a structure of difference, the invisible depends on its own negation; its potential for subversion is located precisely in its inability to be located, to be fixed, to be found out and ultimately, formulated. The necessity to go again, to do it over, to keep doing it, is worth repeating; it is only by repeating negation that one can articulate presence, the way water is molded into shape by its contact with the earth, even as it washes away the tracks of its own movement. Paul de Man, in his discussion of disfigurement, likens this pattern of negation to a substitution, in which an undoing occurs without fully obscuring its process or movement. “… Since this pattern does not fully correspond to what it covers up,” de Man writes, “it leaves the trace which allows one to call this ambivalent shaping a forgetting” (de Man 107).

To be forgotten, one needs first to exist, and it is within the spectrum of visibility and recognition—to be called, to be recalled—once again, where we can locate agency. “In the cause of silence, each of us draws the face of her own fear,” Audre Lorde writes, “fear of contempt, of censure, or some judgment, or recognition, of challenge, of annihilation. But most of all, I think, we fear the visibility without which we cannot truly live” (my italics; 42). “The political struggle is to see from both perspectives at once,” Donna Haraway attests in “A Cyborg Manifesto,” “because each reveals both dominations and possibilities unimaginable from the other vantage point” (295). The struggle is to get out of the dualisms inherent in ideology, identity formation, acculturation—or rather, to move in and out, out and in, to inhabit separate, often contradictory locations, to be unlocatable. Rather than the binary of and interdependence between being and nothingness or self and other, I am interested in exploring the agency of the self as other, the otherness of the self inscribed again and again, marked out and met with its former selves, as in a palimpsest that forms a trajectory of identity that is anything but linear; a trajectory of identity that, on the contrary, is always threatened by the insurgence of the present and the past, historical materialism on the individual level.

Saadat Hasan Manto’s short stories provoke this question of difference, but also exchange. Manto’s characters are beset by a trauma that mirrors the colonial spectacle through the repetition of each of their performances, provoking both literal measurement—inscribing bodies and boundaries—and the self-silencing effects of what can never be acutely measured. Written and situated during the partition, at a moment in which India was geographically split, “Toba Tek Singh” begins by merging the “mad” and “partially mad” through the paradoxical situation of the country at large:

As to where Pakistan was located, the inmates knew nothing. That was why both the mad and the partially mad were unable to decide whether they were now in India or in Pakistan. If they were in India, where on earth was Pakistan? And if they were in Pakistan, then how come that until only the other day it was India? (12)

On the contrary, the segregated present’s turbulent state begets a future that is both continuous emergency and continuously emergent:

It was anybody’s guess what was going to happen to Lahore, which was currently in Pakistan, but could slide into India any moment. It was also possible that the entire subcontinent of India might become Pakistan. And who could say if both India and Pakistan might not entirely vanish from the map of the world one day? (14)

Bishan Singh, who adopts the name Toba Tek Singh, is described, like his territorial namesake,6 as living “in a kind of limbo …” a transitional place, a way out of linearity, temporal and spatial constraints or conceptions of the spotlight of History. Indeed, Singh has no inkling of “what day of the week it was, or month, or how many years had passed since his confinement” (15). The story’s plot point of exchange arrangements becomes in and of itself an allegory for the doubling of colonial identity but also of the interdependence of a pre-meditated exchange: a kind of return that enables identity as much as it encloses it into one of two roles. Yet that aforementioned structure of difference within the self becomes, again, a “stain” of resistance. Just as the “mad” and “partially mad” become interchangeable, so, too, does Bishan Singh become Toba Tek Singh—mimicking the mutability of the district in question—the same, but somehow different, the way a mirror image perverts the person before it, instead of simply duplicating (literally repeating) them. “There he stood in no man’s land on his swollen legs like a colossus. … He was allowed to stand where he wanted, while the exchange continued. … In between, on a bit of earth which had no name …” (my italics; 18). The madman who, in Félix Guattari’s words, becomes a marker or model for the individual who has escaped societal repression, the one who has been able to “directly express a free deciphering of desire” (41) is able to reclaim autonomy before he dies, only because of his ability and aptitude to commune with the nameless, the invisible, the part of the earth that is not here, but not not here. I have italicized so much of the story’s closing passage to emphasize the agency given to the liminal self which is always on the threshold, like all of Lahore, like all of India and all of Pakistan, all of them—its victims and tyrants, too—who could vanish at any moment, but also, who could, at any moment, become something else.

The potential for an alternative—and even, alterity—is what drives the oppressed, at every moment, whether or not they, as Fanon affirmed, actually want to switch places with their oppressor. And likewise, many of Manto’s characters are concerned with the future of present trauma, what can not yet be located, what “defies and demands our witness” (5) as Cathy Caruth writes in Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History. In Manto’s “The Dutiful Daughter,” we meet one such narrator, wholly held captive with the narrative of the belated experience, its endless impact on life.

When I thought about these abducted girls, I only saw their protruding bellies. What was going to happen to them and what they contained? Who would claim the end result? Pakistan or India? … Or would it all be put down in God’s great ledger, if there were still any pages left? The abducted women were being moved from this side to that and that side to this all the time. (126)

These ritual exchanges are nothing more than the performance of colonial-identity-as-co-accomplice that Fanon knew could only prolong and perpetuate oppression. How, then, does one get out of the cycle of exchange? How does one circumvent the spotlight of “History”—how does one dodge time? Jean-François Lyotard, in Just Gaming, establishes a connection with popular tradition and its opposition to history and an idea of progress that depends upon accumulation, capital or otherwise. “On the contrary, in the case of popular traditions … nothing gets accumulated, that is the narratives must be repeated all the time because they are forgotten all the time” (39). And each repetition, contrary to Caruth’s insistence on merely telling and listening, must then really become the re-iteration of trauma, and with each successive act, the eye, or I, returns the abject gaze of its oppressor upon itself, again and again, as in any iteration, a sequence of operations yielding results successively closer to a desired result—even and especially if what is desired most is one’s own throbbing anguish. “It is the wreckage of what surrounds me,” Fanon declares, “that provides the foundation for my virility” (Black Skin, White Masks 164) It is resistance that becomes its own alterity, and alterity—of conflict, of complication and split—that becomes the tide of resistance. This is why alterity is a form of resistance as much as it is an auguring of the future; a space in which difference is celebrated, as much for its diversity as for its agency in forming an identity of opposition, a resistance in and of itself. And to resist means first to consider the measure and capacity, as well as the means and the outcome: prepared to act, in every sense of the word.

Ananya Jahanara Kabir’s work on trauma theory is rooted in re-locating its discursive structure from a Euro-American, psychoanalytic model and towards non-narrative, lyrical, often fragmentary meditations that are at times pedagogic and performative, emulative and immersive—each of them capable of responding to trauma and identity in ways that conventional narrative cannot. Kabir uses the example of Phnom Penh’s Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum to show how, among paintings of victims and torturers lining the walls, visitors are conveyed onto a “common ground between representation and reality” (68), an effect that appears strikingly similar to the scenarios acted out in The Balcony; equal parts imitative and iterative, it is an invitation to enact the past as much as to re-embody the present. The potential for these temporal implosions is realized, pages later, in Kabir’s analysis of the Angolan Kuduro dance form, the “bodily-performative practices” of Kuduristas, her observations on how “the dancing body, playing freely with syncopated contrasts, constantly mocks this temporality [of the 4/4 rhythmic grid]” (69). Experiencing music, witnessing dance, very often makes one move, too, an imitative gesture that leads to an encounter with the other, the limbo that can often bear bodily sweat as well as transition. A way out of silencing, Kabir maintains, is not only non-narrative, but often, also non-linguistic. Yet at every turn, we are continually met with mimesis, even if the imitative gesture or appropriated idiom is meant to mirror back to the oppressor an image of themselves which they often suppress and will inevitably recognize.

What would it mean to work on and against ideology from the inside? Disidentification is a refusal and also an opening; a refusal to identify with one world or word and the unfolding of another one, through performance. Marginalized persons have always been able to resist oppression through the utopic possibilities of performance, a practice and a premise undertaken by José Esteban Muñoz in his book, Disidentifications, which explores the tactic and its use as a pre-meditated mode of survival and resistance:

Disidentification is about recycling and rethinking encoded meaning. The process of disidentification scrambles and reconstructs the encoded message of a cultural text in a fashion that both exposes the encoded message’s universalizing and exclusionary machinations and recircuits its workings to account for, include, and empower minority identities and identifications. Thus, disidentification is a step further than cracking open the code of the majority; it proceeds to use this code as raw material for representing a disempowered politics or positionality that has been rendered unthinkable by the dominant culture. (31)

Disidentification becomes another sight or site of resistance and self-creation for those marginalized, those thought unthinkable by a dominant culture that can only fashion the other in its own gaze. By meeting that narcissistic, imperial look instead of turning away from it, and thereby dismantling it from within, exposing through experience, the colonized can perhaps finally get out of the colonial context and its unending oppression. To adopt and adapt. “These identities-in-difference,” Muñoz writes, “emerge from a failed interpellation within the dominant public sphere. Their emergence is predicated on their ability to disidentify with the mass public and instead, through this disidentification, contribute to the function of a counterpublic sphere” (7). This counter-gaze is strikingly similar to the evil eye—remember—that gaze that simulates so as to subvert, to embed so as to eradicate.

A counter-gaze—a counter that does not act in opposition to, does not offset, does not nullify, but asserts itself, accounts for itself, from Anglo-French cunter, to count, something of value in bargaining, over the counter, used without prescription, under the counter, by surreptitious means; done with skillful avoidance of detection, even biometric detection. Underhanded, in violation of authority. To be individually author-less, to be anonymous. And in looking back—that is, in returning the gaze—one can document one’s own oppression for the future.

How, then, can we evaluate the several different approaches to reclaiming identity in the face of alienation, migration, colonization, partition, psychic and social disintegration—and is one tactic more effective than any other? The violence championed by Fanon, the wish fulfillment provoked by Genet, the repetition of storytelling and disclosure espoused by Caruth, the choreographed, participatory mimesis analyzed by Kabir, the non-cooperation and paradoxical thinking of Manto’s “mad” characters, the reformulation of the world through the performance of politics and the recycling of damaged stereotypes in disidentification? What about the relatively primal gesture of empathetic exchange, a moment of meeting, in which we celebrate the other’s difference and reveal or revel in our own? Merleau-Ponty thought this communion was possible through physical touch, at least momentarily. “The handshake too is reversible,” he writes. “I can feel myself touched as well and at the same time as touching …” (142). Édouard Glissant re-thinks the necessity of violence by re-defining how we think about the contact between cultures and equating violence with risk, emotional vulnerability, and surrender, echoing a haptic aesthetics that is as much about being in touch as it is about really feeling. “The most peaceful thought is, thus, in its turn a violence,” Glissant writes, “when it imagines the risky processes of Relation yet nonetheless avoids the always comfortable trap of generalization. This antiviolence violence is no trivial thing; it is opening and creation” (156). Perhaps we should end, or begin, on diverting the approach itself, or opening its etymological framework by thinking about how a performance is also always a diversion. Divert, from Latin divertere: to turn in opposite directions, from dis + vertere: to turn, to overturn—more at worth. Verb, archaic.

To become.


Works Cited

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Roazen. Zone Books, 1999.

Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. Routledge, 1994.

Caruth, Cathy. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History. The Johns Hopkins

University Press, 1996.

De Man, Paul. “Shelley Disfigured.” The Rhetoric of Romanticism. Columbia University Press,


Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. Pluto Press, 1986.

Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Trans. Richard Philcox. Grove Press, 1963.

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Haraway, Donna. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, technology and socialist-feminism in the late

wentieth century.” The Cybercultures Reader. Ed. David Bell and Barbara M. Kennedy. Routledge, 2001.

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1 In the shared-space office where I am writing this, the glass door to my left says PUSH; behind it are instructions to PULL.

2 Coincidentally, Genet would eventually work alongside Michel Foucault and Jean-Paul Sartre to protest police brutality against Algerians in Paris following the Algerian War of Independence. Perhaps more coincidentally, Foucault would also give a series of lectures at the University of Tunis beginning in 1966, six years after Fanon’s own were canceled by the Tunisian government.

3 Heterogeneity, of course, is systematically annihilated within the colonial context, but also under decolonization, as Fanon points out, “by unifying it on the grounds of nation and sometimes race” (The Wretched of the Earth 10). Is it any wonder, then, that the task of “reintroducing man into the world, man in his totality” (62)—and all of what the hybrid, migrant (and migratory) self represents—has become so colossal?

4 See also: J.L. Austin’s “Performative Utterances” (Philosophical Papers, 1979) and how words can be materialized into actions if the circumstances are right and there is another person present; that is to say, a witness.

5 Wolfgang Iser, in his essay, “The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach” (New Literary History, 1972), makes a similar revision to the subject-object division by showing how in reading, the reader becomes the subject that does the thinking, a convergence of consciousness between the author, the text, and its audience that forms a living event.

6 Toba Tek Singh, a district in the Punjab province of Pakistan, became a home to many Muslim refugees from India following the partition.