Rambling with Ghosts

April 28, 2019

I haven’t been posting on the recent shooting and car ramming in the U.S. One anti-Semitic and one Islamophobic. The dead and injured and their communities suffer so. The target changes but the gender of the offender remains the same. Men, often young.

The latest death of a young person hit by a weaponized car was identified by the perpetrator as a Muslim though the dead and the injured were not. Racialized people appear as infinitely replaceable phantoms, a projection in the crosshairs of a shooter’s sight – stand-ins, infinitely substituted in a chain of deadly events. Details are of no consequence. It is as though in this violent culture, they are always already almost dead.

A woman in a synagogue grieving her mother’s death leaps between a bullet and her rabbi. Her self-sacrificing death is “heroic” and also just another woman killed in a space defined as safe – a place of worship, a kitchen, a bedroom – like the homes where familiars, mostly male, pummel and kill the beloved women in their lives.

All of this white supremacist and masculist public performance of deadly violence make up part of that long continuum on this continent and others of colonization, settlement and the racialized hierarchies in the establishment and perpetuation of our nation state.

Talking last night with Kim Tallbear about horror movies, ghosts and zombies. She asks us to remember The Others with Nicole Kidman where (spoiler alert) the living are revealed as the dead. And to think about how in the genocidal logic of colonial settler culture the “indian” is imagined as dead. But in fact, it is settler culture that is not ony deadly but dead.

Reverse and displace the terms, a deconstructive move, and Indigenous people animate the land with possible futures inhabited by ghosts and histories we barely see.

(the image is Burial Stand #2, a painting by Jane Ash Poitras)

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