When the Body Politic Ceases To Be an Idea
Civil awakening at this time / sheds a new light on the great revolutions of the eighteenth century / exposes the fact that they are the revolutions of ruling powers / which, on behalf of the nation’s right to self- determination / expel entire populations / And in the name of the capital they covet / recruit all who are allowed to remain or enter / as the nation’s sentries.
For every horror / that today might seem a novelty / a precedent is found in regimes that rose, inspired by those great revolutions / revolutions that created / an ongoing regime-made disaster / A disaster for the mere fact that based / on religion, nationality, gender or race / not all governed are recognized as citizens / A regime-made disaster in which / the body politic is abstracted from all who are governed / and becomes an idea / A product of a ruling power / that by brute force decrees: these—yes, those—no.
Those who were distanced from the body politic / created in the great revolutions of the eighteenth century / women, blacks, the poor, and children / are the ones whose civil awakening moved revolution
/ But the civil revolution was immediately replaced by governmental power revolution / and instead of partnership among members of the body politic / they became ruled.
Since then, when sometimes against all chances / Opportunity appears on the horizon / Citizens have not given up / The possibility of imagining another life / Once in a while they re-emerge and declare: / Without
us there is no body politic; only an idea on paper.
Here they are in the pictures / sweating, shouting, putting up tents / surrounding policemen, holding fishing rods as well as pots and pans / with ropes and in underwear, sharing the space and claiming
a re-partitioning / Determined to be, and not to be evicted / They transform time and again / Turn civil language into a spoken one / A language learnt in the body / and written in pictures / spoken in the plural / together with others / Anyone who speaks it is present as a living reminder / of the fact that she is not a resource / neither she nor the world in which she lives / That rule is merely a temporary deposit / and when it does not enable being-together / it must be re-constituted.
Civil language is not new / It is being revived today / because all over the world / simultaneously / more and more women and men speak to each other in civil language / The broad expansion of this language creates an opportunity to rethink Palestine / To suspend, ad hoc, solutions proposed by oppressive politics / of which nationality, capital and war are its syntactic foundations / To reconstructpossibilities of being-together in which Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies / To recognize refugees as an ongoing “occupy” movement / to claim a civil state to which refugees return and shape their destiny as full citizens for all purposes / To realize the potential of the world’s political map, showing that / of all places, Palestine, whose people were expelled and oppressed for decades / has been spared the “award” entitled “nation-state” and the lie of self-determination / To contest the conformist idea that a nation needs self- determination and a nation-state / No state better demonstrates how the nation-state oppresses than the State of Israel / All those who do not belong to its people / Fortification of borders / Refusal of refuge to those who seek it within its area / and Use of the force vested in it by its citizens to intimidate them / and in the name of their security / Expel those marked as its enemies.
To reconstruct a civil link among sense data, what people do and experience and the system of words and notions that serves them as they exist and act / To deconstruct ruling language and its Justifications which will appear as acts of violence towards all those governed / To deepen civil syntax / While the various expressions of this language / serving citizens the world over / appear in one sequence / Revolution is revealed as a civil language / a form of partnership that renews itself / no one can claim to be its sole author / and deny it to others / and no ruling power is entitled or capable of killing it / Out of civil revolution one can begin to imagine a being together that is not subject to the sovereign power of capital and nation.
A huge number of civil language speakers in places far and wide / are learning and using it nowadays, simultaneously / The revival of civil language on a global scale / is a golden opportunity to reconstruct / rich repertoires of past civil actions / and to re-weave all its performances / that have been consistently oppressed by sovereign national regimes.
For the first time in history / civil awakening has managed to break through the shackles of the nation- state / Today in Bahrain, tomorrow in Montréal / yesterday in Ramallah / next week in Tel Aviv / in June in Seoul / and in October in San’ah.
The hour of Palestine has come / the time to revive Palestine / as a beacon for all nations—state in which / Palestinians and Jews will live together as citizens.
Information with which to complete the list of photographers is welcome.
Bil’in, July 12, 2012
In this act, too, Palestinians are the ones who will be arrested. This time, however, they force the Israeli soldiers to chase them as if they were chasing (Jewish) prisoners under the Nazi regime. The soldiers can insist that these are only Palestinians, but the photographic act preserves the meaning with which Palestinians wanted to imbue the situation.
© Photograph Haitham Khatib / Haitham Khatib Photography
Conference: Habits of Living
(Brown University, March 21-23, 2013)
This international conference will bring together prominent and innovative scholars and artists at Brown University. There will be ninety-minute panels (each with two speakers), a keynote address by the RAQs Media Collective, a series of concurrent "unconferences" (informal sessions to be run by the audience), a scrapyard challenge, and an exhibition of work running in parallel. Speakers includeAriella Azoulay, Elizabeth Bernstein, Biella Coleman, Didier Fassin, Kara Keeling, Laura Kurgan, Ganaelle Langlois, Colin Milburn, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Elias Muhanna, Lisa Parks, Raqs Media Collective, Nishant Shah, Ravi Sundarum, Tiziana Terranova, and Nigel Thrift.
This event is designed as a large public conference whose major segments are participant-driven "unconferences." Unconferences are fluid events of casual five-minute "lightning" presentations and informal dialogue generated through group interactions. To facilitate discussion around networked societies, the multiple unconference sessions will focus around topics generated in advance by all the participants in the audience who will be guided through a quick and easy sign-up process. The unconferences are meant to take a more improvisational form, so the themes and locations will remain flexible, and entirely driven by audience participation.
Attendance at the conference is free, but please register here.
Habits of Living is generously sponsored by Brown University via the Dean of the Faculty, The Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies, The Cogut Center for the Humanities, The Humanities Initiative, The Vice President for International Affairs, and The Brown India Initiative. Additional sponsorship provided by RISD Digital + Media.