Us vs them by ella shohat essay

Teaching and research around whiteness often overlap with research on post-colonial theory and orientalism taking place in the Arts and Humanities, Sociology, Literature, Communications, and Cultural and Media Studies faculties and departments, among others e. Also heavily engaged in whiteness studies are practitioners of anti-racist educationsuch as Betita Martinez and the Challenging White Supremacy workshop. The book examines white social beliefs and white anxiety in the contemporary United States—in the context of enormous demographic, cultural, and social change. The book is often taught as a primer in White Studies on white racial identity in a "post-racial" US.

Us vs them by ella shohat essay

As images of the mother's handwritten Arabic letters to the daughter are superimposed over dissolves of the daughter's color slides of her mother in the shower, we hear an audio tape of their conversations in Arabic, along with excerpts of their letters as translated and read by the filmmaker in English.

The linguistic play also marks the distance between mother and daughter, while their separation instantiates the fragmented existence of a nation. When relentless bombing prevents the mother from mailing her letter, the screen fades to black, suggesting an abrupt end to communication.

Us vs them by ella shohat essay

Yet the letter eventually arrives via messenger, while the voice-over narrates the exile's difficulty in maintaining contact with one's culture s. The negotiation of time and place is here absolutely crucial.

The videomaker's voice-over reading her mother's letters in the present interferes with the dialogue recorded in the past in Lebanon. The background conversations in Arabic give a sense of present-tense immediacy, while the more predominant English voice-over speaks of the same conversation in the Us vs them by ella shohat essay tense.

The Arabic speaker labors to focus on the Arabic conversation and read the Arabic scripts, while also listening to the English.

Us vs them by ella shohat essay

If the non-Arabic-speaking spectator misses some of the film's textual registers, the Arabic-speaking spectator is overwhelmed by competing images and sounds. This strategic refusal to translate Arabic is echoed in Suleiman's Homage by Assassination where the director in person types out Arab proverbs on a computer screen, without providing any translation.

These exiled filmmakers thus cunningly provoke in the spectator the same alienation experienced by a displaced person, reminding us, through inversion, of the asymmetry in social power between exiles and their "host communities.

Social Text

Measures of Distance also probes issues of sexuality and the female body in a kind of self-ethnography, its nostalgic rhetoric concerning less the "public sphere" of national struggle than the "private sphere" of sexuality, pregnancy, and children.

The women's conversations about sexuality leave the father feeling displaced by what he dismisses as "women's nonsense. Western audiences often ask how Hatoum won her mother's consent to use the nude photographs and how she broached the subject of sexuality.

Paradoxically, the exile's distance from the Middle East authorizes the exposure of intimacy. Displacement and separation make possible a transformative return to the inner sanctum of the home; mother and daughter are together again in the space of the text. In Western popular culture, the Arab female body, whether in the form of the veiled, barebreasted women who posed for French colonial photographers or of the Orientalist harems and belly dancers of Hollywood film, has functioned as a sign of the exotic.

She uses diverse strategies to veil the images from voyeuristic scrutiny: The superimposed words in Arabic script serve to "envelop" her nudity. The fragmented nature of existence in exile is thus underlined by superimposed fragmentations: The blurred and fragmented images suggest the dispersed collectivity of the national family itself.

A discourse which is "purely" feminist or "purely" nationalist, I have tried to argue, cannot apprehend the layered, dissonant identities of diasporic or post-independence feminist subjects.

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The diasporic and post-Third-Worldist films of the s and s, in this sense, do not so much reject the "nation" as interrogate its repressions and limits, passing nationalist discourse through the grids of class, gender, sexuality, and diasporic identities.

While often embedded in the autobiographical, they are not always narrated in the first person, nor are they "merely" personal. Rather, the boundaries between the personal and the communal--like the generic boundaries between documentary and fiction, the biographic and the ethnographic--are constantly blurred.

The diary form, the voice- over, the personal written text, now bear witness to a collective memory of colonial violence and postcolonial displacement. While early Third-Worldist films documented alternative histories through archival footage, interviews, testimonials, and historical reconstructions, generally limiting their attention to the public sphere, the films of the s and s use the camera less as revolutionary weapon than as monitor of the gendered and sexualized realms of the personal and the domestic, seen as integral but repressed aspects of collective history.

They display a certain skepticism toward metanarratives of liberation but do not necessarily abandon the notion that emancipation is worth fighting for. Rather than falling from contradiction, they install doubt and crisis at the very core of the films.

Rather than a grand anticolonial metanarrative, they favor heteroglossic proliferations of difference within polygeneric narratives, seen not as embodiments of a single truth but as energizing political and aesthetic forms of communitarian self-construction.

Since all political struggle in the postmodern era necessarily passes through the simulacral realm of mass culture, the media are absolutely central to any discussion of post-Third-Worldist multicultural and transnational feminist practices.

The media not only set agendas and frame debates but also inflect desire, memory, and fantasy. The contemporary media shape identity; indeed, many argue that they now exist close to the very core of identity production.

In a transnational world typified by the global circulation of images and sounds, goods, and peoples, media spectatorship impacts complexly on national identity, communal belonging, and political affiliations. By facilitating a mediated engagement with distant peoples, the media "deterritorialize" the process of imagining communities.

And while the media can destroy community and fashion solitude by turning spectators into atomized consumers or self-entertaining monads, they can also fashion community and alternative affiliations. Just as the media can exoticize and disfigure cultures, they have the potential power not only to offer countervailing representations but also to open up parallel spaces for anti-racist feminist transformation.

In this historical moment of intense globalization and immense fragmentation, the alternative spectatorship established by the kind of film and video works I have discussed can mobilize desire, memory, and fantasy, where identities are not only the given of where one comes from but also the political identification with where one is trying to go.

Routledge,pp. Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practice Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, Blaut, The Colonizer's Model of the World: Back In relation to cinema, the term "Third World" has been empowering in that it calls attention to the collectively vast cinematic productions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as the minoritarian cinema in the First World.

While some define "Third-World cinema" broadly as the ensemble of films produced by Third-World countries including films produced before the very idea of the "Third World" was currentothers prefer to speak of "Third cinema" as an ideological project i.

As long as they are not taken as "essential" entities but as collective projects to be forged, both "Third-World cinema" and "Third cinema" retain important tactical and polemical uses for a politically inflected cultural practice.This critical perspective is mainly meant to deconstruct the common understanding of the ‘culture wars’ quoted in the title of the essay.

Shohat and Stam, indeed, shift away from the politicised use of the term, which, for instance, was enhanced by public debates in the United States during the Nineties1, and criticise its very bases. Us vs. Them, by Ella Shohat Essays “crisis”. During such times, society creates the binary notion of “us vs.

them”; “us” are people who identify with the norm and are not seen as deviants, where “them” are people who are seen as “the others”, those who do not conform to our societal expectations. Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Standpoint of its Jewish Victims ELLA SHOHAT Alternative critical discourse concerning Israel and Zionism has until now largely focussed on the Jewish/Arab conflict, viewing Israel as a constituted State, allied with the West .

Framing Post-Third-Worldist Culture: Gender and Nation in Middle Eastern/ North African Film and Video by Ella Shohat CUNY-Graduate Center.

Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora traces the production and circulation of discourses about "the Middle East" across various cultural sites, against the historical backdrop of cross-Atlantic Mahjar flows.

The book highlights the fraught and ambivalent situation of Arabs/Muslims in the Americas, where they are at once celebrated and demonized. Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices brings together for the first time a selection of trailblazing essays by Ella Shohat, an internationally renowned theorist of postcolonial and cultural studies of Iraqi-Jewish background.

Written over the past two decades, these twelve essays—some classic, some less known, some new—trace a powerful.

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