Pollution, contamination and the neglected dead in post-war Saigon
, photographed head-on, fills the oval medallion or
rectangular frame: a biography condensed in the portrait and the
image of a face. This type of portraiture and the effect of repetition
from grave to grave helps identify (with) the dead by recognising
them as ancestors – an endless indebtedness by means of which living descendants can recognise themselves as such and locate themselves in kinship and social terms in relation to the deceased. This
recognition is an ethicaldemand (Hegel 1977: 270; Levinas 2000:
82, 105; Mbembe 2003: 14). Here the demand of the other, displayed
Space, limitation and the perception of female selfhood in Samuel
unable to resolve
the struggles in her own consciousness and still fears that Mr B.
will dishonour her causes his outbreak of anger that terminates the
pastoral scene – harmony is still at a distance, although the peak
of despair lies behind her. Since Pamela cannot be his wife for
reasons of class and will not be his mistress she must suffer the
pains of unrequited love and spatial separation from Mr B. While
she tries to unify her inner self which resembles a battlefield of
conflicting rules, ethicaldemands and inclinations, she once more
moves spatially away by
; moreover, policy-making belonged to ‘the practical statesman’ with experience ‘lacking to the clergy or to the ordinary Christian citizen’. Nonetheless, middle axioms, while abstract, enabled evaluating politics according to how they related to Christian purposes. Oldham defined middle axioms as lying between ‘purely general statements of the ethicaldemands of the Gospel’ and ‘decisions that have to be made in concrete situations’: they showed the ‘directions’ in which faith should be expressed ‘at a given period and in given circumstances’. 37
to this is an ethicaldemand on the ‘diseased elements’ in a (global)
society to submit to being cured – for their own good, and for that of a
wider body politic – by the entity in possession of the knowledge, expertise
and technology needed to correctly diagnose and treat their sickness. What emerges
is thus a hierarchical power relationship, enabled by the socially constructed
medical categories of health and illness, and cemented by a moralised technology
, 2007 . ‘ Moral breakdown and the ethicaldemand: A theoretical framework for an anthropology of
moralities ’. Anthropological Theory
7 / 2 : 131–50 .
Zigon , Jarrett , 2009 . ‘ Phenomenological anthropology and morality: A reply to Robbins ’. Ethnos
74 / 2 : 286–8 .
exclusion of values from the technical sphere sees them resurface outside it, so that ‘[t]he very same process in which capitalists and technocrats were freed to make technical decisions without regard for the needs of workers and communities generated a wealth of new “values,” ethicaldemands forced to seek voice discursively’ ( 2002 : 22). Technical politics, then, involves the importation of these discursively formulated values into the technical sphere as currently constituted. It is in light of this that Feenberg argues that one of the goals of the critical theory
it sees as falling under its power, which is essentially everything and
everyone. The law is a principle that lives for itself – it is always the law
that needs protecting, upholding, and not the individual who is trapped
by, beneath, and within the law. If the individual is what is upheld, then
the law finds itself in another position, or at least needs to engage in a
competition of justification. The concept of difference/deferment implies both
a deferral of decision – a detour or delay – and the heterogeneity of difference associated with the ethicaldemand that
, the strangeness of the body is highlighted, as well as an ‘openness and responsiveness to the other’.
For O’Donnell, the vampire swoon is an encounter with alterity that makes the ethicaldemand that we accept ‘the unknowability of the other – and the other at the heart of the self’.
In the readings that follow, I also want to highlight the strangeness of the swooning body as a challenge to the idea of the individual as isolated entity, but I suggest that vampire
See, e.g., Walter D. Mignolo, Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Designs (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000); and David Slater, Geopolitics and the Post-Colonial: Rethinking North–South Relations (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).
43 Shino Konishi, ‘First Nations Scholars, Settler Colonial Studies, and Indigenous History’, Australian Historical Studies , 50 (2019), 1–20; Alissa Macoun and Elizabeth Strakosch, ‘The EthicalDemands of Settler Colonial Theory’, Settler Colonial Studies, 3:4 (2013), 426, 436. For
of the spirits seriously? Does the invisible face of the jinn not place exactly the same ethicaldemand on me as its human host? Staring into the unsteady eyes of Amir possessing Feisal, I have no time to think about these questions. I press his hand to the ground, Abu Bilal raises his voice, the body shudders with pain.
When Abu Bilal first started to read, a Bosnian jinn appeared, but when it finally gave up and left the body, it was immediately replaced by Amir. Amir speaks Arabic in a deep guttural voice. This has happened at previous