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subcutaneous

subcutaneous@bookwyrm.social

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Deepening political imaginations.

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quoted Ottoman Odyssey

Ottoman Odyssey (2019, Pegasus Books) No rating

Alev Scott's odyssey began when she looked beyond Turkey's borders for contemporary traces of the …

Content warning death mentions, antiblackness

Ottoman Odyssey (2019, Pegasus Books) No rating

Alev Scott's odyssey began when she looked beyond Turkey's borders for contemporary traces of the …

Until the late 19th century, around 16,000-18,000 African slaves were taken every year by Ottoman traders from Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt. They were put on to boats and often ‘sorted’ in the holding port of Alexandria on Egypt’s northern coast before being shipped to Istanbul, Izmir, the Aegean islands and Cyprus. Black eunuchs wielded great power in the sultan’s haremlik, especially from the 18th century onwards, and black slave children were occasionally presented as imperial gifts. The Russian writer Alexander Pushkin’s great-grandfather, Abram Petrovich Gannibal, was kidnapped as a child from the shores of Lake Chad and taken to serve in the court of Sultan Ahmet III. In 1704, aged just six, he was sent to St Petersburg as a gift for Peter the Great, who brought him up as his godson and propelled him to great fame as a military engineer. The vast, anonymous majority of African slaves, however, had no such illustrious royal transfer or career. They worked menial tasks and have disappeared almost without trace from the history books.

In the 1880s, the Ottoman government chose the Aegean region near Izmir to relocate African slaves taken off ships in Istanbul in an effort to stop the slave trade; there were already many of them in the area because it was the nexus of multiple trade routes. The present-day Afro Turk community are the descendants of these slaves, and remain relatively unknown outside of the Aegean area. Even here, they are only accepted as part of the community in the villages where they live, but attract immediate attention in big cities, where they are mistaken for Eritrean or Somalian refugees trying to cross to Greece, or street hawkers. Many of them still struggle in the poorest bracket of society, working in tough agricultural jobs and subject to severe discrimination – One of my interviewees told me that in 2006, another young woman from the Afro Turk community in Mugla was refused a kindergarten teaching position because ‘she might scare the children’ (she later went to court, won her case, and qualified as a teacher).

Ottoman Odyssey by

(Yet another author using "Somalian" instead of Somali...)

"Is the Turk a White Man?" (Paperback, 2018, Haymarket Books) No rating

In 1909, the US Circuit Court in Cincinnati set out to decide whether a Turkish …

African-Turks report repeated instances of people showing disbelief upon hearing their fluent Turkish. They are considered to be foreigners (as Turks are considered to be white). Also, a mix of “positive” (exotic interest) and “negative” (harassment on the street) treatments are reported. In this sense, the experiences of African immigrants and African-Turks are not qualitatively different. The difficulty African-Turks face in convincing others of their Turkishness is a testament to the fact that the assumptions of Turkish whiteness go beyond linguistic and religious considerations. Even the fact that they are native speakers of Turkish can lead to microaggressions, because African-Turks reported to regularly hear: “Where did you learn Turkish?” The same respondent also narrated the story of his visit to Germany and how he was able to convince both the Turkish and the German passport police that he was a “proper” Turk only after hours of detention (Interview on 26 May 2007).

"Is the Turk a White Man?" by

Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question (2014, Indiana University Press) No rating

While acknowledging Hannah Arendt's keen philosophical and political insights, Kathryn T. Gines claims that there …

Content warning cartoon villain levels of anti-Blackness

Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question (2014, Indiana University Press) No rating

While acknowledging Hannah Arendt's keen philosophical and political insights, Kathryn T. Gines claims that there …

Arendt is uncritical of the role of violence in the private realm and the use of violence to enter the public realm, but when it comes to the use of violence by the colonized, she takes a much more critical stand. If Arendt had followed her account of violence in The Human Condition to its conclusion, then she should have argued in On Violence that the colonized were also entitled to violence to liberate themselves from necessity and poverty. Rather than making this claim, Arendt takes the opposite position and criticizes the colonized revolutionaries for doing what she previously claimed all humans were entitled to: use force and violence to liberate themselves from necessity.

As with her analysis in “Reflections on Little Rock,” in On Violence Arendt is unwilling to connect her insights on the importance of forming a Jewish army, the need for Jews to fight Hitler with weapons in their hands, and the significance of the armed uprisings in the Warsaw ghetto to Fanon’s and Sartre’s insights about the violent system of colonialism and the counterviolence of the colonized to combat it. But the issue is not only Arendt’s biased critique of violence. Even if Arendt were to take a critical stance against the violence about which she has been uncritical up to this point, her distinctions and categories—including the public-private distinction, the account of the rise of the social, and even her distinction between violence and power—all perpetuate an uncritical relationship to the violence that is central to colonialism, as emphasized by Sartre and Fanon. Her exclusionary categories perpetuate and even legitimize violence, racism, and colonialism in a way that allows the violence of the oppressors to go unchecked.

Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question by

Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question (2014, Indiana University Press) No rating

While acknowledging Hannah Arendt's keen philosophical and political insights, Kathryn T. Gines claims that there …

In spite of the fact that the colonial system (like much of the world) is always already constituted by violence, many condemn the use of violence to confront violence and appeal to nonviolent resistance on the part of the oppressed. But to appeal to nonviolence (an appeal which is often one-sided, i.e., aiming at the violent resistance of the oppressed rather than at the violent system of oppression which they are confronting) or to pose the problem in terms of violence versus nonviolence is to present a false dilemma. Violence (and the threat of violence, which is itself violence) is already at the heart of most of our institutions (consider the police, military, prison system, education, media and entertainment, or capitalism in general). Thus, it is not a question of whether there will be violence, but rather whose violence will be endorsed and whose will be condemned. To condemn the violent self-defense of the oppressed is to, perhaps inadvertently, endorse the violence used to oppress.

Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question by

Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question (2014, Indiana University Press) No rating

While acknowledging Hannah Arendt's keen philosophical and political insights, Kathryn T. Gines claims that there …

What is striking about Arendt’s account is that she does not endorse rebellion or revolution in any form (violent or otherwise) against colonization. Unlike her discussion of Jewish resistance, there is no call for an army or an armed uprising, no assertion that “death with weapons in hand can bring new values” (JW 217). On the contrary, in On Violence Arendt denounces anticolonial violence and uses Fanon and Sartre as examples of those who endorse and glorify it. While it may appear at first glance that Arendt is offering a universal condemnation of violence, in reality she is only rejecting some forms of violence, namely, revolutionary violence against colonial oppression.

Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question by

Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question (2014, Indiana University Press) No rating

While acknowledging Hannah Arendt's keen philosophical and political insights, Kathryn T. Gines claims that there …

The problem of anti-Black racism in its social, political, and even psychological manifestations and consequences is fundamentally a white problem. However, since Arendt does not adopt this framework, for her the problem in Little Rock has to do with the Black parents who put their children in harm’s way, not with the white parents and politicians exerting the harm (“Reflections on Little Rock”). The problem with integrating schools and neighborhoods is that Black students cause the schools to break down and that the very presence of Black families turns previously good—code for white—neighborhoods into slums (“Crisis in Education”). The problem with protesting on college campuses has to do with violent, irrational, and unqualified Black students, not with the systematic racism in higher education against which these students are protesting (On Violence). The problem with violence is not the original or constitutive violence of America’s founding fathers and Europe’s imperialists, but rather the anticolonial violence and resistance of the colonized in Africa (On Revolution, The Origins of Totalitarianism, On Violence).

Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question by