Comparative Humanities Un der gr a d u a t e Jo u r n a l
Comparative Humanities Un der g r a dua te Jo u r n a l
FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to the Spring 2014 edition of the Comparative Humanities Undergraduate Journal, the first academic journal for undergraduate scholarship in the humanities at William & Mary. We welcome submissions from the various humanities disciplines at William & Mary, such as English, Literary and Cultural Studies, Art History, Philosophy, and American Studies. Submissions should be theoretically rigorous and in conversation with the work of other scholars. We are lucky to play host to a number of exciting papers from William & Mary students in this edition. Robin Crigler, a senior at the College, contributes three papers. In “The Most Famous White Woman in South Africa: Reconciliation, Identity, and the Comic Vision in a Post-Apartheid Age,” Crigler relates a history of Pieter-Dirk Uys, the famous South African satirist and performer. In “Reluctant Americans: The Amish as Ultra-White Immigrants,” Crigler posits the Amish as an immigrant group that, despite its radical Anabaptist origins, has come to be associated with a mythical sense of the past in the American imaginary. In “The Crescent and the Vajra: Tibet on the Islamic Periphery,” Crigler argues that Tibet should be understood as to be defined by its constitutive role in the “geopolitical milieu” of its surrounding countries, so as to dispel its frequent characterization as an “untouched” Other in more traditional histories of India and China. Max Cea, a junior at the College, contributes “Breakdown of Postwar Masculinity,” a reading of a single episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Cea posits the episode’s protagonist as a “forced flaneur,” a figure whose physical immobility should be read as a marker of Hitchcock’s interest in critiquing “Type A” conceptualizations of masculinity in postwar America. In “McInterpellation: Late Capitalism and the Moscow McDonalds,” Max Miroff, a sophomore at the College, performs an ideological reading of a particularly interesting chapter in Russia’s history, the opening of the “Moscow McDonalds” in 1990. In “Naive Melody: Cultural Integration and Appropriation in the Music of Talking Heads,” Jordan Scott, a senior at the College, interrogates the various discourses that surround the Talking Heads’ 1980 album Remain in Light, ultimately positing the album’s elements as an ambivalent mix of cultural integration and appropriation. We would also like to welcome several new staff members: Esther Chen, a freshman at the College, Eamonn deLacy and Gilbert Pitcher, sophomores at the College, and Danny Wolfe, a junior at the College, have joined our Editorial Staff. I hope you enjoy reading this edition of CHUJ, and are inspired to submit your own work to our upcoming editions.
Sincerely, Carlton Fleenor Editor in Chief
Editor-in-chief Carlton Fleenor Vinny Giordano
Submissions Editor Copy Editors Laura Becht Max Miroff Meredith Ramey Production Editor Morgan Sehdev
Esther Chen Eamonn DeLacy Emily Lowman Gilbert Pitcher Davis Richardson Amanda Schiano di Cola Shruti Sharma Daniel Wolfe
REVIEW PROCESS We accept submissions during the final month of every semester. Each submission is reviewed by three members of the Editorial Staff over the following break. If at least two members vote positively on a submission, it is reviewed by the voting members of the Executive Board during the following semester. Six to seven submissions are chosen from this pool to be included in the final issue. The identities of featured authors are not revealed to members of the Editorial Staff or Executive Board until the completion of the review process. The Production Editor is the only non-voting member of the Executive Board. The Submissions Editor is the only member of the Executive Board to know the identities of the authors during the review process. Thirty-one submissions were received during the Spring 2014 submissions period.
CREDITS The Comparative Humanities Undergraduate Journal was founded at the College of William & Mary by Laura Becht, Carlton Fleenor, Vinny Giordano, and Meredith Ramey in September 2012. With special gratitude to our publisher, Fidelity Printing, Inc. With special gratitude to our benefactors, the Media Council of the College of William & Mary.
Breakdown of Postwar Masculinity Robin Crigler 19 The Most Famous White Woman in South Africa: Reconciliation, Identity, and the Comic Vision in a Post-Apartheid Age Robin Crigler 32 The Crescent and the Vajra: Tibet on the Islamic Periphery Robin Crigler
Reluctant Americans: The Amish as Ultra-White Immigrants Max Miroff 49 McInterpellation: Late Capitalism and the Moscow McDonalds Jordan Scott 56 Naive Melody: Cultural Integration and Appropriation in the Music of Talking Heads
C O N T E N T S
Max Cea 09
Breakdown of Postwar Masculinity Max Cea
To be a white, heterosexual, upper-middleclass man in Postwar America was to achieve society’s ideal status. But while the lives of these men were culturally glorified to the extent that their status was perceived as the norm, in reality achieving the desired balance in life was rare and difficult to obtain. A healthy combination of corporate success and domesticity could be especially elusive for men because of the varying societal actors that relentlessly polarized them. This was a period characterized by fear and misunderstanding of communism, with a resulting tendency to interpret deviant behavior as communistic propagation. For instance, traits that could be perceived as effeminate, such as displays of emotion, were stigmatized for reasons that included, but were not limited to, the misconception that homosexuals could be easily seduced and would thusly be more prone to giving away national security secrets. Additionally, an incessant pursuit of upward mobility was encouraged for men. In Alfred Hitchcock’s Breakdown, Hitchcock ends his opening monologue by saying that “In each of our stories we strive to teach a lesson or point a little moral” and that this story “will give you something to ponder if you have ever given an employee the sack or if you intend to.” However, the themes of the ensuing episode are more intricate than simply imploring the viewer to handle firings delicately for fear of bad karma. In Breakdown, Alfred Hitchcock uses an alternative form of horror to critique the emotionless American male and the 1950s postwar capitalist society that drained him of his pathos in favor of an ethos of corporate ascension. This alternative form of horror is characterized by the use of the forced flaneur. The forced flaneur is a term that I have created, borrowing Dana Brand’s analysis of Hitchcock’s cinematic use of the flaneur narrator from her essay, “Hitchcock, Poe, and the Flaneur in America.” The term
of American culture due to the bizarre and horrific nature of its tales in a time when censorship was common. The Second Red Scare, Rod Serling, and The Twilight Zone The Second Red Scare, the Hollywood Blacklist, and McCarthyism pervaded American Society in the 1950’s. Joseph McCarthy, a Republican Senator from Wisconsin, began his tirade against Communism on February 9, 1950, when he accused a number of government employees within the State Department of being Communists in his “Wheeling Speech.” While this was not the first instance of anti-Communist activity in the United States, McCarthy’s speech immediately followed the USSR’s first test of an atomic weapon in 1949, the conviction of Alger Hiss, a State-Department employee, for perjury and in essence espionage, and the beginnings of the Korean War. Fear of the Communist influence and the events mentioned previously led to a perfect storm of anti-Communist sentiment, allowing for a modern day witch-hunt. McCarthy’s second term as a US senator began when he was made chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1953. The subcommittee was charged with investigating Communists within the government. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations was not the only committee charged to do so; The House on Un-American Activities Committee or HUAC had been created in 1938 to look into citizens suspected of Communist ties. These two committees, which were certainly not the only two, made any ties or suspected ties to Communism grounds for being fired, ostracized, and in many cases led to jail-time. Even before McCarthy’s rise of tyranny, The House on Un-American Activities Committee attacked the privacy and rights of citizens. While HUAC held a number of hearings during the anti-Communist fervor of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, for the purposes of this paper, the most important were the hearings against prominent Hollywood actors, writers, producers, and directors that occurred in late 1947. Congress and others were afraid Hollywood was spreading Communist propaganda in film and television. Fueled by an article by William Wilkerson from 1946, which named Communist sympathizers in Hollywood, HUAC called a number of witnesses to testify about their possible Communist ties. Ten of those called refused to testify; these ten became known as “The Hollywood Ten.” In response to their refusal, “The Hollywood Ten” were found in contempt of Congress and put into prison. Hollywood came face-to-face with an important decision; it could support “The Ten” and face possible boycotts or further investigations or it could denounce
connotes the way that the protagonist of Breakdown, Mr. Callew, is forced to observe his surroundings and blend in with the scenery. If we read Breakdown as an allegory for the Cold War battle between capitalism and communism, then we can interpret Mr. Callew’s forced flaneur as a way for Hitchcock to express the notion that America’s expectations of men were hurting rather than helping capitalistic ideology. American Masculine Polarization and the Tentative Glorification of the Type-A Man At the outset of Breakdown, we are presented with a businessman named Mr. Callew, one of his colleagues, Mr. Johnson, and their secretary. Mr. Callew and his colleague work leisurely in bath robes, in a tent on a sunny beach. After finishing some minor business with his secretary, Mr. Callew gets a call from a veteran employee of his company, Mr. Hubka, who has recently received news that he has been fired. The firing came as a big surprise to Hubka, who spent many years and provided valuable—and perhaps underappreciated—accounting skills to the company. Hubka calls to express his incredulity, saying “this-this just doesn’t make any sense.” He then begins to break down emotionally, at which time Mr. Callew disgustedly hangs up on him. Already appearing cold, Mr. Callew appears even more callous in the eyes of the viewer as he tells Mr. Johnson, “Imagine that, he was crying… I hate that kind of weakness… You should show some control of your emotions.” The image that Hitchcock quickly creates of Mr. Callew is that of a successful, machismo businessman, whose success and unfeeling nature are likely linked symbiotically. It is possible that Mr. Callew’s lack of empathy is genetically inspired or an anomaly within his company. However, it is more likely that Mr. Callew’s callousness is both a product and a reflection of 1950s American culture. In Men in the Middle, James Gilbert argues that in the 1950s “the effects of conformity, suburban life, and mass culture were depicted as feminizing and debasing, and the proposed solution often lay in a renewal of traditional masculine vigor and individualism” (4). The “traditional masculine vigor and individualism” that Gilbert is referring to was personified by popularized “icons of military men, sports figures, and cowboy heroes” (Gilbert, 7). The traits that made these figures iconic as American men were their rugged independence, their unquestioning bravery, and their strength and athleticism. However, the popular images of these icons were also exclusively white, and healthily heterosexual. In the 1950s, though the color lines had recently been breached in the military and in several American
team sports, minority athletes and military men were often persecuted and rarely celebrated within popular culture. Homosexual behavior was victimized in virtually all realms of American society, especially in male-dominated venues, such as sports, the military, or the frontier. Though cowboys had largely become extinct by the 1950s, the image of the 1950s American male was dominated by approximations of John Wayne. At a time when America—or at least white middle class America—was migrating to the suburbs and becoming more homogenous, it was increasingly difficult for men to be rugged individuals. While in the 1950s, intellectuals were often critical of changes in the workplace and the transition to domesticity, “in high culture they often preferred a tough, hard-edged, and sometimes inaccessible modernism” (Gilbert, 6). The zenith of such a “modernism” is embodied by Mr. Callew, for whom being “hard-edged” and “inaccessible” is an understatement (6). After Mr. Callew’s rant in opposition of emotions, Mr. Johnson acts as the voice of reason—and perhaps the critical voice of Alfred Hitchcock. Regarding controlling your emotions, Mr. Johnson says “it’s not such a good idea to try to control [your emotions] beyond a certain point. [Hubka] may have saved himself from something worse by breaking down now.” Not surprisingly, Mr. Callew is unaffected by Mr. Johnson’s critical words. He changes the subject to a discussion of whether they should try to “trap marlin this afternoon.” In the aftermath of the phone conversation with Hubka, it becomes evident to the viewer that Mr. Callew is a Type-A personality. The ease with which Mr. Callew is able to transition from the firing to what he will be doing today is evidence that he must always be occupying his time. In response to whether they should trap marlin, Mr. Johnson says “you just can’t sit on the beach and relax, can you?” To which, Mr. Callew replies “I would go nuts trying to do nothing, but nothing.” In Barbara Ehrenreich’s The Hearts of Men, she cites cardiologists who define the Type-A personality as “impatient, driven, hostile and competitive” (81). In other words, Type-A personalities are men, like Callew, who would “go nuts trying to do nothing, but nothing.” The public’s attitude towards Type-A men was fairly intricate. For men, being a Type-A was frequently a source of pride. One of the cardiologists that Ehrenreich cited “cheerfully admitted to being an ‘A-man’ himself ” (Ehrenreich, 83). Additionally, he estimated that “as many as 60 percent of the population might be Type-A” (83). Thus, Type-A’s were perceived as the norm for aspirational career men. According to Ehrenreich, “Business Week described the Type A man as a somewhat harried, but otherwise admirable character: ‘aggressive, hard-driving, vigorously competitive, continuously subject to deadlines, and [subject to] an
exaggerated sense of time urgency’” (83). Still, it was acknowledged that being a Type-A came with negative consequences. The cardiologists’ studies confirmed that “the ambitious and striving (Type A) tended to have more symptoms of impending or actual heart disease than the more phlegmatic or indolent (Type B)” (Ehrenreich, 82). Doctors—and more abstractly, society—celebrated the Type-A ethos despite popular acknowledgment that it was unhealthy. Intense men, like Mr. Callew, were the ones rewarded with life’s luxuries, such as working on the beach. Though many of the traits of the Type-A man, including their ambition, were admirable, Hitchock’s presentation of Mr. Callew in Breakdown allows the viewer insight into a fuller picture of the masculine, Type-A career man. Though Mr. Callew is the antithesis of the sissy American half-male, which baseless propaganda often warned of as the natural outgrowth of the transition to domesticity, Hitchcock also paints Mr. Callew as an unlikable character. Mr. Callew’s exaggerated manhood has resulted in an overpowering lack of empathy and animosity towards emotions. Moreover, his lack of compassion for Mr. Hubka is especially disturbing to the viewer because of Callew’s air of privilege. It is easy for Mr. Callew to tell a distraught Hubka that “Good Lord man, you’re not being sent to Siberia! You’ve got six months’ severance pay and there are other jobs” as he sits on a beach in his bath robe. Mr. Callew’s harsh display can be interpreted as a Hitchcockian critique of the American privileged class’ lack of understanding towards the proletariat, encouraged by 1950s glorification of freemarket capitalism. Rethinking the Norm through an Alternative Form of Horror: The Forced Flaneur Traditionally, horror in film—and in alternative media—is characterized by intense sequences of violence, unimaginable evil, and a dramatic musical score that helps to build tension. Alternatively, the most dramatic sequence in Breakdown is when Mr. Callew crashes his car on his way back to New York. The score is not particularly dramatic; the sequence is quick; and, the only character that could be perceived as a villain (Mr. Callew) is the victim. While car crashes are scary, they are relatively frequent events in American life. Though Mr. Callew’s car crash ended quite brutally, it was not a particularly horrific event for the viewer. Little of the actual event is shown. Surely, the car crash did not elicit the fright that had become characteristic of Hitchcock’s other works. Rather, the terror in Breakdown comes in the aftermath of the car crash. Hitchcock uses a combination of close-
ups on newly paralyzed Mr. Callew’s motionless face, and shots from Mr. Callew’s disabled vantage point to elicit deep fears within the viewer. The source of terror in Breakdown is the painful aura of immobility that Hitchcock stimulates. Flaneur is a term traditionally used to describe poets, writers, artists, and members of the upper class in 19th century France, who would stroll around the city, make themselves part of the scenery, and observe their surroundings. In The Painter of Modern Life, Charles Baudelaire describes the perfect flaneur as someone who sees “the world, is at the centre of the world, and yet remains hidden from the world” (9). In Dana Brand’s essay, “Hitchcock, Poe, and the Flaneur in America,” she argues that Hitchcock uses a flaneur-style narrator in Rear Window and Man in the Crowd. I would extend Brand’s thesis to Breakdown and argue that the paralyzed Mr. Callew represents an alternative form of the flaneur. Hitchcock utilizes this alternative, forced flaneur to elicit a particularly American form of horror in Breakdown. While to leisurely stroll and observe was popular and accepted in 19th century France, in 20th century America, for Type-A men, such as Mr. Callew, doing nothing could produce insanity. (Or worse, it could lead to a deviant and perhaps homosexual societal perception.) Brand argues that Hitchcock’s American flaneur exemplifies the callous, lonely, and figuratively violent narcissism that Hitchcock, in so many of his films of the 1950s… found at the core of the idealized personality of the American male. This is a narcissism born of both an obsessive desire for mastery and an obsessive fear of stasis, and it is found, Hitchcock suggests, in all quintessentially American environments and in all quintessentially American venues for adventure (132). In short, Brand argues that 1950s American culture encouraged men to possess a “callous, lonely, and figuratively violent narcissism” and that this narcissism caused men to relentlessly strive for “mastery” (132). For men, doing nothing was scary because it was a roadblock to becoming the idealized figures that they were culturally encouraged—if not expected—to be. (Soldiers, athletes, and cowboys are portrayed in motion, never in idle.) In Breakdown, Hitchcock provides the viewer a window into the world of the competitive American male. Immediately after the car crash, the viewer becomes aware that stasis literally has the potential to derail every aspect of Mr. Callew’s life—from his career, to his love life, to his ability to stay alive in general. When Mr. Callew wakes up he is alone; he cannot move, speak, or even close
his eyes. He is forced to observe his surroundings. After diagnosing his own physical condition, he describes his surroundings, saying “At least I can see. It’s lucky I’m not looking right at the sun. It’s so quiet. Am I deaf? No. No, I can hear. Are those birds?” While Callew is describing what he is experiencing, the camera alternates between extreme close-ups of Callew’s still face and shots from his fuzzy vantage point. In this way, Hitchcock makes the viewer feel as paralyzed and painfully lost as Mr. Callew. As Mr. Callew’s monologue progresses, Hithcock continuously shifts the viewer’s vantage point. The viewer sees every angle of the wreck and every angle of Callew; but the only movement is that of the camera. Mr. Callew’s stillness makes his body appear as if it is part of the scenery. It is as stationary as the wrecked car. In this way, Callew has achieved what 19th century French artists strove for: to observe the world as part of the backdrop. The difference is that Callew is not trying to become part of the scenery. On the contrary, he tries desperately not be perceived inanimately. For instance, when some neighborhood looters come to steal parts from the car, Callew is so still that the looters believe that he is dead, and the fear begins to build that he will not be found and rescued, or worse, that he will be taken to the morgue and either incinerated or buried alive. After the looters leave, some of the cons who escaped their detail due to the car wreck wander onto the scene. Like the looters before them, the cons believe that Mr. Callew is dead, and do not try particularly hard to see if he is alive. Instead, the cons’ main objective is to steal Callew’s clothes so that they can run away unnoticed. All the while, in Mr. Callew’s inner-monologue he pleads with the men for help and wonders why they do not put in more effort to see if he is alive. The viewer hears him plead internally: “Why don’t you just feel my pulse?” Paradoxically, Mr. Callew, an upper-middle class businessman, needs help from the criminals, lowest rung of society. By disabling Mr. Callew and leaving him paralyzed, Hitchcock shows that money and power do not preclude a man from losing control. Hitchcock is also drawing a parallel between the way that Mr. Callew disregarded Hubka and the way that the looters have disregarded Mr. Callew. Callew has become a victim of the golden rule. The immobility that Mr. Callew faces from becoming physically paralyzed is terrifying on an intrinsic, individual level. As a paralyzed man Mr. Callew has become socially deviant, and in effect, he has lost his status as the ideal American man. However, Mr. Callew’s immobility is also horrific to the American viewer for what it symbolizes. As the prototypical American businessman, Mr. Callew’s immobility can be interpreted as a symbol of communism. To become immobile was to lose the Cold War to the Soviets. Though the Cold War period was not
characterized by actual fighting, it was a period in which Americans engaged in an intensive ideological battle with the Soviet Union. The competing ideologies were capitalism and communism. Additionally, during the Cold War one of Americans’ biggest fears was a nuclear attack. In Homeward Bound, Elaine Tyler May cites a 1959 survey (conducted only a few years after the airing of Breakdown) showing that two thirds of Americans considered the potential of nuclear war to be the nation’s most urgent problem (26). Part of what was so scary about nuclear war for average Americans was their helplessness. Despite government training programs and the preponderance of bomb shelters, the reality that Americans faced was that there was no strong option for protecting oneself against a nuclear attack. Similarly to Callew, who becomes helpless in his paralyzed state, average Americans were helpless in the face of a nuclear attack. Moral of the Story: A Breakdown of Traditional Male Standards is Necessary Brand argues that the difference between the detective and the flaneur is that in the detective story “the mystery to be solved is… an emblem of something that the detective cannot see within him or herself ” (129). In traditional flaneur there is no mystery to be solved. But by forcing the flaneur upon Mr. Callew, Alfred Hitchcock creates a mystery for Callew to solve: how to escape being perceived as an inanimate component of the scenery without moving. From the moment that Mr. Callew wakes up until the end of the episode he must dedicate himself to elucidating the recent events and figuring out how to convince someone that he is still alive. For Callew, this process is filled with selfreflection and appreciation for how much worse the events could have transpired. After the first group of looters leaves with some of Callew’s possessions, Callew says “They could’ve telephoned for help and still kept this stuff. No one would’ve known. I wouldn’t care.” It is ironic to hear a cutthroat businessman admit that he does not care about his possessions. However, the dire situation that Mr. Callew finds himself in leads him to reassess his priorities. Callew recognizes that material things are secondary to survival. When the second pair of looters comes to rob Callew of his clothes, his frustration mounts and he says “If I ever run into him again he’ll wish he’d n--” Midsentence Callew realizes that his money and social standing will not give him power in this situation. When the pair leaves he says “Well, no use getting worked up about it. Can’t help anything.” Losing corporeal power has given Callew new perspective with regards to how much power he actually has, and insight into the
source of his former ‘power.’ After the two groups of looters come and do not recognize that Callew is alive, he realizes that he must find a way to get the attention of whoever stumbles upon him next. Callew uses all of his willpower to get his left pinky finger to tap the metal of the steering wheel. But later when local law enforcement finds Mr. Callew within the wreck they are not able to hear his finger tapping above the surrounding sounds. Callew is brought to the city morgue, where again his finger tapping goes unnoticed. After realizing that he is lying on top of his hand, Callew concludes that he has no remaining way to save himself. Facing eternal isolation and death, Callew emotionally breaks down. Internally he pleads, “Oh don’tdon’t! Go, look at me. Take my pulse! Do something, don’t leave me.” Mr. Callew begins to cry. Just as the sheet is about to be placed over him, the coroner notices the tear running down Callew’s face, and thus, that he is alive. Mr. Callew is able to save himself by breaking down emotionally. Conclusion In 1950s America there was nothing more terrifying than immobility. To be paralyzed was to be socially deviant. When he becomes paralyzed, Mr. Callew loses his masculinity and his status as the American ideal. He is no longer the businessman of his peers’ envy. Rather, his defining characteristic will be his status as a cripple. Before Mr. Callew’s accident he lacked empathy for men less fortunate than himself. He interpreted emotion as a sign of weakness. When Mr. Callew loses his ability to move, he is forced to take a moment to reflect. Ultimately, Mr. Callew learns that the only way to save himself from his immobility-induced destruction is by surrendering to his emotions. In postwar American society, immobility was especially scary because it was linked to communism. The stakes of the Cold War were often bigger than bodies, in the traditional sense. It was an ideological battle to decide whether capitalism or communism would triumph. In Breakdown, Hitchcock is arguing that America’s capitalistic creed could be its own worst enemy. In postwar society, anti-communistic rhetoric had gotten out of hand. The emotionless stoicism that men were expected to carry themselves with was draining them of empathy. If Mr. Callew is a symbol of American capitalism, Hitchcock is arguing that he will die if he does not embrace emotionality. In other words, if Americans are so scared of being seen as socialist sympathizers that it causes them to become detached capitalists, then communism has already won the Cold War. But if Americans can approach the free market without crucifying each other for their benign
humanity, then capitalism will be able to flourish. In short, the expectations of men in postwar American society were unhealthy, both physically and with regard to capitalism’s sustainability.
Works Cited “Alfred Hitchcock Presents Full Episode (Breakdown).” IMDB. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2013. <http://www.imdb.com/ video/hulu/vi655360025/?ref_=ttov_vi>. Baudelaire, Charles, and Jonathan Mayne. The Painter of Modern Life, and Other Essays. [London]: Phaidon, 1964. Print. Brand, Dana. “Hitchcock, Poe, and the Flaneur in America.” Hitchcock’s America. By Jonathan Freedman and Richard H. Millington. New York: Oxford UP, 1999. N. pag. Print. Gilbert, James Burkhart. Men in the Middle: Searching for Masculinity in the 1950s. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2005. Print. Ehrenreich, Barbara. The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment. Garden City, NY: Anchor/ Doubleday, 1983. Print. May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. New York: Basic, 1988. Print.
The Most Famous White Woman in South Africa: Reconciliation, Identity, and the Comic Vision in a Post-Apartheid Age Robin Crigler
“There’s no Afrikaans word for ‘fake.’ We Afrikaners are not ‘fake.’ We are real. Horrible, but real.” —Pieter-Dirk Uys (as Ossewania Kakebenia Poggenpoel), Ouma Ossewania Praat Vuil1 “...because as a white South African what else can I be but a racist?…So now every morning when I wake up, I look in the mirror and say: ‘I am a racist, therefore I will not be a racist.’ Like an alcoholic who swears never to drink again, but repeats it every day as the drink passes by, so tempting and inevitable.” —Pieter-Dirk Uys, Elections and Erections2 Anywhere else but South Africa, the scene would be impossible: a black archbishop breaking out in peels of laughter, rising from his seat at a public meeting to embrace a gay white entertainer—some would say drag queen—whose impression of the august cleric (complete with an HIV/AIDS-themed pastiche of the Lord’s Prayer) has been charming audiences of many races for almost twenty years. Even in South Africa, still one of the world’s most unequal and segregated societies, it is unusual. But the performer in question is Pieter-Dirk Uys, a halfJewish, half-Afrikaner playwright and satirist in his mid-sixties—a man who has been on the front lines of social satire and civic activism in South Africa for most of the last thirty years. He is a figure whose career has spanned the tensions, triumphs and contradictions of the Rainbow Nation, both before and after the 1994 triumph of majority rule. Whether acting as himself or as any of his many
personae (such as Desmond Tutu, the man parodied in the aforementioned scene from Julian Shaw’s 2007 documentary, Darling!), Uys has maintained relevance and popularity in a society he inhabits as both insider and outsider, role-model and deviant, gadfly and patriot.3 Navigating the minefields of race, gender, language, culture and sexuality that accompany any (especially white-led) effort to influence and entertain, in his 1999 “Ballot Bus” pre-election tour of South Africa (ahead of the second truly democratic vote in the country’s history), Uys employed discourses of both satire and reconciliation to compelling effect. Both explicitly performative and deeply serious in its aims, the “Ballot Bus” tour is intriguing for its parallels with Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (T.R.C.), whose memory would have been fresh in the minds of those attending Uys’ semicomedic “election indabas” in 1999.4 Following Catherine Cole’s pioneering study of the T.R.C.-as-performance, Uys’s 2002 memoir Elections and Erections affords scholars an important (if not impartial) perspective on humor, identity and the ‘lighter side’ of South African reconciliation in the first decade of majority rule.5 Born in 1945 into a well-heeled Afrikaner family (his grandmother used to have tea with Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, the infamous “architect of apartheid” himself ), Uys grew up—almost literally—with the apartheid system. Although his musician parents forbid the use of slurs like “kaffir” and “hotnot” at home, and his German Jewish mother had emigrated to South Africa in 1936 after being forbidden to perform there due to her race, Uys grew up living the privileged and puritanical life shared by most Afrikaner children of those years, one in which subjects of sex and race were rarely discussed.6 Uys vividly describes the repression that marked his upbringing with two stories: that of his parents’ reluctance to address the covert dinner table advances of his ballet dancer uncle André when he was fourteen, and a vivid description of a sexual encounter with a Colored (mixed-race) youth at twenty. The latter episode draws obvious comparisons with that of the Afrikaner journalist Rian Malan in his 1990 memoir My Traitor’s Heart, who recalls losing his virginity to a black woman at sixteen “as the proof of my anti-apartheid bona fides, of my triumph over my Afrikaner conditioning.”7 In My Traitor’s Heart, apartheid South Africa is a place of invincible darkness, where even as an ‘enlightened’ liberal Malan is unable to escape the bigotry, hatred, and savagery of the Afrikaner people and the South African nation at large. Occurring amid an early flirtation with leftist politics, the event that was to prove Malan’s non-racism is exposed in all its irony by the novel as a craven, disgusting confirmation of the reverse. Twenty year-old Uys, by contrast, comes off as a political innocent, never having questioned or really considered the pronouncements of his elders. His sexual encounter is supremely circumstantial, transpiring as he sunbathed nude on a secluded beach near Cape Town popular
with gay men: Then one sunny day I opened my eyes, because the mouth down there on me was so gentle, soft, and personal. Who was down there, making me happy? Not blonde. Not brunette. Not even white. Colored! What? Colored? And probably without teeth! That’s why it was so nice. Jesus, colored! But so nice…8 Both encounters are anonymous, shallow, and deeply troubling at the time for the respective narrators. But while Malan’s experience reifies his pessimistic beliefs about South Africa, Uys recalls a ghostly sort of hope in his vignette. Though both ensnared in the rotten superstructure of apartheid, Uys and his onetime lover commune on two levels: unconsciously in the moments before Uys decides to open his eyes and carnally—in flesh-on-flesh contact—a communion of the so-called baser instincts of both participants. Powerless at the time to interact on equal terms in the real world, Uys’s identification of dreams with sins of the flesh (sex and physicality—perhaps comedy) as spaces of interaction between his young self and Colored lover seem useful as a guide to interpreting his later career—from his drag alter-ego Evita Bezuidenhout’s dreams for the South African future to one of his early twenty-first century slogans for AIDS awareness, “Afrikaans children also fuck.”9 In contrast to Malan, Uys does not frame his induction into anti-apartheid activism as particularly deliberate. Rather, he describes his year in the South African Navy, his years at the University of Cape Town, and his experiences at the London Film School as self-consciously escapist, stalked not by apartheid’s horrors but by a need for sex and excitement. In the United Kingdom however, he recalls often being asked about apartheid, being called a Nazi, and being attacked by those who, in Uys’s words, “came from the bloody streets of Belfast, the bloody ghettos of Lebanon….they devoured my guilt and wiped their slates clean of their sins, while pissing on my picnic.”10 Upon returning home in the 1970’s, he briefly describes involving himself with the growing movement for multi-racial drama, in venues like the Space Theatre in Cape Town and the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, but never really divulges the internal evolution of his views on apartheid. Like other liberals of his day, Uys’s early plays (many of which were censored) were rooted in his whiteness. Writing and performing apartheid satire, however, was a complicated thing—one risked banning, threats from the government, and inauthenticity. Greig Coetzee’s 2001 play Seeing Red, centered around four students at the University of Natal in 1986, alludes to this latter issue in the character Jack’s impersonation of a racist British businessman in an anti-apartheid
sketch.11 As privileged undergraduates, the students in the play (both white and black) struggle with their own inability to really join the resistance in any meaningful way and the dilemma of being unable to perform apartheid satire in a way that is neither patronizing nor ambiguous and diluted. Through the 1970’s and 1980’s, as Uys honed ways to manipulate government censors and build his notoriety, he himself was not oblivious to these tensions. In an uncomfortably meta-theatrical turn in his 1983 comedy Farce About Uys, the irascible matron Evita Bezuidenhout exults, “We are the New Afrikaners!…We can now laugh at ourselves because, for once, we are making the jokes. O, dis lekker om te lag, want Baas maak die grappe en Baas bly Baas!”12 Uys’s plays and one-man revues during the apartheid era were remarkable for the balance they struck in terms of tone, negotiating the thin line between shock and complicity and maintaining ambiguity in what the “actual joke” was. After influencing his well-connected father to join the Censor Board, his works were banned less often. He used his new freedom to disturb his liberal audiences, impersonating the right-wing mass murderer Barend Strydom by dressing as a werewolf and clutching a black baby doll by the neck. “On stage, howling with delight,” according to one British journalist, “Uys prized open the doll’s head and appeared to eat its brains. As the lights died, the audience sat in stunned silence.”13 Some critics, however, like the satirist Robert Kirby, argue that Uys was tolerated because he did pull punches—rendering politicians like P.W. Botha “avuncular and a bit lovable instead of the horrible, lethal fascist that he was.”14 Years later Uys would accept this critique, explaining in a 1997 interview that National Party politicians “could have been my parents. I just felt if I don’t have compassion for the people I target, then I don’t want to waste my time targeting them.”15 In the same interview Uys also described his most famous character, the flamboyant Evita Bezuidenhout, to whom he always refers in the third person, as a “bulletproof vest.”16 “Every time I was really in trouble, I’d get her on the front page of a newspaper wearing some funny hat and looking like an idiot, and everyone would go, ‘Oh Christ, the drag queen’s at it again. Let’s move on, it’s not worth pursuing.’”17 Whatever the reasons behind his success during the apartheid years, by 1994 Uys and his alter ego Evita had become beloved figures in the South African media. Desmond Tutu was famously the first black figure to be lampooned by Uys, originally at his own urging, leading to a considerable widening of the circle of Uys’s revue characters. Uys ultimately decided neither to hang up his wigs and jewelry nor to attempt any real satire of the new Mandela-led A.N.C., which seemed above critique. Instead, he hosted a show for state-owned S.A.B.C. television called Funigalore, in which Evita Bezuidenhout (reformed slightly, but no less opinionated) interviewed a whole range of South African political
leaders all the way up to President Nelson Mandela. Declaring an official one-year “honeymoon” with the democratic government, she received a tour of Robben Island prison with minister of transport Mac Maharaj, fly-fishing lessons from A.N.C. secretary-general Cyril Ramaphosa, and danced a romantic pas de deux with Pik Botha, a National Party stalwart who had by then become minister of mining.18 For Uys, 1994 was a year when satire would have been unproductive, for a new nation needed to be built, not torn down. “I’m not a satirist at all here…We need to create heroes,” Uys told an American journalist—but it was only a temporary phase. “When my honeymoon is over, my new show is ready,” said Uys, “I’m back to the torch.”19 Uys’s descriptions of his 1994 honeymoon seem to complicate a view of him as a traditional satirist, for that year he quite intentionally relinquished his craft (albeit temporarily) for patriotic reasons. Indeed, his excellent reputation among A.N.C. leaders who “reveled in being teased” during those early years could well be accused of compromising his independence and satirical potency.20 Yet it is clear from Uys’s statements and writings that his mission by 1994 was already as reconciliatory as it was acerbic, striving to forge a sense of interracial cooperation in a nation where the opposite had prevailed for decades. He was also, perhaps, setting the stage for helping South Africa with the inevitable end of its Mandelaera honeymoon. In Comedy, Tragedy, and Religion and Comic Relief John Morreall posits comedy and the “comic vision of life” in a favorable contrast to literary tragedy and its associated worldview. Morreall’s basic argument is that tragedy—in promoting grand, immutable emotions and truths over mental flexibility and pragmatism— is poorly suited to life outside the battlefield. Conversely, “in responding to life’s problems, what comedy recommends is not emotions but thinking—and— rethinking…insist[ing] that the way we look at things is more important than the things-in-themselves, if there even are such things.21 By combining criticism of the old dispensation with compassion, Uys resisted recreating the binaries apartheid sought to promote and succeeded in not only upending oppressive paradigms but also rethinking them. In addition, through inspiring laughter from his audiences, whether in the theatre, on television, radio, or in newspapers (Uys and Evita eventually appeared regularly on all these media), Uys gained physical witnesses to his subject matter in addition to visual and aural witnesses. This is not to argue that Uys’s comedic method of dealing with apartheid and its aftermath was superior to the tragic prose of writers like Rian Malan and Breyten Breytenbach, or the moments of sweeping emotional catharsis Cole discusses in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings.22 It is merely to suggest that Uys’s humor, especially after 1994, being civically minded, appealed to the reconciliatory spirit of the time through the unique power of humor. This
spirit, having germinated in Funigalore, reached its apex in the 1999 “Ballot Bus” tour of “Evita’s People’s Party,” Uys’s effort to increase voter turnout ahead of the 1999 elections. By the end of the Mandela administration, the Rainbow Nation euphoria of 1994 had ebbed, replaced by concerns over government corruption, poverty, crime, and HIV/AIDS. Leon Schuster’s 1999 song “Gautengeleng” channeled the white community’s persistent ambivalence about the New South Africa, and many poor South Africans were still unaware that democracy meant more than just one election.23 Amid this confusion, Uys sought to undertake a massive, months-long tour of the country—from urban theatres to town halls to township schools—holding fora in which Evita would educate the audience on electoral procedures and moderate a debate between real political party representatives. The original name of the event, “Evita’s Great Election Trek” recalled the campy Afrikaner satire Evita was famous for, but the tour was also associated with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for according to Uys, “Desmond Tutu says [Evita] will not get amnesty otherwise (she is also down to bake 20 chocolate cakes). It is rather like community service to make up for all the times she was unpleasant to the servants and charming to [apartheid Minister of Cooperation and Development] Piet Koornhof.”24 In Elections and Erections, Uys describes the “Ballot Bus” tour as a grand effort to cheer the disparate parts of the country—broadly if not totally successful. Venues differed widely in quality and organization of the tour was often poor, with Uys and his co-performers arriving to totally unprepared localities. Whites were easily offended by the humor, and worried by the fact that the events were free, explaining to Uys that they were “nervous about the kind of element you might attract.”25 The election commission was unreliable and often maladroit at answering people’s questions. A typology also emerges in the book regarding location: small towns tended to work best for indabas; townships also provided enthusiastic crowds, though whites generally stayed away, and inner city venues seemed to frighten members of all races. Significantly, audiences often left somewhat confused over what they witnessed, with many groups laughing, but apparently at different things: Afterwards, while we are talking to the Mayor and his few black colleagues, a white woman comes up and says: “But isn’t your show geared for us whites? I don’t see how our blacks would understand what you’re on about.” She then smiles at the blacks listening to her. One of them replies with a matching smile. “Funny, we were just saying: it had to be geared at black democrats, because none of your whites seemed to get it!”26
The case above seems to suggest that communal gathering succeeded though Uys may have failed in inspiring his audience to rethink their idea of other race groups. In the violence-stricken hotspots of Mamelodi township and the Natal village of Richmond the narrative tells how Uys-as-Evita is forced to confront local problems in order to inspire “hopefully a sight of wood in spite of all the trees.”27 Naturally, there are important problems with using Uys’s memoirs and (mostly foreign) newspaper coverage of Evita’s tour in the same way Catherine Cole used records from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Uys’s text seems balanced in many ways, but he nevertheless has an undeniable vested interest in Evita’s image and relevance (as well as his own reputation). Reporters were never embedded with Uys’s tour, so press reports are difficult to contextualize and understand as part of a larger whole. The audiences too—though considerable— made up only a tiny fraction of the millions who consumed information about the T.R.C. around the same period. Yet despite the fact that insight into both repertoire and archive is limited when one deals in such a small amount of source material, there are still important similarities to be drawn.28 Most explicitly, the association of the tour with Desmond Tutu calls the T.R.C. to mind, but on a deeper level Evita’s “Ballot Bus” tour succeeded in that like the T.R.C. hearings, “it exposed a secret theatre to public view.”29 Through naming and lampooning South Africans’ problems and prejudices, it challenged the neoliberal discourse that predominated the establishment sphere by 1999.30 Though not always totally successful, Uys’s tour sought to bring the political sphere—which under apartheid had been stale for whites and perilous and covert for blacks—into the public realm, to begin to create the proverbial public square that the Group Areas Act had prevented the country from forming. Reforming communities was the goal and laughter was the lure. Brenda Munro has suggested that a uniting “national family” can be understood as to have been constructed around the figure of Nelson Mandela in the years immediately after apartheid—a man “imagined by people of every race as a magical father figure, able to adopt everyone into the new nation.”31 Under this schema, one could argue that Evita Bezuidenhout became tannie (auntie) of the nation to Mandela’s patriarch, with his ex-wife Winnie MadikizelaMandela (also famously impersonated by Uys) as “disgraced mother.”32 Indeed, the chumminess implicit in Evita’s need to bake twenty cakes for Desmond Tutu strengthens such notions while begging the question of why, so soon after the end of white Afrikaner domination, the Evita character was able to achieve such a prominent place in the national psyche. How could the quintessential Afrikaner matron of the 1980’s (the female ambassador to a black homeland, no less) survive the transition to democracy when so much else about Afrikanerdom did not?
The answer most likely lies in the way Pieter-Dirk Uys has been able to straddle the insider-outsider divide, through both his personal identity and that of his alter-egos. As a white, well-bred Afrikaner male his identity is already laden with paradox: an insider under apartheid, an outsider amid democracy—“real” and yet “horrible” in the words of Evita Bezuidenhout’s embittered mother Ossewania.33 As a gay man who frequently dresses as a woman in one of the most homophobic countries on earth, he is decidedly an outsider, yet his drag alter-ego’s far-reaching connections and relations with the political elite make him an insider at the same time—as “the most famous white woman in South Africa.” His frequent use of Afrikaans onstage and in interviews is also a kind of deviation, inviting his Afrikaans-speaking audience closer to the action while contesting the position of English as the sacred language of South African liberalism and likening its role in the modern South Africa to “the ultimate ‘whites only’ sign.”34 Coming from this paradoxical perspective, it is curious that Uys’s views on dealing with conservative Afrikaners directly recall Tina Rosenberg’s “dragons in the living room” metaphor for post-apartheid South Africa—“Don’t chase them back into the caves. Instead, let’s lure them out with those little jelly babies [a soft candy] and then we can stroke their heads.”35 Uys’s ability to straddle the most disparate spheres of South African life, combined with his wit and constantly-professed regard for the South African people render him a figure of unique stature in modern South Africa. The story of Pieter-Dirk Uys’s career frankly cries out for analysis far outside the scope of this paper: the rich potential in connecting his legacy to further discourses within drag studies, performance studies, sociology, history, queer studies, and even women’s studies—for Uys has said that his Evita character allows Afrikaans women a rare “political voice”—can scarcely be denied.36 Uys’s significance for studying South African humor and white identity in the young country is also obvious—particularly as many prominent white comedians have felt the need to escape their whiteness in performance. The prolific Afrikaner actor and filmmaker Leon Schuster is notorious for engaging in racial masquerade in his farcical comedies—notably as an obese black maid in Mama Jack (2005) and as an exotic white tribesman in his lucrative Mr. Bones films (2001, 2008).37 Conrad Koch, a political satirist and South Africa’s most prominent ventriloquist is famous for his invention of Chester Missing, a colored puppet whom he describes in interviews as his B.E.E. (affirmative action) partner.38 While surely owing in part to the length of his career, Uys seems unique in modern South African popular culture for his interest the Afrikaner nationalist past, as well as his dogged optimism in the nation’s future. By approaching the very real problems of modern South Africa both directly and irreverently, as an insider and an outsider, with the spirit of both satire and reconciliation, his contributions to South African life over the
past three decades are considerable.39 Amid all his notoriety however, there is a possibility that he may have created a vacuum within his own niche that only he can fill. Looking ahead to a post-Evita South Africa, one wonders how and indeed whether his Uys’s methods will be developed further by entertainers of the same or different race, gender, or sexuality. The upcoming 2014 elections may prove a watershed. Meanwhile, from his home at “Evita se Perron” (a converted train station—the name being a pun on the Afrikaans word for ‘station platform’) the new South Africa’s founding tannie continues to go about his work.
Works Cited Altbeker, Phillip, “S.A.’s Only Offering This Year is an Embarrassment,” Business Day (Johannesburg, South Africa), December 4th, 2001. NewsBank: Access World News (120401BD_bd_altbones). Breytenbach, Breyten, Return to Paradise (New York, N.Y.: Mariner Books, 1994). Coetzee, Greig, Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny and Other Plays (Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwazuluNatal Press, 2009): 89-166. Cole, Catherine M., Performing South Africa’s Truth Commission: Stages of Transition (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2010). Darling! The Pieter-Dirk Uys Story, directed by Julian Shaw (2007; Perth, Australia; Greenlight Productions: YouTube video, uploaded November 4th, 2011), accessed May 2nd, 2013,<https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=pEuLFlvXKE>. Eveleigh, Bob, “Tasteless Gags Totally
Spoil ‘Mama Jack,’” The Herald (Port Elizabeth, South Africa), November 25th, 2005; NewsBank: Access World News (112505Herald_tg_25mamacrit) Harper, James, “Edgy Sex and Politics,” The Courier Mail (Brisbane, Australia), March 24th, 2005: 47. EBSCOhost (200503241047716424). Hogg, Andrew, “South Africa’s Edna Everage Taunts Censor,” The Sunday Times (London, U.K.), November 18th, 1990. NewsBank: Access World News (1005240488). Keller, Bill, “Drag Queen Puts Unique Spin on South African Politics—Mandela, Other Leaders Seek Introduction to Public from Him/Her,” The Dallas (Texas) Morning News, January 1st, 1995: 45A. NewsBank: Access World News (DAL1460190). Lieberfeld, Daniel, and Pieter-Dirk Uys, “Crossing Apartheid Lines: An Interview with Pieter-Dirk Uys,” The Drama Review 41.1 (1997): 61-71. JStor.
Malan, Rian, “A.I.D.S. in Africa: In Search of the Truth,” Rolling Stone, November 22nd, 2001, accessed May 7th,2013, <http://www.davidabrahamson.com/ WWW/IALJS/Malan_AidsInAfrica_ RollingStone_22Nov2001.pdf>. My Traitor’s Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience (New York, N.Y.: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990). McKay, Robert, “Q&A with Leon Schuster,” The Times (Johannesburg, South Africa), November 28th, 2008. WorldBank: Access World News (112808The_Times_TT_p16QA-28). Morreall, John, Comedy, Tragedy, and Religion (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1999). Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor (Malden, Mass.: WileyBlackwell, 2009). Munro, Brenda M., “Queer Family Romance: Writing the ‘New’ South Africa in the Late 1990’s,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 15.3 (2009): 397-439. Owen, Therese, “Puppet With Guts to Torment Leaders,” Pretoria (South Africa) News, April 11th, 2013. NewsBank: Access World News (33160830).
Parker, Heather, “After Hours: Democracy Explained—by Evita,” Business Day (Johannesburg, South Africa), February 12th, 1999. NewsBank: Access World News (021299BD_NVM1202.276). Schuster, Leon, “Gautengeleng” (1999; YouTube video, uploaded February 14th, 2013), accessed May 7th, 2013,<http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=cVBbVqajEOQ>. Thamm, Marianne, “Caught in a Nuthouse Where His Puppets Call the Shots,” The Sunday Times (Johannesburg, South Africa), January 8th, 2012. NewsBank: Access World News (010812ST_sp_0801artsconrad) Trillin, Calvin, “Gadfly: The Satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys Adjusts to the New South Africa,” The New Yorker 80:11 (May 10th, 2004): 70-81. Uys, Pieter-Dirk Elections and Erections: A Memoir of Fear and Fun (Cape Town, South Africa: Zebra Press, 2002). Farce About Uys (Darling, South Africa: P.D. Uys Productions, 1983): 62. Accessed May 6th, 2013, <http://pdu. co.za/FARCE%20%20ABOUT%20 %20UYS.pdf>. Ouma Ossewania Praat Vuil (Darling, South Africa: P.D. Uys Productions, 1997): 5-6. Accessed May 6th, 2013, http://pdu.co.za/OUMA.pdf>.
Notes 1 Darling! The Pieter-Dirk Uys Story, directed by Julian Shaw (2007; Perth, Australia; Greenlight Productions: YouTube video, uploaded November 4th, 2011), accessed May 2nd, 2013, <https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=pEuLFlvX-KE>.Star ts around 7:50. 2 Pieter-Dirk Uys, Elections and Erections: A Memoir of Fear and Fun (Cape Town, South Africa: Zebra Press, 2002): 199. 3 Darling! The Pieter-Dirk Uys Story, directed by Julian Shaw (2007; Perth, Australia; Greenlight Productions: YouTube video, uploaded November 4th, 2011), accessed May 2nd, 2013, <https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=pEuLFlvX-KE>.Star ts around 7:50. 4 Indaba is an isiZulu word for consultative meeting, commonly used in modern South Africa and roughly analogous to the English word “forum.” 5 Cf. Catherine M. Cole, Performing South Africa’s Truth Commission: Stages of Transition (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2010). 6 Calvin Trillin, “Gadfly: The Satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys Adjusts to the New South Africa,” The New Yorker 80:11 (May 10th, 2004): 77-78; Uys, Elections and Erections, 11-12. 7 Rian Malan, My Traitor’s Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience (New York, N.Y.: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990): 44. 8 Uys, Elections and Erections, 18. 9 “Afrikaanse kinders naai ook,” Uys,
Elections and Erections, 154; 229. The connection drawn here between comedy and sex as two “base phenomena” is not as tendentious as it may appear, especially in the case of Uys’s work, which lampooned Afrikaner Calvinism early on in implying that Evita Bezuidenhout was having an extramarital affair with apartheid foreign minister Pik Botha. In 1999 Uys’s Evita was launching her voter education “Ballot Bus” in the chambers of the old South African Parliament, performing with a symbolic (and highly phallic) “Cactus of Democracy” at her side. By 2002 Uys’s HIV/AIDS efforts brought frank and explicit discussions of sex among all sectors of South African youth to the center of his act (Ibid., 69-71) 10 Ibid., 26. 11 Greig Coetzee, Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny and Other Plays (Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwazuluNatal Press, 2009): 89-166. 12 “Oh, it’s nice to laugh, because the Boss makes the jokes and the Boss stays Boss!” Translation mine, from PieterDirk Uys, Farce About Uys (Darling, South Africa: P.D. Uys Productions, 1983): 62. Accessed May 6th, 2013, <http://pdu.co.za/FARCE%20%20 ABOUT%20%20UYS.pdf>. This kind of subtle attack on a self-satisfied public is a tactic of Uys’s also noted in recent years with South African expatriate audiences, cf. James Harper, “Edgy Sex and Politics,” The Courier Mail (Brisbane, Australia), March 24th, 2005: 47. EBSCOhost
(200503241047716424). 13 Andrew Hogg, “South Africa’s Edna Everage Taunts Censor,” The Sunday Times (London, U.K.), November 18th, 1990. NewsBank: Access World News (1005240488). 14 Trillin, “Gadfly,” 75; 77. 15 Ibid., 77. 16 Daniel Lieberfeld and Pieter-Dirk Uys, “Crossing Apartheid Lines: An Interview with Pieter-Dirk Uys,” The Drama Review 41.1 (1997): 64. JStor. 17 Ibid., 64-65. 18 Uys, Elections and Erections, 49. 19 Bill Keller, “Drag Queen Puts Unique Spin on South African Politics— Mandela, Other Leaders Seek Introduction to Public from Him/ Her,” The Dallas (Texas) Morning News, January 1st, 1995: 45A. NewsBank: Access World News (DAL1460190). 20 Uys, Elections and Erections, 57. 21 John Morreall, Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009): 82; cf. ibid., Comedy, Tragedy, and Religion (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1999). 22 I am thinking here of My Traitor’s Heart as well as Breyten Breytenbach, Return to Paradise (New York, N.Y.: Mariner Books, 1994). The contrast between Uys and Malan is particularly relevant due to Malan’s recent well-publicized A.I.D.S. skepticism; cf. Rian Malan, “A.I.D.S. in Africa: In Search of the Truth,” Rolling Stone, November 22nd, 2001. 23 Cf. Leon Schuster, “Gautengeleng” (1999; YouTube video, uploaded February 14th, 2013), accessed May
7th, 2013, <http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=cVBbVqajEOQ>. The song, written by the prolific Afrikaner comedian and film-maker lampoons the rising tide of crime in the populous Gauteng province of the country with a smattering of images from various candid camera movies and his own frequently crude impersonations. 24 Heather Parker, “After Hours: Democracy Explained—by Evita,” Business Day (Johannesburg, South Africa), February 12th, 1999. NewsBank: Access World News (021299BD_NVM1202.276). 25 Uys, Elections and Erections, 83 26 Ibid., 98. 27 Ibid., 97. 28 For Cole’s understanding of “archive” and “repertoire,” cf. Cole, Performing South Africa’s Truth Commission, 29. 29 Ibid., 65. 30 White evasion of apartheid history is a common target for Uys. “We know you here in Uvongo were the most rabidly anti-apartheid audience on the South Coast,” cooed Evita Bezuidenhout at one point to a group of whites in Kwazulu-Natal, “Thanks to your sense of humanity and your unprejudiced attitude to your black brothers and sisters, apartheid was eventually slain. Amandla!” Colin Trillin tells the story of Evita asking how many former National Party voters were in her audience—and having to publicly browbeat a former apartheid-era minister into raising his hand. Cf. Uys, Elections and Erections, 98; Trillin, “Gadfly,” 72. 31 Brenda M. Munro, “Queer Family Romance: Writing the ‘New’ South
Africa in the Late 1990’s,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 15.3 (2009): 406-407. 32 Ibid., 407; cf. Uys, Elections and Erections, 53-55. 33 Her name is a clear pun on ossewa, the Afrikaans name for the famous covered wagons that accompanied the Voortrekkers on their journey into the South African interior. 34 Lieberfeld and Uys, “Crossing Apartheid Lines,” 64. This is due to the way the accents of various racial groups are recognized and scrutinized in South African culture; according to Uys, “ethnicity is sound” Hence why he has never felt the need to ‘black up’ when portraying a character of a different race. 35 Cf. Cole, Performing South Africa’s Truth Commission, 122.; Lieberfeld and Uys, “Crossing Apartheid Lines, 67. 36 Ibid., 63. 37 Mr. Bones 2: Back from the Past (2008) is notable as the most successful locallymade South African movie of all time, second only to Titanic in receipts. Cf. Robert McKay, “Q&A with Leon Schuster,” The Times (Johannesburg, South Africa), November 28th, 2008. WorldBank: Access World News (112808The_Times_TT_ p16QA-28); Bob Eveleigh, “Tasteless Gags Totally Spoil ‘Mama Jack,’” The Herald (Port Elizabeth, South Africa), November 25th, 2005; NewsBank: Access World News (112505Herald_ tg_25mamacrit); Phillip Altbeker, “S.A.’s Only Offering This Year is an Embarrassment,” Business Day (Johannesburg, South Africa), December 4th, 2001. NewsBank: Access World News (120401BD_bd_
altbones). 38 Cf. Marianne Thamm, “Caught in a Nuthouse Where His Puppets Call the Shots,” The Sunday Times (Johannesburg, South Africa), January 8th, 2012. NewsBank: Access World News (010812ST_ sp_0801artsconrad); Therese Owen, “Puppet With Guts to Torment Leaders,” Pretoria (South Africa) News, April 11th, 2013. NewsBank: Access World News (33160830). 39 Opinion on Uys in post-apartheid South Africa has usually been positive, but this did not prevent one popular black newspaper from writing in 1999 that “The basic appeal of Uys is to uphold and defend white supremacy and history…[His agenda] is the symbolic fantasy of the white racist, unwilling to accept black government or even apologise for atrocities... Pieter-Dirk Uys or Evita is not us; he/she has no intuitive connection with the perspective of the majority and his/ her claim to want to mobilise support for the election is a lie.” While I would have liked to further trace the root of these criticisms, I was unable to locate the full article from which the above excerpt was quoted, in David Beresford, “Apartheid was no Laughing Matter—But it is Now: Pre-election Violence is Mounting in South Africa, But the Nation’s Top Satirist is Still Able to Crack a Joke,” The Observer (London, U.K.), March 14th, 1999. NewsBank: Access World News (BJQCM7ADLMCC).
The Crescent and the Vajra: Tibet on the Islamic Periphery Robin Crigler
“When his diadem reached to the height of Tibat, All [Alexander the Great’]s army began to laugh. He asked:—‘For what is this laughter In a place where it is proper to weep for ourselves?’ They declared:— ‘This soil, saffron-like, Makes man laughterful without cause.’ At the Paradise-like city the king was amazed:— ‘Involuntarily, how produces it laughter?’” —The Iskandarnama (Alexander romance) of Nizami Ganjavi, 11941 Tibet’s position today is as remarkable as it is paradoxical. Long a subject of myth, mystery and speculation for outsiders, since the calamity of its occupation by the People’s Republic of China, Tibetan culture has vaulted its way into mainstream North American discourse. With as charismatic a spokesman as the fourteenth Dalai Lama at the head of the exile community, what just sixty years ago seemed to Westerners to be the most exotic and enigmatic of all of Asia’s Buddhist landscapes has now become one of the easiest to encounter and read about. And yet, even as the Dalai Lama crisscrosses the international conference circuit, writing books and delivering speeches, Tibet’s mythic reputation as pure, isolated and untouched persists. In a place so often nicknamed “the land of snows,” perhaps its lack of blemish in the Western imagination should not come as a surprise. Tibetans themselves have, to some extent, participated in this bracketing of sorts. In the noting of Tibet’s unique topography and its separation from both India and China, its status as a refuge for Indian Buddhist teaching, or its characterization as a malevolent demoness inhabited by half-human barbarians,
the region is often imagined as a land apart.2 In recent years, however, several historians of Tibet have challenged this interpretation, identifying ways in which, particularly before the nineteenth century, the city of Lhasa—along with Tibet at large—participated fully in the political, religious, and economic life of their geopolitical milieu, situated as they were at the fraught crossroads of Chinese, Indian, Persian, and Mongol powers. Tibet is no island, and a close examination of its history reveals that Islam, in particular, is a fitting lens through which to question the assumptions surrounding the figure of Tibet. Contact with Muslims, who came by turns from each of the four main cultural spheres surrounding Tibet, is an important, yet underemphasized, aspect of Tibetan history. Aside from a few articles and volumes, little has been said about Tibet as a place on the periphery of the Islamic world, one whose cities still harbor a sizable and diverse Muslim population. In what studies and accounts exist of Tibetan interaction with Muslims, one encounters an intriguing counterpoint to the naked hostility of traditional Buddhist-Muslim polemic found in texts like the Kalachakra Tantra.3 Moreover, the similarities between the institution of the south Asian Sufi saint (or pir) and the Buddhist master hints at a certain mutual intelligibility between Buddhist and Muslim mystic traditions. This is in keeping with recent scholarly investigations of subjects as diverse as Tibetan medicine, drinking culture, and scholasticism—suggesting a much more regionally integrated, culturally dynamic Tibet than the isolated wilderness of twenty-first century post-industrial myth. The Land of Snows, it seems, lies at a crossroads, in which many sets of tracks may be discerned. In an introductory essay to the English edition of Abdul Wahid Radhu’s memoir Tibetan Caravans, José Ignacio Cabezón waxes poetic about Lhasa’s eclectic past, “when people from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Ladakh, Central Asia, Mongolia, China, and even Southeast Asia had greater access to the ‘Place of the Gods.’”4 Though the Tibetan capital feels diverse today, to Cabezón its variety is “only a shadow of what it once was.”5 For centuries Tibet was the epicenter of a lucrative musk trade spanning the full length of Eurasia.6 While it was certainly difficult to get to, inhospitable ground for invasion, in the seventh and eighth centuries the Tibetan Empire posed a formidable threat to its neighbors, expanding so drastically that some medieval Arabic writers refer to bahr al-Tubbat—a “sea of Tibet”—somewhere between India and China in the vicinity of the Ganges delta.7 To Arabic geographers the very name ‘Tibet” could suggest cultural kinship; they frequently explained that Tibet was founded by an ancient Yemeni king named Tubba-ul-Agran who entered the country on his way to invading China.8 This narrative persists in the Muslim world: in the work of the Urdu writer Abu Bakr Amir-uddin Nadwi, writing in 1979, one reads that “the Tibetan dress, especially that of lamas, the routine daily living of the people, the structure of their houses, the custom of circumambulatory rounds etc. partly reflect the influence of Arab
civilization.”9 In former times, the neighboring states of Baltistan and Ladakh, both of which were firmly part of the Tibetan linguistic sphere, were commonly known as “Little Tibet,” and “Middle Tibet,” respectively—Baltistan having been Islamicized in the fifteenth century and Ladakh (briefly occupied by the Balti Muslims in the late sixteenth century) also incorporating a large Muslim minority.10 Evidence of cultural exchanges between Tibet and the Islamic territories beyond its borders abound. Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani has outlined a host of material evidences for the Tibetan embrace of cultural practices, such as those to be found in the adoption of the Persian wine banquet and elements of Iranian royal costume.11 In addition to this circulation of goods and rituals relating to fashion, according to the investigations of Christopher Beckwith and Dan Martin, innovative ideas have also traversed the mountains and plains of central Asia. Martin argues that Galenic medicine travelled west from the Byzantine European world to Tibet in the seventh and eighth centuries, by way of Muslim societies in between.12 For Beckwith, both the medieval European scholastic tradition of Thomas Aquinas and Anselm of Canterbury and the similar logical rigor of Sakya and Gelukpa Buddhist rhetoric in Tibet owe their flourishing in no small degree to the Buddhist vihara religious schools of central Asia (in the European case by way of an Islamicized form, the madrasa).13 As confused and suspicious of one another as the cultures of Eurasia frequently were, what trade routes and points of contact did exist were often powerful conduits for the propagation of both goods and cutting-edge learning. It is clear that from the imperial period onwards Tibetans were by no means sealed off from the rest of the world. Yet the antagonistic relationship between Buddhism and Islam was undoubtedly a complicating factor in Tibet’s foreign relations. By the time the Kashmiri Muslim (Kha-che) community began to settle permanently in Tibet around the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama in the seventeenth century, Tibet was surrounded on virtually every side by large Muslim populations, and the Indian Buddhist teachings which had for centuries captivated and invigorated the Buddhist sangha in Tibet had been snuffed out in the wake of Muslim invasion.14 The Kalachakra Tantra, first circulated in India in the eleventh century and regarded by many as a canonical Buddhist evaluation of Islam, is unrelenting in its disdain for the tradition. Referring to Muslims as mleccha, or barbarians, the tantra explains that they “worship a mighty, merciless, demonic death-deity named ar-Rahman,” to quote John Newman.15 “From the Buddhist point of view,” he continues, “Islam is demonic and perverse, a perfect anti-religion which is the antithesis of Buddhism.”16 Ultimately it prophesies that, with the inevitable passage of time, this “apocalyptic irruption of evil” will be overcome by a Buddhist restorer who will reintroduce the dharma and bring the world into a new cycle of rise and decline.17 By the same token, Newman quotes
the Persian polymath al-Biruni explaining that “[the Buddhists] totally differ from us in religion, as we believe in nothing they believe, and vice versa.” 18 On such a basis, the chances of Buddhist-Muslim co-operation in the Tibetan context would seem slim indeed. And yet it is in the seventeenth century, after the institutions of Buddhist India were conclusively and woefully defunct, that Buddhist-Muslim relations in Tibet entered one of their most fruitful periods. It was then, during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama, that, as legend has it, the Kha-che ling-ka (literally “the garden of the Kashmiri”) was given to the Kashmiri Muslim community of Lhasa for the construction of a mosque and to use as a cemetery. Several versions exist of its origin story. The most straightforward is the rendition given by the tailor Habibullah Bat in Corneille Jest’s 1995 article in The Tibet Journal; he describes the meeting between a local Sufi saint, Pir Yakub, and a curious Dalai Lama interested in his religious practices, a meeting which results positively in the Dalai Lama granting a large tract of land to the Muslims, the boundaries of which were marked by the shooting of four arrows.19 Abu Bakr Amir-uddin Nadwi’s account has the saint impress the Dalai Lama by miraculously appearing in his path, while the Nepal-based Muslim merchant Khwaja Ghulam Muhammad’s even more detailed account is reproduced in Marc Gaborieau’s discussion of Sufi sainthood in Tibet.20 In this latter version, the saint (here named Khair-uddin) defeats the fifth Dalai Lama in a contest of miraculous skill, turning into a pigeon and outflying the Dalai Lama (in the guise of a hawk) in a bid to reach India. Upon reaching his Sufi master, Khair-uddin is unfortunately told that “a great error has been committed: if you had met the Dalai Lama [i.e., not fled him], he would have perhaps converted to Islam. And through his conversion, the whole country would have become Muslim. But God’s will prevailed.”21 Contrary to much of the more well-known rhetoric, many Muslims did not view Buddhism as pure paganism; rather, they saw it as “a form of degenerate monotheism,” bearing significant vestiges of Christianity.22 It was this possibility, having caught the ear of frustrated Portuguese missionaries at the Mughal court, that inspired the first Christian expeditions into Tibet. The first missionaries found that many aspects of their practice seemed to find analogues in Christianity, with one priest, Francis Godinho, raving that “it is impossible to say how much they cherish the Cross, and this is the best proof of their ancient religion.”23 With Gaborieau’s scholarship one can begin to make sense of the apparent dissonance between the rhetoric and reality of Buddhist-Muslim discourse in Tibet. It is certainly true that the Kashmiri Muslim community in Tibet has never been anywhere near large enough to constitute a credible political threat. The Gya-Khache community in Tibet, with which they might conceivably combine, is made up chiefly of locally born Chinese Muslims, worships separately, and maintains few ties to the Kha-che.24 Yet the state of modern Buddhist-Muslim relations in
Tibet has been more than simply amicable, to judge from the account of Abdul Wahid Radhu and those of the various secular scholars who have studied the Muslim community in Tibet. More fundamentally than any calculus of numbers, Gaborieau’s evidence suggests that one reason for good relations is the mutual recognition in both Tibetan Islam and Tibetan Buddhism of the place of spiritual adepts, and, furthermore, the right of spiritual adepts to hold political power. This makes a great deal of sense given the historical level of cultural exchange between Tibet and its Muslim neighbors. The simultaneous emphasis on compassion and miracle-working that is so fundamental to Tibetan tantric practice—what Robert Samuels has described as a shamanic mode—is present in no small measure in the Sufi tradition as it developed in northern India, exemplified by figures such as Selim Chishti.25 According to Arthur F. Buehler, the Sufis of India began to coalesce around the idea of “unquestioning obedience to an infallible shaykh” in the eleventh century, adopting a system which bears a striking resemblance to the inviolable master-disciple relationships of tantric Tibetan Buddhism:
Instead of being an ascetic who wandered about from teacher-shaykh to teacher-shaykh as they had in the past, each obedient disciple had to be properly initiated by one master who alone could authorize his travel. Formal allegiance (bay‘a) to the directing shaykh became common, as did the sufi robe (khirqah)…By the twelfth century a disciple, rather than submitting his or her ego (nafs including the lower, carnal soul) to God (fana’ fi’llah), was first expected to annihilate the ego in the directing shaykh (fana’ fi’l-shaykh).26
Shaykhs’ power, however, by no means ended with initiated disciples. As Digby and Gaborieau elaborate, Sufi saints exercised enormous power over the material world as well. In the words of Al-Hujwiri, they were “the governors of the universe” by the will of Allah—“through the blessing of their advent the rain falls from heaven, and through the purity of their lives plants spring up from the earth.”27 Nor was this power merely meteorological: by the thirteenth and fourteenth century their blessing was also seen as essential to the survival of Islamic states. In at least one case, the role of the sultan in relation to that of a powerful shaykh was compared to that of a “little slave boy…trim[ming] the wick,” by the light of which dervishes dance.28 The fundamental schema under which careful study lead one down a path towards fuller spiritual enlightenment was also shared between the Buddhist and Sufi traditions in Tibet. Just as in India, Muslims would seek out renowned Hindu ascetics, and Muslims in Tibet respected and sometimes sought out accomplished lamas, while the reverse applied for Sufi saints. Few saw the two traditions as equally meritorious, though many Tibetans who came in
contact with the Muslim-Buddhist divide understood, on some level, both sides’ sincere longing for the transcendent. For Abdul Wahid Radhu, the increasing influence of Western ideas on Tibet only increased this sense of solidarity with Tibetan Buddhists, as he recounts amid an extensive discussion of his personal struggle with Western philosophies: It appeared to me then that the real kafir, the unfaithful disbeliever, was not, as narrow Muslims of the zahir [exoteric orientation] thought, the Hindu or Buddhist. He was rather the secularized Westerner, frequently an unbeliever or agnostic who, under the pretext of his supposed progress, had come to upset the values and traditional order of the East, thus also of Islam.29 In twentieth century Tibet, it seems, and possibly up to the present day, Muslims and Buddhists seem to share a great deal in terms of their understanding of spiritual life—much more than one might think when considering the usual source material for Muslim-Buddhist relations. Indeed, one might even speak of a Tibetan equivalent for what David Robinson has referred to as the Suwarian tradition of Muslim minority conduct in Sahelian Africa (named after a prominent Sahelian jurist who endorsed the possibility of life as a Muslim outside dar al-Islam).30 Certainly John Bray’s description of the nineteenth century Khache as a “community of go-betweens” seems to support such an interpretation— that a small but dutifully practicing and highly mobile Muslim community living at peace with non-Muslim neighbors could gain status (under the right circumstances) as trusted and apparently impartial figures in wider society.31 Of course, Tibet’s occupation by the People’s Republic of China upset the country’s religious landscape for Muslims as well as Buddhists, many of whom were able to claim Indian citizenship (as Kashmiris) and leave the country in 1959. Though many (particularly the poor) have returned to the Chinese Tibetan Autonomous Region since the 1960’s, and both Kha-che and Gya-Kha-che are free to gather and pray in their respective mosques, little can be confidently said about what the future may hold for Buddhist-Muslim relations in Tibet. Although the current Dalai Lama appears well-disposed and supportive of the Muslim community both in Tibet and in exile, whether Muslims will find unique ways to adapt to the enormous population transfer that has occurred over the past few decades, particularly in the cities where they are most numerous, is unclear. Yet if the history of Tibetan ecumenical relations is anything to go by, it seems imprudent to make any bold assumptions.
Notes 1 Nizami Ganjavi, The Sikandar nama, e bara: or, Book of Alexander the Great (1194), trans. H. Wilberforce Clarke (London, U.K.: W.H. Allen & Co., 1881): 585-586, quoted in Anna Akasoy, “Tibet in Islamic Geography and Cartography: A Survey of Arabic and Persian Sources,” in Islam and Tibet: Interactions Along the Musk Routes, eds. Anna Akasoy, Charles Burnett, and Roenit Yeli-Tlalim (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2011): 34 2 For more on the latter see Janet Gyatso, “Down with the Demoness: Reflections on a Feminine Ground in Tibet,” in Feminine Ground: Essays on Women and Tibet, ed. Janice D. Willis (Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion, 1987): 3351. 3 For more on the content of the Kalachakra Tantra, see Alexander Berzin, “The Kalachakra Presentation of the Prophets of the Non-Indic Invaders (Full Analysis),” The Berzin Archives, revised December 2006, accessed November 2nd, 2013, <http://www.berzinarchives. com/web/en/archives/study/islam/ kalachakra_islam/kalachakra_ presentation_prophets_in/kc_pres_ prophets_islam_full.html>. 4 José Ignacio Cabezón, “Islam in the Tibetan Cultural Sphere,” in Islam in Tibet, and Tibetan Caravans: The Illustrated Narrative, ed. Gray Henry (Louisville, Ky.: Fons Vitae, 1997): 13. 5 Ibid. 6 Trent Pomplun, Jesuit on the Roof of the World: Ippolito Desideri’s Mission to Eighteenth Century Tibet (New York,
N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2010): 46. 7 Akasoy, “Tibet in Islamic Geography and Cartography,” 40. 8 Abu Bakr Amir-uddin Nadwi, Tibet and Tibetan Muslims (1979), trans. Parmananda Sharma (Dharamsala, India: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 2004): 6-7. Though an Arabic name, the author uses an Urdu spelling. Also see Akasoy, “Tibet in Islamic Geography and Cartography,” 24-26. 9 Abu Bakr Amir-uddin Nadwi, Tibet and Tibetan Muslims, 9. 10 Georgios T. Halkias, “The Muslim Queens of the Himalayas: Princess Exchanges in Baltistan and Ladakh,” in Akasoy et al., Islam and Tibet, 232; Cabezón, “Islam in the Tibetan Cultural Sphere,” 15-16. 11 Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani, “Iran to Tibet,” in Akasoy et al., Islam and Tibet, 89-116. 12 Dan L. Martin, “Greek and Islamic Medicines’ Historical Contact with Tibet: A Reassessment in View of Recently Available but Relatively Early Sources on Tibetan Medical Eclecticism,” in ibid., 117-144. 13 Christopher L. Beckwith, “Sarvastivadin Buddhist Scholastic Method in Medieval Islam and Tibet,” in ibid., 163-176. 14 Although it is important to note that the more lurid of the Buddhist allegations against the Muslim rulers of India are quite unfounded, and the decline of Buddhism in India much more gradual than many texts would have
one believe. See Johan Elverskog, Encounters with Asia: Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road (Philadelphia, Penn.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010): 1-2. 15 John Newman, “Islam in the Kalacakra Tantra,” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 21.2 (1998): 321. 16 Ibid., 326. 17 Ibid., 332. 18 Abu al-Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni, al-Hind, quoted in ibid., 311. 19 Corneille Jest, “Kha-che and Gya-Khache: Muslim Communities in Lhasa,” The Tibet Journal 20.3 (1995): 8. 20 Abu Bakr Amir-uddin Nadwi, Tibet and Tibetan Muslims, 57; Marc Gaborieau, “Powers and Authority of Sufis Among the Kashmiri Muslims in Tibet,” The Tibet Journal 20.3 (1995): 24-25. 21 Ibid. Gaborieau notes that in some other versions, the Dalai Lama actually does convert to Islam, but cannot profess it publicly for fear of his non-Muslim ministers. 22 Ibid., “The Discovery of the Muslims of Tibet by the First Portuguese Missionaries,” in Akasoy et al., Islam and Tibet, 256-258. 23 Pomplun, Jesuit on the Roof of the World, 48.
24 Abdul Wahid Radhu “Tibetan Caravans,” in Islam in Tibet, and Tibetan Caravans, 160. 25 See Geoffrey Samuel, Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Insititution Press, 1993): 3-36. 26 Arthur F. Buehler, Sufi Heirs of the Prophet: The Indian Naqshbandiyya and the Rise of the Mediating Sufi Shaykh (Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1998): 1-2. 27 Abul Hassan ‘Ali Hujwiri, quoted in Gaborieau, “Powers and Authority of Sufis Among the Kashmiri Muslims in Tibet,” 22. 28 Simon Digby, “The Sufi Shaykh and the Sultan: A Conflict of Claims to Authority in Medieval India,” Iran 28 (1990): 75. 29 Abdul Wahid Radhu, Islam in Tibet, and Tibetan Caravans, 190 30 David Robinson, Muslim Societies in African History (New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, 2004): 55-58 31 John Bray, “Trader, Middleman or Spy? The Dilemmas of a Kashmiri Muslim in Early Nineteenth Century Tibet,” in Akasoy et al., Islam and Tibet, 314; for a description of dutiful Kha-che observance see Abdul Wahid Radhu, Islam in Tibet, and Tibetan Caravans, 162-163.
Reluctant Americans: The Amish as Ultra-White Immigrants Robin Crigler
“Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness?” —II Corinthians 6:141 “A people without history Is not redeemed from time…” —T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding,” from Four Quartets (1943)2 In recent decades, studies of American immigration in both policy and practice have been heavily concerned with otherization and structural oppression, in an effort to problematize a persistent trend in American history that Paul V. Spickard calls “self-celebration.” Quoting from the “soaringly poetic” rhetoric of J. Hector St. John Crèvecœur’s 1782 Letters from an American Farmer, Spickard rightly points out that the traditional interpretation of America as a nation of immigrants “masks the profound power dynamics that have existed among America’s peoples,” and—he adds euphemistically—is “built on an interlocking set of unexamined assumptions about how various racial and ethnic groups have in fact functioned in relationship to each other in American history.”3 Race, colonialism, xenophobia, social Darwinism, and oppression are as much a part of immigration history as the aspects past historians celebrated, and one can no longer unreflectively agree with Oscar Handlin (writing in 1951) that “it was the unique quality of nineteenth century immigration that the people who moved entered the life of the United States at a status equal to that of the older residents.”4 Within American religious history, the phenomenon of otherizing unfamiliar
or apparently threatening groups has been tempered by the sense of a slow, uneven, but ultimately steady broadening in which faith traditions are considered to be part of the American mainstream. As Haddad, Smith and Esposito sketch in their introduction to Religion and Immigration: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Experiences in the United States, the overwhelming dominance of Protestantism in early American life began by the late nineteenth century to yield a degree of legitimacy and “American-ness” to an increasingly well-established Roman Catholicism. By the end of World War II, the construction of a “Judeo-Christian” tradition further widened the religious playing field, swiftly incorporating a group that had been formerly othered as the specter of a new, and more threatening, foil presented itself—international communism.5 It is perhaps unsurprising that the Amish, a tiny minority group with longstanding roots in the rural United States (with only 282,000 adherents nationwide), have largely escaped this trend in the study of American immigration.6 Considering the outsized (and unsought) prominence the Amish have in American culture— appearing frequently in films and “reality” television programs, and supporting a multimillion dollar tourism industry across several states—this paper will consider the Amish first and foremost as an immigrant group. Building off Julia Spicher Kasdorf ’s insight that the Amish occupy a “whiter-than-white” racial position in the eyes of many Americans, it argues that despite the explicitly and self-consciously incompatible values of Amish and “English” society—the Amish term for all non-Amish (white) Americans—the Amish occupy a secure and, to a large extent, cherished position in the U.S.7 Unlike other religious immigrant groups, which have struggled to craft narratives of “American-ness” to legitimize their presence in the eyes of the native-born population, the Amish have made little to no such effort, and their presence in both academic and popular culture is almost always mediated by non-Amish “interpreters”—often Amish-born converts to Mennonite denominations. Like other immigrant groups throughout American history, their religion and ways of life have frequently been caricatured and misrepresented. Yet unlike other immigrant groups, who lacked the same “ultra-white” image, this chronic distortion has more often invited admiration than it has fear or derision. Beginning in the early twentieth century, the Amish have served as a magic mirror to which white Americans have come carrying various anxieties (about the state, about community, and about modernity in general), in the hope of experiencing a pleasant image free of all such anxieties. As Susan Biesecker has argued in a case study of two “Amish Country” towns in Ohio, they see in a theologically and culturally distinctive Anabaptist sect what they believe to be a reflection of
themselves and their own disappearing past.8 But who are the Amish? An unfortunate effect of American immigration history’s focus on Jewish and Catholic othering has been the implicit acceptance of Protestant Christianity as a monolithic, normative American tradition.9 In accepting this the history of competition and conflict that marked American Protestant history throughout the colonial period is elided and discarded.10 In reality, colonial America and the early republic were sites where Protestant groups of widely varying geographical origins, ecclesial structures, liturgical traditions, tendencies and prejudices competed for both position and survival. Many groups, like the Anabaptists and the Covenanter Presbyterians, came to the Western Hemisphere in part as a result of banishment.11 Once in America, these sects were still recovering from recent pasts full of bloodshed and persecution, and they often held ideas about temporal government and religious authority that were widely at variance with the classical-liberal ideas enshrined in colonial government and the American Constitution. The Amish are denominationally descended from the Swiss Brethren, a group persecuted by the Zwinglian state church in Zurich for their Anabaptist practices (literally, “baptising again”; refusing to accept as legitimate the infant baptism of the state church) and other offenses. The Schleitheim Articles of 1527 provide the foundation for the later development of Mennonite and Amish history—endorsing adult baptism and non-violence, and threatening “the ban” for those who would disturb the church’s harmony. Influenced by the prolific writings of the former Catholic priest Menno Simons, the movement persisted throughout France, the German states, Switzerland and the Low Countries, until the late seventeenth century, when an enigmatic Alsatian named Jakob Ammann provoked a split in the church over the issues of semiannual communion, ritual foot-washing and Meidung (literally, separation, or the “shunning” of excommunicated members). His followers came to North America in two major waves, one between 1727 and 1770, and another between 1815 and 1816— often against their will, and for both political and economic reasons. While they were not the first German-speaking Anabaptists to settle in Pennsylvania, the Amish community in Europe died out entirely by the end of the nineteenth century, and, having seldom participated in any kind of missionary work, they are regarded in American popular culture as the quintessential “Pennsylvania Dutch.”12 As the Amish-born Mennonite sociologist John A. Hostetler explains in his seminal work Amish Society, like their Mennonite relatives both rigid conformity and great heterogeneity pervade Amish society. Within their hyper-local “church
districts” (itself a partial misnomer, since most Amish groups do not build meetinghouses for their religious services), the community is “totalizing,” second only to God in its importance, ideally determining and pervading everything within a person’s upbringing and the course of their life. Even personal salvation is not merely “an individualistic effort,” as it is so often imagined in American Protestantism, but rather is subordinated to a greater goal: “to incarnate the teachings of Jesus Christ into a voluntary social order.”13 Yet among different Amish groups, wide fractures appear in the system. The Beachy Amish, for example, permit the driving of automobiles, Sunday schools, and proselytization, and so represent a “liberal” extreme on the spectrum, while all groups meticulously regulate their version of a mostly unwritten Ordnung (order), which determines everything from the roof colors of buggies to the number of suspender straps a man is permitted to wear to the use of public transportation and cellular phones.14 At the same time, the development in the twentieth century of two Amish correspondence papers, The Budget and Die Botschaft, both with nationwide reach, has meant that Amish settlements in thirty states and southwestern Ontario have been able to communicate with one another as never before.15 The development, in 1966, of the National Amish Steering Committee, an Amish-led advocacy group started as a response to the expanding federal government of the Johnson administration, has further facilitated pan-Amish communication and coordination.16 The overarching importance of remaining separate from the corrupt influence of “English” society would seem to place the Old Order Amish at odds with virtually every axiom of American assimilationist ideology. While as a group they were not particularly visible out of the other Anabaptist and German-speaking agriculturalists during most of the nineteenth century (save for their insistence on using hooks and eyelets for fastening clothing instead of buttons), in the late nineteenth and twentieth century their path diverged significantly from many related groups, making conscious decisions to opt out of technological advances and the trend towards urbanization.17 Indeed, as Perry Bush has shown, the Old Order path was in stark contrast to that of the majority of GermanAmerican Mennonites (and even some Amish), who gave up their attachment to separate German-speaking agrarian community life in the twentieth century.18 The totalizing quality of their community life, its ethnic homogeneity, austere religiosity and rigid patriarchal structure, their hostility to capitalism and enduring attachment to rural self-sufficiency, their aversion to education beyond the eighth grade, their pacifist creed, and their (professed) non-participation in the legal, political, and social welfare system imply, if not hostility to American society, a way of life profoundly out of step with the direction the United States has taken
over the past century and a half. The non-Amish Pennsylvania German activists of the late nineteenth century were very concerned about the stereotypes the Amish seemed to confirm about their people, as David Weaver-Zercher has argued, and so are responsible for the first ideologically-laden portrayals of the Amish “essence.”19 Yet for all their peculiarity, twentieth and twenty-first century portrayals of the Amish continue to be largely positive, as tourists have flocked to places like Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Walnut Creek, and Ohio, and television shows like Amish in the City have, after initial controversy, proved themselves to be ratings cash-cows, drawing millions of viewers and advertising dollars.20 Exceptions to this laudatory treatment exist as well, and in recent years books and documentaries following the ex-Amish, like Ruth Irene Garrett’s 2003 memoir Crossing Over: One Woman’s Escape From Amish Life, have proved similarly successful, while nevertheless appealing to the same “English” fascination with the apparently alien society in its midst.21 For a group which usually seeks no media profile at all, the Amish have ironically become one of America’s most famous and popular minorities. Having mentioned in passing the quaint fashions of Massachusetts Puritans in the late seventeenth century, in 1910 William Uhler Hensel explained to a meeting of the Pennsylvania Historical Society “that with the passing of the New England farm this cheerful variety of raiment has vanished from its domestic landscape.”22 Yet there was still hope for those who valued the legacy of Plymouth Rock. “Owing to the scant recognition in our imaginative literature of a highlyinteresting and important element in the composite citizenship of Pennsylvania, the picturesque features of its rural life in some sections are not known to its people generally,” a state of affairs Hensel intended straightaway to remedy.23 Thus, though Hensel was not writing exclusively about the Amish, as early as 1910 the group was being compared to the New England Puritans—the most celebrated of America’s founding groups—as well as one that, according to Hensel, was lost to history forever. For Hensel, then, the Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish included), though a historically specific group, represented at the same time ties to an idealized American past—one that was community-oriented, devoutly Protestant, liberty-loving, agricultural, and white. Set against the backdrop of the United States in 1910, amid the “Golden Age” of American immigration, a time when twentieth century America was still discovering how to flex its muscles on the geopolitical stage, it is not difficult to understand why this metaphor may have appealed to Hensel’s audience, and why, for certain groups especially, this schema continues to hold a certain resonance today, albeit in a modified form. In her groundbreaking analysis of Amish portrayals in contemporary poetry,
Julia Spicher Kasdorf suggests that the Amish (not as they are, but as they exist in the “English” mind) are routinely racialized as an “ultra-white” or “whiterthan-white” group; according to Kasdorf, they are “Other—if not racially Other, then as some kind of extra-ethnic, non-immigrant, anachronistic ideal.”24 Identifying ultra-whiteness as the opposite of pure blackness or non-whiteness, Kasdorf argues that “both nonwhite and ultra-white aspects must be projected outside to maintain the illusion of neutrality and rationality associated with the normalized ‘we’ that is whiteness.”25 In order to illustrate her point, she places all three concepts on a chart illustrating qualities stereotypically associated with each. For example (to choose one row), while nonwhites are characterized as “need[ing] supervision, may be sloppy, lazy or dirty, late, cutting corners, clever or sneaky” the ultra-white stereotype is “skillful, ingenious craftsmen, workhorses, perfectionistic, honest workers, punctual, clean.”26 It is this dialectic, Kasdorf argues, that allows whiteness to be normative, described on the chart as “capable, standard.”27 As an apparent incarnation of the ultra-white ideal, the Amish are celebrated by “English” society not in spite of their deviant behavior, but because of it, since they represent the endurance of an ideal whiteness that would otherwise be lost. Just like Disney World’s Main Street (and, it might be added, countless other instances of nostalgic commercial imagery), Susan Biesecker adds that the packaged, mediated Amish Country tourist industry “invites the tourist to experience a selective memory of another time,” a usable past devoid of real historical value yet appealing to the consumer as a spiritual return “home.”28 As David Weaver-Zurcher notes in his essay on literary accounts of “journeys to the Amish,” the conceptual language of pilgrimage developed by Victor and Edith Turner is highly appropriate for describing what many mostly white Americans are looking for when they seek out the Amish, literarily or otherwise.29 Much ink has been spilt in the Amish and Anabaptist studies community over the dilemma of Amish voices (or the lack thereof ). Unlike so many other immigrant groups in American history, Amish church members have shown little to no interest in representing or even protecting their image in the face of a sustained media barrage from the “English” world. American knowledge of the Amish—including this paper, and most of its sources—is thus almost always mediated by non-church members claiming to speak, with varying amounts of authority, “for” the Amish. Ideally, the task of “interpreting” the Amish has fallen to Amish studies scholars like John A. Hotstetler (who passed away in 2001), many of whom are former Amish turned Mennonites with experiential familiarity in the tradition. Predictably, however, this is not always the case. If one means to study the place of the Amish as an immigrant community, first examining the
bizarre position they hold in the American psyche is the best, and perhaps the only, approach. Regarding the Amish as an immigrant community is important to historicizing them and deconstructing their problematic place in the American mind, and particularly their place as whites—placing them in their true context as a sect and a people that, despite many predictions to the contrary, have survived and even flourished as their way of life has developed ever starker contrasts with the “English” society they so avoid. This reframing—and the subsequent task of deconstruction—is useful to the greater project of American immigration history because a knowledge of the manners in which the Amish have been otherized can, in turn, improve our knowledge of the constitutive role of otherization in American history. While the myth of the American Protestant monolith can certainly be deconstructed by this process, with the insight that the Amish appear to the “English,” in some sense, as a physical manifestation of ultra-whiteness, one begins to understand why the Amish have been so well-received in American popular culture, despite their own refusal to participate in most sectors of American society. Due to their reputation for ultra-whiteness, the Amish may be the exception that disproves the rule regarding anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States. While their religion, culture, and social beliefs are generally much more inimicable to American ideals or circumstances, they have fared better than non-white or “questionably white” immigrant groups of different religions (the latter group composed of what Barrett and Roediger have referred to as “inbetween peoples”), because unlike those groups, they have (quite unintentionally) become associated with a mythic ultra-white American past.30 What some might call an accident of history, the association of the Amish with America’s pastoral beginnings, is in fact key not only to their popularity or prominence, but also to understanding why other groups have not fared so well in the popular imagination. Despite being among the most reluctant Americans in history, as ultra-whites, the Amish are here to stay.
1 The translation is the New Revised Standard Version. 2 T.S. Eliot and David Gorman, “Quartet No. 4: Little Gidding ,” last updated June 2000, accessed December 12th,2013, <http://www. davidgorman.com/4Quartets/4gidding.htm>. 3 Paul V. Spickard, Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race and Colonialism in American History and Identity (New York, N.Y.: Routledge, 2007): 5. 4 Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People, 1st ed. (Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Company, 1951): 5. 5 “Introduction: Becoming American— Religion, Identity and Institution Building in the American Mosaic,” in Religion and Immigration: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Experiences in the United States, eds. Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Jane I. Smith, and John L. Esposito (Lanham, Md.: AltaMira Press, 2003). 6 “Amish Population Trends 19922013, 21-Year Highlights.” Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Elizabethtown College, last updated 2013, accessed December 10th, 2013, <http://www2.etown. e d u / a m i s h s t u d i e s / Po p u l a t i o n _ Trends_1992_2013.asp>. The data collected by the Young Center includes both New and Old Order Amish, but excludes Amish “car driving groups such as the Beachy Amish and Amish Mennonites.”
7 Julia Spicher Kasdorf, “‘Why We Fear the Amish’: Whiter-than-White Figures in Contemporary American Poetry,” in The Amish and the Media, eds. Diane Zimmerman Umble and David L. Weaver-Zerchler (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008): 69-70. 8 Susan Biesecker, “Heritage versus History: Amish Tourism in Two Ohio Towns,” in ibid., 122-125. 9 See Matthew W. Backes, “Lyman Beecher and the Problem of Religious Pluralism in the Early American Republic,” The American Religious Experience, West Virginia University, last updated April 11th, 2011, accessed December 12th, 2013, <http://are. as.wvu.edu/backes.htm>, for more on the self-conscious construction of monolithic Protestantism. 10 Rhys Isaac, “Religion and Authority: Problems of the Anglican Establishment in Virginia in the Era of the Great Awakening and the Parsons’ Cause,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 30.1 (1973): 3-36; or ibid., “Evangelical Revolt: The Nature of the Baptists’ Challenge to the Traditional Order in Virginia, 1765 to 1775,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., 31.3 (1974), 345368 for just a taste of the religious acrimony that prevailed in the Virginia colony in the late eighteenth century. 11 For more on the Covenanter and Seceder Presbyterians, and how despite their unique background and belief system they were soon absorbed
into the mainstream of American Presbyterianism, see William Lyons Fisk, Jr., The Scottish High Church Tradition in America: An Essay in Scotch-Irish Ethnoreligious History (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1995). 12 The preceding information on the origin of the Swiss Brethren, Mennonites, Amish, and their coming to America is drawn from John A. Hostetler, Amish Society, 4th ed. (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993): 25-70. 13 Ibid., 75. 14 Ibid., 277-299. 15 Steven M. Nolt, “Inscribing Community: The Budget and Die Botschaft in Amish Life,” in WeaverZercher, The Amish and the Media, 180-199. 16 See Mark A. Olshan, “The National Amish Steering Committee,” in The Amish and the State, ed. Donald B. Kraybill (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993): 6685. 17 Dianne Zimmerman-Umble and David L. Weaver-Zercher, “The Amish and the Culture of Mediation,” in WeaverZercher, The Amish and the Media, 9.18 See Perry Bush, Two Kingdoms, Two Loyalties: Mennonite Pacifism in Modern America (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998): 5-13. 18 Weaver-Zercher, The Amish in the American Imagination, 41 19 Dirk Eitzen, “Hollywood Rumspringa: Amish in the City”, in WeaverZurcher, The Amish and the Media, 134-135. 20 Ruth Irene Garrett and Rick Farrant,
Crossing Over: One Woman’s Escape From Amish Life (San Francisco, Calif.: HarperCollins, 2003). 21 William Uhler Hensel, “Picturesque Quality of Pennsylvania-Germans,” The Pennsylvania-German 11.7 (1910): 418. 22 Ibid. 23 Kasdorf, in Weaver-Zercher, The Amish and the Media, 69. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid., 70. 26 Ibid. 27 Biesecker, in ibid, 115. 28 David L. Weaver-Zercher, “Pursuing Paradise: Nonfiction Narratives of Life with the Amish,” in ibid., 90109. 29 James R. Barrett and David Roediger, “Inbetween Peoples: Race, Nationality, and the ‘New Immigrant’ Working Class”, Journal of American Ethnic History 16.3 (1997), 3-44.
McInterpellation: Late Capitalism and the Moscow McDonalds Max Miroff Max Miroff
How ought we treat the legacy of the Moscow McDonald’s? The restaurant’s 1990 establishment in the not-quite-post-Soviet space, its massive golden arches dwarfing the miniscule USSR hammer-and-sickle, seems something more out of a literary work than reality – the symbolism so stark, the situation nigh-parodic. The McDonald’s brand was utterly seductive for the late Soviet populace, with a record-breaking 30,000 customers served on the Pushkin Square location’s first day of business, despite the (at least nominal) ideological differences between Russia and the amorphous “West” (Moon & Herman 10). McDonald’s personalized service, extensive menu listing, and marketing techniques constituted the Russian subject as a globalized consumer, redefining its coordinates as a component within a system of international commodity exchange. Brokered as a joint venture between the McDonald’s Canada and the City of Moscow, the first McDonald’s in Russia opened on January 31, 1990 as the result of 14 years of lobbying and planning (9). Instructive to an understanding of the ideological implications of this venture is a recount by George Cohons, thenpresident of McDonalds Canada, on how the idea had apparently sprung to him: You’ve got to remember, if you were a Soviet in 1976, a restaurant was either a little hole-in-the-wall where you were lucky to get a sausage sandwich, or it was a cold, formal dining room. So when these officials encountered the quality, cheerfulness, and cleanliness of McDonald’s, they were just blown away. At that point, a light bulb went off in my head and I turned to the head of the delegation and said, “Do you think that your people would like to see a McDonald’s in your part of the world? In the Soviet Union?” And the answer was “Da.” Yes. (2)
Two primary points of interest emerge in this origin mythos: Cohon’s imagined construction of the lifestyle habits of the 1976 Soviet consumer, and his depiction of a stereotypical Russian stoicism (though, in this case, in willing service to globalization). Regardless of the veracity of this yarn, it is indicative of the way in which discourse surrounding the Russian consumer was constructed as an external imposition. One might be tempted to describe this imposition as emerging from U.S. corporate interests alone, but such a view would limit the potential for a more comprehensive structural analysis. Instead, it is more apt to consider the Moscow McDonald’s as an outgrowth of late capitalism, which might be roughly defined by the global prevalence of multinational corporations, a corresponding network of liquid financial capital, and mass consumption (Jameson 35-6). Continuing his remarks, Cohon notes that “[the Soviet Union is] a market that is bigger than the United States, where the people are proud to eat the kind of food that we sell,” isolating the final determining factor of expansion into Moscow as a market calculation (Moon & Herman 2). The proclamations surrounding this market calculation should be placed firmly into the category of ideology, or the “’representation’ of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence” (Althusser 165). Indeed, even Cohon’s direct acknowledgment of his act as a market act is an act of ideology – it ascribes to the market a sort of implicit rationality and agency, and then secures these characteristics by his (and his employees) own material actions in the world. What makes the McDonald’s opening of particular interest is its overtly ideological nature, or, more precisely, the self-reflexive recognition of the symbolic ramifications of the opening by those who participated in it. Cohon presents his view in this context, indicative of the general American discourse surrounding the event: Remember, this was the height of the Cold War. It was 1976. Brezhnev was in power. It was the “Evil Empire.” It was Karl Marx in one corner and Adam Smith in another corner, squaring off. People would walk quietly. There was no happiness, everything was gloomy. And here we were, wading in. We—the epitome of capitalism, mother, and apple pie—trying to get into the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. (Moon & Herman 3) Cohon frames the scenario in terms of a rescue mission, with McDonald’s as the heroic capitalist savior of a repressed Soviet populace. Far from being a coherent narrative approach to sociopolitical affairs, even on the level of
propaganda, Cohon’s formulation is a pastiche of pre-existing narrative forms reappropriated toward the creation of new capitalist markets. This small excerpt begins by evoking a certain date in history, 1976, but then immediately revokes any sort of stable historical grounding which might be gained when it places Marx and Smith in the present as fighters in a boxing match. The two men, neither contemporaries nor combatants, become little more than image-signifiers of late Soviet Russia and McDonalds, respectively. There is a curious mixture of specific contextualization (“Cold War,” “1976,” “Brezhnev,” etc.) and homogenized descriptions of an eternal present (“there was no happiness, everything was gloomy,” “We—the epitome of capitalism,” etc.), the latter using the former merely as “a vast collection of images, a multitudinous photographic simulacrum” to be drawn from sporadically (Jameson 18). In this sense, the opening of the Moscow McDonald’s was an evisceration of the whole Cold War narrative by means of the commodification of the very images which had grown to define it. The average consumer needed only to know enough history to understand their consumption of the Big Mac as a symbolic act – history becomes part of the burger’s flavor, of the burger-eating experience. This phenomenon is perhaps what led Svetlana Boym to proclaim that, above all else, “the principal monument to glasnost’ is McDonald’s” (233). As an ideological apparatus, McDonald’s allowed the Russian subject to find expression in a completely new way: the consumptive act became synonymous with the liberatory act, and the very idea of freedom could be purchased in commodity form for merely half a day’s wages and half a day’s wait in line (Moon & Herman 8). Ironically, consumer participation in McDonald’s was construed as an expressive revolutionary act, of the sort lacking in the late USSR. The indistinguishability of aesthetic production from commodity production in the promotion, manufacture, and sale of the burgers lay in contrast to the rigid separation between the two which had been enforced under the Soviet government’s stark utilitarian approach to commodity distribution. In Pushkin Square, tiny flags handed out on opening day allowed Soviet citizens to renounce their allegiance to the stagnant “evil empire” and throw their lot in with Ronald McDonald, who promised not only “high-quality ingredients” but his own empire of over 50 countries, in which the only condition for citizenship was a minimal purchase (Rossiya 1). Soviet citizens grasped the symbolic importance of this shift through both physical and discursive action. In a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) interview, one older first-day customer remarked of the food: “Well, I didn’t like it. It’s not Russian,” emphasizing his perception of McDonald’s as an anti-Russian agent of globalization (0:50-55, CBC News). Another younger customer said: “It’s very beautiful, but I expected more, I think,” highlighting the aforementioned fusion of aesthetic/commodity production along with an unfulfilled desire which
can likely only be met through further consumptive practice (0:55-59, CBC News). Of particular note is the third customer interviewed by the CBC reporter, who is dubbed over as saying, “we’re all hungry in the city, we need more of these places. There’s nothing in our stores or restaurants” (1:08-14, CBC News). However, due to a delay between the actual audio and the dub, it’s possible to discern her actual words: “Potomu uto mp vse gololi, - u nas ni~ego v magazinov not” which can be translated as: “Because we’re all hungry — there’s nothing in our stores.” The dub’s mention of her desire for more McDonald’s, a pure fabrication on the part of the narrator, actually becomes implicitly true through her participation as an opening-day customer; she has ostensibly made the choice to wait in the McDonald’s line rather than the bread line, and thus has been interpellated as a capitalist subject awaiting the arrival of additional multinationals. The mechanical, compartmentalized nature of fast food production makes McDonald’s ideal as a representative case study for showcasing how it is that consumers are entered into and constituted by an assembly-line production process. Constantin Boym presents a brief narrative of the process: …the entire fast-food meal is composed of separate, modular, interchangeable elements. The inner structure of the burger itself can easily be separated into further components… the look of the different parts alludes to various technological processes, rather than having the conventional appearance of cooked food. Thus the beef patty is produced by molding to a great degree of precision… fries are shaped in precise square sections that have nothing to do with the shape of a potato. American cheese, itself a perfectly square yellow tile, is molded around the burger in a process that approximates thermo-forming… Individually added servings of ketchup play the role of oil and grease necessary for the working of any mechanical assembly. (Boym 7) As participants in this machinic assemblage, humans become robotic by plugging into the commodity production circuit. Soviet consumers paid a predetermined amount of roubles and received a predetermined amount of bread, meat, cheese, and so forth. Soviet workers labored for a predetermined amount of time and received predetermined wages. The notion of the programmed, mechanical human had lain at the crux of many Soviet arguments about the “new Soviet person,” who would offer themselves fully to the cause of building socialism. In yet another ironic twist, it just so happened that McDonald’s did central planning better than the Soviets. The company constructed a massive food production and processing facility known as the McComplex in a Moscow suburb,
investing $45 million up-front to ensure a predictable, reliable vertical supply chain for their restaurants (Moon & Herman 5). Here emerged in the Soviet Union one of the first manifestations of what Engels refers to as “the socialized organization of production within the factory,” a fundamental aspect of capitalist production in which intra-company relations are governed by a strict system of central organization which responds to the external whims of the anarchic market system. McDonald’s socialized organization of production is of particular interest because it acts on a multinational level to ensure homogeneity among store practices and, subsequently, consumer habits. The chairman of McDonald’s Russia, Glen Steeves, declared that “the Big Mac that we sold in London, Toronto, and Tokyo had to be same as the one we sold in Moscow” (5). Selling a global product to a global consumer is easier than selling it to a traditionalist, such as the first CBC interviewee, and so a great deal of the explicit and implicit marketing techniques used by McDonalds focused on reconstituting the Russian consumer as a global consumer. The premise of a biweekly television series developed by the company, Flight 910, was based around showcasing various international locales, allowing Soviet citizens who might not have been able to secure exit visas to live out their fantasies about the world through video (7). The child protagonists of the series “would inevitably end up in a McDonald’s, and viewers would get a glimpse of what life was like for McDonald’s employees and patrons around the world” (7). The socialization process enacted upon the children within the series is inscribed onto the viewer of the show, allowing them to later purchase a “flight ticket,” in the form of a Big Mac meal, to become a full participant in the global community embodied by McDonald’s. Because the television series aired well in advance of the restaurant’s opening day, customers already knew what to expect when they entered the McDonald’s building proper, itself a homogenous, transnational space. McDonald’s succeeded in Moscow because it was able to extend an imagined community of global consumers into the USSR, entering itself into relationship with the Soviet populace by providing newer, more functional conduits for the physical expression of glasnost and perestroika than those offered by state food distribution mechanisms. As Lisa Caldwell argues, “McDonald’s acknowledged the value that Russian consumers have historically placed on social networks and communal responsibility” by positing itself as the ultimate social network, one which reached across the whole world (12). Through the re-appropriation of historical imagery and discourse, as well as the more effective implementation of industrial central planning mechanisms, McDonald’s was able to tap into existing ideological currents of determination and channel them into the creation of the global Russian consumer. Nowadays, the global corporation is fully integrated
into Russian lives, and “residents use McDonald’s restaurants as reference points when giving directions to friends from out of town” (6). While Caldwell’s thesis is that McDonald’s success in Moscow ought to be attributed to its emphasis on local community involvement, this fails to recognize the ways in which the values of these local communities might have been subsumed within the broader global values which emerge from participation within the capitalist mode of exchange.
Works Cited Althusser, Louis. Lenin and Philosophy, and Other Essays. New York: Monthly Review, 1972. Print. Boym, Constantin. “My McDonald’s.” Gastronomica 1.1 (2001): 6-8. JSTOR. Web. 3 May 2013. Boym, Svetlana. Common Places: Mythologies of Everyday Life in Russia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1994. Print. Caldwell, Melissa L. “Domesticating the French Fry: McDonald’s and Consumerism in Moscow.” Journal of Consumer Culture 4.1 (2004): 5-26. SAGE. Web. 3 May 2013.
CBC News. “McDonald’s (Makdonalds) v SSSR (s`etCBC News)” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 7 Jan. 2011. Web. 3 May 2013. Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke UP, 1991. Print. Moon, Youngme E., and Kerry Herman. “McDonald’s Russia: Managing a Crisis.” Harvard Business School Case 503-020, January 2003. (Revised from original October 2002 version.) Rossiya 1. “Makdonalds, otkrlptie v SSSR” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 9 Apr. 2012. Web. 3 May 2013.
How better to condense the history of the entire Soviet project than by displaying the golden arches of capitalism sprouting organically from the communist flag? (Rossiya 1)
These McDonald’s flags repurpose the color schema and general minimalist yellow-on-red design of the USSR flags (Rossiya 1)
Other than the quantity of workers present and its size, the Moscow McDonald’s was identical to a McDonald’s anywhere else. (CBC News)
Naive Melody: Cultural Integration and Appropriation in the Music of Talking Heads Jordan Scott
I first encountered Talking Heads when I was 11 or 12 in their 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, and the main impression was just how weird they were to my pre-adolescent self (in many ways they still are). No other rock band I saw or heard seemed to play music that was so funky and danceable, and certainly none of them moved onstage the way Talking Heads did. Later on I would note the diversity of the musicians onstage in that film, and I would learn about the African and African-American influences in the band’s records—especially their 1980 album Remain in Light, which heavily incorporated Afrobeat influences from Nigerian musician Fela Kuti. That album, their fourth, was the first to so noticeably diverge from their new wave/punk rock origins—and yet Remain in Light is still a “rock” record, even with its integration of Afrobeat elements. I would thus like to pose a question: how much of Remain in Light is stylistic integration1, and how much is cultural appropriation? To answer this question, I will consider the background of the production of the album, including the band’s studies of Afrobeat and their interactions with it before Remain in Light, as well as the band’s own take on their approach to such cross-cultural undertakings, which I have found to be intriguing and complex. In answering this question, it’s also useful to contrast the album with other works occupying similar cultural positions, such as Paul Simon’s Graceland. I want to study the elements of hybridity and cross-cultural collaboration to provide an in-depth analysis of the cultural elements of the album and related materials. Ultimately, I argue that Remain in Light, while courting the problems of cultural appropriation, should be understood as an example of cultural integration, albeit a complex one, thanks to its thorough engagement with its influences (Afrobeat music) and an awareness of its position as a potential musical colonizer.
To analyze Remain in Light from a cultural standpoint requires first an understanding of the background of its composition and production. Prior to the recording of Remain in Light, Talking Heads had released three albums, the last two of which were produced by Brian Eno: More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978) and Fear of Music (1979), respectively. Although More Songs… is very much rooted in their new wave/punk rock background, a look through the liner notes of the album reveals a fascination with representations of the Other and—what’s more—a self-awareness of this fascination. Among Byrne’s notes, written at the time of More Songs….’s conception, is a self-deconstruction of “The Big Country,” the album’s last track. The music on the track, it reads, “brings to mind a basic, earthy, down-home feeling which implies a primitivism and lack of sophistication. (At the same time, in the context of Talking Heads, it implies an intentional primitivism and an awareness of this nievete [sic]).” (Talking Heads 1978). This self-analysis goes on to spotlight the fact that the band’s audience is mainly Western urbanites, and that the band is intentionally playing with a “primitivism=honesty” myth. This, I argue, is one of the differences (among others) that can be drawn between the work of Talking Heads and a work such as Graceland—that is, an awareness of who will likely be hearing the music (rather than aiming for the broadest audience possible), what those listeners may bring to the work themselves, and what the band’s role is in producing music that plays with representations of the Other. It is on the first track of Fear of Music that the band’s interest in Afrobeat music becomes apparent. “I Zimbra” is directly influenced by the polyrhythms in African styles of drumming, and it shows in the track. Afrobeat is a style of West African pop music originated and popularized by Fela Kuti. Its movement and progression is driven by rhythm and gradual layering, in contrast to chord progressions which typically underpin Western pop music. An Afrobeat song usually begins with a scratch guitar rhythm (usually one or two notes) and smaller percussion (such as congas) layered over larger percussion (usually a drum kit). Gradually, other elements come in, such as a bass guitar (which is usually more melodic, in contrast to the scratch guitar), horns, and vocals—vocals which often are sung either in unison by large groups or in call-and-response structure, and whose lyrics are political in nature.2 (Veal 92-93). In “I Zimbra,” all of these elements are used—the song starts with two distinct percussion rhythms, which are joined by a repeating two-note guitar figure and a dynamic bass line. The group vocals then come in, along with horns, singing in chant. The song’s musical elements are very much in line with those of Afrobeat, yet the lyrical elements are not. What’s particularly interesting and revelatory about
the band’s approach to other musics is that, in a song so clearly designed as a work in the mold of African pop, the lyrics are in fact taken from a German Dadaist poem: “Gadji Beri Bimba” by Hugo Ball, a poem-without-words. As Syntze Steenstra details in her book on Byrne’s career, the choice of a “nonsense” poem as lyrics was brought about by the fact that the African music style that Byrne was writing in didn’t lend itself to a traditional song structure in the verses (53). This choice of lyrical content problematizes an interpretation of the song somewhat: given the band’s awareness of its audience, it stands to reason that the band would have considered how this combination of words and music would be received by its listeners. It is not beyond belief to think that some (or many) seeing the song title and hearing the music would assume that the lyrics were in some African language—an inherently problematic situation in a Western art-rock record, particularly one influenced by a genre as political as Afrobeat. Despite its musical accuracy, the song can therefore be read as an example of aesthetic distancing, a mode of thinking in which the music is made to seem as though it comes from an autonomous, artistic, and/or transcendent realm (Meintjes 59). The track should also be understood as an essential factor in our construction of an analytical background for Remain in Light, as it is a direct precursor to that album—Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison confirms that the band “knew that our next album would be a further exploration of what we had begun with I Zimbra.” (Liquid Audio par. 7). With the establishing of this framework, the nature of Talking Heads’ approach to making Remain in Light can begin to be understood. In addition to their previous ventures into self-deconstruction and Afrobeat music, the band undertook additional studies of African and African-derived rhythm styles. This split along two paths: Byrne and Eno chose to supplement their studies of the music with hefty critical and theoretical readings on African art—they went so far as to add a bibliography to Remain in Light’s press kit. Bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz traveled to the Caribbean and played directly with musicians from Haiti and Jamaica, while guitarist Jerry Harrison worked with African-American musicians, some of whom would later play in the band’s live performances on the Remain in Light tour (Steenstra 54-55). The band’s line-up changed significantly for Remain in Light’s live shows: it expanded from four to nine members, adding an extra player for each instrument (including vocals and, in the case of drums, varied percussion rather than a second kit). The five new musicians were all African-American with the exception of a white guitarist, and included musicians from Parliament/Funkadelic as well as Labelle (Bernie Worrell and Nona Hendryx, respectively) (Steenstra 71). The
dynamics of integration and collaboration of this line-up are on full display in a 1980 television performance of “Crosseyed and Painless.” (Talking Heads 1980). The video shows a large group which, without prior knowledge, is ambiguous as to who might be members of the “original” Talking Heads band—the positions on stage of each musician are more of less equal in prominence (save Byrne, who is singing lead vocal). This is made more complicated, however, when considering the dress of the musicians of different races: while the original Talking Heads and the guitarist (all white) wear plain clothes and more or less blend into the ensemble, the dress of the African-American musicians makes them more visible. The bass player wears a Talking Heads shirt, ironically suggesting some form of separation from the band (is he a fan, rather than a member?). The drummer is shirtless, an ambiguous lack of clothing which makes the viewer question whether there was a dress code for each musician, or if it was simply his choice. The appearance of the singer is the most interesting: she wears an elegant dress and large amounts of make-up. In fact, she is both visually and musically the most prominent musician in the video, other than Byrne—she appears quite frequently on camera and shares vocal duties with Byrne, singing many of his parts from the record. This division, along largely equal lines, suggests a collaborative and egalitarian approach to hybridity in live performance, in addition to the album’s other, more abstract modes of hybridity. Every song on Remain in Light, including “Crosseyed and Painless,” has a similar hybrid compositional foundation of a one to two-note phrase overtop of a polyrhythmic beat (Afrobeat influence), with disjointed, postmodern lyrics (Western art influence). In this sense, I would like to suggest that a musical analysis of the album’s first track, “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On),” can be used as a framework for analyzing the rest of the album’s songs. “Born Under Punches” immediately establishes itself as an Afrobeat-inspired song: multiple, layered drum patterns and a scratch guitar figure intertwine and repeat over and over again. When placed next to a song from an artist like Fela Kuti, the influences are undeniable—and what’s more, the music throughout the entire song follows the structure and stylings of Afrobeat. This contrasts with a work like Graceland, where the musical structures of an “Other” music (in that case, South African music) either end and are followed by a straightforward Western-pop section, or are subsumed into a larger Western-pop structure: “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” and “You Can Call Me Al” come to mind, respectively. Yet there are still elements in “Born Under Punches” that, while ambiguous in nature, can very well be construed as problematic in their representations of the Other. The opening thirty seconds contain various wordless
vocalizations3 shaded with large amounts of reverb that seem to evoke some sort of forest or jungle environment, particularly at the :21 mark. While the group’s intentions are unclear, the sounds are reminiscent of the schizophonic mimesis of pygmy music as detailed by René Lysloff, writing about the appropriation and re-contextualization of pygmy music on a 1992 album by Deep Forest (212). In the case of Talking Heads, however, the album’s credits seem to indicate that the sounds were made by the band. While this lack of prerecorded material may fail Lysloff’s evocation of the concept of schizophonia, I do believe that a similar result occurs. In the context of “Born Under Punches,” where the African influences are pushed to the foreground with otherwise faithful accuracy, the primitivism that these vocalizations suggest seems to undercut that faithfulness of influence in this Afrobeat-styled song. The issues of cultural integration, appropriation, and hybridity become quite complex when considering the music video for “Once in a Lifetime,” the Remain in Light track that has gone on to become one of the band’s most well-known. I don’t mean to construct a formal analysis here of the video’s artistic qualities: rather, through a careful consideration of the video’s elements, as well as Byrne’s own notes on it, I hope to determine what the band’s intentions were in making it, and how such an interpretation can be understood as to fit into the broader context of Talking Heads’ various modes of stylistic integration—and their selfawareness of said integrations. The greatest issue raised by the video is the subject of imitation, itself a component of stylistic integration and hybridity, as well as that of cultural appropriation. Imitation is played out in a very direct way in the video: in it, Byrne is dressed in a grey suit, bow-tie, and glasses, made up to impersonate a TV evangelist caught up in a religious fervor. At various points he dances in a style he terms “a sort of halfway point between dance and a series of muscular spasms” (Steenstra 70). What is most interesting are two moments featuring Byrne, already imitating a white American character, juxtaposed against a projected backdrop of a group of what appears to be Nigerians in prayer, as well as a Japanese woman making an arm gesture (Talking Heads 1980). The first clip appears as Byrne mouths the lyric “…in another part of the world,” whereupon he proceeds to imitate the Nigerians. Roughly half a minute later he does the same for the Japanese arm gesture. This is where Byrne’s own notes on the video are of great interest: he outlines each shot on paper with comments, the most revealing of which may be the note on the imitation of the Nigerians’ gesture. Next to two hand-drawn pictures of his character with head bowed and on his knees in prayer, two phrases read “Starts to imitate Nigerians” and “[Cut to side view] ‘Real’ Imitation.” (Remain in Light Notes). The use of quotation marks around “real”
connects to the “self-deconstruction” notes from More Songs About Buildings and Food. There is an obvious sense of cultural appropriation in his imitations of these gestures, yet emphasis is placed on that cultural appropriation by the band. Should we understand the video as an instance of cultural appropriation, or as a well-studied hybridity of cultures? I would argue that, as with most of Remain in Light, the video is fundamentally ambivalent in its own valuations of its representations of the Other: the individuals Byrne imitates seem to not possess any real sense of agency, while their own symbols are entirely re-contextualized by Byrne. At the same time, his awareness of his own separation of the content from the source, combined with his filtering of this appropriation through the character of the white TV evangelist, keeps the video’s problematic elements from simply being read as a mode of cultural appropriation. Add to it the fact that it is used in conjunction with music that presents itself as a hybrid of Afrobeat and American art-rock, and you have a text with many overlapping meanings and complexities of collaboration. The aesthetic practice which ultimately seems to govern all of the album’s elements is this knowledgeable, and respectful, integration of other cultures, all in service to the band’s own sense of self-expression—as a 1986 biography of the band writes, “David Byrne had by 1980 clearly anticipated another musical trend that was both hip and commercially viable.” (Davis 114). Remain in Light is thus a cross-cultural work born of a careful study and appreciation of its musical influences; its status as such, however, does not negate the fact that, with its success in America, the album would have constituted “African music” for some, or even most, of its audience, a situation that is inherently problematic. The album avoids the problematic “Western artist-looking-for-new-life” cliché, but produces problems of its own. It is not an album in the Afrobeat genre, but a work of hybridity that ends up in the Western canon of pop/rock music. Remain in Light, while courting the problems of cultural appropriation, can charitably be understood as an example of cultural integration, albeit a complex one, as signified by its thorough engagement with its influences (Afrobeat music), the group’s awareness of its position as a potential musical colonizer, and the steps the group takes to avoid this position.
Daily Motion. “Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime Video.” <http://www. dailymotion.com/video/x12spb_ talking-heads-once-in-a-lifetime_ music> Accessed 3 December 2013. Davis, Jerome. Talking Heads. 1st ed. New York, New York: Vintage Books, 1986. Print. 108-126. As it was written in 1986, this book is useful not so much as a historical biography, but as a document of popular reaction to Talking Heads’ work it was very useful. Fela Kuti. The Best Best of Fela Kuti. Compilation. Universal Music International. 2000. Feld, Steven. “The Poetics and Politics of Pygmy Pop.” Trans. Array Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music. . 1st ed. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000. 254-280. Print. Liquid Audio Presents... Get Liquified! From The Name of this Website is Talking Heads. “1997 - Transcript of a chat with Jerry Harrison.” <http:// www.talking-heads.nl/index.php/jerryharrison/jerry-harrison-archive/70transcript-of-a-chat-with-jerr yharrison> (accessed 1 December 2013). Lysloff, René. Mozart in Mirrorshades: Ethnomusicology, Technology, and the Politics of Representation. Ethnomusicology Vol. 41, No. 2 (Summer, 1997). University of Illinois Press. 206-219. Meintjes, Louise. “Paul Simon’s Graceland, South Africa, and the Mediation of Musical Meaning.” Ethnomusicology Vol. 34, No. 1 (Winter, 1990).
University of Illinois Press. 37-73. Steenstra, Sytze. Song and Circumstance: The Work of David Byrne from Talking Heads to the Present. 1st ed. New York, New York. Continuum Books. 2010. Print. This book was invaluable as pertains to the history of Talking Heads and their intentions with each recording. Particularly useful were pages 46-79 and 139-166. Talking Heads. Fear of Music. Sire Records. 1976 (2006 re-issue). The two other Brian Eno/Talking Heads collaborations have been included for context as well as the extensive liner notes that come with each CD re-issue (this includes Remain in Light as well). Fear of Music includes notes about and a performance of “I Zimbra,” the band’s first foray into non-Western music. Talking Heads. Liner Notes to Fear of Music. Sire Records. 1976 (2006 reissue). Talking Heads. More Songs About Buildings and Food. Sire Records. 1978 (2005 reissue). Talking Heads. Liner Notes to More Songs About Buildings and Food. Sire Records. 1978 (2005 re-issue). More Songs About Buildings and Food’s liner notes contain, among other things, Byrne’s own deconstruction of his representation of Others. Talking Heads. Remain in Light. Sire Records. 1980 (2005 re-issue). Talking Heads. Liner Notes to Remain in Light. Sire Records. 1980 (2005 reissue). Taylor, Timothy. Beyond Exoticism.
Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007. 123-160. Print. Veal, Michael E. Veal. Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon. 1st ed. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000. Print.
Chernoff, John Miller. African Rhythm and African Sensibility: Aesthetics and Social Action in African Musical Idioms. University of Chicago Press, 1979. This book was part of a bibliography that Byrne and Eno released as part of the Remain in Light press kit. Ebron, Paulla A. 2002. Performing Africa. Princeton, NJ [u.a.]: Princeton Univ. Press. Eno, Brian and Byrne, David. My Life In the Bush of Ghosts. New York, NY: Nonesuch, 2006. A Byrne/Eno collaboration recorded before and released after Remain in Light, it uses samples of voices ranging from American politicians to Lebanese singers, all re-contextualized in the album. Feld, Steven. Communication, Music, and Speech About Music. 1984.Print.http:// www.jstor.or stable/768199?seq=11 Keil, Charles, and Steven Feld. Music Grooves: Essays and Dialogues. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. Print. Klein, Debra L. “Antipolitics of Collaboration.” Yorùbá Bàtá Goes Global: Artists, Culture Brokers, and Fans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. Print.
Afropop.org. “From Africa With Fury: Seun Kuti.” Interview. http://www. afropop.org/wp/2442/from-africawith-fury-seun-kuti/ Talking Heads. Liner Notes to Speaking in Tongues. Sire Records. 1983 (2005 re-issue).
As defined by Louise Meintjes in “Paul Simon’s Graceland, South Africa, and the Mediation of Musical Meaning.”, stylistic integration in music occurs when “distinct styles of music are not merely placed next to each other but mixed.” (43). 2 One example among many is Fela Kuti’s 1972 song “Shakara”: http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=eVLQFTsvCAY 3 Or even vocables, a term for wordless musical phrases, used by Meintjes to describe a lyric on Graceland (45). 1
CONTRIBUTORS Max Cea is a junior at the College of William & Mary, where he is
majoring in American Studies and minoring in Marketing. Max is an Associate Editor for The Flat Hat, and hosts Max Air, a WCWM talk show, every Sunday from three to four pm.
Robin Crigler is a senior at the College of William & Mary, where he is
double majoring in History and Religious Studies. He is currently finishing an honors thesis on Americaâ€™s role in the 1898-1902 South African War. He is also active in the theatre department and the Canterbury Association. After graduation he will be living and serving in an Episcopal intentional community in North Carolina.
Max Miroff is a sophomore at the College of William & Mary, where he
is double majoring in Philosophy and Computer Science. On campus, he is president of Philosophy Club, copy editor for CHUJ, and a member of the poetry board for the W&M Review. His primary academic interests lie in 19th- and 20th-century German and French philosophy.
Jordan Scott is a senior at the College of William & Mary, where he
is double majoring in Music and French & Francophone Studies. On campus, he is involved with WCWM, AMP, and Phi Sigma Pi. After graduation, he hopes to live abroad and write music.
Breakdown of Postwar Masculinity
Robin Crigler The Most Famous White Woman in South Africa: Reconciliation, Identity, and the Comic Vision in a Post-Apartheid Age The Crescent and the Vajra: Tibet on the Islamic Periphery Reluctant Americans: The Amish as Ultra-White Immigrants
Max Miroff McInterpellation: Late Capitalism and the Moscow McDonalds
Jordan Scott Naive Melody: Cultural Integration and Appropriation in the Music of Talking Heads
Spring 2014 The College of William & Mary facebook.com/wmcomphumjournal email@example.com
Published on Aug 28, 2014
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