Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gukira on Kangemi & Westgate

Businessman Abdul Haji crouches near an elephant
sculpture in the mall during the attack
(© Goran Tomasevic / Reuters / REUTERS)
There are probably very few people who could approach the tragic Westgate Shopping Mall attack and, with insightful brilliance link it to other events in Kenya as well as to a broader understanding of disposability as Gukira does here, so in case you have not headed over to his site, below is a small snippet, and here's a link to the full post: "two places."

Following the Kangemi demolitions, many Kangemi residents protested the government’s actions. They blocked roads, set tires on fire, raged and mourned. They mourned that their lives were so disposable; they raged that their livelihoods had no value. With very few exceptions, Kenya remained silent. These were not lives worth valuing. A death in Kangemi is not worth mourning. 
Reports indicate that president Uhuru Kenyatta was personally affected by Westgate—a nephew and his fiancée were killed. Photographs from Westgate have traveled across the world. We know names and faces and occupations and relationships.
Who will grieve with the mourners?
For the past few months, I have been thinking about disposability, about its reach and grasp and ever-expanding power. And while I continue to learn from Judith Butler about whose lives are grievable, about who is deemed worth grieving, thinking about disposability leads me to ask about killability.
To be disposable is to be ungrievable. Not to merit grief or thought. We have other words for this: acceptable losses, collateral damage. Yet, disposability is not passive, not simply a category into which we place the ungrievable. Instead, it is a hungry logic and practice. It becomes ever-more voracious as it eats. 
Copyright © Gukira 2013, All rights reserved.

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