[-empyre-] mythic violence / reintegration

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Nov 28 06:49:19 EST 2014

One one level, what interested me reflecting back on "The Market from Here" was the approach, by artist/ethnographers from the south (Latin America)
to set up a market in the courtyard of an anthropology department in the US, and propose a scene of trading in 'ready-mades.'  The curator was Cuban, and
Cuba at the time was under the "bloqueo", the US embargo against Fidel Castro's Cuba which forbid all trade. When I worked in Cuba in the early and mid-90s,
the country was going through a severe era or economic precarity (after the dissolution of the Soviet Union) and that era was called período especial (special period).

Shifting the conversation/framing of reality,  the "market from here", then, also commented on the complexities of negation, or transgression (no US citizen was allowed to travel to Cuba and "deal" with Cuba, Cubans were not allowed to
"leave" their island unless when approved by the government) of a taboo; and when I listened to the performances by the Latin artists, and looked at the artifacts and sensual objects and magical
polyphony in the market, I glimpsed some of the meaning of what Bataille called the accursed share, the sacred in the meaning of the "accursed", the pure as well as the impure.  I began to wonder at what is meant by secrecy at the core of power. And what is the "make believe" - the theatre - that religion or shamanism require?  

Some of you have spoken here of the deep wound, and only yesterday Ana shifted attention to the "forbidden" sex or eros. The necessity of the wound in the holiness. Yes, surely, de Sade and Bataille
and Artaud can not be assimilated easily, their visions too close to death, corpses, bodies without organs, eroticism and laughter., and the sacred dimensions of violence. 

Have we talked about the sacred (sceret) dimensions of taboo? 

(and is not the door keeper in Kafka's parable "Vor dem Gesetz" a kind of shaman, and more terrible ones, he says, are behind him, further inside the forests......)

+  +  +

On the other level, social-communal-political, I asked myself, since I also teach and meet Muslim and middle eastern students on a regular basis, what would societies and communities now do when in Europe, for example,
an increasing number of young men become radicalized, travel to Syria to fight for Islamist movement or ISIS, then perhaps become disillusioned or wounded or tired, and return home.  The other day, en route to Dresden, I came across a report in The Guardian which mentions that western countries, fearful of the threat returning Jihadists could pose, crack down on returning fighters. In France, tough new anti-terror legislation allows authorities to seize passports and ID cards from would-be jihadists “likely to jeopardise public security on their return”. Britain has arrested at least 60 returnees; government talk has been of long jail terms, or trying to ban more from coming back at all. At least 30 returning jihadists are facing trial in Germany, which is mulling far stricter exit controls, while, in Antwerp, 46 people were recently accused of belonging to a Belgian group that allegedly recruited and sent fighters to Syria; the group’s leader could face up to 15 years in prison. etc.

The report then recounts the strikingly different approach chosen in Aarhus, Denmark:  <The so-called Aarhus model, says Preben Bertelsen, a psychologist, is about “inclusion. Look: these are young people struggling with pretty much the same issues as any others – getting a grip on their lives, making sense of things, finding a meaningful place in society. We have to say: provided you have done nothing criminal, we will help you to find a way back.”>

"In his office on the fifth floor of East Jutland police headquarters in Aarhus, superintendent Allan Aarslev, who is in charge of the police end of the programme, waves away any suggestion that the city’s approach represents the easy option. “What’s easy,” he says, “is to pass tough new laws. Harder is to go through a real process with individuals: a panel of experts, counselling, healthcare, assistance getting back into education, with employment, maybe accommodation. With returning to everyday life and society. We don’t do this out of political conviction; we do it because we think it works.”

"Combined with a newly opened, intensive and sometimes difficult dialogue between city officials and leaders at the Grimhojvej mosque, it does indeed seem to work: from late 2012 until the end of last year, 31 men aged between 18 and 25 left Aarhus, a city of 325,000 people, bound for Syria. This year, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, there has been just one. It may have launched only at the start of this year, but Aarhus’s 'exit programme' builds on a longstanding, integrated and very Danish approach to crime prevention that has operated for more than 30 years....."

Here is the full article:  "How do you deradicalise returning Isis fighters?"   http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/12/deradicalise-isis-fighters-jihadists-denmark-syria

This approach relies on collaborative communication across religious/secular communities, social services, educational agencies, psychologiists and counselors,  the city, the police, legal services.   

It fills us with hope.

Johannes Birringer

More information about the empyre mailing list