Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Composing Disability Conference 2014

The following is a collection of tweets from
Sponsored by the Disability Support Services,
the Department of English and the University Writing Program
at the George Washington University,
on 3-4 April 2014.

Thank you to everyone who spoke, contributed and tweeted.

Reblogged from

Sunday, April 6, 2014

April Meeting (Pirate Theory)

The Enemy of All
Daniel Heller-Roazen


On Tuesday, April 1st (April Fools Day), 2014 the MATCH Working Group held meeting to discuss the Enemy of All by Daniel Heller-Roazen. Following in the wake of Mixology and then going Rogue (Panel) on Drunk Theory, it was time for some rum and Pirate Theory. The central question on the table: how to we take the non-docile (potentially intoxicated) body and turn it into political feeling?

Leading the discussion, Alan Montroso featured three chapters from the text: "Along Fluid Paths" dealt with the problem of locating piracy. When the object of study exists in motion, floating in the water-ways between the histories of nation-states, the history of pirates is better told through nomadology. Contrary to other non-human, un-human, inhuman or anti-human bodies, usually pre-territorialized within a politicized geography, the pirate's link with ocean-ways that have long alluded the attempts of nations to border or control allow them to be simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.


Coming at "the Dialectic of the Sea-Dog," we traced the way early Nation-States created pirates as an extra-legal entity to battle against one another. Functioning in a loop-hole created by the governments, these pirates technically were neither the formal citizens nor armies of these countries and so could wage violence without legally constituting an act of war. Unable to formally pay those who were not legal entities (capable of being hired), pirates were given pseudo-legal looting "rights" to take what they will from their victims. Defined by the nations that disavowed them, Heller-Roazen argues that this was a contradiction that was targeted for synthesis and closure in the 20th century when world-wide nationalism (and war) put tighter and tighter limits on the definition of geography, citizenship and legalized acts of aggression. In a world governed by trans-national empires and so-called United Nations, non-legal combatants came to occupy the status, "enemy of humanity."


Looking at "Justifying Humanity," Heller-Roazen's work as translator of many Giorgio Agamben's texts had evidently washed over his thoughts on the legal history of the concept "humanity." While mankind or the human have existed as theological, scientific, and philosophical concepts for some time, Heller-Roazen argues that the relevancy of humanity in a legal context is relatively modern. Looking at the diminished legal relevancy of "Christendom" as a catch-all trans-national term for "us" versus "them," the idea of humanity was brought in to serve as an over-arching status that a person gains by being raised up within civilized (colonial) society. Growing up alongside this understanding of humanity, the pirate functioned as a counter-national "Enemy of Humanity" that threatened the status and life of simultaneously everyone by being legally no-one.