This essay explores the manner in which disavowal exists in the contemporary contexts of liberal democratism, particularly the latter’s participation in Arab alienation, and how it is communicated, consequently, in the maintenance of a cultural hegemony over the signifying apertures through which the American body politic is projected, namely, speech acts. The stakes in examining speech acts, for which I turn to poetry and the work of Solmaz Sharif and Rob Halpern, involves thinking about the commons. For one, because liberal democratic identity revolves around a deliberative realm of attachments and intimacies. The commons, moreover, is also where the lived politics of address and recognition sustain a continuum of privilege, exceptionalism, and states of exception. It is where the juridical and metaphysical matrices from which the body garners voice, name, and the affects of the person are demonstrated and denied.
It Matters What You Call a Thing: War, Disavowal, and Contemporary Poetry
José Felipe Alvergue is assistant professor of contemporary literature and transnationalism at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. His work can be found in Comparative Literature, SubStance, Criticism, and the minnesota review, among other venues, and he is the author of gist : rift : drift : bloom (2015) and precis (2017).
José Felipe Alvergue; It Matters What You Call a Thing: War, Disavowal, and Contemporary Poetry. the minnesota review 1 November 2018; 2018 (91): 68–91. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00265667-7137277
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