Archive for the Literature Category

What I am Reading: Orientalism by Edward Said

Posted in Activism, Andrea Smith, Indigeneous People's Rights, Literature, Racism, Sexual/Reproductive Health/Wellbeing, White Privilege on April 9, 2012 by talibahseeks

“What I do argue also is that there is a difference between knowledge of other peoples and other times that is the result of understanding, compassion, careful study and analysis for their own sakes, and on the other hand knowledge-if that is what it is–that is part of an overall campaign of self-affirmation, belligerency, and outright war.  There is, after all, a profound difference between the will to understand for purposes of coexistence and humanistic enlargement of horizons, and the will to dominate for the purposes of control and external dominion.” (Said, xix)

“In analyzing spiritual appropriation as a form of sexual violence, I start with what may seem a strange source: the Bible.  The Hebrew word YDH, which translates as “to know a person”, carnally, or sexual intercourse, is used frequently in the Hebrew scriptures to connote sexual relations. . . Consensual sexual relationships require the loosening of the boundaries of one’s physical and psychic space–they involve not only allowing another person to become close to you physically, but allowing her or him to know more about you.  Sexual violence then suggests that the violation of these boundaries operates not only on the physical but on spiritual and psychic levels as well.  In addition, sexual violence is ultimately structured around power relations–its entails establishing the power to control someone’s life.  Similarly, “knowledge” about someone also gives one power over that person.  Withholding knowledge, then, is an act of resistance against those who desire to know you in order to better control you.

It is with this understanding of sexual violence that I wish to explore how the “New Age” movement and other forms of indigenous spiritual/cultural appropriation constitute a form of sexual violence.”–Excerpt from Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide by Andre Smith (119-120).


Purple Hibiscus–by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Posted in Identity, Literature, Nigerian authors on April 5, 2012 by talibahseeks

I just finished reading the book Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  It is the story of a family whose patriarch–Brother Eugene– is tortured by his staunch interpretation of Catholicism, coupled with the political turmoil and violence plaguing his society in Nigeria.  He is a  philanthropist who donates generously to religious institutions as well as vulnerable members of his community, and also sponsors an unrelenting voice against political corruption through his publication.  However, he is also physically and mentally abusive to his wife, daughter, and son at home.  His particular practice of Catholicism and allegiance to order both stifle and “protect” his family.  His disdain for indigenous ways (or even style) of worship and investment in the politics of respectability alienate him and his family from others including his own father, prompting his more liberal sister to describe him as “too much of a colonial product” (13).  The story is told through the eyes of his daughter Kambili who feels a complex mixture of terror, love, and pride in regard to her father.

When Kambili and her brother are sent to live with their aunt temporarily they are exposed to new ways of being.  They are inspired and comforted by the love, imperfection, and freedom of  her home.  Kambili  in particular learns to find her voice  and connects to new, exciting, and frightening emotions once alien to her.  To the confusion and dismay of their father they are never the same again.

I really enjoyed reading this book and developed a sense of affection and empathy for the characters.  I highly recommend it.  Adichie does not present one dimensional characters which i really appreciate.  I will read her other works as she is now among my favorite authors.

Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

Posted in Literature, Nigerian authors on March 31, 2012 by talibahseeks

“And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete.”