Friday, February 5, 2010

"In our reading of the revolutionary projects in each of the identity domains we find three common tasks.

The first is to reveal the violence of identity as property and thereby in some sense reappropriate that identity. The "primal sense" of African American identity in this respect, for example, might be considered Aunt Hester's scream: Frederick Douglass recounts in his autobiography how slave identity and blackness in general are rooted for him in the terror of hearing his aunt's cries as she is whipped by the master. [3] Recognizing the fact of blackness, as W.E.B. Du Bois and Frantz Fanon also testify in autobiographical accounts, is a discovery not just of difference but also and primarily of collective subordination and violence. And yet the violence of identity is largely invisible, especially to those not subject to it, making it all the time more difficult to contest. This is one meaning of Du Bois's famous claim that a veil cordons off the subordinated from the view of dominant society. They are mysteriously hidden from sight, invisible, even when they are the ones who in broad daylight clean the houses, care for the children, produce the goods, and in general sustain the lives of the dominant. An initial task of insubordination, then, which is the most widespread from of identity politics today, requires attacking this invisibility, tearing down or rising above the veil, and revealing the structures of hierarchy that run throughout society.

-Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri in Commonwealth (2009) p. 327

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