Describe your ethnic background

It’s been brewing for a while. Finally I decided to share. I’ve created a new section on my website WRITING where I’ll be publishing texts. It will be sporadic and dependent on my time — I’m still in the throes of a PhD and publishing a book.

But at the same time, I couldn’t wait any longer. There is too much happening around me that is touching me, encroaching into my intimate experiences and urging me to write, to speak and to share. What really convinced me to do so though, is that I’ve been speaking to so many others who have similar experiences and feel alienated from the current terms and names and categories that are placed as the obligatory gate-keepers for any participation in political, social and cultural debate.

The first essay is now online:

Describe Your Ethnic Background: the Long Story

“Sometime back I was sitting at a long white oval table in a seminar room with two professors. A question arose. A certain air of consternation hovered about the question like a monsoon storm cloud about to burst. I was being asked: ‘what are your politics?’ Where did I stand on issues of race, gender and class? The second question was only implied, but I know that what I was actually being asked about were my allegiances, or more bluntly, my identity.

I was under scrutiny, an attempt at capture. I felt myself beginning to heat up, the sweat of panic seeping from my pores. My squirming countenance might leak out the reality concealed beyond my endless attempts at camouflage. But what is that reality, what lies in the sub-cutaneous realm of my politics, of my allegiances, of my identity?

The charge of the storm cloud, although invisible, was latent. The silent concern surrounded my research title The Space of the Nameless. For an academic doctoral project, it was too ‘open’, too naïve perhaps, worryingly unaware of theories of difference; of critical race theory, of feminist theory, of post-colonial theory, thus not intellectual enough, not critical enough, too blindly optimistic. Was I imagining a world without the need for names, labels, categories? Was I entertaining the illusion of a flaccid, homogenous unity by calling for namelessness?”… READ ON >>