The Calculus of Life

Tea. I like tea.

Brown body. Gendered body. Classed body. Dis/abled body. Queer body. Transgressive bodies.

The calculus of life leaves these Othered bodies in the inscrutable spaces- the asymptotes and the discontinuities that result from attempts to divide by zero. The logic of negation is at play here.

Not-human. Bare life. Liminal beings. Brown bodies. These bodies embody the border-zone between human and citizen. These bodies are the terrain of coloniality, the object of the gaze. Ever-watched, these bodies become objects of knowledge- or alternatively, the un-know-able. The Other cannot be fully known, else the intimacy between the knower and the (un)known collapse the Self/Other, Subject/Object, West/Rest binaries.

Still, these bodies are offered as objects of scientific inquiry. Nothing makes that clearer than the discursive normalization of “vulnerability” and “disaster” over there. Other bodies are resilient. Other bodies are hardy. Other bodies are the ideal subjects for the study of trauma. Post-Katrina, Post-Tsunami, Post-Earthquake, these displaced and encamped bodies are individualized and presented as case studies for scientific study. In this process, these bodies are inscribed and made legible.

These words were inspired my my brief foray into the burgeoning literature on trauma in impoverished, communities of color that have recently suffered natural disasters exacerbated by pre-existing infrastructure disinvestment.

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