2005_12_01rev

2005_12_01rev - Culture, Embodiment, and the Senses...

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Culture, Embodiment, and the Senses Thursday, 01 December 2005 Reading Alan Klima, The Funeral Casino: Meditation, Massacre, and Exchange with the Dead in Thailand, ch. 6, pp. 169-230. Klima’s thesis about images – talk about 9/11 to contextualize what we’ve read in these last 2 chapters. When you have a space of mass death that is explicitly political, are there ways to commemorate that is more ‘universal’? What types of markets would have developed in the aftermath of such a visible crisis? First you have the exchanges between people and the dead. Klima describes Buddhist funeral practices, identifying them as an economy, a gift exchange. W If a person has not received their proper respects after death, there is a potential that they could be a source of affliction. W The idea that the individual who does give gifts/charity accumulates merit, whereas the mediator gives offerings to the temple – this is where Klima addresses the political economy of death, the gift exchange network that is evolving. Klima then talks about the black market . People were interested in visually seeing what happened during the May 1992 massacres. The exchange was not just a local thing – international news media were circulating images through various channels. Which images had the most exchange value? The most gruesome images were most coveted! In the US, when do we ever see images of horror ? War and hunger – it’s always images of other places. It’s not a political thing in the over sense – they’re not showing us images of direct violence. Our media shows something that tends to be at a distance and people who are “others” who are in the weakest, most depraved, most downtrodden state. In Thailand, with censorship in the media and the availability of the footage of massacres on the black market – this created on some level its own economy. The images that proliferated within the nation and were related to the image of the nation as a whole internationally – all related to the link between Thailand and the global economy (e.g. post 1992 massacre, economy diminished, foreign investment compromised, tourism declined). Klima then argues that through all of this, there were two sites of power that were reinforced through the proliferation of these graphic images – the sovereign and the public sphere . Sovereign was still the moral authority of the nation. How was the national image of Thailand restored post massacre? Images of the hunger striker and the king together. Double image campaign inviting outsiders into Thailand to prove all was normal. Klima is emphasizing the role of images. | dimension of the political body (remember Scheper-Hughes and Lock) – how images of the 12/01/05, page 1 of 4
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body itself can be strongly linked to the political/economic status, to the broader political body of the nation and its relation in the international sphere and its link to political economy necromantic power There is a fascination with consuming what Klima calls
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2005_12_01rev - Culture, Embodiment, and the Senses...

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