The Damaged Transnational Arab sphere: Raising New Questions on Authoritarian Repression and Public Refusal of co-optation (seminar)


Eight years ago, Tunisia’s dictator Ben Ali was overthrown in a popular revolution that set off a chain of new political realities and possibilities of transformation in the Arab world. Much of that elation and momentum was eventually submerged under the inferno of counter-revolutions, crackdowns, wars, terrorism, coups, and regional restlessness. Only the original protagonist, Tunisia, considerably weathered the storm. However, rather than simply “moving on”, the seminar explores the long arm of the momentous events in how they shape the present spectrum: from the growing violent methods of paranoid regimes that sees a journalist like Jamal Khashoggi murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, to the Arab public’s heterogeneous ways of countering repression by, for example, adopting Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah into the continuing, albeit increasingly weary, search for dignity.

Click here for the Facebook event: 

African Cities and the Materiality of Suspicion (Lusaka, Zambia)

Organised by the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), Lund University and Forum for Africa Studies, Uppsala University, 17 scholars of African cities (in Zambia, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) will run a workshop titled ‘African Cities and the Materiality of Suspicion’, which will take place in Lusaka, Zambia, 9-10 December 2018. The purpose of the workshop is to compare experiences, discuss perspectives, and chapter ideas. Publication due out in late 2019 based on the workshop discussions. 

“What is city life like when suspicion comes to underlie everyday interactions with the familiar world? What happens when the suspicion grabs a hold of you that the other passengers in the minibus is a band of armed robbers disguised as commuters, or that the person on the seat next to yours is a government intelligence agent? What do you do when you start wondering whether or not the person you bought your house from was in fact the real owner, or if the butcher put poison in the meat you are about to feed to your family? How does it feel to wonder whether the soundscapes created by public sermons are signs of piety or terrorists’ hidden agendas? What is it like to be almost entirely sure that the electricity company has tampered with the prepaid meter on your wall? Or to discover that the label on your supposedly genuine Honda generator uses a different font than the one your neighbour has?

This is an invitation to participate in a workshop on the materialities, affects, imaginaries, practices, social interactions, and experiences that form when suspicions of this kind come to besiege city life and contribute to an edited volume or special issue in a journal. The theme has grown out of the four organizing researchers’ experiences from Egyptian cities such as Cairo and Port Said, and from Jos and Port Harcourt in Nigeria. Here, long-term dramatic changes are transforming landscapes, relationships and networks, causing a general sense of suspicion to seep into ordinary interactions with familiar matters. There is a deep-seated notion that objects, people, relationships, society, or indeed the world at large, are not what they appear to be, and often, this world of mirages seems to be animated by concealed malevolent agencies.

Recent theory grown out of experiences of fast growing African cities highlights ambiguity as a fundamental condition of everyday life, as intricate webs of economic and cultural logics, value systems, interpretations and expectations, allow for the simultaneous existence of irreconcilable truths.

A shared observation by the four conveners is that suspicion thrives when the familiar emerges as a site of ambiguity – when things and experiences that induce normalcy, security or monotony, simultaneously provoke doubts regarding the true nature of things, people, and relationships. People are continually compelled to try to anticipate which potentialities will solidify into realities. The array of anxieties that emerge from these moments of suspense form a useful starting point for investigating suspicion.

Another observation by the organisers is the close links between suspicion and materiality, in a broad sense, including objects, buildings, the physical environment, but also sounds, vibrations, smells, etc. The matters of this world haunt us. They concern us. They compel us to engage with them. We are caught in their force fields. We use them, but at the same time, they dictate what is possible and impossible. They map out the boundaries of our world. They push and pull us in different directions. Their vectors become our own. They are in our dreams. They invade our living spaces. They have the power to betray us, to open our intimate spheres to the real or perceived agency of others. Interaction with objects and other aspects of the physical environment is an important arena of social, political and cultural articulation that accommodates experiences and sentiments that are otherwise too ambiguous and fleeting to be captured. Once manifested in the material world, otherwise vaporous sentiments of suspicion become graspable, at the level of everyday life as well as academic enquiry. When objectified, attached to a specific matter, doors are in turn opened to larger contexts as each object, site, sound, touch and smell speak about their place in the world.

With this call, we want to delve into the spaces of ambiguity, the moments of suspense while hunches are yet to solidify into tangible truths, and explore what happens if we study suspicion not simply as a lack of trust, but as a phenomenon in its own right. What would be its defining characteristics? Which forms would it assume? What would be its social, political, cultural, or affective dynamics? Is suspicion the lived truth of a world where social contracts have crumbled? Is it a state of mind, or a way of being-in-the-world? Is it an effect of affect, is it matter that matters, or is it not about what we feel at all, but about what we do – a set of prescribed practices in a precarious world? Is it in fact a social force that makes transactions possible?”

The role of civic education for social cohesion (Casablanca)

I will be presenting and running a workshop at the Civic Education Conference 2018 (CEC III) in Casablanca, Morroco, organised by the Networking Arab Civic Education (NACE), on 6 December, 10.30am, at the Idou Anfa hotel. The discussion will explore sociological-philosophical approaches to engendering civic education in the Arab public sphere. 

Vita Activa and Vita Contemplativa: Reading Hannah Arendt in Egypt (Public workshop)

This workshop will explore the philosopher Hannah Arendt’s themes of Vita Activa (Active Life) and Vita Contemplativa (Contemplative Life) and the ways it can be weaved into intellectual, research, and cultural endeavors within Egypt. The workshop is run by AUC HUSSLab’s postdoctoral fellow, Amro Ali, and Tahrir Lounge Goethe director, Mona Shahien. The event is free and open to the public, 6pm to 8pm, Wednesday, 28 November 2018, at AUC Tahrir campus, Hill House 602. Click here for the Facebook event. 

Thinking in the Swarm: When Awareness and Knowledge Succumb to the Information Deluge (Public lecture)

The final Theatre of Thought lecture for 2018 will take place on 22 November 2018 at the Goethe-Institut Alexandria. This sociological-philosophy series will present: “Thinking in the Swarm: When Awareness and Knowledge Succumb to the Information Deluge.” Click here for the Facebook event. 

‪The rise of the information age and digital revolution gave hope that immediate access to a plethora of sources, interactive and always visible, was within easy reach. In many respects, this was an encouraging development in places like Egypt, where libraries and access to books were rare or difficult to for the public. However, it came at a price. In 1996, British psychologist David Lewis coined the term Information Fatigue Syndrome (IFS) after noticing that workers who dealt with vast quantities of information were suffering from a weakening of their analytic capacity, attention deficits, inability to bear responsibility and traits of depression. It was unimaginable that this rare condition at the time would eventually engulf, in various degrees, the entire world. With the inundation of information, boiling matters down to their essence has become an arduous task.‬
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‪The Theatre of Thought continues with the works by German-Korean philosopher Byung Chul-Han who argues that “on its own, a mass of information generates no truth. It sheds no light into the dark. The more information is set free, the more confusing and ghostly the world becomes. After a certain point, information ceases to be informative. It becomes deformative. Simply having more information and communication does not shed light on the world. Nor does transparency mean clairvoyance.” Thinking is underpinned by discernment, discrimination, selection, and even forgetfulness – qualities that are frequently bulldozed in the online world.‬
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‪However, this is not about fleeing from the digital realm as much as it is to ask the question: How do we reconcile the digital order with the terrestrial order? The German theorist Carl Schmitt celebrated the earth for its solidity which enabled clear demarcations and distinctions in which character is formed. Whereas the digital order equals the “sea,” where “firm lines cannot be engraved”, that is to say, no character. The smooth open spaces of the digital medium are without end, but a better appreciation of the world of shadows with its nooks, corners, crannies, and alleys that not only filter and impede the information pollution and trolls, but allows slowness, reflection, and mediation processes back into the thinking fold and the realm of authenticity.‬

الوعي والمعرفة أمام طوفان المعلومات
لقد بعث عصر المعلومات والثورة الرقمية الأمل في النفوس بأن عالمًا من الموارد الوفيرة – المرئية منها والتفاعلية – قد أصبح بين أيدينا. وكان ذلك تطورا مشجِّعا من نواحٍ عِدة في دول مثل مصر، حيث كانت المكتبات قليلة وفرصة الجمهور في الحصول على الكتاب نادرة. لكن الثمن كان كبيرا. ففي عام 1996، خرج الإخصائي النفسي البريطاني ديفيد لويس بمصطلح “متلازمة الوهن المعلوماتي” (IFS)، بعد أن استرعى انتباهه أن العاملين الذين يتعاملون مع كم هائل من المعلومات يعانون من ضعف في القدرة التحليلية ونقص في الانتباه، وعدم القدرة على تحمل المسئولية، بالإضافة إلى ظهور أمارات الاكتئاب عليهم. ولم يخطر ببال أحد عندئذٍ أن تلك الحالة النادرة سوف تسري بين البشر في أنحاء العالم كافةً حتى تلتهمهم جميعا ولو بدرجات متفاوتة. ومع الإغراق المعلوماتي، صار تحليل أي مسألة من أجل الوصول إلى جوهرها مهمة شاقة.
يواصل مشروع التحرير لاونج جوته رحلته مع “مسرح الفكر” الذي يقدمه دكتور علم الاجتماع عمرو علي، بعنوان “الوعي والمعرفة أمام طوفان المعلومات”، وذلك بأعمال الفيلسوف الألماني-الكوري بيونج تشول هان، الذي يؤمن بأن كتلة المعلومات وحدها لا يمكن أن تتولد من بين طياتها الحقيقة؛ فهي لا تشع نورا يبدد الظلام، بل إن كل سيل من المعلومات ينطلق باعثاً معه حالة من التشويش يستحيل معها العالم عالماً للأشباح، وفي لحظة ما ستصبح المعلومات عاجزة عن تنويرنا أو إعلامنا بشيء؛ بل سوف تنتقص مما لدينا من معرفة؛ فالحصول على مزيد من المعلومات، وتحقيق مزيد من التواصل لا يجعل العالم أكثر وضوحا ولا استنارة، ولا الشفافية تعني وضوح الرؤية، حيث أن التفكير يرتكز على الإدراك والملاحظة والتمييز والانتقاء، بل وحتى على النسيان – تلك عمليات يتم تدميرها والإجهاز عليها في عالم الإنترنت.
كما تتناول الندوة فكرة أنه رغم كل ذلك، فالأمر لا يُعد دعوة للهروب من العالم الرقمي، بل دعوة لكي نسأل أنفسنا: كيف لنا أن نحقق التصالح بين النظام الرقمي، والنظام الأرضي؟ لقد عبر العالم الألماني كارل شميدت عن أن عظمة الأرض تكمن في صلابتها، حيث رُسمت الحدود وَوضَحت الفروق، فصنعت ملامح شخصيتها المتفردة، بينما يترامى النظام الرقمي “كبحر بلا شاطئ”، يستحيل فيه “أن تحفر خطًا واحدًا”، أي لا شخصية له على الإطلاق، كما أن الفضاءات الشاسعة الناعمة التي يفتحها الوسط الرقمي أمامنا لانهائية، لكن إذا تيسر لنا أن نتذوق عالم الظلال بأركانه وزواياه وشقوقه المظلمة وأزقته الضيقة، إذن لتمكننا من تنقية المعلومات وصد الملوث منها، وقطع الطريق على الغيلان القابعة فيها، بل ولحظينا ببعض الفرصة للتمهل، والتفكُّر، والتأمل -الشيء الذي سيعيدنا إلى مساحة التفكير وإلى عالم الأصالة.
تقام الندوة يوم الخميس 22 نوفمبر بمعهد جوته بالإسكندرية من الساعة 7 وحتى 9 مساءً، وتدير الندوة مؤسسة ومديرة مشروع التحرير لاونج جوته منى شاهين. 
الدكتور عمرو علي هو دكتور علم الاجتماع في الجامعة الأمريكية بالقاهرة، محاضر في العديد من الجامعات والمعاهد في القاهرة والإسكندرية، تتناول أبحاثه دراسة المجتمعات، والحالة الإنسانية في ظل الاعتداء من قوى الاستهلاك العالمي والثقافة المادية، وآثر ذلك على الهوية، ومعنى المدينة والحداثة والمواطنة، حصل على الدكتوراه من جامعة سيدني وكانت الرسالة البحثية الخاصة به عن دور الخيال التاريخي في تشكيل الإسكندرية الحديثة ومواطنيها.”

Alexandria in Joy and Tragedy – (AUC public lecture )

This lecture will trace the historical and contemporary forces that shape the idea of civic joy and belonging in Alexandria, and its unravelling in recent decades under the weight of centralization, an illegal building craze, brain drain, consumerism, privatization, the slow vanishing common narrative, and, above all, the disintegration of the public space. The seminar will also explore the characteristics and implications of a peculiar despair across a growing swathe of the Alexandrian citizenry that is manifesting itself through a shared agony that glances around for answers, sensing that time is slowing down again, desiring to live in the past, and developing an obsession with any object that represents loss.
Click here for the Facebook event. 

Ambiguous Promises and the Fragmentation of Responsibility (Public lecture)

The next Theatre of Thought lecture, Ambiguous Promises and the Fragmentation of Responsibility, will take place on 1st November 2018 at Goethe’s Tahrir Lounge. The session will be in Arabic.
Click here for the Facebook event.“Responsibility has traditionally meant a duty of care to someone or power over something, a moral obligation to act deferentially to another, and to be held accountable for the good or bad that might unfold under one’s control. These meanings typically aggregate and animate within the idea of a citizen. Yet in recent decades, the undermining of responsibility was soundly argued to be the fault of the consumer encroaching on the citizen category. Responsibility, the hallmark of the citizen, is being degraded by the consumer that lacks responsibility due to the tendency to follow personal inclinations. However, these blurred lines simply paved the way for the problems of the digital age that are exacerbating the diminishing of responsibility.

The notion of responsibility is dependent on temporal conditions and the supposition of obligations that make acts of trust, promise, and forgiveness possible in order to heal the past and stabilize and secure a steadfast future. However, what does it mean for responsibility when today’s digital communications are perilously thrusting the individual into a world of arbitrariness, non-binding obligations, and short-term gains? Rapidly, responsibility is torn from its past and future commitments as the present is pushed as the absolute priority and, therefore, it is scattering time into, as German-Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han would argue, ‘a mere sequence of purely disposable presences.’

This seminar will explore further questions of consequence. Among them, if it is possible to delineate the features of passivity that overwhelms responsible agency? Does the slow brewing of trust required to form a mature social praxis lose meaning when hyper-visibility is all-pervasive, privacy is suspected, and rapid information access is readily available? or given that responsibility is tied to names and naming in order to confer recognition, then what are the implications of perceiving the other, in terms of trustworthiness and reliability, when they are dissolved in a digital swarm?”
يستكمل مشروع #التحرير_لاونج_جوته سلسلة حلقات #مسرح_الفكر الموسم الثاني بخامس حلقاته ومحاضرة تحت عنوان “النفاق وتفتيت الشعور بالمسئولية”، والتي سيتناول فيها المتحدث بالندوة د. عمرو علي موضوع المسئولية بأشكالها في العصر الحديث، والاثار المترتبة على تطبيقها في ظل العصر الرقمي الذي نعيشه الان.
تعني المسئولية على نحو تقليدي واجب الرعاية لشخص ما أو السلطة على شيء ما، التزام أخلاقي للتصرف بشكل مختلف عن الآخر، وتحمل المسؤولية عن الخير أو الشر التي قد تتكشف تحت سيطرة المرء. هذه المعاني عادة ما تكون مجمعة ومتحركة في إطار فكرة المواطن. لكن في العقود الأخيرة، قيل إن تفويض المسؤولية كان خطأ المستهلك الذي ينتهك فئة المواطن. إن المسؤولية، السمة المميزة للمواطن، تتعرض للتدهور من جانب المستهلك الذي يفتقر إلى المسؤولية بسبب الميل إلى اتباع الميول الشخصية. ومع ذلك، فإن هذه الخطوط غير الواضحة مهدت الطريق ببساطة لمشاكل العصر الرقمي التي تؤدي إلى حدة تناقص المسؤولية.
يعتمد مفهوم المسؤولية على الظروف الوقتية وفرض الالتزامات التي تجعل أعمال الثقة والوعد والمغفرة ممكنة من أجل مداواة الماضي وتحقيق الاستقرار وتأمين مستقبل راسخ. ومع ذلك، ما الذي تعنيه المسؤولية عندما تكون الاتصالات الرقمية اليوم هي التي تدفع الإنسان إلى عالم من التعسف والتزامات غير ملزمة ومكاسب قصيرة الأجل؟ بسرعة، انشقت المسؤولية عن التزاماتها السابقة والمستقبلية، حيث يتم دفع الحاضر كأولوية مطلقة، وبالتالي فإن الوقت قد بدأ يتناثر، كما يقول الفيلسوف الألماني-الكوري بيونغ-شول هان، “مجرد تسلسل للوجودات التي يمكن التخلص منها على نحو مجرد.”
هذه الندوة -التي ستنعقد يوم الخميس 1 نوفمبر الساعة 7 – 9 مساءً بمقر مشروع التحرير لاونج جوته- سوف تكشف العديد من الأسئلة الناتجة. من بينهم، إذا كان من الممكن تحديد ملامح السلبية التي تكتسح الوكالة المسؤولة؟ هل الثقة البطيئة المخمرة مطلوبة لتشكيل تطبيق عملي اجتماعي ناضج تفقد معنى عندما تكون الرؤية الفائقة منتشرة، الخصوصية مشتبه بها، والوصول السريع للمعلومات متاح بسهولة؟ أو إذا كانت تلك المسؤولية مرتبطة بأسماء وتسمية من أجل منح الاعتراف، ثم ما هي الآثار المترتبة على إدراك الآخر، من حيث الثقة والدقة، عندما يتم حله في سرب رقمي؟

Unpacking Self-Expressions in the Modern Era (public lecture)

The third season of the Theatre of Thought will commence at Goethe’s Tahrir Lounge on 11 October 2018. The first lecture I’ll be giving is titled “Unpacking self-expressions in the Modern era” (the talk will be in Arabic).
Click here for the Facebook event link. 

“Body language, art, fashion, and hairstyles, are some of the familiar modes of self-expression, but in an age of hyper-visibility and inter-connectedness, self-expression has accelerated to become one of the highest articulation of individuality and novelty. Self-expression in some respect is beneficial to crystallize the forces that go into constructing the individual’s expressive identity at a point in time and place, as well as fleshing out a positioning in relation to a world that has become increasingly noisy and blurred. This lecture, however, will explore how in recent decades, in Egypt and abroad, consumer culture has appropriated self-expression, in the midst of the neoliberal storm that’s turning citizens into customers, that it has become increasingly difficult to separate self-expression from the shadow of monetary manipulation. It raises further questions, among them, if self-expression does in fact disguise a different set of established rules and practices, and at one point does non-conformity begin to look quite similar?

Since the 1970s, self-expression grew as the new style of challenging the problems and toxins in the world, but this is becoming somewhat futile when the whole world seems to be moving towards basing itself on self-expression. The reduction of self-expression to feelings and consumer desires has severed the idea of self-expression from any possible higher ideals and the notion that you can be part of anything bigger than yourself. Moreover, self-expression masquerades as a new radical way of seeing or understanding the world, but a mature worldview is arguably unable to crystallize from simply talking about the self and feelings towards the other.

The end result, as Berlin-based South Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han observes, is the terror of the same, a world of unceasing repetition of similar experiences pretending to be novelty and renewal. This also consequently sees the ideas of love, bonding, solid relations, responsibility, and communal spirit, collapse in a world further burdened by an endless freedom of choice, oversupply of options and the compulsion for perfection. That is to say, self-expression robs countless hours as a result of choosing the right clothes, embellishing and updating the right Facebook photo, and cultivating special friendships for the self, not the relation, to be projected upon. All so one can participate in the worldly spectacle that sees a global collection of individuals that have moved away from reflection, contemplation, sustained efforts at doing one task, while distraction becomes the norm and the interior of the self is hollowed out.

لغة الجسد والفن والموضة وقصات الشعر هي الطرق المعروفة للتعبير عن النفس. لكن في عصر ال” الأعلى مشاهدة” و”التواصل المتشابك” تطورت فكرة التعبير عن النفس لتصبح الإفراط في الذاتية وطرحها بشكل مبتكر . 
إن التعبير عن النفس هو تبلور لكل عناصر بناء الشخصية التي نود التعبير عنها في مكان ووقت معين وعلاقتها بعالم يزداد في الصخب وعدم وضوح الرؤية.
في هذه المحاضرة نبحث في العقود الحالية في مصر والعالم عن كيف استغلت الثقافة الاستهلاكية فكرة التعبير عن النفس وتحويل المواطنين إلى مستهلكين مما يجعل فكرة التعبير عن النفس بعيد عن البعد الإقتصادى، شيء في غاية الصعوبة. وهنا نطرح أسئلة أخرى مثل: هل التعبير عن النفس في حد ذاته يتقيد بقوانينه وممارساته الخاصة وهل يعبر عما في أنفسنا حقا؟.
منذ السبعينات والتعبير عن النفس بدأ في النمو بالتوازي مع التحديات التي تواجه العالم ولكن للأسف هذا التعبير عن النفس لم يثمر عن شيء حين اقتصر هذا التعبير على المشاعر والاستهلاك فخلت الفكرة من أن نكون جزءًا من شىء أكبر منا. كذلك فكرة التعبير عن النفس في حد ذاتها ومحاولة فهم العالم في حد ذاتها فكرة راديكالية لكن رؤية العالم لا تبنى من منظور فردي.

في نهاية الأمر كما أكد الفيلسوف الكورى بيانج شيل هان، وينتج كل ما سبق “النمطية المفزعة” في عالم يكرس للتكرار وإن تخفى في صورة تجديد وامتداد. هذا التكرار يجعلنا نرى أفكارنا عن الحب والتواصل والعلاقات الجادة والمسئولية وروح الجماعة تنهار في عالم محمل بعبء الحرية اللانهائية في الاختيار وزيادة والسعى نحوالكمال. في حقيقة الأمر التعبير عن النفس يسرق منا ساعات في اختيار الملابس المناسبة وتحديث وتعديل صورة صفحتنا على فيس بوك واختيار الاصدقاء المناسبين للسياق العام. كل هذا التناغم مع أفراد الكون التى بعدت كل البعد عن التفكير والتفكر والمحاولات المستدامة للمشاركة في جهد مشترك مما أفرغ النفس من فحواها تعديل صورة صفحتنا على فيس بوك واختيار الاصدقاء المناسبين للسياق العام. كل هذا التناغم مع أفراد الكون التى بعدت كل البعد عن التفكير والتفكر والمحاولات المستدامة للمشاركة في جهد مشترك مما أفرغ النفس من فحواها”.

Passport, the fallen

Despite traveling most of my life on an Australian passport, I came to write this prose poem as I’ve been moved by the stories and witnessing of countless friends and strangers traveling on less mobile passports and the torment they have had to endure at airports and consulates. 

Illustration by F.T. Janes, from the novel “Angel of the Revolution,” George Griffith (1893) pg. 371. The fantastical tale explored the future of air travel, warfare, inequalities and social responsibility. 

Passport, the Fallen

I never met that medieval Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta, for I would have beset his world travels with heartache crueler than the sea storms that unsettled him,

Known as a travel document, I am more document than travel,

For I am not of the blessed.

They played with my ancestry: I went from world to third-world, developing world, and global south,

As if colourful names ever granted me admission to the geographies of privilege.

I catch a glimpse of my compatriots squeezed between sweaty nervous human hands at passport controls where humanity sheds the pretense of fraternity and re-glues inequalities,

I watch desk officers execute the parochial wave of the times,

A predatory international relations system telescoped into an arbitrary being void of thought,

I am reminded that I have so much power of disdain,  

I keep security needlessly occupied and transits an end in themselves,

I make borders out of iron and visas out of alchemy,

I prolong queues into creeping anacondas,

while turning immigration controls into life stations,

Did you know I can unravel life’s plans?

I make families miss their flights,

Laborers forgo their grandmother’s funerals,

Couples reschedule their honeymoons,

Students skip their graduations,

Scholars show up late to conferences,

Journalists lose their story,

Merchants scale back their dreams,

Refugees. Die.

I turn Africa into Alcatraz with no parole,

remake Asia into arcades with no fire exits,

Cast the undesired Americas into an ailment with no remedy,

while watching Europe send her Marco Polo tribes to a playground called Earth.

I dance with fate, whispering in her ear: who can fall in love with whom, who can discover a new realm where, who can seek sanctuary when, who can question their very being and why.

I am the butcher of stories, curiosities, aspirations and encounters.

I am the sorcerer that makes the Indian backpacker invisible,

I am the heirloom of the troubled nation-state, the algebra of colonial logic, the archangel of a geopolitical apartheid,

Bordering. Ordering. Bothering. Othering.

I trigger a silent cry across the planet: “We never asked for this world.”

~Amro Ali (2018)