Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Words and Violence

This is the first paragraph of my new SOP.

Veena Das begins her book with a question “What it is to pick up the pieces and to live in this very place of devastation?”[1] From my work with a Latino Pentecostal church to my work on a woman who left a Mormon Fundamentalist group, this question haunts me. The people in these studies have survived various violent experiences both physical and emotional. And always this experience comes to me, the audience and scholar in the form of words. Das argues that violence returns and remains in the presence of everyday expressions. This suggests that violence is not something one can leave behind. Words in this descent become animated through voice, and it is this relationship, the relationship between words and voice, that can provide both the means to expression and the silencing of certain stories. Words provide a means of telling but what they tell are not always the stories one expects. Violence becomes something that in Das’s book that is not separate from how people conduct their lives. It is not something that happens and ends. Rather it is something that becomes entwined in life, and in the rebuilding of lives from violence. But the violence does not ever go away. It is always there, always waiting to emerge in words not expected, and in the silences forced upon people who created new tales for the violence. How does religion fit into this equation? How does religion both offer words and create silences around stories of violence?


[1] Veena Das, Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2007, 6.

3 comments:

John B-R said...

Damn, Ginger, this is great. I want to read more. I want to see how you answer your own questions. Aside: it's funny you start w/Das. She's been hovering near the edges of my consciousness lately ...

Ginger said...

She's really great John. Her book "Life and Words" is extremely inspirational. It's big freakin' question, and I'm not sure if I'll ever answer but I hope to have a hell of a time trying:P

Ernesto said...

Now I understand why I was rejected from US grad schools: this is fantastic writing, Ginger.