Thinking through ‘Blood-Memory’ in what we know as the ‘Archive’

22 11 2010

What is the postcolonial archive?
It is the landscape of memory
that compete for recognition
while one materializes and stifles
the others into its veins
like a white leviathan nation
assimilating and annihilating
the other memories as wandering ghosts
that haunt buildings and streets
who live on in possessed mediums
who are imprisoned and tortured
for remembering

how does the postcolonial archive become dominated?
in the bodies of those taught by boxes
that stifle bodies into seats
so the white leviathan representative
pours knowledge into straight jacketed children
to only see within the four walls as valid truths
as father’s bodies are thrown out of coal factories
as mothers’ bodies whore for shillings
able bodies, able pussies
for the penetration of factory piping into the vein of the living archive
for the penetration of penises into the embodied practice of a factory investor

Industry, nation-hood. democracy as sham
only if you can pay with your body
into the cult of objectification and commodification
the living is validated only as dead.

I read Forgetting the Alam0, Or, Blood Memory by Emma Perez to understand what happened to Mexicanos, Tejanos, Indigenous, Blacks, women and lesbians during the violences of Manifest Destiny in southern Texas.

Before I read the book, I walked the streets of San Antonio, passing the Alamo, walking on old cobble stone streets, passing the old western bars, thinking these are the grounds where native, local, and enslaved people were rounded up, slaughtered, raped, killed. This place is where these people were forced into the logic of objectification and commodification that drove the zeal of white settlers to create the white, American, national landscape of memory across the American West.  This place is the postcolonial archive, where old western towns, now commercial landscapes of “Ripleys Believe It or Not,” and Chain Hotels, stand as modern, continuing narratives of old colonial stone forts, baroque cathedrals and Spanish-style stucco stone hotels. Yet, the bodies of Mexicanos, Tejanos, Xicanos, Blacks, Mixed-Blacks, Black-Native men and women work as wage employees in these modern colonial landscapes.

The South West Workers Union did a strike at the Hyatt because this hotel on 600 E. Market Street overworks the house keepers, they over work their cafe and restaurant workers, and they harrass the employees who organize unions and strikes.

The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center brought in speakers from the American Studies Association to talk about the privatization of education in California, the passage and impact of SB 1070 and the anti-Ethnic Studies Law in Arizona, and the pipelines between schools and prisons, to build community-academic dialogue on the state of education, the state of knowledge, in today’s privatized and militarized age.  These days are a reflection of the foundation crafted by white settlers, that scalped native and mexicano bodies, lynched and hacked and whipped black people’s bodies, that raped native, mexicana, black women and children, to whiten the landscape into the money making institutions that erupted from the violences they reify as the truth worth preserving, worth stewarding, worth passing down, into the minds of displaced, orphaned, parent-less children, products of raped and murdered parentage, children, straight-jacketed by the trauma of their blood-memory severed by a severe epidemic of madness and violence covering the earth called America, in this language.

Yet, the spirits of the land are still strong and remind those in struggle about the silences of this postcolonial archive. That the records of their story are in the bodies of workers and people of colors that strike and resist the truth that our bodies, our sweat and our dreams are not equatable to a dollar, to someone else’s price.  We are re-gathering our wealth of spirit, our wealth of memories, our wealth of inner strength, as medicine. The zeal of the white culture has been a festering wound of violence, and now they are vanquishing with their pain.  They pretend they are okay, getting plastic surgery, tummy tucking their lard of excess, driving in big fat cars.  But, they feel and emptiness that with every pill they pop, they become the wax museum object in Ripleys Believe it Or Not that sits across the Alamo.  The pills make them feel their destiny is right. The pain they have inflicted has all been for their benefit.  Their privilege. Their blood memory sucked out a long time ago.

The Postcolonial Archive is grooved by a closed circuit of madness feeding madness as progress.  Violence feeding violence as truth of order.  Emma Perez wrote a book to circulate amongst the information networks of this society where madness feeds madness and violence feeds violence.  To intervene in the system by touching people to remember by reading. She is digger deeper another groove in this landscape of the postcolonial archive.  A groove that has been there so long before, but it has been forgotten, and the children have not be taught to keep digging, so that’s why the groove was dusted over and difficult to find.  But Perez is now digging this groove by writing the genre of Chicana western novels. The story awakens the blood-memory of readers helping us listen to the silences of the postcolonial archive that can be seen as the history of people who work as wage workers, as strikers, as other memories of the colonial fort, cobble stone streets, cathedrals and western bars.  If these buildings had eyes, ears and mouths, what other stories did they document and could they tell, besides the pride marching band songs and state flags fluttering in the sky? Would they echo the screams, and blood splattering, and the muffled sounds of women and children’s mouths during the grunts of men defiling bodies of the innocent made into an object to penetrate?

The record is to be created, to be circulated upon many mediums, to be housed in many archives as possible. So more and more can be touched, can be remembered, and bring back “blood-memory” to be circulated in our bodies, to be circulated in the veins of our societies again. To remember the root cause of this madness. To stop the root cause of this violence. To understand what has been left unresolved since that original act violence.

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