Swans Commentary » swans.com October 4, 2010  



Special Issue on Immigration


Territory, Identity, And Capital


by Maxwell Clark



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(Swans - October 4, 2010)   On walking through a slum of New Haven, CT (U.S.) I was recently pronounced a jibaro. Roughly mistranslated, this meant that I was assumed to have come from the hinterlands, or the underdeveloped, non-urban reaches of the world. Perhaps it was my beard. But whatever the truth of this statement in my regard, it yet impels meditation upon the confluences and divergences of the spatial and linguistic; or, on a much grander scale, questions of territory and identity.

There is a massive wrenching apart of territoriality and identity in our world. This itself concerns a prior ontological framework through which globalizing capitalism only functions, or which capital has come to appropriate to its own ends. The undocumented (sans papiers), much like the jibaro that I am assumed to be, are not where they are; they are made foreign to their own territorial situatedness by means of marks of identity. The trace of the other territories which they carry with them estranges them from the territory in which they are presently placed. A metaphysics (text) of identity conceals the actuality of their dwelling.

Whatever then the capitalist axioms responsible for "deterritorializing" great swathes of humanity, and these are crucial, what is being foolishly abstracted from in discourse are the inherited ontological-material preconditions that define and delimit the functioning of capital. Territorial and identitarian ontologies require a certain historical autonomy from before their capitalist regimentation, put otherwise.

Quickly to end then, for much richness worthy of re-reading has already been scribbled, only a twisting free from the nationalism of capital, its inherited identity-territory duality, is capable of redeeming us from our grand malaise. Vámanos!


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About the Author

Maxwell Clark is a writer living in New Haven, CT.   (back)


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art16/clark06.html
Published October 4, 2010