Zones of Morbidity [1]

Jamie Skye Bianco

Zones of Morbidity and Necropolitics

THE INDIAN CONNECTION: Sixty million Native Americans died between 1500 and 1600. The defiance and resistance to things European continue unabated. The Indian Wars have never ended in the Americas. Native Americans acknowledge no borders; they seek nothing less than the return of all tribal lands.
—Leslie Marmon Silko, Almanac of the Dead 14, my bold and italics
For Karl Marx, the proletariat was the social class most likely to develop the insight, consciousness, and collective political will necessary to challenge constructed social reality, the standards and conventions of social and economic hierarchies in the West. According to the Barthes of Mythologies, however, that location of political insurgency, of potentially emancipatory consciousness, and of moral, political, and collective will, had relocated to the site of non-European peoples of color, who for him represented a new transcultural and revolutionary social class.
—Chela Sandoval, Methodology of the Oppressed 87-8, my bold and italics
…the new technologies of destruction are less concerned with inscribing bodies within disciplinary apparatuses as inscribing them, when the time comes, within the order of the maximal economy now represented by the "massacre."
—Achilles Mbembé, "Necropolitics" 34, my bold and italics

[1] The politics of home, indigenous tenure, and "the return of all tribal lands" cited above in Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead [2] do not make for a consistent position for feminist, identity, progressive or post-colonial politics when read along with the feminist politics of collective social bodies in Chela Sandoval's reading of Marx through Barthes and U.S. Third World Women's feminism in Methodology of the Oppressed (2000) [3] or with Achilles Mbembé's reading of Foucault in the context of African post-liberation governmentalities (2003) [4] in "Necropolitics" [5]. These divisions between an intra-colonial politic of geographical tenure given a legacy of programmatic genocidal policies, racial extermination, and patriarchal reconstitution of sociality in Native American nations and a post-/intra-colonial politic of social and economic domination given a legacy of colonial wars, particularly the Spanish-American War, its subsequent re-orderings of racial supremacy against mestizaje of the Americas, nationalizing borders against bodies, and feminizing cross-border labor, pose a complex set of problems for progressive and feminist political thought and critique. These conflicts are particularly difficult in relation to traditional Marxist positions, already put to task to deal effectively with gender, sexuality, migration, and transnational cultural issues much the less the complexity and constructions of race and nationhood [6] within aboriginal indigenism and (im)migrant nomadism.

[2] This essay will attempt to track a terribly broad swath of politics, histories, texts, policies, and theoretics, none of which will receive the in-depth attention that might be appropriate. This superficial tracing will allow several views of an emergent politic, the productivity of morbidity for profit and living by privatized subscription. To attempt to capture the affect of these differential cultural and political locations and to give the benefit of affinity without the collapsing of context into direct or structural comparison, I will offer a more kinesthetic presentation of these texts and their referents. But to begin is to mark privilege and given the politics, not just of life and death, but of living and dying, I would like to step off from a space synergistically created and creating this extraction of value in the domains of Zoë and Bios, the topographies and technologies of nationhood utilized by Leslie Marmon Silko in the Almanac. If Silko's Almanac offers the ground or land, Achille Mbembé offers a post-colonial politics of profitable morbidity in his essay, "Necropolitics," and Chela Sandoval offers a differential bios or politics of living and political love in Methodology. These texts, though vastly different in context, position, and genre, share the presumption that the human body and its necessary human ecology are bio-material fodder within the context of a technoscientific economy. This textual strain marks what I term, "technoscience fictions," which are texts, regardless of genre, that tell stories of the mutually embedded productivity of technologies and science or techné and scienza. As methodology, technoscience is 1) instrumentality, know-how, "systematic treatment" (OED) or techné, and 2) an episteme, the fields, states or facts of knowing, or scienza in mutual constitution [7]. In addition, these technoscientific narrations are called technoscience "fictions" in order to emphasize their "made" quality as artifactual bodies of technical, scientific, social, and cultural production as already seen in science and technology studies, feminist, postcolonial, postmodern cultural critiques and to point to their capacity to affect other bodies of knowledge and matter as well as to auto-affect their own bodies as seen in activist and post-humanist practices [8].

[3] Chela Sandoval's Methodology moves across this tradition but also that of "theory in the flesh" [9] from U.S. Third World feminisms, Chicana feminisms and transnational feminisms, which explicitly articulate survival-driven, collective semiotics or "sign reading", deconstructive practices, as well as what she terms "meta-ideologizing," the "technologies" for transformative, mobilizing epistemological critiques of the Western, authoritarian, rational, transcendental, ideal, and dialectical narratives. These technologies provide an active and contingent demonstration of the ironic made-ness and the ambivalence of correspondence, correlation, and concept in the expression of a dominant world-schema, thereby undercutting and interrupting its hegemonic fields of power. Following these critiques and practices, I presume a contingent "artifactual fictionality" of the very material "real world" in flux.

[4] Taking up the artifactual fictionality offered by postmodern critiques and the affective embodiment of post-humanist practices, technoscience and its fictions emerge through materialist methodologies, expressed as creative and programmable, though not necessarily controlled, experimentation. In technoscience, experimentation as material methodology works the matters of spatial and temporal dynamism as material and temporal complexity and control. Technoscientific practices are recursive and continuously modulate the "structures," defined by speed and not structure, upon which their dynamic experiments can be made to function and to be narrativized. As durational and material events, they are processual and heterogeneous assemblages of bodies rather than discreet and chronologized objects.

[5] But extending beyond agglomerate material forms, the technoscientific process is one of captured and controlled energetics and dynamics, as expressed in post-humanist practices. Technoscience fictions are material processes shot through with the energetic capacity to affect other bodies as well as to auto-affect their own differential constituencies by design. As discussed regarding technoscience, post-humanist practice takes up both the artifactual fiction and methodological simulacra together, such that categories such as body, human, organism, organicism, and clone have become detectable across multiple frames or scales of the complexities of time and space, are emergent and auto-evolving, and have become epistemologically unstable because of their modulated replications. Posthumanism is a set of practices grounded in immanent material auto-affectivity and complex evolution, not formal, uni-causal or techniques of reproductive stability. Post-humanist critique and practices questioned and experimented with the constitution and dynamics of organic and physical boundaries and fluidity of structure. Post-humanism, in its broadest, suggests an ethological and physical openness of form and material agglomeration, implicitly rejecting both the moral and physical confines of humanism without engaging in the libertarian, escapist and elitist, transcendental flight from an already physically and socially reified and hierarchalized construction of the "human." It also marks the technoscientific capacity to produce profitable morbidity.

[6] As technoscience fictions, then, Almanac, "Necropolitics" and Methodology come together as points of intensity and resonance without necessarily echoing one another in terms of chrono-historical content. Together, they articulate a composite and contradictory ground between indigenous, intra-, and post-colonial politics and the collective and social politics of race, gender, bodies, life and land under continuous but dis-contiguous conditions of political, economic, environmental, and institutional genocide. In the case of Silko's text, this genocidal governmentality is a function of the direct and indirect, past and present extermination policies of the U.S. government, military industrial complex, law enforcement (including unique agencies such as the B.I.A. and U.S. Customs' Border Patrols), of state and local governments, of the corporate and commercial interests representing nuclear waste and testing and various forms of slavery/labor exploitation, of the emergent United Nations and NGO internationalist discourse of "Human Security" over and against the already failing Human Rights discourses and practices, and of the social and economic liberalization of the white, middle-class that simultaneously expropriates cultural value from native and (im)migrant cultures and alleviates itself of the political, economic, health, and environmental debt owed the living native and (im)migrant peoples for past and present economic and cultural resources.

[7] If disciplinary bio-politics are constituted in the governmentality, management and instrumentality of human life, such as the doctrines of Human Rights, then the bio-politics of control and abandonment are constituted as "necropolitics," the profitable designation of bodies, races, gender, nations, and sub-populations selected for access, left to death, and/or made to die. The mutual positioning taken up in Silko's "novel" [10] and in Mbembé's "political science" and Sandoval's "Chicana, feminist theory" [11] are the deadly and catastrophic stakes of bodies, complexity, control, bio-power, and bio-political technologies not simply designed to subdue the mass proletariat and exploit labor power, but to expropriate the value of living flesh itself.

[8] Articulating the necropolitical and indigenous politics of land, Silko writes, "North was the direction of Death" (Almanac 590). Within the continental "Americas" and by virtue of catastrophically under-acknowledged and profitable exclusion and genocide across these lands, indigenous and non-white im(migrant) bodies occupy what I term "zones of morbidity." For Silko, born in the Laguna Pueblo, this genocide continues through geo-economic ecocide in the form of the largest un-reclaimed uranium mine in the United States, the Jackpile-Paguate mine, sitting in the middle of the village. Given the vast complex of irradiation sicknesses, cancer clusters, and death through uranium mining, nuclear weapons testing and radioactive waste disposal facilities found across and adjacent to the traditional territories and current reservation lands of most Western states tribes, a case for contemporary environmental racism as genocide could be made on behalf of indigenous peoples without any historical considerations. The continuation of extermination practices and policies of the federal and state governmental bodies, nuclear and genetic laboratories, military and police agencies, working directly with corporate energy interests under the political and economic support and racist social oppression by the U.S. middle class and international corporate elite makes for a tale of necropolitical technologies. This is precisely what is found in Silko's rendering of contemporary storytelling and prophecy through the Almanac. The prophecies of death or necropolitical design and political affect travel within and among the dead, the dying, the living and the morbid. And as her Almanac demonstrates a prophetic and differential future must be mapped in consultation with the remains of history, tradition, and culture because under these necropolitics of control, direct opposition to power is not only futile; it is deadly.

[9] Sandoval's feminist revision of Marxist politics in Methodology maps a body politic that does not necessarily connect to territory but rather to collective social justice in affinity with transnational struggles for what might be termed the dynamic techniques for survival: "Differential consciousness[…]its powers can be thought of as mobile — not nomadic, but rather cinematographic: a kinetic motion that maneuvers, poetically transfigures, and orchestrates while demanding alienation, perversion, and reformation in both spectators and practitioners" (Methodology 44). Indeed, the human corollary to what I am terming "zones of morbidity" in Silko, Sandoval embodies as "non-European peoples of color[…]represent[ing] a new transcultural and revolutionary social class" and Hardt and Negri in Empire (157) name "the poor" both of whom are a departure both from the Marxist politics of collective labor and those of the post-industrial Euro-American working class. Silko's emphasis on the politics of prophecy in the midst of catastrophic remains is also echoed by Hardt and Negri's description of the poor who are "distinguished no longer only by [their] prophetic capacity but also by [their] indispensable presence in the production of a common wealth" (ibid). In distinction to Sandoval, who calculates Euro-Americans have benefited by and through racism and colonial legacies into the displacement of the political power of collective Euro-American industrial labor, Hardt and Negri argue that this political displacement happened by virtue of the total exploitation and thermodynamic exhaustion of labor-power, in which hegemonic power has "eaten up and digested the multitude of [industrialized] proletarians" (158). As a result of this heat-death of the effective political power of the industrialized workers of the North/West, they go on to argue "by that fact itself the poor have become productive. Even the prostituted body, the destitute person, the hunger of the multitude — all forms of the poor have become productive" (158).

[10] Though there is no argument that the industrialized worker persists and not predominantly in Europe or the U.S., the question of racialized, gendered, colonial, and imperial histories modulated as globalizing and liberalizing forces continue to organize this labor bio-politically and to undermine its political effectiveness, producing "the poor," the "multitude" or what Sandoval terms the collective "oppressed." This compounds Silko's politics of land and indigenism. This productive abjection of populations as bodies and as bodies occupying and dispossessed of land is constituent to the work being done to define and to pragmatize what is still unclear and emergent in the necropolitical discourses of Human Security, particularly over and against the disciplinary bio-politics of Human and Civil Rights.

Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Human Security: citizen to civilian

'Well, I guess this is war,' she said. 'I've been hearing rumors all about it. U.S. army tanks lined up in rows all along the border.'
—Almanac 591-2
My interest…lies in the mobile interchange between the sovereign, Marxist, and postmodern conceptions of power, in the contrasts created by the inter-transferences between them, in coordinating the syntactical flat style and the paradigmatic depth style into original vectors, through emphasizing semiotic positioning and movement. Such activity, perception, and behavior requires the development of a form of consciousness that is capable of tactically projecting any vertical, pyramidal, or "deep" code onto a flat, horizontal, and superficial code in the way that Jakobson projected the paradigm onto the syntagm. This understanding of power is not syntactical in nature, that is, arranged in order of meanings that make "sense," insofar as power is viewed as continually regenerating, and intervened in differentially, according to the contingencies necessitated by social crisis. Power, thus, is viewed as performative.
—Methodology 77
…in death the future is collapsed into the present.
—"Necropolitics" 37

[11] Civil Rights, Human Rights, and now Human Security doctrines function as technologies, emerging with and designed to correct the excesses of technoscientific imperialisms, nationalisms, corporatisms, and patriarchal militarisms, which unabashedly engage the bio-political capacities to remake the world of life and the living, the morbid and the dead. And as bio-technological thresholds, Civil and Human Rights and especially Human Security possess capacities exceeding the Foucauldian institutional paradigms of bio-politics in which civil, labor, and consumption management and instrumentality were organized to meet the contradictions within nation-states and their respective national economies but also within alliance, conflict and competition with other "allied" nation-states. Civil and Human Rights discourses can function and are appropriately summoned as disciplinary tools, productive of the individual and the nationalized citizen of a body politic, the "democratic" collectives of distinct and competing nation-states. Foucault marks this within the Euro-American imaginary:

Nazism was doubtless the most cunning and the most naïve (the former because of the latter) combination of the fantasies of blood and the paroxysms of a disciplinary power. A eugenic ordering of society, with all that implied in the way of extension and intensification of micro-powers, in the guise of an unrestricted state control (étatisation), was accompanied by the oneiric exaltation of a superior blood; the latter implied both the systematic genocide of others and the risk of exposing oneself to a total sacrifice. (The History of Sexuality: An Introduction 149-50)

After World War II, streamlined into the 3-World system of the Cold War and productive of the 4th-World of abject poverty, a term also used by many Native Americans, including Silko, to indicate the most violent and destructive temporal domain of Euro-U.S. internal colonialism, the "democratic" states could deploy accusations and compensations for both Civil and Human Rights violations to rationalize their own differential political expansion of influence and intervention domestically, as well as in international alignment and conflict, without risking the hegemonic national body or demobilizing the nationalized citizen. In addition, the invocation of the Euro-American nationalist and racialized abject, the Nazi and the Jew, allows for a complete and total amnesia and lack of disciplinary redress regarding racialized colonial genocide. By locating the eternal source of horror and the unnamable and its corrective on white European (and by an even greater purity of political extension, U.S.) soil and within the body politic of Europeans (-Americans), accountability for past, present, and future actions committed outside of Euro-American nationalities and states becomes subsidiary at best, irrelevant as political practice (wars of "intelligence," wars on drugs, wars on terror, wars without end), and perhaps, the onset of Euro-American shared hegemony predicating an implosion of even the most superficial democratic hegemony found in the underlying and superficial political rationalizations for the pre-emptive strike, unilateralism, the Patriot Acts, the designation of extra-juridical "enemy combatants", nonexistent, racialized and/or religious grounds for detainment by the INS or at Guantanamo Bay, and most recently, the evidently programmatic and procedural abuse and death of prisoners detained without due process or free, independent inspection by the Red Cross or other monitoring NGO's at Abhu Ghraib prison. Given the basic undermining of the principals of the social contract, the Oslo Accords and the Geneva Convention, where might Civil or Human Rights find ground much the less accountability and enforcement under these shifting forces and practices?

[12] Juañeno/Yaqui activist and scholar, M. A. Jaimes-Guerrero, argues precisely this point regarding the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act, which allowed "land and resource negotiations [to] be conducted between 'American citizens' rather than between representatives of separate nations" (421) under the prior juridical status of national, native "quasi-sovereignty" issued by Chief Justice Marshall in 1831-2. Guerrero goes on to argue that indigenous sovereignty is challenged de facto in the power authorizing the act of "granting" U.S. Civil Rights, especially since most tribes and native nations are not in accord with the social contract that constitutes U.S. state power. In addition, she argues that this internecine juridical space has almost always been leveraged to the disadvantage of native peoples, but particularly to a greater degree to native women and their children, if not in direct violation of the international configurations of Human Rights legislation. By occupying the collective and ideological power centers of both Civil and Human Rights doctrines by virtue of representative "democracy" and the ongoing production of the "liberated" and "free-world", the U.S. is de facto "in compliance" with Civil and Human Rights [12]. As demonstrated by the U.N. Human Rights Commission's demand and the U.S. refusal of permission to inspect the "combatants" from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, who continue to be held without due process or international legal status as prisoners of war, the U.S. was not and cannot be held accountable for its own human rights violations. As a result, the U.S. was voted out of the Human Right's Commission with absolutely no effect. It is out of this vacuum that the doctrine of Human Security comes forth.

[13] In addition to the re-assertion of militarized U.S. imperialism, emergent configurations of political power and organization exceed, transverse and incorporate state functions and include: state, non-state, quasi-state and supra-state actors, including so called terrorists, stateless populations, the U.N. and privatizing quasi-international and quasi-statist economic networks, such as the WTO and IMF, but also including transnational financial and corporate governmental and instrumental entities (corporate NGO's). In conjunction, trans- and multinational corporate entities, economic flows and cartels have produced tensions and complex interactions, meshworks and contradictions within and between these state, non-state, quasi-state and supra-state actors. Concomitantly, in the production of human artifacts, the proletarians are being replaced by the global "poor," and the "citizen" is being replaced with the "civilian" by means of the nationalized legitimate combatant or the racialized, "3rd World" illegitimate combatant or "TWA": "Third World Terrorist." The Euro-American, post-industrial "free-world," but particularly the U.S. citizen, endowed by and with nation, rights, democratic representation and participation, has become a modular and modulated body, as signaled by Sandoval and forecast in Silko's Almanac as democratic body politics tend toward the reproduction of security and crisis within Giorgio Agamben's configuration and redeployment of the hegemonic state as the state of exception or siege.

Bodies and the body politic: securing the human and producing the sacrificial

…We see the practitioners of the methodology of the oppressed recognizing their places and bodies as narrativized by and through the social body, and who are thus self-consciously committed to unprecedented forms of language, to remaking their own kinds of social position utilizing all media at their disposal — whether it is narrative as weapon, riot as speech, looting as revolution…no legal boundaries are upheld as sanctified limits of the law, and their aim is chiseling out a new social body — one capable of acting justly...
—Methodology 76-77
Trigg congratulated himself on his wisdom and foresight in getting into the biomaterials industry. "Biomaterials"…were going to be the bonanza of the twenty-first century.
—Almanac 398
The traces of this demiurgic surgery persist for a long time, in the form of human shapes that are alive, to be sure, but whose bodily integrity has been replaced by pieces, fragments, folds, even immense wounds that are difficult to close. […] the morbid spectacle of severing.
—"Necropolitics" 35

[14] Under a Human Rights or Civil Rights framework, the matter of the body is wrapped over by the normative politicized qualities — natural rights, power, knowledge, nation, culture, gender, sexuality — of a people or persons as the incorporated body of the nation. Under a Human Security framework, discipline is modulated to control, exclusion to access and abandonment, and bio-politics has found its way to what Achilles Mbembé has theorized as the post-colonial necropolitical and Walter Benjamin and Agamben have called "bare life" and "sacred life." The matters of the body organized bio-politically in populations are now by various degrees exposed necropolitically to death. Now, a protective wrapper of Western "civilization" with its cozy social contract and natural rights no longer covers the privileged body. But rather the body under control that summons as its supplement the doctrine of Human Security is de-individuated, dislocated, denatured, de-cultured, and at the same time morphologically accounted for in a tendency toward statistical bodies, "secured" in populations, and above all, exposed as mere organic and inorganic matter. Human Security, as a corollary to economic liberalization, shifts from the politics of humanism to a politic of organisms and biochemistry. Human Security takes issue with systems out of which bodies as populations are exposed to death and morbidity through limit functions. But keeping outside a critique of capitalism (protected as culture-specific), Human Security at one and the same time keeps alive the status of the nationalized individual but for whom rights are now an inaccessible privilege (denial of civil and human rights now makes one human) and for whom water and occupying military and para-military forces must do for now (making one alive, "free", "liberated" or "secure").

[15] The heterogeneous political energies and qualities once necessary to the production of the coherent, national body politic rendered the state function of over-developed, post-industrial, capitalist democracies subject to the forces of civil populations and their adherent politicized, protracted and protected differences. By the exposures of populations of bodies or what becomes configured as bodily matters of the citizenry and thereby the body politic to various morbidities-material risk, dangers or death, the body politic has been made dis-eased and in the name of security and citizenship has been stripped all but in name in this state of alert. The very protections guaranteed by the democratic, national body politic are necessarily revoked in order to achieve subsequent "protection" by the politically qualified state of siege or exception in crisis [13].

[16] What is of specific importance in terms of technoscientific practices and Human Security is the production of human populations as the "socially dead, a destiny of death that is collective," or as "dying matter" (Biehl 135) and "afflicted populations" (Biehl 137) placed "'where the market needs you'" (Beck and Ziegler cited in Biehl 136), in which the new "U.N. Disaster Risk Index" and "mortality forecasting" are set up as a competitive indices for "health equity" (King and Murray 599). The baseline for Human Security is population survival or rather a human "endangered" (Guerrero) populations list [14]. The baseline for population survival is complete with statistical algorithms for the insecure or unsecured human necessities and functions that are in need of production and mired by "the two dominant strands of foreign policy — economic development and military security," which are "intertwined" (King and Murray 585). According to the UNDP, cited by King and Murray, the global cost for military security is pricey, "the combined income from 49 percent of the world's people" (ibid). Human Security, then, can be accessed and deployed only as privatized subscription and operates by the presumption of a politics of nationally and militarily secured bodies or civilians versus citizens, made and unmade, made to live and made or left to die. And also in line with current U.S. military and foreign policy, one of the "four essential characteristics" of Human Security is "prevention" (589). Where Human Rights opens the door to the supplement of power and to post-colonial intervention, Human Security legitimates the imperial and the preemptive strike.

[17] And summoned with these necropolitics, or politics of death, dying, danger, the dead, preemptive force, and asymmetrical warfare, are the populations of "bare life," offered "liberation" while occupying "zones of sacrifice," or if you are Native in America, "nuclear zones of sacrifice" [15], subject to the "statistical genocide" (Guerrero) of the "mortality forecasting" of "life in zones of social abandonment" (Biehl) and zones of morbidity. If a particular statistical, civilian population is fortunate, then access to a "biosphere" [16], a security enclave, a surveilled and gated community, "health equity" and "freedom" await, no less under the state of siege, but "protected" by the state of exception under the pragmatics of selective national, military, and "Human Security." Given the need for "security" within the state of siege in which it is said the U.S. persists, the political guarantees of democratic citizenship, however superficial and violated are no longer extended to the white, male, middle-class information worker, and liberalizing politics, though at work on a global scale, have imploded within democratic structures. Where, then, are the geo-politics of indigenism and the transcultural politics of subjected bodies to be located?

Techno-nativist fictions: political prophecy and the politics of love

Prophecy. When Europeans arrived, the Maya, Azteca, Inca cultures had already built great cities and vast networks of roads. Ancient prophecies foretold the arrival of Europeans in the Americas. The ancient prophecies also foretell the disappearance of all things European.
—Almanac 14, my italics
…Euro-U.S. societies became subject to an onslaught of additional transformative forces, including an increase in human populations, the generation of totalitarian political regimes (unique to the twentieth century), growing urbanization, space exploration, nuclear power and weapons, the development of new media for the indoctrination and education of the masses, and the globalization of capitalist economies and cultures. What many called the "cultural crisis" of the West — the "breakdown" of traditional institutions, values, beliefs, attitudes, morals, and so on — was symptomatic of the overwhelming recognition by many peoples that they were no longer capable of making sense of or giving meaning to the practices that life in "advanced" industrialized societies required its members to observe. The season of de-coloniality ended with the growing recognition that the West had entered a necessarily "posttraditional" era.
—Methodology 8-9
Having become mechanized, serialized execution was transformed into a purely technical, impersonal, silent, and rapid procedure. This development was aided in part by racist stereotypes and the flourishing of a class-based racism that, in translating the social conflicts of the industrial world in racial terms, ended up comparing the working classes and "stateless people" of the industrial world to the "savages" of the colonial world.
—"Necropolitics" 18

[18] In addition to the political techniques underwriting productive morbidity, concerns with post-social, post-identity and post-personal politics complicate techno-nativist fictions. Techno-nativist fictions move across a plane of contradictions: biopolitics and necropolitics, indigenous and nomadic locations and identities; intra-, neo- and post- colonialisms; so-called traditional and modern as well as post-traditional and postmodern epistemologies, spaces, temporalities and matters; and bodily compositions and designations, including individuality/collectivity, sexes and performative bodily practices. Almanac, "Necropolitics" and Methodology trace involutions of oppressive "tech-neo-imperialist" materialisms, histories and politics, along with the co-opted powers of indigenous "resistance" movements folded back into a fetishized, racialized "blood-quantum" as "statistical extermination" (Guerrero 423) [17].

[19] The most visible co-option of native peoples' cosmological, political, and social practices are the gross production of "New Age spirituality," "spirit guides," Navajo "dream-catchers," animal fetishes and "native medicine," primarily consumed by white, middle-class, suburban, U.S. culture. Silko theorizes this phenomenon in her characterization of Awa Gee, a Korean immigrant and a character in affinity with and critical of white, suburban eco-warriors, which Gee describes as deeply "into native traditions":

Eco-Grizzly and the others practiced what they called "deep ecology," and from what Awa Gee could tell, "Back to the Pleistocene" was their motto. Eco-Grizzly and the others genuinely wanted to return to cave living with the bears as their European forefathers had once lived. To Awa Gee, such a longing for the distant past was a symptom of what had become of the Europeans who had left their home continent to settle in strange lands. (Almanac 689, my italics)

Silko is empathetic to the issues of environmental devastation but critical of the eco-warrior or green guerilla's restless, recuperation of "spirituality" through privilege and identification "with the earth." But she is explicitly critical regarding the restless, spiritless, and manifest-destined who show up in Winnebagos [18] to experience the "grandeur of America" by way of intra-colonial tourism at Mt. Rushmore, Euro-U.S. hegemony carved into the sacred rocks of the Lakota Sioux, and of their pit-stops at Pine Ridge, a town on the reservation of the Ogalala Sioux located in the center of the violently contested "badlands" of the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation and the "badlands" uranium mine belt. The "historical" Indian Wars and uranium mining is as much of a draw for its testament to American industry and power as the stone heads of state dominating the reservation. Valerie Kuletz also points out the intra-colonial tourism at Four Corners, on Navajo land and the site of the first discovery of uranium by a Navajo shepherd in 1941 in the heavily R.V.-trafficked Monument Valley. In fact, the sovereign territory of the Navajo is also the location of "two-thirds of U.S. uranium deposits, most within the reservation boundaries" (20).

[20] As is clear from the passage above and to follow, Silko equates not only new-age "spirituality" and practices but also racism, domination, and conquest with biopiracy and vampirism deployed in the service of the invaders' extreme fear and affective terror at their fraught 'discovery' of these 'new' lands, their mineral contents and their organic inhabitants. Of this 'fill-in-the-void' consumption of native 'spirit' coincident with dispossession of native peoples and lands, Silko writes:

Who had spiritual possession of the Americas? Not the Christians…all over Europe, ordinary people had understood in their hearts the "Mother Church" was a cannibal monster…. Almost immediately, the wounded Europeans had begun to dress their wounds in the fat of slain Indians…. They all had come to her with a deep sense that something had been lost. They all had given the loss different names: the stock market crash, lost lottery tickets, worthless junk bonds or lost loved ones; but Lecha knew the loss was their connection with the earth. They all feared illness and physical change; since life led to death, consciousness terrified them, and they had sought to control death by becoming killers themselves. (Almanac 717-8, my italics and bold)

How these bodies come to be marked for social exclusion unto death, with the latest eugenic project entailed by the federally-backed research for privatized human genome mining among indigenous peoples, and how these lands come to be designated "badlands" are functions of biopiracy, inasmuch as the fetishized theft of living, morbid and dead flesh for 'spiritual protection' and the privately owned genetic data banks. What has become clear is that "native communities become 'raw materials colonies' for the Human Genome Diversity Project and the uranium companies and their home nation-states" (Kuletz 36). Much has been written about the so-called "endangered" status of indigenous peoples, a narrative deployed by the Human Genome Diversity Project to justify bio-sampling as well as illicit and non-consensual bio-piracy of "indigenous DNA." In privatized, commercial genetics banks, this DNA functions as biological accumulation transposed into the immaterial labor of profitable, genomic intellectual property. The question begs, if people as well as plants and animals are so endangered, why the investment in immaterial preservation rather than material survival? Guerrero also makes this argument, calling it "New Order Eugenics" (427-8). But what must also be pointed out are the fundamental differences in cosmological systems and agencies of what counts as possession and loss, living and dead, and organic and non-organic.

[21] Silko's Almanac is also described as a dead-living thing, pages made from stomach lining, which are later eaten by the Almanac's bearers. But the cosmology of Silko's Almanac and the politics of place, bodies, and history are thoroughly and materially enmeshed — history and prophecy in the flesh. Eating the pages, prophecies and stories of the Almanac constitutes survival, nourishment and a continuation of the people and the land as well as a reanimation of the hi/stories carried by the Almanac. In an interview, Silko notes that, "All information, scientific, technological, historical, religious, is put into narrative form…. it is participatory…. It is a collective memory and depends on the whole community. There is no single entity that controls information" (Irmer 2). Not only are there no authoritarian generic or disciplinary renderings, but at the most oblique scale, the stories of the people and the land are indissoluble from their living and dead material bodies. In an interview, Silko comments, "human beings are natural forces of the earth, just as rivers and winds are natural forces" ("Cover Story" 5). The stories, the land and the people are emergent, open-systems, generative of one another, and therefore cannot be objectified, distinguished or extinguished except by greed and cannibalism, that which makes Christianity a "dead thing."

[22] The trans-substantiation or cannibalism of Christ's body, the torture and killing by the "civilized" invaders and their Church, and the slippage to fetishism all mark the disruption of a generative and regenerative materiality that sustains and evolves in the cosmology of the Almanac. The "loss" here, which Lecha identifies with "earth," is a loss of the material continuity and balance out of which animate creatures cannot survive except through vampirism, domination, over-consumption, and the total capture and stratification of materialities, including "becoming killers" to horde the substances of the living and to ward off death. The selection and determination of the dead by the self-appointed living engages Mbembé's "necropolitics" and Agamben's politics of "sacred life" at the expense of indigenous "bare life." But for Silko, the destructive forces of Euro-American killers are subject to a dual prophesy, one of arrival and one of disappearance.


…There are no ultimate answers, no terminal utopia… no predictable final outcomes.
—Methodology 197
Error in translation of the Chumayel manuscript: 11AHU was the year of the return of fair Quetzalcoatl. But the mention of the artificial white circle in the sky could only have meant the return of Death Dog and his eight brothers: plague, earthquake, drought, famine, incest, insanity, war and betrayal.
—Almanac 572, my italics and bold
As an instrument of labor, the slave has a price. As a property, he or she has a value. His or her labor is needed and used. The slave is therefore kept alive but in a state of injury, in a phantom-like world of horrors and intense cruelty[…]a form of death-in-life.
—"Necropolitics" 21
"Four piles of skulls: Spaniards, mestizos, Indian slaves, Africans."
—Almanac 575

[23] The techno-nativisms of Mbembé, Sandoval and Silko forego narratives of unitary origins as well as efforts to "oppose" diametrically or to regulate U.S. and global "tech-neo-imperialism," both of which feed back into the vampiric tech-neo-imperial systems. Tech-neo-imperialism, like indigenism, is a complicated notion that requires some attention. Tech-neo-imperialism is a term that I am using to suggest a number of complex, contemporary and persisting power and force relations. Well-documented accounts of early U.S. imperialism as "manifest destiny" and the subsequent displacement of native peoples exist, particular to the nations and tribes of the northeast, south and Midwest of the United States. What must be understood about the native southwest peoples is that these tribes and nations, including the Laguna Pueblo, were not pushed or removed to these lands but are in fact indigenous to these huge swaths of high and low desert systems, strategically dismissed by the invaders as 'badlands,' 'wastelands' and at best, lifeless deserts. In fact, the southwest, including northern Mexico is home to the largest population of indigenous peoples on the North 'American' continent.

[24] These lands were not particularly attractive to those with manifest destinies in the western migrations of the 19th century, but the water and mineral resources were. Early in the 20th century, migration from both the west in California and the east converged around the Colorado River. Among others, the Chemehuevi, Navajo, Hopi and the Pueblo were forcibly used for slave and wage labor and contained in reservations, particularly when the Hoover Dam Project and other water reclamation projects began. The U.S. Army was summoned to generate both 'order' and a 'reserve' system on the very lands that were indigenous to those held in physical and labor reserve. As a function of their dispossession, these lands were eventually bounded by what became the territorial U.S. and functioned as 'protectorates' or formal internalized colonies. In 1982, under the Nuclear Waste Reduction Act, they were granted a new "quasi-sovereignty" by which they were not subject to state or local law but were, rather trickily, subject to integration within federal law. This capture of territory across the southwest and northern Mexico as well as the expansionist reterritorialization and re-designation of sovereignty was in the service of the emergent U.S. North American territorial empire. The renegotiation to "quasi-sovereignty" under tech-neo-imperialism was to facilitate nuclear waste disposal agreements with federal and commercial interests, bypassing both federal and state-level nuclear and environmental protection legislation, in service of the emergent U.S. global empire [19]. If the heart of global U.S. militarist imperialism and its dependencies on nuclear weapons and energy production is located at the sites of ongoing internal colonization and indigenous genocide, then this seems a space ready and replete for progressive political action, and Silko's Almanac is a techno-nativist cultural guide and one strain in the tech-neo insurgency.

[25] What constitutes a tech-neo-imperialism of these lands and peoples occurs after the onset of World War II and the uranium findings in Monument Valley. The second discovery of uranium was on Pueblo land in the area of the sacred snake at Mt. Taylor, west of Albuquerque. Intensive research into nuclear power and atomic weapons followed and is another well-documented history, with the profound omissions of the colonized and imperialized land, toxic labor, and debilitated lives co-habiting this now nuclear and irradiated territory with Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, among others. At its Cold War peak, 90% of southwest and South Dakotan indigenous lands were voluntarily (if voluntarism can be located on the axes of abject poverty of the poorest, most dispossessed and disenfranchised people in the U.S.) and non-voluntarily leased by the federal government and assigned to federal laboratories and transnational energy corporations for the purposes of uranium mining, above and below ground nuclear production and testing. The famous, first nuclear test site 'Trinity' occurred on Mescalero Apache land, south of the Pueblos and Albuquerque. Silko's Almanac marks this moment and traces uranium mining:

He had not understood before why the old people had cried when the U.S. government had opened the [open-pit uranium] mine. Sterling was reminded of the stub left after amputation when he looked at the shattered, scarred sandstone that remained; the mine had devoured entire mesas. "Leave our Mother Earth alone," the old folks had tried to warn, "otherwise terrible things will happen to us all." Before the end of the war, the old folks had seen the first atomic explosion — the flash brighter than any sun — followed weeks later by the bombs that had burned up half a million Japanese. "What goes around, comes around." (Almanac 759, my bold and italics)

It is the entire technoscientific, commercial and militarized, federally-funded complex of nuclear weapons of mass destruction, nuclear testing and nuclear waste disposal (or lack thereof) that constitutes tech-neo-imperialism of these lands, which are no longer, micro-physically, the same lands, air and water. In fact, Silko's reference here takes place across the entire Laguna Pueblo village of Paguate, 45 miles west of Albuquerque. This Pueblo village sits at the center of the first open-pit uranium mine, the Jackpile-Paguate in the Grants Uranium Belt, dug by "Anaconda Copper Company, a subsidiary of the Atlantic Richfield Company" (Kuletz 24). And though ownership has been acquired by the tribal council subject to B.I.A. oversight, Jackpile-Paguate and approximately 2000 other open-pit uranium mines are still un-reclaimed, meaning they sit open and radioactive for the sake of future mining and national energy and security demands [20].

[26] But tech-neo-imperialism does not begin and end with nuclear landscaping. It at once includes a range of technologies and know-how that include a range of necropolitics, dispossessions and forms of primitive accumulation: nuclearism, smart weapons, viral and bacterial engineering and testing, eugenic piracy, bio-materials marketing and organ theft, immaterial labor practices, the 'desert-as-toxic-dump' and intra-national and transnational market leveraging of the poorest people in this country. The revolutionary Angelita La Escapia, a Mexican revolutionary leader in Silko's Almanac provides critical analysis of the political economy of the genocide of the Americas:

[Marx and Engels] had been on the right track with their readings on Native American communal economies and cultures. For Europeans, they had been far ahead of their time; they had been close but they still hadn't got it quite right. They had not understood that the earth was mother to all beings, and they had not understood anything about the spirit beings. But at least Engels and Marx had understood the earth belongs to no one. No human, individuals or corporations, no cartel of nations, could "own" the earth; it was the earth who possessed the humans and it was the earth who disposed of them.

Now it was up to the poorest tribal people and survivors of European genocide to show the remaining humans how all could share and live together on earth. (Almanac 749, my italics)

The question of mobilization and resistance, raised by Sandoval's earlier analysis, now must be answered within zones of morbidity where dying and toxicity are profitable and productive of U.S. imperial "national security." How is it possible to leverage political action over the survival of "the poorest tribal people and survivors of [U.S.-] European genocide?" These politically "authentic" bodies are summoned over and against the call from above for a politics of "grass-roots" resistance "on the ground." Whose ethical position warrants taking on the debt and risk of necropolitical abandonment or targeting? To this, Mbembé's Foucauldian response is clear, "In the economy of biopower, the function of racism is to regulate the distribution of death and to make possible the murderous functions of the state" ("Necropolitics" 17). These racialized bodies, the poor, "the grassroots" are simultaneously constructed as a new political class by virtue of their proximity to death and morbidity AND at the same time as cultivated bio-material fodder. This is not irony; this is necropolitics. Resistance is deadly and profitable.

[27] Complicating the horribly complex ethics of political action is the melting terrain of civil society in the U.S. Civil society and progressive politics, particularly when intensely located in post-industrial labor activisms, are slipping or "withering" (Hardt) with moments of stabilization. And the shock to privileged liberals and progressives alike is that as the citizenry becomes the civilianry, we are undergoing a radical and reterritorializing "democratization of oppressions." Silko underscores differences between the racist U.S. state and the racialized American nation:

The U.S. Treasury might be nearly empty, and the United States might be caught in civil unrest and strikes — but the white men would spend their last dime to stop the people from the South. The U.S. government might have no money for the starving, but there was always government money for weapons and death…. The people themselves might be finished with wars, but their generals and business tycoons were not. (Almanac 711)

Perhaps, we might concede that U.S. tech-neo-imperialism includes and exceeds Marxist-Leninist and centrist territorial and colonial imperialisms as well as those of leveraged finance capital, hedge funds, and currency trading. Perhaps, this imperialism has added to its arsenal the movement and the logistics of the U.S. as high-speed, deterritorializing, cultural-material, bio-political, technological imperialism as articulated by Foucault, Deleuze, and Hardt and Negri. Bio-politics are both at work and involuted, operating through and against what Mbembé describes in Palestine, Israel, and Central Africa as "necropolitics," what Joao Biehl details in brazil as "vita or life in zones of social abandonment," the "mattering" of bodily tissues that Pheng Cheah articulates in Southeast Asia, and Benjamin and Agamben's "sacred life" over and against "bare life" in Europe and the North.

Methodology of the oppressed and "love"

Clinton had talked with brown people, mostly women, because so many men were sick or dead. Talk about casualties…Two hundred or three hundred dead from police bullets or firebombs…They weren't afraid to die. Clinton had heard it said again and again, mainly by the women. Black women, Hispanic women, white women, homeless with starving children; they all said they'd rather fight.
—Almanac 748
It was this last, differential mode that enabled a specific cohort of U.S. feminists of color to understand and utilize the previous four [modes], not as overriding strategies, but as tactics for intervening in and transforming social relations…as forms of "tactical essentialism." The differential praxis understands, wields, and deploys each mode of resistant ideology as if it represents only another potential technology of power. The cruising mobilities required in this effort demand of the differential practitioner commitment to the process of metamorphosis itself: this is the activity of the trickster who practices subjectivity as masquerade, the oppositional agent who accesses differing identity, ideological, aesthetic, and political positions. This nomadic "morphing" is not performed only for survival's sake…. It is a set of principled conversions that requires (guided) movement, a directed but also a diasporic migration in both consciousness and politics, performed to ensure that ethical commitment to egalitarian social relations be enacted in the everyday, political sphere of culture.
—Methodology 62
Whether read from the perspective of slavery or of colonial occupation, death and freedom are irrevocably interwoven.
—"Necropolitics" 38

[28] In Methodology of the Oppressed, Sandoval argues for feminist nativist and U.S. third world feminist discourse to modulate away from the feedback loop of the racial and cultural purities of identity politics and eugenic supremacies. She also argues a shift away from the scripted histories of victimization or 'uplift' in indigenous and postcolonial histories respectively. Instead, she suggests a virtual imagining of micro-histories and action in micro-prophecies (Silko's term for future-oriented histories into action) across multiple spaces and temporalities that can intensify investment in strategic affects that will charge the emergence of the oppressed or techno-nativist imagined culture. Designs for affective swerve and control move the prophetic imaginary of an emergent techno-nativist culture toward a preferred non-authoritarian, self-organizational and auto-affective condition. [30] Sandoval calls these practices "technologies" and the eponymous "methodology of the oppressed." These technologies consist of "semiotics," "deconstruction," "meta-ideologizing," "democratics," and "differential movements" (3). These practices are understood by Sandoval "as a symptom of transnational capitalism in its neo-colonizing postmodern…as well as a remedy for neo-colonizing postmodernism both in spite and because of its similarities in structure to power's postmodern configurations" (179-80). Sandoval makes this point clear in her critique of Fredric Jameson's lament of the postmodern:

…"Fragmentation" is neither an experience nor a theoretical construct peculiar to the poststructuralist or postmodern moments. Indeed fragmentation or split subjectivity of subjection is the very condition against which a modernist, well-placed citizen-subject could coalesce its own sense of wholeness. Such wholeness of being became the modernist "solid identity" that now has the opportunity to move toward a "critically distant" relation to the dominant. This means that the moves of the modernist citizen subject away from the dominant and toward "critical distance" and the forms of oppositional consciousness that [Fredric] Jameson mourns as lost were paradoxically made possible only through the concomitant presence of shattered minds and bodies, often beyond survival. (Methodology 33)

From the material realities of "shattered minds and bodies" a strategic movement from within to divert or to exceed power allows the oppressed crucial access to tactical disloyalties, strains, and evolving and shattered forces in the dominant orders. Sandoval signals a warning of sedimentation or of micro-fascisms or hierarchies from within progressive movements in differential, postmodern conditions, "the differential resides in the place where meaning escapes any final anchor point, slipping away to surprise or snuggle inside power's mobile contours — it is part and parcel of the indefinable meaning that constantly escapes every analysis" (181). Following, investing and exploiting the superficial modulations of power, Sandoval's technologies require progressive politics to function without end or endpoints, and to trace the modulations of power until an affective and forceful intervention can swerve the social body through and toward what Sandoval terms "democratics." This should not be mistaken for liberal reformism or institutional assimilation but rather with viral tactics of rapid mutation or the swarm as well as infiltration, intensification and recoding strategies of the always-already or about-to-be dispossessed.

The Almanac

The differential represents the variant; its presence emerges out of correlations, intensities, junctures, crises…What U. S. third world feminism thus demanded was…a political revision that denied…one final answer, while instead positing a tactical subjectivity…. In 1981, Cherrie Moraga defined U.S. third world feminist "guerilla warfare: as a "way-of-life," a means and method for survival. "Our strategy is how we cope" on an every day basis…. the practitioner's ability to read the current situation of power and self-consciously choosing and adopting the stand best suited to push against its configurations, a survival skill well known to oppressed peoples…understood as tactics — not as strategies.
—Methodology 58-60
…the controlled inflow and the fixing of movements of money around zones in which specific resources are extracted have made possible the formation of enclave economies and have shifted the old calculus between people and things. The concentration of activities connected with the extraction of valuable resources around these enclaves has, in return, turned the enclaves into privileged spaces of war and death. War itself is fed by increased sales of the products extracted.
—"Necropolitics" 33
Frozen human organs, less reliable, sold for a fraction of freshly harvested hearts and kidneys. Of course, fetal-brain tissue and cadaver skin were not affected by freezing. Peaches said Trigg bought a great deal in Mexico where recent unrest and civil strife had killed hundreds a week. Mexican hearts were lean and strong, but Trigg had found no market for dark cadaver skin.
—Almanac 404.

[29] Like Sandoval, Leslie Marmon Silko in The Almanac of the Dead, writes to the virtual futures of the Laguna Pueblo. Silko will turbulently counterbalance the "apparatus [that] is love" (2) that Sandoval suggests brings flows of matter and bodies into progressive balance and "social transformation" (ibid). This biopolitical postmodern "love" elaborated across bio-regions is radically juxtaposed to the necropolitical zones of penthouse "biospheres," "zones of sacrifice," nuclear colonies, "dying-spheres," or zones of morbidity forecast in Silko's Almanac:

This was war. The new enemies, she said, were the space station and the biosphere tycoons who were rapidly depleting rare species of plants, birds, and animals so the richest people on earth could bail out of the pollution and revolutions and retreat to orbiting paradise islands of glass and steel. What few species and what little pure water and pure air still remained on earth would be harvested for these space colonies. Lazily orbiting the glass and steel cocoons of elaborate "biospheres," the rich need not fear the rabble while they enjoyed their "natural settings" complete with freshwater pools and jungles filled with rare parrots and orchids. The artificial biospheres were nothing more than orbiting penthouses for the rich. (Almanac 728)

Of course, the "biosphere" in Silko produces death and morbidity for profit, and she consciously positions the cosmologies of hegemonic Western life and death across the geographies of the old books, native histories and oral, written and pictographic tales, and indigenous peoples and lands from South America to Alaska. Death, human or environmental, is not an end or loss but a transfiguration (not necessarily a good thing for humans) in Silko's cosmology, but morbidity and death are also subject to ethical and relational forces operating between material compositions, human to human, rock to human or human to cosmos. Sandoval's political "love" correlates to the relationality and affective ethos of the cosmology of the Almanac.

[30] An almanac is a technology that forecasts material conditions of the land, in this case the land of the living and the dead. For Silko, the dead, the land, air and water are non-organic life forces in the present world pulling the living into any number of possible futures across a number of possible worlds, and the living dead or the "morbid" are forces in the present pushing all organic life into a grim, historical future, "Still there would be no rain, and high temperatures would trigger famines that sent refugees north faster and faster. The old almanac said "civil strife, civil crisis, civil war." Allies of the United States would decline to intervene or send military aid" (Almanac 756).

[31] The Almanac of the Dead is a book of futures and genealogies of death, the dead, and the dying. Leslie Marmon Silko's "fiction" is a telling of many "American" stories, histories and prophecies, interdependent and collective, but above all the text is an affective machine for emergent politics. Silko argues at length in her prose, stories and poems against the genre distinctions, or what Sandoval calls "theoretical apartheid," that I have just made in capturing her writing into generic categories here. History is not apart from storytelling, poetry from science, or methodology from technology. It is precisely the knowing in doing and doing in knowing or techné/scienza that makes some native peoples and cultures technoscientific long before a Western chronos-cosmology existed. Silko's technoscientific historicism suggests that creative experimentation with the emergent potentially offers viable futures or "techno-nativisms, "Awa Gee knows he is not the only one who hates the giant. He knows there are others like himself all over North America…. No leaders or chains of command would be necessary. War machines and other weapons would appear spontaneously in the streets" (Almanac 686).

[32] Silko's techno-nativisms are futurist surveys of genocidal histories, tracing the circulation in economies of death, dying and morbidity. With designs for affective investment in Zoë and the Bios of the techno-nativist culture, they also design incursions into the systems of tech-neo-imperialism and material capture. This produces a graphic plane of "techno-bodies," characters whose modalities are meshed with the technoscientific practices of a virtual traditionalism or nativism. Silko also expresses "tech-nobodies," bodies outside the flows of techno-nativism and captured by and subjected to tech-neo-imperialist practices. The distinction here is one of movement and access. All bodies are machinic techno-bodies, and organismic bodies are the most discreet — by this, I mean the highly specific constraints by which the materials of an organism must function. As incursions and designs are made across the material plane, techno-bodies will be catalytically enhanced or complicated, and tech-nobodies will be catalytically neglected, dissipated or destroyed. Silko voices this morbid condition:

I want to talk a little about terrorism first. Poisoning our water with radioactive wastes, poisoning our air with military weapons' wastes — those are acts of terrorism! Acts of terrorism committed by governments against their citizens all over the world. Capital punishment is terrorism practiced by the government against its citizens. United States of America, what has happened to you? What have you done with the Bill of Rights? All along we Native Americans tried to warn the rest of you; if the U.S. government kills us and robs us, what makes the rest of you think the U.S. government won't rob and kill you too? Look around you. Police roadblocks. Police searches without warrants. Politicians and their banker pals empty the U.S. Treasury while police lock up the homeless and the poor who beg for food…We are increasing quietly despite your bullets and germ warfare. You destroyers can't figure out why you haven't wiped us out in five hundred years of blasting, burning and slaughter. (Almanac 734)

Bodies are quite literally made to die, and in the exclusion from the spheres of techno-nativism or tech-neo-imperialism, the process of dying and the death of these bodies constitute value-added labor. Tech-neo-imperial investment in morbidity moves through organicism, modulated in complex ecologies of blood, culture, land, tribe, nation, sex, and nomadism and indigenism.

[33] Silko's exploration of morbidity across time is a fantasia of bodily and spatial capture. A fantasia is not a consistency of place across time, the Southwest across colonial moments, but rather a deterritorialization and reterritorialization of the bodies and matters of the land with the modulation of time and nomadic inhabitations, "The snakes say this: From out of the south the people are coming, like a great river flowing restless with the spirits of the dead who have been reborn again and again all over Africa and the Americas…. Nothing European in the Americas worked very well anyway except destruction" (Almanac 735). The matter and energies of culture and bodies as much as the tech-neo-imperialism and techno-militarism of the invaders catalyze massive bodily productions, living, morbid and dead. Techno-nativisms might produce an emergent and flexible topography for the production of survival, of political "love," and of habitable bioregions.


One day a story will arrive in your town. There will always be disagreement over direction — whether the story came from the southwest or southeast. The story may arrive with a stranger, a traveler thrown out of his home country months ago. Or the story may be brought by an old friend, perhaps the parrot trader. But after you hear the story, you and the others prepare by the new moon to rise up against the slave masters.
—Almanac 578
…in our contemporary world, weapons are deployed in the interest of maximum destruction of persons and the creation of death-worlds, new and unique forms of social existence in which vast populations are subjected to conditions of life conferring upon them the status of living dead.
—"Necropolitics" 40
Free political action from all unitary and totalizing paranoia.
—Methodology 166

Works Cited

Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.

Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. Trans. Hannah Arendt. New York, NY: Schocken Books, 1968.

Biehl, João. "Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment." Social Text 19.3 (2001) : 131-149.

Cheah, Pheng. "Mattering." Diacritics 26.1 (1996) : 108-138.

—. "Violent Light, The Idea of Publicness in Modern Philosophy and in Global Neocolonialism." Social Text 43 (1995).

Deleuze, Gilles. "Postscript on the Societies of Control." October 59 (1991): 3-7.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: an Introduction. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

Hardt, Michael. "The Withering of Civil Society." Social Text 14.4 (1995) : 27-44.

Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri. Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Irmer, Thomas. "An Interview with Leslie Marmon Silko." «». 3.08.03

Jaimes-Guerrero, M. A. "Savage Hegemony: from 'Endangered Species' to Feminist Indigenism." Ella Shohat, ed. Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age. New York: MIT Press, 1998.

King, Gary and Christopher J. L. Murray. "Rethinking Human Security." Political Science Quarterly. 116.4 (2001-2001) : 285-610.

Kuletz, Valerie. The Tainted Desert: Environmental Ruin in the American West. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Mbembé, Achilles. "Necropolitics." Public Culture 15.1 (2003).

Moraga, Cherrie L. and Gloria Anzaldua, eds. This bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. New York: Kitchen Table Press, 1983.

Sandoval, Chela. Methodology of the Oppressed. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, 2000.

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Almanac of the Dead: A Novel. New York: Penguin, 1991.

—. "Cover Story." «». 03.08.03.


[1] This essay owes a debt of shared research to Patricia Clough; however, any errors are exclusively my own. My thanks to Tony O'Brien for the textual introduction to Achilles Mbembé.

[2] Future references to Silko's Almanac of the Dead will be cited as Almanac.

[3] Future references to Sandoval's Methodology of the Oppressed will be cited as Methodology.

[4] This term is borrowed from a late lecture by Foucault in which the irrational rationalization of power and the individual must occur in parallel. As opposed to simpler forms of organizational power, such as disciplinary regimes, Foucauldian governmentality, DeLandian "complexity" and "non-linear history", and/or Deleuzian "politics of control" include and self-organize beyond the institutional scales of discursive regimes and bio-politics and that world producing "technoscience fictions" productive of complexity and catastrophe. Foucault's interests were institutional — large, slow moving, non-organic, non-human materialities organizing the human; "complexity" and "control" pursue other technologized scales of materiality. All matter subject to the politics of control, organic or not, can be folded back into the capture of thresholds that modulate and are modulated by the technologies of hegemonic and marginalized power and their corresponding circuits of bio-political design. Any direct opposition, counter-resistance, or binarizing production working against a system of hegemonic bio-power are potential reserves of energized feedback that can be consumed and reorganized to the benefit of the hegemonic power flow.

[5] Future references to Mbembé's "Necropolitics" will be cited as "Necropolitics."

[6] Versus "nationalism" — I use the term "nationhood" here to designate a people who share: a) history as an "imagined community" to cite Anderson; b) global, political, economic, social, gendered, and religious positioning as a 'population'; c) practices for living and survival; and d) a future already mapped by emergent organizational affinity and relationality.

[7] The OED defines technoscience as, "Technology and science viewed as mutually interacting disciplines, or as two components of a single discipline; reliance on science for solving technical problems; the application of technological knowledge to solve scientific problems." Not surprisingly, the first use of this term could be found in 1960 in the American Political Science Review describing emergent military policy. Paul Virilio's definition of technoscience is worth noting, "technoscience-the product of the fatal confusion between the operational instrument and exploratory research" (The Information Bomb 1). My larger project questions the possibility of separating know-how from knowing in the production of the "operation," "instrument," and "research" that make up Virilio's notion.

[8] These material processes and assemblages are called "fictions" not to suggest their positioning vis à vis "facts" but in order to emphasize the looped ongoing-ness or deferral of their "made" quality as artifactual bodies, as post-structuralism was at great pains to demonstrate, and suggestive of McCaffery's "Reality Studio" or Haraway's notion of a "material-semiotic actor." An elaborate body of monstrous postmodernist and spiraling poststructural criticism, as well as Barthesian, Derridean and DeManian deconstructive practices, are available to demonstrate the fictive yet material quality of symbolic systems, writing as such, and the meaning-making biotechnologies that accompany both.

[9] This now-famous phrase was taken from a section and chapter heading from Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua's, groundbreaking critique and repositioning of hegemonic second-wave U.S.-Euro Anglo-feminism, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1982).

[10] Storytelling within the Laguna Pueblo tradition, in part from which Silko writes, does not make genre distinctions between narratives of sociality, myth, science, history, etc. Thus, calling Silko's Almanac a novel and therefore a Euro-American category of fiction is to misrecognize from the onset the possibilities of the text. However it should be notes that in her title, Silko has quite consciously assigned the book a genre-the almanac.

[11] Like the problem of genre in Silko, the problem of theory within U.S. 3rd World Feminism has been less of a problem than among other forms of feminism. The second section of Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua's This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981) articulates a "Theory in the Flesh" that does not divorce lived and local practices of knowledge from prophetic political and global practices of knowledge. Sandoval does, however, represent a later divergence from U.S. 3rd World feminists in relation to technologies of identity and knowledge.

[12] The second U.S. invasion of Iraq was a juridical imperialism, a legal and global extension of the U.S. "pursuit of terrorists" as violators of U.S. and international law, human and civil[ian] rights. It is a non-starter to begin any discussion or analysis of Sadaam Hussein's "regime" with the unmarked assumption of his personal and political role as human rights violator. What is also unmarked is the assumption that the U.S. regime, democratically "led" by Bush II, is still not held to be in violation of human rights, international law or the U.S. Constitution given the circumstances in Guantanamo Bay, Abhu Ghraib and other prisons or under the Patriot Acts.

[13] The cry of social "breakdown" in the U.S. in the 1980-90's is list of national exclusions and forcible placements in the hegemonic, liberalizing or neo-conservative orders. Silko tracks these breakdowns as prophetic elements of tribal return.

[14] The U.S. government sponsored research gone corporate Human Genome Project constructed one such list and has subsequently set about to retrieve hair, skin, nail and blood samples from so-call "endangered" populations (Guerrero) in order to preserve and patent genomic traits that apparently will soon become extinct. The aboriginal peoples of the Americas are on the top of this list. One name used by native peoples for the Human Genome Project is the "Vampire Project."

[15] Kuletz, 27, citing the National Academy of Science.

[16] A "biosphere," a term used by both Sandoval and Silko is also an elitist artifact, produced for privileged access versus an inhabitable and sustainable (if not indigenous) "bioregion."

[17] See Guerrero's genealogy and critique of the relationship between U.S. hegemonic control of native "sovereignty" created by racial and gendered distributions native populations through "blood-quantum" or patriarchal and patrilineal, racial blood quotients, "U.S. racialized codifications of Native Americans clearly contradict the traditions of indigenous societies, which did not previously hold to a 'race' construct to determine tribal membership," in "Savage Hegemony" (423).

[18] Ironically, the name taken for these suburban mini-houses on wheels was taken from a native tribe located in the Midwestern U.S.

[19] In yet another violent irony, one of the primary justifications cited by the DOE for aiming at the disposal of all types of toxic, radioactive and nuclear wastes on Native American lands is their "respect for the land." This "respect" renders them ideal caretakers for the most deadly materials on the planet, deadly for up to 240,000 years.

[20] In the last two years, much action has been taken to re-engage uranium mining. The concept of irony does not extend far enough to cover the obscenity and hypocrisy of WMD discourses, the deployment of "super"-power, and the re-opening of intra-colonial nuclear mining for extra-colonial militarism.