dissent:censor

First, Rancière:

Politics is first of all a way of framing, among sensory data, a specific sphere of experience. It is a partition of the sensible, of the visible and the sayable, which allows (or does not allow) some specific data to appear; which allows or does not allow some specific subjects to designate them and speak about them. It is a specific intertwining of ways of being, ways of doing and ways of speaking. (Dissensus)

Second, Kenyan Drama:
Citing concerns over the threat of “hate speech,” Ministry of Education officials have banned Butere School Girls from performing a play at the National Drama Festival. The play, “Shackles of Doom,” addresses economic inequality and nepotism. Adjudicators who evaluated the play claimed the “script” should “use more imagery, allegory and metaphor to achieve some persuasion other than be intrusive.” Ministry of Education officials suggest “Art” should not be “Activist.”

Third: Context
In African Writes Back to Self, Professor Evan Mwangi of Northwestern University describes how East African writers have used innovative formal techniques—he focuses on “metafictional” strategies—to produce political art under repressive regimes. Professor Mwangi is interested in how those not permitted to write openly develop formal tactics to critique repression. I doubt that Professor Mwangi would go this far, but one might suggest that the demand by Ministry of Education officials that plays should have “more” art(ifice) and should not be “intrusive,” recognizes a shift in the political climate.

A “paranoid” reading might suggest that we are now in a “new” age of repression. An equally “paranoid” reading might suggest we need to pay attention to sites of pedagogy as places where specific forms of discipline are produced, specific types of bodies created, and specific modes of subjection perfected.

Fourth: Small Events
Tea leaves are very small. It seems silly to read tea leaves. We are past superstition and in a new age of facts. Big data. Even though Kenya’s electronic systems are notoriously unreliable. To read the Ministry of Education officials’ actions as anything other than a small event, something idiosyncratic rather than representative, seems very silly. Small events needs not signal anything significant. My training in literary studies does not help, precisely because I am trained to read for the small. As Eve Sedgwick notes, literary critics are trained to be paranoid readers: we see “insidious intent” everywhere.

Small events might be small events. Not all butterflies create typhoons.

Fifth: Discipline
The most powerful censorship is never explicit. Discipline, Foucault teaches me, is about producing habits and dispositions, knowing when and how to act and move and speak as though by instinct. Knowing, as well, when not to act and move and speak. Discipline is knowing when to be silent before silence is demanded.

Sixth: Precarity

Precarity is the embodied experience of the ambivalences of immaterial productivity in advanced post-Fordism. The embodied experience of precarity is characterised by: (a) vulnerability: the steadily experience of flexibility without any form of protection; (b) hyperactivity: the imperative to accommodate constant availability; (c) simultaneity: the ability to handle at the same the different tempi and velocities of multiple activities; (d) recombination: the crossings between various networks, social spaces, and available resources; (e) postsexuality: the other as dildo; (f) fluid intimacies: the bodily production of indeterminate gender relations; (g) restlessness: being exposed to and trying to cope with the overabundance of communication, cooperation and interactivity; (h) unsettledness: the continuous experience of mobility across different spaces and timelines; (i) affective exhaustion: emotional exploitation, or, emotion as an important element for the control of employability and multiple dependencies; (j) cunning: able to be deceitful, persistent, opportunistic, a trickster.
—Vassilis Tsianos & Dimitris Papadopoulos

Seventh: Dissent
I grew up in a country where dissent was criminalized. Silence was not a habit. Whispering was. Whispered fear. Whispered rage. Whispered promises. Whispered desires. Whispered dissent. Walls, doors, and windows could not be trusted. I knew how to feel the threat of the threat. Repression does not mind whispers. In fact, repression craves whispers and silence. Dissent was a dirty word. No. That’s not right. Dissent was impossible. No. Dissent was bad. To dissent was to un-love Kenya. To dissent was to betray our loving national father-president. We were free to love our father-president. Because the greatest love of all is the freedom to love the father-president.

Dissent: Promiscuity