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The Berserk Style in Post-Vietnam America
Kirby Farrell

Kirby Farrell discusses how in the decades following the debacle of US involvement in the Vietnam war, the occasional rampage of a returning soldier from Vietnam (popularly known as 'going berserk') could become a model for a whole set of different cultural 'berserk styles'. In the 'berserk style', psychodynamics and historical conditions interact, so that behaviours we associate with trauma can be seen slipping into new forms and combinations in American life, unexpectedly assuming a host of surprising guises, from pseudo-Christian millennialism to vigilante-revenge fantasies and binge behaviours. And reciprocally, particular conflicts, fantasies, and tropes - trauma prominent among them can be observed producing symptoms. Although the berserk style did not originate in Vietnam , Farrell convincingly demonstrates that the Vietnam War had much to do with the proliferation of these styles in America at the turn of the millennium. (back)


To Hunt the Black Shaman
The Great Purge in East Siberia
Heonik Kwon

The Great Purge, Stalin's violent war against the past in the late thirties and early forties, had tremendous consequences for the life and being of the native Orochon people of Sakhalin Island . The reindeer-owning Orochon were labelled Kulaks, their shamans were arrested and send to labour camps, healing rites could no longer be performed and sacred objects had to be buried or destroyed. In present-day discourses in Orochon society ­including the great many mythical tales told among the Orochon - references to this catastrophe are completely absent. And yet, Heonik Kwon shows us how the collective imagination is silently at work to assimilate the tragedies of the past into the Orochon worldview. Arguing that the presence of absence may be a significant social fact in itself, he traces echoes of the catastrophe in what is left untold in some of these mythical tales about shamans and hunters. 'The incompleteness of each individual story can change to an attribute of mutual complementarity if the two stories are considered as constitutive parts of a work told separately rather than separate works.' Through this procedure, the Purge is 'domesticated': transformed from an uncontrollable whirlwind of history to the proportions of a (tragic) episode of indigenous life. . (back)

Catastrofes en hemelse helpers
Notities en beelden
Jojada Verrips

In his photo-essay, Jojada Verrips addresses the question why monuments dedicated to the Great War - regardless which party in the conflict it involves - of ten display angels, more particularly the Archangel Michael. In an analysis of a number of these monuments he provides a tentative answer as to why these peaceful heavenly creatures have been used so often to ponder and commemorate catastrophic outbursts of infernal violence. (back)

The Disease of Immorality
Narrating Aids as 'Sign ofthe Times' in Middle-class Nairobi
Rachel Sprank

Rachel Spronk describes and interprets the AIDS epidemic as it is experienced and negotiated by adolescents in Nairobi , Kenya . She found these young people caught between a growing awareness of the apparent danger on the one hand and moral messages that portray AIDS as the disease of immorality on the other. Spronk shows how these adolescents - generally ill informed about AIDS and its relationship with sex - attempt to bring the epidemic into the sphere of their own understanding. From the great many narratives that circulate about the disease they gather what appeals to them. Thus, they make their own story about AIDS. Although the fear of the disease itself is discernible in this story, much of their anxiety focuses on the social implications of AIDS. According to these adolescents, AIDS has not come incidentally to Kenya . To the contrary, it is understood as a sign to make people aware of the social and cultural disorder in the post­colony, the so-called immorality that is the result of not adhering to cultural customs and values. For these youngsters, AIDS has become the symbol of a society gone astray. (back)

'Breng Boldoot'
De schokbestendigheid van de Jakartaanse middenklasse in 1998
Lizzy van Leeuwen

'Nothing happens' was the Leitmotif of the glamorous Orde Baru in which the Indonesian middle classes had sought refuge after the tremendous violence and slaughter of the 1965 coup. This Orde Baru primarily found expression in spending, shopping and consuming. Lizzy van Leeuwen describes how this ideology provided Jakarta 's upper middle classes an interpretative framework when catastrophe hit again: this time in the guise of the economic collapse of the Indonesian economy in the late nineties, culminating in the Jakarta riots and looting of 1998. While her informants refused to engage in any explicit analysis of the drastic changes impinging upon their lives, commentaries of a silent, implicit nature were hard to miss. Through an analysis of utterances, fashions, trends and life-styles that sprung up in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, Van Leeuwen reveals how the collective imagination was at work to transform the catastrophe in yet another consumer item, thus prolonging the credo that 'nothing happens'. (back)