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e102-ed-remarks

Dissidence

Jill Lane and MARCIAL GODOY-ANATIVIA  | New York University

Mindful of both the literal meaning of dissidence as “standing apart” and of the density of its Cold War significations, this issue of e-misférica has, from the outset, sought to capture and query the contemporary mise-en-scène of resistance, political articulation, and mass mobilization. Our work has been inspired by the multiplicity of subjects, movements, temporalities and tactics that have irrupted, as if serially, onto the global stage since late 2010—perhaps starting with Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation on December 18 of that year, which sparked the Tunisian uprising—and has developed alongside the distinctly local articulations of protest and social mobilization that have emerged across the Americas since 2011. The rise and decline of the Occupy movement in the United States; the return of an invigorated and persistent student movement in Chile; the appearance of the indignados in Spain and #Yosoy132 in Mexico; the growing visibility of dissident voices in Cuba; the reemergence of the Zapatista movement in the Mexican and global public sphere; the irruption of nationwide and multi-sector street protests in Brazil; and the ongoing impact of Wikileaks and the revelations made by Edward Snowden, have transformed landscapes of power and resistance across much of the hemisphere.  Networked by their contemporaneity rather than by causality, these distinct events and movements have, with varying degrees of success, erected challenges to both national and transnational modalities of power. The velocities and lines of flight of these practices now move at or beyond the speed of global capital, in digital and embodied registers and at rapidly shifting scales.

In this issue we make no attempt to capture contemporary "dissidence" in all its forms. Rather, we use dissidence as a way to refract the political stakes and analytic complexity of the moment at hand. As a keyword, dissidence is useful to such analysis because it indexes the hardened Left-Right antagonisms of the Cold War while asking how today's movements enjoin, shatter, or move beyond that political legacy. On the other, we understand dissidence as a stance, a departure, that refuses such debates and categories and instead opens new spaces for what Néstor Perlongher called "minoritarian becoming." "To become is not to transform oneself into another, but rather to enter into (aberrant) alliance, into contagion, into mixture with what is different. Becoming isn’t moving from one point to another, but rather entering the in-between that is “in between.” Colectivo Situaciones follows his lead: "The dissentor is not in a state of debate, but of minorization: their sensitivity and their way of thinking—in some sense, of living—doesn’t fit with the established and mediated reality while still connecting with other underground, but not marginal, dynamics."  "Not understanding," Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo writes of Cubans, but could say of dissidence in general "is a supreme act of insubordination, of subverting the signals of consensus, to be ultimately, subjects beyond all logic and all governability."

If we imagine the practices and events of recent years as multiple "becomings" (what Perlongher also calls "particles of turbulence" in a molecular revolution) we can understand them as operating on the very edge of performative speech and action: they begin to enact what they enunciate in order to disturb and upend the very conditions of their enunciation. This fluid ground of becoming is, in Diana Taylor's words, rich with "animatives," those embodied behaviors, often quotidian and unspectacular, that nonetheless animate people and animate—give life, spirit, or identity to—the affective connections between them. Benjamin Arditi sees these, in their most hopeful register, as “political performatives" that "anticipate something to come because participants already begin to experience—they begin to live—what they are fighting for while they fight for it.”

In this issue, then, we invite readers to travel the many lines of flight suggested by the artists and authors assembled here, and to imagine with them the horizons of action and meaning they signal.