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Plagiarized "me"?

Plagiarized "me"?

caleb.eckert's picture

Throughout the reading, Ghosh deals with a theme of foreignness. Our main characters are both displaced from their comfort zones, put into unfamiliar spaces and in contact with some unfamiliar folk. Kanai navigates his divides along class boundaries, and Piya wrestles with her American upbringing, class divides, language barriers. On another level, both have just begun their indirect encounters with the mysterious Sundarbans, dense mangrove forests which defy human conquest and colonization. No human can control these volatile spaces that disappear from view with the tides. This place is alien, mystifying, but I think our closer contact with it will come soon enough.


So too, Haraway's thoughts on coshaping interdependence may render us feeling alien not to another place or being, but to ourselves. How do I even begin to comprehend that there is very little biologically that defines “me” in “my” body? I think the idea of coshaping can majorly derail our concept of self-structured identity if we are pressed to it. Might it show us a certain kind of humbleness? Who are humans to say that we have authority to overpower and colonize, when we might be no more than a “motley crew” of others? In Haraway's “dance of relating” (Haraway 25), I'm reminded of Jonathan Letham's essay on plagiarism, “The Ecstasy of Influence.” The real kicker is at the end (spoiler alert!) where the reader finds that much of the essay itself was plagiarized from others' words, picked up here and there to “create” a new artifact. We can look at Lethem's piece as a way to retool and remake not through the creation-obsessed authority of the individual, and not just “standing on the shoulders of our predecessors” (turtles all the way down?), but by looking at our own roots (intellectual, social, structural) and remembering that we are also artifacts, recycled, mostly carbon and water, external things which are usually conceived of as not-I.


“Human” is a blurry category. At the same time, I am only human. So how do I bring those two ideas together, knowing that there will be tension, in my own thought and action? Is it a call to a new kind of humility, emerging from (or emerging with?) that curious foreignness?








Discovery in the Midst of Foreign Surroundings