Politics of an Always Vanishing Present

Marsh, Wendell H.

Cairo is a booming center of the global south whose inhabitants conservatively number 20 million. It is not known for its silence, absence, or lack. Noise, density, and abundance are far more likely objects of inquiry, which the city duly throws up for scholars to inspect. Yet, beyond every observable fact and phenomenon to be collected, sampled and recorded here, lies an unruly excess that escapes scholars’ concepts and practices. Appropriately then, the recently held conference “Excavating Absence: Histories of the (Im)material” revolved around a productive and generative paradox: How does one listen to silence and make tangible something as fleeting and formless as the emotion of historical actors or their cosmology? In other words, how does one know what is not there and, more importantly, what are the politics of that knowing?

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Also Published In

Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East: Borderlines

More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Published Here
November 23, 2015