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Political Detention: Countering the University

Author(s): Barbara Harlow
Source: October, Vol. 53, The Humanities as Social Technology (Summer, 1990), pp. 40-61
Published by: MIT Press
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Political Detention:
Counteringthe University

BARBARA

HARLOW

The mostwidespreaderrorofmethodseemsto methatofhavinglookedfor
in theintrinsicnatureofintellectualactivities,
thiscriterion
ofdistinction
ratherthanin theensemble
ofthesystem
ofrelationsin whichtheseactivities
the
intellectual
who
(and therefore
them)have theirplace
groups
personify
withinthegeneralcomplexofsocial relations.
- Antonio Gramsci,
"The Formationof the Intellectuals"

Aprendere a luchar desde esta celda. Esta sera mi trinchera.(I will
learn to struggle
fromthiscell. This will be mytrench.)
-

Nidia Diaz, Nunca EstuveSola

We mustpreventthisbrainfromfunctioning
for 20 years.
-Prosecutor at Antonio Gramsci's trial
Walid al-Fahum is a Palestinian lawyerin Israel and the Occupied Territories,an advocate forPalestinianpoliticaldetainees,who began his legal workin
the officesof the Israeli woman lawyerand activistFelicia Langer. TheseChains
thatMust be Broken,1a collection of his writingson prison conditions,under
Israeli occupation, includes the account of an exchange withone of his clients.
During a discussion,fromtheirrespectivepositions,of the unsatisfactory
prison
conditions,the lawyercommentson the excessivecrowdinginside the cells. The
crowding is so extreme, he says, it is as if the detainees were "packed in like
Walid al-Fahum, Wa la budda li-l-qaidin yankasiru(These Chains That MustBe Broken),Acre,
1.
Maktabat al-Jalil,n.d. The texts in this volume were originallypublished in newspapers between
1974 and 1977.

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its 40jlll Cartoonreads:.76. By thePalestiniancartoonist. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This content downloaded from 193. Assassinated in London.5 on Wed. .And the other eye on my son in Israeli prisons.194.August1987.One eye on my homeland. Naji al-Ali.

It is writtenagainstthoseverystructuresof dominanceand of an historicaltraditionof literaturethat legislatedthe isolationand the political neutralityof both literatureand literarycritic. two models of counter-strategy reading.aesthetic gratification.polemical.responds.but ratherby the materialand politicalconditionsof militaryoccupation and of economic and politicaldisenfranchisement.over decades of repression.They have inspiredas well.and its distribution -serves in the end to underwritethe repressivebureaucratic structuresdesigned to maintain national borders and to police dissent within those borders. al-Fahum describesthe innovativepractice of reading "upside down" (bi-1-maqlub)necessitatedby restrictedeconomic circumstances.76.' .That critique is generated no matterwhat the characterof the regime.under the lightof the streetlamps. and collective. the emergence of an organized Palestinian resistance movement This content downloaded from 193.Because thereis not enough moneyto provide books foreach child.however. Accordingto the firstof these exempla. . 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . he replies. "Sardines are arrangednext to each otherin the can withthe head of one next to the tailof the other." or that of a "military dictatorship." "socialist. in Israel as elsewhere throughoutthe world. 7)."Literature.The childrenhave developed a serioushabitof studyingwhileout walkingby day and standingunder the public streetlightsat night" (p. myfriend.composed in prison.it demands an activistapproach."No. The economic and politicalconditionsof occupation and dispossessionthat have disruptedthe ideal of the splendidsolitudeof scholarlypursuitshave made of learninga collectivestreetactivity. Facing each other when seated at the table.the heads of all the matchesare facingin the same direction" (p.but of the veryinstitutionof literatureas an autonomous arena of activity.severalTulkarm studentsare escaping the [noise of the] song of Abd al-Halim [a popular Egyptian film star and recording artist]-'Lamplight."and when al-Fahum expresses surprise at his answer. 7). Such is the imperative articulated in the exemplary firstarticle in alFahum's volume "Pages froma Student'sNotebook in the Occupied Land. "in the long street. offera critique not only of the rulingsystems that have incarcerateddissidents. in this anecdotal lesson. "We are like matches in a book of matches.theymustboth learn fromthe same book. then.is bycontrastnecessarilypartisan. They are determinednot by traditionsof literarydistance or of poetic license.42 OCTOBER sardinesin a can. 163). The literatureof politicaldetention. of men and women." The in lawyer describes. Their familieshave many childrenand the suffocating atmosphereis not conducive to study. the prisoner adds. In the second example.Witha book of matches.theyread fromopposite sides of the book (p.when abstractedfromthe historicaland institutional conditionsthat informits production.5 on Wed."liberal democrat.and the pleasures of consumptiontraditionallysanctionedby theacademic discipliningof literature. The prison writingsof politicaldetainees. ." Asked to explain.194." The prisoner.eitherat night or in daytime.Prisonwritingdemands a reading that runs counter to the passivity.

a workof counterpoint.5 on Wed. is another story. Susana had once introduced him to her friend Nestor as "the priest who will marry us" (p.Penguin. newspapermargins.El Salvador. He findshimselfmentionedby name on a piece of paper. hugginga large cardboard box. 7). whether from occupied Palestine. 3. p.The theoreticaland practical reconstructionof the siteof politicalprisonas a "university"forthe resistance. or the United States.In prison.South Africa.76.however. is more than a literarytopos or metaphoric embellishmentin the writingsof political detainees. thatpartiallyhid her face. and his human curiosity.incarceration.toiletpaper. when Father Antonio sees amongst the congregationa woman "alone in the lastrow of pews.on her lap.that of the arrest. Harmondsworth.his moral conscience. and.developed reading developed as criticalweapons in the struggleitself. at early morning mass. the Argentiniannovelist-in-exile Omar Rivabella narrativizesthe radical exigencies of a criticalreading of the literatureof politicaldetention.the prieststruggleswithhis politicalconsciousness. 1986. Omar Rivabella.oftenwithouttrial.however. 17).his encounterwith the contentsof the woman's box. The Israeli militaryoccupation has responded to this challenge by its opponents to its oppressive authoritywith consistentand massivedetention.and presumed death of "Susana." At once repelled and intriguedby the box and its confusedcontents.The storyopens in a local church.the foil fromcigarettepackages) into the chronologicalordering of the storythey tell. togetherwitha referenceto one Nestor. The reconstructionof the "diary of an unknownwoman" (p. NorthernIreland. There follow the denunciations in his 2.and torture.underneath"an intense odor as of a mixture of urine and human excrement" (p. his daily pastoral routine is transformedinto the painfuldecipheringof the words on the many decomposed pieces of paper (matchbooks. 17). 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .those counter-strategies and are further exercised of and necessityoutside. 5). writing. In his novel Requiemfor a Woman'sSoul."2 That box. Requiemfor a Woman'sSoul.a trainingground for its cadres.and withinthe frameof work of the collective work of political opposition." Requiemfor a Woman'sSoul. His involvementwiththe reconstructionof the diaryleads firstto Father Antonio's neglect of his officialpriestlyduties towards his parishionersand to chasteningremindersfrom his bishop.torture. contains. a collection of "abundant wads of paper. leftwithFatherAntonio by the unknownwoman afterthe mass is over. he recalls.PoliticalDetention:CounteringtheUniversity 43 for the demanding liberationof the land and autonomyand self-determination people livingunder occupation.194.and realizes his own recondite implicationin the historyhe is piecingback together:"I had been Susana's family priest in my previous parish" (p.Eventually. This content downloaded from 193.itscomponentsare the dated recomposedfragmentsof Susana's writingsand FatherAntonio's italicized account of his paradigmaticexperience withtextualediting.

The other women continueto provide Susana withthe fewscrapsof paper they are able to retrieve here and there from the prison's refuse.once a physician. the woman prisoneragrees to the project of writing about her detentionand commissioningit for "publication" by Father Antonio. He findsthem.he seeks out Susana's parents." no less than the carton withthe "abundant wads of paper" that Susana had leftto FatherAntonio.it demands a political critique of the institutionalizedcomplicity. prisons and detention camps. He gave it to me and said in an enthusiastictone. There was Susana's engagementring" (p. The clandestinestrategiesof prisonwriting here calls for a new political responsibilityon the reader-criticoutside. her daily notations challenging his daily routine. This "piece of paper. the copy of a lettersent by Rosa. 56).still incompletediary.containingwhat mightbe the finalwords of the priestnow hospitalizedin the National Institute of Mental Health: "He took myhands. Writteninto the body of Susana's dismemberedand dislocated story.beset by anxiety.Evading the supervisionof his companions assigned to look afterhis health and mental stability.just as he used to when he comfortedmy sorrows. The searing task of editing the tortured woman's diary. Together they floated in the bloody liquid.Susana's father.send it to him. 'To him. 116).thatare eventuallydeliveredto FatherAntonioat thatfated morningmass.whichbringhim visitsfrom the police commissionerand an army captain.' On the piece of paper was your name and address" (p. for example.political and economic. In Argentina. in a macabre ballet.as Father Antonio learns.in a rundown house in a well-to-doneighborhood.76.now sitsmesmerizedby the visionof a largejar in his small laboratory:"Inside were two hands.One of them bore a ringon the middle finger. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Then he pulled fromhis shirtpocket a piece of paper he seemed to have prepared forthislast interview. whom she meets in the prison yard.is the furtheraccount of the text's own production:the way in which. Rather.That is no naturalized transmissionto posterityof a letteredcorpus. and it is these.194. By the time he has completed his demanding editorial work upon the still truncated. severed at the wrists. old and decrepit.calls fora responseother than thatofferedto the literarylegacy addressed to a posthumousreadershipor a university archive. covered withSusana's writing.to the novelistOmar Rivabella in New York City.5 on Wed. that transcends national borders and geo-politicaldivides such as that between Firstand Third Worlds.togetherwith two of the detainees. progressivelyleads Father Antonio back into the communityto Rosa and the "mothersof the childrenlost to the forcesof repression" (p.44 OCTOBER sermonsof the growingcorruptionof the nationalbureaucracy. Requiemfor a Woman'sSoul ends withan epilogue. Alicia and Luisa.and pronounced some unintelligiblewords. 114). the responsibilityto mobilize still larger popular and literaryconstituenciesin the reworkingof narrativesnot limited to the text but participatingin a larger politicalproject.Father Antonio has been voluntarilyrelievedof his pastoralresponsibilities. one of the "mothers of the disappeared" in Father Antonio's local congregation. the This content downloaded from 193.

Elaine Scarryhas distinguishedthe combination of two languages of pain .PoliticalDetention:CounteringtheUniversity 45 Catholic Church. See also Jean Franco. UniversityPress.Diary of a Chilean Concentration after event "reconstructed the would be inconceivablefor anyone foreword. no. 1974. has found his novel-in-progress subjected to a differentkind of literarycritique and thereforeanticipatedby membersof the acathan that generallyprovided demic establishment. While the novelistRivabella radicallyrecast the fragmentsof Susana's makeshift prisondiarywithinhis contrapuntalnarrative.and the metropolitanpublishingindustryare implicated. Diary of a Chilean Concentration 5. London. Valdes. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .5 on Wed. Camp. however."5 until his release on March 15. (it under such conditionsto findthe means of producinga writtentext. was writingwhat he thoughtof as a political novel. "Death Camp Confessionsand Resistanceto Violence in Latin America. a critical one.Valdes. This content downloaded from 193. a Chilean writer. Universityof Chicago Press.194.another novelist.1986). 5.In TheBodyin Pain. That same novel. 1975.76. 1985. however. wherebycomplicityin the structuresof institutionaldominationcan be remade as an act of collaborationwithina largerproject of collectivecounter-resistance. was. as he writesin the prison memoir.That participationis. trans. argues the relationbetween narrativeclosure and the developmentof the modernpenal institution. the traditionalguardian of the classicsin paperback and a major arbiterin the selectionand disseminationto a mass but choice public of contemporaryworksand writers.Rivabella's novel Requiemfor a Woman'sSoul can be said to participatein the institutionalnetwork denounced by the screamsof torturedpoliticalprisonersand challenged by their counter-strategiesof writing. and the question as to its form and content abrasively posed to him by his Elaine Scarry.Hernan Valdes. p. Chicago. At the timeof his arrest.Oxford. p. as author.quite apart from the impossibilityof achieving a state of mind that would allow one to attemptsuch a thingin the firstplace)" (p. Oxford 3.became at one pointduringhis detentionthe focusof his interrogation.What I would like to propose here is narrative as a way of "re-imaginingthe penitentiary. 5)." Hernan Valdes.was arrestedon February 12." Socialismand Democracy. Father Antonio's own slip of paper in Omar Rivabella's novel proposes a rethinkingby way of reading and writingof the contestatorypossibilitiesthat these several institutionalsites contain. in the repression immediatelyfollowingthe CIA-assisted overthrowof Salvador Allende's Popular Unity government. 1988. Victor Golancz. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmakingof the World. 4. His Camp.Jo Labanyi. 6. or what Valdes refers to as a "political detergencyapparatus. Fictionand Architecture John Bender's ImaginingthePenitentiary: ofMind in Eighteenth-Century England. one of Chile's concentrationcamps. 1974.AmnestyInternationallettersand "poems and narrativesof individualartists"-as breakingthroughthe resistanceof physicalpain to "objectification"in language. He was held for just over one month in Tejas Verdes. even the family. 2 (Spring/Summer.4 By virtueof its publicationby Penguin Books.

38) This author.however.Las CarcelesClandestinasde El Salvador. writingexistentialdramas for a letteredelite."Such a "reduction" and the feeling of "wretchedness" that it would seem to produce for the writer's sense of professionalexcellence raises. "fistsat the ready.disappearance." The criticalinquiriesposed by the state to replot his apparatus.This time I have to say something.and in the mostprovisional way. which criteria literary by generic and judged.The writerthen chooses an alternative that is not freeof compromise:"I reduce what I thoughtwas an existential drama to a romance for shorthandtypists. can no longeravoid criticalpressure. Sinaloa.ifonly temporarily.Maybe that's all it was.Thus. This content downloaded from 193.but in previousinstances it was different. thatis. brutallyinterrogatedby the servants of the state." Excuses forlimitationsof styleand literarytechniqueare not to be taken forthe disarmingdisclaimersof false modestyor for tacitacknowledgmentof "literarystandards.stillanotherquestion." Rather.5 on Wed. There's no plot.appreciated. Ana Guadalupe Martinez.thatof the relation between "high art" and "mass culture.and politicaldetention. or romances for shorthandtypists?And what would be the differencebetween the two projects? Prison writingis often prefaced by a criticalapologia -such as Hernan Valdes's statementthat his diary was not writtenin situbut was "reconstructed afterthe event."What's yournovel about?" whenasked in the contextof torture.I reduce what I thoughtwas an existentialdrama to a romance for shorthand typists.194."Indeed. My memorygoes a completeblank. "What's your novel about?'" the interrogatorsask." force Valdes the writer-prisoner narrativeand therebyto rearticulate.exposes the coercive machineryof political containmentthat is complicitouslyprescribed by certainestablishedliterarycriticalpractices.46 OCTOBER criticsforceda reexaminationon his partof hisown interrogators-turned-literary It led.to a reconsiderationof the author. This question throwsme more thananythingelse.6the narrativeof incarcera6.I can feel their breath on my face.he cannot hide behind his worknor claimjudicial impunityon the "new criticalgrounds" thatthe work"speaks foritself. I feel wretched. their fistsare at the ready. even to rethink implicitlywho thatreadershipmightbe. Universidad Autonomia de Sinaloa. in the prologue to Ana Guadalupe Martinez'sLas CarcelesClandestinasde El Salvador. 1980. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . moreover.(p. it's a novel of situations. Wheneveranyone's asked me thatkindof question in the past I've alwaysfeltincapable of replying. as role and responsibility works such as his are constituted. Is he. the academicallysanctionedquestion. Mexico.76.theybespeak both the coercivepressuresof traditionalabstractideals of "art" and "culture" and the antisystemicpossibilities for submittingthose same ideals to the political and material demands of historicalconditions and priorities. his social and political relation to his readership.

Nidia Diaz.194.(p.provide the critical 7.With the dream of contributingsomethingto the transformationof the historyof war into a historyof peace" (p.and withthe clear objective of assistingin the reconstructionand interpretationof an immediatehistory. 8)."7 For Maria Lopez Vigil. witha sensibilitythat the people understandand have lived.These strategiesin turn become writteninto her own prisonmemoir.5 on Wed. p. 1988. of whichDiaz has said. 8.ifyou don't hold fastto yourconvictions.It is time now that the revolutionariestransmitin an effectiveway their experience to our people in theirown language. Nunca EstuveSola. guarded and resistant. Penal institutions. "I am told thatI have put more of my revolutionaryideology than my personal emotions into my book. UCA Editores. Much concreteexperience has been lostfornot havingbeen processed and transmitted. Rene Cruz locates the woman commander's memoiras necessarilyintegralto the larger revolutionary struggle: [The book] is an initialeffortto write the historyof our revolution fromthe trenchesof combat themselvesand not fromthe comfortable desks of inconsequentialbystanders. The prisonrecord of Ana Guadalupe Martineznow served her as an example of detainees' oppositionalstrategies.PoliticalDetention:CounteringtheUniversity 47 tion and torturein 1976 as a guerrillaand member of the Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP) in El Salvador's secret prisons.you are lost.You can displaynothingpersonal to your captors and interrogators. Nunca Estuve Sola stands as an example of "how books are and how theyare made in times of war.despite their functionas part of the state's coercive apparatus of physicaldetentionand ideological containment. San Salvador.76. 12) in Nearly ten years later.In thissense we are not going to findhere in the textany literarypretentionsof a recherchestyle. Nidia Diaz.yourideology. herselfa commandante the FMLN-FDR.Stillanother part has been essentiallydeformed for having been elaborated by leftizing(izquierdantes)intellectualintermediarieswho adjust it not to the necessitiesof the revolutionbut to a bourgeois fictionalization and theorizationof the revolution.I lived prison minute by minute. was arrestedin a helicopterraid on guerrillabases in the mountainsof San Vicente. in hatchetstrokes(a hachachosde esfuerzos).Nor did I want to. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .in April 1985.Nunca EstuveSola. And afterwardsthissame thingcame out as I sat down to write. But in prison. With urgencyand without much polish. in her presentationof the volume. withregardto the putativeliterarycriticswho would preferCommandanteNidia as an autobiographeror diaristthanas a revolutionaryleader.keeping problemsof style"in the schoolbag" (a mochila). This content downloaded from 193. the now-combinedresistanceorganizationsof El Salvador.

as an always already immediate politicalfactforboth paid and self-appointedguardiansof the stateas well as for its organized opposition. given particulartimesand circumstances. Connecticut.76. 1982. "My subject. mutinyand revolt. Bruce Franklin'sPrisonLiteraturein America.provide the historicallynecessaryconjuncturalpremise for recastingthe narrativeof an individual"crime" as generated by a sociopoliticalsystemof economic exploitaPoliticalprisonersin turn.Prison." have contradictorilyserved to reeducate their inmates in radical self-constructions through writingthat ultimatelychallenges the state's withinthe parametersdemarcatedby the penitentiary them to contain authority walls. desperado..a respectable reading public.194. or.has criticalconsequences for the practicaland theoreticalorganization of resistance movements.." writesFranklin.murder. plundered. a or of an a a member alien underworld-to deviant. Franklin's"criminalnarratoris sharply marked off from the reader. with are often led to reformulateideological constructs "criminals. whetherconvictedof pettytheft. He or she speaks as a lone 'I'-an outlaw.when confined tion and politicaldisenfranchisement.Accordingto H. and caged-and the understanding that results. . chained.5 on Wed. differently systems. 126). Bruce Franklin.both inside and outside the prison.a studyof the "victimas criminal and artist.prostitution. H. The authors' "crimes" are mostlythose peculiar to the condition of povertyand forced labor: refusalto work.Crucial to such practices.8 Unlike the political detainee.48 OCTOBER trainingspace foralternativesocial and politicalpracticesof counter-hegemonic resistancemovements. more usually. ."prisonsin the United States. beaten. incarnate in the reader" (p.or simplysocial deviance. then. continues to insiston the ever-renewednecessityof rethinkingcriticalstrategy. desertionand escape. The "criminals" imprisoned over the last two centuries by the United 8.at once cultural and political.Westport.Prison Literaturein America:The Victimas Criminaland Artist. are the narrativemeans wherebyprison is represented in literature.revolution.Lawrence Hill and Co. the experience of prison can. The intimateideological relationshipbetween criminaland political prisarticulatedand managed by various governmentsand judicial oner.where thereis no recognitionof the "political prisoner.and the multiplecontestatoryroles played by literaturein the prisonitself. For criminals. is literaturecreated by those membersof the oppressed classes who have become artistswith words through their experience of being defined by the state as criminals. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . raped. however. Their art expresses the experience of being legallykidnapped. societyin general. This content downloaded from 193." together withregard to "the people" and interactionbetween a vanguard partyand its supposed popular constituencies.

In short. to occupymyself withsome subject which will absorb me and prointensivelyand systematically vide a central channel for my inner life. I'm haunted-and this. would confiscateall the rest of his life-involved the organization of a major plan of study.PoliticalDetention:CounteringtheUniversity 49 Statespenal systemwhose writingsinformFranklin'sproposal forreconstructing the "victimas criminaland artist"insistently remindthe criticthat"Whereas the criteria dominant on exalt what is extraordinaryor even unique. 45. Gramsci wrote. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Franklinsuggeststhat "In truth. from a Milan prison. "You see." That corpus also includes the letterswrittenover a period of ten years. In an early letter (March 1927).PrisonLetters. Already in 1927. as theirclear goal. to his sister-in-lawTania. forin our societythe two main competingintellectualcentersmay be the universitiesand the prisons" (p.Hamish Henderson. The mind that the prosecutor wanted to "prevent from functioningfor twentyyears" produced instead a writtencorpus of political theory.whilerepresenting"contradictorypoles. as it turned out.is a phenomenon quite familiaramong prisoners-by an idea. 235). 250). fourmonths. I think."9 Writingto Giuseppe Berti.I want.1988.5 on Wed. the isolationof the oppositionleadershipfromitsbase of popular supportin the larger community. that strategyis being disarticulatedand turned to other ends through the differently reconstitutedsocial and political relations across the prison walls between incarceratedmilitantsand the population outside.as well as some other areas. . p. The state and its apparatus of politicaldetentionhave.194.accordingto a prearrangedplan.trans." prisonand the university are also seen to functionas complicitparts of the same operational systemof state control of dissentand the containmentof anti-systemic challenge. This content downloaded from 193.it maynot be going too far to say thatthe prisonand the universityprovide the contradictorypoles definingthe fieldof aesthetics. London.However. thatit is necessaryto do something fur ewig." Gramsci's self-proposed"adjustment" to an extended period of confinementand physicaland worldlyisolationthatwould claim the betterpart of his life.Gramsci's "prison notebooks. . AntonioGramsci. when Antonio Gramsci was sentenced to twentyyears. literary campus most currentautobiographicalwritingfromprison intendsto show the readers that the author's individualexperience is not unique or even extraordinary.and fivedays imprisonment. Zwan Publications. This preliminaryconclusionmightbe extended by considering the writingsproduced out of the experience of "politicalprison" in a way such that.but typicaland representative"(p. .the middle yearsof his manhood and paternity -indeed.76.the prosecutorat his trialhad argued on behalf of the state that "We must prevent this brain fromfunctioningfor twentyyears.a fellow 9.

ends up by This content downloaded from 193.again to Tania. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . outside.thatsortof course is circumstances. and throwoffthat sillytoad sittingon our hearts" (pp. 92.you can't call reading workwhen it's purelyand simplyreading I receive a fewbooks from forpleasure. Julia.an importantvisitor.a fewmonthslater: "I'm not doing any work. Two years later. was Tania. Do you?You must.and to take notes (ifone is allowed to write)" (pp.93).addressinghim in the feminineappellative of Leonie to avoid prison censorship. 184).and not cherishthe vain illusion thatone can pursue regular and intensivecourses of study.however.5 on Wed.however. I read a great deal.you say. One of Gramsci's main correspondents.I beg you!Now I appreciateagain the value of makingseriousbooks a partof dailylife. Why should we let ourselves be crushed by the lives we've led up to now? There's no sense in preservinganythingat all but what was constructiveand whatwas beautiful. The main thingis to do one's reading witha certainend in view. livingnow in Russia where they had gone with their mother.50 OCTOBER communist.you promisedyou'd read one book a day.194. taking whateverI get fromthe farthingdip" (p. 225-226). 63). The student of politicaltheoryand imprisonedpartymilitantwas findingthatin detentionhis own sons were inevitablyestranged fromhim. "When I left.76. wouldn't it be a good idea to studycertain things which interestme too and so start a correspondence with me about material which is of interestto the two of us because it is a reflectionof the presentintellectuallifeof [theirsons] Delio and Giuliano?" (p.and a provider to him of reading and studymaterialsas well as news of world eventsand partycomrades. but unsystematically. . The tormentedneed to rethinkradicallytheiraffectivebonds and maritalloyaltieshauntsGramsci'slettersto his wife:"We musthurlall that'spast into the flames and build new lives from the ground up.As Rosa Luxemburg wrotetwo decades earlier fromprison in Zwickau to her "comrade and lover" Leo Jogiches. his wifeJulia's sister." Firstof all.We must get out of the ditch. Gramsci insists. .Gramscireproached himself.it is necessary"to rid oneselfof the mentalovercoat of academicism."Gramscigoes out of the question.even forpeople in less difficult on to add that "Neverthelessit's my opinion that a politicalprisonermust find waysand means of squeezing blood froma stone.But Marx. and new modes of articulatingthose relationshipsdemand passionateand painfulnew elaborations. Political reconstructionsof organized opposition and party structuresare shown to reverberate on the most intimate level of personal relationshipsas well.like Gramsci's own mother before her. and I read the books fromthe prison libraryweek afterweek. you know.To Julia. was concealing fromtheirchildren the factof their father'sdetention (243n). the veteranpoliticalprisonerwas givinginformedadvice on how a prisonercan use his time "to advantage. It saves the mind and the nervoussystem. furthermore.or Julca as he oftenaddressed her in his letters. to study.GramsciwrotefromTurin prisonin 1931: "You intend.

Rosa Luxemburg. 1983. partisan was a memberof the PAC. Pheto remained a PAC partisan.I keep gettingswamped and can't catch my breath." On more than one occasion. "Prison. fromstate apparatus to prison counterculture. a South Africanwriter. p.whichhad broken away fromthe AfricanNational Congress(ANC) in the late 1950s on the basis of their programthatemphasized black Africanresistanceto the structuresof apartheid.London. institutions and forhis reeducationas a grantedby westernor western-sponsored in local the struggleagainst apartheid.His effortsto define political detention usually reveal to him instead the heightened degree of political consciousness thatcharacterizesthese "criminals. And NightFell: Memoirsofa PoliticalPrisonerin SouthAfrica. it is the mostcommoncriminals. or Pan AfricanistCongress. His prison memoir." forMolefe Pheto.trans. Artsand LiteratureInstitute)in Soweto. the childrenof the townshipswho understandas well as Pheto the meaning of the word "politics.MIT Press. Allison and Busby.PoliticalDetention:CounteringtheUniversity 51 making me angry. Massachusetts. 195. ing the curriculaof otherpublic institutions "politicalprison. 10.Cambridge. Comradeand Lover:Rosa Luxemburg'sLettersto Leo Jogiches.and ed.the attemptto establishcommunicationwithfellowprisonersfrom other organizations. 11. which includes interrogation. Elzbieta Ettinger. This content downloaded from 193. 1981." why he is being held in solitaryconfinement. I stillcan't get thebetterof him. imprisoned membersof the ANC whose politicaltacticsand ideological analysesdiffer fromhis own. by supposed "criminals.and the effortto enlist the aid of sympatheticguards.is a university. who.the women.And NightFell."" Pheto.but his politicalreeducationin the prisonwas assistedby variousgroups representedthere: the torturersand interrogatorswhose "language" he must learn if he is to succeed in not communicatingany informationto them.76.proposes new prioritiesand agendas for politicalorganizingand culturalmobilizationwithcriticalimplicationsforalteras well. 137.5 on Wed. at the time of his arrest. are most effectivein reintegratingthe partymilitantinto the politicsof popular resistance.and organizer of MDALI (Music. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . his reappraisalfrominside the cementblock wallsof the prisoncompound of the ivy-covered walls of universityquadrangles.the prostitutesand shebeen queens."10 The experience of prison. Drama. Pheto is asked. p. across the barriers of enforced isolation. and its impact on the larger society. as distinguishedfrom the multiracialismof the ANC. provides the foundation for his radical critique of his academic credentials. narrates his de-education. Molefe Pheto."Indeed.194. Pheto. spenta year in South Africanprisonsin 1975-76 just prior to the Soweto uprisingsin June 1976. His prison experience. by makingavailable to himthe new rhythmsand songs to which people are now dancing in Soweto.

This content downloaded from 193. . just a few monthsprior to the battleof Bogside foughtin Derry between NorthernIrish Catholic residentsof the area and Protestantmilitiaand constabulary with the eventual assistanceof the Britisharmy.for public consumptionand acquiescence. may seem a curious amalgam of technological expose and politicalanalysis. ofPolitical Control."in the questioning sensory-deprivation of internedIRA suspects. The Technology 12." the liberal democracies in whichpower relationshipsare largely veiled." the authors indicate. by the introductionof rubber bulletsto be used. especiallythat of the ProvisionalIRA.52 OCTOBER Carol Ackroydand the three co-authorsof The Technology ofPoliticalControl address "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland and the concerted British judicial and technologicalresponse to the organized NorthernIrish resistance.These technologies are used by states to achieve specific political goals" (p.JonathanRosenhed. it was claimed. in the nonlethaldispersalof riotous crowds and.are the uses of legal innovationsand sanctions to ratify. in August of that year. 11). Much of the "technology of political control. whichfollowedupon a series of civilrightsmarchesin NorthernIreland in late 1968 and early 1969. Defining"technology"as "any device or method whichexploitsknowledge fromany of the sciencesfromphysicsto psychology"(19n).5 on Wed. founded in May 1969. p. by the use of torture.194.knownas "depth interrogation. Writingin 1977. They raise more generallythe currentissue of a "new type of weaponry. marked the firstand one of the most extensive uses by Britishtroops of CS gas againsta civilianpopulation in the United Kingdom. Tim Shallice.It is not a particularlyfamiliaror apparently natural one.Karen Margolis. used by Britain in Northern Ireland-computerized intelligence networks. alterationsin the government's modus operandi. The ever increasing incrementsof political control of internal dissentare made in small. But it is an approach which is being used more and more by scientistswho are becomingaware of the politicalimplicationsof theirwork" (p.however. 11. to Britishmilitaryoccupation of the Six Counties.76.. The battle of Bogside.Equally significant for these governments.Harmondsworth.etc. the fourBritishscientistsindicatedby wayof introductory remarks that their "approach .oftenimperceptible. 21). It announced as well the arrivalof the Britisharmyforcesin NorthernIreland and the beginningof an occupation more than two decades long. 1977. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . theyargue throughout theirstudythat the "motives behind the technologyof politicalcontrolare not humanitarian.as well as gas and plasticbullets-was firstdeveloped in the Carol Ackroyd. This escalation of the "technologyof politicalcontrol" was followedtwo yearslater.produced by the applicationof science and technologyto the problemof neutralizationof the state's enemies.in the summer of 1971. . Such motivesare in particularassociated withwhat are called "strong states.Penguin.steps such as greaterfundingof the securityapparatus or expansion of the state bureaucracy."12 The authors are all members of the BritishSociety for Social Responsibilityin Science (BSSRS).

Back reads: A plasticbullet is a solid cylinderof PVC measuring4" X 11/2"and weighing43/4oz.5 on Wed.Political Detention: Countering the University 53 IA PLASTIC BULLET IS A SOLID CYLINDER] OF PVC ITrSMASHES HEADS PostcarddesignbyStephenDorley-Brown. Plastic bullets are now available to many police forces throughoutBritain. This content downloaded from 193. Campaign against Plastic Bullets. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .194.76.. 1984.Plastic bulletshave killed childrenand adults in NorthernIreland. Many more have been maimed. . .

It is harder not to kill them. Torture in the twentiethcentury has its own material and ideological Despite itslong history. the Universityof El Salvador was occupied by the Salvadoran army.staff. thatformerly space markedofffromthe institutions acknowledged space is being ever more systematically occupied by the various coercive. 197). these technologiesare designed to "maximize repression. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .or the academy. As Ackroyd and her fellow scientists point out.Secondly. in the Middle Ages. Between 1980 and 1984.there is the danger of increasingthe political commitmentof both political prisoners and 'criminal'prisonerswho are exposed to theirinfluence.The danger inherentin such testimonyis preciselythatrepresentedby the politicalprisonersthemselves.76. Thirdly. where it was designed to elicit a confessionthat would sufficeas incriminating evidence to convictand condemn the accused. withthe overthrowof the Allende government. as theysay.datingback furthereven thanancientGreece. ideological mechanismsof state domination.194.it avoids the public outcrywhich results fromoutrightmassacressuch as Bloody Sunday" (p.if not destroy.there is the damaging effectof publicitysurroundingtheirtrialand imprisonment. however. torturetoday has acquired new ends and a radical technologizationof its means. The concludingsectionof The Technology of PoliticalControlpresentsthisas a threefolddanger: "Firstly.but to stop them all the same.and professors.or even as recently as the 1960s in the United States. has served at times as a recognized site of sanctuary. 41). in Latin America.54 OCTOBER United States and imported by Britain.the human and politicalconstitutionthat continuesto resist.a danger responsible fortheirdetentionin the firstplace. Nor is it informationthatthe systemof power is. but a propaganda claim" (p.Torture in politicaldetentionis calculated ratherto produce propaganda and intimidate. Backlash depends not on how harmlessthe technologiesare. but on how harmlesstheyseem.a countenanced alternativeor counter of sovereignor statepower. . in September 1973.'Humanitarianism. is not an objective. . Afterall.oftenclandestine. forthe mostpart.'then.troopsinvaded the National Universityto arrestthose Popular Unitysupportersor even "neutral" observerswho had taken refuge there. The attack on the personal identityand the body of the victimis calculated now to undermine the social body as well. there is the danger that political prisonerswill provide a focus for the organizationof political movementswithinthe prisons" (p. At the same time.5 on Wed. concerned to extract. 'Non-lethal' riot-control technologyprovides governmentswith sophisticatedmethods for controlling unrulypopulations.another kind of information:the testimony.and of othersnot in gaol. "It is easy enough to killpeople.The witnessingof tortureby the torturedyields. specificity.of the political prisonerwho survives. This content downloaded from 193. for example. .In Chile.subject to the constraintthat any political backlash must be kept to manageable proportions. 255). While historically. the university.

95.194. 1987. 1978." The attack is carried throughsuccessfullyand the ship's gamblers good are "herded into the central lounge.ratherthan campus." But there is stillthe locked door belowdecks.London. This content downloaded from 193. afterme-and big.EscapefromPretoria. 14."14 the veryescape plans themselvesinvolved considerable controversyamong the ten detainees held in theirsectionof the facility. not an individualflightforfreedom." the kind practicedclandestinelyoffshoreor in underground prison cells. Their fellow prisoners included Denis Goldberg.and studentscontinue to be regular victimsof the paramilitary death squads." TheJerusalemPost. proposes a counter to the university. "'I suspected as much!'Bar-Bariansnorted. None of the commandos involved in the operation knows what they will find there. in order Territoriesare militarily to accommodate the massivenumbersof detained protesterssince the beginning of the intifada.I herebyarrestyou for illegal education!'"'s "Illegal education.as Jenkinclaims.'A clandestinematriculationclass! In the name of the Civil Administration.published in May 1989. his coworker in the distributionof "illegal pamphlets" for the ANC. KliptownBooks."The Game's Up. May 26.universityadministrationsof the 1980s had repeated recourse to city.Arrestedin 1978 and charged under Section Six of the Terrorism Act. Jenkinhad been sentenced to twelve years imprisonment.5 on Wed."For us an escape was a politicalact. received an eight-year sentence.it can at least facilitateindividualor even collectiveescapes fromprison. "Military intelligencehasn't determined if it's drug-smuggling. Indeed. men. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Any more questions?Okay. Stephen Lee and Alex Moumbaris. In the United States. Although.Although it may not bring about its effectivedismantling.But we do knowthe gamblingis a frontforsomething white-slavery our and job is to findit. Lee. EscapefromPretoriais Tim Jenkin'saccount of how he. Other of the detainees were in variousstagesof sentencesrangingfromseven to 13.gun-running. in the company of two other prisoners. the Israeli frogmenconfrontfortyWest Bank pupils and their teacher. Matt Nesvisky.police to disperse-and arrestdemonstratingstudents. Tim Jenkin. p.accomplished their escape fromPretoria Prison's "New European Section" on December 11. Palestinian universitiesand schools in the Occupied closed more oftenthantheyare open.PoliticalDetention:CounteringtheUniversity 55 administrators. or terrorism. When this final obstacle is opened with plastic explosives. one of the Rivonia group from 1964 serving three life sentences.the Israeli authoritieshave for certain periods used the closed schools as makeshiftprison centers. policed or effectively by the Israeli writerMatt Nesvisky."The Game's Up" relatesan attackby Navy frogmenon a boat moored in internationalwatersoffthe coast of Israel.76. 1989. The threat that prisons and universitiespose to the state if not properly disciplinedis told in a shortstory. luck.

they had submittedto their lawyers'decision to appeal to the mercyof the court.at once personal and political. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 65). ?KEYHOLE Ael MIRROR Broomstic Ke Stagesof makinga woodenkeyand crankmechanism forDoor Two. 1987.to the South African court and its penal institutions.Jenkindescribes the two prisoners' reaction to the sentence when the proceedings were concluded: "In the cells below.) twelve years. This content downloaded from 193. the two of us feltsick.OCTOBER 56 ? . The decision to escape then was construedas a challenge. London. (From TimJenkin's EscapefromPretoria. Why had we succumbed to the appeals of our lawyers?"(p. for despite their own political convictions.5 on Wed. Not because of the sentencesimposed on us.76.194. Lee and Jenkin's trial had been one of extreme frustrationfor them. but because we'd failedto raise our fistsand shoutAmandla!.KliptownBooks."Power!" as is fittingand proper for political prisonersto do when sentenced.

and it was necessaryto force it open. Her Majesty'sPrison"-or Northern Ireland. forour enemy.would lead to severe disruptionand threatenthe unitywhich gave us our strength. onlyone door.the no-wash This content downloaded from 193.the apartheid rulers.then.194. for political prisoners in other jails around South Africait served as an inspirationand a boost to morale.everyoneknew.thesequestionswere answered negatively. A failed attempt.PoliticalDetention:CounteringtheUniversity 57 The debate among theirfellowprisoners.a masterlocksmith-and a skilled tailor.but it was not withoutits consequences for others.concerningthe nature of that challenge was such as to engage stilllarger and more complex issues of political organizationand strategiesof resistance: While our unityand comradeshipwas our greatestsource of strength it was also the source of the controversiesthatarose over the planning of the escape. 96) For those who agreed. and in part forcircumstantialreasons. in what ways?And so on. Steve and me it meant freedom and the chance to throw ourselves back into the struggleagainst apartheid.however.both inside and outside the prison walls. 231) Many were the political lessons of theoryand practice stillto be learned. (p.refusedthe designatedkey.tortureand jail. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .it meant a terribleembarrassmentand defeat. during his monthsin prison.in order to remake used prisonergarb into unidentifiablestreetwear. Jenkin became.The keyto the escape was to be in makingkeys. the tenthand the last. for Alex.other more detailed questions were raised: Was it necessaryto "theorize" the escape before attendingto its practical exigencies? Should the resistanceorganizationoutside be involved?And if so.76. In the end. for Sergeant Vermeulen it meant a five-month-long prove his innocence. for a prominentmember of the ANC it meant an internationalkidtrialto napping. (p. at various stages of the planning.5 on Wed. which followed upon the blanket protests. The escape was successful-for the individualsinvolved.keysto the ten doors that stood between the prisoners and freedom.The differencesarose out of this: some feltthat the preservationof unity was paramount. Differentlessons. those bent on gettingout found it difficultto accept that others did not displaythe same drive to get out.When the timecame. for several comrades in South Africa and my brotherit meant detention. The escape had profound consequences for many people: for our comrades who stayedbehind it meant threeyearsof unhappyconfinementin the "condemned" sectionof PretoriaCentralwhereprisoners awaiting execution are held.would figurein the partiallysuccessfulmass escape IRA prisonersfrom "The three years later in September 1983 of thirty-eight the "H-blocks" as it is popularlyknown-in Maze. the escape. to participatein the escape attempt. Recognized as the largestjail break in Europe since World War II.

'5 In the end. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . as well as the details of smugglingin the needed weapons. Gill and Macmillan.Only twenty-oneof its thirty-eight passengersmanaged to get out on foot.They underwenta period of adjustment. The escapes do serve.For those who did elude prison. They would be recognized immediatelyif they went back to visittheir familiesand friends. settingup a communicationsnetwork. Dublin.a propaganda exercise and would put some of their most capable men back into circulation. p.of course. however. But theyhad to break completelywiththeirpast" (p.5 on Wed.whichin some cases took years.the "dirty"protest(meaninghere. also involvedthe difficult On the day set for the escape." The escape plans involved such extensive strategiesas "getting the blockssolid" and establishingconnectionswiththe IRA outside whichwas to see to the eventual transportand securityof the escapees.and a seriesof hungerstrikesduringthe precedingyears. that theywere going to be leftbehind.Like "statements fromthe dock" by politicalprisoners. The preparations decision of who would go and who would staybehind.And that was the lastquestion thatneeded to be answered. the Provos would carryout the largestoperationin theirhistory.as blueprints. There were.drafts.was constructed out of the strictlydisciplined internal organization of the political prisoners withinthe prison itself.othersstillon the runand prison officialsand police alike.even as theymateriallyand symbolicallychallenge the state'sapparatus of controland containment.and forall their effectivenessin assistingthe resistance and its political and militarystruggle outside. 1988.194. There was going to be some bad feelingon the day when the takeovertook place. an unanticipateddelay in the rounds of the food truckto be used in the escape produced a confrontationat the prison'souter gate. Jail Breakin EuropeSincetheSecond WorldWar.Out of theMaze. Who was going out? The lorrycouldn't take any more than fortymen.The escape would be a morale booster. however. Derek Dunne's account of the escape based on interviewswithescapees-some recaptured.and manyof thesetoo were sooner or laterrecaptured. like Tim Jenkin'skey.even escape did not necessarilymean untrammeled freedom: "The men from Belfastand Derry could not go home. leave the state institutionof detention intact. 130). Prison escapes.and memorizingthe minutiae of the layout of the entire prison. and the truckwas unable to go through.forthe projectof itsdismantling. furtivemeetingswithfamiliesand loved ones southof the border. narratesthe developmentof that organization and the radical challenge it posed to Britain's "technology of political control.58 OCTOBER protests. This content downloaded from 193.76. the smearingof excrementon prison walls). 59. when some men would realise thatthey had no part in the escape.the discursivecontestationsof thejudicial Derek Dunne. Out oftheMaze: The True StoryoftheBiggest 15. In H7 there 125 men in the Block.

the escapes enact an emergent alternativehistorylesson. InternationalDefense and Aid Fund.) system. 1976. Dublin. and proceeded to instructthose presentin the historyof South Africanresistance.194. London.5 on Wed. Gill & Macmillan. p. This content downloaded from 193.. injusticeswaged by the state'sprisonsand universitiesalike. (From DererDunne's Out of the Maze.76. The Sun WillRise. 1988. at Generalviewof HMP Maze showingescaperoute. a collective against the historyof dispossession. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Nelson Mandela addressed the court assembled in Pretoria's Palace of Justice: "I am the First Accused. 11. In 1964. priorto his sentencingto lifeimprisonment. ed.exploitation.59 Political Detention: Countering the University VTCcompound SHcBlockg7 -adsOlcompounds Semn HBock A -'A6' Staf arpak'.and systemic counter-strategy. 16."'16 he said.from the formationof the ANC in 1912 throughthe Defiance Campaign in the early In Mary Benson.

. In TimeBomb.and Richardson. .the trial-and the subsequentconfessionsto the same crime.whichrefusesto recognize the legitimacyof the Britishsystemofjustice. Paul Hill and PatrickArmstrong-are servingmassivesentencesforthree bombings. . Time and again in Irish politicaltrialsin thiscountryinnocentpeople have been convictedon the flimsiestof evidence. acting against IRA policy.two in Guildford and one in Woolwich.who had been a lawyerforthe defensein the trialof Mandela and othersdetained at Rivionia. 18. pp. the Sharpeville massacre in 1962. p. Then.now knownas the "GuildfordFour. 46.5 on Wed. . 15.addressed the same court fromthe dock: "I cannot address any argumentto this court. IRA member Joe O'Connell. What I can do is to give the court certain factsregardingthe manner in which the criminallaw has come to be administo tered in politicalcases in thiscountry. so we can ensure that the BirminghamSix [held on similar chargesand on equally dubious evidence] willeventuallyemerge. in 1961. perhaps. . Despite the oft-repeatedclaim that there is no such thingas a politicalprisonerin England . fouryoungpeople. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . we can finallysmash the wall-once and for all. the crimeand its investigation. "We hope thatwe have breached the wall. Two years later." 19 17. threemen fromNorthernIreland and a young Englishwoman. This content downloaded from 193. .It presentsa picturewhichis horrifying those brought up withtraditionalideas about justice.194. Conlon.1988. rose to address the court fromthe dock followingthe proceedings: We have recognized thiscourt to the extent that we have instructed our lawyersto draw the attentionof the court to the fact that four totallyinnocent people Carole Richardson. by four members of a Provisional IRA Active Service Unit in London who had themselvesbeen arresteda year later. At the moment. the convictionof the GuildfordFour was finallyreversed. it's damage control. Hill.Hill issued a statementon his emergenceintofreedomin whichhe asked. the armed wing of the ANC. November 15. Gerard Conlon. . and Armstrongwere released after fourteenyears spentin Britishprisons. and including the establishmentof Umkhonto wa Sizwe. 384-386. oftenno more than statements and even "verbals" from the police.60 OCTOBER 1950s. London. Bram Fischer.18 In October 1989.76. EnglishJusticeand theGuildfordFour." 17 In 1975." were convictedof the 1974 pub bombingsin the Englishtownsof Guildfordand Woolwichand sentencedto some of the longest prison sentences ever imposed in Britain. Bloomsbury.. 1989.it's everybody'sdutyto insurethattheydon't shore up the hole in the wall. Guardian. Ibid. Tried and convictedfor numerous other bombings. .TimeBomb:IrishBombers. p. Grant McKee and Ros Franey. Grant McKee and Ros Franeytell the personal historyof these fourindividuals. 19.

and elsewhere throughoutthe world.76. This content downloaded from 193.194. in South Africa. 11 Nov 2015 17:05:31 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .the workof politicalprisoners. in El Salvador. in Israel.their"illegal education." is challengingthe contemporaryuniversitystructureand the institutions of state of whichit is a part to rethinkthe social and culturaltraditionsthatthe universityhas inheritedand is engaged in reproducing.5 on Wed.PoliticalDetention:CounteringtheUniversity 61 In the United States.