Senay and Señor Juan’s transaction in Dirty Pretty Things

(dir. Stephen Frears, UK, :oo:). Courtesy Miramax/Photofest
Do you know what it’s like not to be able to trust your
own eyes?
— Agent Scully, “Badlaa”
You don’t see me.
— Senay, Dirty Pretty Things
In this essay I examine recent television and hlm representations
of globalization in which bodily intimacy is a central concern: the
X-Files series (+gg¸ – :oo:), in particular the :+ January :oo+ epi-
sode titled “Badlaa,”
1
and the two recent hlms Dirty Pretty Things
(dir. Stephen Frears, UK, :oo:) and Maria Full of Grace (dir. Joshua
Marston, US/Colombia, :ooq). Although the problems faced by
the protagonists in each have their roots in the international eco-
nomic and political structures put in place by colonization, these
visual media productions do not place themselves (and were not
produced) within the framework of anticolonial or postcolonial
politics and history. Instead, these visual texts take up key issues
of globalization’s contemporary moment: the enormous power of
The Intimacies of Globalization:
Bodies and Borders On-Screen
Emily S. Davis
Camera Obscura 6:, Volume :+, Number :
roi +o.+:+¸/o:¡o¸¸q6-:oo6-oo: © :oo6 by Camera Obscura
Published by Duke University Press
¸¸
and damage caused by transnational corporations in the global
South, the experiences of immigrants and refugees in the global
city, and the underground international trafhcs in such things as
drugs and organs. Each of these texts uses bodily intimacy as a
metaphorical language through which to represent contestations
of national and ideological borders, as well as a means of liter-
ally demonstrating the impact of globalization on the bodies of
the men and women whose invisible labor is the lifeblood of the
global economy. Sexuality here in particular is a terrain of com-
modihcation, power struggle, and exchange. In other words,
desire and affect are conditioned by the cultural and economic
parameters of globalization itself. Thus these television and hlm
texts, I argue, are ambivalent representations that use the most
global of contemporary media to visualize one of the most invis-
ible elements of globalization: its penetration of and movement
through bodies.
Globalizing Film and Television
and the Problem of How Bodies Matter
Globalization, not unlike terms such as postcolonialism and postmod-
ernism, has produced such a mass of scholarship in a comparatively
short period of time that it has become difhcult to claim that it
is in fact one “thing” at all. Further, as the study of globalization
has gained momentum as a veritable academic industry, conuict-
ing descriptions of a vast array of phenomena threaten to render
the term meaningless in its very generality.
2
For the purpose of
my discussion, I will follow Ulrich Beck’s dehnition of globaliza-
tion as “the processes through which sovereign national states are
criss-crossed and undermined by transnational actors with vary-
ing prospects of power, orientations, identities and networks.”
3
In
response to the common question of what exactly is new about
globalization, Beck argues that
what is new is not only the everyday life and interaction across national
frontiers, in dense networks with a high degree of mutual dependence
and obligation. New, too, is the self-perception of this transnationality
(in the mass media, consumption or tourism); new is the “placelessness”
¸q • Camera Obscura
The Intimacies of Globalization • ¸¸
of community, labour and capital; new are the awareness of global
ecological dangers and the corresponding arenas of action; new is the
inescapable perception of transcultural Others in one’s life, with all
the contradictory certainties resulting from it; new is the level at which
“global culture industries” circulate. (+: – +¸)
Beck’s formulation of globalization is useful because it calls atten-
tion not only to the processes of economic, technological, and
cultural globalization but also to the corresponding shift in self-
perception and perception of so-called Others that globalization
produces. Media technologies such as hlm and television — not to
mention their earlier counterpart, radio — have had an enormous
impact as vehicles for the dissemination of US cultural produc-
tions, leading some to predict a resulting homogeneous world
culture and others to point out the complexity of Third World
responses to Western media.
4
In addition, hlm and television have
also been the primary mode through which US audiences and
those in other parts of the West have been exposed to the peoples
of the Third World. The ways in which these media contribute to
the constructions of new identities and cultural representations
in different contexts have been one of the most vibrant areas of
research for cultural-studies scholars of globalization.
5
At the same time, there has been a reaction in the past few
years against what many scholars have termed the culturalist bent
of leftist scholarship in the US for failing to link an analysis of the
consumption and potentially radical reworkings of cultural pro-
ductions to economic forces. For example, in a manifesto keynote
address at the :ooq Association for Cultural Studies conference,
Toby Miller, reacting in part to the rightward shift in the US polit-
ical climate, called for a turn away from humanities-based stud-
ies of culture to social sciences – based research on capital. Miller
characterized cultural-studies scholarship focusing on agency
within popular culture as basically serving the Right by not choos-
ing to write exclusively about the economic and ideological forces
constraining viewers as consumers.
6
While I agree that there is
some value to Miller’s call to bring the economic more meaning-
fully into play in cultural analysis, I would argue that the demand
¸6 • Camera Obscura
to turn from culture to economy ignores the crucial fact that it
is precisely because politics in the US has been formulated as a
culture war that we cannot ignore the deployment of culture in
developing our own radical political critiques.
The most compelling work in cultural studies is that which
interrogates not only the hegemonic forces behind cultural pro-
ductions but also the gaps in those forces, asking how both are
perceived in different viewing contexts by different demographics.
The “personal” level of individual identity and agency must con-
stantly be examined alongside larger economic and hegemonic
social structures in order to fully explore both. As Rosemary
Hennessy puts it, following Lauren Berlant, “the task of cultural
analysis now is not to pit the ‘merely personal’ against the ‘pro-
foundly structural’ or vice versa but to attend to the ways intimacy,
sexuality, the personal — that is, the realm of the ‘private’ — are
being used in the formation of a new bourgeois hegemonic bloc
that is the outcome of late capitalism’s structural changes.”
7
By
linking the representations of gender, race, sexuality, and class in
The X-Files, Dirty Pretty Things, and Maria Full of Grace to their pro-
duction within rapidly globalizing media, and by scrutinizing how
the anxieties around sexuality they present stand in for and dis-
place other anxieties about globalization having to do with immi-
gration, biotechnology, and labor, I hope to begin building the
connections between culture and economics for which Hennessy
calls. However, my task is not only to piece together the ways in
which certain formulations of the intimate prop up structures of
hegemony. It is also to explore the ways in which these representa-
tions might short-circuit hegemonic structures or present possi-
bilities for future resistant action.
My essay thus pursues a two-pronged inquiry, combining a
materialist analysis of the production and circulation of hlm and
television with an interpretation of the central visual and narra-
tive thematics of these representations in order to counterpose
structures of power with moments of agency at the level of per-
sonal fantasy and action. One such thematic, common to all three
texts, is the use of tropes of visibility and invisibility. Though in
somewhat different ways, each text presents the bodies of people
The Intimacies of Globalization • ¸¡
of color as invisible within and yet central to the processes of
global capitalism. These bodies elude the gaze of structures of
authority even as they are continually commodihed and threat-
ened with injury, producing signihcant anxiety on the part of the
authorities that seek them. In other words, these representations
foreground the intimacies of globalization at the same time that
they use the visual media of hlm and television — media that fre-
quently present themselves as transparently immediate, intimately
present — to problematize the very idea of intimacy in global
exchanges. For the different protagonists, agency involves disrupt-
ing the supposed intimacy of visual media by controlling how,
whether, and by whom they are seen. While characters in each of
these representations resist the consuming demands of a Western
gaze, in the two hlms they also consider possibilities for alternative
forms of intimacy and coalition based on a shared resistance to
certain forms of commodihcation and shared fantasies of future
realities. The complex relationship among sexuality, work, and
commodihcation is another key thematic nexus, one that emerges
both in the Western characters’ and in Western viewers’ anxious
responses to the intimate presence of globalization’s Others and
in calculated self-commodifications by characters with limited
options in the global economic order. Finally, paying attention
to the conditions of production, as well as the reception, of these
visual texts by different groups helps situate the interplay between
medium and message within the context of larger global circula-
tions of television and hlm.
Body Hijacking as Revenge in The X-Files
In an essay titled “Erasure: Alienation, Paranoia, and the Loss of
Memory in The X-Files,” Christy L. Burns calls attention to the way
in which American ambivalence toward immigrants gets worked
through via depictions of space aliens. Burns writes, “Aliens may
tacitly be those frightening beings who drop from outer space,
but this cultural phantasm operates as a thinly disguised anxiety
about illegal aliens who cross national borders, allegedly abduct
jobs, and create ‘mutant’ children through miscegenation.”
8
In
¸S • Camera Obscura
the popular science hction series The X-Files, fears about border
crossing at the level of the state, the workplace, and the family do
indeed play out, as Burns suggests, deuected into the world of sci-
ence hction. With its trademark melding of science hction, gothic
horror, and detective and thriller genres, The X-Files makes the
perfect vehicle for representing ways in which anxieties about the
dangerous intimacies of the ever smaller global village — along
with more general anxieties about social change, sexual taboo,
and technological development — come together. As Elspeth Kydd
points out, “The series relies on visual codes from the grotesque
repertoire, representing bodies out of control. This iconography
focuses on bodily uuids and functions, and contaminatory and
painful invasions of the self. In The X-Files, these horror genre
fears are also given added racial meaning by the deployment of
Whiteness as a (de)centered racial category.”
9
The overall success
of the show indicates that this thematic of bodily invasion offers
certain pleasures for its audience. In this essay, however, I have
chosen to focus on an episode that fans rejected as too threaten-
ing and intimate, and that the Global Episode Opinion Survey
ranked as one of the most unpopular episodes of all time.
10
In
a series that relies so heavily on the pleasures of the abject, I will
explore the anxieties about globalization and sexuality the epi-
sode raises before discussing the fans’ own descriptions of why
they overwhelmingly rejected this particular episode.
The :+ January :oo+ episode of The X-Files titled “Badlaa”
(“revenge” in Urdu and Hindi) extends anti-immigrant fears
about the aggressiveness and potential perversity of the outsider to
a striking conclusion — the invasion of the body.
11
While the epi-
sode is not ostensibly about an alien, the border-crossing migrant
around which the episode’s plot revolves is presented as having
extraordinary powers and evil impulses that align him more with
the discourses of invading aliens in traditional science hction than
with more realistic portrayals of immigrant experiences.
12
The
worst nightmare of the xenophobe is the immigrant who actually
does destroy barriers and wreak havoc, but who can pass so well as
one of “us” that he or she cannot be identihed and stopped. “Bad-
laa” presents this nightmare: the exotic Other whose ancient and
The Intimacies of Globalization • ¸g
strange ways require anthropological research to be understood
at even a basic level, but who understands “us” well enough to pass
undetected as he or she destroys the essential hber that holds a
mythically unihed America together.
The basic plot of the episode is as follows: a member of
a rare sect of shape-shifting mystics (played by Deep Roy) poses
as a beggar in the Mumbai airport. A large, corpulent business-
man from the US (read fat capitalist) named Hugh Potocki (Cal-
vin Rensberg) comes through the airport, eager to get back to his
wife and children back home in Minneapolis. The businessman at
hrst ignores the beggar, but then tosses him a few coins when the
beggar suddenly shows up again behind him in another part of
the airport, remarking as he makes his donation that the crippled
man should “buy some WD-qo.” The next scene shows the beggar
wheeling himself up to and then underneath the door of Potocki’s
stall in the airport restroom, followed by screams from the busi-
nessman. Afterward, Potocki boards a plane to the US and is later
discovered dead in his hotel room in Washington, DC, during
his layover. The rest of the episode presents agents Dana Scully
(Gillian Anderson) and John Doggett (Robert Patrick) pursuing
the beggar through a series of murders in the DC suburbs before
hnally cornering and killing him at a local school, where he has
been working in his guise as a young, white, male, able-bodied
but mute janitor while murdering parents of children who attend
the school. The agents eventually realize that the mystic literally
stowed away in Hugh Potocki’s body to get to the US, an act of
invasion replicated in some of the other murders in the episode.
During the hrst part of this episode, no one can under-
stand who or what this stowaway might be, or why he would be
committing a series of seemingly random murders. Midway
through the episode, however, Scully meets with Dr. Charles
Burks (Bill Dow), a recurrent character who “run[s] the Advanced
Digital Imaging lab at the University of Maryland” and “dabbles”
in things mystical. Burks explains that the description sounds like
a type of Indian mystic who can accomplish such feats as changing
his physical size and controlling how people see him. The anthro-
pologist informs Scully that usually these mystics are devoted
qo • Camera Obscura
to global good but that this one seems to have abandoned his
ethical code and started enacting some sort of personal revenge
against others instead. He shows her a newspaper article about a
toxic cloud of methyl isocyanate gas (MIC) from a US factory that
recently killed ++S people in the town of Vishi, India, which is the
area from which these special mystics come, and shares his hnd-
ing that a renowned mystic disappeared after losing an eleven-
year-old son in the accident. According to Burks, these mystics are
gifted with extraordinary powers such as the ability to turn invis-
ible and to disguise themselves as someone else.
The real-life specter that haunts the episode, unnamed
specihcally but signaled by the news story, is the : – ¸ December
+gSq factory accident at Bhopal, in which anywhere from four
thousand to hfteen thousand people were killed almost imme-
diately by a leak of MIC, a chemical used in the production of
pesticides, from a Union Carbide Corporation plant in central
India.
13
Union Carbide negotiated a Sq¡o million settlement with
the Indian government in +gSg that gave broad criminal and civil
immunity to the company,
14
but according to Amnesty Interna-
tional, as of “September :ooq, USS¸¸o million of the USSq¡o
million remained held by the Reserve Bank of India” (+). Dow
Chemical, which bought out Union Carbide in :oo+, has man-
aged successfully to evade all subsequent attempts to hold Union
Carbide responsible for the ongoing public health catastrophe.
Warren Anderson, the chief executive at Union Carbide at the
time of the accident, though indicted by the Indian government,
is now retired and divides his time between the Hamptons and
Florida. According to the Guardian, “In Bhopal, many walls carry
the words ‘Hang Anderson.’ ”
15
Viewers old enough to remember the Bhopal incident
might make the connection between the industrial accident and
its thinly hctionalized reference. Regardless, it is striking that a
program aimed predominantly at a US audience decreases the
death toll by such a signihcant margin. Also striking is the way
in which this real-life referent undercuts the supposed irrational-
ity of the mystic’s actions. His target at the beginning of the epi-
sode, after all, is an American executive who has presumably been
The Intimacies of Globalization • q+
checking up on a local branch of an American-owned transna-
tional corporation. As John Doggett informs us, “Hugh Potocki
was a big man with big appetites: big cars, big houses, big busi-
ness,” the very embodiment of US capitalist excesses that lead to
atrocities like Bhopal. The backstory of the Bhopal incident as an
exemplar of these corporations’ exploitation of the global South
transforms the episode into a narrative about the return of the
global repressed, a cautionary tale about the possible repercus-
sions at home of US economic plunder abroad.
16
In addition to the targets of the murders, the Bhopal trag-
edy marks both the body and the modes of revenge enacted by
the mystic in the episode. The hgure of the beggar has a complex
history in India, and I do not argue that the mystic’s appearance is
completely accounted for as a result of the Bhopal tragedy.
17
How-
ever, the disabled body of the mystic in this episode is demytholo-
gized by the specter of Bhopal in that he is not simply a represen-
tative example of an atemporalized general Third World poverty,
malnutrition, and medical care. Rather, his disability might itself
be a direct result of the factory explosion.
Moreover, Hugh Potocki’s internal bleeding and eye irrita-
tion, represented in the episode as a result of the mystic’s murder-
ous occupation, actually mirrors the experience of having one’s
body occupied by methyl isocyanate gas.
18
“When MIC is inhaled
it produces an extremely acidic reaction, which attacks the inter-
nal organs, especially the lungs. This stops oxygen entering the
blood, and victims drown in their own body uuids.”
19
As the lungs
hll with uuid, the body weight of victims increases. According to
Heeresh Chandra, “who performed more than +oo autopsies at
Hamidia Hospital in the days following the disaster . . . there was
a ‘gross increase in the weight of the lungs up to three times the
normal.’ ”
20
As Agent Scully learns from the autopsy report hled
on another businessman in Mumbai, he weighed more at the time
of his death than the weight listed on his recently renewed pass-
port. The weight discrepancy is approximately thirty pounds, not
enough to be the weight of the mystic, though the episode even-
tually leads us to understand that it is indeed the mystic who was
stowed away inside the businessman.
q: • Camera Obscura
The hrst two of the mystic’s victims, Potocki and the father of
one of the children the mystic encounters as a janitor at the school,
are killed in this manner of bodily occupation, and the effects
of MIC add a great deal of signihcance to the device. The hnal
murder in the episode, which involves the mother of another
child at the same school, occurs in a manner that also refers back
to the mystic’s story. We learn from the anthropologist that the
mystic disappeared after losing a child in the factory accident.
The mother of the child in DC dies trying to save what she thinks
is her own child, though it is actually the mystic appearing as her
son, drowning in the swimming pool. Here the mystic forces an
American child’s parent to reenact his traumatic inability to pre-
vent the death of his child as a form of murder. The attempted
murder thwarted at the end of the episode functions in a similar
manner. Bursting into a schoolroom in which she sees two boys,
Scully is forced by the mystic’s guise as one of the boys to feel that
she is murdering a child, a horrihc task made especially poignant
by the fact that she herself is pregnant.
21
The fact that the mystic can take on the guise of the lit-
tle boy, as well as of the janitor, without any form of bodily pen-
etration indicates that the gruesome hrst two murders are more
choice than necessity. In other words, the mystic could just as eas-
ily have taken on the guise of Hugh Potocki rather than literally
stowing away inside his body to get to the US. But why does the
script present him as a junior high school janitor? Several inti-
macies — and anxieties about them — are at work in this episode.
The haunting specter of Bhopal hints at the potential for Third
World retribution for First World crimes by demonstrating that
the distance separating the bodies of Third World workers from
those who beneht from their labor and products can in fact be
crossed. The invisible service labor force in the US underscores a
similar point: the janitors, au pairs, housekeepers, gardeners, and
other service workers, often immigrants, whose labor keeps US
businesses and wealthier households going are intimately involved
in the day-to-day affairs of those they serve. The script’s represen-
tation of the evil mystic as a janitor plays on both the invisibility
The Intimacies of Globalization • q¸
and the intimacy of low-wage service labor. Further, the character
never speaks in his capacity as janitor (or in the entire episode, for
that matter), drawing attention to a construction of service labor-
ers as interchangeable functions rather than discrete individuals
who can be known. In the scene in which the principal welcomes
him to the job, her speech calls attention to the interchange-
ability associated with his labor. “The better the economy gets,”
she quips, “the harder it is to hll these jobs. And the problem is
that people look at it as just a paycheck. They don’t realize that as
maintenance engineer you’re playing an important role in these
kids’ lives.” Though directed at him, the speech’s more logical
audience might be the employers who themselves deny their inti-
mate dependence on their employee’s labor. The episode’s ending
repeats the thematic of interchangeability with a shot of the mys-
tic as the beggar back at the airport in Mumbai, unharmed and
ready to cause more trouble.
22

The mystic’s very mobility and anonymity are thus an
important component of the horror that subtly colors mainstream
Americans’ perceptions of alien residents in their midst. We are
presented with an immigrant who can move outside the legal/
military complex. This immigrant evades customs and police,
travels without a passport, and refuses to obey the laws of the
country to which he comes. Cleverly able to manipulate his bodily
appearance, he can pass as the epitome of the stereotypical Amer-
ican — the plump and jolly US businessman with a wife and :.¸
children at home. This shape-shifting immigrant is a nationalist’s
worst nightmare because he could be anywhere at any time. He
is both invisible and visible as whatever he wants to seem, min-
ing deep-seated US fears about otherness and assimilation.
23
Even
the ofhcial X-Files Web site seems unable to represent this hgure.
Their summary of the episode is as follows: “A mystic smuggles
himself out of India and plagues two families in suburban Wash-
ington, DC.” Yet there are no images of the mystic among the
posted images from the week’s episode. The two images of “the
murderer” are from the end of the episode, when the mystic is
passing as the young boy.
24
The racialized Other is thus erased
qq • Camera Obscura
from the episode even as he is the central character in it.
25
Mys-
teriously invisible both on- and offscreen, the mystic’s motivations
are ultimately suspect and potentially incomprehensible. Those
viewers familiar with the Bhopal incident would be much more
likely to ascribe logical motivations to the mystic than those less
likely to make the Bhopal connection. It could be inferred that he
was killing parents out of rage at losing his own family, but he also
seemed prepared to kill Scully and the two children. The episode
ultimately declines to fully explain his behavior as having logical
motivations, ambivalently raising the US corporate injustice in
Bhopal only to hnally dismiss the mystic’s demand for redress as
vengeful and unreasonable. Fan reviews demonstrate that there
are lingering questions for viewers about how to understand this
man who has entered the US with a history and motivations of his
own that may not be compatible with hegemonic US interests.
Particularly striking in both the episode and the responses
of the online fan community to it is the way in which fears about
the intimacies of the global village and of immigrant labor hnd
expression through tropes of homosexual menace. While the
Deep Roy’s repeat performance as an endlessly replicated
worker in Tim Burton’s :oo¸ adaptation of Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory (US). Courtesy Warner Bros./Photofest
The Intimacies of Globalization • q¸
effects of the body invasion in the hrst two murders are usefully
considered in relation to the effects of MIC, the workings of the
gas do not explain why the mystic appears to enter his victims
anally. As I mentioned above, the beggar pursues Hugh Potocki
into a public men’s restroom, wheeling himself up to and then
underneath the door of the businessman’s stall. We are not
shown what occurs inside the stall; we only hear the businessman
scream.
26
When Scully conducts her autopsy on the body, she cites
“massive trauma to the lower intestine and rectal wall” as evidence
that the stowaway moved through the body via the anus, though
she is unable to conhrm if the rectal damage occurs on entry or
exit. The mystic only occupies male bodies and intentionally gets
a job that puts him around young boys the age of his son, simul-
taneously playing on associations of gay men with child molest-
ers and middle- and upper-class paranoia about service workers as
potential threats. The possibility that the mystic exits the bodies
anally invites a reading of him as the abject: the literal waste of
the Western corporeal and social body that must be held at bay in
order to uphold the symbolic order.
27
However, the homophobic
specter of gay sex as invasion is also unmistakable, and I will look
at a few of the fan responses to the episode to unpack why this
detail is so signihcant.
Several online fan sites label the mystic “the butt genie” in
response to this insinuation that he penetrates his victims anally,
and I include excerpts from three of the sites here. Fan Autumn
Tysko’s review of the episode claims that the phrase originates
with Gillian Anderson before going on to comment on the ending
of the episode:
Instead of taking the opportunity to end the episode with an emotional
resonance we are supposed to think “oh no! Two weeks have passed and
that evil butt genie somehow got all the way back to India to give more
Americans dirty looks! The horror!” Frankly, besides making zero sense
it totally hzzled the episode’s end. Why not just show our little friend
singing “Baby Got Back”: “I like big butts and I cannot lie?” That would
have made about as much sense.
28
q6 • Camera Obscura
David Rosiak, who reviewed the episode for the th Hour Web Mag-
azine, concludes, “In the end, there’s nothing resembling motive
or explanation given for the proliferance [sic] of anal penetrations
throughout the episode.”
29
Both Tysko and Rosiak draw attention
to the fact that anal penetration as the mystic’s preferred mode
of bodily invasion creates a breakdown not only in their ability to
make sense of the episode but also in their pleasure as viewers.
Pam of the online Weekly Cynic offers a similarly hostile
response:
As the parent of an eight-year-old who attends public school, may I say
it did my heart good to know that principals gleefully hire people like
Mr. Burrard to be janitors, allow them to wander around the school at
all hours, and actually come in contact with the kids. Yep. I slept well
last night. . . . Apparently, I am not alone in my puzzlement over the
Butt Genie’s actions; why he would choose such a repulsive method of
transport when he has the ability simply to transform himself into other
people, or render himself totally invisible: “I’m not sure why he needs to
crawl up into people if he can just be wherever he needs to be” (Gillian
Anderson). Please don’t tell me he’s doing it because he likes it.
30
What stands out in Pam’s review, like Tysko’s and Rosiak’s, is
the way in which anal penetration itself as an inexplicable phe-
nomenon (Pam’s “Please don’t tell me he’s doing it because he
likes it”) contributes to the general sense among viewers that
the mystic’s motivations for revenge are also inexplicable. The
“people like Mr. Burrard” in Pam’s review are fascinatingly over-
determined: are they people who penetrate men anally, people
with an agenda of murderous revenge, people from India gener-
ally who get jobs around children in American schools? I would
argue that homophobia as a discourse has long functioned both
as an oppressive backlash against a group of people identihable as
homosexuals and as a shorthand for a range of reactions against
social changes that threaten the symbolic status of the nuclear
family. To take a current example, the religious Right in the US
was able to successfully mobilize its constituency for the :ooq elec-
tion by using issues such as gay marriage and abortion to harness
The Intimacies of Globalization • q¡
broader fears about the declining power of the head of the semi-
mythical traditional nuclear family and thus enforce a sex/gender
system that supports an increasingly outdated form of “bourgeois
patriarchy.”
31
In short, anxieties about the permeability of national bor-
ders that cannot prevent immigrants from entering get tangled up
with fears of bodily penetration and expressed through a rhetoric
that is guaranteed to incite horror. A welcome theoretical specter
that haunts my discussion about immigration and homophobia
here is Andreas Huyssen’s argument about the role of the vamp in
the cultural politics of Weimar Germany. In explaining the ways
in which the hgure of the woman comes to stand in for anxieties
about modernity and technological change, Huyssen writes,
There are grounds to suspect that we are facing here a complex
process of projection and displacement. The fears and perceptual
anxieties emanating from ever more powerful machines are recast and
reconstructed in terms of the male fear of female sexuality, reuecting, in
the Freudian account, the male’s castration anxiety. . . . Woman, nature,
machine had become a mesh of signihcations which all had one thing
in common: otherness; by their very existence they raised fears and
threatened male authority and control.
32
Like Huyssen, I am ueshing out a “mesh of signihcations” at a par-
ticular moment of social, economic, and technological change
in the US. The relationship between the two anxieties — border
penetration and body penetration — is not simple or straightfor-
wardly equivalent. However, I am attempting to foreground the
ways in which different anxieties can reinforce one another and
even depend on each other’s modes of representation when they
have a common effect, in this case undermining the US ideal of
the suburban, white middle-class nuclear family. For viewers who
accept this ideal as normative, the mystic’s murder of seemingly
random parents in a DC suburb is not only inexplicable but deeply
threatening. Who knows whom he would strike next, and what if
he does enjoy it?
qS • Camera Obscura
Organ Trafficking as Sexual Exploitation
in Dirty Pretty Things
Stephen Frears’s :oo: hlm Dirty Pretty Things takes up the same
motif of body invasion raised by “Badlaa” as a mode through which
to represent Western-driven economic globalization’s dependence
on underpaid labor by people of color, primarily from the global
South. But the hlm performs a crucial move by shifting the nar-
rative perspective from that of Westerners anxious about West-
ern bodies being invaded by globalization’s Others to that of the
migrant laborers themselves. The horror of the hlm thus derives
not from the invisible vilihed immigrant but from the cannibalis-
tic forces of Western capitalism. Dirty Pretty Things allegorizes the
plight of the migrant worker in the global city as a struggle not to
be consumed by the excessive demands of capitalism in the age of
globalization. Extending the premise that immigrants donate the
invisible blood, sweat, and tears that prop up Western economies,
the underlying theme in the hlm is that immigrants quite liter-
ally keep wealthy (and mostly, but not exclusively, Western) bod-
ies going by selling their own. The mission of the hlm’s central
characters becomes hnding a way to navigate the underground
economy of immigrant labor while minimizing the fragmentation
and commodihcation of their own and each other’s bodies for
capital, whether it is through providing kidneys or sexual favors.
Dirty Pretty Things represents the organ trade as a newer and more
sinister version of prostitution, in which commodihcation of one’s
body for one purpose may lead inevitably to other forms of com-
modihcation. In its exploration of the invisible people participat-
ing in London’s black-market trade in organs, the hlm thus associ-
ates a sexualized concern about the boundaries of the body with a
concern about immigration and national border crossing.
33
As Dirty Pretty Things reminds us, globalization as a phe-
nomenon concerns not only the reorganizing of nation-states by
transnational capital but also the organizing of bodies themselves.
As we know, the body is always already social: there is no essential
body outside of cultural and economic transactions. Similarly,
the private sphere, as scholars like Anne McClintock and Rose-
mary Hennessy have so persuasively shown, is deeply implicated
The Intimacies of Globalization • qg
in transnational capital, no matter how diligently it is marked off
as the feminized refuge from public exchange.
34
Because so much
cultural work goes into presenting the body, the home, and affect
as outside of global circulations of power, the organization of the
ostensibly private or personal offers a particularly interesting site
for examining the gendered material effects and instances of
resistance to global capital.
To begin to unpack this particular mesh of signihcations
around bodies and borders, let me provide an example. On :¸
May :ooq, Larry Rohter published an article titled “Tracking the
Sale of a Kidney on a Path of Poverty and Hope” in the New York
Times.
35
Rohter’s article retraces the process by which a Brazilian
man named Alberty José da Silva sold his kidney to an unnamed
Jewish woman in Brooklyn in :oo¸. Da Silva, whom Rohter
describes as “one of :¸ children of a prostitute, only +¸ of whom
survived to adulthood,” shares a two-room shack in a slum near
the airport in Recife with ten people. He was offered S6,ooo for
his kidney, equivalent to approximately six years’ earnings at Bra-
zil’s minimum wage. When he accepted, he was uown to South
Africa by the two middlemen who coordinated the deal, one a
retired Brazilian military ofhcer, the other a retired Israeli police
ofhcer. There he met the woman who had purchased his kidney.
Her end of the deal had been brokered by relatives in Israel, who
contacted an Israeli syndicate linked to the middlemen in Bra-
zil. The transplant was done at St. Augustine’s hospital in Dur-
ban, South Africa, after which both parties were uown back to
their respective countries. Both claimed that they did not know
the process was illegal until the last minute, and Israelis who had
purchased kidneys from Brazilian donors through the Israeli syn-
dicate said they had been told that the donors received S:¸,ooo,
rather than S6,ooo, per kidney.
Da Silva’s story certainly resonates with the plot of organ
trafhcking in Dirty Pretty Things. Before I move on to my discussion
of the hlm, though, I want to draw attention to the way in which
Rohter frames this transaction. When he hrst introduces da Silva,
Rohter writes, “He recalled his mother as a woman who ‘sold her
uesh’ to survive. Last year he decided he would too.” Rohter later
¸o • Camera Obscura
cites Alexander M. Capron, the director of the ethics department
at the World Health Organization, who lays out the two major
sides of the debate on organ trafhcking. On one side are doctors
who hope to remedy the shortage of organs by offering payment,
as well as those who argue that selling one’s organs should be legal
out of respect for individual autonomy. On the other side, Capron
locates those who argue that selling organs is uncomfortably close
to selling people. As Rohter summarizes, “as in sex trafhcking,
the marketplace is one in which coercion and exploitation may be
unavoidable.” But would Rohter’s argument about coercion and
exploitation not be equally applicable to sweatshop conditions in
a wide variety of transnational corporations? What logic propels
this specihc association of organ trafhcking with sex trafhcking?
What exactly does selling a kidney have to do with selling sex? This
is the question I will attempt to unravel in my reading of the hlm,
which links the two issues through a thematic of penetration.
The premise of Dirty Pretty Things is that Señor Juan (Serge
Lopez), the concierge of a London hotel, uses his job as a cover for
his participation in an international organ trafhcking ring, offer-
ing illegal immigrants passports and other documentation for
which they are desperate enough to sell their kidneys. This hlm
about what the trailer describes as the “underworld” of London
immigrant life presents racialized “foreigners” struggling to avoid
being physically invaded, turned into commodities, and mined
for parts. The main characters, Senay (Audrey Tautou) and Okwe
(Chiwetel Ejiofor), refugees from Turkey and Nigeria, respec-
tively, and employees at the hotel, have to negotiate this impulse
to reduce bodies to their constitutive pieces. Okwe falls in love
with Senay and ultimately plays the role of savior by devising a
means to turn the organ trade to their advantage and thus allow
them to escape to their desired destinations (mostly) in one piece.
For Okwe, this means returning to Nigeria to reconnect with his
daughter; Senay embarks for New York, where she plans to live
with her cousin and start a new life.
The hlm’s plot is driven in large part by Okwe’s evolving
understanding of the potential uses of and reasons for self-com-
modihcation. At the beginning of the hlm, his reaction to organ
The Intimacies of Globalization • ¸+
Okwe chastises Senay for planning to sell her kidney.
Courtesy Miramax/Photofest
trafhcking falls hrmly within Capron’s antiexploitation camp
outlined above. When he hrst meets a donor by chance in Señor
Juan’s ofhce, he ends up attending to the Somali man suffering
from an infection after having his kidney removed. Posing as a
janitor at the hospital where his friend Guo Yi (Benedict Wong)
works, he steals medications for the man. After a long period
of silence while tending the Somali, he is clearly unable to hold
back any longer and exclaims angrily, “He swapped his insides
for a passport.” When Señor Juan attempts to bribe Okwe by hint-
ing that he will reveal his identity as a Nigerian doctor wanted
by his government to the police, Okwe rejects Señor Juan’s logic
of organ trafhcking as a mutually benehcial exchange of goods
and services, which is the logic of Capron’s free-market autonomy
camp. In this key scene, Señor Juan corners Okwe in the hotel
parking lot to attempt to convince him to become his business
partner in the organ trade, performing the operations and get-
ting his share of the money from their sale. As he puts it, “I sell
the kidney for S+o,ooo so I’m happy. The person who needs the
kidney gets cured so he’s happy. The person who sold his kidney
gets to stay in this beautiful country so he’s happy. My whole busi-
ness is based on happiness.”
¸: • Camera Obscura
For Okwe, as with others who argue against organ traf-
hcking, Señor Juan’s happy story obscures the personal trauma
caused by this self-commodihcation and the fact that the trans-
action occurs under conditions of severe inequality. When Okwe
discerns that Senay is planning to sell her kidney to escape her
sexual slavery at the sweatshop and realize her dream of immi-
grating to New York, he chastises her: “Because you are poor
you will be gutted like an animal. They will cut you here, or they
will cut you here. They will take what they want and leave the
rest to rot.” Okwe’s story focuses on what Señor Juan intention-
ally leaves out — only those who are desperate to survive, in large
part because of their status as refugees or illegal immigrants, are
willing to enact the so-called happy script. As the hlm progresses,
however, Senay’s sexual abuse at the hands of Señor Juan forces
Okwe to conclude that it is impossible to remain outside of this
system of commodihcation. The hlm’s ending instead hnds him
navigating the system as savvily as he can to obtain the best out-
come for himself, Senay, and the rest of his support network.
The hlm is as much about manipulating one’s commod-
ity status as a body under late capitalism as it is about organ traf-
hcking in particular. Each of the main characters in this London
underworld survives via his or her commodihcation. Okwe is a
highly desirable business partner for Señor Juan because of his
skills as a doctor. Senay, at the cost of great personal torment,
survives by performing sexual favors for her sweatshop boss and
eventually for Señor Juan. Juliette (Sophie Okonedo), the hotel
prostitute, has no illusions that her body is anything other than
an object of exchange for her clients. Even Guo Yi, Okwe’s friend
who works at the hospital crematorium, sells his own invisibility
as a service. In his otherworldly basement ofhce, he makes wasted
human life disappear as if by magic.
In her essay on the commodihcation of bodies in the organ
trade, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a medical anthropologist and the
cofounder of the nonproht organization Organs Watch, dehnes
commodihcation as “encompassing all capitalized economic rela-
tions between humans in which human bodies are the token of
exchanges that are often masked as something else — love, altru-
The Intimacies of Globalization • ¸¸
ism, pleasure, kindness.”
36
To sell parts of one’s body, whether kid-
neys or genitalia, exposes exchanges taken as gifts among equals
for the economic exchanges of commodihed bodies they really
are. Sexual penetration becomes a visual rhetoric in Dirty Pretty
Things for the most horrihc kinds of these body commodihcations
and dangerous intimacies. Nearly every character in the hlm is
under threat of penetration. In the first scene in which Okwe
appears, we see him called to the back room by the taxi company
manager, who pulls down his pants and orders Okwe to look at his
genitalia. Okwe squats down in a motion that suggests he is get-
ting ready to perform fellatio, a movement repeated by Senay later
in the hlm when she indeed does perform fellatio under orders of
her own boss at the sweatshop. With Okwe, the specter of sexual
subjection is hinted at but swiftly denied, foreshadowing his status
as the only one unpenetrated at the end of the hlm.
37
The sexual penetration of the two women in the hlm is
Okwe’s greatest horror and the reason he abandons his initial
position to enter the arena of organ trading. However, Okwe can-
not distinguish between completely coercive body commodihca-
tions such as Senay’s sexual exploitation in the sweatshop and cal-
culated economic exchanges like Juliette’s prostitution. These are,
of course, blurry categories, since even Juliette would probably
not be commodifying herself if she had another economic alter-
native. Okwe’s subtly humorous attempt to save Juliette from one
of her clients in a hotel room — she has already sprayed the man
with mace and left him crumpled on the uoor from a hard kick
to the groin before Okwe steps in — exemplihes his horror about
the fact that commodihcation and agency are sometimes overlap-
ping categories. Okwe’s punch line at the end of the hlm provides
its last word on the issue of penetration, this time in the form of
a reminder to the hlm’s predominantly white audience that they
have penetrated the daily lives of those to whom they are invisible
but do not serve simply because they want to.
As they participate in the economy of self-commodihca-
tion, Senay and Juliette also confront their particular objectihca-
tion as poor women of color. Sexism aligns women with the body
and breaks them down into parts that act as sexual fetishes — in
¸q • Camera Obscura
other words, aside from a literal trafhc in organs, they are already
“organized.” Juliette offers up particular organs for use, accept-
ing her lot with a resigned humor. Senay is also “organized” from
the outset. At the sweatshop, she has nowhere else to uee and is
forced to become the mouth that performs fellatio on her boss
in exchange for continued employment. Though Okwe argues
that if she works hard within the unequal system, she will eventu-
ally be able to buy her way to New York, Senay at this point knows
better. “Do you know what kind of work I do?” she yells, forcing
him to acknowledge that her gendered position makes his idea of
success through hard work untenable. After her act of rebellion
against the sweatshop boss — she bites instead of sucking — Senay
hnds herself without a job and with few options. She enters into
an agreement with Señor Juan to sell her kidney, but her hymen is
the commodity she actually ends up selling.
The scene in which Senay agrees to sex with Señor Juan
as the “deal breaker” for her passport and ticket to New York is
a disturbing one. She has little negotiating power, and her one
small victory is her demand that “you don’t see me” during their
encounter. This concession on Señor Juan’s part hardly serves to
equalize the status of the two participants. As Frears points out in
a :oo¸ interview with Cineaste, “the fact that Senay doesn’t break
down and crack doesn’t mean that something awful hasn’t hap-
pened.”
38
Senay’s strength here lies in her ability to survive and
make it to New York. However, Senay’s demand not to be seen is
signihcant in a hlm about those whom Okwe at the end of the
hlm calls “the people you do not see.” It is here that the question
of why the organ trade has been debated in such sexualized terms
may begin to become clearer.
In the climactic scene of the movie, Okwe, Senay, and
Juliette go to the parking lot to meet the man scheduled to pick
up the kidney. He, of course, has no idea that it is Señor Juan’s
kidney rather than Senay’s he will be picking up, but it does not
particularly matter who the kidney comes from: in this under-
ground economy donors are merely a collection of potentially use-
able parts. His only concern is that the exchange be carried out
without incident. When the man drives up in his Mercedes, he is
The Intimacies of Globalization • ¸¸
surprised by these three unfamiliar faces and asks where Señor
Juan is. When they explain that “he’s drunk,” the man asks, “How
come I’ve never seen you people before?” Okwe’s reply acts as the
dramatic punch line to the hlm: “Because we are the people you
do not see. We are the ones who drive your cabs; we clean your
rooms and suck your cocks.” The line is directed at the man, but,
as I mention above, it is clearly meant as the pedagogical message
for the hlm’s predominantly white, middle-class audience as well.
The man has no good response, and he simply takes the kidney
and drives away.
In light of this scene, I offer two readings of Senay’s state-
ment, “You don’t see me.” The hrst reading is that Senay can only
manipulate the details of her commodihcation and thus has no
real agency in the situation. With sexual exploitation as with
organ trafhcking, those who “organize” themselves out of eco-
nomic necessity can only bargain for better terms and remind the
other party that their self-commodihcation is a job rather than a
gift of genuine intimacy. Commodihed sex is disturbing because it
violates the cherished idea that intimacy occurs outside of systems
of power and economic exchange and is thus a gift shared among
equals. To pay or bargain for sex is to admit that the encounter
between bodies, the expression of affect, participates in a larger
economy and can be simulated and manipulated by those with
different degrees of power. In other words, as feminist theorists
have long understood, prostitution unsettles the notion that
women love and sexually gratify men because it is natural and we
are created to do it.
39
Similarly, the reality of selling one’s organs in exchange
for money or specihc goods forces Westerners to confront the
fact that imperialism is not merely an abstract set of economic cir-
cumstances but a form of literal predation on the bodies of poor
people, particularly people of color from the Third World who
staff the factories owned by Europe and the US at home and per-
form the low-paying service jobs in the West as immigrants and
refugees. To attach a price to a kidney, as Scheper-Hughes argues,
is to remove the exchange of life-giving organs from the realm of
the gift and place it hrmly within an unequal late-capitalist global
¸6 • Camera Obscura
economy. In this hrst reading, Senay’s refusal of visibility is thus
a refusal of any implication that her sale of her organ or her sex
constitutes participation in the intimacy of a gift economy. Her
moment of negotiation, like Okwe’s decision to sell a kidney after
all, signals her taking up the most dehant position possible within
the commodity system of globalization. But to end here means
that I have no answer to the problem of agency. I can only offer
that the question should not be how to get out of the global com-
modity system. But instead, knowing that turning oneself into an
object is unavoidable as a racialized and sexualized body, how does
one negotiate the best conditions in the process of exchange?
This brings me to my second reading: Senay refuses visibil-
ity not just to force recognition that the exchange is an economic
necessity rather than a desired gift. Even as she agrees under
duress to the sexual violation of her body, she asserts her identity
as in part beyond the terms of her commodihcation. Just as earlier
in the hlm she negotiated sharing her apartment with Okwe in a
way that best reconciled with her understanding of her identity as
a modern Muslim woman, in this moment she maintains a sense
of her personal and social limits under horrihc circumstances. In
this reading, “You don’t see me” is not a command about what
will happen in the immediate future but a description of the pres-
ent situation. Despite the fact that Senay, like other women (and
especially women of color), is meant to be seen in a sexist world,
she knows that Señor Juan does not really see her. As a Muslim
woman negotiating her own versions of modernity and identity,
or in her words “not being her mother,” Senay’s symbolic veiling is
a particularly loaded mode of rebellion because it simultaneously
reasserts the virginal status that she hnds religiously and cultur-
ally signihcant at the same time as it psychically projects her out-
side of the impending moment of violence. Senay and the viewer
both know that Señor Juan’s inability to see her whole body does
not prevent the violence. But this fantasy gets her through even as
she knows it is a fantasy, because it preserves a core element of her
identity. Much in the same way, she knows that her fantasy of New
York with its twinkling, lit trees and cops on white horses is unreal
even as she holds onto it to propel herself out of her situation.
The Intimacies of Globalization • ¸¡
In short, these personal/political narratives function as an impor-
tant form of agency for a woman with few material resources, and
they call attention to the fact that transnational capital cannot
completely account for complex identities sustained by fantasies
of change.
The “people you do not see” at the end of the hlm might
then in fact be arguing for a space for themselves beyond their
object status as commodities. Like that of the mystic in “Badlaa,”
their very invisibility poses possibilities for resistance: because they
have no ofhcial location, they cannot be tracked down. If they do
not exist, how can you be sure that you know who they are? And
if you do not know who they are, how can you predict what they
are capable of? Moreover, their ability to act collectively for their
shared benefit posits an alternative to the global service econ-
omy that demands their fragmentation and exploitation without
recourse. Finally, as Senay’s conscious dreaming attests, the ability
to imagine otherwise — the power of fantasy — while not itself a
measurable change in material conditions, is nevertheless crucial
to sustaining those resisting their own abjection within systems of
commodihcation.
40
Maria Full of Grace and Possibilities
When agents Scully and Doggett discover the body of Hugh
Potocki in a Washington, DC, hotel, Doggett’s first hypothesis
about Potocki’s injuries is that he was involved in the international
drug trade as a mule and was killed in an attempt to retrieve the
cargo he had been carrying. For the gothic horror genre of The X-
Files, this scenario is too realistic to be the true story, and the epi-
sode proceeds instead along the trajectory I described earlier. It
is, however, the trajectory of Maria Full of Grace, independent hlm-
maker Joshua Marston’s :ooq writing and directing debut. In con-
trast to Senay in Dirty Pretty Things, who struggles against having
parts of herself removed to circulate on the global market, Maria
(Catalina Sandino Moreno), the title character in Marston’s hlm,
highlights a different but related phenomenon: the ways in which
the forces of globalization might literally occupy bodies. “Badlaa”
¸S • Camera Obscura
raised the specter of MIC gas occupying white suburbanites in the
US at the expense of representing its effects on those who actually
suffered from the Bhopal explosion, but Maria Full of Grace pays
close and painfully realistic attention to the effects of the com-
modities of the international drug trade on those who agree to
carry them as so-called mules across national borders.
Unlike other exploitative industries in the new global econ-
omy such as clothing and electronics, international drug trafhck-
ing has sparked a great deal of creative production, government
regulation, and media fervor. Films and television programming
from the +gSos and +ggos through the beginning of the twenty-
hrst century have tended to follow one of two stories: either the
heroic cop battling international and/or inner-city dealers as part
of the (usually US) war on drugs (Miami Vice [US, NBC, +gSq – Sg],
New Jack City [dir. Mario Van Peebles, US, +gg+], Narc [dir. Joe Car-
nahan, US/Canada, :oo:]) or the antihero drug addict/dealer/
outlaw (Scarface [dir. Brian De Palma, US, +gS¸], Trainspotting [dir.
Danny Boyle, UK, +gg6]) whose larger-than-life antiestablishment
style was meant to be admired even as it was ofhcially condemned
by bringing the protagonist to justice at the hlm’s end or making
him an object of pity or humor (Up in Smoke [dir. Lou Adler, US,
+g¡S], The Big Lebowski [dir. Joel Coen, US/UK, +ggS]). However,
more nuanced recent hlms such as Requiem for a Dream (dir. Dar-
ren Aronofsky, US, :ooo) and Trafc (dir. Steven Soderbergh, US/
Germany, :ooo), adapted from the +gSg BBC miniseries Trafk
(writ. Simon Moore, dir. Alastair Reid, prod. Brian Eastman, UK),
have achieved both popular and critical success while refusing to
fall neatly within the prescribed formulas.
Focusing on the violent underworld of dealers and the
mixed experiences of addicts, what tended to remain offscreen
in both these earlier narratives were the circumstances of drug
production in countries undergoing violent civil unrest, such
as Colombia and Afghanistan, and the ways in which the drug
trade affects those closest to this site of production. According to
LaMond Tullis, scholarship on drug trafhcking has also replicated
this critical aporia. Tullis argues that “although the literature on
illicit drugs is now rapidly expanding, most of it has focused on
The Intimacies of Globalization • ¸g
consumption and drug-control problems in major industrialized
countries. Less attention has been paid to the impact of produc-
tion, trade, and consumption of illicit drugs and international con-
trol policies in the developing countries.”
41
Tullis claims that the
framing of the drug debate in these terms has contributed to the
failure of the so-called war on drugs, “because illicit-drugs con-
trol initiatives have been mostly concentrated on supply-reduction
efforts in developing countries. In the wake of a general failure
of these supply-reduction strategies to control consumption any-
where (indeed, they may have served to expand it), a strong shift is
now expected in international drug-control efforts” (xi). Marston
cites his own frustration with this conceptual failure of the drug
war as a major motivation for making his hlm.
42
The process of the hlm’s production reflects the global
nature of the commodity that dominates its story line. Marston’s
producer, Paul Mezey, himself the child of Colombian immi-
grants, helped him assemble a truly international cast and crew. It
was important to Marston for Colombian actors to play the Colom-
bian characters, and it took the casting director three months to
hnd Catalina Sandino Moreno, who had never before acted pro-
fessionally, to hll the title role. Though Marston gave the actors a
script to learn initially, he asked them to give it back before shoot-
ing so that the actors could develop each scene more organically
through improvisation before rewriting the collectively agreed on
hnal version of the script. Since the ongoing violence in Colombia
made it impossible to hlm there for extended periods, most of the
scenes set in Colombia were shot in neighboring Ecuador with a
crew hailing from Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and the US. The
scenes set in the US were hlmed on location in Jackson Heights,
Queens, and the real-life “Mayor of Little Colombia,” Orlando
Tobon, plays Don Fernando, the hctionalized version of himself.
Tobon also served as an associate producer on the project. The
international nature of the project resulted from Marston’s desire
to develop a more true-to-life representation of the impact of the
international drug trade on the Colombian people.
43
Maria Full of Grace follows the character Maria from her
work on a rose plantation outside of Bogotá to her eventual deci-
6o • Camera Obscura
sion to become a drug mule and her experience as an illegal immi-
grant in the US.
44
After the beginning credits, which show scenes
of her working at the rose plantation, we see Maria literally climb-
ing a wall, dramatizing her desire to hnd a way out of her cur-
rent circumstances. Unhappy at her mind-numbing and repetitive
job removing thorns from roses, Maria impulsively quits one day
when her boss refuses to let her go to the bathroom. Already out
of work, Maria is also pregnant and refuses her boyfriend’s half-
hearted offer of marriage because she knows neither one of them
really loves the other. Maria is rapidly following in the footsteps
of her sister, an unemployed young mother who lives with their
mother and grandmother and depends on the family’s income (a
great deal of which comes from Maria) to survive. Through an
acquaintance, Maria ends up meeting up with a drug trafhcker
in Bogotá and agreeing to ferry heroin into the US as a mule,
along with three other women: her friend Blanca (Yenny Paola
Vega Sanchez) from the rose plantation; Lucy (Guilied López), an
experienced mule who takes Maria under her wing; and a stranger
who gets caught by the police when they land at JFK airport. After
Lucy dies in a hotel room from a capsule breaking in her stom-
ach and is brutally disemboweled by their US contacts, Maria and
Blanca uee to Little Colombia, the Jackson Heights neighborhood
in Queens, where they are taken in by Lucy’s sister, Carla (Patricia
Rae), and her husband. With her baby’s and her own future in
mind, Maria decides at the end of the hlm to stay in the US while
Blanca goes back to Colombia.
As is the case with “Badlaa” and Dirty Pretty Things, the
forces of globalization in Maria Full of Grace involve awkward and
unwanted intimacies: Maria’s shame at being physically searched
and having her urine tested by strangers in a cramped police
room in a country she has never seen; the claustrophobic hotel
room near JFK in which the three women must stay with their
thuggish contacts while they wait for the heroin capsules to pass
through their systems; the capsules themselves, which the women
must wash meticulously with toothpaste because, as one of the
thugs says, “I don’t want to be smelling your shit”; the awkward-
ness of asking other immigrants for the way in a city where Maria
knows neither the language of the country nor the Haitian Cre-
The Intimacies of Globalization • 6+
ole of the cab driver who takes her where she needs to go; the
pain of pleading with a stranger, the sister of a woman she knows
has been murdered, for a place to stay when, as the stranger says,
“everyone knows someone” in America except Maria; and hnally
working with the “Mayor of Little Colombia,” whom she has never
before met to repatriate the dead body of Lucy, whom he will
never meet and whose family in Colombia he will never see. These
are only a few of many instances of uncomfortable intimacies.
Marston’s script forces US audiences to see how their consump-
tion of drugs such as heroin and cocaine requires the murder
of the largely invisible people who produce and transport them
inside their bodies. This is the most pressing intimacy, the unrep-
resented, unspoken relationship between the strangers who will
consume the drugs and Maria and her living and dead compan-
ions who carried the drugs inside them. Echoing the structure
of the two earlier representations, it is this typically invisible inti-
macy between bodies ostensibly kept separate from one another
that comes to the fore in Marston’s hlm.
The hlm’s central themes concern the things Maria is full
of and center around the question of which of these will symboli-
cally win out. As a mule, Maria is full of the heroin she is smug-
gling in her body from Colombia to New York. Unlike Senay, who
decides to partially disassemble her body for the sake of her eco-
nomic survival, Maria denaturalizes her insides by changing their
function: she transforms her stomach into a cargo vessel for mass-
produced commodities. In theory, this organizing of her own
body is less transformative in the long run because her stomach
can revert to its previous status after the drugs are removed, while
Senay’s body would be permanently reorganized by the removal of
her kidney. However, both cases exemplify the state Rosi Braidotti
describes as “organs without bodies,” the contemporary situation
in which the advances in biotechnology that characterize moder-
nity transform the body from a whole into “a mosaic of detachable
pieces.”
45
Braidotti explains that
“organs without bodies” marks a planetary transaction of living matter
carefully invested to keep the species alive and healthy and white. In
a perverse twist, the loss of unity of the “subject” results in the human
6: • Camera Obscura
being lending its organic components to many a prostitutional swap: the
part for the whole. “Organs without bodies” marks the transplant of and
experimentation with organs in a cynical, postindustrialist simulacrum
of “the gift.” . . . The perverse turn taken by the situation I describe
as “organs without bodies” promotes a very dangerous idea: the inter-
changeability of the organs. (¸: – ¸¸)
In my discussion of Dirty Pretty Things I call attention to the prob-
lematic formulation of the organ trade as a gift economy. For
Braidotti, though, this mistaken formulation goes hand in hand
with the idea of the body’s interchangeability with other bodies.
Like the endlessly replicating low-wage worker in “Badlaa,” Maria
as a drug mule is useful for her very interchangeability. But the
hlm short-circuits this interchangeability through its representa-
tion of the other elements she is full of.
As the opening scenes demonstrate, Maria is above all full
of restlessness. She can see her future in her sister’s situation and
wants to hnd a better life for herself. Drug muling allows her to
climb over the symbolic wall of her circumstances and over the
border to more opportunities. The rebellious temperament that
accompanies her restlessness helps her survive even as it compli-
cates her situation: choosing to uee from her designated contacts
in the US threatens her life and the lives of her family members,
but it also allows her to witness the Colombian immigrant neigh-
borhood that the movie’s ending implies will be Maria’s adopted
home. The payoff for this restlessness is not assured: as the scene
in which Maria pauses by a man sitting on a stoop in Jackson
Heights stripping the thorns off of roses illustrates, there is a dan-
ger that her new life in the US will be a replication of the one she
left behind. Working against capitalism’s demand for equivalancy,
the narrative perspective of the hlm focuses on developing Maria
as a complex character whose destiny is not interchangeable with
even that of her friend Blanca.
As the title suggests, Maria also functions as a sort of Chris-
tian Mary among us, whose success can be read as a product of
her being divinely blessed and of her graceful compassion toward
others. But she is certainly no saint, and her unrepentant joy in
her unwed pregnancy positions her as a double for both the Marys
The Intimacies of Globalization • 6¸
of Catholicism: the virgin mother and the so-called whore Mary
Magdalene. This doubling of Marias resonates with the doubled
hgure of Maria in the hlm Metropolis (dir. Fritz Lang, Germany,
+g:¡), around which Andreas Huyssen builds his argument about
the overdetermined signihcance of the hgure of the woman for
a modernity anxious about the potentially threatening nature of
technology.
46
Similarly, the tension between Maria as a mule and
as a mother becomes the site for negotiating the uneasy relation-
ship between nature and technology in Marston’s hlm.
For in addition to being full of drugs and a certain grand-
ness of spirit, Maria is of course pregnant, and her beaming smile
during her ultrasound in a New York clinic, one of her few smiles
in the entire hlm, indicates that this is a welcome if unplanned
pregnancy. The way she clutches the picture of her baby given to
her by the clinic staff on the way to the airport functions to jus-
tify her decision not to board the plane back to Colombia at the
end of the film, even though her friend Blanca does. I have to
admit that there was initially something disturbing to me about
the fact that the only two women who seem positioned by the hlm
to create new lives for themselves are pregnant: Maria and Lucy’s
sister Carla. Something had to provide a convincing motivation
for Maria’s decision to use the drug trade to get out of her dead-
end situation, when according to Marston less than o.¸ percent
of the q million Colombians in the US have any involvement with
the drug trade.
47
But what if she had decided to have an abor-
tion in Colombia? What if one of the mules who was not pregnant
had made it? Were her insides more sacred than Lucy’s because
she was pregnant? Was she more full of grace? Maria’s agency in
the hlm seemed constrained by anxieties about boundaries, and
Catholic beliefs about abortion as violating the sanctity of the
body are a boundary the hlm chose not to cross. The use of the
female body for production, as a mule, of “unnatural” commodi-
ties was rejected, while the body as vessel for “natural” reproduc-
tion remained unchallenged, obscuring the slipperiness of that
very boundary.
In the director’s commentary that accompanies the DVD
of the hlm, Marston describes a fascinating aborted scene, cut
from the hnal print of the hlm, which dramatizes the ways in
6q • Camera Obscura
which production and reproduction become entangled for Maria.
The scene is a nightmare Maria has while staying at Carla’s apart-
ment in Jackson Heights the night after her ultrasound. In the
dream, Maria is nine months pregnant and is being pursued by
the two thugs from whom she and Blanca have ued at the hotel.
One of them stabs her in the stomach with a knife and pellets of
heroin pour out of her belly, each containing a small fetus. Mar-
ston and the producer Paul Mezey decided the tone of the scene
did not work with the rest of the film, but such a scene would
have foregrounded the physical reproduction of bearing children
and the social reproduction of transmitting economic status and
social values to one’s children as components of the labor system
that found Maria working as a drug mule and that leaves her in
a precarious if hopeful position at the hlm’s end. As the aborted
scene thus thematized her fears about her unborn child’s poten-
tial commodihcation in the drug world in which she is caught up,
it would have complicated the hlm’s representation of the natu-
ral versus the commodihed body. In a hlm unquestionably hlled
with strong female characters, was the role of reproduction in the
global economy paradoxically obscured from view by deleting this
key scene?
A more positive appraisal of the hlm’s thematic use of preg-
nancy must consider Maria’s pregnancy in the context of domi-
nant US narratives about Latin American immigrants. The hlm’s
sympathetic portrayal of a pregnant immigrant is especially pow-
erful in a moment in which anti-immigrant sentiment crystallizes
around the idea of uncontrollably reproducing immigrants. Like
the mystic of “Badlaa,” Maria is a xenophobe’s nightmare, and she
is doubly dangerous in that she carries not only drugs but unborn
foreign children too. The hlm’s doubling of Maria with the Virgin
Mary provides an ideological counterpoint to negative depictions
of the unwed mother as a welfare queen, posing her fetus as not
only a potential US citizen but the very son of God. We could not
be further from the Right’s portrayals of Latin American immi-
grants as agents of moral contagion.
Moreover, deleting the scene of Maria’s nightmare under-
scores the hlm’s commitment to letting Maria choose what she
The Intimacies of Globalization • 6¸
wishes to expose. For Braidotti, “more than anything else, the dis-
memberment of the body . . . ha[s] to do with the idea of visibility,
with looking, and consequently with the gaze.”
48
One of the most
powerful elements of the hlm is its strategic use of the thematic of
interior/exterior, from the claustrophobic interior of the airplane
to the audience’s inability to know what is happening inside Lucy
during the trip. Further, the absence of interior monologue in
the hlm denies the viewer full access to Maria’s interiority even as
Maria is attempting to prevent access and damage to her insides
in order to survive. Maria’s pregnancy in the hlm comes to stand
in for her struggle to control her own interiority. In the deten-
tion room in the airport, it is her status as a pregnant woman that
prevents the security ofhcers from being able to use surveillance
technology to gaze inside her body. Near the end of the hlm,
when she goes to the clinic, she consents to look at the ultrasound
images of the baby in her uterus, which are signihcant enough
to her that she chooses to stay in New York. Here Maria co-opts
the very technology she escapes at the airport to choose a par-
ticular representation of her interiority. Since Maria’s nightmare
about the exposure of what is inside her would have circumvented
this choice and courted the very surveilling gaze she successfully
evades in the hlm, I can concede that it is better left offscreen.
Maria Full of Grace’s decision not to reveal Maria’s night-
mares for its audience resonates with the treatment of interiority
in the other texts I have discussed above. In “Badlaa,” the mystic’s
silence and shifting visual self-presentations unsettle audiences
who want access to his motivations. Dirty Pretty Things also refuses
to share interiority by denying the audience the characters’ full
backstories. The characters band together, but their illegal and/
or refugee status makes their pasts dangerous. Thus they are a
coalition of strangers, and they treat the exchange of details from
their pasts as the most intense form of intimacy: an exchange of
interiority, a gift of their inside, their subjectivity. In Maria Full of
Grace, Maria’s attitude toward her baby is one of many hints at a
complex subjectivity that refuses full visibility and to which audi-
ences are not simply granted the free run of their gaze.
66 • Camera Obscura
Conclusion: Organizing Bodies in the Global Economy
In all three of these representations, questions of power and
agency are dramatized through struggles around bodily integrity,
a resonant terrain for scholars of gender and sexuality, television
and hlm, as well as the economic and cultural forces of global-
ization. These visual representations of globalization are richly
useful because they foreground the tension, for subjects of the
global South, between being organized and represented within
global economic and cultural structures, on the one hand, and
resisting commodihcation and exploitation as workers, on the
other. I have focused on the unstable relationship between exploi-
tation and agency throughout this essay because I am skeptical
of each without the other. In order to theorize agency, we must
not valorize subalternity and mobility themselves as rebellion.
However, in claiming that nothing is beyond the reach of global
capital, we cannot accept the argument that there is no means
of resistance from below. This is not merely a question of how we
understand our objects of study, as we all, albeit with markedly
different degrees of power and from different geographical and
economic positions, must negotiate the possibilities for agency
and the terms of our commodihcation in the age of globalization.
It is imperative that we, as culture workers in the early twenty-hrst
century, know exactly what kind of commodities we are if we mean
to subvert the power that breaks us down into things.
Notes
I thank Andrea Fontenot, Alexander McKee, Maurizia Boscagli,
Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, Enda Duffy, Sharon Willis, and Bishnupriya
Ghosh for their responses to this essay at various stages. I am
particularly indebted to Sasha Torres for her perceptive comments
and skillful editing.
+. “Badlaa” episode of The X-Files, writ. John Shiban, dir. Tony
Wharmby, prod. Vince Gilligan, Frank Spotnitz, and Chris
Carter, Fox, :+ January :oo+.
The Intimacies of Globalization • 6¡
:. For a useful introduction to the most prominent thinkers in this
emerging held, see John Beynon and David Dunkerley, eds.,
Globalization: The Reader (New York: Routledge, :ooo).
¸. Ulrich Beck, What Is Globalization? trans. Patrick Camiller
(Cambridge: Polity, :ooo), ++.
q. For an example of the argument that globalization will lead
to cultural homogenization, see John Tomlinson, Cultural
Imperialism (London: Pinter, +gg+). Ahmed Gurnah argues for a
greater complexity of different local responses to Western media
in his essay “Elvis in Zanzibar,” in The Limits of Globalization: Cases
and Arguments, ed. Alan Scott (New York: Routledge, +gg¡),
++6 – q:.
¸. See, for example, Chris Barker, Global Television (London:
Blackwell, +gg¡); Ann Cvetkovich and Douglas Kellner, eds.,
Articulating the Global and the Local: Globalization and Cultural
Studies (New York: Westview, +gg¡); and Rob Wilson and Wimal
Dissanayake, eds., Global-Local: Cultural Production and the Trans-
national Imaginary (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, +gg6).
6. Toby Miller, “The People of the United States Cannot Be
Trusted” (paper presented at the Crossroads in Cultural Studies
conference, Urbana-Champaign, IL, :S June :ooq). Miller
expresses his frustration with humanities scholarship’s lack of
engagement with work in the social sciences more convincingly
in an earlier essay titled “Cinema Studies Doesn’t Matter; or, I
Know What You Did Last Semester,” in Keyframes: Popular Cinema
and Cultural Studies, ed. Matthew Tinkcom and Amy Villarejo
(New York: Routledge, :oo+), ¸o¸ – ++.
¡. Rosemary Hennessy, Prot and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in
Late Capitalism (New York: Routledge, :ooo), ::¸. Hennessy
is drawing in this passage from insights in Lauren Berlant’s
The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and
Citizenship (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, +gg¡).
S. Christy L. Burns, “Erasure: Alienation, Paranoia, and the Loss of
Memory in The X-Files,” Camera Obscura, no. q¸ (:oo+): +g¡.
g. Elspeth Kydd, “Differences: The X-Files, Race and the White
Norm,” Journal of Film and Video ¸¸ (:oo+ – :): ¡6.
6S • Camera Obscura
+o. See the popular Global Episode Opinion Survey (GEOS) Web
site’s page for the “Badlaa” episode at www.geos.tv/index.php/
episode/txf/+¡+ (accessed : December :ooq). GEOS carries
statistics about viewer ratings of episodes of a variety of different
television shows, including The X-Files.
++. My thanks to Bishnupriya Ghosh for a stimulating conversation
about the tension between concepts of revenge and reparation.
+:. Here I have in mind the genealogy of science hction hlms
stretching from The War of the Worlds (dir. Byron Haskin, US,
+g¸¸) to Independence Day (dir. Roland Emmerich, US, +gg6),
in which aliens are simply evil killers out to conquer the planet.
They lack subjectivity and often provide no explanation for their
decision to attack Earth.
+¸. The Sambhavna Trust, a group of medical workers, writers, and
social workers, runs the Sambhavna medical clinic in Bhopal,
which cares for many of the survivors and their children. Their
casualty and ongoing injury numbers are (not surprisingly)
considerably higher than those accepted by Union Carbide
and subsequently Dow Chemical. The Sambhavna and Union
Carbide statistics I cite here come from the “What Happened
in Bhopal?” page of Sambhavna’s Web site at www.bhopal.org/
(accessed q December :ooq). Amnesty International claims
that “more than ¡,ooo people died within a matter of days” and
that “over the last :o years exposure to the toxins has resulted
in the deaths of a further +¸,ooo people as well as chronic and
debilitating illnesses for thousands of others for which treatment
is largely ineffective.” See Amnesty International, “Clouds of
Injustice: Bhopal Disaster Twenty Years On,” web.amnesty.org/
pages/ec-bhopal-eng (accessed q December :ooq).
+q. Amnesty International, “Clouds of Injustice,” ¸.
+¸. Randeep Ramesh, “Bhopal Still Suffering, Twenty Years On,”
Guardian (London), :g November :ooq. The Sambhavna
Trust claims that “for years Mr. Anderson’s whereabouts were
unknown, and it wasn’t until August of :oo: that Greenpeace
found him, living a life of luxury in the Hamptons” (“What
Happened in Bhopal?”).
+6. One would imagine that this type of narrative has an especially
powerful symbolic impact post – September ++, though it has
failed to surface to any great extent in mainstream American
The Intimacies of Globalization • 6g
TV and hlm thus far. One example would be the hlm The Day
after Tomorrow (dir. Bryant Low, US, :oo:), in which the US
government’s refusal to recognize the importance of global
warming leads to the destruction of much of the country. A
richly ironic scene shows hordes of white middle-class Americans
ueeing across the border into Mexico, signifying on anti-
immigrant paranoia about invading hordes of immigrants from
Mexico and dramatizing the infamous trafhc sign posted on
highways in much of the Southwest depicting a family of illegal
immigrants running across the road.
+¡. The hgure of the subaltern more generally has been the
theoretical focus for the historians of the Subaltern Studies
Collective. For the landmark work of Subaltern Studies, see
Ranajit Guha’s Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency (Delhi:
Oxford, +gS¸). In his recent Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the
Wake of Subaltern Studies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
:oo:), Dipesh Chakrabarty takes up the hgure of the beggar as
an example of the way in which the Marxian historiography of
the Subaltern Studies Collective has been unable to account for
the role of religion in Indian politics. Chakrabarty argues that
“the Buddhist imagination once saw the possibility of the joyful,
renunciate bhikshu (monk) in the miserable and deprived image
of the bhikshuk (beggar). We have not yet learned to see the
spectral doubles that may inhabit our Marxism-inspired images
of the subaltern” (¸6). For an example of the ways in which
contemporary South Asian hction has used the hgure of the
beggar to work through the failures of Indian nationalism, see
Nayantara Sahgal’s novel Rich Like Us (New York: New Directions,
+gS¸).
+S. For a more detailed summary of the health effects of exposure to
methyl isocyanate gas, see the New Jersey Department of Health
and Senior Services, “Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet,” www
.state.nj.us/health/eoh/rtkweb/+:¡o.pdf (accessed ¸ December
:ooq). At the time of the Bhopal disaster, Union Carbide owned
a facility in New Jersey similar to that in Bhopal, though it
was considerably better prepared for the type of incident that
occurred in the Indian factory. The discrepancy in the quality
of maintenance between the two facilities has been one of the
grounds for the victims’ lawsuit against Union Carbide.
+g. Ramesh, “Bhopal Still Suffering.”
¡o • Camera Obscura
:o. S. Sriramachari, “The Bhopal Gas Tragedy: An Environmental
Disaster,” Current Science, April :ooq, go¸ – :o, quoted in Amnesty
International, “Clouds of Injustice,” +o.
:+. Scully’s pregnancy itself and the identity and powers of Scully’s
unborn child become a driving force as the series winds to an
end.
::. Steve Deng points out (in conversation) the interesting
possibility that it might be another mystic stepping forward at
the end to take his place, playing on the stereotype that there is
an endless supply of immigrants, all of whom look the same.
:¸. Those fears exploded fairly recently in the media in the case
at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, in which the Chinese
immigrant researcher Wen Ho Lee was accused of attempting
to sell US nuclear secrets to his home country. Such incidents
have sharply increased since September ++, targeting a range of
Middle East – born Americans whose loyalties might be suspect.
As the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II
reminds us, this is not a new phenomenon, but rather one that
tends to intensify along with nationalist xenophobia at times of
perceived vulnerability, such as war.
:q. The material on the original Web site, www.thexhles.com/episodes/
seasonS/SX+o.html (accessed 6 December :ooq), has since been
pulled and replaced with an advertisement for the set of DVDs
for season eight, so, unfortunately, it is no longer accessible.
:¸. In a fascinating metatextual turn, Deep Roy stars as all of the
Oompa Loompas — endlessly replicated exotic workers — in Tim
Burton’s :oo¸ adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
:6. Men’s restrooms are an especially overdetermined site of
possibilities for gay male desire, as evidenced by the George
Michael scandal. For an outstanding essay on the space of the
men’s restroom and the ways in which homosexuality was linked
to communism in a sex scandal during the Cold War, see Lee
Edelman’s “Tearooms and Sympathy; or, The Epistemology of
the Water Closet,” in Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and
Cultural Theory (New York: Routledge, +ggq), +qS – ¡o.
:¡. On abjection, see Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on
Abjection, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University
Press, +gS:).
The Intimacies of Globalization • ¡+
:S. Autumn Tysko, “Autumn Tysko’s XF Reviews: Badlaa,”
www.geocities.com/Area¸+/Vault/+q++/main_rev.html
(accessed ¡ December :ooq). All further references to Tysko’s
review come from her site. Tysko’s site is listed as a link on the
GEOS Web site’s page for the episode: www.geos.tv/index.php/
episode/txf/+¡+ (accessed ¡ December :ooq).
:g. David Rosiak, “Badlaa,” th Hour Web Magazine,
www.the++thhour.com/archives/o::oo+/tvreviews/xf_
badlaa.html (accessed ¡ December :ooq).
¸o. Pam, “Badlaa,” www.theweeklycynic.com, under “The X-Files
Archive” (accessed 6 December :ooq).
¸+. Gayle Rubin put forth the model of the sex/gender system
in her classic essay “The Trafhc in Women: Notes on the
Political Economy of Sex,” in Toward an Anthropology of Women,
ed. Rayna Reiter (New York: Monthly Review Press, +g¡¸),
+¸¡ – :+o. “Bourgeois patriarchy” is Hennessy’s term for a
socioeconomic system based on “an organizational split between
public wage economy and unpaid domestic production,
both regulated by the ideology of possessive individualism”
(Prot and Pleasure, :¸). Hennessy argues (drawing on Ann
Ferguson) that this mode is being replaced in recent years by
what she calls “public or postmodern patriarchy,” which “is
characterized by the hyperdevelopment of consumption and
the joint wage-earner family, the relative transfer of power
from husbands to professionals in the welfare state, the rise of
single mother – headed and other alternative households, and
sexualized consumerism” (:¸).
¸:. Andreas Huyssen, “The Vamp and the Machine,” in After the Great
Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, +gS6), ¡o.
¸¸. Interestingly, one of the hlm’s publicity images takes these
anxieties about sexuality in a direction that has nothing to
do with the content of the hlm itself. In the image, Okwe
stands threateningly behind Senay, playing on stereotypes
of the hypersexual and predatory black man and completely
misrepresenting the hlm’s plot in order to attract viewers.
¸q. Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality
in the Colonial Contest (New York: Routledge, +gg¸). McClintock
traces how anxieties about changes in the class system in Britain
brought about by industrialization and imperial expansion
¡: • Camera Obscura
get expressed through a racialization and criminalization of
working-class women, as well as through an infantilization of the
colonized subject in an attempt to stabilize the particular notion
of white masculinity that justihed imperial economics.
¸¸. Larry Rohter, “Tracking the Sale of a Kidney on a Path of Poverty
and Hope,” New York Times, :¸ May :ooq.
¸6. Nancy Scheper-Hughes, “Bodies for Sale,” in Commodifying Bodies,
ed. Scheper-Hughes and Loïc Wacquant (London: Sage, :oo:), :.
¸¡. My thanks to Andrea Fontenot for drawing my attention to the
allusion to fellatio in this scene, and indeed to the broader issue
of Okwe as impenetrable hero in the hlm.
¸S. Stephen Frears, “The Complexities of Cultural Change: An
Interview with Stephen Frears,” interview by Cynthia Lucia,
Cineaste :S (:oo¸): S – +6.
¸g. A classic text here is Gayle Rubin’s “Thinking Sex: Notes for
a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality” in Pleasure and
Danger, ed. Carole S. Vance (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
+gSq), :6¡ – ¸+g. One of the most exhilarating and theoretically
sophisticated denaturalizations of gender is Donna Haraway’s “A
Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism
in the Late Twentieth Century,” in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women:
The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, +gg+), +qg – S+.
qo. John Foran closes his essay “Alternatives to Development:
Of Love, Dreams, and Revolution” by evoking the +g6os
slogan “Power to the imagination!” Like Foran, I do not want
to underestimate that power. See Foran, “Alternatives to
Development,” in Feminist Futures: Re-imagining Women, Culture,
and Development, ed. Kum-Kum Bhavnani, John Foran, and Priya
A. Kurian (London: Zed, :oo¸), :¡q.
q+. LaMond Tullis, foreword to Political Economy and Illegal Drugs in
Colombia, by Francisco E. Thoumi (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner,
+gg¸), xi.
q:. Joshua Marston, audio commentary to Maria Full of Grace DVD,
HBO Video, :ooq. In an attempt to hll the same gap, the exiled
Colombian journalist Alfredo Molano just published a collection
of the testimonials of several Colombians involved in the drug
trade titled Loyal Soldiers in the Cocaine Kingdom: Tales of Drugs,
Mules, and Gunmen, trans. James Graham (New York: Columbia
University Press, :ooq).
The Intimacies of Globalization • ¡¸
q¸. Marston, audio commentary.
qq. According to Marston, “Colombia . . . is the second-largest
producer of roses in the world. They’re second only to Holland,
Ecuador being a close third” (audio commentary).
q¸. Rosi Braidotti, Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference
in Contemporary Feminist Theory (New York: Columbia University
Press, +ggq), q¡.
q6. Huyssen, “The Vamp and the Machine.”
q¡. Marston, audio commentary.
qS. Braidotti, Nomadic Subjects, 66.
Emily S. Davis recently completed her dissertation, “Global
Romance as Political Aesthetic and Transnational Commodity,” in the
Department of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of English at
the University of Nevada, Reno.
Maria contemplates the uses of her interior in Maria Full of
Grace (dir. Joshua Marston, US/Colombia, :ooq).
Courtesy HBO/Fine Line/Photofest

The Intimacies of Globalization: Bodies and Borders On-Screen
Emily S. Davis

Do you know what it’s like not to be able to trust your own eyes? — Agent Scully, “Badlaa” You don’t see me. — Senay, Dirty Pretty Things

In this essay I examine recent television and lm representations of globalization in which bodily intimacy is a central concern: the X-Files series ( – ), in particular the January episode titled “Badlaa,”1 and the two recent lms Dirty Pretty Things (dir. Stephen Frears, UK, ) and Maria Full of Grace (dir. Joshua Marston, US/Colombia, ). Although the problems faced by the protagonists in each have their roots in the international economic and political structures put in place by colonization, these visual media productions do not place themselves (and were not produced) within the framework of anticolonial or postcolonial politics and history. Instead, these visual texts take up key issues of globalization’s contemporary moment: the enormous power of
Camera Obscura . / , Volume , Number © by Camera Obscura

Published by Duke University Press

Camera Obscura

and damage caused by transnational corporations in the global South, the experiences of immigrants and refugees in the global city, and the underground international traf cs in such things as drugs and organs. Each of these texts uses bodily intimacy as a metaphorical language through which to represent contestations of national and ideological borders, as well as a means of literally demonstrating the impact of globalization on the bodies of the men and women whose invisible labor is the lifeblood of the global economy. Sexuality here in particular is a terrain of commodi cation, power struggle, and exchange. In other words, desire and affect are conditioned by the cultural and economic parameters of globalization itself. Thus these television and lm texts, I argue, are ambivalent representations that use the most global of contemporary media to visualize one of the most invisible elements of globalization: its penetration of and movement through bodies.

Globalizing Film and Television and the Problem of How Bodies Matter

Globalization, not unlike terms such as postcolonialism and postmodernism, has produced such a mass of scholarship in a comparatively short period of time that it has become dif cult to claim that it is in fact one “thing” at all. Further, as the study of globalization has gained momentum as a veritable academic industry, con icting descriptions of a vast array of phenomena threaten to render the term meaningless in its very generality.2 For the purpose of my discussion, I will follow Ulrich Beck’s de nition of globalization as “the processes through which sovereign national states are criss-crossed and undermined by transnational actors with varying prospects of power, orientations, identities and networks.”3 In response to the common question of what exactly is new about globalization, Beck argues that
what is new is not only the everyday life and interaction across national frontiers, in dense networks with a high degree of mutual dependence and obligation. New, too, is the self-perception of this transnationality (in the mass media, consumption or tourism); new is the “placelessness”

The Intimacies of Globalization

of community, labour and capital; new are the awareness of global ecological dangers and the corresponding arenas of action; new is the inescapable perception of transcultural Others in one’s life, with all the contradictory certainties resulting from it; new is the level at which “global culture industries” circulate. ( – )

Beck’s formulation of globalization is useful because it calls attention not only to the processes of economic, technological, and cultural globalization but also to the corresponding shift in selfperception and perception of so-called Others that globalization produces. Media technologies such as lm and television — not to mention their earlier counterpart, radio — have had an enormous impact as vehicles for the dissemination of US cultural productions, leading some to predict a resulting homogeneous world culture and others to point out the complexity of Third World responses to Western media.4 In addition, lm and television have also been the primary mode through which US audiences and those in other parts of the West have been exposed to the peoples of the Third World. The ways in which these media contribute to the constructions of new identities and cultural representations in different contexts have been one of the most vibrant areas of research for cultural-studies scholars of globalization.5 At the same time, there has been a reaction in the past few years against what many scholars have termed the culturalist bent of leftist scholarship in the US for failing to link an analysis of the consumption and potentially radical reworkings of cultural productions to economic forces. For example, in a manifesto keynote address at the Association for Cultural Studies conference, Toby Miller, reacting in part to the rightward shift in the US political climate, called for a turn away from humanities-based studies of culture to social sciences – based research on capital. Miller characterized cultural-studies scholarship focusing on agency within popular culture as basically serving the Right by not choosing to write exclusively about the economic and ideological forces constraining viewers as consumers.6 While I agree that there is some value to Miller’s call to bring the economic more meaningfully into play in cultural analysis, I would argue that the demand

each text presents the bodies of people . As Rosemary Hennessy puts it. “the task of cultural analysis now is not to pit the ‘merely personal’ against the ‘profoundly structural’ or vice versa but to attend to the ways intimacy. and labor. asking how both are perceived in different viewing contexts by different demographics. is the use of tropes of visibility and invisibility. I hope to begin building the connections between culture and economics for which Hennessy calls. It is also to explore the ways in which these representations might short-circuit hegemonic structures or present possibilities for future resistant action. However.”7 By linking the representations of gender. The most compelling work in cultural studies is that which interrogates not only the hegemonic forces behind cultural productions but also the gaps in those forces. One such thematic. following Lauren Berlant. My essay thus pursues a two-pronged inquiry. sexuality. and Maria Full of Grace to their production within rapidly globalizing media. Though in somewhat different ways. my task is not only to piece together the ways in which certain formulations of the intimate prop up structures of hegemony. combining a materialist analysis of the production and circulation of lm and television with an interpretation of the central visual and narrative thematics of these representations in order to counterpose structures of power with moments of agency at the level of personal fantasy and action. biotechnology. the realm of the ‘private’ — are being used in the formation of a new bourgeois hegemonic bloc that is the outcome of late capitalism’s structural changes. the personal — that is. and class in The X-Files. common to all three texts. The “personal” level of individual identity and agency must constantly be examined alongside larger economic and hegemonic social structures in order to fully explore both. sexuality.• Camera Obscura to turn from culture to economy ignores the crucial fact that it is precisely because politics in the US has been formulated as a culture war that we cannot ignore the deployment of culture in developing our own radical political critiques. Dirty Pretty Things. race. and by scrutinizing how the anxieties around sexuality they present stand in for and displace other anxieties about globalization having to do with immigration.

For the different protagonists. paying attention to the conditions of production. of these visual texts by different groups helps situate the interplay between medium and message within the context of larger global circulations of television and lm. one that emerges both in the Western characters’ and in Western viewers’ anxious responses to the intimate presence of globalization’s Others and in calculated self-commodifications by characters with limited options in the global economic order. but this cultural phantasm operates as a thinly disguised anxiety about illegal aliens who cross national borders. While characters in each of these representations resist the consuming demands of a Western gaze. Burns calls attention to the way in which American ambivalence toward immigrants gets worked through via depictions of space aliens.”8 In .” Christy L. and create ‘mutant’ children through miscegenation. allegedly abduct jobs. as well as the reception. these representations foreground the intimacies of globalization at the same time that they use the visual media of lm and television — media that frequently present themselves as transparently immediate. “Aliens may tacitly be those frightening beings who drop from outer space. and commodi cation is another key thematic nexus. The complex relationship among sexuality. producing signi cant anxiety on the part of the authorities that seek them. Finally. intimately present — to problematize the very idea of intimacy in global exchanges. in the two lms they also consider possibilities for alternative forms of intimacy and coalition based on a shared resistance to certain forms of commodi cation and shared fantasies of future realities. and the Loss of Memory in The X-Files.The Intimacies of Globalization • of color as invisible within and yet central to the processes of global capitalism. In other words. Burns writes. agency involves disrupting the supposed intimacy of visual media by controlling how. Body Hijacking as Revenge in The X-Files In an essay titled “Erasure: Alienation. work. These bodies elude the gaze of structures of authority even as they are continually commodi ed and threatened with injury. whether. and by whom they are seen. Paranoia.

the border-crossing migrant around which the episode’s plot revolves is presented as having extraordinary powers and evil impulses that align him more with the discourses of invading aliens in traditional science ction than with more realistic portrayals of immigrant experiences. and technological development — come together.12 The worst nightmare of the xenophobe is the immigrant who actually does destroy barriers and wreak havoc. however. de ected into the world of science ction. and detective and thriller genres.11 While the episode is not ostensibly about an alien. as Burns suggests. and the family do indeed play out.• Camera Obscura the popular science ction series The X-Files. but who can pass so well as one of “us” that he or she cannot be identi ed and stopped. representing bodies out of control. these horror genre fears are also given added racial meaning by the deployment of Whiteness as a (de)centered racial category. The X-Files makes the perfect vehicle for representing ways in which anxieties about the dangerous intimacies of the ever smaller global village — along with more general anxieties about social change. I have chosen to focus on an episode that fans rejected as too threatening and intimate. “Badlaa” presents this nightmare: the exotic Other whose ancient and .10 In a series that relies so heavily on the pleasures of the abject. the workplace. “The series relies on visual codes from the grotesque repertoire. The January episode of The X-Files titled “Badlaa” (“revenge” in Urdu and Hindi) extends anti-immigrant fears about the aggressiveness and potential perversity of the outsider to a striking conclusion — the invasion of the body. I will explore the anxieties about globalization and sexuality the episode raises before discussing the fans’ own descriptions of why they overwhelmingly rejected this particular episode. sexual taboo. With its trademark melding of science ction. and that the Global Episode Opinion Survey ranked as one of the most unpopular episodes of all time. This iconography focuses on bodily uids and functions. In this essay. As Elspeth Kydd points out. fears about border crossing at the level of the state. In The X-Files. gothic horror.”9 The overall success of the show indicates that this thematic of bodily invasion offers certain pleasures for its audience. and contaminatory and painful invasions of the self.

” The next scene shows the beggar wheeling himself up to and then underneath the door of Potocki’s stall in the airport restroom. Charles Burks (Bill Dow). Scully meets with Dr. The basic plot of the episode is as follows: a member of a rare sect of shape-shifting mystics (played by Deep Roy) poses as a beggar in the Mumbai airport. no one can understand who or what this stowaway might be. a recurrent character who “run[s] the Advanced Digital Imaging lab at the University of Maryland” and “dabbles” in things mystical. but who understands “us” well enough to pass undetected as he or she destroys the essential ber that holds a mythically uni ed America together. male. DC. The rest of the episode presents agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and John Doggett (Robert Patrick) pursuing the beggar through a series of murders in the DC suburbs before nally cornering and killing him at a local school. or why he would be committing a series of seemingly random murders. The businessman at rst ignores the beggar. The agents eventually realize that the mystic literally stowed away in Hugh Potocki’s body to get to the US. followed by screams from the businessman.. able-bodied but mute janitor while murdering parents of children who attend the school. The anthropologist informs Scully that usually these mystics are devoted . A large. eager to get back to his wife and children back home in Minneapolis. corpulent businessman from the US (read fat capitalist) named Hugh Potocki (Calvin Rensberg) comes through the airport. Potocki boards a plane to the US and is later discovered dead in his hotel room in Washington. Midway through the episode. where he has been working in his guise as a young.The Intimacies of Globalization • strange ways require anthropological research to be understood at even a basic level. Burks explains that the description sounds like a type of Indian mystic who can accomplish such feats as changing his physical size and controlling how people see him. during his layover. white. however. but then tosses him a few coins when the beggar suddenly shows up again behind him in another part of the airport. During the rst part of this episode. an act of invasion replicated in some of the other murders in the episode. Afterward. remarking as he makes his donation that the crippled man should “buy some WD.

though indicted by the Indian government. a chemical used in the production of pesticides. The real-life specter that haunts the episode. has managed successfully to evade all subsequent attempts to hold Union Carbide responsible for the ongoing public health catastrophe. According to the Guardian. Regardless. Warren Anderson. in which anywhere from four thousand to fteen thousand people were killed almost immediately by a leak of MIC.’ ”15 Viewers old enough to remember the Bhopal incident might make the connection between the industrial accident and its thinly ctionalized reference. many walls carry the words ‘Hang Anderson. His target at the beginning of the episode. the chief executive at Union Carbide at the time of the accident. these mystics are gifted with extraordinary powers such as the ability to turn invisible and to disguise themselves as someone else. Dow Chemical. which bought out Union Carbide in . “In Bhopal. it is striking that a program aimed predominantly at a US audience decreases the death toll by such a signi cant margin. Also striking is the way in which this real-life referent undercuts the supposed irrationality of the mystic’s actions. He shows her a newspaper article about a toxic cloud of methyl isocyanate gas (MIC) from a US factory that recently killed people in the town of Vishi. US million of the US million remained held by the Reserve Bank of India” ( ). from a Union Carbide Corporation plant in central India.14 but according to Amnesty International. is the – December factory accident at Bhopal. and shares his nding that a renowned mystic disappeared after losing an elevenyear-old son in the accident. which is the area from which these special mystics come.• Camera Obscura to global good but that this one seems to have abandoned his ethical code and started enacting some sort of personal revenge against others instead. is an American executive who has presumably been . is now retired and divides his time between the Hamptons and Florida.13 Union Carbide negotiated a million settlement with the Indian government in that gave broad criminal and civil immunity to the company. According to Burks. India. as of “September . unnamed speci cally but signaled by the news story. after all.

the body weight of victims increases. a cautionary tale about the possible repercussions at home of US economic plunder abroad. though the episode eventually leads us to understand that it is indeed the mystic who was stowed away inside the businessman. malnutrition. and victims drown in their own body uids. This stops oxygen entering the blood.16 In addition to the targets of the murders. According to Heeresh Chandra. big houses. Moreover.17 However. represented in the episode as a result of the mystic’s murderous occupation. big business. Hugh Potocki’s internal bleeding and eye irritation. especially the lungs. he weighed more at the time of his death than the weight listed on his recently renewed passport. which attacks the internal organs. . .’ ”20 As Agent Scully learns from the autopsy report led on another businessman in Mumbai. . his disability might itself be a direct result of the factory explosion.The Intimacies of Globalization • checking up on a local branch of an American-owned transnational corporation. The weight discrepancy is approximately thirty pounds. and I do not argue that the mystic’s appearance is completely accounted for as a result of the Bhopal tragedy. not enough to be the weight of the mystic.18 “When MIC is inhaled it produces an extremely acidic reaction. Rather. the Bhopal tragedy marks both the body and the modes of revenge enacted by the mystic in the episode. and medical care. actually mirrors the experience of having one’s body occupied by methyl isocyanate gas.” the very embodiment of US capitalist excesses that lead to atrocities like Bhopal. “Hugh Potocki was a big man with big appetites: big cars. As John Doggett informs us. “who performed more than autopsies at Hamidia Hospital in the days following the disaster . there was a ‘gross increase in the weight of the lungs up to three times the normal. the disabled body of the mystic in this episode is demythologized by the specter of Bhopal in that he is not simply a representative example of an atemporalized general Third World poverty. The backstory of the Bhopal incident as an exemplar of these corporations’ exploitation of the global South transforms the episode into a narrative about the return of the global repressed.”19 As the lungs ll with uid. The gure of the beggar has a complex history in India.

without any form of bodily penetration indicates that the gruesome rst two murders are more choice than necessity. Potocki and the father of one of the children the mystic encounters as a janitor at the school. though it is actually the mystic appearing as her son. whose labor keeps US businesses and wealthier households going are intimately involved in the day-to-day affairs of those they serve. occurs in a manner that also refers back to the mystic’s story. In other words. The invisible service labor force in the US underscores a similar point: the janitors. housekeepers. gardeners. as well as of the janitor. The nal murder in the episode. The attempted murder thwarted at the end of the episode functions in a similar manner. The haunting specter of Bhopal hints at the potential for Third World retribution for First World crimes by demonstrating that the distance separating the bodies of Third World workers from those who bene t from their labor and products can in fact be crossed.21 The fact that the mystic can take on the guise of the little boy. The mother of the child in DC dies trying to save what she thinks is her own child. au pairs. Scully is forced by the mystic’s guise as one of the boys to feel that she is murdering a child. drowning in the swimming pool. a horri c task made especially poignant by the fact that she herself is pregnant. The script’s representation of the evil mystic as a janitor plays on both the invisibility . and the effects of MIC add a great deal of signi cance to the device. Here the mystic forces an American child’s parent to reenact his traumatic inability to prevent the death of his child as a form of murder. the mystic could just as easily have taken on the guise of Hugh Potocki rather than literally stowing away inside his body to get to the US. often immigrants.• Camera Obscura The rst two of the mystic’s victims. and other service workers. which involves the mother of another child at the same school. But why does the script present him as a junior high school janitor? Several intimacies — and anxieties about them — are at work in this episode. Bursting into a schoolroom in which she sees two boys. are killed in this manner of bodily occupation. We learn from the anthropologist that the mystic disappeared after losing a child in the factory accident.

We are presented with an immigrant who can move outside the legal/ military complex. the character never speaks in his capacity as janitor (or in the entire episode.” she quips. drawing attention to a construction of service laborers as interchangeable functions rather than discrete individuals who can be known.” Yet there are no images of the mystic among the posted images from the week’s episode. The two images of “the murderer” are from the end of the episode. Cleverly able to manipulate his bodily appearance. Their summary of the episode is as follows: “A mystic smuggles himself out of India and plagues two families in suburban Washington. her speech calls attention to the interchangeability associated with his labor. And the problem is that people look at it as just a paycheck.22 The mystic’s very mobility and anonymity are thus an important component of the horror that subtly colors mainstream Americans’ perceptions of alien residents in their midst.24 The racialized Other is thus erased . unharmed and ready to cause more trouble. He is both invisible and visible as whatever he wants to seem.The Intimacies of Globalization • and the intimacy of low-wage service labor. Further. the speech’s more logical audience might be the employers who themselves deny their intimate dependence on their employee’s labor. They don’t realize that as maintenance engineer you’re playing an important role in these kids’ lives. This shape-shifting immigrant is a nationalist’s worst nightmare because he could be anywhere at any time.23 Even the of cial X-Files Web site seems unable to represent this gure.” Though directed at him. travels without a passport. he can pass as the epitome of the stereotypical American — the plump and jolly US businessman with a wife and . and refuses to obey the laws of the country to which he comes. children at home. The episode’s ending repeats the thematic of interchangeability with a shot of the mystic as the beggar back at the airport in Mumbai. “the harder it is to ll these jobs. for that matter). In the scene in which the principal welcomes him to the job. This immigrant evades customs and police. mining deep-seated US fears about otherness and assimilation. “The better the economy gets. DC. when the mystic is passing as the young boy.

While the Deep Roy’s repeat performance as an endlessly replicated worker in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (US).and offscreen. Courtesy Warner Bros. Those viewers familiar with the Bhopal incident would be much more likely to ascribe logical motivations to the mystic than those less likely to make the Bhopal connection. but he also seemed prepared to kill Scully and the two children. Particularly striking in both the episode and the responses of the online fan community to it is the way in which fears about the intimacies of the global village and of immigrant labor nd expression through tropes of homosexual menace. Fan reviews demonstrate that there are lingering questions for viewers about how to understand this man who has entered the US with a history and motivations of his own that may not be compatible with hegemonic US interests. ambivalently raising the US corporate injustice in Bhopal only to nally dismiss the mystic’s demand for redress as vengeful and unreasonable.• Camera Obscura from the episode even as he is the central character in it. It could be inferred that he was killing parents out of rage at losing his own family./Photofest . the mystic’s motivations are ultimately suspect and potentially incomprehensible. The episode ultimately declines to fully explain his behavior as having logical motivations.25 Mysteriously invisible both on.

simultaneously playing on associations of gay men with child molesters and middle. we only hear the businessman scream. and I include excerpts from three of the sites here. the beggar pursues Hugh Potocki into a public men’s restroom. The possibility that the mystic exits the bodies anally invites a reading of him as the abject: the literal waste of the Western corporeal and social body that must be held at bay in order to uphold the symbolic order. though she is unable to con rm if the rectal damage occurs on entry or exit. besides making zero sense it totally zzled the episode’s end. Fan Autumn Tysko’s review of the episode claims that the phrase originates with Gillian Anderson before going on to comment on the ending of the episode: Instead of taking the opportunity to end the episode with an emotional resonance we are supposed to think “oh no! Two weeks have passed and that evil butt genie somehow got all the way back to India to give more Americans dirty looks! The horror!” Frankly. Why not just show our little friend singing “Baby Got Back”: “I like big butts and I cannot lie?” That would have made about as much sense. Several online fan sites label the mystic “the butt genie” in response to this insinuation that he penetrates his victims anally.The Intimacies of Globalization • effects of the body invasion in the rst two murders are usefully considered in relation to the effects of MIC. and I will look at a few of the fan responses to the episode to unpack why this detail is so signi cant. she cites “massive trauma to the lower intestine and rectal wall” as evidence that the stowaway moved through the body via the anus.28 . We are not shown what occurs inside the stall. As I mentioned above. the homophobic specter of gay sex as invasion is also unmistakable.27 However.26 When Scully conducts her autopsy on the body. the workings of the gas do not explain why the mystic appears to enter his victims anally. wheeling himself up to and then underneath the door of the businessman’s stall. The mystic only occupies male bodies and intentionally gets a job that puts him around young boys the age of his son.and upper-class paranoia about service workers as potential threats.

is the way in which anal penetration itself as an inexplicable phenomenon (Pam’s “Please don’t tell me he’s doing it because he likes it”) contributes to the general sense among viewers that the mystic’s motivations for revenge are also inexplicable. Burrard to be janitors. people from India generally who get jobs around children in American schools? I would argue that homophobia as a discourse has long functioned both as an oppressive backlash against a group of people identi able as homosexuals and as a shorthand for a range of reactions against social changes that threaten the symbolic status of the nuclear family. Yep. I am not alone in my puzzlement over the Butt Genie’s actions. .30 What stands out in Pam’s review. allow them to wander around the school at all hours. the religious Right in the US was able to successfully mobilize its constituency for the election by using issues such as gay marriage and abortion to harness . . The “people like Mr. why he would choose such a repulsive method of transport when he has the ability simply to transform himself into other people. people with an agenda of murderous revenge. Apparently. may I say it did my heart good to know that principals gleefully hire people like Mr. To take a current example. concludes. I slept well last night. like Tysko’s and Rosiak’s. Pam of the online Weekly Cynic offers a similarly hostile response: As the parent of an eight-year-old who attends public school.”29 Both Tysko and Rosiak draw attention to the fact that anal penetration as the mystic’s preferred mode of bodily invasion creates a breakdown not only in their ability to make sense of the episode but also in their pleasure as viewers. and actually come in contact with the kids. who reviewed the episode for the th Hour Web Magazine. “In the end. Burrard” in Pam’s review are fascinatingly overdetermined: are they people who penetrate men anally. or render himself totally invisible: “I’m not sure why he needs to crawl up into people if he can just be wherever he needs to be” (Gillian Anderson). Please don’t tell me he’s doing it because he likes it. .• Camera Obscura David Rosiak. there’s nothing resembling motive or explanation given for the proliferance [sic] of anal penetrations throughout the episode.

Woman. There are grounds to suspect that we are facing here a complex process of projection and displacement. For viewers who accept this ideal as normative. and what if he does enjoy it? . .The Intimacies of Globalization • broader fears about the declining power of the head of the semimythical traditional nuclear family and thus enforce a sex/gender system that supports an increasingly outdated form of “bourgeois patriarchy. Huyssen writes. by their very existence they raised fears and threatened male authority and control.”31 In short. A welcome theoretical specter that haunts my discussion about immigration and homophobia here is Andreas Huyssen’s argument about the role of the vamp in the cultural politics of Weimar Germany. I am attempting to foreground the ways in which different anxieties can reinforce one another and even depend on each other’s modes of representation when they have a common effect. . nature. anxieties about the permeability of national borders that cannot prevent immigrants from entering get tangled up with fears of bodily penetration and expressed through a rhetoric that is guaranteed to incite horror. In explaining the ways in which the gure of the woman comes to stand in for anxieties about modernity and technological change. However. in the Freudian account. .32 Like Huyssen. The fears and perceptual anxieties emanating from ever more powerful machines are recast and reconstructed in terms of the male fear of female sexuality. the mystic’s murder of seemingly random parents in a DC suburb is not only inexplicable but deeply threatening. machine had become a mesh of signi cations which all had one thing in common: otherness. economic. the male’s castration anxiety. I am eshing out a “mesh of signi cations” at a particular moment of social. The relationship between the two anxieties — border penetration and body penetration — is not simple or straightforwardly equivalent. re ecting. and technological change in the US. Who knows whom he would strike next. in this case undermining the US ideal of the suburban. white middle-class nuclear family.

Extending the premise that immigrants donate the invisible blood. Similarly. globalization as a phenomenon concerns not only the reorganizing of nation-states by transnational capital but also the organizing of bodies themselves. the private sphere. and tears that prop up Western economies. The mission of the lm’s central characters becomes nding a way to navigate the underground economy of immigrant labor while minimizing the fragmentation and commodi cation of their own and each other’s bodies for capital.33 As Dirty Pretty Things reminds us. Dirty Pretty Things represents the organ trade as a newer and more sinister version of prostitution. primarily from the global South. sweat. the body is always already social: there is no essential body outside of cultural and economic transactions. As we know. is deeply implicated . But the lm performs a crucial move by shifting the narrative perspective from that of Westerners anxious about Western bodies being invaded by globalization’s Others to that of the migrant laborers themselves. the underlying theme in the lm is that immigrants quite literally keep wealthy (and mostly. The horror of the lm thus derives not from the invisible vili ed immigrant but from the cannibalistic forces of Western capitalism. but not exclusively.• Camera Obscura Organ Trafficking as Sexual Exploitation in Dirty Pretty Things Stephen Frears’s lm Dirty Pretty Things takes up the same motif of body invasion raised by “Badlaa” as a mode through which to represent Western-driven economic globalization’s dependence on underpaid labor by people of color. Western) bodies going by selling their own. the lm thus associates a sexualized concern about the boundaries of the body with a concern about immigration and national border crossing. whether it is through providing kidneys or sexual favors. Dirty Pretty Things allegorizes the plight of the migrant worker in the global city as a struggle not to be consumed by the excessive demands of capitalism in the age of globalization. in which commodi cation of one’s body for one purpose may lead inevitably to other forms of commodi cation. as scholars like Anne McClintock and Rosemary Hennessy have so persuasively shown. In its exploration of the invisible people participating in London’s black-market trade in organs.

the home. To begin to unpack this particular mesh of signi cations around bodies and borders.35 Rohter’s article retraces the process by which a Brazilian man named Alberty José da Silva sold his kidney to an unnamed Jewish woman in Brooklyn in . There he met the woman who had purchased his kidney. let me provide an example. and Israelis who had purchased kidneys from Brazilian donors through the Israeli syndicate said they had been told that the donors received . though. . On May . Rohter writes. the organization of the ostensibly private or personal offers a particularly interesting site for examining the gendered material effects and instances of resistance to global capital. Da Silva. Last year he decided he would too.34 Because so much cultural work goes into presenting the body. When he accepted. whom Rohter describes as “one of children of a prostitute. equivalent to approximately six years’ earnings at Brazil’s minimum wage. he was own to South Africa by the two middlemen who coordinated the deal. Larry Rohter published an article titled “Tracking the Sale of a Kidney on a Path of Poverty and Hope” in the New York Times. the other a retired Israeli police of cer. after which both parties were own back to their respective countries. South Africa. When he rst introduces da Silva. one a retired Brazilian military of cer. no matter how diligently it is marked off as the feminized refuge from public exchange. rather than . Augustine’s hospital in Durban.” shares a two-room shack in a slum near the airport in Recife with ten people. Before I move on to my discussion of the lm. for his kidney. per kidney. “He recalled his mother as a woman who ‘sold her esh’ to survive.The Intimacies of Globalization • in transnational capital. only of whom survived to adulthood. Her end of the deal had been brokered by relatives in Israel. Da Silva’s story certainly resonates with the plot of organ traf cking in Dirty Pretty Things. who contacted an Israeli syndicate linked to the middlemen in Brazil. Both claimed that they did not know the process was illegal until the last minute. .” Rohter later . The transplant was done at St. He was offered . I want to draw attention to the way in which Rohter frames this transaction. and affect as outside of global circulations of power.

have to negotiate this impulse to reduce bodies to their constitutive pieces. Okwe falls in love with Senay and ultimately plays the role of savior by devising a means to turn the organ trade to their advantage and thus allow them to escape to their desired destinations (mostly) in one piece. Senay embarks for New York. The premise of Dirty Pretty Things is that Señor Juan (Serge Lopez). and mined for parts. where she plans to live with her cousin and start a new life. Senay (Audrey Tautou) and Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor).” But would Rohter’s argument about coercion and exploitation not be equally applicable to sweatshop conditions in a wide variety of transnational corporations? What logic propels this speci c association of organ traf cking with sex traf cking? What exactly does selling a kidney have to do with selling sex? This is the question I will attempt to unravel in my reading of the lm. As Rohter summarizes. the concierge of a London hotel. “as in sex traf cking. as well as those who argue that selling one’s organs should be legal out of respect for individual autonomy. Capron locates those who argue that selling organs is uncomfortably close to selling people. turned into commodities. the marketplace is one in which coercion and exploitation may be unavoidable. The lm’s plot is driven in large part by Okwe’s evolving understanding of the potential uses of and reasons for self-commodi cation.• Camera Obscura cites Alexander M. his reaction to organ . The main characters. For Okwe. refugees from Turkey and Nigeria. This lm about what the trailer describes as the “underworld” of London immigrant life presents racialized “foreigners” struggling to avoid being physically invaded. which links the two issues through a thematic of penetration. uses his job as a cover for his participation in an international organ traf cking ring. and employees at the hotel. offering illegal immigrants passports and other documentation for which they are desperate enough to sell their kidneys. respectively. who lays out the two major sides of the debate on organ traf cking. the director of the ethics department at the World Health Organization. On the other side. On one side are doctors who hope to remedy the shortage of organs by offering payment. Capron. this means returning to Nigeria to reconnect with his daughter. At the beginning of the lm.

Señor Juan corners Okwe in the hotel parking lot to attempt to convince him to become his business partner in the organ trade. When he rst meets a donor by chance in Señor Juan’s of ce. Posing as a janitor at the hospital where his friend Guo Yi (Benedict Wong) works.” . Courtesy Miramax/Photofest traf cking falls rmly within Capron’s antiexploitation camp outlined above. The person who sold his kidney gets to stay in this beautiful country so he’s happy. As he puts it. The person who needs the kidney gets cured so he’s happy.” When Señor Juan attempts to bribe Okwe by hinting that he will reveal his identity as a Nigerian doctor wanted by his government to the police.The Intimacies of Globalization • Okwe chastises Senay for planning to sell her kidney. Okwe rejects Señor Juan’s logic of organ traf cking as a mutually bene cial exchange of goods and services. so I’m happy. In this key scene. “He swapped his insides for a passport. “I sell the kidney for . he is clearly unable to hold back any longer and exclaims angrily. After a long period of silence while tending the Somali. performing the operations and getting his share of the money from their sale. he steals medications for the man. My whole business is based on happiness. which is the logic of Capron’s free-market autonomy camp. he ends up attending to the Somali man suffering from an infection after having his kidney removed.

de nes commodi cation as “encompassing all capitalized economic relations between humans in which human bodies are the token of exchanges that are often masked as something else — love. Senay’s sexual abuse at the hands of Señor Juan forces Okwe to conclude that it is impossible to remain outside of this system of commodi cation. They will take what they want and leave the rest to rot. Each of the main characters in this London underworld survives via his or her commodi cation. As the lm progresses. in large part because of their status as refugees or illegal immigrants. a medical anthropologist and the cofounder of the nonpro t organization Organs Watch. he chastises her: “Because you are poor you will be gutted like an animal. or they will cut you here. When Okwe discerns that Senay is planning to sell her kidney to escape her sexual slavery at the sweatshop and realize her dream of immigrating to New York. are willing to enact the so-called happy script. Okwe is a highly desirable business partner for Señor Juan because of his skills as a doctor. has no illusions that her body is anything other than an object of exchange for her clients. Nancy Scheper-Hughes. survives by performing sexual favors for her sweatshop boss and eventually for Señor Juan. Even Guo Yi. however. at the cost of great personal torment. Senay. In her essay on the commodi cation of bodies in the organ trade. and the rest of his support network. Señor Juan’s happy story obscures the personal trauma caused by this self-commodi cation and the fact that the transaction occurs under conditions of severe inequality. Okwe’s friend who works at the hospital crematorium.• Camera Obscura For Okwe. They will cut you here. The lm is as much about manipulating one’s commodity status as a body under late capitalism as it is about organ trafcking in particular. as with others who argue against organ trafcking.” Okwe’s story focuses on what Señor Juan intentionally leaves out — only those who are desperate to survive. In his otherworldly basement of ce. sells his own invisibility as a service. Juliette (Sophie Okonedo). he makes wasted human life disappear as if by magic. altru- . The lm’s ending instead nds him navigating the system as savvily as he can to obtain the best outcome for himself. Senay. the hotel prostitute.

this time in the form of a reminder to the lm’s predominantly white audience that they have penetrated the daily lives of those to whom they are invisible but do not serve simply because they want to. a movement repeated by Senay later in the lm when she indeed does perform fellatio under orders of her own boss at the sweatshop. Okwe’s punch line at the end of the lm provides its last word on the issue of penetration.37 The sexual penetration of the two women in the lm is Okwe’s greatest horror and the reason he abandons his initial position to enter the arena of organ trading. However. Okwe’s subtly humorous attempt to save Juliette from one of her clients in a hotel room — she has already sprayed the man with mace and left him crumpled on the oor from a hard kick to the groin before Okwe steps in — exempli es his horror about the fact that commodi cation and agency are sometimes overlapping categories. Okwe squats down in a motion that suggests he is getting ready to perform fellatio. who pulls down his pants and orders Okwe to look at his genitalia. These are. Nearly every character in the lm is under threat of penetration. exposes exchanges taken as gifts among equals for the economic exchanges of commodi ed bodies they really are. since even Juliette would probably not be commodifying herself if she had another economic alternative. In the first scene in which Okwe appears. pleasure. of course. Senay and Juliette also confront their particular objecti cation as poor women of color. whether kidneys or genitalia.The Intimacies of Globalization • ism. As they participate in the economy of self-commodi cation. Okwe cannot distinguish between completely coercive body commodi cations such as Senay’s sexual exploitation in the sweatshop and calculated economic exchanges like Juliette’s prostitution. With Okwe. the specter of sexual subjection is hinted at but swiftly denied. foreshadowing his status as the only one unpenetrated at the end of the lm. blurry categories.”36 To sell parts of one’s body. Sexual penetration becomes a visual rhetoric in Dirty Pretty Things for the most horri c kinds of these body commodi cations and dangerous intimacies. kindness. we see him called to the back room by the taxi company manager. Sexism aligns women with the body and breaks them down into parts that act as sexual fetishes — in .

he is .” It is here that the question of why the organ trade has been debated in such sexualized terms may begin to become clearer.”38 Senay’s strength here lies in her ability to survive and make it to New York. has no idea that it is Señor Juan’s kidney rather than Senay’s he will be picking up. and her one small victory is her demand that “you don’t see me” during their encounter. The scene in which Senay agrees to sex with Señor Juan as the “deal breaker” for her passport and ticket to New York is a disturbing one. Though Okwe argues that if she works hard within the unequal system. she has nowhere else to ee and is forced to become the mouth that performs fellatio on her boss in exchange for continued employment. His only concern is that the exchange be carried out without incident.” Juliette offers up particular organs for use. She enters into an agreement with Señor Juan to sell her kidney. However. of course. “the fact that Senay doesn’t break down and crack doesn’t mean that something awful hasn’t happened. After her act of rebellion against the sweatshop boss — she bites instead of sucking — Senay nds herself without a job and with few options. forcing him to acknowledge that her gendered position makes his idea of success through hard work untenable. Senay’s demand not to be seen is signi cant in a lm about those whom Okwe at the end of the lm calls “the people you do not see. Senay is also “organized” from the outset. In the climactic scene of the movie. “Do you know what kind of work I do?” she yells. they are already “organized. accepting her lot with a resigned humor. At the sweatshop. Senay at this point knows better. aside from a literal traf c in organs. and Juliette go to the parking lot to meet the man scheduled to pick up the kidney. She has little negotiating power. but her hymen is the commodity she actually ends up selling. As Frears points out in a interview with Cineaste.• Camera Obscura other words. When the man drives up in his Mercedes. she will eventually be able to buy her way to New York. but it does not particularly matter who the kidney comes from: in this underground economy donors are merely a collection of potentially useable parts. Senay. Okwe. This concession on Señor Juan’s part hardly serves to equalize the status of the two participants. He.

” The rst reading is that Senay can only manipulate the details of her commodi cation and thus has no real agency in the situation. and he simply takes the kidney and drives away. those who “organize” themselves out of economic necessity can only bargain for better terms and remind the other party that their self-commodi cation is a job rather than a gift of genuine intimacy. the expression of affect.The Intimacies of Globalization • surprised by these three unfamiliar faces and asks where Señor Juan is. To attach a price to a kidney. The man has no good response. Commodi ed sex is disturbing because it violates the cherished idea that intimacy occurs outside of systems of power and economic exchange and is thus a gift shared among equals. as feminist theorists have long understood. “You don’t see me. With sexual exploitation as with organ traf cking. When they explain that “he’s drunk. In other words. the reality of selling one’s organs in exchange for money or speci c goods forces Westerners to confront the fact that imperialism is not merely an abstract set of economic circumstances but a form of literal predation on the bodies of poor people. but. We are the ones who drive your cabs. as Scheper-Hughes argues. particularly people of color from the Third World who staff the factories owned by Europe and the US at home and perform the low-paying service jobs in the West as immigrants and refugees. we clean your rooms and suck your cocks.” the man asks. In light of this scene. To pay or bargain for sex is to admit that the encounter between bodies. is to remove the exchange of life-giving organs from the realm of the gift and place it rmly within an unequal late-capitalist global . it is clearly meant as the pedagogical message for the lm’s predominantly white.” The line is directed at the man.39 Similarly. I offer two readings of Senay’s statement. middle-class audience as well. participates in a larger economy and can be simulated and manipulated by those with different degrees of power. “How come I’ve never seen you people before?” Okwe’s reply acts as the dramatic punch line to the lm: “Because we are the people you do not see. prostitution unsettles the notion that women love and sexually gratify men because it is natural and we are created to do it. as I mention above.

Even as she agrees under duress to the sexual violation of her body.• Camera Obscura economy. because it preserves a core element of her identity. lit trees and cops on white horses is unreal even as she holds onto it to propel herself out of her situation. “You don’t see me” is not a command about what will happen in the immediate future but a description of the present situation. But instead. In this reading. Senay’s refusal of visibility is thus a refusal of any implication that her sale of her organ or her sex constitutes participation in the intimacy of a gift economy. Much in the same way. I can only offer that the question should not be how to get out of the global commodity system. In this rst reading. like Okwe’s decision to sell a kidney after all. she knows that Señor Juan does not really see her. how does one negotiate the best conditions in the process of exchange? This brings me to my second reading: Senay refuses visibility not just to force recognition that the exchange is an economic necessity rather than a desired gift.” Senay’s symbolic veiling is a particularly loaded mode of rebellion because it simultaneously reasserts the virginal status that she nds religiously and culturally signi cant at the same time as it psychically projects her outside of the impending moment of violence. is meant to be seen in a sexist world. she asserts her identity as in part beyond the terms of her commodi cation. signals her taking up the most de ant position possible within the commodity system of globalization. Her moment of negotiation. As a Muslim woman negotiating her own versions of modernity and identity. . Senay and the viewer both know that Señor Juan’s inability to see her whole body does not prevent the violence. she knows that her fantasy of New York with its twinkling. But this fantasy gets her through even as she knows it is a fantasy. Despite the fact that Senay. like other women (and especially women of color). knowing that turning oneself into an object is unavoidable as a racialized and sexualized body. Just as earlier in the lm she negotiated sharing her apartment with Okwe in a way that best reconciled with her understanding of her identity as a modern Muslim woman. in this moment she maintains a sense of her personal and social limits under horri c circumstances. But to end here means that I have no answer to the problem of agency. or in her words “not being her mother.

highlights a different but related phenomenon: the ways in which the forces of globalization might literally occupy bodies. Doggett’s first hypothesis about Potocki’s injuries is that he was involved in the international drug trade as a mule and was killed in an attempt to retrieve the cargo he had been carrying. hotel. For the gothic horror genre of The XFiles. their ability to act collectively for their shared benefit posits an alternative to the global service economy that demands their fragmentation and exploitation without recourse. who struggles against having parts of herself removed to circulate on the global market. these personal/political narratives function as an important form of agency for a woman with few material resources. this scenario is too realistic to be the true story.” their very invisibility poses possibilities for resistance: because they have no of cial location. “Badlaa” . Maria (Catalina Sandino Moreno). and they call attention to the fact that transnational capital cannot completely account for complex identities sustained by fantasies of change.40 Maria Full of Grace and Possibilities When agents Scully and Doggett discover the body of Hugh Potocki in a Washington. Like that of the mystic in “Badlaa. and the episode proceeds instead along the trajectory I described earlier. It is. they cannot be tracked down. the ability to imagine otherwise — the power of fantasy — while not itself a measurable change in material conditions. how can you predict what they are capable of? Moreover. In contrast to Senay in Dirty Pretty Things. is nevertheless crucial to sustaining those resisting their own abjection within systems of commodi cation. DC. Finally. If they do not exist. The “people you do not see” at the end of the lm might then in fact be arguing for a space for themselves beyond their object status as commodities. however.The Intimacies of Globalization • In short. the title character in Marston’s lm. as Senay’s conscious dreaming attests. how can you be sure that you know who they are? And if you do not know who they are. independent lmmaker Joshua Marston’s writing and directing debut. the trajectory of Maria Full of Grace.

Darren Aronofsky. and the ways in which the drug trade affects those closest to this site of production. and media fervor. government regulation. Narc [dir. UK). ]. Lou Adler. dir. most of it has focused on . prod. what tended to remain offscreen in both these earlier narratives were the circumstances of drug production in countries undergoing violent civil unrest. US. US/UK. The Big Lebowski [dir. US/Canada. ]. ) and Traf c (dir. Focusing on the violent underworld of dealers and the mixed experiences of addicts. Films and television programming from the s and s through the beginning of the twentyrst century have tended to follow one of two stories: either the heroic cop battling international and/or inner-city dealers as part of the (usually US) war on drugs (Miami Vice [US. UK. Unlike other exploitative industries in the new global economy such as clothing and electronics. Danny Boyle. Brian De Palma. New Jack City [dir. US. more nuanced recent lms such as Requiem for a Dream (dir. such as Colombia and Afghanistan. Alastair Reid. ]) or the antihero drug addict/dealer/ outlaw (Scarface [dir. ]). international drug traf cking has sparked a great deal of creative production. US. Tullis argues that “although the literature on illicit drugs is now rapidly expanding. NBC. Mario Van Peebles. US/ Germany. ]) whose larger-than-life antiestablishment style was meant to be admired even as it was of cially condemned by bringing the protagonist to justice at the lm’s end or making him an object of pity or humor (Up in Smoke [dir. Steven Soderbergh. Brian Eastman. adapted from the BBC miniseries Traf k (writ. have achieved both popular and critical success while refusing to fall neatly within the prescribed formulas. Trainspotting [dir. ). According to LaMond Tullis. Joe Carnahan. ]. However. scholarship on drug traf cking has also replicated this critical aporia. but Maria Full of Grace pays close and painfully realistic attention to the effects of the commodities of the international drug trade on those who agree to carry them as so-called mules across national borders. Joel Coen. US. – ]. Simon Moore.• Camera Obscura raised the specter of MIC gas occupying white suburbanites in the US at the expense of representing its effects on those who actually suffered from the Bhopal explosion.

The scenes set in the US were lmed on location in Jackson Heights. himself the child of Colombian immigrants. a strong shift is now expected in international drug-control efforts” (xi). the ctionalized version of himself. Marston cites his own frustration with this conceptual failure of the drug war as a major motivation for making his lm. It was important to Marston for Colombian actors to play the Colombian characters.”41 Tullis claims that the framing of the drug debate in these terms has contributed to the failure of the so-called war on drugs. most of the scenes set in Colombia were shot in neighboring Ecuador with a crew hailing from Colombia. In the wake of a general failure of these supply-reduction strategies to control consumption anywhere (indeed. to ll the title role. “because illicit-drugs control initiatives have been mostly concentrated on supply-reduction efforts in developing countries. Mexico. helped him assemble a truly international cast and crew. and it took the casting director three months to nd Catalina Sandino Moreno. plays Don Fernando. Marston’s producer.42 The process of the lm’s production reflects the global nature of the commodity that dominates its story line. Ecuador. Queens. who had never before acted professionally. Though Marston gave the actors a script to learn initially. and the real-life “Mayor of Little Colombia.43 Maria Full of Grace follows the character Maria from her work on a rose plantation outside of Bogotá to her eventual deci- . he asked them to give it back before shooting so that the actors could develop each scene more organically through improvisation before rewriting the collectively agreed on nal version of the script. and consumption of illicit drugs and international control policies in the developing countries. Tobon also served as an associate producer on the project. they may have served to expand it). The international nature of the project resulted from Marston’s desire to develop a more true-to-life representation of the impact of the international drug trade on the Colombian people. Paul Mezey.The Intimacies of Globalization • consumption and drug-control problems in major industrialized countries. and the US. Less attention has been paid to the impact of production.” Orlando Tobon. Since the ongoing violence in Colombia made it impossible to lm there for extended periods. trade.

Maria is also pregnant and refuses her boyfriend’s halfhearted offer of marriage because she knows neither one of them really loves the other. Maria decides at the end of the lm to stay in the US while Blanca goes back to Colombia. and a stranger who gets caught by the police when they land at JFK airport. Carla (Patricia Rae). where they are taken in by Lucy’s sister. the awkwardness of asking other immigrants for the way in a city where Maria knows neither the language of the country nor the Haitian Cre- . Already out of work. Through an acquaintance. dramatizing her desire to nd a way out of her current circumstances. which the women must wash meticulously with toothpaste because. which show scenes of her working at the rose plantation. After Lucy dies in a hotel room from a capsule breaking in her stomach and is brutally disemboweled by their US contacts. Maria and Blanca ee to Little Colombia. With her baby’s and her own future in mind.• Camera Obscura sion to become a drug mule and her experience as an illegal immigrant in the US. Maria is rapidly following in the footsteps of her sister. the forces of globalization in Maria Full of Grace involve awkward and unwanted intimacies: Maria’s shame at being physically searched and having her urine tested by strangers in a cramped police room in a country she has never seen. Maria impulsively quits one day when her boss refuses to let her go to the bathroom. we see Maria literally climbing a wall. “I don’t want to be smelling your shit”. Lucy (Guilied López).44 After the beginning credits. and her husband. along with three other women: her friend Blanca (Yenny Paola Vega Sanchez) from the rose plantation. an unemployed young mother who lives with their mother and grandmother and depends on the family’s income (a great deal of which comes from Maria) to survive. the Jackson Heights neighborhood in Queens. an experienced mule who takes Maria under her wing. as one of the thugs says. the claustrophobic hotel room near JFK in which the three women must stay with their thuggish contacts while they wait for the heroin capsules to pass through their systems. the capsules themselves. Maria ends up meeting up with a drug traf cker in Bogotá and agreeing to ferry heroin into the US as a mule. As is the case with “Badlaa” and Dirty Pretty Things. Unhappy at her mind-numbing and repetitive job removing thorns from roses.

and nally working with the “Mayor of Little Colombia. as the stranger says. whom he will never meet and whose family in Colombia he will never see. Maria is full of the heroin she is smuggling in her body from Colombia to New York. unspoken relationship between the strangers who will consume the drugs and Maria and her living and dead companions who carried the drugs inside them. Marston’s script forces US audiences to see how their consumption of drugs such as heroin and cocaine requires the murder of the largely invisible people who produce and transport them inside their bodies. for a place to stay when.” whom she has never before met to repatriate the dead body of Lucy. both cases exemplify the state Rosi Braidotti describes as “organs without bodies. These are only a few of many instances of uncomfortable intimacies. this organizing of her own body is less transformative in the long run because her stomach can revert to its previous status after the drugs are removed. while Senay’s body would be permanently reorganized by the removal of her kidney. the unrepresented. The lm’s central themes concern the things Maria is full of and center around the question of which of these will symbolically win out. However. In theory. it is this typically invisible intimacy between bodies ostensibly kept separate from one another that comes to the fore in Marston’s lm.” the contemporary situation in which the advances in biotechnology that characterize modernity transform the body from a whole into “a mosaic of detachable pieces. In a perverse twist. the loss of unity of the “subject” results in the human . the pain of pleading with a stranger. who decides to partially disassemble her body for the sake of her economic survival. Unlike Senay. “everyone knows someone” in America except Maria. Maria denaturalizes her insides by changing their function: she transforms her stomach into a cargo vessel for massproduced commodities.The Intimacies of Globalization • ole of the cab driver who takes her where she needs to go.”45 Braidotti explains that “organs without bodies” marks a planetary transaction of living matter carefully invested to keep the species alive and healthy and white. This is the most pressing intimacy. Echoing the structure of the two earlier representations. As a mule. the sister of a woman she knows has been murdered.

As the opening scenes demonstrate. But she is certainly no saint. The perverse turn taken by the situation I describe as “organs without bodies” promotes a very dangerous idea: the interchangeability of the organs. whose success can be read as a product of her being divinely blessed and of her graceful compassion toward others. the narrative perspective of the lm focuses on developing Maria as a complex character whose destiny is not interchangeable with even that of her friend Blanca. but it also allows her to witness the Colombian immigrant neighborhood that the movie’s ending implies will be Maria’s adopted home. Maria is above all full of restlessness. ( – ) In my discussion of Dirty Pretty Things I call attention to the problematic formulation of the organ trade as a gift economy.” . As the title suggests. and her unrepentant joy in her unwed pregnancy positions her as a double for both the Marys . She can see her future in her sister’s situation and wants to nd a better life for herself. this mistaken formulation goes hand in hand with the idea of the body’s interchangeability with other bodies. For Braidotti. .• Camera Obscura being lending its organic components to many a prostitutional swap: the part for the whole. The rebellious temperament that accompanies her restlessness helps her survive even as it complicates her situation: choosing to ee from her designated contacts in the US threatens her life and the lives of her family members.” Maria as a drug mule is useful for her very interchangeability. postindustrialist simulacrum of “the gift. Working against capitalism’s demand for equivalancy. . though. there is a danger that her new life in the US will be a replication of the one she left behind. Maria also functions as a sort of Christian Mary among us. “Organs without bodies” marks the transplant of and experimentation with organs in a cynical. The payoff for this restlessness is not assured: as the scene in which Maria pauses by a man sitting on a stoop in Jackson Heights stripping the thorns off of roses illustrates. Like the endlessly replicating low-wage worker in “Badlaa. But the lm short-circuits this interchangeability through its representation of the other elements she is full of. Drug muling allows her to climb over the symbolic wall of her circumstances and over the border to more opportunities.

I have to admit that there was initially something disturbing to me about the fact that the only two women who seem positioned by the lm to create new lives for themselves are pregnant: Maria and Lucy’s sister Carla. while the body as vessel for “natural” reproduction remained unchallenged. the tension between Maria as a mule and as a mother becomes the site for negotiating the uneasy relationship between nature and technology in Marston’s lm. one of her few smiles in the entire lm. indicates that this is a welcome if unplanned pregnancy. The use of the female body for production. ). as a mule.46 Similarly. and her beaming smile during her ultrasound in a New York clinic.The Intimacies of Globalization • of Catholicism: the virgin mother and the so-called whore Mary Magdalene. The way she clutches the picture of her baby given to her by the clinic staff on the way to the airport functions to justify her decision not to board the plane back to Colombia at the end of the film. Fritz Lang. Maria is of course pregnant. cut from the nal print of the lm. obscuring the slipperiness of that very boundary. Something had to provide a convincing motivation for Maria’s decision to use the drug trade to get out of her deadend situation. For in addition to being full of drugs and a certain grandness of spirit. In the director’s commentary that accompanies the DVD of the lm. This doubling of Marias resonates with the doubled gure of Maria in the lm Metropolis (dir. even though her friend Blanca does. of “unnatural” commodities was rejected. when according to Marston less than . which dramatizes the ways in . Germany. around which Andreas Huyssen builds his argument about the overdetermined signi cance of the gure of the woman for a modernity anxious about the potentially threatening nature of technology. Marston describes a fascinating aborted scene. percent of the million Colombians in the US have any involvement with the drug trade.47 But what if she had decided to have an abortion in Colombia? What if one of the mules who was not pregnant had made it? Were her insides more sacred than Lucy’s because she was pregnant? Was she more full of grace? Maria’s agency in the lm seemed constrained by anxieties about boundaries. and Catholic beliefs about abortion as violating the sanctity of the body are a boundary the lm chose not to cross.

We could not be further from the Right’s portrayals of Latin American immigrants as agents of moral contagion. Moreover. The lm’s doubling of Maria with the Virgin Mary provides an ideological counterpoint to negative depictions of the unwed mother as a welfare queen. One of them stabs her in the stomach with a knife and pellets of heroin pour out of her belly.• Camera Obscura which production and reproduction become entangled for Maria. each containing a small fetus. it would have complicated the lm’s representation of the natural versus the commodi ed body. In a lm unquestionably lled with strong female characters. Like the mystic of “Badlaa. Maria is nine months pregnant and is being pursued by the two thugs from whom she and Blanca have ed at the hotel. The scene is a nightmare Maria has while staying at Carla’s apartment in Jackson Heights the night after her ultrasound. deleting the scene of Maria’s nightmare underscores the lm’s commitment to letting Maria choose what she . The lm’s sympathetic portrayal of a pregnant immigrant is especially powerful in a moment in which anti-immigrant sentiment crystallizes around the idea of uncontrollably reproducing immigrants.” Maria is a xenophobe’s nightmare. Marston and the producer Paul Mezey decided the tone of the scene did not work with the rest of the film. In the dream. and she is doubly dangerous in that she carries not only drugs but unborn foreign children too. was the role of reproduction in the global economy paradoxically obscured from view by deleting this key scene? A more positive appraisal of the lm’s thematic use of pregnancy must consider Maria’s pregnancy in the context of dominant US narratives about Latin American immigrants. posing her fetus as not only a potential US citizen but the very son of God. As the aborted scene thus thematized her fears about her unborn child’s potential commodi cation in the drug world in which she is caught up. but such a scene would have foregrounded the physical reproduction of bearing children and the social reproduction of transmitting economic status and social values to one’s children as components of the labor system that found Maria working as a drug mule and that leaves her in a precarious if hopeful position at the lm’s end.

the absence of interior monologue in the lm denies the viewer full access to Maria’s interiority even as Maria is attempting to prevent access and damage to her insides in order to survive.”48 One of the most powerful elements of the lm is its strategic use of the thematic of interior/exterior. The characters band together. “more than anything else. their subjectivity. a gift of their inside. Dirty Pretty Things also refuses to share interiority by denying the audience the characters’ full backstories. with looking. Near the end of the lm. Maria’s pregnancy in the lm comes to stand in for her struggle to control her own interiority. In Maria Full of Grace. ha[s] to do with the idea of visibility. from the claustrophobic interior of the airplane to the audience’s inability to know what is happening inside Lucy during the trip. Maria’s attitude toward her baby is one of many hints at a complex subjectivity that refuses full visibility and to which audiences are not simply granted the free run of their gaze. Thus they are a coalition of strangers. Since Maria’s nightmare about the exposure of what is inside her would have circumvented this choice and courted the very surveilling gaze she successfully evades in the lm. when she goes to the clinic. For Braidotti. which are signi cant enough to her that she chooses to stay in New York. and they treat the exchange of details from their pasts as the most intense form of intimacy: an exchange of interiority. but their illegal and/ or refugee status makes their pasts dangerous. . the dismemberment of the body . . Here Maria co-opts the very technology she escapes at the airport to choose a particular representation of her interiority. In “Badlaa. I can concede that it is better left offscreen. she consents to look at the ultrasound images of the baby in her uterus. it is her status as a pregnant woman that prevents the security of cers from being able to use surveillance technology to gaze inside her body. Further. .The Intimacies of Globalization • wishes to expose. Maria Full of Grace’s decision not to reveal Maria’s nightmares for its audience resonates with the treatment of interiority in the other texts I have discussed above. In the detention room in the airport.” the mystic’s silence and shifting visual self-presentations unsettle audiences who want access to his motivations. and consequently with the gaze.

However. Sharon Willis. John Shiban.• Camera Obscura Conclusion: Organizing Bodies in the Global Economy In all three of these representations. as well as the economic and cultural forces of globalization. Notes I thank Andrea Fontenot. television and lm. Tony Wharmby. Shirley Geok-Lin Lim. Fox. “Badlaa” episode of The X-Files. know exactly what kind of commodities we are if we mean to subvert the power that breaks us down into things. prod. questions of power and agency are dramatized through struggles around bodily integrity. Vince Gilligan. dir. Enda Duffy. Maurizia Boscagli. and Chris Carter. I have focused on the unstable relationship between exploitation and agency throughout this essay because I am skeptical of each without the other.rst century. I am particularly indebted to Sasha Torres for her perceptive comments and skillful editing. January . on the one hand. albeit with markedly different degrees of power and from different geographical and economic positions. between being organized and represented within global economic and cultural structures. . This is not merely a question of how we understand our objects of study. on the other. and Bishnupriya Ghosh for their responses to this essay at various stages. as we all. a resonant terrain for scholars of gender and sexuality. for subjects of the global South. writ. Alexander McKee. These visual representations of globalization are richly useful because they foreground the tension. as culture workers in the early twenty. It is imperative that we. must negotiate the possibilities for agency and the terms of our commodi cation in the age of globalization. . and resisting commodi cation and exploitation as workers. we must not valorize subalternity and mobility themselves as rebellion. In order to theorize agency. Frank Spotnitz. in claiming that nothing is beyond the reach of global capital. we cannot accept the argument that there is no means of resistance from below.

I Know What You Did Last Semester.. . Ahmed Gurnah argues for a greater complexity of different local responses to Western media in his essay “Elvis in Zanzibar. no. IL. ). ). – . June ).The Intimacies of Globalization • . ). “The People of the United States Cannot Be Trusted” (paper presented at the Crossroads in Cultural Studies conference. ).. or.” Camera Obscura. Race and the White Norm. Global-Local: Cultural Production and the Transnational Imaginary (Durham. Globalization: The Reader (New York: Routledge. – . NC: Duke University Press. ). Ulrich Beck. see John Tomlinson. For an example of the argument that globalization will lead to cultural homogenization. “Erasure: Alienation. ed. Miller expresses his frustration with humanities scholarship’s lack of engagement with work in the social sciences more convincingly in an earlier essay titled “Cinema Studies Doesn’t Matter. Toby Miller. Elspeth Kydd. . . ). .” in Keyframes: Popular Cinema and Cultural Studies. . . “Differences: The X-Files. Ann Cvetkovich and Douglas Kellner. Patrick Camiller (Cambridge: Polity. Hennessy is drawing in this passage from insights in Lauren Berlant’s The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship (Durham.” Journal of Film and Video ( – ): . Urbana-Champaign. . Global Television (London: Blackwell. Articulating the Global and the Local: Globalization and Cultural Studies (New York: Westview. See. ). Matthew Tinkcom and Amy Villarejo (New York: Routledge. Pro t and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism (New York: Routledge. eds. .” in The Limits of Globalization: Cases and Arguments. ). and the Loss of Memory in The X-Files. ). eds. NC: Duke University Press. For a useful introduction to the most prominent thinkers in this emerging eld. Cultural Imperialism (London: Pinter. What Is Globalization? trans. Paranoia. Alan Scott (New York: Routledge. . ( ): .. . see John Beynon and David Dunkerley. Christy L. eds. Rosemary Hennessy. ). and Rob Wilson and Wimal Dissanayake. Burns. Chris Barker. for example. ed.

amnesty. Twenty Years On. including The X-Files. . US. ). Amnesty International.” web. “Bhopal Still Suffering. writers. Amnesty International claims that “more than . My thanks to Bishnupriya Ghosh for a stimulating conversation about the tension between concepts of revenge and reparation. people died within a matter of days” and that “over the last years exposure to the toxins has resulted in the deaths of a further . . and it wasn’t until August of that Greenpeace found him.php/ episode/txf/ (accessed December ). GEOS carries statistics about viewer ratings of episodes of a variety of different television shows. See the popular Global Episode Opinion Survey (GEOS) Web site’s page for the “Badlaa” episode at www. runs the Sambhavna medical clinic in Bhopal. ) to Independence Day (dir.” . Randeep Ramesh. . Here I have in mind the genealogy of science ction lms stretching from The War of the Worlds (dir. US. living a life of luxury in the Hamptons” (“What Happened in Bhopal?”).bhopal. people as well as chronic and debilitating illnesses for thousands of others for which treatment is largely ineffective.” See Amnesty International. .• Camera Obscura . and social workers. The Sambhavna Trust claims that “for years Mr. in which aliens are simply evil killers out to conquer the planet.geos. Roland Emmerich. Anderson’s whereabouts were unknown.” Guardian (London). The Sambhavna and Union Carbide statistics I cite here come from the “What Happened in Bhopal?” page of Sambhavna’s Web site at www. “Clouds of Injustice.org/ (accessed December ). Their casualty and ongoing injury numbers are (not surprisingly) considerably higher than those accepted by Union Carbide and subsequently Dow Chemical. One would imagine that this type of narrative has an especially powerful symbolic impact post – September . a group of medical workers. which cares for many of the survivors and their children. The Sambhavna Trust. . .org/ pages/ec-bhopal-eng (accessed December ). though it has failed to surface to any great extent in mainstream American . They lack subjectivity and often provide no explanation for their decision to attack Earth.tv/index. Byron Haskin. November . “Clouds of Injustice: Bhopal Disaster Twenty Years On.

). “Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet. in which the US government’s refusal to recognize the importance of global warming leads to the destruction of much of the country. though it was considerably better prepared for the type of incident that occurred in the Indian factory. We have not yet learned to see the spectral doubles that may inhabit our Marxism-inspired images of the subaltern” ( ).us/health/eoh/rtkweb/ .” . ). see the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. . The discrepancy in the quality of maintenance between the two facilities has been one of the grounds for the victims’ lawsuit against Union Carbide. Chakrabarty argues that “the Buddhist imagination once saw the possibility of the joyful.state. US. For an example of the ways in which contemporary South Asian ction has used the gure of the beggar to work through the failures of Indian nationalism. For the landmark work of Subaltern Studies. The gure of the subaltern more generally has been the theoretical focus for the historians of the Subaltern Studies Collective. ). For a more detailed summary of the health effects of exposure to methyl isocyanate gas. Ramesh. renunciate bhikshu (monk) in the miserable and deprived image of the bhikshuk (beggar). ).The Intimacies of Globalization • TV and lm thus far. signifying on antiimmigrant paranoia about invading hordes of immigrants from Mexico and dramatizing the infamous traf c sign posted on highways in much of the Southwest depicting a family of illegal immigrants running across the road. . Dipesh Chakrabarty takes up the gure of the beggar as an example of the way in which the Marxian historiography of the Subaltern Studies Collective has been unable to account for the role of religion in Indian politics.pdf (accessed December ). In his recent Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. .nj. see Nayantara Sahgal’s novel Rich Like Us (New York: New Directions. A richly ironic scene shows hordes of white middle-class Americans eeing across the border into Mexico. One example would be the lm The Day after Tomorrow (dir.” www . At the time of the Bhopal disaster. see Ranajit Guha’s Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency (Delhi: Oxford. Union Carbide owned a facility in New Jersey similar to that in Bhopal. Bryant Low. “Bhopal Still Suffering.

unfortunately. playing on the stereotype that there is an endless supply of immigrants. it is no longer accessible. As the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II reminds us. quoted in Amnesty International. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. “The Bhopal Gas Tragedy: An Environmental Disaster. this is not a new phenomenon. Steve Deng points out (in conversation) the interesting possibility that it might be another mystic stepping forward at the end to take his place. Deep Roy stars as all of the Oompa Loompas — endlessly replicated exotic workers — in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Men’s restrooms are an especially overdetermined site of possibilities for gay male desire. Leon S. In a fascinating metatextual turn. in which the Chinese immigrant researcher Wen Ho Lee was accused of attempting to sell US nuclear secrets to his home country. see Julia Kristeva.html (accessed December ). has since been pulled and replaced with an advertisement for the set of DVDs for season eight. . or. all of whom look the same. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press. .thex les. . Sriramachari.• Camera Obscura . “Clouds of Injustice. Those fears exploded fairly recently in the media in the case at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory. ). S. . www. Scully’s pregnancy itself and the identity and powers of Scully’s unborn child become a driving force as the series winds to an end. as evidenced by the George Michael scandal. – . Such incidents have sharply increased since September . so. The material on the original Web site. . such as war. trans. targeting a range of Middle East – born Americans whose loyalties might be suspect. On abjection. – . . see Lee Edelman’s “Tearooms and Sympathy. April . but rather one that tends to intensify along with nationalist xenophobia at times of perceived vulnerability. .com/episodes/ season / X . . The Epistemology of the Water Closet. For an outstanding essay on the space of the men’s restroom and the ways in which homosexuality was linked to communism in a sex scandal during the Cold War. ).” in Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory (New York: Routledge.” .” Current Science.

Anne McClintock.geocities. . In the image.com. ed.geos. “Badlaa. Gender. .php/ episode/txf/ (accessed December ).” in After the Great Divide: Modernism.theweeklycynic.” www. “Autumn Tysko’s XF Reviews: Badlaa.com/archives/ /tvreviews/xf_ badlaa. playing on stereotypes of the hypersexual and predatory black man and completely misrepresenting the lm’s plot in order to attract viewers. Andreas Huyssen. ).html (accessed December ). Autumn Tysko. the rise of single mother – headed and other alternative households. Pam. All further references to Tysko’s review come from her site. . Postmodernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. – . “Bourgeois patriarchy” is Hennessy’s term for a socioeconomic system based on “an organizational split between public wage economy and unpaid domestic production. David Rosiak. both regulated by the ideology of possessive individualism” (Pro t and Pleasure. one of the lm’s publicity images takes these anxieties about sexuality in a direction that has nothing to do with the content of the lm itself. the relative transfer of power from husbands to professionals in the welfare state. ). Interestingly. . under “The X-Files Archive” (accessed December ). “Badlaa. McClintock traces how anxieties about changes in the class system in Britain brought about by industrialization and imperial expansion . Okwe stands threateningly behind Senay. . .” in Toward an Anthropology of Women.com/Area /Vault/ /main_rev. Tysko’s site is listed as a link on the GEOS Web site’s page for the episode: www.tv/index. ).html (accessed December ). www. Gayle Rubin put forth the model of the sex/gender system in her classic essay “The Traf c in Women: Notes on the Political Economy of Sex.the thhour. Mass Culture.” th Hour Web Magazine. ). Hennessy argues (drawing on Ann Ferguson) that this mode is being replaced in recent years by what she calls “public or postmodern patriarchy. “The Vamp and the Machine. and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (New York: Routledge. and sexualized consumerism” ( ). . Imperial Leather: Race.” www. Rayna Reiter (New York: Monthly Review Press.The Intimacies of Globalization • .” which “is characterized by the hyperdevelopment of consumption and the joint wage-earner family.

trans. . My thanks to Andrea Fontenot for drawing my attention to the allusion to fellatio in this scene. “Tracking the Sale of a Kidney on a Path of Poverty and Hope. Mules.” in Commodifying Bodies. xi. “Bodies for Sale. ed. ). audio commentary to Maria Full of Grace DVD.” interview by Cynthia Lucia. Larry Rohter. and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century. ed. James Graham (New York: Columbia University Press. LaMond Tullis. . Carole S. and Development. Cineaste ( ): – . Nancy Scheper-Hughes. Stephen Frears. “The Complexities of Cultural Change: An Interview with Stephen Frears. Scheper-Hughes and Loïc Wacquant (London: Sage.• Camera Obscura get expressed through a racialization and criminalization of working-class women. . ). and Priya A. One of the most exhilarating and theoretically sophisticated denaturalizations of gender is Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science. A classic text here is Gayle Rubin’s “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality” in Pleasure and Danger. Cyborgs. the exiled Colombian journalist Alfredo Molano just published a collection of the testimonials of several Colombians involved in the drug trade titled Loyal Soldiers in the Cocaine Kingdom: Tales of Drugs. Culture. May . CO: Lynne Rienner. . HBO Video. – . See Foran.” in Feminist Futures: Re-imagining Women. . . . and Gunmen. as well as through an infantilization of the colonized subject in an attempt to stabilize the particular notion of white masculinity that justi ed imperial economics. Thoumi (Boulder. and Revolution” by evoking the s slogan “Power to the imagination!” Like Foran. ed. . – . “Alternatives to Development.” New York Times. Kurian (London: Zed. . and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge. Dreams. ). Vance (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul. ). . Technology. foreword to Political Economy and Illegal Drugs in Colombia. . ). Kum-Kum Bhavnani. and indeed to the broader issue of Okwe as impenetrable hero in the lm. I do not want to underestimate that power. by Francisco E. ). John Foran. John Foran closes his essay “Alternatives to Development: Of Love. In an attempt to ll the same gap.” in Simians. . Joshua Marston.

They’re second only to Holland. . Nomadic Subjects. Marston. Maria contemplates the uses of her interior in Maria Full of Grace (dir. Emily S. . . is the second-largest producer of roses in the world. . . . “Global Romance as Political Aesthetic and Transnational Commodity. audio commentary. Braidotti. Marston.” in the Department of English at the University of California.The Intimacies of Globalization • . “Colombia . ). Ecuador being a close third” (audio commentary). Santa Barbara. Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory (New York: Columbia University Press. audio commentary. ). . Reno. Rosi Braidotti. Courtesy HBO/Fine Line/Photofest . Huyssen. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of English at the University of Nevada. US/Colombia. Joshua Marston. According to Marston. Davis recently completed her dissertation. “The Vamp and the Machine. .” .

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