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Cloudy Swords I

Editors’ Note:

The cultural imaginations of the multivalent roles of insects, discussed in this essay by Fahim Amir, are thought-provoking. For examples, bees can be portrayed as part of our cultural and political poetry, while they are also “deliberately incorporated into neocolonial pacification strategies”; mosquitoes have been identified as the carriers of the malaria pathogen, and the principles and ways of how we fight mosquitoes have directly resulted in the rise of  “one of the worst ideas in the political history of social relations: segregation.” Insect is often “both the weapon against an enemy and a description of that animalized enemy.”

Insects and their metaphorical meanings can point to a mascot, a darling animal, an innocent representative of nature, but also a threat, an enemy, even a weapon. Interweaving theories of race, colonialism, and feminism, Amir dives deep into history and unpacks our culturally-structured perspectives toward insects.

Excerpted from Fahim Amir, Being and Swine: The End of Nature (As We Knew It), trans. Geoffrey C. Howes and Corvin Russell (Between the Lines, 2020).

This is part of e-flux in Chinese Column, a collaboration between Heichi Magazine and e-flux journal, with curator and writer Xiaoyu Weng as the column’s guest-editor.

Cloudy Swords from e-flux journal #115—February 2021, read the original article here. Click here to read the first part of the essay in Chinese. ​Translated by Nan Xi, co-edited by Xiaoyu Weng and Qianfan Gu.

Fahim Amir is a philosopher and author living in Vienna. He has taught at various universities and art academies in Europe and Latin America. His research explores the thresholds of natures, cultures, and urbanism; art, design, and utopia; and colonial historicity and modernism. The original German edition of Being and Swine [Schwein und Zeit] received the Karl Marx Award 2018, and was listed by Die Zeit as one of the top 10 non-fiction books recently published. The book was selected by the Frankfurt Book Fair and Goethe Institute as one of the best books of 2019.

Nan Xi is a MA student of art and visual history at Humboldt University Berlin.

Pattern for the cover of Fahim Amir’s book Being and Swine: The End of Nature (As We Knew It) (2020). Illustration: Caleb Mitchell

Natascha Sadr Haghighian, passing one loop into another, 2020. Installation view Neuer Berliner Kunstverein. Photo: Jens Ziehe

Alina Kunitsyna, Samting Noting (aus Fahim Amir, 'Schwein und Zeit', S.112), 2020. Oil on canvas, 120 × 120 cm. Image courtesy of Galerie Kandlhofer

Published: 2021.05.14