The Funambulist

Monthly Archives: January 2014

Excerpt of the book “Let’s Take Back our Space”: ‘Female’ and ‘Male’ Body Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures by Marianne Wex (Frauenliteraturverlag Hermine Fees, 1979). Regular readers of the Funambulist will have probably noticed the recent recurrence of articles dedicated to questions of body. This finds an explanation in the nature of my current research for an upcoming book that French publisher D-Fiction was kind enough to propose as a… Read More

Exemplary photograph on Diane Torr’s “Man for a Day” workshop’s website The principle of the drag king consists for a body recognized normatively as a woman to embody archetypical male characteristics to experience society from the point of view of a body closer to the norm. This transformation involves a change in fashion, accessories, facial hair, haircut, but also in the very behavior and posture of the body. Workshops proposing to female… Read More

Still from the film Roots of Love by Harjant Gill (2011) This article follows the previous one about the hijab as a complex cultural wearable object. This time, a similar complexity is examined in another wearable object: the turban, wore by men in Sikhism. Similarly than for the hijab, this piece of garment establishes a clear separation of genders within the religious community, but even more importantly, it allows its members to… Read More

Hana Tajima, a designer that creates apparels that include hijab for some of them, and not for some others (courtesy of the artist) In 2004, the French government presided by Jacques Chirac designed a law that obtained one of the largest majority of his administration in Parliament (494 votes for, 36 votes against). This piece of legislation was forbidding any sign or cloth that manifests “ostensibly” the religion to which the body… Read More

Last Friday, Beatriz Preciado (see the several past articles) wrote a column in French newspaper Libération calling for a “strike of the uterus” in Spain in reaction to the law that will soon be voted (and likely approved) by the Spanish government to limit the right to abortion to only extreme cases. I translated this text at the end of this article but I would like to talk about it first. Although… Read More

Royal Air Force Nimrod XV230 named after the biblical character of Nimrod The forty-sixth Funambulist Papers comes from one of the most important current thinkers in political geography: Stuart Elden who is the author of five books, as well as the editor of seven others (see the photo) including the very useful Space, Knowledge and Power: Foucault and Geography (Ashgate, 2007.). In the following text he interprets and critique the notion of… Read More

The 1991 documentary Paris Is Burning by Jennie Livingston shows an important aspect of African-American and Latino gay and transgender life in New York in the 1980s: the balls. Organized in Harlem, these balls consist in competitions to judge which body can perform in the “realest” manner, something for which it is not recognized by society. For example, a ball jury would determine which one of the two dark and gay bodies… Read More

When I first went to Chandigarh in 2009, I reasonably visited the main buildings designed by Le Corbusier, troubling the urban grid only by the rather conventional tour of Nek Chand’s rock garden. When I came back last month however, I got the opportunity to explore Burail, one of the few villages of Chandigarh, thanks to my former colleague in Mumbai, Mayank Ojha who dedicated his undergraduate thesis research to it and… Read More

Madeline Gins with Joke Post at the recent opening of the Biotopological Scale-Juggling Escalator on December 20, 2013 (photo by Momoyo Homma) This is not an obituary. Since yesterday morning Madeline Gins is no longer fighting against death; she finally embraced its entropic forces and her body will soon disperse in the “bioscleave,” a word Arakawa and her invented to describe the unfathomable forces at work in the material word. This platform… Read More

I am very happy to announce that Archipelago ( is now an operational podcast platform, functioning in parallel with the Funambulist that got a new design for the occasion. As of today, Archipelago will release two new podcasts every week. The three starting podcasts are conversations that I had with architect David Garcia, gender and women studies professor Mimi Thi Nguyen and legal theorist Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (see below). These podcasts are available… Read More

still from Black Venus by Abdellatif Kechiche (2010) Saartjie Baartman (1789-1815), often known by her colonial nickname, the “Hottentot Venus,” is the tragic figure of the colonized body par excellence. During her short existence, and even after, her body has been the fetish of sadism — one can think of Sade’s Justine — in its spectacular, racist and colonialist aspects. The film Black Venus (2010) by Tunisian French director Abdellatif Kechiche is… Read More

Young Vietnamese American soldier deployed in Iraq for the U.S. Army posing with the American flag and the South Vietnam flag (read the article for details) I am happy to open the 2014 series of article by sharing the rich content of the book The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages written by Funambulist friend Mimi Thi Nguyen who I quoted many times recently, mostly for her work about… Read More