I have become attached to footnotes and other forms of annotation as exegeses in my writings. I use them to clarify, qualify, and caveat myself and my politics. Rarely, do I (think I can) disobey too much, rarely do I (feel allowed to) discard with conventional disciplinary norms entirely and allow (all of) myself to spill over in text. I am (made) aware of the anxiety and the discomfort my political subjectivity cause for the disruptive and insurgent work they do in exposing disciplinary methods and frameworks’ entanglements with power and privilege. In (long) footnotes, I repeatedly clarify myself and my politics; I plead to be taken seriously in my full humanity – socially and relationally; to take seriously anti-imperial, disruptive, and embodied ways of knowing and existing; in footnotes, I urge readers to take seriously modes of agency and resistance of colonised and vulnerable people; and I note that not using dominant positivist methods is an intentional, political refusal and not a naiveté, a pathology, or the absence of disciplinary training.
I clarify that the limitations of methodology and data are also constitutive of my research and not errors to be resolved. I clarify that, yes, I am not (only) implying, I am not mistaken, but in fact I am critiquing dominant ways of knowing for the violence they do. And I unequivocally implicate imperial epistemologies for providing the thinking tools for (and/or obscuring) the direct physical violence of empire. I plead to see all violence as political violence and caution against disavowal and erasure of colonial and racial violence. In these annotations, I try to contain all of me, all of us that is/are in excess of liberal colonial and imperial logics. Many times, these (foot)notes make up the whole of me and the whole of my writing.
Footnotes have become a way of disembodying (from the imagined imperial subject) and emancipating myself and my interlocutors from the imperial and colonial imaginaries that have imbricated my disciplinary home – international policy. As people from the Global South are often in excess (and in absence) of (Western) disciplinary logics and norms, our politics are deemed as non-political, our ways of being as invalid, our bodies as deviant, our existence as a problem to be solved, a threat to be managed, a presence to be mitigated. Disciplined into frameworks that erase our complexity, disavow our politics, and justify the violence, we are rarely allowed to enter the social world as our whole selves; we are (t)asked to justify our existence, our being in relation to the normative, the rational, the worthy, the real, and the ideal.
We are (t)asked to enter and engage the discipline as rational actors, as objective knowers of the world and uncontaminated by what the discipline has already disavowed - that is our complex personhoods. As we enter the field, we are asked to abandon what we already know and how we know and uncritically accept the objective and the universal. While disciplinary norms often disavow and leave the body and its politics at the door, the burden falls on those of us who critique and challenge disciplinary norms to tidy up and discipline the violence of the norms. We are (t)asked to discard and deny (parts of) ourselves that are constituted by and are the very reminder and remainder of (epistemic) violence inflicted by our disciplines. We are (t)asked to disavow our excesses which are produced through the violence of our disciplines – that is, our heartbreak, our refusal and resistance to our ongoing violation, our revolutionary imagination, and our commitments to liberation. In disciplining violence, we are tasked to orate it in discrete and static terms, to reduce what it means to what can be measured about it, and not disrupt/implicate the empire and its perpetuation of violence. As non-western scholars - our bodies already disavowed and violated – we are then tasked with the burden of disassociating and severing ourselves from our heartbreak, trauma, embodiment, and sense making.
Thus, my disobedience results from what Enrike van Wingerden calls "catastrophic encounter" with my discipline - manifest in the incompatibilities between how I live and experience the social world and my discipline’s purported attempts to contain and (re)present the social world in disembodied, fixed, and bloodless categories. Pertinently, my resistance follows from my body’s awareness of the prior (epistemic) violence that has undergirded the subjugation, dispossession, oppression, dehumanization, and the violation of colonized and vulnerable bodies. In Lauren Wilcox’s words, "[v]iolence is not only something that is done to an already established body - rather, various forms of violence are also part and parcel of the production of the various bodies that are subjected to violence". And despite all disciplinary conventions to leave myself and my heartbreak out of text, this prior violence is relevant to my political subjectivity and embodiment, and how I come to know, resist, and (re)imagine relations of power.