The Right to Be Beautiful

Criticism / Mimi Thi Nguyen

:: The Right to Be Beautiful ::


Accord­ing to the Inter­na­tion­al Cam­paign to Ban Land­mines, Cam­bo­dia remains one of the states most affect­ed by mines and explo­sive rem­nants of war. Many of the mines are still undet­o­nat­ed from the last century’s not-cold wars in South­east Asia, in which the Unit­ed States played a sig­nif­i­cant part in dev­as­ta­tion and dis­able­ment through­out the late 1960s and 1970s. U.S. actions inside Cam­bo­di­an bor­ders began years before the secret car­pet-bomb­ing that accom­pa­nied Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon’s “Viet­namiza­tion” of the war. The U.S. con­duct­ed secret pro­grams with Spe­cial Forces per­son­nel in Cam­bo­dia, whose pri­ma­ry activ­i­ties (over near­ly 2,000 mis­sions) includ­ed lay­ing “san­i­tized self-destruct antiper­son­nel” mines well beyond the Viet­namese bor­der (Kier­nan 18). Dur­ing the Viet­namese occu­pa­tion, which oust­ed the Khmer Rouge from the cap­i­tal, a bar­ri­er mine­field was laid along the entire length of the Cam­bo­dia-Thai­land bor­der where the Khmer Rouge had retreat­ed to its rur­al strong­holds. In the fol­low­ing decade, Khmer Rouge and Monar­chist oppo­si­tion forces used land­mines to pro­tect new­ly won ground or to con­t­a­m­i­nate the inte­ri­or of aban­doned Viet­namese defen­sive posi­tions. By the time of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords end­ing the civ­il war, and the 1993 procla­ma­tion of the Cam­bo­di­an con­sti­tu­tion, a mas­sive non-gov­ern­men­tal infra­struc­ture had been estab­lished, sup­port­ed in large part by for­eign aid. (Cam­bo­dia boasts the sec­ond high­est num­ber of NGOs per capi­ta after Rwan­da) (Domash­ne­va). Yet the wars haunt the present, as the Cam­bo­di­an Mine Action Cen­tre esti­mates the num­ber of unex­plod­ed land­mines and oth­er ord­nance to be as high as 5 to 6 mil­lion. Despite defus­ing cam­paigns, these mines kill hun­dreds of Cam­bo­di­ans every year, and at least 40,000 Cam­bo­di­ans are amputees (Htun 172).

In 2009, Nor­we­gian art provo­ca­teur and self-described “direc­tor, actor, artist” Morten Traavik, fund­ed in part by the Nor­we­gian Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, sought to hold a sec­ond Miss Land­mine beau­ty pageant for women and girls who had lost limbs in land­mine explo­sions, this time in Cam­bo­dia. (The first pageant was held in Ango­la in 2008.) [i] With the assis­tance of the Cam­bo­di­an Dis­abled People’s Orga­ni­za­tion (CDPO), twen­ty prospec­tive par­tic­i­pants were iden­ti­fied among those already tak­ing part in reha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams. The Miss Land­mine man­i­festo claimed to engen­der “female pride and empow­er­ment” in pur­suit of a pol­i­tics of “becom­ing vis­i­ble” (“Man­i­festo” 1), ren­der­ing cog­nizance of undet­o­nat­ed land­mines through their vio­lent inscrip­tion on amputees, and award­ing a prize of a cus­tom-fit­ted pros­thet­ic limb as well as a sculpt­ed gold­en leg. Con­tes­tants were select­ed from each of Cambodia’s provinces, made over in col­or­ful, casu­al jer­sey dress­es and make­up, and then pho­tographed and filmed for a doc­u­men­tary. Miss Land­mine also pro­duced a pic­to­r­i­al mag­a­zine, fea­tur­ing the twen­ty amputee con­tes­tants pos­ing before tum­bled tem­ples and lush green­ery; on beau­ti­ful beach­es and sail­boats; and inside mod­ern lux­u­ry homes—by a tiled pool, atop a mahogany bar. Though the Cam­bo­di­an gov­ern­ment ini­tial­ly sup­port­ed the pageant, gov­ern­ment offi­cials abrupt­ly refused to allow the pageant to pro­ceed, days before the actu­al con­test was to unfold, cit­ing con­cerns about exploita­tion. In lieu of a pageant, Miss Land­mine allowed online vot­ing, stag­ing a finale-in-exile event in Nor­way where the local Cam­bo­di­an com­mu­ni­ty also vot­ed on life-size ver­sions of con­tes­tants’ pho­tographs car­ried down a red car­pet run­way. In Decem­ber 2010, Traavik trav­eled back to Cam­bo­dia in stealth—a trip also cap­tured by a film crew—to fit pageant win­ner 19-year-old Dos Sopheap from Bat­tam­bang Province with a pros­thet­ic leg and award her $1,000 (USD) (Miss Land­mine).


I am writ­ing about the promise of beau­ty, rang­ing from beau­ti­ful objects, per­sons, or scenes, which might hold out to us real or ide­al pos­si­bil­i­ties such as roman­tic love, spir­i­tu­al tran­scen­dence, eco­nom­ic mobil­i­ty, or polit­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion. Mine is a minor his­to­ri­og­ra­phy of a con­cept of beau­ty as an imper­a­tive dis­course, one that deter­mines what con­di­tions are nec­es­sary to live, what forms of life are worth liv­ing, and what actions must fol­low to pre­serve, secure, or repli­cate such con­di­tions and forms—and their consequences.

I am par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in encoun­ters in which depri­va­tion and vio­lence, cri­sis and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, might be laid bare where threats to (what we iden­ti­fy as) beau­ti­ful objects, per­sons, and even life-worlds are mobi­lized in our nar­ra­tive or aes­thet­ic con­struc­tions. But while a thing of beau­ty might describe the lim­its of a struc­ture or prac­tice, because such a struc­ture or prac­tice can­not sus­tain beau­ty, the promise of beau­ty can also recruit con­trol or inter­fer­ence on beauty’s behalf. That is, the promise of beau­ty can engen­der a cri­tique of social arrange­ments and polit­i­cal struc­tures and also call for the reor­ga­ni­za­tion of arrange­ments and struc­tures in our promise to beau­ty and all it is made to stand for—such as free­dom, truth, sov­er­eign­ty, and life itself.


It is easy to be struck by the pho­tographs of the Cam­bo­di­an con­tes­tants, col­lect­ed in the bilin­gual pic­to­r­i­al mag­a­zine pub­lished by Miss Land­mine. Here the hall­marks of por­trai­ture are used to both human­ize and indi­vid­u­al­ize, cou­pled with the the­atri­cal­ized tableaux of fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy, encom­pass­ing both lux­u­ry and lush­ness (“Miss Land­mine Mag­a­zine” 3–67). The con­tes­tants are clothed in Amer­i­can Appar­el (a com­pa­ny as famous for their non-sweat labor as for their body polic­ing and sex­u­al harass­ment suits), and in these pho­tographs the women expose bare arms, legs, and their absence, play with long loos­ened hair, and smile (if at times awk­ward­ly) at the cam­era. One of these pho­tographs fea­tures a beau­ti­ful young woman (the even­tu­al pageant win­ner) hold­ing a sil­ver plas­tic ray gun above her shoul­der (36). In oth­ers, con­tes­tants cra­dle a gold­en leg in their arms (3, 17), not quite an imi­ta­tion or repli­ca­tion of the lost object but a totem of a promise for it.

The the­atri­cal aspect of beau­ty sug­gests its fun­da­men­tal­ly social char­ac­ter, its impor­tance as a scene through which a person’s rela­tions to his­to­ry, the present, the future, and her­self are per­formed. Beau­ty brings togeth­er seem­ing­ly incom­men­su­rate things, from implic­it invest­ments in eco­nom­ic or polit­i­cal forms to dreams incul­cat­ed in the after­math of col­lec­tive and per­son­al dev­as­ta­tion. There are a num­ber of sto­ries that unfold from these pho­tographs, not least among them the famil­iar fem­i­niza­tion of human­i­tar­i­an aes­thet­ics that fore­grounds vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, and a cura­tive ther­a­peu­tics (includ­ing the prag­mat­ics of med­i­cine and bio­engi­neer­ing) that aims to trans­form dis­abil­i­ty, con­comi­tant with anoth­er sto­ry about lost beau­ty and its restora­tion. Here beau­ty comes into view as a con­cep­tu­al wedge through which mur­der­ous struc­tures of rad­i­cal unmak­ing are super­seded by an ide­al con­cept of beau­ty as sub­jec­tiviza­tion, as the repair and revi­tal­iza­tion of an inte­ri­or life. Through­out the Miss Land­mine doc­u­men­tary (dir. Stan Fein­gold, 2010), each con­tes­tant is nar­rat­ed as endur­ing mul­ti­ple forms of cap­ture and alien­ation that impede her life chances, most obvi­ous­ly the bomb blast, after which each contestant’s body—boundaries, organs, limbs—is no longer her own. Fur­ther­more, the same cat­a­stroph­ic event that desub­jec­ti­fies also degen­ders. [ii] The land­mine is the con­spic­u­ous cul­prit for their failed fem­i­nini­ties, described as an over­whelm­ing obsta­cle to roman­tic love and thus for­ward momen­tum. Its vio­lence then is deeply cor­po­re­al, and also pro­found­ly psy­chic; it seizes them in this nar­ra­tion in the moment of the blast.

So there is in these pho­tographs the hope for repair that the pros­thet­ic leg promises—replacing the low­er limb (the limbs most often lost to mines) that is so cru­cial to loco­mo­tion, but also secur­ing sur­plus val­ue as aes­thet­ic plen­ti­tude and social mobil­i­ty: the pageant win­ner might now be more employ­able, for instance, or roman­ti­cal­ly desir­able. But the cat­e­go­ry of the beau­ti­ful also comes (in this sto­ry) to coun­ter­act the dead­en­ing alien­ation the pageant con­tes­tant expe­ri­ences due to the land­mine and the con­di­tions that exac­er­bate her loss. As Hen­ry-Jacques Strik­er observes, war ren­ders per­son­hood vio­lent­ly par­tial in body and also mind: “The maimed per­son is some­one miss­ing some­thing” (123). (We can of course argue about the val­u­a­tion of absence here, but for now let us observe that vio­lent dis­able­ment as a con­se­quence of war is a rad­i­cal alter­ation.) So it is that the promise of beau­ty pre­sum­ably returns her to her­self, ren­der­ing her dam­aged body through a ther­a­peu­tic idiom of plea­sure and pres­ence, pro­vid­ing to the bomb­ing vic­tim a sen­su­al, vital expe­ri­ence of the link­age between her­self and the world. [iii]

In the mate­ri­als gen­er­at­ed by the pageant, each Miss Land­mine con­tes­tant pro­file ren­ders her suf­fer­ing as sin­gu­lar while con­nect­ing her long­ing for beau­ty, social­i­ty, and roman­tic love to a human uni­ver­sal­i­ty. The project’s slo­gan promis­es, “Every­one has the right to be beau­ti­ful,” which right the pageant pre­sum­ably restores to her. To demon­strate such long­ing, how­ev­er, the amputee is oblig­ed to dis­play her dis­abil­i­ty, and her failed fem­i­nin­i­ty, in order to lay claim to such inte­ri­or­i­ty and then to the (promise of the) pros­thet­ic device itself. (Because not all pain can be under­stood as a sign of the human, some trau­ma, some long­ing for some­thing more than, must be present for pain to be under­stood as a pos­ses­sive inte­ri­or­i­ty.) This desire is actu­al­ly pic­tured in those pho­tographs that fea­ture con­tes­tants cradling the gold­en leg that stands in for the also-vis­i­ble lost limb—while the cus­tom-fit pros­thet­ic promis­es loco­mo­tion, even ele­gant per­fec­tion. The attach­ment to beau­ty becomes an attach­ment to so much more; or as Rachel Bloul argues, “[The Miss Land­mine con­tes­tants] had the beau­ty of resilience, of courage and enough spir­it to make the most of what they have been dealt with. How could one not per­ceive their indi­vid­ual hero­ism, reach­ing beyond pain and social rejec­tion, and fight­ing to make them­selves a life as women?” (15).


Notably, no one or no state in par­tic­u­lar is impli­cat­ed in the Miss Land­mine pageant. [iv] The U.S. wars in South­east Asia through which the gift of free­dom unfold­ed, includ­ing the bomb­ing cam­paigns in Cam­bo­dia, are absent from this scene. [v] Nonethe­less, they res­onate still, and not just as landmines—those cam­paigns now inform a Depart­ment of Jus­tice white paper for the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of tar­get­ed assas­si­na­tions as “nec­es­sary and appro­pri­ate” force in areas out­side of des­ig­nat­ed war zones. [vi]

But this is not to say that there is no con­ti­nu­ity between lib­er­al war and lib­er­al peace. This scop­ic regime—what Rey Chow calls “the age of the world target”—names the knowl­edge struc­tures that con­ceive the world simul­ta­ne­ous­ly as an object of per­fectible knowl­edge and a tar­get for tech­no­log­i­cal­ly inno­v­a­tive war. We know that war and vision, and vio­lence and knowl­edge, share affini­ties, thus mak­ing it pos­si­ble to bomb, to pic­ture, and even to repair at once (Chow 36). (After the uses of antibi­otics pre­vent­ed many sol­diers and civil­ians from dying of their wartime injuries, tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tions in repar­a­tive surg­eries, new mate­ri­als sci­ence, and pros­thet­ics engi­neer­ing fol­lowed. ) Or as Caren Kaplan put it, about these divi­sions that struc­ture per­cep­tion and also pre­car­i­ty, “Leg­i­bil­i­ty cre­ates tar­gets as well as safe­ty zones” (Kaplan 69). These insights ren­der explic­it the binds between inter­ced­ing subjects—militaries and human­i­tar­i­ans, for instance, which we know are close collaborators—and the objects they encounter in their simul­ta­ne­ous, con­verg­ing fields of vision, dichotomized accord­ing to what Chow calls “the ‘eye’ and the ‘tar­get’” (36). These pho­tographs of bombed beau­ty con­tes­tants that envi­sion wartime dam­age, and the tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tions that repair such dam­age, are thus con­tigu­ous with regimes of recon­nais­sance, which laid those mines in the first instance, but are nowhere men­tioned in the mate­ri­als for the Miss Land­mine pageant.

Look­ing at these pho­tographs, some share with me a sense of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, found in the way a con­tes­tant might ten­der­ly cra­dle the gold­en leg in her arms. This is the struc­ture of what some oth­ers call beau­ti­ful suf­fer­ing. [vii] But not all par­ties under­stood the pageant as the res­cue of beau­ty, includ­ing the Cam­bo­di­an gov­ern­ment offi­cials who wor­ried about the pos­si­ble exploita­tion of land­mine sur­vivors (though the nature of the accu­sa­tion — because all the con­tes­tants are women, or dis­abled? because of the invo­ca­tion of beau­ty, a triv­ial matter?–is unclear). These pho­tographs are also indict­ed as the eroti­ciza­tion of pain and the eroti­ciza­tion of dis­abil­i­ty, espe­cial­ly its vis­i­ble rev­e­la­tion, which itself has a long his­to­ry. [viii] For still oth­ers, these pho­tographs appear to fail to cap­ture the depth or breadth of a human life, and it seems that if any decent plea­sure is to be derived from view­ing a beau­ty pageant pho­to­graph of a Cam­bo­di­an land­mine sur­vivor in jer­sey dress and a tiara, it must be the fris­son of dis­cern­ing agency in the sub­ject of the image—to per­ceive no agency there at all is to then par­tic­i­pate in her exploita­tion, in the pornographic.

But the desire to see that the woman in the pho­to­graph is non-duped, that she pos­es with the sil­ver plas­tic ray gun know­ing full well the inter­pre­ta­tive breadth of this the­atri­cal tableaux, would mean that we too are non-duped by the oth­er­wise opaque sur­face of the image—that we can see trans­par­ent­ly past the sur­face of the pho­to­graph to its depth, that we can yet become lost in the eyes of a stranger with­out reca­pit­u­lat­ing a map of the world as target.


Miss Land­mine (the doc­u­men­tary, the pageant, the pro­gram) ends with the vir­tu­os­i­ty of the pros­thet­ic device and the impact on the user, win­ner Sopheap, who tes­ti­fies that her par­tic­i­pa­tion has won her friends, and hap­pi­ness. Or as a Nation­al Geo­graph­ic essay on Cambodia’s “heal­ing fields” nar­rates this scene, “To the tear­ful clap­ping of her fam­i­ly, Sopheap is tak­ing her new tita­ni­um pros­the­sis for a test run around their dirt front yard, scat­ter­ing the ducks and chick­ens. As befits a beau­ty queen, she is wear­ing a floun­cy, peach-col­ored dress lit up like a rose by the set­ting sun. Her twin sis­ters hang on to each arm as she walks stiffly in cir­cles, and her moth­er weeps” (Jenk­ins par. 22).

Here, at the con­gru­ence of bomb and beau­ty, the tech­no­log­i­cal per­fec­tion that lib­er­al war demands (“smart” bombs) is cou­pled with the tech­no­log­i­cal per­fec­tion that lib­er­al peace promis­es. Both cut into a bio­log­i­cal field, in the name of life itself. And, like the gift of free­dom, this nar­ra­tion of med­ical and psy­cho­log­i­cal normalization—and as well an edu­ca­tion in beauty—is made pos­si­ble through the arrival of tech­nolo­gies to Cam­bo­dia from the future that is the now of oth­er places. Such faith in the pros­thet­ic device estab­lish­es that vis­i­ble labors—to ren­der beau­ti­ful through reha­bil­i­ta­tion and whole­ness, to redesign the body as inte­gral once again—will also repair an individual’s inte­ri­or life, but that such labors are pos­si­ble only through forms of inter­fer­ence that come from anoth­er. In this telling, the repar­a­tive prop­er­ties of a pageant tiara and a tita­ni­um pros­thet­ic limb are col­lo­cat­ed with those struc­tures that allow beau­ty to flour­ish, that guar­an­tee plen­ti­tude through con­vivi­al­i­ty, to mod­er­ate the dam­age of her bomb­ing. Her moth­er, Nation­al Geo­graph­ic wit­ness­es, is grate­ful that Sopheap now can wear jeans like the oth­er girls (Jenk­ins par. 25). On this ten­der and trou­bling note, we find that beau­ty can impli­cate mul­ti­ple realms of knowl­edge (sci­en­tif­ic and moral, among oth­ers), as well as stir­ring emo­tions, triv­ial details, and “minor” events, bring­ing togeth­er grand ges­tures and every­day gov­er­nance through its promise.

It is easy to say that beau­ty is mere­ly symp­to­matic of some oth­er thing, such as racisms and their forms of gen­der; that the pres­ence or absence of beau­ty is a sec­ond-order obser­va­tion that is a mere jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for oth­er pol­i­tics, whether con­quest or coup. To con­sid­er beau­ty as triv­ial is to insist upon a return to a deep­er con­di­tion beneath a numb­ing, noisy dis­trac­tion that impedes our per­cep­tion of the sta­bil­i­ty of the real. But much might be lost in dis­pens­ing with (what is dis­missed as) mere orna­ment, or sub­tract­ing from the sur­face, because beau­ty might nonethe­less cap­ture time and move­ment, or the span and breadth of a life; might pro­vide a struc­ture of intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty or a his­tor­i­cal sen­so­ri­um to focus our atten­tion upon those structures—dispossession, war, capital—that fold some beings into life and oth­ers into death. It is as such that a con­cept of beau­ty might sus­tain both a philo­soph­i­cal state­ment about an expe­ri­ence of the world, but also sets of social prac­tices for the devel­op­ment of capac­i­ties, such as the edu­ca­tion of desire, and struc­tures of feel­ing, such as dig­ni­ty or resilience, that nonethe­less com­prise a will to sub­jec­tiv­i­ty by another’s pow­er. If the capac­i­ty to per­ceive and also embody beau­ty are thus tied to ideas about ontol­ogy and epis­te­mol­o­gy, we can observe that encoun­ters with beau­ty (its pres­ence or absence) have force, shap­ing per­sons into sub­jects and cre­at­ing the con­tours of what is intel­li­gi­ble, per­cep­ti­ble, and sen­si­ble about our worlds. We can con­sid­er beau­ty after Michel Fou­cault as “a ques­tion of tech­niques for max­i­miz­ing life” (123), inas­much as beau­ty might take the dis­cern­ing forms of an imper­a­tive to live, and the capac­i­ties and prac­tices to do so. What I am call­ing then the promise of beau­ty is about the con­di­tions beau­ty requires to flour­ish, with and against the threat of its dis­ap­pear­ance or destruc­tion, and about the trans­for­ma­tion of those con­di­tions to sus­tain such life that the beau­ti­ful promis­es to us.


I’ve been lucky enough to engage audi­ences in gen­er­ous and gen­er­a­tive con­ver­sa­tion with this work-in-progress at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas, Austin; the Cana­di­an Asso­ci­a­tion of Cul­tur­al Stud­ies; the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Asso­ci­a­tion; North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty; Lewis and Clark Col­lege; Vas­sar Uni­ver­si­ty; the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan, Ann Arbor; the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ari­zona, Tus­con; and George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty. Thanks are also owed to Aman­da Dyke­ma for gen­tle nudges and supe­ri­or edit­ing, and to The Account for host­ing me here.


[i] The human­i­tar­i­an NGO Nor­we­gian People’s Aid is a key play­er in dem­i­ning cam­paigns around the world, includ­ing Cambodia.

[ii] See Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe.”

[iii] In anoth­er exam­ple from recent wars, con­sid­er the chain of asso­ci­a­tions brought togeth­er after a reporter’s obser­va­tion about depres­sion and sui­cide, about dis­in­te­grat­ing self­hood, under the Tal­iban before Unit­ed States occu­pa­tion: “Those [women who] sur­vived relied on the only things they had left, their self-respect and their abil­i­ty to main­tain what dig­ni­ty they could by mak­ing them­selves beau­ti­ful” (Reed 469).

[iv] Morten Travvik com­ments on these pho­tographs, “What do I see when I look at the pic­tures of Miss Land­mine con­tes­tants? I see true beau­ty. I see beau­ti­ful women who are proud, dig­ni­fied, and com­fort­able with who they are. And that strong, feel-good fac­tor is all the while under­mined by the trag­ic and quite hor­ri­ble back-sto­ries of muti­la­tion and war that inevitably stays with a land­mine sur­vivor. It is a pic­ture of ambi­gu­i­ty, but where the forces of life pre­vail” (quot­ed in Bloul 8).

[v] The gift of free­dom is the fre­quent name for the both famil­iar and strange ways in which lib­er­al empire mar­shals its pow­ers for and against oth­ers and else­wheres. As I argue in The Gift of Free­dom, an attach­ment to free­dom is foun­da­tion­al to liberalism’s claim to a height­ened atten­tion to freedom’s pres­ence or lapse, an atten­tion that there­by con­tin­u­al­ly com­mits free peo­ples to sus­tain or man­u­fac­ture its pres­ence—often­times, for an oth­er who must be made to desire it. See Nguyen, The Gift of Free­dom.

[vi] This is an excerpt from this recent­ly released white paper: “The Depart­ment has not found any author­i­ty for the propo­si­tion that when one of the par­ties to an armed con­flict plans and exe­cutes oper­a­tions from a base in a new nation, an oper­a­tion to engage the ene­my in that loca­tion can­not be part of the orig­i­nal armed con­flict, and thus sub­ject to the laws of war gov­ern­ing that con­flict, unless the hos­til­i­ties become suf­fi­cient­ly intense and pro­tract­ed in the new loca­tion. That does not appear to be the rule of the his­tor­i­cal prac­tice, for instance, even in a tra­di­tion­al inter­na­tion­al con­flict. See John R. Steven­son, Legal Advis­er, Depart­ment of State, Unit­ed States Mil­i­tary Action in Cam­bo­dia: Ques­tions of Inter­na­tion­al Law, Address before the Ham­marskjold Forum of the Asso­ci­a­tion of the Bar of the City of New York (May 28,1970)… (argu­ing that in an inter­na­tion­al armed con­flict, if a neu­tral state has been unable for any rea­son to pre­vent vio­la­tions of its neu­tral­i­ty by the troops of one bel­liger­ent using its ter­ri­to­ry as a base of oper­a­tions, the oth­er bel­liger­ent has his­tor­i­cal­ly been jus­ti­fied in attack­ing those ene­my forces in that state)” (“020413 DOJ White Paper” I par. 5).

[vii] See Rein­hardt et al., Beau­ti­ful Suf­fer­ing.

[viii] See Smith, “The Vul­ner­a­ble Articulate.”


Works Cit­ed

020413 DOJ White Paper.” Wikipedia. 2015. Web. 18 Octo­ber 2015.

Bloul, Rachel. “Ain’t I a woman? Female land­mine sur­vivors’ beau­ty pageants and the ethics of star­ing.” Social Iden­ti­ties: Jour­nal for the Study of Race, Nation, and Cul­ture 18.1 (2012): 3–18. Print.

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Mimi Thi Nguyen is Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Gen­der and Women’s Stud­ies and Asian Amer­i­can Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois, Urbana-Cham­paign. Her first book is The Gift of Free­dom: War, Debt, and Oth­er Refugee Pas­sages (Duke Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2012). Her fol­low­ing project is called The Promise of Beau­ty. She has also pub­lished in Signs, Cam­era Obscu­ra, Women & Per­for­mance, posi­tions, and Rad­i­cal His­to­ry Review.


Guest Crit­i­cism Edi­tor Aman­da Dyke­ma received her PhD in Eng­lish from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land and is a Vis­it­ing Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor at Rhodes Col­lege. Her book project, Inap­pro­pri­ate Lit­er­a­tures: The Cul­tur­al Pol­i­tics of Racial­ized Pro­pri­ety, argues that the dis­ci­plin­ing of racial­ized sub­jects in an osten­si­bly pos­tra­cial Unit­ed States has been accom­plished by per­va­sive dis­cours­es of appro­pri­ate­ness. She recent­ly pub­lished “Embod­ied Knowl­edges: Synes­the­sia and the Archive in Monique Truong’s Bit­ter in the Mouth” in MELUS.