Response: Situations and Events (Cornelia Grabner)

Response to Dr. Cornelia Grabner, University of Lancaster, ‘Situations and Events: Intensifications of State Violence in Mexico and the Poetics of Resistance’, Wednesday October 7th 2015
by Fran Hajat
MA Creative Writing, NTU
27 October 2015
Cornelia Gräbner was the first in a series of speakers hosted by Nottingham Trent University’s Postcolonial Studies Centre. Her current research focus is to do with the Poetics of Resistance, a methodology that has been in development since 2007, and is about the development of transcultural literacies of resistance, and of resistance literacies, and their modes of response. Her talk mainly focused on an analysis of situations and events as poetics of resistance towards increased state violence in Mexico. On September 26th, 2014, students from a teacher training college in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico tried to attend a protest. Media reports state that the students, who had commandeered local buses to attend the rally, were intercepted by the local police. During the confrontation that ensued at least six students were killed an  many others injured, some of them severely. The police rounded up and took the students into custody where it is believed they were handed over to a local crime syndicate, never to be seen again. The disappearance of forty-three students was an event that attracted world-wide media attention.
Cornelia described how she felt increasingly discomforted by the way Britain and the world media had treated this event as exceptional. The abduction and death of students, she argued, was an intensification of the situation that the people of Guerrero had been continually struggling under. Guerrero was a state was known for its resistance towards the government’s ties with organised crime. A focus on the situation reveals the true awfulness of lives that are continuously oppressed by the State through dirty war strategies such as: clandestine detention centres; systematic use of torture; and executions. This campaign of attrition and violence is a method used by the Mexican State to wear out the support the locals have for their resistance base and, as such, is not a situation that will ever ‘calm down,’ as the world is led to believe through media reports.
The acknowledgement of the relationship between situations and events brings into focus a comprehension that these situations are continuous and ongoing. Cornelia’s analysis of the difference between the situation and the event, reminds me so much of the drowned refugee boy who haunted our screens and newspapers just over a month ago – a moment of horror caught for the world to both see and weep about. But only for a day or so. It is easy to forget this was not an isolated event but an ongoing situation where people are still drowning in a bid to escape their war-torn realities. But because the world’s voyeuristic eye is looking for something new, more interesting and exciting, we have lost sight of the everyday trauma that people have to endure. There is a need to understand the long term repercussions of events and the situations that lead up to them.

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