2. december 2014

Disembodied Conjugality

FrontpageWith point of departure in the means and forums available to my interlocutors to sustain conjugal intimacy during the husband’s incarceration, I investigate how the conjugal relationship is configured in such a context. I ask what intimacy means and what fills the void left by the detained husband’s physical absence. This chapter fleshes out how the knowledge of the other during incarceration is precisely a practical difficulty whose tentacles infiltrate intimacy among Palestinian detainees, their wives, and their families.
To render marriage emblematic of the ordinary is an analytical move that invites examination of how the conjugate is configured during incarceration despite its gloss being ordinary in the occupied Palestinian territories due to the sheer number of Palestinian families with a male relative incarcerated in Israel.[i] This examination is informed by Cavell’s notion of tragedy as imbued with enduring skepticism. The notion of tragedy in relation to Palestinians incarcerated in Israel is nonetheless far from both an invocation of pride in the national struggle for Statehood and the notion of Sum[u]d in the face of the occupation. When I evoke the notion of tragedy, it is in order to zoom in on the meaning of incarceration for the wives of the detainees, rather than the meaning it has for Palestinians as a collective or for the detainees themselves.

Lotte Buch Segal: "Disembodied Conjugality" in Wording the Word - Veena Das and Scenes of Inheritance (ed. Roma Chatterji); Fordham University Press, 2014