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Arundhati Roy, a One-woman Dissident Force against the Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy

Arundhati Roy, la force d’une seule femme face à la démocratie impériale prête à l’emploi
Geetha Ganapathy-Doré
p. 221-232

Résumé

Mieux connu pour son roman Le Dieu des petits riens qui a ébloui le monde anglophone par son style novateur et choqué les lecteurs indiens en mettant en scène l’amour entre une femme de haute caste et un paria, Arundhati Roy est une écrivaine engagée qui dénonce les dérives pronucléaires et néolibérales du gouvernement indien et mène une lutte contre la mondialisation capitaliste là où elle se manifeste. Les essais polémiques que Roy a écrits après les attentats du 11 septembre s’attaquent de façon virulente à l’impérialisme américain. Elle déconstruit l’Empire en exposant les piliers invisibles de son architecture et en décodant sa rhétorique. Elle en analyse les  présupposés éthiques, les rouages économiques, la pénétration culturelle et les implications juridiques afin de définir les stratégies de résistance pour réaffirmer les valeurs de la dignité humaine, de la justice sociale et de la paix. Dans le projet d’assiéger l’Empire, elle est appuyée par des dissidents célèbres tels que Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Amy Goodman et d’autres.

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Texte intégral

  • 1  Hanif Kureishi, London Kills Me and Eight Arms to Hold You, Faber and Faber, London, 1991.
  • 2  Arundhati Roy, “Knowledge and Power”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, Cambridge, Massachu (...)

1After the phenomenal success of her first and only novel, The God of Small Things which won the Booker Prize in 1997, Arundhati Roy has devoted her time to writing polemical pamphlets instead of fiction. Some commentators lost no time in labelling her a writer activist. Their simplification was both unfair and offensive in so far as Indian writers have always had “eight arms to hold you” as Hanif Kureishi puts it1. Trained as an architect who wrote her thesis on postcolonial urban development in Delhi, Arundhati Roy had tried her hand at acting, screenplay writing and aerobics training before being propelled onto the world scene as a goddess of fiction and icon of anti-globalization. In an interview2 granted to David Barsamian on “Knowledge and Power”, Arundhati Roy has clarified that her essay-writing phase need not be considered a transitional one. First, she had penned at least three political essays on Shekhar Kapur’s 1994 film Bandit Queen condemning the director for resorting to the great Indian rape trick before writing her best selling novel. Secondly, her method is to “tell politics like a story” which implies that her fiction and non-fiction are two sides of the same coin. The confrontation between power and powerlessness is the cornerstone of her writing and erasing the artificial boundary between the intellect and the heart, the epistemological goal she has set out to achieve.

  • 3  See <http://www.newamericancentury.org>, consulted in April 2007.
  • 4  Robert J. Lieber, The American Era: Power and Strategy for the 21st Century, Cambridge: Cambridge (...)
  • 5  For a full-fledged review of the literature on empire on either side of the American political spe (...)
  • 6  Ian Buruma, “The Anti-American”, The New Republic, April 29, 2002. See <http://www.sandelman.ottaw (...)

2After directing her anger at the nuclear tests by the Indian government in 1998 and the World Bank funded Narmada dam project which has displaced more than half a million people in Western India, Arundhati Roy has recently been relentlessly and stridently vocal against American imperialism. Even if the concept of the American Empire was first formulated by an American president (Woodrow Wilson), expressions like “American influence”, “American hegemony”, “American dominance”, “American superiority”, “American supremacy”, “American pre-eminence”, “American preponderance”, “American expansionism” and even “Uncle Sam” and “Big Brother” were more common during the Cold War than “American Empire”. It was thus easy for Ronald Reagan to denounce the Soviet Union as the “evil empire”. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, as resentment against American economic imperialism increased, globalization was equated with Americanization in many parts of the world. The politically correct vehicle for the ambitions of the United States was the project of the American Century3 or the American Era, to quote the title of a new book by Robert J. Lieber4. Though political analysts like Andrew Bacevich, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri and Chalmers Johnson to name only a few5 have tried to engage with the concept of the American Empire, it is in the discourse of protest against the war in Iraq by famous dissenters like Noam Chomsky and Arundhati Roy that the idea of the American Empire has gained consistency and corporeality, prompting Ian Buruma6 to characterize the counter discourse that demonizes America as pure “Occidentalism or Said in reverse”.

  • 7  Arundhati Roy, “The Reincarnation of Rumpelstiltskin”, in Power Politics, Cambridge, Massachusetts (...)

3Arundhati Roy had been drawn into anti-Americanism through her denunciation of corporate globalization as a form of imperialism. She has notably referred to Enron’s contract with Maharashtra State Electricity Board as “rape without redress”7. Rape is a recurring metaphor for the discontents of globalization in Arundhati Roy. As the rebellious daughter of a Syrian Christian mother who had to fight against a patriarchal inheritance law in Kerala that did not give equal rights for women and as an inhabitant of India which was formerly part of the British Empire, Arundhati Roy, who calls herself an independent Mobile Republic and a Citizen of the Earth, is perhaps very well placed to deconstruct the Empire by exposing the invisible mechanisms of its architecture, analysing its moral assumptions, economic underpinnings, cultural penetration and legal implications, identifying its agents whoever they may be and wherever they function and decoding its rhetoric in order to hammer out strategies of resistance to reassert the values of human dignity, social justice and peace. Her illustrious predecessor in this case was none other than Mahatma Gandhi.

  • 8  Arundhati Roy, “Globalization of Dissent”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, op. cit., 141.
  • 9  Salman Rushdie, “The New Empire within Britain”, in Imaginary Homelands, London: Granta, 1991.
  • 10  Arundhati Roy, “War is Peace”, in Power Politics, op. cit., 127.
  • 11  This article was written before Tony Blair’s departure from 10 Downing Street on June 27, 2007.
  • 12  Arundhati Roy, “Terror and the Maddened King”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile,op. cit., 4 (...)
  • 13  Arundhati Roy, “Confronting Empire”, in War Talk, Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press, 2003, (...)

4Size, solidity, hierarchy, domination of the weak by the strong, entrenchment and expansion through force are some of the characteristics that patriarchy and empire share. A child of midnight independence, Arundhati Roy has intuited that the “British Empire has morphed into the American Empire”8. Before Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie had identified nostalgia for the Raj and etched the contours of the New Empire within Thatcher’s Britain9. In the Britain of New Labour, “America’s favourite ambassador is Tony Blair, who also holds the portfolio of Prime Minister of the UK”10, says Arundhati Roy. David Kelly, the expert who believed the report on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was “sexed up” to justify the war, may be dead and gone, but Tony Blair is still in office11. He has become the self-appointed one-man transatlantic bridge to stay in the imperial game. “The world”, according to Arundahti Roy “is divided into those who have a comfortable relationship with power and those who have a naturally adversarial relationship with power”12. As a representative of the latter category, she has become the one-woman dissident force against the “instant mix imperial democracy” which is a loyal confederation of the “US government (and its European satellites), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and multinational corporations”13.

  • 14  Arundhati Roy, “Instant Mix Imperial Democracy, By One, Get One Free”, in An Ordinary Person’s Gui (...)
  • 15  With reference to her speech at the Riverside Church, New York, on May 13, 2003. Arundhati Roy, “G (...)
  • 16  Autoethnography in the sense Mary Louise Pratt employs it in Imperial Eyes, London: Routledge, 199 (...)

5The contradiction is not only in the terms in which America is defined but also in the place from which Arundhati Roy speaks. She is a subaltern who feels empowered to speak. “May I clarify that I speak as a subject of the American Empire. I speak as a slave who presumes to criticize her king”14. Her anti-imperial discourse owes a lot to the postcolonial strategy of writing back to the British Empire. She seems to be particularly struck by the singularity of her being “a black woman from India speaking about America to an American audience in an American Church”15. Historically, it was the West which had the power of description. The postcolonial mindset had enabled the non-European peoples to travel to the West but only to talk about themselves16, not to represent the other. Globalization of dissent has reversed the tables and made it possible for subject peoples to represent their Masters.

  • 17  Arundhati Roy, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, loc. cit..
  • 18  See <http://www.refuseandresist.org/normalcy/111601edherman.html>, consulted in April 2007.
  • 19  Arundhati Roy, “Instant Mix Imperial Democracy”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, op. cit. (...)
  • 20 Ibid., 47.
  • 21  Arundhati Roy, “Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates” The Guardian, April 2, 2003. <http (...)

6Arundhati Roy retraces the history of the New Empire for the benefit of the common man, giving numerous examples. For her, the Age of Empire started with George Bush Senior. The New World Order he envisioned was but another name for American Empire because he refused to apologize for America, when an American cruise missile accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner and killed two hundred and ninety civilians, saying that “he did not care what the facts were”17. President Clinton’s Foreign Secretary Madeleine Albright remarked that America would act multilaterally when it could, but unilaterally when it had to. She showed deplorable ethical insensitivity when told about the 500 000 Iraqi children who had died because of American economic sanctions. Questioned by Lesley Stahl for “60 Minutes” on May 12, 1996 on this issue, she replied that “she thought that it was a very hard choice, but the price was worth it”18. Absence of media coverage and cynical statistical quantification of deaths in the third world rendered the lives of such people anonymous and valueless, as if they were a superfluous fringe of humanity. Roy argues that Bill Clinton visited India in 2000 only because India had the nuclear bomb. The purpose of his regal visit was to expand American economic power in India. George Walker Bush, who had not been legitimately elected in 2000 and had received his first mandate as a “gift from the Supreme Court”19, put himself on a par with God when he launched Operation Infinite-Justice, which was later renamed Operation Enduring Freedom to tone down the implied arrogance. His Attorney General John Ashcroft declared American freedoms to be an “endowment of God”20. According to Roy, this is how America’s Manifest Destiny of promoting democracy has been transformed into a divine mission to spread neoliberal capitalism. As for the UN, it has been “used and abused at will”21 as a handmaid of the Empire.  

  • 22  Jawaharlal Nehru quoted by Arundhati Roy, “The Greater Common Good”, in The Algebra of InfiniteJus (...)

7While dwelling at length on the political weight and the military might of the American Empire, Arundhati Roy draws our attention to its size. Gigantism is an attribute of superpower. The phenomenal logistics of Operation Iraqi Freedom is an example of American power or the tentacular reach of American multinationals and mass media for that matter. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade centre are symbolic gestures that translate the despair of the powerless who feel dwarfed by the colossal scale of American power. This controversial and postcolonial interpretation seems to have been prompted by the unconscious parallel that Arundhati Roy draws between the gigantism of the skyscrapers and the big dams erected in developing countries often with the help of the World Bank. She recalls the opinion of the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who felt that “the idea of big, having big undertakings and doing big things for the sake of showing that we can do big things is not a good outlook at all”22. The size of the American Empire is a bad thing in itself, but it can have worse consequences in the sense it can lead to detrimental copycat gigantism because of the world view which America has helped promote and which upholds competition, not co-operation, as a pivotal value.  

  • 23  Arundhati Roy, “The Algebra of Infinite Justice”, in The Algebra of Infinite Justice, op. cit., 21 (...)
  • 24  Arundhati Roy, “Confronting Empire”, in War Talk, op. cit., 112.

8Roy’s bold but controversial essay, “The Algebra of Infinite Justice” published in October 2001 immediately after the World Trade Centre attacks, tries to provide a spot analysis of the event by looking at the attacks as an after-effect of the numerous military campaigns conducted by America in the second half of the 20th century and denounces the brutality and hypocrisy of the American intervention in Afghanistan as a response to these attacks by laying bare the truth of how the Afghan mujahideens were enlisted to fight America’s proxy war in order to make Afghanistan the graveyard of Soviet communism. The ironical and vicious circle of mutual dependence had led to America supplying arms to the mujahideens and Afghanistan plying America’s drug addicts with heroin. Before becoming the prime suspect wanted dead or alive, Bin Laden was “America’s family secret” holds Arundhati Roy. She goes a step further to suggest that he was “the American President’s dark doppelganger”23. Bush is Bin Laden’s twin in so far as both invoke God in their respective discourses, are dangerously armed and commit political crimes. No other image could have better conveyed the idea of good coalescing into evil. Caricature and alliteration are again at the forefront in the talk entitled “Confronting Empire” delivered at the World Social Forum meeting in Porto Alegre in 2003 wherein Arundhati Roy declares that the people of the world do not have to choose between “a malevolent Mickey Mouse and the mad Mullahs”24.

9Unlike the British Empire which used its missionaries as one of the means of consolidating its power, the American Empire preaches the religion of the free market. Roy accuses the US of buying or bullying its way into third world markets. On the one hand, economic measures such as structural reform, privatization and liberalization starve and decimate the local population with the aim of creating a good investment climate for American firms. Even Presidents Lula and Nelson Mandela were obliged to make concessions to prevent the flight of capital out of their countries. On the other hand, cowardly wars are waged in foreign territories to promote the interests of Halliburton and Bechtel, while undermining the right to self-determination of the people who live there. What Roy blames first and foremost is the indecency of the privatization of war. The feminist, postcolonial reading of the war in Iraq in the essay entitled “The Day of the Jackals”, published in 2003, is intended to provoke and shock. “Those of us who belong to former colonies think of imperialism as rape. So you rape. Then you kill. Then you demand the right to rape the corpse. That’s usually known as necrophilia [...] Iraq is no longer a country. It’s an asset”25. Her conviction is based on the fact that Iraq’s oil fields had been secured before the invasion but nothing was done to protect the National Museum in Baghdad, a repository of the artistic treasures of a millenary civilization that had given the world the Hammurabi code. She finds fault with the idea of America being the nodal point of corporate enmeshment instead of enabling more south to south connections.

  • 26 Idem.
  • 27  Arundhati Roy, “Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates”, The Guardian, April 2, 2003, <htt (...)
  • 28  Arundhati Roy, “Instant Mix Imperial Democracy”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, 43. See (...)
  • 29  Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2004, 7.
  • 30  Arundhati Roy, “Peace is War”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, op. cit., 1-21.
  • 31  Arundhati Roy, “Privatization and Polarization”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, 90. See (...)

10After attacking America’s military-technology core and monetary-industrial core, Arundhati Roy turns to its ideology-media core. The American government manipulates the media through journalists “embedded” in the armed forces and the “choreographed charade” of the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein26. She exposes the double standards practised by America. When American soldiers are taken prisoner and shown on Iraqi TV, George Bush says this violates the Geneva Convention. When Al-Jazeera shows civilian casualties, its action is denounced as emotive Arab propaganda aimed at orchestrating hostility towards the “Allies”. But large scale destruction wrought by the American war machine and the “collateral damage” it causes and shown on American and British TV are condoned because they represent “the terrible beauty of war”27. When Roy stigmatises the American war propaganda machine with expressions such as the “manufactured frenzy” against the supposed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the “fabricated justification”28 for the war, she undoubtedly reveals the influence of Noam Chomsky. Roy’s conclusion is that the seductive charms of Hollywood, which has a tradition of glorifying violence, and the irresistible appeal of mass media are harnessed by the American government to spin out a “web of paranoia” and convince the Americans they are “a people under siege”29. Media power transforms crisis and resistance into spectacle30. The spread of sophisticated information technology has also made possible a new type of linguistic and temporal imperialism, cyberimperialism by email and business process outsourcing. Indians employed by American firms in call centres take on American names, put on American accents and work at night. “Either these workers don’t have jobs or they have jobs in which they have to humiliate themselves. But is that the only choice?”31 This is the question that Roy has dared to raise.

  • 32  Arundhati Roy, “When the Saints Go Marching Out”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, op. cit(...)
  • 33  Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire, op. cit., 7.
  • 34  Arundhati Roy, “Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire,op. cit., (...)

11The American Empire practises a new form of racism that includes corrupt local elites in the third world and aid and development agencies, but excludes non English-speaking rural populations from having a say. In fact, NGOs play the former role of missionaries by functioning as a buffer between the Empire and its subjects. Martin Luther King exhorted the Black American soldiers fighting in Vietnam to use the “alternative of conscientious objection”32. But the likes of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice have betrayed the Black American struggle by serving the cause of the Bush administration and sending America’s poor to fight the war in Iraq. Fundamental civil liberties have been curtailed in the United States in the name of anti-terrorism through the passing of the Patriot Act. The Indian Parliament has passed similar legislation. In this age of Empire, the public is made to think and act, like the state instead of the state representing public interests33. Arundhati Roy therefore exhorts the American citizens to revive civil disobedience in the form of non-violent resistance to strike at the roots of the Empire and reclaim democracy from the state of crisis it has fallen into. “The only institution more powerful than the US government is American civil society”34.

  • 35  Arthur Schlesinger, The Imperial Presidency, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973.

12Arundhati Roy’s hybrid language is part and parcel of her resistance. In order to turn the weapons of the Empire against itself, she borrows American film titles (Come September) and uses powerful one-liners that are based on the corporate language of marketing and advertising. These creative and subversive rewritings of brand names and sales arguments with the help of alliteration, internal rime, staccato rhythm and concrete imagery get etched in memory. The consumer friendly “Instant Mix Imperial Democracy, Buy One Get One Free” is one such example, where “imperial democracy” can be read as a subtle appropriation of Arthur Schlesinger’s imperial presidency35. Both English idiom and American business and popular cultures are put to good use in the following example:

  • 36  Arundhati Roy, “Do Turkeys enjoy Thanksgiving?”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, op. cit. (...)

To applaud the U.S. army’s capture of Saddam Hussein and therefore, in retrospect, justify its invasion and occupation of Iraq is like deifying Jack the Ripper for disembowelling the Boston Strangler. And that — after a quarter century of partnership in which the Ripping and Strangling was a joint enterprise36.

  • 37  Arundhati Roy, “The Reincarnation of Rumpelstiltskin”, in Power Politics, op. cit., 36.
  • 38  Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire, op. cit.,18.
  • 39  Arundhati Roy, “Privatization and Polarization”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, op. cit. (...)

The allegory of the Empire as a gnome with “a bank account heart, television eyes and newspaper nose”37 uses caricature and irony to drive home the point. Extended metaphors constructing America as a kingdom (Rumpeldom), the Bushes as a dynasty (The House of Bush, Bush the First, Bush the Lesser), George W. Bush as a feudal Sheikh and his beliefs as coherent ideology (Bushism) lend credibility to her claim that the Empire is now. She also borrows vernacular linguistic resources of echoing and criss-crossing (John Kerbush, George Berry) to show that there is not much of a difference between the two political parties with regard to America’s power. “Whether you buy Ivory Snow or Tide, they are both owned by Procter and Gamble”38. More than anything, Roy debunks the jargon of experts and declares that hers is a reverse enterprise: “to never complicate what is simple, to never simplify what is complicated”39. Naturally one of her essay collections is entitled “An Ordinary Person’s Guide to the Empire”. At the same time, she manages to put enough data and analysis into her essays to satisfy the specialist reader.

  • 40  See <http://www.counterpunch.org/zirin01312005.html>, consulted in April 2007.
  • 41  Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire, op. cit., 57.
  • 42  Arundhati Roy, The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, op. cit., 5-6.
  • 43  On the idea of Indian capitalism, see Dwijendra Tripathi, The Oxford History of Indian Business, N (...)

13The power of Arundhati Roy’s ideas and the force of her language have created jealousy and enmity both in India where she is depicted as a self-serving and pontificating intellectual by Hindu nationalists who neither appreciate her mixed pedigree nor her friendliness towards Pakistan and in the US where the conservatives cannot look upon nationalism, religious fanaticism, fascism and terrorism as by-products of empire as Arundhati Roy sustains. Tom Frank of the right-wing magazine The New Republic has said that he would side with Bush sympathisers who would like to “take a bunker-buster” to her40. It has to be admitted that Arundhati Roy sometimes errs through an excess of zeal. When she writes, “each of the prisoners tortured in Abu Ghraib is our comrade”41 she seems to be siding with terrorists not just political prisoners. Sometimes the immediacy of her writings deprives her of the benefit of investigation. As a child, Arundhati Roy was brought up without the protection of a father. Though she denies that the absence of paternal authority interfered with the development of her personality, she seems to entertain a congenital dislike for authority. One wonders whether the American Empire has not become the embodiment of the absent father much like other patriarchal institutions such as the Church or the Court. Besides, as she has confessed in “Knowledge and Power”, her conversation with David Barsamian42, both her Christian mother, who had transgressed social taboos to marry a Hindu and divorce him, and herself, an offspring of this mixed marriage, had to live outside the realm of protection in the village society of Aymanam. This exclusion has given her the courage to engage with the world on her own terms. Taking on America is a challenge she feels equal to. As a student who had eked out a living in a squatters’ colony in Delhi, she knows what she is talking about when she discusses the privatization of water and electricity. However, she does not hesitate to consider the fact that Indian capitalism can be as ruthless as American capitalism43.

  • 44  “An Unsuitable Girl”, August 13 1997. This article can be retrieved at <http://server.mg.co.za/mg/ (...)
  • 45  Arundhati Roy, “Globalization of Dissent”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, op. cit., 153.
  • 46  See <http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060313/roy>, consulted in April 2007.
  • 47  Arundhati Roy, “Come September”, in War Talk, op. cit., 49. The absence of Rushdie’s name here may (...)

14The rape metaphor that occurs again and again in her essays is a legacy from both Indian cinema and colonial discourse. It is true that colonial powers regarded themselves as male and active and looked down upon the colonized lands as female and submissive. However, we get the impression that Roy seems to somehow transfer her ancestral fear of rape, which she had discussed with Maya Jaggi of The Mail and Guardian back in 199744, to American domination when she affirms that “all of us are soiled by empire”45. When Arundhati Roy was awarded the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize, the question that was raised was how a peace activist could take sides in a war. Recently Roy wrote a virulent article to protest against George Bush’s visit to India wherein she called him world nightmare incarnate and told him that he was just not welcome46. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to look upon Arundhati Roy as a mere America-basher. This child woman remains marked by the harsh images of the Vietnam War relayed in her native Kerala by the Marxists in power, which explains her affinity with Noam Chomsky. Her protest against American imperialism is but an extension on a planetary scale of her fight against oppression, be the victims of such oppression the female gender, the untouchable Dalit caste, the dispossessed tribes in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh or the abused citizens of a democracy like India which has recourse to nuclear weapons. Arundhati Roy has carried on this resistance mostly as an independent writer and partly as a member of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement). She is not a lone star but a star among stars in the constellation of dissenting voices in contemporary America. The list of intellectuals with whom Roy seems to have an ideological affiliation includes such names as Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, Howard Zinn, Ed Herman, Amy Goodman, Michael Albert, Chalmers Johnson, William Blum and Anthony Arnove47. Is not laying siege to the American Empire the best tribute that could be paid to the heritage of American democracy?

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Notes

1  Hanif Kureishi, London Kills Me and Eight Arms to Hold You, Faber and Faber, London, 1991.

2  Arundhati Roy, “Knowledge and Power”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press, 2004, 1-40.

3  See <http://www.newamericancentury.org>, consulted in April 2007.

4  Robert J. Lieber, The American Era: Power and Strategy for the 21st Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

5  For a full-fledged review of the literature on empire on either side of the American political spectrum, cf. Céline Letemplé’s article in this issue of LISA e-journal.

6  Ian Buruma, “The Anti-American”, The New Republic, April 29, 2002. See <http://www.sandelman.ottawa.on.ca/lists/html/dam-l/2001/msg00570.html>, consulted in April 2007.

7  Arundhati Roy, “The Reincarnation of Rumpelstiltskin”, in Power Politics, Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press, 2001, 59.

8  Arundhati Roy, “Globalization of Dissent”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, op. cit., 141.

9  Salman Rushdie, “The New Empire within Britain”, in Imaginary Homelands, London: Granta, 1991.

10  Arundhati Roy, “War is Peace”, in Power Politics, op. cit., 127.

11  This article was written before Tony Blair’s departure from 10 Downing Street on June 27, 2007.

12  Arundhati Roy, “Terror and the Maddened King”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile,op. cit., 46.

13  Arundhati Roy, “Confronting Empire”, in War Talk, Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press, 2003, 103.

14  Arundhati Roy, “Instant Mix Imperial Democracy, By One, Get One Free”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press, 2004, 42.

15  With reference to her speech at the Riverside Church, New York, on May 13, 2003. Arundhati Roy, “Globalization of Dissent”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, 156.

16  Autoethnography in the sense Mary Louise Pratt employs it in Imperial Eyes, London: Routledge, 1992.

17  Arundhati Roy, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, loc. cit..

18  See <http://www.refuseandresist.org/normalcy/111601edherman.html>, consulted in April 2007.

19  Arundhati Roy, “Instant Mix Imperial Democracy”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, op. cit., 59.

20 Ibid., 47.

21  Arundhati Roy, “Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates” The Guardian, April 2, 2003. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,927712,00.html>, consulted in April 2007.

22  Jawaharlal Nehru quoted by Arundhati Roy, “The Greater Common Good”, in The Algebra of InfiniteJustice, London: Flamingo, 2002, 272.

23  Arundhati Roy, “The Algebra of Infinite Justice”, in The Algebra of Infinite Justice, op. cit., 210.

24  Arundhati Roy, “Confronting Empire”, in War Talk, op. cit., 112.

25  See <http://www.counterpunch.org/roy06022003.html>, consulted in April 2007.

26 Idem.

27  Arundhati Roy, “Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates”, The Guardian, April 2, 2003, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,927849,00.html>, consulted in April 2007.

28  Arundhati Roy, “Instant Mix Imperial Democracy”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, 43. See also her  Sydney Peace Prize acceptance speech at  <http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2004/11/arundhati_roys__1.html>, consulted in April 2007.

29  Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2004, 7.

30  Arundhati Roy, “Peace is War”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, op. cit., 1-21.

31  Arundhati Roy, “Privatization and Polarization”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, 90. See Thierry Labica’s discussion of the socio-symbolic implications of Business Process Outsourcing in his paper presented at the symposium and published in this issue of the journal.

32  Arundhati Roy, “When the Saints Go Marching Out”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, op. cit., 75.

33  Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire, op. cit., 7.

34  Arundhati Roy, “Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire,op. cit., 67.

35  Arthur Schlesinger, The Imperial Presidency, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973.

36  Arundhati Roy, “Do Turkeys enjoy Thanksgiving?”, in An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, op. cit., 93.

37  Arundhati Roy, “The Reincarnation of Rumpelstiltskin”, in Power Politics, op. cit., 36.

38  Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire, op. cit.,18.

39  Arundhati Roy, “Privatization and Polarization”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, op. cit.,120.

40  See <http://www.counterpunch.org/zirin01312005.html>, consulted in April 2007.

41  Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire, op. cit., 57.

42  Arundhati Roy, The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, op. cit., 5-6.

43  On the idea of Indian capitalism, see Dwijendra Tripathi, The Oxford History of Indian Business, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004, 335. The author points out how Max Weber’s attribution of the slow capital development in India to what he called the “Indian spirit” ignores the social dimensions of the business practices of Hindu, Jain and Islamic gentry.  

44  “An Unsuitable Girl”, August 13 1997. This article can be retrieved at <http://server.mg.co.za/mg/books/aug97/13aug-roy.html>, consulted in April 2007. Arundhati Roy claims therein that she was molested as a child by a grandfather figure. When she was working as an architect, she was frightened by an Inspector General of Police.

45  Arundhati Roy, “Globalization of Dissent”, in The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, op. cit., 153.

46  See <http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060313/roy>, consulted in April 2007.

47  Arundhati Roy, “Come September”, in War Talk, op. cit., 49. The absence of Rushdie’s name here may be a surprise to some. Arundhati Roy may have wanted to distance herself from the stereotypical comparison with Rushdie. Also, Rushdie has antagonized some in the Muslim world through his controversial statements about Islam. Arundhati Roy has defended the Muslim intellectual Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani in India, travelled to Pakistan, supported the cause of Palestine and Iraq. She may not have wanted to alienate her Muslim readers.

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Geetha Ganapathy-Doré, « Arundhati Roy, a One-woman Dissident Force against the Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal, Vol. V - n°3 | 2007, 221-232.

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Geetha Ganapathy-Doré, « Arundhati Roy, a One-woman Dissident Force against the Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], Vol. V - n°3 | 2007, mis en ligne le 25 août 2009, consulté le 18 septembre 2014. URL : http://lisa.revues.org/1710 ; DOI : 10.4000/lisa.1710

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Geetha Ganapathy-Doré

Dr. (Paris 13, France)
Geetha Ganapathy-Doré est Maître de Conférences en anglais à l’UFR de Droit, Sciences politiques et sociales de l’Université de Paris 13. Elle a publié de nombreux articles en anglais et en français dans des revues nationales et internationales sur les écrivains indiens et srilankais d’expression anglaise, le cinéma indien et les communautés interculturelles postcoloniales. Elle a également traduit quelques nouvelles tamoules en français. Elle est responsable de comptes rendus des livres de  la revue en ligne canadienne Postcolonial Text. Elle est, par ailleurs, co-auteur d’un manuel, English for EU Law, publié chez Ellipses en 2002. Elle a co-coordonné un atelier intitulé « Les femmes et/dans la politique » au congrès de la European Society for the Study of English à Helsinki en 2000 dont les actes ont été publiés par l’université de Pavie en 2002 et un séminaire sur les « Projections du paradis dans la littérature migrante » au congrès de Londres de la même société savante en 2006.  

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