Lessons from stressed islands and island assemblages in archipelagic Southeast Asia and other transversals
Virgilio A. Rivas
Polytechnic University of the Philippines <email@example.com>
ABSTRACT: In Desert Islands (2004) Deleuze discussed the concept of second origin and how a people’s second birth is borne out by its transversal becoming as an island assemblage. Today, islands and open seas, aquatic spaces and land assemblages have become materials or objects of capture that reflect the volatility of geopolitical interests, involving sovereignty issues, historical rights of ownership, effective occupation, etc; all revolving around economic returns and military gains. One particular case is archipelagic Southeast Asia with its active border disputes and inter-island ownership claims. Deleuze took up the promise of transversality, among others, in the notion of island assemblages where islands become consciousness and consciousness becomes islands. What better way to renew this promise other than in Island Studies today? Even so, transversal islands call for reinventing cartographies and island diagramming as much as renewing critical awareness of totalising assignations. The latter involve actants (human and nonhuman) that Deleuze identified with modern forms of subject assignations, such as the state’s reterritorialisations of identity representations, but also with the creative (nonhuman) energies of subjects seeking totalising reductions. This article offers a critical survey of these assignations with especial focus on archipelagic Southeast Asia.
KEYWORDS: abstract machine, deterritorialisation, reterritorialisation, archipelagic Southeast Asia, Island Studies, transversality