“the dawning reality of our entire world”

Mohammed seems instead an alien entity, a person who has fallen out of the bounds of symbolic recognition. In this way, and in general, the relationship between the village and its prodigal sons seems to demonstrate the cleavage between kinds of space: the son disappears, and later returns wealthy or not at all (he either dies, emigrates, refashions an entirely new life disconnected from the village, or repatriates resources as a way of developing a village-based dependency network). Mohammed’s plight suggests more of a separation between the two spaces than a smooth connection, and perhaps points to an additional way for understanding the spatialized political economy that can run alongside Hoffman’s argument about the total subsumption of labor to capital: in “the barracks” we might agree with Hoffman that there’s no distinction between soldier, manual laborer, prisoner, etc: there is only laboring body. But the relationship between the village and the barracks suggests relational differentiation: Mohammed had ‘passed through’ the zone in which he was initially grounded (as a rural dweller) to take on the precarious and potential-filled position of an urban hustler/war-maker. When Mohammed fails to accumulate resources in the precarious zone, villagers suspect that he is lying: one goes to the city and either comes back rich or he doesn’t come back. The penniless Mohammed doesn’t exist as a social category: he has become illegible and cannot pass back into the previous field of signification.

Read More | “Hoffman’s Barracks and Beyond: Quick, Dead, Zombies” | Elliott Prasse-Freeman | ?CIHA Blog

Army of Eun

Adam Johnson's latest novel, The Orphan Master's Son, is one of those rare works of high ambition that follows through on all of its promises. Set in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, it examines both the Orwellian horrors of life in the DPRK and the voyeurism of Western media.