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Archive Books

Majnoon Field Guide

Majnoon Field Guide

I went to the field; I became many.

Majnoon is an oil field in the global south. Majnoon is also the violence, and the state of mind that survives the violence. How can this be a field guide in any customary sense? Latitudes have been taken. Words are written in disrupted or troubled syntax. Rather, this book proceeds along idea search for what many call emancipatory practice; to been acted in the field, where we feel most alive. The volume is divided into five parts, preceded by maps and legends.First in the sequence is a colour-coded soil map,“Majnoon and Hir Environs”, adapted from material originally published in 1960 by the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture. It was the product—relic, really—of a brief era that saw fields and farmlands redistributed among labourers and peasants.Since then, the map has changed with the shifting sub-stance of our earthly constitution; it pivots on the example of Majnoon. Any map is appended by its legends, and I rewrite them from the perspective of dismantling. A longish colour key unfolds with the likeness of a poem pursuing return, in spite of scorch and ruin. It should be mentioned that ‘hir’recurs multiple times throughout the book as gender-nonconforming pronoun—suggestive, ambiguous, and, in my opinion, sufficiently sound for the moment. It is essential to keep needling the problem of language.

A second, simpler map charts water flow as casualty of upstream accumulation. Dams are borders, after all, and we are lousy with them; downstream is sentenced to the whims of an architecture whose gates are mostly closed. On the map, a symbol resembling a small, numbered page locates Majnoon as point of interest. A subsequent diagram also contains this motif—not for navigation through the field, but through the book itself.


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