As mentioned before in the twittersphere, I’m enjoying ‘Parts Unknown’, albeit in a generally sad sort of way – sometimes more deeply if it’s a city I know has since been under fire, or extremists have recently tipped the balance in another direction.
Anyway. I think it’s the episode that starts in Dakar where it really struck me the interestingness of understanding how people see themselves but also the underlying forces.
Because everyone is friendly, everyone is family centred, community centred, proud but not arrogant. And yet, these narrative reflections are never enough to account for the political instability, or lurking violence; the eruption of repressive dynamics and so on.
They both explain, and do not explain. Reveal and veil. The question as always, is always… ‘what?’
The episode in Argentina made me darkly laugh though. Whilst it was fun seeing Mallmann again (his is one of my favourite episodes on ‘Chefs Table’), hearing him retell a very whitewashed account of the origins of tango reminded me of a conversation I’d had with Ytasha Womack where she told me about the cursed nature of the dance – and indeed, perhaps even the whole culture now I think on it – and it’s origins amongst enslaved peoples, essentially slaughtered by a series of governmental policies post-abolition.
On discovering that Buenos Aires has the highest population of psychiatrists and therapists per capita, Bourdain asks why and I couldn’t help but blurt out, “because they slaughtered all their Black people of course”