Taking stock of a century of pervasive loss—of warfare, disease, and political strife—this eloquent book opens a new view on both the past and the future by considering "what is lost" in terms of "what remains." Such a perspective, these essays suggest, engages and reanimates history. Plumbing the cultural and political implications of loss, the authors--political theorists, film and literary critics, museum curators, feminists, psychoanalysts, and AIDS activists--expose the humane and productive possibilities in the workings of witness, memory, and melancholy.
Among the sites of loss the authors revisit are slavery, apartheid, genocide, war, diaspora, migration, suicide, and disease. Their subjects range from the Irish Famine and the Ottoman slaughter of Armenians to the aftermath of the Vietnam War and apartheid in South Africa, problems of partial immigration and assimilation, AIDS, and the re-envisioning of leftist movements. In particular, Loss reveals how melancholia can lend meaning and force to notions of activism, ethics, and identity.
Introduction: Mourning Remains
David L. Eng and David Kazanjian
I. Bodily Remains
Returning the Body without Haunting: Mourning "Nai Phi" and the End of Revolution in Thailand
Rosalind C. Morris
Ambiguities of Mourning: Law, Custom, and Testimony of Women before South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Between Genocide and Catastrophe
David Kazanjian and Marc Nichanian
Passing Shadows: Melancholic Nationality and Black Critical Publicity in Pauline E. Hopkins’s Of One Blood
Melancholia and Moralism
II. Spatial Remains
The Memory of Hunger
Remains to Be Seen: Reading the Works of Dean Sameshima and Khanh Vo
Mourning Becomes Kitsch: The Aesthetics of Loss in Severo Sarduy’s Cobra
Theorizing the Loss of Land: Griqua Land Claims in Southern Africa, 1874–1998
III. Ideal Remains
All Things Shining
A Dialogue on Racial Melancholia
David L. Eng and Shinhee Han
Passing Away: The Unspeakable (Losses) of Postapartheid South Africa
Ways of Not Seeing: (En)gendered Optics in Benjamin, Baudelaire, and Freud
Alys Eve Weinbaum
Legacies of Trauma, Legacies of Activism: ACT UP’s Lesbians
Resisting Left Melancholia
Afterword: After Loss, What Then?
David L. Eng is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University. He is author of Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (2001), as well as coeditor with Alice Y. Hom of Q & A: Queer in Asian America (1998), winner of a Lambda Literary Award and a Cultural Studies Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies. His current book project, Queer Diasporas/Psychic Diasporas, explores the impact of transnational and queer social movements on family and kinship in the late twentieth century. David Kazanjian is Associate Professor of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is author of Articulating "America": Imperial Citizenship Before the Civil War (forthcoming).
“Loss will provoke you and make you quite contemplative."—Sundeep Nayak Metapsychology Online Review
“The collection encompasses diverse approaches that vary in scale and granularity.”—K. Roberts Skerrett Journal American Academy Of Religion/ Jaar
"If catastrophe is not representable according to the narrative explanations which would ‘make sense’ of history, then making sense of ourselves and charting the future are not impossible. But we are, as it were, marked for life, and that mark is insuperable, irrecoverable. It becomes the condition by which life is risked, by which the question of whether one can move, and with whom, and in what way is framed and incited by the irreversibility of loss itself."—Judith Butler, from the Afterword
is a wonderful volume: powerful and important, deeply moving and intellectually challenging at the same time, ethical and not moralistic. It is one of those rare collections that work as a multifaceted whole to map new areas for inquiry and pose new questions. I found myself educated and provoked by the experience of participating in an ongoing dialogue."—Amy Kaplan, author of The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture
List of Contributors Wendy Brown is Professor of Political Science and Women' Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her most recent books include States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity (Princeton, 1995), Politics Out of History (Princeton, 2001), and, coedited with Janet Halley, Left Legalism/Left Critique (Duke, 2002).
Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (Columbia, 1987), Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge, 1990), Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (Routledge, 1993), The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection (Stanford, 1997), and Excitable Speech: A Politics of Performance (Routledge, 1997), as well as numerous articles and contributions on philosophy and feminist and queer theory. Her most recent work on Antigone and the politics of kinship is entitled Antigone's Claim: Kinship between Life and Death (Columbia, 2000). Her new project is a critique of ethical violence that works with modernist philosophical and literary texts.
Yvette Christiansë teaches in the Department of English at Fordham University. She was born and raised in South Africa (in Johannesburg and Cape Town in the Republic of South Africa, and in Mbabane and Manzini in the Kingdom of Swaziland). She has also lived in Australia, to which her family migrated to escape apartheid. Christiansë' poetry and fiction have been published in Australia, the United States, South Africa, and Canada. Her book of poetry, Castaway, was published by Duke in October 1999. At Fordham University, she teaches African American and South African literature, as well as literature of the African diaspora, poetics, and race studies.
Vilashini Cooppan is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University. Her research and teaching interests include postcolonial theory and literature, world literature, and globalization. She is presently working on a book project entitled Inner Territories: Phantasms of the Nation in Postcolonial Writing.
Douglas Crimp is Professor of Art History and Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester. He is the author of On the Museum' Ruins (MIT, 1993) and AIDS DemoGraphics (Bay Press, 1990), as well as the editor of AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism (MIT, 1988). Crimp is a recipient of the College Art Association' Frank Jewett Mather Award for distinction in art criticism and twice received the Art Critics Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. For the calendar year 2000, he was a Rockefeller Fellow in the Program for the Study of Sexuality, Gender, Health, and Human Rights at the Columbia University School of Public Health. He is currently writing a book on the films of Andy Warhol.
Ann Cvetkovich is Associate Professor of English and Women' Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Mixed Feelings: Feminism, Mass Culture, and Victorian Sensationalism (Rutgers, 1992) and An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Duke, forthcoming).
David L. Eng is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University. He is author of Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (Duke, 2001), as well as coeditor with Alice Y. Hom of Q & A: Queer in Asian America (Temple, 1998) and winner of a Lambda Literary Award and a Cultural Studies Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies. His current book project, Queer Diasporas/Psychic Diasporas, explores the impact of transnational and queer social movements on family and kinship in the late twentieth century.
Shinhee Han holds joint appointments as Associate Director of Outreach and Special Projects with both Student Services and Counseling and Psychological Services at Columbia University. In addition, she has a private psychotherapy practice in New York City. Previously, Han was a staff psychotherapist with the counseling services of Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.
David Johnson is a lecturer in the Department of Literature at the Open University in England, the author of Shakespeare and South Africa (Oxford, 1996), and coauthor, with Steve Pete and Max du Plessis, of Jurisprudence: A South African Perspective (Butterworths, 2001).
David Kazanjian is Assistant Professor of English at Queens College and Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the author of Articulating "America:" Imperial Citizenship before the Civil War (Minnesota, forthcoming).
David Lloyd is Hartley Burr Alexander Professor in the Humanities at Scripps College Claremont and Director of the Scripps College Humanities Institute. He is the author of several books, including most recently Culture and the State, with Paul Thomas (Routledge 1997); The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital, edited with Lisa Lowe (Duke, 1997); and Ireland after History (Cork/Notre Dame, 2000).
Dana Luciano is Assistant Professor of English at Hamilton College, where she teaches American literature, Gothic literature, and lesbian/gay studies. She has published articles on Henry James and Charles Brockden Brown, and is currently working on a book-length study of mourning and nationality in the nineteenth-century United States.
Susette Min is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English at Pomona College, where she is writing a book on Asian American art and literature. She is also a freelance writer and independent curator. Most recently, Min wrote an essay on muzak and fatigue for Cabinet and curated a solo exhibition of installation artist Rina Banerjee at The Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia.
Rosalind C. Morris is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Columbia University. Her most recent book is entitled In the Place of Origins: Modernity and Its Mediums in Northern Thailand (Duke, 2000), and her writings have appeared in such journals as positions, Public Culture, Social Text, and differences. Currently, she is editing a volume on photography and modernity in East and Southeast Asia, and is completing a book entitled Specular Economies, about the histories of value and speculation in Southeast Asia.
Fred Moten is Associate Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Moten has published articles on black performance, literature, and film. His book Ensemble and Improvisation: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition is forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press.
Marc Nichanian is Associate Professor of Armenian Studies at Columbia University. His fields of expertise are modern Armenian literature, the history of Armenian language, philosophy of translation, and the analysis of discourses related to the genocidal events of the twentieth century. His most recent publications are KAM V (in Armenian), a collective volume comprising literary studies and translations from European authors (Los Angeles, 2002), and Writers of Disaster, Volume I: The National Revolution (Gomidas Institute, forthcoming).
Mark Sanders is Assistant Professor of English and American Literature at Brandeis University. He is the author of Complicities: The Intellectual and Apartheid (Duke, 2002). His work on testimony and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has appeared in Law Text Culture, Diacritics, and Modern Fiction Studies.
Charity Scribner is Assistant Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at MIT. In 2003 MIT will publish her first book, Working Memory.
Kaja Silverman is Class of 1940 Professor of Rhetoric and Film at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of six books, including World Spectators (Stanford, 2000), Male Subjectivity at the Margins (Routledge, 1992), and The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema (Indiana, 1988). She is presently working on photography and on installation art.
Alys Eve Weinbaum is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is currently completing her book Wayward Reproductions: Genealogies of Race and Nation in Trans-Atlantic Modern Thought and coediting, with Susan Gillman, W.E.B. Du Bois and the Gender of the Color Line. Her work has appeared in differences, Social Text, Feminist Studies, Signs, and Ariel.