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Reparations

ENGL 799.301
instructor(s):

Reparation is a key term in political theory, but it is also a central concept in psychoanalysis (specifically, object relations theory), yet the two are rarely discussed in relation to one another.  This seminar explores the links between political and psychic genealogies of reparation.  It considers how such genealogies might supplement one another in theories of the human as well as in the postwar rise of human rights discourses.  How does attention to this  crossing help us to understand better the limits of repairing war, violence, colonialism, and genocide?  Our seminar will begin by tracing a genealogy of reparations from John Locke to Melanie Klein that frame the Enlightenment project.  In the second part of the seminar, we will consider the concept in terms of a trans-Pacific archive and the possibility of racial reparation: the internment of Japanese Americans by the U.S. government during World War II; the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ending that war; and contemporary legal claims by “comfort women,” young girls and women from Japan’s colonial empire conscripted into sexual slavery.  Although we will be focusing in this part of the class on Cold War Asia, students are encouraged to bring their own historical archives and expertise to our theoretical enterprise.