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LAPA Seminar

David Eng, University of Pennsylvania and IAS

"Reparations and the Human"

November 26, 2012, 4:30-6 PM, Kerstetter Room, Marx Hall

Please join us for a LAPA Seminar with David Eng, Professor of  English and Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and 2012-2013 Scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study.  His commentator is Peter Brooks, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholar at Princeton.

As always, the LAPA format asks that seminar participants familiarize themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator will open the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception in the Kerstetter Room, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet. 

Abstract.:  "In this paper, I examine the relationship between political and psychic genealogies of reparation in Cold War Asia.  Reparation is a key term in political theory, but it is also a central concept in psychoanalysis (in particular object relations theory), yet the two are rarely discussed in relation to one another.   I explore how political and psychic genealogies of reparation might supplement one another in theories of the human and discourses of human rights, while helping us to understand better the social and psychic limits of repairing war, violence, colonialism, and genocide.  Specifically, I will trace a global genealogy of reparations from John Locke to Melanie Klein to twentieth-century Asia in order to rethink the concept's transnational significance and the possibility of "racial reparation."  Here, I explore three interrelated events in the context of the trans-Pacific: 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 by the imperial army into sexual slavery."

David Eng received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley and his B.A. in English from Columbia University. His areas of specialization include American literature, Asian American studies, Asian diaspora, psychoanalysis, critical race theory, queer studies, and visual culture. He is author of The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Diasporas and the Racialization of Intimacy (Duke, forthcoming) and Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (Duke, 2001). In addition, he is co-editor with David Kazanjian of Loss: The Politics of Mourning (California, 2003), with Alice Y. Hom of Q & A: Queer in Asian America (Temple, 1998), and with Judith Halberstam and Jose Muñoz of a special issue of the journal Social Text (2005), “What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?” He is currently at work on two new projects, a study of neoliberalism and desire in Chinese cinema and an analysis of political and psychic reparation. 

Peter Brooks joined the Princeton faculty after many decades of teaching at Yale, where he was Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature. He has published on narrative and narrative theory, on the 19th and 20th century novel, mainly French and English, and, more recently, on the interrelations of law and literature. He is the author of several books, including Henry James Goes to Paris (2007), Realist Vision (2005), Troubling Confessions: Speaking Guilt in Law and Literature (2000), Psychoanalysis and Storytelling (1994), Body Work (1993), Reading for the Plot (Knopf, 1984), The Melodramatic Imagination (1976) and The Novel of Worldliness (1969). He co-edited, with Paul Gewirtz, Law's Stories (1996) and, with Alex Woloch, Whose Freud? (2000). He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Comparative Literature and Yale Journal of Law & Humanities. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, London Review of Books, Critical Inquiry, New Literary History, Yale Law Journal, and elsewhere. He is currently at work on a project called "The Enigma of Identity." Brooks has served as a visiting professor at Harvard University, the University of Texas, Austin, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Bologna, and the Georgetown University Law Center, and as Visiting Lecturer at Yale Law School. During the 2001-2002 academic year, he was Eastman Professor at Oxford University, and Fellow of Balliol College. He was University Professor at the University of Virginia from 2003 to 2006, teaching in the English Department and the Law School. At Princeton, he teaches in Comparative Literature and the University Center for Human Values.

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