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Displacement and the Somatics of Postcolonial Culture

Douglas Robinson

Publication Year: 2013

Displacement and the Somatics of Postcolonial Culture is Douglas Robinson’s study of postcolonial affect—specifically, of the breakdown of the normative (regulatory) circulation of affect in the refugee experience and the colonial encounter, the restructuring of that regulatory circulation in colonization, and the persistence of that restructuring in decolonization and intergenerational trauma. Robinson defines “somatics” as a cultural construction of “reality” and “identity” through the regulatory circulation of evaluative affect. This book is divided into three essays covering the refugee experience, colonization and decolonization, and intergenerational trauma. Each essay contains a review of empirical studies of its main topic, a study of literary representations of that topic, and a study of postcolonial theoretical spins. The literary representations in the refugee essay are a novel and short story by the Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat; in the colonization essay a short film by Javier Fesser and a novella by Mahasweta Devi (translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak); and in the intergenerational trauma essay novels by James Welch and Toni Morrison and a short story by Percival Everett. The first essay’s theoretical spins include Deleuze and Guattari on nomad thought and Iain Chambers on migrancy; the second’s, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals and theories of postcolonial affect in Bhabha and Spivak; the third’s, work on historical trauma by Cathy Caruth and Dominic LaCapra.

Published by: The Ohio State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xxvi

In his 1993 book Moving the Centre, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o describes racism as “a conscious ideology of imperialism” (117) that “often wages its offensive in print between hardcovers, magazines and newspapers long before it is imprinted on the general consciousness as the basis of personal and institutional practices” (126). I want to bracket the question raised by that claim of...


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pp. xxvii-xxviii

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1. Displacement of Persons/Forced Migration/Ideosomatic Dysregulation

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pp. 1-83

The German-born Norwegian psychotherapist Stefi Pedersen (1908–80), herself twice a refugee from Nazi Germany (she fled Berlin to Oslo in 1933 and took Norwegian citizenship, and then fled Nazi-occupied Norway to Sweden in 1943), writes in her 1949 article “Psychopathological Reactions to Extreme Social Displacements ‘(Refugee Neuroses)’” of World War II refugees displaced...

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2. Displacement of Cultures/(De)Colonization/Ideosomatic Counterregulation

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pp. 84-174

To the extent that postcolonial studies may be said to have a “center” or “core,” this is it: the study of colonization and decolonization. By comparison, refugee studies is marginal, centrifugal, ancillary, supplementary, shunted out of the realm of the paradigmatic colonial encounter into the borderlands or hinterlands of postcoloniality, and therefore far more attractive to poststructuralist...

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3. Displacement of Time/Intergenerational Trauma/Paleosomatic Regulation

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pp. 175-218

We have explored the dysregulatory effects of refugee trauma and the counterregulatory effects of colonization; it remains now to examine the paleoregulatory effects of both refugee trauma and various severely traumatizing colonial practices (genocide, enslavement, cultural subjugation) on later generations. Let’s begin by looking back at the passage from Nietzsche’s...


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pp. 219-222


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pp. 223-238

Works Cited

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pp. 239-251


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pp. 252-259

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780814271124
E-ISBN-10: 081427112X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814212394
Print-ISBN-10: 0814212395

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013