Archives, as both institutional and epistemological formations, are intimately associated with mastery, entangled in legacies of colonialism and efforts to document the past and manage bodies. This essay takes up the science fictional trope of time travel to posit a mode of critical engagement that disorganizes the hegemonic time-space of the archive. It thinks alongside Charles Yu's conception of time travel in How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010), which emphasizes the embodied nature of this process as one that takes both time and care. Mobilizing this understanding of time travel, the essay approaches the history of the coolie trade and the figure of the female coolie in ways that aim not to reproduce mastery or establish these subjects as knowable entities. Instead, by taking time to travel through multiple archives—literary, historical, theoretical—it builds on speculations and untidy reflections that come from positioning ourselves beside the female coolie and the histories of racialization attached to her. In doing so, it models time travel as a form of reparative criticism for American studies, an affective and aesthetic practice that illuminates other ways of encountering subjects that have been forgotten, silenced, or disavowed.


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pp. 189-210
Launched on MUSE
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