Postcolonial Grief

The Afterlives of the Pacific Wars in the Americas

Book Pages: 200 Illustrations: Published: February 2019

Author: Jinah Kim

American Studies, Asian American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

In Postcolonial Grief Jinah Kim explores the relationship of mourning to transpacific subjectivities, aesthetics, and decolonial politics since World War II. Kim argues that Asian diasporic subjectivity exists in relation to afterlives because the deaths of those killed by U.S. imperialism and militarism in the Pacific remain unresolved and unaddressed. Kim shows how primarily U.S.-based Korean and Japanese diasporic writers, artists, and filmmakers negotiate the necropolitics of Asia and how their creative refusal to heal from imperial violence may generate transformative antiracist and decolonial politics. She contests prevalent interpretations of melancholia by engaging with Frantz Fanon's and Hisaye Yamamoto's decolonial writings; uncovering the noir genre's relationship to the U.S. war in Korea; discussing the emergence of silenced colonial histories during the 1992 Los Angeles riots; and analyzing the 1996 hostage takeover of the Japanese ambassador's home in Peru. Kim highlights how the aesthetic and creative work of the Japanese and Korean diasporas offers new insights into twenty-first-century concerns surrounding the state's erasure of military violence and colonialism and the difficult work of remembering histories of war across the transpacific.


"Postcolonial Grief offers a promising glimpse into what it might look like to pursue comparative or relational area studies through an anticolonial orientation." — Emily Mitchell-Eaton, Society & Space

"Postcolonial Grief powerfully uncovers overlapping histories of violence across the Pacific and carefully considers the relationship between grief, silencing, and reconciliation. Kim convincingly demonstrates the way that melancholia and loss constitute powerful forces in the Pacific as wounds that refuse to heal yet open up new (im)possibilities for relating to violence outside of liberal humanist frameworks of reconciliation. Postcolonial Grief is thus invaluable for those interested in affect studies, settler colonial studies, cultural studies, communication, and Asian-American history." — Corinne Mitsuye Sugino, Lateral

"On the whole, Kim’s book sharply fulfills the promise of decolonising the Pacific begun in the critical and scholarly insurgency of the 1970s. The communication between writing and loss remains central here, as it was for Albert Wendt. Postcolonial Grief makes an important theoretical contribution to these conversations and I recommend it to readers interested in critical ethnic studies, Asian American Studies, and decolonizing methods of reading." — Aaron Nyerges, Cultural Studies Review

“The book is a powerful exploration of how unmourned and unresolved deaths across the transpacific haunt the present, offering possibilities for political transformations. Analyzing the ghostly and capturing them into words is a challenging academic endeavor, which this book accomplishes robustly, making interventions across diasporic studies, critical race theories, feminist studies, cultural studies, and Asian American studies and Latinx studies.” — Hayana Kim, Situations

“In this provocative book, Jinah Kim explores the ways in which trans-Pacific victims of imperial colonial politics and militarism have navigated their relationships with decolonial politics since World War II, and the ensuing psychological transformations…. This is an important contribution, and should be read by not only students and scholars of literature and history, but also those from Asian American and East Asian studies, anthropology, sociology, and political science.” — Nobuko Adachi, Pacific Affairs

“This tour de force exhumes the ghosts of the American Century built on the ruins of Japanese imperialism. Postcolonial Grief powerfully names the repetition compulsion of producing an Asian figure who must be continually rescued and destroyed, leaving postwar violence and loss in the transpacific unmourned. Jinah Kim's bold and illuminating study asks us to confront the painful political fact that decolonization in the transpacific is yet to come.” — David L. Eng, coauthor of Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans

“Guided by a longue durée analysis of multiple settler colonialisms, Postcolonial Grief is a highly original, timely, and welcome project that takes seriously the transpacific turn in comparative ethnic studies, critical race studies, and Asian American studies. This provocative book will undoubtedly have a great impact on the ways that scholars view war, memory, grieving, and empire.” — Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, author of War, Genocide, and Justice: Cambodian American Memory Work


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Price: $24.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jinah Kim is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction. Mourning Empire  1
1. Melancholy Violence: Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth and Hisaye Yamamato's "A Fire in Fontana"  23
2. Haunting Absence: Racial Cognitive Mapping, Interregnum, and the Los Angeles Riots of 1992  41
3. Transpacific Noir, Dying Colonialism  66
4. Destined for Death: Antigone along the Pacific Rim  88
Epilogue. Watery Graves  110
Notes  115
Bibliography  153
Index  175
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0293-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0135-5
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