Posts Tagged ‘Memory’

Reading Report

In read on August 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

No real reviews here, but a short list on what I’ve been reading this Summer, and how I generally feel about the books or articles.  What have you been reading?  Anything I should know about?  Let me know in the comments.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sounding Cambodia on August 2, 2011

In sounding on August 2, 2011 at 11:03 am
  • 8-year-old dies after explosion at cremation in Cambodia
  • Alison In Cambodia blogs summer fieldwork
  • Baphuon Reconstruction Completed!
  • Pansukula for Chea Vichea in France
  • Professor Sorpong Peou discovers his father is alive, ater 35 years.
more after the jump…

Sounding on Cambodia for August 5, 2010

In sounding on August 5, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I’m in the throes of a stereotypical pre-tenure academic summer, writing very productively, but never productively enough, happy with my work, but worried it’s not good enough, watching my children grow up, and wishing I had more time to spend with them rather than writing, excited about the imminent beginning of classes, and dreading the end of my ‘free time’ for writing.

So, instead of thoughtful commentary, here are some of the things that have caught my eyes and ears on Cambodia today:

More laudatory stories about the new documentary Enemies of the People. Very excited to see it.

This story, from the Moth (a storytelling website), is by Andrew Solomon, and tells the story of a Khmer woman who created her own, apparently largely successful, path out of the crippling depression that was destroying the lives of the women around her after 1979 (end of Democratic Kampuchea, the state of the so-called Khmer Rouge). Step one: Forget. Step two: Work. Step three: perform manicures and pedicures. Seriously. I was prepared to scoff, but found this deeply powerful. Go ahead and give yourself 15 minutes to listen to the whole story. It came to my attention via Alison, of AlisoninCambodia, an excellent archaeological blog.
Andrew Solomon – Moth Podcast

Now, back to work.

SOUNDING on Random Theoretical Notions, July 2, 2010

In sounding on July 2, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Some things that have crossed my wires (in all senses) recently, that I’m keeping track of:

Richard Rechtman (1/2): “Cambodian refugees overwhelmed by their dead”

In comment on February 6, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Richard Rechtman, Part 1 of an interview with whom is published in today’s Ka-Set, seems like a fascinating guy, one with whom I could endless discussions and productive disagreements. Foreigners often say that the “dead haunt Cambodians,” but they then often take this far too literally, as if it necessarily means that Cambodians experience their trauma as hauntings by the dead. Rechtman implies that his perspective on the matter is significantly different from this (thank god!) without dismissing the idea that Cambodians continue to experience real, ongoing trauma from the Khmer Rouge era. Note that his one concrete examples deals with a sort of refusal of (or to socialize) memory rather than its incorporation or experience. He also has an interesting sounding book coming out this year which claims to critique the discourse of trauma, something which desperately needs to be done, and which I have attempted to do several times in the past few years. Can’t wait for part two…

Richard Rechtman © John Vink / Magnum

Phnom Penh (Cambodia) February 5th 2009: Richard Rechtman, psychiatrist, and Soko Phay Vakalis at the Bophana Center workshop for visual artists.

Richard Rechtman never imagined he would be spending so much time working with Cambodian refugees living in France. The psychiatrist, who also happens to be an anthropologist, is medical director of the Institut Marcel Rivière, a researcher Read the rest of this entry »

Eurozine – What is postcolonial thinking? An interview with Achille Mbembe

In comment on January 15, 2009 at 2:32 pm

A fantastic interview with the great Achille Mbembe in Eurozine. The interview is (contrary to almost any interview you’d get in a similar magazine in the States) lengthy, in-depth, and unafraid of appearing…’intellectual.’ Similarly, Mbembe is unafraid of making clear what so many American appropriators of continental thought are always unwilling to acknowledge, that whatever the successes or failures of most modern continental philosophy, the most important movements have been “chiefly concerned with the issue of self-creation and self-government.” He then goes on to quote my man Castoriadis, who deserves far, far greater recognition and discussion in the anglophone world than he has yet received….

Indeed, colonization never ceased telling lies about itself and others. As Frantz Fanon explains so clearly in Black Skin, White Masks, the procedures for racializing the colonized were the driving force behind this economy of duplicity and falsehood. In postcolonial thinking, race is the wild region, the beast, of European humanism. To borrow Castoriadis’s terms on racism, I’d say that the beast puts it more or less this way: “I alone possess value. But I can only be of value, as myself, if others, as themselves, are without value”.

Postcolonial thinking aims to take the beast’s skeleton apart, to flush out its favourite places of habitation. More radically, it seeks to know what it is to live under the beast’s regime, what kind of life it offers, and what sort of death people die from. It shows that there is, in European colonial humanism, something that has to be called unconscious self-hatred. Racism in general, and colonial racism in particular, represents the transference of this self-hatred to the Other.

via Eurozine – What is postcolonial thinking? – Achille Mbembe An interview with Achille Mbembe. Check out the rest of the interview, which includes, among many other topics, important discussions on ‘memory’ and on Fanon and Marx’s reception by the ‘non-West.’

Wenchuan Earthquake in Sichuan Province, PRC – National Day of Mourning

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2008 at 8:29 pm

China, too, has had an enormous tragedy in the last week. Exactly one week ago, in fact, the Sichuan Earthquake of 2008 (aka the Wenchuan earthquake) registered at 8.0 on the richter scale. Tens of thousands, and very likely hundreds of thousands, will have lost their lives before things return to ‘normal.’

Today, the People’s Republic of China declared a 3-day period of National Mourning.

image ganked from Wikipedia

Short Film on Hmong Refugee Experience: Experience & Memory

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2008 at 6:29 pm

A lovely short film by Kao Kalia Yang, writer, and John O’Brien, filmmaker. Kao, a Hmong refugee immigrant to the United States. She reflects specifically on the limits of experience and memory, place, and home. Is her homeland Laos, or the refugee camp where she was born? Or the place where she lives now?

Truly lovely. I hope to hear more from both of them, now that I’m slowly getting settled in the Twin Cities.

The Place Where We Were Born from John OBRIEN on Vimeo.

False Memory Animation

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2008 at 3:03 pm

BoingBoing caught this a few days ago, and now its being picked up by the brain blogs. The boingers thought that the animation was cool (it is), but much more interesting to me (and the brain bloggers) is the way in which it quite concretely and effectively communicates the way in which false memories work. We all have them. Samuel R. Delany’s wonderful autobiography starts with his realization that a memory he’s told for years is in fact, wrong.

Trauma, Memory, and Evolving PTSD

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2008 at 1:43 am

Nearly thirty years ago, a crisis in the care for U.S. military personnel returning home from Vietnam, changed the way in which psychological diagnoses were defined. Ever heard of PTSD, of post-traumatic stress disorder? That diagnosis, which made it into the DSM after a protracted and highly political struggle, was created precisely to deal with the collection of symptoms presented by these veterans.

These veterans were experiencing flashbacks, depression, stress, constant anxiety, and too often, psychotic breaks. They were forced indoors much of the time, terrorized by the world and occasionally terrorizing the shrinking worlds around them, their families. Those who were not able to keep it together at even this level ended up in the streets, or dead.

They didn’t, at this early stage, end up in the hospitals, receiving quality care. Partly, this was because of the fact that there existed no diagnosis for these symptoms: they clearly shared a single experiential trigger of sorts – participation in the Vietnam War – but even at that level a great deal of diversity existed. There was the classic victim trauma, but also perpetrator trauma. The latter has received very little attention, perhaps because of the unpopular ethical questions that necessarily accompany its investigation. But the former has become enshrined in our medical, psychiatric, academic, literary, and popular cultures.

In thirty years.

Now, only six years into another great military conflict fought for reasons of imperial ambition, with America’s domestic political scene not only divided, but with one of those halves losing ideological unity and direction, the veterans of the current conflict are finally getting noticed for the problems they are presenting.

Gulf War One created Gulf War Syndrome – a wildly underattended and reported health crisis. Perhaps because we ‘won’ that conflict, it was somehow shameful to report on the costs? But it is increasingly clear that we have ‘lost’ this war, if indeed it was ever winnable.

Compared to these enormous, political, and social questions, the following consideration will necessarily seem trivial. However, this blog does not exist to stake out political positions, but to investigate and draw attention to a very specific range of issues, the most central of which cluster around the academic realm.

The cultural studies/psychological/popular trope of trauma, which plays out nightly on sitcoms, soap operas, radio shows, which makes its way into everyday conversation and spontaneous ‘pop psychological’ analyses of others, comes out of a specific lost war. The veterans and their supporters had to fight extremely hard to get the diagnosis added to the DSM, so that they could be treated.

PTSD is still in the DSM, though Gulf War Syndrome is not. And there are good reasons to want to avoid stuffing the DSM with syndromes, which are by necessity not the same thing as diseases in which we understand the cause of the symptoms. With syndromes, we are still guessing not only at the cause, but by definition, with whether diagnosis refers to a ‘really existing’ pathology, or is instead a collection of related and potentially overlapping problems.

So, while veterans of this current conflict may be able to receive care under the PTSD diagnosis, receiving treatment for Gulf War Syndrome is considerably more difficult. And even those who receive care receive it at places like the Walter Reed Medical Center, at the heart of so many outrageous scandals regarding the healthcare for military personnel

The following article is very worth reading: [link]


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