The Melancholy of Race

The Melancholy of Race : Psychoanalysis, Assimilation and Hidden Grief

4.04 (85 ratings by Goodreads)
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In this groundbreaking, interdisciplinary study Anne A. Cheng argues that we have to understand racial grief not only as the result of racism but also as a foundation for racial identity. She proposes that racial identification is itself already a melancholy act - a social category that is imaginatively supported through a dynamic of loss and compensation, by which the racial other is at once rejected and retained, denigrated and idealized. Drawing upon history, literature and theatre - the book ranges from Rodgers and Hammerstein to David Henry Whang, Brown v. Board of Education to Anne Deveare Smith, Ralph Ellison to Maxine Hong Kingston - Cheng demonstrates that racial melancholia permeates our fantasies of citizenship, assimilation, and social health. A provocative look at a timely cultural dilemma, this study is essential reading for anyone interested in race studies, critical theory, or more

Product details

  • Hardback | 286 pages
  • 163.1 x 235.2 x 26.7mm | 582.25g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0195134036
  • 9780195134032
  • 2,075,233

About Anne Anlin Cheng

Anne Anlin Cheng is Assistant Professor of English and American Literature at the University of California, more

Review quote

We are a nation at ease with grievance but not with grief,' writes Anne Cheng in this probing and complex analysis of the processes by which we are all socialized into race. Through a wonderfully chosen series of literary and cultural phenomena, she captures both the hidden melancholy of those who, in order to conform to the American dream, learn to discriminate against themselves, and the even more hidden melancholy of a nation thus deprived of some of the most vital energies of its citizens. * Barbara Johnson, Harvard University * Courageous in its refusal to perpetuate the 'ethnic' or racialized subject's too often reassuring identification with traumatic wounding, Anne Anlin Cheng's The Melancholy of Race forcefully reimagines the politics of the subject by focusing on the logic of fantasy through which the subject is always imagined. That she does so in a volume that offers her readers the genuine jolt of intellectual surprise testifies at once to the originality of her insights and to our need for the vital and revitalizing intelligence with which she makes possible new ways of questioning the terms through which we pose, and thereby reimpose, the so-called question of race. * Lee Edelman, Tufts University * Anne Anlin Cheng has written a provocative and important book about race as a melancholic construction that imprisons both dominant and marginal subjects in haunted relations of identification and loss. Deftly using psychoanalytic theory to expose the roots of racial identity, Cheng also demonstrates, through her compelling readings, the inextricability of politics and desire. Cheng's investigation of the social and psychological injuries of racism is imaginative and uncompromising. It is also sufficiently complex to credit the productive possibilities of melancholic consciousness. * Helene Moglen, University of California, Santa Cruz * One measure of a healthy and thriving literature is the health of its critics and theorists. If measured against the work of Anne Anlin Cheng, Asian-American literature is not only alive and thriving, but in the midst of a renaissance. Her discussion of race theory goes far beyond the often muddled binary discussion of racialized difference, historical chronology, or sociological case study, offering a new view of race and ethnicity in literature and psychoanalysis. * Shawn Wong, University of Washington *show more

Rating details

85 ratings
4.04 out of 5 stars
5 39% (33)
4 36% (31)
3 18% (15)
2 5% (4)
1 2% (2)
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