This talk offers an interpretation of African American mourning as a politically charged expression of phantom pain. How the human body responds to amputation illuminates the dynamic ways black communities respond to generational trauma, racial violence, and premature black death. In both experiences, the presence of loss - sensations in severed limbs, memories of the victims of racialized violence - is a generative force that can transform how traumatized people think, live, and act in the world. I use phantom pain as an analogy and an analytic to engage the ideologies of Afropessimism and black liberalism, both of which articulate stories of loss that involve varying conceptions of and responses to the ongoing violence of white supremacy.
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Hosted by the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University.