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Haunting Capital
Memory, Text and the Black Diasporic Body
Hershini Young

Reencounters with Colonialism: New Perspectives on the Americas

2005 • 248 pp. 2 illus. 6 x 9"
African-American Studies / Literary Criticism

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“This argument requires extensive explication of several works, and Young provides compelling evidence through a movement between literary interpretation and political signification. She argues that the recognition of the toll of oppression on one black body can allow that pain to be read as pain suffered by black bodies collectively around the globe. Once this kind of interpolation is done, the mourning of the loss of homeland and identity can proceed and give way to the formation of a more effective understanding of diasporic community and all of its related identities. This is a complex text that carries an important idea.”Multicultural Review

An exciting combination of literary studies, diaspora studies, and trauma studies.

In Haunting Capital, Hershini Young sets out to re-theorize the African diaspora “so that the concept becomes unintelligible without an understanding of gender as a constitutive element.” Young uses the historically injured bodies of black women, as represented in novels by black women, to talk about colonialism, gender, race, memory and haunting.

Haunting Capital departs from traditional trauma studies, which stress individual wounding and psychotherapeutic models. Instead, Young explores the notion of injury as a collective wounding, resulting from the trauma of capitalistic regimes such as slavery and colonialism. She also introduces the idea of the ghost to her discussion of collective injury, where it functions not only on theoretical and metaphorical levels, but also by invoking African cosmologies in which ghosts are ancestral beings with a real spiritual presence.

More specifically, Young insists on the contemporary reality of African nations and eschews the presentation of Africa as a vague, undifferentiated point of origin that characterizes many other studies of the African diaspora. Her reading of African contemporary novels by women, alongside African American and Caribbean novels, works to show the African diaspora as haunted by similar, though different, issues of gendered and racialized violence.

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Reviews / Endorsements

"Haunting Capital is a poetic, sensuous, highly original meditation on the black female body as text, as living text "embedded in the dense structures of memory". Hershini Young is forwarding a new, expansive canon of black literature here; one that decenters prevailing Western desires for a more comfortable, comforting blackness, wherein only U.S.-based black writers/artists have been chosen to define what is, or can be considered, canonical.The result is a provocative exploration of the myriad, variegated ways in which the triangulated realities of "bodymindsoul" were historically and continue to be inextricably linked for black women of the African diaspora."
Journal of British Studies

"This is an ambitious work, both politically and theorectically." Recherche Litteraire/Literary Research

“The lasting lyricism of Bhana-Young's critical (in both senses of the term) prose performs her topic brilliantly. Haunting Capital cuts across 'the sensuous edges' of capitalism, imperialism, racism and colonialism, by articulating resonant presences produced by African women's diasporic movements. This is an innovative and important interdisciplinary study of writing and righting the rupture of survival.”Jennifer DeVere Brody, author of Impossible Purities

"Hershini Bhana Young writes with clarity and emotional power about a rich and complex topic: the creative interplay between the real present, the actualities of history, and the imaginative creations and recreations of varieties of people from the past and present who remember and imagine the past in order to perceive and inform the present. For peoples whose histories had been erased but must not be forgotten, artists and critics employ a variety of genres and fragments of thoughts and objects to reconstruct identities of people about whom little of what is usually called history is known. Through a critical method that may be called a form of call and response, Young powerfully extracts and explicates the meanings of an impressive range of experiences and expressions of the Black Diaspora that had long seemed lost and inexpressible."Emory Elliott, Professor, University of California

HERSHINI BHANA YOUNG is Assistant Professor of English at SUNY Buffalo.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:07:55 -0500