The Melancholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation and Hidden Grief

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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 psychoanalysis.