Racial Grief and Melancholic Agency
Angela Failler. "Racial Grief and Melancholic Agency." In Embodiment and Agency, edited by Sue Campbell, Letitia Meynell, and Susan Sherwin, 46-57. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009.
This paper reflects on how the relationship between embodiment and agency might be illuminated through developments in psychoanalytic theory on racialization and racism. A recent interdisciplinary study by Anne Anlin Cheng (2000) titled The Melacholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation, and Hidden Grief serves as the primary example toward this aim. Ultimately, an argument is made for the value of a psychoanalytic approach that highlights the less visible or less tangible workings of racial identity, workings that historicist and poststructuralist accounts obscure in their focus on the body and its markers as material or discursive effects. In other words, this paper insists on acknowledging the ways in which unconscious meanings that are produced in relation to experiences of embodiment play a key role in shaping possibilities for agency.