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The “Asian Pandemic”: Re-thinking memory and trauma in cultural narratives of Asia

Gairola, R.K.ORCID: 0000-0002-1826-6339 and Jayawickrama, S. (2021) The “Asian Pandemic”: Re-thinking memory and trauma in cultural narratives of Asia. In: Gairola, R.K. and Jayawickrama, S., (eds.) Memory, Trauma, Asia: Recall, Affect, and Orientalism in Contemporary Narratives. Routledge, London, pp. 1-28.

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This chapter stages a broad introduction to the overarching dearth of Asian literary and cultural texts in the field of memory and trauma studies in the contemporary framing of the COVID-19 pandemic. The essay first situates this lacunae of Asian texts in the historical context of colonialism’s legacy of white supremacy and draws a thread from that history to the anti-Asian racism that exploded around the globe in the wake of the so-called “Asian pandemic” of the Corona virus pandemic of 2020. The next section engages a literature review critique of trauma studies that elucidates the ways in which Asian pain and affect is absent from the wide swathe of current scholarship, which unwittingly then facilitates a denial of both hurt and pain in a dehumanizing discourse of scholarly production. Following this, we move into a discussion of suffering in the civil strife that has punctuated the independence of India and Sri Lanka from the British Empire, discussing in particular the genocide of the civil war in Sri Lanka that pitted the Tamil Tigers against the nation’s pro-Sinhala government and the 1947 partition that created Pakistan and India. Following a cogent discussion of both major sections of the volume, “Activating Memory as Personal Testimony” and “Traumascapes of Body and State,” the chapter concludes with a summative coda that links anti-racist Asian solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Sciences
Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Routledge
Copyright: © 2021 selection and editorial matter, Rahul K. Gairola and Sharanya Jayawickrama; individual chapters, the contributors
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