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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Syracuse Symposium continues Sept. 19 with David Eng

Penn professor explores social and psychic "limits" of war, violence, genocide

Sept. 14, 2011, by Kelly Rodoski

David Eng
David Eng
David L. Eng, professor of comparative literature and Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, will explore the “Reparations of the Human” in the East Asian context in a Syracuse Symposium™ presentation on Monday, Sept. 19.

Eng’s lecture will begin at 4 p.m. in the Kilian Room, Room 500 of the Hall of Languages, and is free and open to the public. Reduced-rate parking is available in the Irving or University Avenue parking garages. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of English and LGBT Studies in The College of Arts and Sciences.

Syracuse Symposium™ is a semester-long exploration of the public humanities presented by The Syracuse University Humanities Center for The College of Arts and Sciences and the entire Syracuse community. “Identity” is the theme of this year’s symposium.

The lecture will be preceded by an HC-Mini Seminar from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in 304 Tolley Humanities Building. Call 443-7192 to enroll in the seminar or for more information on the lecture.

Reparation is a key term in political theory, but it is also a central concept in psychoanalysis (in particular object relations theory), yet the two are rarely discussed in relation to one another. In this presentation, Eng will explore how political and psychic genealogies of reparation might supplement one another in theories of the human, while helping us to understand better the social and psychic limits of repairing war, violence, colonialism and genocide.

Specifically, he will trace a global genealogy of reparations from John Locke to Melanie Klein to 20th-century Asia in order to rethink the concept’s transnational significance and the possibility of “racial reparation” in the context of the trans-Pacific: the internment of Japanese Americans by the U.S. government during World War II; the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ending that war; and contemporary legal claims by “comfort women,” young girls and women from Japan’s colonial empire conscripted by the imperial army into sexual slavery.

Eng received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley and his B.A. in English from Columbia University. His areas of specialization include American literature, Asian American studies, Asian diaspora, psychoanalysis, critical race theory, queer studies and visual culture. He is author of “The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Diasporas and the Racialization of Intimacy” (Duke, forthcoming) and “Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America” (Duke, 2001). In addition, he is co-editor with David Kazanjian of “Loss: The Politics of Mourning” (California, 2003), with Alice Y. Hom of “Q & A: Queer in Asian America” (Temple, 1998), and with Judith Halberstam and Jose Muñoz of a special issue of the journal Social Text (2005), “What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?”

He is currently at work on two new projects: an analysis of the relationship between political and psychic genealogies of reparation, and a forthcoming special issue of Social Text, co-edited with Teemu Ruskola and Shuang Shen, “China and the Human.” Eng is on the governing council of the American Council of Learned Societies and is a member of several editorial boards. He serves on the board of directors of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and is former board president of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in New York City.

The Syracuse University Humanities Center, founded in 2008, fosters public engagement in the humanities, and is home to the Syracuse Symposium™, the Central New York Humanities Corridor, the Jeanette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship and Visiting Collaborator programs, the HC Mini-Seminar and Symposium Seminar series, the Perpetual Peace Project, and other major initiatives, fellowships and public programming.