Regaining lost humanity: dealing with trauma in exile

Parkes, Geoffrey and Mason, Robert (2015) Regaining lost humanity: dealing with trauma in exile. In: Trauma and public memory. Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies. Palgrave Macmillan Ltd., New York, pp. 163-173. ISBN 9781137406798

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If the processes of forced migration involve trauma, distance and rupture, what does it mean if both your country of origin and your new home try to erase you from their public memory? In this chapter, we present the literary work of Cuban-born Reinaldo Arenas as a representation of resilience against multiple traumas. Rather than dissociation, often found in documented cases of trauma, Arenas’s projections of self and place were a productive mechanism he used to survive. Literally and figuratively, for much of his life Arenas lived that embodied conviction, that indeed ‘words – might save him’ (1989, p. 49).
Through the use of concepts that explore exile, re-storying, and the imagination, the chapter argues that Arenas’s work actively resisted the attempts by both the Cuban government and fellow exiles to create a homogenous and sanitised public memory. His re-narration of Cuba and the emphasis he placed on publishing his works until he could no longer physically write have implications with regard to how literary representations of trauma are analysed and the theoretical grounds that support them. Finally, we want to draw attention to the experiences of an individual targeted by forces of state and non-state institutions, demonstrating the complexities of lived experience when connected with larger cultural narratives.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Access to submitted version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Open Access College
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2016 06:00
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2016 03:38
Uncontrolled Keywords: Reinaldo Arenas; exile; trauma; restorying; homosexual literature; Cuba
Fields of Research : 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200205 Culture, Gender, Sexuality
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9503 Heritage > 950399 Heritage not elsewhere classified
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9502 Communication > 950203 Languages and Literature
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950199 Arts and Leisure not elsewhere classified

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