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This chapter analyses the nostalgia deployed in 1910s–1930s memoirs of Mughal Delhi by local ashrāf prose writers. It argues that the idealisation of the pre-colonial local past enabled authors to face the displacement lived during the construction of the colonial capital and the growing challenges of communal tension in the city. As heterogeneous texts both recording knowledge and inducing multi-sensory pleasure in the manner of qissahs (tales), city memoirs aimed at moving the Mughal past permanently into collective fantasy and at maintaining collective identity continuity. Examining the elements of nostalgic recollection, the chapter shows that those memoirs responded to the urgencies of the present, by articulating a critique of British rule and of the growth of communalism, but that they also reflected a Muslim collective identity that yearned for power.
A great deal of international and domestic conflict is driven by feelings of humiliation. But what does political humiliation consist of? In this chapter I argue that a key part of political humiliation involves the sense of being replaced. After looking at several case studies including the rhetoric used by ISIS recruiters, the rise of revanchist Russian and Chinese foreign policies, and the language deployed by white supremacists to frame and justify their grievances, I point to some features of the sense of replacement. These include the loss of status and perceived break of a promise or denial of an entitlement – both coupled with a reactionary brand of nostalgia that aims to return the world to how things were before these losses occurred. Part 1 introduces the idea of humiliation in international and domestic conflict. Part 2 uses four case studies to suggest that replacement is key in making sense of political humiliation. Part 3 offers several reasons why it’s particularly important to understand the dynamics of replacement.
This essay explores attitudes towards childhood in the surrealist novel but does so not via the familiar lens of psychoanalysis but via the concept of ’nostalgia’ as theorized by Svetlana Boym in her book The Future of Nostalgia (2001). Taking two contrasting examples of surrealist writing on childhood – Giorgio de Chirico’s seminal Hebdomeros (1929) on the one hand and Michel Leiris’s autobiographical novels Manhood (1939) and Scratches (1948) on the other – it is argued that, in both cases, Boym’s concept of ’reflective nostalgia’ (as opposed to ’restorative nostalgia’) provides a useful tool of analysis. However, the melancholic tone of de Chirico’s writing – with its stylistic debts to Lautréamont and Nietzsche – has a regressive dimension, and lacks the self-reflexivity specified in Boym’s account of a critically incisive ’reflective’ nostalgia. By contrast, Leiris’s more robust exploration of his male sexuality, along with the ’anthropological’ tenor of his analysis of the linguistic and material universe of childhood, fits more productively with Boym’s conception of a positive role for nostalgia within modernism.
The coincidence between the events on 9/11 in Santiago in 1973 and New York in 2001, earlier observed by Ariel Dorfman, lends itself to an analysis of the spiral of Bolaño’s oeuvre from the trauma of the 1970s Chilean dictatorship to the neo-globalizing moment that overlapped with the world dissemination of Bolaño’s work. Bolaño is nostalgic for the Allende era in Chile when meaningful social change seemed possible. Yet he is conscious that it was the authoritarian force and neoliberal economics of the Pinochet regime that was truly prophetic of the future. The nostalgic and the counterfactual, the elegiac and recursive, intertwine as Bolaño looks back on his generation’s odyssey and sees analogies for its trauma in the femicides of 2666. A nodal point of this intertwining is the tenth anniversary of the coup on September 11, 1983, where a group of “masochistic Chileans” meet in Paris in The Savage Detectives, poised between a past they never knew and a future they can scarcely envision. Bolaño knows he has to face the necropolitics of the then-present and not the nostalgia of the deferred past; yet the dream of the Allende era is never entirely renounced in his oeuvre.
In 2018, Lauren Alaina released her single “Ladies in the ’90s,” which takes a nostalgic look at her childhood through cleverly chosen lyrics from chart-topping songs of the 1990s. “Ladies in the ’90s” references women—and only women—from country music, as well as pop, rock, and R&B. The song establishes Lauren Alaina’s broad musical lineage and evokes nostalgia for an earlier decade. This chapter explores the performative and affective use of nostalgia and lineage in country music. A close reading of “Ladies in the ’90s” reveals how the generation of country artists coming of age in the second decade of the twenty-first century are redefining and expanding the stylistic, cultural, and even racial boundaries of the genre through the nostalgic tropes that have been used for decades in country music. In so doing, artists like Lauren Alaina are challenging the industry and carving out new musical and narrative spaces.
Chapter 6 explores memories of domestic service and intimacy between the 1960s and 1980s. Using oral history interviews, the chapter argues that the memories of former domestic workers and former employers of domestic workers informed their racial politics in the present. These memories were almost entirely devoid of political activism, even though this book has demonstrated that domestics were politically active for all of twentieth-century Cuban history. Instead of politics, the emblematic memory that Cubans retained was “the emotional logic of domestic service,” which allowed and even celebrated harmony between black and white Cubans while maintaining a strict and often unspoken racialized hierarchy. After the official end to domestic service in the 1960s, nostalgia for domestic service became a way for anti-Communist Cubans in exile and on the island to argue that pre-1959 had not been racist, as the revolutionary government has always insisted. This chapter historicizes the emotions around domestic service and demonstrates that an institution that had always distilled racial hierarchy in Cuba into its purest form was used to argue for a horizontal equality that never existed.
The introduction to Hierarchies at Home presents the central argument: Although women of African descent only briefly made up the majority of domestic servants in Cuba before 1959, for the entirety of the twentieth century the archetypal figure of a domestic servant in Cuba was an African-descended woman. The centrality of the black Cuban woman to the image of domestic service mattered because the work was a primary way that racialized hierarchies reproduced in Cuba throughout the twentieth century. Cuba’s public-facing image after its war for independence was a country founded on anti-racist ideals. But the steady association between blackness and domestic service sustained and revealed a stratification that placed African-descended Cubans in positions of subservience to white Cubans and ran counter to the public image. The introduction briefly reviews literature on domestic service in the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America, and outlines the chapters.
This article investigates the international genre of “retro” and how it is used in Hungary to re-matter the nation’s modern past, repositioning the country within a twentieth-century European history where it was never cut off by an “Iron Curtain” from the modern West. It does this by selecting for modern consumer goods and popular culture from both East and West that fit international criteria for retro. For both young and old, retro “matters” the past in a way that affirms contemporary market sensibilities, infusing it with value through assertions of market equivalence in the past and new value as commodities in the present. If Hungarian Retro works as a form of nostalgia for some, it is for an era of perceived national prestige, value, and economic sovereignty relative to the demoralized present. While distinct from right-wing nationalist politics, Hungarian Retro nonetheless shares in the project of erasing a stigmatized state socialism from national history. This article builds on scholarship on the role of the material in producing the nation in everyday life. It contributes a perspective that brings together: (a) the domestication of international commercial and popular trends; (b) the global hierarchy of prestige based on national exports and imports; and (c) the constitution of value in citizens via the qualities of consumer goods both produced and consumed.
In this chapter, the author, as a psychiatrist who has written books on Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Samuel Beckett, both writers who push back the limits of literary writing, focuses on Beckett's change of literary language, not from the starting point of exophonic writing and self-translation, as most critics writing on Beckett’s bilingualism usually do, but ‘from underneath’, making this change of literary language appear as an apparent severing of links to continue writing on the ‘maternal side of language’. The author brings his specialist knowledge of adolescent care to bear on his subject and explodes some of the myths surrounding Beckett’s change of language, such as the famous ‘no style’ of French and the idea of a ‘counter-language’ to ward off the ‘(s)Mother tongue’. The author presents Beckett’s use of French as a paradoxically regressive move, which allows him to live ‘in exile within exile’, to set up the conditions of ‘nostalgia’ by putting the distance of the foreign language to the service of a risky regression to infancy in search of the body, in search of sensory perception and archaic aggressivity: a language ‘beyond the verb’.
Through a focus on memories, Chapter 4 continues the story of migrant integration and postimperial nation-building from the mid-1970s and 1980s up to the present day. Since the turn of the millennium, the returnees have become much more visible again in the public sphere. This final chapter analyzes this return of "the return" in a memorial boom of sorts, its nostalgia, its use of markers of authenticity, and its narrative frameworks. It contextualizes these memories within the current worldwide battles over the legacies of empire, but also within the Portuguese context of the fortieth anniversary of the Carnation Revolution in 2014, which coincided with a severe economic crisis and harsh austerity measures. The chapter maintains that the recent upsurge of memorial activities on and by retornados that tend toward identity building should be challenged by historical thinking that looks toward truth.
The prologue provides an introduction to the history of Ichijōdani, as well as an overview of the three primary methodological interventions of the book. It reviews the scholarly literature on medieval urban life in Japan and explains this study’s distinctive contributions. The chapter also provides details on the theoretical literature in material culture studies and their articulations in this book. The Prologue ends with a discussion of ruins and the emphasis this study places on the violent destruction of Ichijōdani as a central and defining feature of the site.
During the slave trade, Signares kept domestic slaves and accumulated considerable wealth. As Signares walked to Midnight Mass, their dresses were illuminated by the light of lanterns made and carried by their slaves, highlighting their wealth. This chapter examines the historical origins of the lantern festival or Fanal, as it is known in Saint-Louis, and its continuous performance as cultural heritage in the city. Celebrated as Creole legacy by President Senghor, he made it a national heritage. This chapter examines the assemblages the festival establishes between the patrons and their craftspeople as their relations are mediated by the materiality and performativity of the lanterns paraded at the festival. Although the heirs of the Signares left Saint-Louis at national independence and the festival has been appropriated by African citizens, it continues to celebrate forms of difference and distinction reminiscent of domestic slavery. Furthermore, by celebrating the achievements of the patrons, the lantern festival still establishes the status of patrons as ‘shining lights’ of the nation. This suggests that the African citizens who act as patrons have accepted the responsibilities with which their colonial predecessors have endowed them. Through colonial nostalgia they have assumed the legacy of colonialism.
Chapter 3 focuses on space and the visual dimensions of the memory of the dissolution. Concentrating on the period between the late sixteenth century and the late seventeenth century, it examines the work of a number of antiquaries who produced topographies and images of former monastic sites. Taking previous scholarship on the ‘nostalgic’ element in antiquarian topographies of the dissolution as its main point of departure, this chapter addresses the role of monastic ruins together with those sites that were converted to new uses, both spiritual and secular, in shaping changing perspectives on the suppression. It argues that we should pay more attention to converted spaces – whether parish churches or private homes – which could function to reinforce the project to forget the dissolution across the generations. To support this argument, this chapter also features a substantial discussion of the visual afterlives of the dissolution. It illuminates what recent scholarship has described as a seventeenth-century visual culture of ‘pastness’, but also hypothesises the emergence of a parallel and equally powerful visual culture of the present. Ultimately, it suggests that topographical writing and images were genres in which senses of loss could converge with gain, past with present, and remembering with forgetting.
Chapter 8 examines how veterans worked to reassert their wartime connection to peacetime Việt Nam. Many veterans returned to Việt Nam with strong feelings of diasporic connection to the physical space of the country, feelings that were often challenged by local practices, national memories, and the effects of the passage of time. This chapter explores how veterans negotiated that challenge by engaging in nostalgic practices – such as recreating “bar culture,” expressing nostalgic discontent at the corruption of peacetime Việt Nam, and establishing hierarchies of diasporic belonging among the expatriate communities – before turning to explore how veterans justified their presence in Việt Nam, showing how they harnessed Australian and American wartime culture, values, and knowledge in order to establish their authority. This chapter concludes by analyzing how Australian and US returnees made sense of their return to Việt Nam as living legacies of war.
Chapter 1 examines the first era of veterans’ return journeys. Between 1981 and 1994, a trickle of Australian and American Vietnam veterans returned to Việt Nam on journeys of reconciliation. As Western war commemorations and popular culture representations allowed veterans to reflect on their wartime experiences, some returned to Việt Nam to address lingering questions they had about the people, the country, and the war. Others returned in reaction to contemporary political issues, while major economic changes within Việt Nam acted as a cue for veterans who had long dreamed of returning. For some veterans, returning marked a turning point that challenged them to atone for the war, while others found new opportunities and relationships. These first returnees discovered a place that had seemingly moved on from war, which brought them a measure of peace. Many became advocates for formal reconciliation with and restitution for the Vietnamese.
Chapter 3 examines the third era of veterans’ return journeys, from 2006–16. This final period was defined by war commemoration. As Vietnam War commemoration surged in Australia and the United States, increasing numbers of Australian veterans chose to mark a string of major war anniversaries in Việt Nam, while the cultural militarization that paralleled the unfolding War on Terror led anti-war American veterans to reflect on their service. Việt Nam’s tourism industry tapped the growing Western market by turning toward kitsch reproductions of war that hinged on American memories. Organized tours became more popular as returnees became more diverse and reached retirement. Australian veterans strongly preferred commercial battlefield tourism and private troop reunions, while Americans favored peace- or healing-oriented returns. Among both groups, tours were refined and contained over the years to expatriate areas, increasingly marketing nostalgia tourism and secluding returnees from the realities of postwar Việt Nam.
The Introduction explains that veterans returned to Việt Nam in search of resolution, or peace, in their personal relationships with the war. This search manifested in nostalgia for “Vietnam,” with returnees acting as a diasporic community forged in war. While many returnees found a measure of peace upon return, they were also challenged by the erasure of their wartime presence. Veterans drew on wartime memories and performed nostalgic practices to recapture their sense of belonging in Việt Nam. Outlining three distinct eras of returnees, this chapter shows how a comparative, transnational perspective reveals stark differences in American and Australian war memories, narratives, and imaginings of “Vietnam.” This chapter presents a review of the existing scholarship on the topic of returning veterans, situating the book in broader literature on the war and its legacies; explains the book’s oral history methodology and analytic approach; and outlines the broader structure of the book.
Chapter 2 examines the second era of veterans’ return journeys, from 1995–2005. This era of return was characterized by “normalization”: the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Việt Nam offered security to tentative veterans who had watched the reconciliation process from afar. Lifted travel restrictions and a growing tourism industry provided returnees with more latitude in their returns, resulting in a more diverse return group. Increasingly, veterans from both countries returned on “healing journeys,” approaching Việt Nam as the locus of their trauma. A discourse of trauma emerged in their narratives, mirroring the rising popularity of therapy and psychoanalysis in Western cultures, with the majority of normalization returnees describing their returns as therapeutic. Many of the normalization returnees became engaged in reconstruction activities as a form of atonement in Việt Nam, reshaping early returnees’ reconciliation processes into personal healing projects.
Between 1981 and 2016, thousands of American and Australian Vietnam War veterans returned to Việt Nam. This comparative, transnational oral history offers the first historical study of these return journeys. It shows how veterans returned in search of resolution, or peace, manifesting in shifting nostalgic visions of 'Vietnam.' Different national war narratives shaped their returns: Australians followed the 'Anzac' pilgrimage tradition, whereas for Americans the return was an anti-war act. Veterans met former enemies, visited battlefields, mourned friends, found new relationships, and addressed enduring legacies of war. Many found their memories of war eased by witnessing Việt Nam at peace. Yet this peacetime reality also challenged veterans' wartime connection to Vietnamese spaces. The place they were nostalgic for was Vietnam, a space in war memory, not Việt Nam, the country. Veterans drew from wartime narratives to negotiate this displacement, performing nostalgic practices to reclaim their sense of belonging.
This chapter examines the two Chicago-set graphic novels of Chris Ware entitled Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000) and Building Stories (2012), as well as Lost Buildings (2004), Ware’s “on-stage radio & picture collaboration” with Ira Glass for National Public Radio. The chapter argues that Ware’s body of work explores how various human networks engage with the storied history and urban geography of his adopted city, and that it does so in endlessly experimental ways that have continued to redefine the expressive potential of the comics form. In these works, Ware creates complex visual narratives in which the city and its ever-changing urban landscape is often as much of a character as the people inhabiting it, and his meticulously drawn pages are thus an attempt not only to depict and make sense of Chicago but also to create a visual index of the relationship between its spatial and emotional lives. Despite his untraditional choice of form, this approach places him in a lineage of Chicago writers that reaches all the way back to the earliest recorders of life in the city.