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Toward a Sociology of the Trace

Toward a Sociology of the Trace

Herman Gray
Macarena Gómez-Barris
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Toward a Sociology of the Trace
    Book Description:

    Using culture as an entry point, the essays in this volume identify and challenge sites where the representational dimension of social life produces national identity through scripts of belonging, or traces. The contributors utilize empirically based studies of social policy, political economy, and social institutions to offer a new way of looking at the creation of meaning, representation, and memory.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7512-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PROLOGUE: Traces in the Social World
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Macarena Gómez-Barris and Herman Gray

    At the some point in the process of writing about traces in social worlds, we began to work with the metaphor of rehearsal inspired by an exhibition of Francis Alys’s work at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. At the time, the language of rehearsal and the symbolic image that it provoked for us was the closest we could get to capturing the spirit and challenge of our concerns, concerns that were neither neat nor clean nor easily expressed in words. What we sought to capture with this image of repetition, failure, new beginnings, disappointment, delay, and limits was the...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Toward a Sociology of the Trace
    (pp. 1-14)
    Macarena Gómez-Barris and Herman Gray

    The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II is one of the signature events of the failures of modernity, a limit event that produced unimaginable annihilation and incomprehensible social effects. he devastation wrought by the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki left both material and immaterial traces such as ash, debris, blindness, radiation and its effects, burning buildings, burning bodies, and a city and population that burned. In the aftermath, and for generations to come, government officials, medical workers, legal experts, journalists, and evenhibakusha, or atomic-bomb survivors, though with different intentions, would incorporate calculations...

  5. Part I. Cartographies of Belonging

    • CHAPTER 2 The Prisoner’s Curse
      (pp. 17-56)
      Avery F. Gordon

      This chapter emerges from my efforts to develop a conceptual vocabulary for linking the socioeconomic dynamics of accumulation, dispossession, and political power to the dialectic of social death and social life as these meet in the ontological and epistemological status of the prisoner. In trying to grasp the work imprisonment does to deliver state power to human life, I have been following, to use Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s terms for defining racism, the “state-sanctioned,” “fatal couplings of power and difference” that lead some groups of people to become “vulnerable” to “premature death” (2007, 28). Fate and fatality, life and death, are...

    • CHAPTER 3 A Nation of Families: The Codification and (Be)longings of Heteropatriarchy
      (pp. 57-86)
      Tanya McNeill

      In 1970 married couples made up 70.6 percent of U.S. households; in 2005 that number had dropped to 51.3 percent (U.S. Census Bureau n.d.).¹ This demographic shift has been accompanied by significant cultural, legal, and social shifts in when and how individuals form familial relationships. The U.S. government has responded to these changes by urging a return to heteropatriarchal, nuclear family formations.² Put differently, the nation not only codifies and upholds heteropatriarchal families as superior but also imagines that they are necessary for the good of the nation. (Some) heteropatriarchal families are (and produce) proper citizens; whiteness, as I will...

    • CHAPTER 4 Culture, Masculinity, and the Time after Race
      (pp. 87-108)
      Herman Gray

      Narratives of nation are structured by the logics of gender, sexuality, and race. In the case of the United States, the foundational myth of the nation as white and heteronormative has heretofore been produced through, among other things, representations and moral panics associated with the black body (Diawara 1993; Collins 2004; Jackson 2006). Today, black self-styled thugs, gangstas, and bad boys who prey on the weak and live outside of the law have produced a sort of moral panic among the agenda setters and moral entrepreneurs in the black middle class. Indeed, the representations of black people (many produced by...

    • CHAPTER 5 Producing Sacrificial Subjects for the Nation: Japan’s War-Related Redress Policy and the “Endurance Doctrine”
      (pp. 109-134)
      Akiko Naono

      More than sixty years have passed since the end of World War II, but we are far from having settled war-related matters. In fact, we still witness eruptions of emotionally charged disputes and rage over how to remember the war. As little time is left for the survivors, new initiatives to achieve justice are being launched, especially around the “comfort women” issues. The demands for the Japanese government to offer an apology and compensation are officially being made by several countries, such as the “comfort women” resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives (H. Res. 121) in July 2007 and...

  6. Part II. Spectacles of Consumption

    • CHAPTER 6 Coal Heritage/Coal History: Progress, Tourism, and Mountaintop Removal
      (pp. 137-166)
      Rebecca R. Scott

      In the late nineteenth century, the growing national demand for coal brought new interest in the Appalachian Mountains. In what some West Virginia coalfield activists call the great land grab, powerful corporations “acquired” large amounts of land and mineral rights in the area (Gaventa 1980, 53). Since then, the place has been defined as a coalfield and termed by some an interior resource colony (Lewis, Johnson, and Askins 1978). Today, the surface mining technique of mountaintop removal is transforming Appalachian landscapes and communities. Unlike traditional underground methods, which leave the topography relatively unaltered, mountaintop removal starts from above. In a...

    • CHAPTER 7 Ecoadventures in the American West: Innocence, Conflict, and Nation Making in Emptied Landscapes
      (pp. 167-204)
      Barbara A. Barnes

      The week of July 4, 2004,U.S. News and World Reportran a special issue, “Defining America: Why the United States Is Unique.” At the time, national discussions of the war in Iraq retained a generally triumphant tone, and this national news magazine marked the independence holiday by reiterating notions of U.S. exceptionalism. The special section included eleven short articles, many of which referenced the well-preserved idea that “American exceptionalism” originated from the presence of frontier wilderness, which shaped the character of the nation and its citizens. These claims are punctuated by an uncannily familiar image situated in the center...

  7. Part III. Managing and Reconciling Memory

    • CHAPTER 8 Drinking the Nation and Making Masculinity: Tequila, Pancho Villa, and the U.S. Media
      (pp. 207-234)
      Marie Sarita Gaytán

      In the introduction toHeaven, Earth, Tequila: Un viaje al corazón de México(A trip to the heart of Mexico), author Douglas Menuez declares, “Tequila makes a man confess even the most profound reaches of his machismo” (2005, 1). Like other coffee table books on the subject, its striking photographs and fawning prose associate tequila with idealized aspects of manhood and describe it as a central element of Mexico’s spiritual landscape. An award-winning writer and journalist, Menuez explains that although the book “started as a quest to explore the mysterious traditions from which tequila was born […] it offers the reader...

    • CHAPTER 9 Reinscribing Memory through the Other 9/11
      (pp. 235-256)
      Macarena Gómez-Barris

      It is impossible to expiate the numbers 9/11, numbers that seamlessly insert me within the southern hemisphere in a direct time and place: Chile, September 11, 1973. The return to a date with high personal and political stakes is exacted through a series of unexperienced yet entirely recognizable moments. Through others’ documentation and witnessing, I am returned to the original point of political disaster. The sounds of the bombing of La Moneda presidential palace are omnipresent in an audioscape of terror that leaves its trace. Too young to remember that fated day, I experienced the moments of political terror only...

    • CHAPTER 10 Between Celebration and Mourning: Political Violence in Thailand in the 1970s
      (pp. 257-288)
      Sudarat Musikawong

      October 14, 1973, was the first time in thailand that a popular uprising of more than five hundred thousand demonstrators in the nation’s capital of Bangkok successfully ousted a military regime. Only three years after the October 14 uprising, on October 6, 1976, inside the gates of Thammasat University, four to five thousand students and supporters protested against the return of former dictator General Thanom Kittikachorn. That Wednesday morning, Thai military, police, and right-wing civilian vigilante groups shot rocket-propelled grenades, bullets, and antitank missiles into the campus. The assault escalated to shootings and students being rounded up to be to...

    • AFTERWORD: Traces in Social Worlds
      (pp. 289-292)
      Sarah Banet-Weiser

      Social traces can take many forms, and the concept itself is difficult to put your hands on: what, really, are the materials that make up culture, representation, and identity? For me, to think of traces often means to think of the materiality of the trace—to think about what it is, what it was, and what its possibilities are. Social landscapes emptied and filled with new meaning, memories refashioned in the “name” of unity, and identities crated as stand-ins for violence—all leave a trace of not only what they “are” in current manifestation but also what they could be,...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 293-296)
  9. Index
    (pp. 297-308)