Trauma, Politics, and the Uses of Memory

This collaborative project will examine the relationship of international discourses on trauma to specific national contexts. The project incorporates a research focus on the work of Chilean cultural and critical theorist Nelly Richard, considered from the perspective of the multiple national contexts of the field of critical memory studies. The collaboration, led by Sarah Nuttall (Witwatersrand) and Anna Parkinson (Northwestern), will result in the development of a new undergraduate and graduate course on trauma and politics; the translation of Richard’s Latencias y estallidos de la memoria inconclusa. Chile: 1990-2015 (a revision of her Crítica de la memoria: 1990-2010); and a series of events on trauma, memory, and place. The collaboration also includes a graduate student exchange by means of the award of a Mellon fellowship to support the participation of a South-Africa-based graduate fellow assisting with the research for the course development during a visiting residency at Northwestern.


Sarah Nuttall is Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies of the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the author of the monograph Entanglement: Literary and Cultural Reflections on Post-apartheid (2009) and the editor or co-editor of a number of books, including Text, Theory, Space: Land, Literature and History in South Africa and Australia (1996), Beautiful/Ugly: African and Diaspora Aesthetics (2007), and Johannesburg – The Elusive Metropolis (2008).

Anna Parkinson is Associate Professor of German and an affiliate of the Gender and Sexualities Program at Northwestern University. She is the author of An Emotional State: The Politics of Emotion in Postwar West German Culture (2015) as well as numerous articles. Her teaching and research interests include twentieth- and twenty-first-century German literature and film, memory studies, genocide studies, translation theory, gender and queer theory, contemporary South African literature and film, and psychoanalysis.

Background Reading:

Nuttall, Sarah. “Wound, Surface, Skin.” Cultural Studies 27, no. 3 (2013): 418-437.

Nuttall, Sarah. “Entanglement.” In Nuttall, Entanglement: Literary and cultural reflection on post-apartheid, 17-32. Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2009.

News and Events:

The translation of Richard’s Latencias y estallidos de la memoria inconclusa is underway!

"Richard’s book is a valuable primer on how memory is manipulated in neoliberal societies and of its uncontrollable residues.” - Jean Franco (Columbia University)