In Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation critic David L. Eng and psychotherapist Shinhee Han draw on case histories from the mid-1990s to the present to explore the social and psychic predicaments of Asian American young adults from Generation X to Generation Y. Combining critical race theory with several strands of psychoanalytic thought and clinical practice, they develop the concepts of racial melancholia and racial dissociation to investigate changing processes of loss associated with immigration, displacement, diaspora, and assimilation. These case studies of first- and second-generation Asian Americans deal with a range of difficulties, from depression, suicide, and the politics of coming out to broader issues of the model minority stereotype, transnational adoption, parachute children, colorblind discourses in the United States, and the rise of Asia under globalization. Throughout, Eng and Han link psychoanalysis to larger structural and historical phenomena, illuminating how the study of psychic processes of individuals can inform investigations of race, sexuality, and immigration while creating a more sustained conversation about the social lives of Asian Americans and Asians in the diaspora.
David L. Eng is Richard L. Fisher Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Eng is author of The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy (Duke, 2010) and Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (Duke, 2001). He is co-editor with David Kazanjian of Loss: The Politics of Mourning (California, 2003) and with Alice Y. Hom of Q & A: Queer in Asian America (Temple, 1998). In 2016, Eng was elected an honorary member of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR) in New York City.
Shinhee Han, PhD, is a psychotherapist at the New School as well as in private practice in New York City. In addition, she is an adjunct professor in the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University, where she teaches courses on Asian Americans, race, and psychoanalysis. Dr. Han is a founding member of the Asian Women Giving Circle, a philanthropic organization in New York City that funds Asian of women artists creating social activism and change. Previously, she worked in counseling and psychological services at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Barnard College, and Columbia University. Born in Seoul, Korea, she immigrated to Minnesota with her family at age 13.
Ben Kafka is a psychoanalyst, cultural historian, and critic. He teaches at NYU and sees patients in private practice.