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Affinities

Essays in Honour of Professor Tadeusz Rachwał

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Edited By Agnieszka Pantuchowicz and Slawomir Maslon

Affinities, a collection of essays dedicated to Professor Tadeusz Rachwał, a noted literary historian and cultural critic, pioneer of the present-day cultural studies in Poland, includes texts written by his friends, colleagues, and disciples. As it turns out, even though the topics discussed by the particular authors differ from each other, the volume has a definite focus: literature and culture from the early modern times to the present, approached in ways that combine attention to the textual detail with a broad perspective of social change and the ability to use the hermeneutics of suspicion to see through various received ideas and petrified ideologies. Scholars from Poland, the UK, and the USA have demonstrated that Professor Rachwał attracts minds that unite critical passion and inquisitiveness with expertise in many fields of research in today’s (post-)humanities.
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The Trauma of Multicultural Renunciation: Kerri Sakamoto’s The Electrical Field

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In his article “Dylematy wielokulturowości?” [The Dilemmas of Multiculturalism?] opening the volume Wielokulturowość: postulat i praktyka [Multiculturalism: Postulate and Practice], Tadeusz Rachwał draws a connection between the Freudian concept of culture as a source of suffering and the renunciations forced upon individuals by multicultural coexistence. In Freud’s view, civilization (culture) “is built upon a renunciation of instinct … This ‘cultural frustration’ dominates the large field of social relationships between human beings. It is the cause of the hostility against which all civilizations have to struggle” (Freud 1962, 44). Having analysed the Freudian contention that woman is the embodiment of the individual against whom culture has to be protected, Rachwał transposes the dilemmas of this “gendered multiculturalism” on an ethnic and racialized terrain (2005, 17). Multiculturalism thus appears to be based on conflict and exclusion, either situating the other in the position of aggression towards the mainstream (white) culture, or positing Western culture as an aggressor, responsible for literal extermination of difference or more metaphorical forms of cultural genocide (Rachwał 2005, 13–17). The following article is an attempt to develop Tadeusz Rachwał’s perspective, conflating multicultural suffering and renunciation with the (post)Freudian concept of (cultural) trauma in the interpretation of The Electrical Field, a 1998 novel by Japanese Canadian writer Kerri Sakamoto.

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