Unearthing the Past in the Present
Building on Avery F. Gordon's notion of “haunting,” the introduction discusses the moments in which lingering memories of injustice advance to the forefront of consciousness. It attends in particular to the frequently halting manner in which the vagaries of individual suffering can eventually give rise to collective action. Empathy is particularly important for such action, insofar as it allows individuals to identify with one another and, thereby, recognize common ground on which to act. To revivify the myriad insults and tragedies visited upon Nikkei in Canada and the United States thus serves to galvanize not only people of Japanese ancestry but also others of conscience who see in this shameful historical moment emotionally as well as intellectually compelling cause for exercising political agency. For that reason, this portion of the book refers to such agency as transmissible, even “contagious.”
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