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Grief and Grievance in a Pandemic

Thursday, May 20, 2021, 12:30–2:00pm

Zoom Webinar

The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered acute the intersecting and compounding losses of our current moment—millions lost to the pandemic on account of the failures of the healthcare system, police assaults on Black life, anti-Asian violence, and ever-increasing class disparities amidst debates about what counts as essential work. And while breakthroughs in vaccine technologies have offered a glimmer of hope, is a return to normal really possible? Indeed, is a return to normal even desirable if it comes with the perpetuation of white supremacist violence and capitalist exploitation? What would it mean to acknowledge the overwhelming grief—the persistent melancholia—of pandemic times? This panel brings together experts on mourning, melancholia, and grief to reflect on the way that grief and grievance have shaped our responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. How might queer, racial, and postcolonial melancholia lend insight into our understanding of the past year? What are the political effects of public displays of mourning when grief is overwhelming or when the customary rituals of mourning, like funerary gatherings, aren’t even possible? How do we reconcile the apparent opposition between mourning and activism at a time that so vehemently calls for protests against systemic racism? And, if melancholia yokes the past to the present—refuses to let the past go—then how might the politics of mourning that arise in the AIDS pandemic condition the possibilities of grief and grievance today?

Join us for a virtual roundtable discussion featuring:

  • Joshua Chambers-Letson, Professor of Performance Studies, Northwestern University
  • Jinah Kim, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and faculty affiliate in Asian Studies, California State University, Northridge
  • Dana Luciano, Associate Professor of English and Women’s & Gender Studies, Rutgers University
  • David Román, Professor of English and American Studies, University of Southern California

Moderated by Kris Trujillo, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Chicago

Presented by the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and co-sponsored by 3CT and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture.

This event is free and open to the public; registration is required. If you need assistance to attend, please contact