The Future Life of Trauma: Partitions, Borders, Repetition

The Future Life of Trauma: Partitions, Borders, Repetition

The Future Life of Trauma: Partitions, Borders, Repetition

The Future Life of Trauma: Partitions, Borders, Repetition

Excerpt

In March 2010, I traveled to Rwamagana, one of seven districts in the eastern province of Rwanda. There stands the campus of the eastern branch of the Association des Vueves du Genocide Agahozo (Association of the Widows of Genocide), or avega as it is more commonly known. Formed in October 1995 by fifty genocide widows, avega is a nonprofit organization that helps facilitate the economic and social reintegration of genocide widows into Rwandan society. There are four branches, located in the northern, eastern, western, and southern provinces of the country. the eastern branch features a large campus that includes a health center, a bar and restaurant, a couple of reception halls that are sometimes rented out for large functions like weddings, guesthouses, and administrative offices.

Once there, a woman—a genocide widow—who was one of the facility’s principal administrators guided me on a tour of the grounds. Before becoming an administrator, she served as one of the site’s trauma counselors. She had no formal training in trauma counseling. Like the other women working in a similar capacity, her knowledge and expertise was acquired through her own lived experience during the genocide.

Not long thereafter, we were in her house with two other widows. Over the next few hours, the three women talked about their experiences during the genocide in unadulterated detail and with a surprising intimacy. They related the specific ways in which particular friends and family members were killed. They showed me photos of their children—ranging from three months to sixteen years in age— and detailed the gruesome death of each child. They revealed the different forms of violence they endured and recounted the bombing ofnotation>

The Hawthorn Archive: Letters from the Utopian Margins consists of items produced or collected by or deposited into the archive while I have been its organizer or keeper. These items include complete and incomplete files, various notes, correspondence, reports, internal memos, short essays for other publics, books, copied pages from books, photographs and other images, films, and other miscellany, including Tshirts and furniture. For those new to the archive, it is named after the forest tree, not the famous American author Nathaniel, as is commonly presumed and misspelled, even in archive documents. a very old tree known for its longevity and native to northern Europe, North America, and Asia, the hawthorn tree goes by other names, including the May tree, and is favored by witches and those internationalists who celebrate the first of May. Surrounded by a great deal of ancient lore, among other medicinal, alimentary, and aesthetic uses, the hawthorn tree was once said to be able to both protect the border to the world of the dead and heal a broken heart.

The Hawthorn Archive houses an incomplete and disorganized intellectual history of a somewhat-but-not-entirely-random selection of radicals, runaways, deserters, abolitionists, heretics, dreamers, and liberationists who at some point stopped doing what they were told they had to do, stopped thinking what they were told they had to think, and stopped being available for things they had no design in making or controlling. What’s distinctive about the individuals and projects given a home at the archive is that they are committed not just to radical critique . . .

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