Gay Panic Attack: David L. Eng
|Professor David L. Eng|
This talk is drawn from my forthcoming book, Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans (Duke UP, 2018), coauthored with psychotherapist Shinhee Han. Our book explores the changing history of the (racial) subject in relation to the subject of (racial) history over the course of twenty years. The spaces of the classroom and clinic have allowed us to witness first-hand the shifting demographics, as well as remarkable psychic transformations, of our Asian American students and patients from Generation X to Generation Y, in an era defined by the politics of colorblindness in U.S. society and by a rising Asia under neoliberalism and globalization.
“(Gay) Panic Attack,” the final chapter of the project, presents a series of case histories and commentaries on academically accomplished [college and graduate students], all of whom are male and identify as gay….What is striking about their life narratives is not just the self-determination that motivates them but also their common goal of living freely—however they define it—as gay men in the West. Yet…sexuality remains largely tangential to their self-understandings of their psychic predicaments. All sought therapy because of debilitating panic attacks—high levels of anxiety and stress that rendered them incapacitated, depressed, and dissociated. While they view sexual orientation as key factor in their desires to immigrate, they do not regard homophobia—or racism—as significant sites of conflict or related to their panic attacks. What, then, is all the panic about? To answer this question, my talk explores the psychic structures of colorblindness among millennials today.
This talk is co-sponsored by the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program.
Eng is author (with Shinhee Han) of Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans (Duke, forthcoming 2018), 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). He has co-edited two special issues of the journal Social Text: with Teemu Ruskola and Shuang Shen, “China and the Human” (2011/2012), and with Jack Halberstam and José Esteban Muñoz, “What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?” (2005). His current book project, Reparations and the Human, investigates the relationship between political and psychic genealogies of reparation in Asia during the Cold War.