Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans

MAR 25, 2019 | 6:30 PM

Book cover for Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
William P. Kelly Skylight Room


9100: Skylight Room


March 25, 2019: 6:30 PM




Intellectual Publics


Please join co-authors David L. Eng and Shinhee Han for the launch of Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans (Duke University Press, 2019). The book draws on case histories from the mid-1990s to the present to explore the social and psychic predicaments of Asian American young adults from Generation X to Generation Y. Combining critical race theory with several strands of psychoanalytic thought and clinical practice, Eng and Han develop the concepts of racial melancholia and racial dissociation to investigate changing processes of loss associated with immigration, displacement, diaspora, and assimilation. These case studies of first- and second-generation Asian Americans deal with a range of difficulties, from depression, suicide, and the politics of coming out to broader issues of the model minority stereotype, transnational adoption, parachute children, colorblind discourses in the United States, and the rise of Asia under globalization. Throughout, Eng and Han link psychoanalysis to larger structural and historical phenomena, illuminating how the study ofpsychic processes of individuals can inform investigations of race, sexuality, and immigration while creating a more sustained conversationabout the social lives of Asian Americans and Asians in the diaspora.

David L. Eng is Richard L. Fisher Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy and Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America as well as co-editor of Loss: The Politics of Mourning and Q & A: Queer in Asian America. Eng is an honorary member of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR) in New York City.

Shinhee Han, PhD, is a psychotherapist at the New School as well as in private practice in New York City. In addition, she is an adjunct professor in the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University, where she teaches courses on Asian Americans, race, and psychoanalysis. Dr. Han is a founding member of the Asian Women Giving Circle, a philanthropic organization in New York City that funds Asian of women artists creating social activism and change. Previously, she worked in counseling and psychological services at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Barnard College, and Columbia University. Born in Seoul, Korea, she immigrated to Minnesota with her family at age 13.