Winner, 2022 Senior Book Prize, Association for Feminist Anthropology Finalist, 2022 Victor Turner Prize
An utterly original and illuminating work that meets at the crossroads of autobiography and ethnography to re-examine violence and memory through the eyes of a child. Seeing Like a Child is a deeply moving narrative that showcases an unexpected voice from an established researcher. Through an unwavering commitment to a child’s perspective, Clara Han explores how the catastrophic event of the Korean War is dispersed into domestic life. Han writes from inside her childhood memories as the daughter of parents who were displaced by war, who fled from the North to the South of Korea, and whose displacement in Korea and subsequent migration to the United States implicated the fraying and suppression of kinship relations and the Korean language. At the same time, Han writes as an anthropologist whose fieldwork has taken her to the devastated worlds of her parents—to Korea and to the Korean language—allowing her, as she explains, to find and found kinship relationships that had been suppressed or broken in war and illness. A fascinating counterpoint to the project of testimony that seeks to transmit a narrative of the event to future generations, Seeing Like a Child sees the inheritance of familial memories of violence as embedded in how the child inhabits her everyday life. Seeing Like a Child offers readers a unique experience—an intimate engagement with the emotional reality of migration and the inheritance of mass displacement and death—inviting us to explore categories such as “catastrophe,” “war,” “violence,” and “kinship” in a brand-new light.
Foreword by Richard Rechtman | ix Introduction | 1 Part I: Loss and Awakenings | 35 Interlude 1: Affliction and War in the Domestic | 61 Part II: A Future in Kinship, a Future in Language | 65 Interlude 2: Homeward Bound | 87 Part III: The Kids | 93 Interlude 3: Siblings and the Scene of Inheritance | 119 Part IV: Mother Tongue | 125 Epilogue: Seeing Like a Child | 153 Acknowledgments | 157 Notes | 161 Works Cited | 167
Clara Han is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of Life in Debt: Times of Care and Violence in Neoliberal Chile (2012) and a co-editor of Living and Dying in the Contemporary World: A Compendium (2015).
Richard Rechtman is an anthropologist and psychiatrist and director of studies at EHESS in Paris. Since 1990, he has directed a transcultural outpatient clinic for refugees in central Paris. He is the author of several books in French and coauthor, with Didier Fassin, of The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood (2009), which won the William A. Douglass Book Prize.
Association for Feminist Anthropology Senior Book Prize
Victor Turner Prize