I am a Professor in the Department of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University, where I research and write about the ways that violence writes our identities. Most importantly, I am interested in memory as a work, an activity, that can bring the past into the present in ways that help us imagine new possibilities for the futures we are in the process of making. I explore the intersection of narrative and traumatic memory and identity through the theoretical frameworks of feminist psychoanalytic theory and cultural studies. Focusing on trauma as a social affair, my research is interested in the relationship between the individual and society, between personal identity, experience, and memory and public institutions, ideologies, and narratives.
My first book, The Wars We Inherit: Military Life, Gender Violence, and Memory (Temple University Press 2010), is a gesture towards rethinking the binaries that trap us into roles that are killing us: divisions of the world into man/ woman, good/evil, black/ white, inside/outside/ enemy/ ally. Wars maps the relationship between the ideological work of military institutions and violence in the military family in which I grew up. Emphasizing this relation between the public and the private grounds my argument for social and cultural transformation as a political, not simply a personal, matter.
My current book project, ReMembering in Transition: Trajectories of Violence, Structures of Denial, and the Struggle for Meaning in Post-Communist Albania maps experiences of political violence across three generations in Albania, with particular attention to the transgenerational transmission of trauma and the intersection of the violence of totalitarianism and transition. I was a Fulbright Scholar in Albania 2009 – 2010, and my subsequent research has been funded by grants from the National Council of Eurasian and East European Research, the American Council of Learned Societies, the International Research and Exchange Board, and the American Council for Educational Exchange. In the summer of 2014, I was a Research Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where I conducted secondary and policy research for my current book project on traumatic memory and identity under communism and in transition in Albania.
My current research in Albania extends the scope of my research in The Wars We Inherit: Military Life, Gender Violence, and Memory. In my current book project, I am particularly interested in nuancing the transnational stakes of knowledge production and in pursuing memory projects that think through narratives of identity and nation and the corresponding enemy/ally identity constructions through which our violence is enacted. Most crucially, though, my work over “there” reaffirms that we cannot artificially separate the “here” from the “there,” the “us from the “them”: to enter Albania is to enter the still bleeding, raw wounds of the Cold War – wounds that are simultaneously bound up with the “War on Terror.” Now, in Albania, I find myself, uncannily, tracing, still, the trajectory of the cold war into which I was born. And this is not just “my” history: this is the unarticulated, disavowed history of our present age of warfare. Our challenge, now, is to find a way to work through our legacy of violence.
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