Bodies Bearing the Brunt
An idea has been echoed by three writers from vastly different latitudes: the concept that political (and thereby personal) trauma is physically housed in the body. This trauma can be passed down from generation to generation, especially to receptive bodies straddling the here-and-now and liminal space. The essays by these writers—Billy Ray Belcourt, Ashon Crawley, and Edgar Calel—not only address the historical violence explicitly perpetrated against subjugated groups, but also touch on the recurring instances of microagression that reinforce the self-regulatory “docile bodies” first acknowledged by Foucault. Billy-Ray Belcourt argues that the body is prone to a “critical receptivity,” which makes it susceptible to being “undone and displaced by others.” He poetically describes this haunting: “A body can only jar so many spirits and trauma before it glitches, leaks, and splits at the seams.” For Ashon Crawley, one of these seams that leak is the dream: “Dreams…produce and contain and hallucinate grief, grief that is too much to carry alone,” and it is through song that this emotional “resonance overflows and exceeds the boundaries and borders of containment.” Edgar Calel envisions these emotional connections as roots and branches that can tap into violent histories. In Calel’s conception of the body, these tendrils also connect us to the proximal abstract spaces where ancestral knowledge is available and can interact with the history of places. But while branches reach out, roots are designed to draw in and absorb, as described in Belcourt’s analysis of Tanya Lukin-Linklater’s performance video In Memorium.