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Ritual Negotiations: Abjection, Kinship, and (Re)Performance in German-Occupied France and Post-Katrina America

  • Author(s): Minniefee, Melissa Jane
  • Advisor(s): Roxworthy, Emily
  • et al.
Abstract

Ritual Negotiations: Abjection, Kinship, and (Re)performance in German-Occupied France and Post-Katrina America examines how performance was used in response to two massive internal displacements wherein national subjects were described as “refugees”: the Exode in France during World War II and the exodus of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. I argue that internal displacement is a recognizable moment of abjection, a break in national identity, connected to the etymologic origins of the word “abjection” itself: to cast away. Internal displacement is abjection marked by the rupture between self and once identifiable connections to family, home, community, and nation which enforces internal exclusion from the national kinship system. As the border to nationhood was encroached in internal displacement, France and the United States attempted to recover this abjected state through ritual negotiations: performances attempting to rework and test national belonging through a reimagined collective nationhood. France and the U.S. echoed each other in the evocation of spectacles that were used to reimagine their respective nation. France and the U.S, however, continued marginalization for their citizen subjects deemed as “refugees” through hyper-visibility, disciplinary space, and voyeurism. The dissertation continues the examination into abjection and kinship by analyzing several plays and a memorial exhibit that negotiate with the overpowering narratives perpetuated through these national spectacles. The plays and museum exhibit demonstrate that restaging events, narratives, and imagery used to marginalize and control citizen bodies, can have the serious consequence of reperforming abjection.

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