What Is Suicide? Entanglements of Philosophy and Literature in the 'Afterlife of Slavery'
AuthorFlores, Adrian I.
AdvisorGeary, Adam M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 06/12/2022
AbstractWhat Is Suicide? Entanglements of Philosophy and Literature in the ‘Afterlife of Slavery’ is a critique of the racial logic of suicide. Investigations into the various causes of suicide have crowded out an understanding of the fundamental role that the Western discourse of suicide has played in producing “man” as a racializing category of being. To address this absence, I combine the methods of literary criticism and historical genealogy to reformulate suicide as a disciplinary technology that secures the moral limits of civil society. I closely read the canonical texts of Gayatri Spivak, Toni Morrison and Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales—foundational figures in postcolonial, African American and Chicanx thought, respectively—to situate suicide as a central (if occulted) category in their critiques of racial reason. To historicize this concept, I survey how the theological, philosophical and socio-medical traditions have resolved the conceptual difficulty of suicide through a racial reason that reclaims the act of suicide as the prerogative of (white) modern man. Beyond a critique of the medical model of suicide studies, I claim that suicide constitutes a “racial theology” that creates an original distinction between ethical and unethical life. Not only must critical scholars of race and gender reckon with how the discourse of suicide stabilizes their critical itineraries, but academic and vocational experts of suicide—from literary studies to psychiatry—must make slavery and colonialism a premise of their inquiries.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Gender & Women's Studies