Atmospheric Archives: Post-Cold War Affect and the Buddhist Temporal Imagination in Southeast Asian Literature and Visual Culture


Atmospheric Archives: Post-Cold War Affect and the Buddhist Temporal Imagination in Southeast Asian Literature and Visual Culture

Chairat Polmuk

Summary

My dissertation is an attempt to reframe political impasses and historical frictions in the aftermath of the Cold War through the lens of affect. Focusing on Southeast Asia as a prime locus of Cold War epistemic and geopolitical violence, the project delineates sensory experiences of Cold War atrocities and their continuing impacts in the present. Each chapter tracks mobilizations of affect in the domains of politics and cultural production, ranging from an enduring sense of left melancholia to post-socialist revolutionary pathos, from regionalist euphoria to transnational humanitarian sentiments. The archive for this study consists of literary and visual materials produced from the late 1980s to the 2010s. I call this post-Cold War archive “atmospheric” for its potential to forge an affective engagement with past violence across time and space.

Central to my inquiry into a post-Cold War politics of affect is how Buddhism as a vernacular discourse of Cold War histories informs aesthetic mediations of the material and affective residues of wartime atrocities. Specifically, I focus on how Southeast Asian writers, filmmakers, and artist bring Buddhist- derived notions of ephemerality and continuity to bear on the atmospheric configurations of the Cold War in their artistic practices and oppositional politics.

Author

Chairat Polmuk

Defended in

2018

PhD defended at

Cornell University

Specialisation

Humanities

Region

Southeast Asia
Cambodia
Laos
Thailand

Theme

Media
Literature