The uses of a national wound: Reflecting Absence, trauma and the global war on terror


  • Tomoaki Morikawa University of Hawaii at Manoa


The War on Terror, Trauma, Psychoanalysis, Ground Zero, Trace


At the World Trade Center site in New York City where the terrorist attacks happened on September 11, 2001, the memorial called Reflecting Absence is now standing.  Instead of covering up the physical and psychological wound of 9/11, Reflecting Absence structurally incorporates the trauma of 9/11 as the memorial’s framing structure.  In this paper, I focus on the link between the trauma of 9/11 and Reflecting Absence.  More specifically, I examine the latter as the expression of the former to reveal this link.  In so doing, this paper also identifies what kind of role Reflecting Absence is potentially playing in the post-9/11 American society.  By teasing out the ways in which this memorial evokes the trauma of 9/11 for visitors, this paper discusses the politics in which Reflecting Absence has been engaged as an apparatus of memory.

Author Biography

Tomoaki Morikawa, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Tomoaki Morikawa, a PhD candidate in American Studies at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, has a special interest in the fields of historic memory, Museum Studies, spatial theory, and psychoanalysis in the context of U.S. history and culture. His research engages the contentious nature of the rebuilt Ground Zero complex in New York City.    


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