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A Taste For Brown BodiesGay Modernity and Cosmopolitan Desire$
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Hiram Perez

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781479818655

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479818655.001.0001

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“Going to Meet the Man” in Abu Ghraib

“Going to Meet the Man” in Abu Ghraib

(p.49) 2 “Going to Meet the Man” in Abu Ghraib
A Taste For Brown Bodies

Hiram Pérez

NYU Press

This chapter presents James Baldwin’s short story, “Going To Meet the Man,” as a rescripting of Freud’s Oedipal scene, introducing the black male as a triangulating figure vis-à-vis the (white) male child’s identification with each parent. A desire both to possess and be possessed by the black man, to annihilate and be annihilated by him, functions to consolidate white indivisibility across the division of heterosexual and homosexual identifications that resolves the Oedipal. The chapter extends Baldwin’s reading of this race secret to the torture that occurred at the Abu Ghraib military prison in order to better understand not only the racialized and sexual nature of the violence but also to determine what about it was symptomatically American. This casting of the American race secret onto the globe recruits a gay cosmopolitan archive, especially in its imagination of the exotic, or “brown” (in this case, Arab, Middle-Eastern, Mediterranean, Muslim, “Oriental”).

Keywords:   Abu Ghraib, Arab, black man, brown, identification, James Baldwin, Oedipal, race secret, torture, white indivisibility

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