Abstract

This article outlines a crip archival analysis of Karen Tei Yamashita’s creative family memoir Letters to Memory (2017) and the separate Yamashita Family Archives; the analysis revolves around the concept of disorder. The book and digital archives move the daily lived experience of incarceration out of chronological order, encouraging new connections across a massive collection of materials: letters, photographs, federal surveillance documents, paintings, sermons, and other ephemera surrounding World War II Japanese American incarceration. Their respective acts of assembling and retelling destabilize the dominant narrative of a resolved family or national trauma to reflect divergent embodied experiences of distress and disability effected by racial debilitation. Offering concentric analysis of textual and archival reordering via Asian American studies, disability studies, and digital humanities, this article adds alternative dimensions to the ongoing legacy of incarceration by inviting readers to create new constellations of meaning through examining temporal and embodied disorder. Reading the physical book and digital archives together also acts as a model for how literary studies scholars might complicate our attention to embodiment beyond narrative analysis, by thinking about disability and madness in the design and structure of texts and digital media. Through cripping the archive, the author calls for a reconceptualization of mad and disabled bodyminds as not only content to be examined, but also users and creators whose disorder animates alternative ways of knowing personal and state violence.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.