This essay analyzes Valeria Luiselli's 2019 novel Lost Children Archive's attempt to imagine anti‐imperialist solidarity aesthetics in a moment of the increasing imbrication of the US literary sphere and settler colonial capitalist surveillance of the US‐Mexico border, as well as the nonprofit care regime that has arisen to oppose and ameliorate its effects. Because these structures converge around overt and subterranean investments in settler colonial frontier fantasy, the essay focuses particularly on Lost Children Archive's engagement with the tradition of the white male road novel Western in the Americas—Luiselli's attempts to write both through and against this form—as part of the novel's larger attempt to grapple with the formal problems that adhere in representing the temporality and scale of ongoing Central American Indigenous dispossession and refugee displacement in settler colonial capitalism. In exploring the degree to which the Western genre's tradition of, per Philip Deloria, “playing Indian” might oppose the brutal bureaucratic violence of the xenophobic carceral settler US state, the novel builds a critique of the frontier road novel fantasy that it cannot quite sustain.
Writing Refugee Crisis in the Age of Amazon: Lost Children Archive's Reenactment Play
Patricia Stuelke is an assistant professor in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. She is the author of the forthcoming book The Ruse of Repair: US Neoliberal Empire and the Turn from Critique.
Patricia Stuelke; Writing Refugee Crisis in the Age of Amazon: Lost Children Archive's Reenactment Play. Genre 1 April 2021; 54 (1): 43–66. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00166928-8911498
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