Refugees and Other Impossibilities: Imagining Apocalypse


In its final form, this will be a piece of autotheory, reflecting on refugee affect at two different points in time: one in the immediate aftermath of the Trump election, the other four years later, but still in the timeline rerouted/revealed by that event. The essay asks what refugee as ontology means in a historical present in which environmental catastrophe comes for us all, but political catastrophe presents an erratic menace. In its first round, the essay asks: Which genre is this unfolding? When do affective systems primed by the Vietnam War resilient vs. maladaptive? Will we know when it is time, again, to go? In its second, sifting the accretions of fifteen hundred days of headlines, the questions have not abated but morphed and grown: What is Canada to this new American vision of the self? Four years in, are those of us still here inured or recommitted? As settler refugees, what is our duty to this land? As BIPOC allies, what is our duty to those communities whose apocalypse has been here for generations, and who have stayed?

This article “Refugees and Other Impossibilities: Imagining Apocalypse” originally appeared in Canadian Literature: 246 Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War (2021): 106-125.

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