The Ruse of Repair

US Neoliberal Empire and the Turn from Critique

The Ruse of Repair

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 9 illustrations Published: August 2021

American Studies, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality

Since the 1990s, literary and queer studies scholars have eschewed Marxist and Foucauldian critique and hailed the reparative mode of criticism as a more humane and humble way of approaching literature and culture. The reparative turn has traveled far beyond the academy, influencing how people imagine justice, solidarity, and social change. In The Ruse of Repair, Patricia Stuelke locates the reparative turn's hidden history in the failed struggle against US empire and neoliberal capitalism in the 1970s and 1980s. She shows how feminist, antiracist, and anti-imperialist liberation movements' visions of connection across difference, practices of self care, and other reparative modes of artistic and cultural production have unintentionally reinforced forms of neoliberal governance. At the same time, the US government and military, universities, and other institutions have appropriated and depoliticized these same techniques to sidestep addressing structural racism and imperialism in more substantive ways. In tracing the reparative turn's complicated and fraught genealogy, Stuelke questions reparative criticism's efficacy in ways that will prompt critics to reevaluate their own reading practices.


“This brilliant study is a long overdue critique of the flight from paranoid reading to reparative feeling in the humanities. Patricia Stuelke historicizes the turn to repair as symptom of, rather than as solution to, US violence, militarism, and counterinsurgency. Her examination of the rise of US neoliberal empire in the 1970s and 1980s from Southeast Asia to Latin America to the Middle East is sui generis and eye-opening.” — David L. Eng, Richard L. Fisher Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Patricia Stuelke is Assistant Professor English at Dartmouth College.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction: "After That, Baby . . ."  1
1. Freedom to Want  31
2. "Debt Work"  71
3. Solidarity as Settler Absolution  107
4. Veteran Diversity, Veteran Asynchrony  149
5. Invasion Love Plots and Antiblack Acoustics  189
Conclusion: Against Repair  215
Notes  219
Bibliography  265
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1426-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1335-8