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Life of PaperLetters and a Poetics of Living Beyond Captivity$
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Sharon Luk

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520296237

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520296237.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 01 August 2021

Uses of the Profane

Uses of the Profane

(p.193) Six Uses of the Profane
Life of Paper

Sharon Luk

University of California Press

Chapter Six explores letter correspondence across prison walls as under-recognized mode of communal preservation in the face of publicly administered torture and genocide. This chapter shifts our perspectives on social movements by paying critical attention to ruptures in racial epistemology realized by twentieth-century liberation struggles and to interventions of the epistolary form in this context. Ultimately, this chapter argues that the life of paper constitutes a contradictory kind of creative shelter—a sacred place to foster social being, provide for its study, and generate a mode of its inhabitation. Reading archival materials for traces of the intellectual and affective labor they both congeal and augment, this chapter views letter correspondence as reproductive activity that instantiates life-sustaining claims of belonging to one another and enunciates the experience and significance of being human: nurturing forms of connection and conditions of existence that generatively stress the limits of what is currently knowable.

Keywords:   Humanism, Mass Incarceration, Black Power, Racial Epistemology, Prison Writing

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