This article offers a reading of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s 1982 experimental text DICTEE as performing purposefully ambiguous devotional work. As a meditation on unfinished struggles against colonial and patriarchal violence, DICTEE registers devotion’s role in both oppression and liberation. Cha’s engagements with female martyrs, Korean mudang shamanic practice, and colonial languages demonstrate the inseparability of structures of domination and traditions of resistance. The essay argues that even as DICTEE wrestles with inescapable forms of complicity, its efforts to transform perception denaturalize the violence of racial, gendered, and political divisions.
The Ambiguity of Devotion: Complicity and Resistance in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DICTEE
Eleanor Craig is Program Director and Lecturer for the Committee on Ethnicity, Migration, Rights at Harvard University. Craig is co-editor with An Yountae of Beyond Man: Race, Coloniality, and Philosophy of Religion (forthcoming from Duke University Press, 2021) and a member of the inaugural cohort of Emerging Scholars in Political Theology.
Eleanor Craig; The Ambiguity of Devotion: Complicity and Resistance in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DICTEE. Representations 1 February 2021; 153 (1): 85–104. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2021.153.6.85
Download citation file: