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  • Writer's pictureHsin-Mei Chuang

Walter Benjamin and China at Its Limits

Our book was recently reviewed by Chinese film expert Dr. Luke Robinson in the Cultural Politics. Here are some of his words:

the book’s images... capture the dialectical tensions of Chinese history. Some do so through careful observation: ...a Uighur man and a woman in traditional headgear posed by the edge of a small lake in Kashgar; a ferris wheel and partially built apartment blocks in the distance hinting at the urban development that has proven so contentious in the city. These images capture what Walter Benjamin, in his “Brief History of Photography,” terms the “optical unconscious”: the camera’s ability to defamiliarize the familiar, to reveal histories hidden in the everyday that we have always known, and yet somehow forgotten. But other images in the volume do this more self-consciously. Dispersed throughout the collection are a number of palimpsests... at their best they are eerily evocative... It is at moments like this that Messmer and Chuang realize their desire to locate echoes of history in the present.

To read the full review, please go to:

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