Letters From Santiago: Re-membering the Displaced Body Through Dreams


  • Chris Campanioni CUNY Graduate Center


“Letters From Santiago” is an exploration and investigation of the trauma of displacement and exile, as well as an exercise in circumventing the self-silencing so common to refugees and immigrants. By re-contextualizing both Euro-American psychoanalytical (Freud, Jung) and trauma (Cathy Caruth) models along with Eastern ones (Ananya Jahanara Kabir), and integrating recent scholarship on dreaming (Erin J. Wamsley, Steven Kruger, Allan J, Hobson), this essay provides a personal, intimate ethnographic account of the agency of memory in the face of the unreturnable debt of exile. Moving from storytelling exercises with my father, who fled Cuba at the age of fourteen, to cultural and theoretical discussions (Glissant, Agamben, Berger) of language as a site of national identity, to tracings of dream-narratives and their intersection with memory throughout literature, “Letters From Santiago” is part epistolary correspondence with the past and archival inquiry into a future which asks how we might be able to reproduce the rehabilitation of self-silencing and trauma by applying contemporary art and pop culture representations (Depeche Mode, Twin Peaks) with dream theory and more performative psychoanalytical processes, all in an endeavor to sidestep the reductive and circular silence-testimony binary.



Keywords: exile, immigration, trauma, memory, dreams, psychoanalysis, performance, Cuba


Biografía del autor/a

Chris Campanioni, CUNY Graduate Center

Lecturer, Latino literature and creative writing
City University of New York and Pace UniversityProvost Fellow and MAGNET Mentor


Works Cited

Agamben, Giorgio. Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive. Trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen. Zone Books, 1999.

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. Penguin, 1972.

Caruth, Cathy. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.

Foucault, Michel. “Dream, Imagination and Existence.” Dream and Existence. Ed. Keith Hoeller. Review of Existential Psychology & Psychiatry, 1986.

Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. Trans. A. A. Brill. MacMillan, 1913.

Glissant, Édouard. Poetics of Relation. Trans. Betsy Wing. University of Michigan, 1997.

Hartmann, Ernest. Dreams and Nightmares. Perseus Publishing, 1998.

Hobson, J. Allan. The Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered State of Consciousness. MIT Press, 2001.

Jung, Carl. Dreams. Trans. R.F.C. Hull. Princeton University Press, 1974.

Kabir, Ananya Jahanara. “Affect, Body, Place.” The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism. Ed. Gert Buelens, Samuel Durrant, Robert Eaglestone. Routledge, 2013.

Keats, John. Complete Poems and Selected Letters. Ed. Clarence DeWitt Thorpe. The Odyssey Press, 1935.

Kruger, Steven. Dreaming in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Lévinas, Emmanuel. On Escape: De l’évasion (Cultural Memory in the Present). Trans. Jacques Rolland. Stanford University Press, 2003.

States, Bert O. “Bizarreness in Dreams and other Fictions.” The Dream and the Text: Essays on Literature and Language. Ed. Carol Schreier Rupprecht. State University of New York Press, 1993.

Wamsley, Erin J. “Dreaming and Offline Memory Consolidation.” Current neurology and neuroscience reports. Springer Science. 2014, Web.

CHRIS CAMPANIONI is the author of Death of Art (C&R Press). His recent work appears in 3:AM Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Ambit, Hotel, Whitehot, and Cosmonauts Avenue, and his poem, “This body’s long & I’m still loading” was adapted as an official selection of the Canadian International Film Festival. His “Billboards” poem responding to Latino stereotypes and mutable—and often muted—identity in the fashion world was awarded an Academy of American Poets Prize and his novel Going Down was selected as Best First Book at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards. He is currently a Provost Fellow and MAGNET Mentor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he is conducting his doctoral studies in English. He edits PANK, At Large, and Tupelo Quarterly and teaches Latino literature and creative writing at Pace University and Baruch College.



Cómo citar

Campanioni, C. (2018). Letters From Santiago: Re-membering the Displaced Body Through Dreams. IC Revista Científica De Información Y Comunicación, (15). Recuperado a partir de https://icjournal-ojs.org/index.php/IC-Journal/article/view/401