(Nuclear) War and the Memory of Nagasaki: Thinking at the (Impossible) Limit

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On the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the world remains marked by violent conflict and the possibility of nuclear war. This seems an apt moment to ask whether the bombings have left a trace in our thinking. This article thus explores how particular articulations of their memory or, alternatively, failures to articulate such a memory, conjure up our world: how they represent and account for violence and how, if at all, they assign specific significance to nuclear weapons. Reading two very different texts, Jacques Derrida’s ‘No Apocalypse, Not Now’ and Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows, alongside each other, the article shows how remembering finds itself at the impossible limit between the conceptual and the particular, in the space of politics. It argues that the violence that continues to form an everyday part of our world can only be challenged or even understood by thinking at this (impossible) limit where no answer can be generated in the abstract and decisions are necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-71
JournalThesis Eleven
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2015


  • Derrida
  • Hiroshima
  • memory
  • Nagasaki
  • Shamsie


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