Multidirectional Trains: Co-operative (Post)Memory in Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad

Pilar Martínez Benedí

Abstract


This essay reads The Underground Railroad as an operation of ‘multidirectional memory.’ The essay explores the collaborative negotiation between Whitehead’s (post)memorialization of slavery and the postmemory of the Shoah, as figured in the potent image of the railroad—a ubiquitous element in Holocaust narratives and memoirs. By literalizing the abolitionist metaphor, Whitehead turns the salvific underground network into a material train that leads to death and oppression. The essay aims to examine the powerful role of the railroad as the affective vehicle that ties together different memories in a communal project of public remembrance.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13133/2239-1983/16835