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Spring 2024


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Hal Foster reviews Absentees in the London Review of Books
Ghosting: Dead to the World

In the latest issue of the London Review of Books, Hal Foster, art historian and long time Zone editor discusses Absentees: On Variously Missing Persons by Daniel Heller-Roazen. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full review. An excerpt appears below:

“How​ long can you be absent before you are declared dead? Do you have any civil rights during this interval – which some societies set at the biblical seven years – or are you merely the target of legal action? What happens if you return and your spouse has remarried or the kids have sold the farm? Do you have any recourse apart from revenge? In Absentees, a book about the many ways, across time and place, that people have gone missing, been stripped of status, or become somehow undead, Daniel Heller-Roazen offers a typology of the ‘nonperson’, about whom it can be said neither that ‘he is a person’ nor that ‘he isn’t a person.’ A nonperson is thus a nonentity in the colloquial sense of the word, existent yet diminished, sometimes to the point of being an ‘it’. As Heller-Roazen demonstrates, nonpersons are neither singular nor rare in the past or the present: among their number are slaves, serfs, servants, most convicts, many Indigenous People, many gender nonconformists, some of the disabled and the ailing, many of the very old and the very young, and anyone else who is physically alive but civically lessened. He calls it an inhumanity, all too human, that we regularly visit on our own kind.”