Psychosis, Sociopolitical Trauma, Asian Diaspora

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Tastes Like War is Grace M. Cho’s memoir of discovery – of the roots of her mother's madness, her own quest to understand her family's past, and a history of intergenerational trauma born of colonialism, war, and violence in its many forms. Cho emigrated to the U.S. as a baby with her Korean mother and American Merchant Marine father in the 1970s to a small town in the Pacific Northwest. As a child, Cho recalls that the family endured racist taunts, threats and assaults. When Cho’s mother began hearing voices, and was subsequently diagnosed with schizophrenia, Cho began exploring her family’s history, and discovered more about her mother's hardships growing up under Japanese occupation, through the Korean War, and afterward in a shattered Korean economy. Through these discoveries, Cho came to believe her mother's traumas have a direct relationship to the onset of her psychosis. Immigrant, child of refugee parents, and president of ISPS-US, author Claire Bien (Hearing Voices, Living Fully) will join Grace in a conversation about the additional individual and collective impact of historical and familial trauma on those who, having fled occupied and war-torn lands, are deemed “other” within the communities in which they seek to find refuge and build lives.

Grace M. Cho is the author of Tastes Like War, a 2021 National Book Awards finalist, and Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War, which received a 2010 book award from the American Sociological Association. Her writings have appeared in journals such as the New Inquiry, Poem Memoir Story, Contexts, Gastronomica, Feminist Studies, WSQ, and Qualitative Inquiry. She is associate professor of sociology and anthropology at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. Claire Bien is a voice hearer, author of a memoir, Hearing Voices, Living Fully: Living with the Voices in My Head; president of ISPS-US, and member of the Hearing Voices Network-USA’s board of directors. Claire’s parents were refugees within and from colonized, occupied, and war-torn China; the family emigrated to the United States from Hong Kong in 1955.