What is it about?

In this contribution to the special issue of Biblical Interpretation Vol.28. no.5 (edited by Julie Faith Parker and Kristine Henriksen Garroway), I read the story of Jephthah and his daughter in Judges 10–12 within the contemporary context of racism and discrimination in the U.S. Particularly focusing on the affective and emotional dimensions of the lived experiences in racially/ethnically minoritized communities, I engage the biblical story with what poet and writer Cathy Park Hong calls, “minor feelings.” Reading the biblical narrative alongside Hong’s crudely personal—and yet pervasively common—accounts of Asian American racial trauma, I critically reflect on the notion of childhood agency, and suggest that the Western conception of agency neither reflects nor promotes the lives of the children in minority groups. In turn, I ask: What if we moved away from the traditional notions of agency and voice in our critical works, and, instead, turned towards emotions, sensations, and other embodied experiences as a site of interpretation, critique, and movement for social change?

Featured Image

Why is it important?

This article "challenges the field to take seriously the racial/ ethnic and diasporic aspects of children’s lives. [It] brings affect theory to childist interpretation, boldly naming the power and role of bodies, including small bodies, in embedded space and lived experiences. Moving the field away from a focus on individual agency and voice, [it] encourages harnessing shared emotions and experiences to garner the power of collective witness on behalf of children" (quoted from Julie Faith Parker and Kristine Henriksen Garroway, "Introduction," BI 28.5 [2020]: 533-39).


This article may be relevant for research and teaching in the topics of: (1) cultural studies: children's agency, intersections between childhood and race, racial trauma, Asian American cultural identity; (2) critical theories and methods: minoritized biblical hermeneutics, childist biblical interpretation, Asian American biblical interpretation, and theories of affect and emotion; (3) postexilic period: culture of trauma/post-trauma, ethnic conflicts, identity-politics and emotion, and the formations of nation and narrative.

Dong Sung Kim
Drew University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Reading with Minor Feelings: Racialized Emotions and Children’s (Non)agency in Judges 10–12, Biblical Interpretation, November 2020, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/15685152-2805a003.
You can read the full text:




The following have contributed to this page