"Sorrow" © purplevintagespaceprincess | Flickr
EssaysIn DepthThe Psyche

The Discarded and the Dignified – Part 6

From the Failed Witness to “You are the Eyes of the World”

Embodying the third

Returning to the beginning of this essay, I have tried to suggest how we might view the embodied rather than dissociated self state as part of the reconstruction of the third in the wake of trauma. In her discussion of the Gugaleto Seven case Gobodo-Madikizela (2013) described the interactions between the perpetrator and the victims’ mothers as becoming very intimate. Thus the mother of the slain sons spoke of feeling the pain in her womb — the women and the perpetrator spoke of being parents and son. In expressing his remorse to them, the perpetrator addressed them as his mothers. …

READ MORE →
Book cover of No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu © Image | Amazon
EssaysIn DepthThe Psyche

The Discarded and the Dignified – Parts 4 and 5

From the Failed Witness to “You are the Eyes of the World”

Witnessing as repair of the moral third

To imagine a way out of the binary of deserving and discarded requires envisioning a world governed by the third, in which our attachment to all beings as part of the whole is honored as real. That vision of social attachment is a condition of the ethical position of the third, and it is central to Ubuntu, the South African tradition that so deeply informed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As defined by Desmond Tutu, Ubuntu means: “A person is a person through other persons… ‘my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up in yours.’…a person with ubuntu …has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed” (Tutu, 1999, p. 31). Our humanity depends on reciprocal recognition of each other and of our ineluctable attachment. …

READ MORE →
Book cover of The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi  © Vintage | Amazon
EssaysIn DepthThe Psyche

The Discarded and the Dignified – Part 3

From the Failed Witness to “You are the Eyes of the World”

Failed witnessing: The Drowned and the Saved

The pivotal function of the moral third in relation to collective trauma is constituted by the acknowledgment of violation by the others who serve as witness. At a social level this role is played by the eyes and voice of the world that watches and upholds what is lawful by expressing, at the least, condemnation and indignation over injustice and injury, trauma and agony endured by the victims. The suffering or death of the victims is thus dignified, their lives given value. Their lives are worthy of being mourned, as Butler (2004) termed it, they are grievable lives. In other words, they are not simply objects to be discarded. Given the state of media proliferation, victims the world over know whether their suffering is seen and regarded; they can ask in despair, Why is no one paying attention as we die here? …

READ MORE →
Book cover of The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi © Abacus | Amazon
EssaysIn DepthThe Psyche

The Discarded and the Dignified – Parts 1 and 2

From the Failed Witness to “You are the Eyes of the World”

In this paper I make an effort to blend with my theoretical perspective some of my experience traveling in many parts of the world to places where my colleagues are struggling with the effects of violence and collective trauma either in the present or its aftermath. In addition to psychoanalytic thinking I will bring some of my experience with dialogue in the Middle East to bear on these issues.[1] This represents an effort to show the possibilities for applying psychoanalytically derived concepts to social phenomena, and suggest ways in which recognition theory can be used to grasp deep psychological structures within both collective and individual processes. …

READ MORE →
Charlie Chaplin in the 1936 film "Modern Times." United Artists |  surfstyle/Flickr
CapitalismEssaysSex & Gender

Towards a Maternal Capitalism?

It has become commonplace to speak about the “fatherless society.” This is not because fathers no longer exist (there are indeed still a lot of people around who claim to be so), but because they exhibit behaviours that were usually associated with the other side of the parental coin: in today’s advanced capitalist societies, fathers change diapers, feed their newborns, and they even have to invent ever new forms of entertainment to catch up with the exuberance of the infantile imagination. In sum, fathers try to provide the physical and emotional care that was once typically associated with women and nannies. Is it possible to look at this transformation in the context of a broader change within capitalism itself? …

READ MORE →
Feminine deconstruction © ga3lle | Flickr
EssaysIn DepthSex & GenderTheory & Practice

Neoliberalism and the Feminine Subject*

Foucault’s radical intervention in feminist theory, and more generally in the philosophy of the body, has been the crucial claim that any analysis of embodiment must recognise: how power relations are constitutive of the embodied subjects involved in them. His studies of disciplinary technologies, for example, show how individuals are constructed through mundane, everyday habits and techniques as certain kinds of subjects. Similarly, feminist appropriations of Foucault’s thought have demonstrated how feminine subjects are constructed through patriarchal, disciplinary practices. In the first section of this paper, I will illustrate this process by discussing Sandra Bartky’s influential account of how the docile feminine body is constructed through disciplinary practices of beauty. …

READ MORE →
Guantanamo prisoner street art ©  Walt Jabsco | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Psyche

Psychologists’ Involvement in Torture

Two recent events have once again raised the distressing issue of psychologists’ involvement in the Bush Administration torture program and the role of the American Psychological Association in it. A New York Times reporter, James Risen, in his new book, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War, reveals new information on the APA’s conduct in forming its task force on the role of psychologists in detention settings in 2005. The second and far more publicly discussed development is, of course, the recent release of the Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee Report on Intelligence. Making public the Executive Summary of the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is the first public admission by the US government that it has conducted a policy of torture in detention centers around the globe. …

READ MORE →
Book cover of An Uncanny Era: Conversations between Václav Havel and Adam Michnik edited, translated and with forward by Elzbieta Matynia Yale University Press © Yale University Press | Amazon
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

An Uncanny Era of Post-revolution (1989-2014)

Today’s post comes to us via the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies blog. -J.G.

On November 10, 2014, TCDS, partnering with the Polish Cultural Institute, hosted An Uncanny Era of Post-revolution (1989-2014) at The New School. Second in the series of events marking the 25th anniversary of the dismantling of Communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, An Uncanny Era was the launch of two books and a three-way discussion between Elzbieta Matynia, Professor of Sociology and Liberal Studies at NSSR, who presented her new book An Uncanny Era: Conversations between Vaclav Havel and Adam Michnik; Irena Grudzinska-Gross of Princeton University, editor of a recent collection of Michnik’s essays on the era, The Trouble with History; and Adam Michnik…

READ MORE →
Book cover of Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination by Stefan Ihrig © Belknap Press | Amazon
Essays

Review: Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination

Of all the 20th century strong men of Europe, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk [MKA] is the only remaining one whose authority and charisma is still a culturally, politically and even legally, unquestionable component of the public discourse in his country. Yet his influence on Hitler and 20th century fascism has gone unexamined. That will change with Stefan Ihrig’s chilling book, Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination. His research into more than two decades of mainstream, right-wing and Nazi publications in Germany following World War I demonstrates how the founder of Modern Turkey was actually a muse and a role model for the Nazis and Hitler. …

READ MORE →
Vince Carducci, Getting Over at the Office (1987-2000). Performance documentation, installation view © Vince Carducci
Arts & DesignCapitalismEssays

How I Got Over

Like most people in the arts, for many years I supported my artistic activities, along with the rest of my life, by holding down a day job. Corporate communications and advertising primarily in financial services were not such a bad gig, actually, and, in fact, were what I trained to do by having a dual major in graphic design and painting. For the last 13 years of that time, I also mounted a performance piece, Getting Over at the Office (1987-2000), whereby I recoded aspects of my daily work life as art through a series of artifacts and documents. Much of the documentation consists of news releases, sent out intermittently to a mailing list that grew with time. The performance was a gesture through which I sought to reclaim the time that had been appropriated from me by the capitalist system. …

READ MORE →