The Colonization of Psychic Space: A Psychoanalytic Social Theory of Oppression

Author(s) : Kelly Oliver

The Colonization of Psychic Space: A Psychoanalytic Social Theory of Oppression

Book Details

  • Publisher : University of Minnesota Press
  • Published : January 2004
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Category :
  • Catalogue No : 90426
  • ISBN 13 : 9780816644742
  • ISBN 10 : 0816644748
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We are, Julia Kristeva writes, strangers to ourselves; and indeed much of contemporary theory, whether psychoanalytic, historical, social, or critical, describes the human condition as one of alienation. Eloquently arguing that we cannot explain the development of individuality or subjectivity apart from its social context, Kelly Oliver makes a powerful case for recognizing the social aspects of alienation and the psychic aspects of oppression.

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Oliver's work shows how existentialist and psychoanalytic notions of alienation cover up specific forms of racist and sexist alienation that serve as the underside of the human condition. She reveals that such notions are actually symptomatic of the subject's anxiety and guilt over the oppression on which his privileged position rests. Not only does such alienation not embody subjectivity and humanity, it in fact undermines them.

Asserting that sublimation and forgiveness-and not alienation-constitute subjectivity, Oliver explores the complex ways in which the alienation unique to oppression leads to depression, shame, anger, or violence; and how these affects, now often misread and misdiagnosed, can be transformed into agency, individuality, solidarity, and community.

Kelly Oliver holds the W. Alton Jones Chair in Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. Her books include Witnessing: Beyond Recognition (2001) and, with Benigno Trigo, Noir Anxiety (2002).

Introduction: Why Turn to Psychoanalysis for a Social Theory of Oppression?
Part I. Alienation and Its Double
1. Alienation as Perverse Privilege of the Modern Subject
2. Alienation's Double as Burden of the Othered Subject
Part II. The Secretion of Race and Fluidity of Resistance
3. Colonial Abjection and Transmission of Affect
4. Humanism beyond the Economy of Property
5. Fluidity of Power
Part III. Social Melancholy and Psychic Space
6. The Affects of Oppression
7. The Depressed Sex
8. Sublimation and Idealization
Part IV. Revolt, Singularity, and Forgiveness
9. Revolt and Singularity
10. Forgiveness and Subjectivity
Conclusion: Ethics of Psychoanalysis; or, Forgiveness as an Alternative to Alienation

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