The Racist Fantasy: Unconscious Roots of Hatred

Author(s) : Todd McGowan

The Racist Fantasy: Unconscious Roots of Hatred

Book Details

  • Publisher : Bloomsbury Academic
  • Published : November 2022
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 240
  • Category :
    Psychoanalysis
  • Catalogue No : 96412
  • ISBN 13 : 9781501392801
  • ISBN 10 : 9781501392
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What stands out about racism is its ability to withstand efforts to legislate or educate it away. In The Racist Fantasy Todd McGowan argues that its persistence is due to a massive unconscious investment in a fundamental racist fantasy. As long as this fantasy continues to underlie contemporary society, McGowan claims, racism will remain with us, no matter how strenuously we struggle against it.

The racist fantasy, a fantasy in which the racial other is a figure who blocks the enjoyment of the racist, is a shared social structure. No one individual invented it, and no one individual is responsible for its perpetuation. No individual is guilty for the emergence of the racist fantasy, but all individuals are responsible for keeping it alive. To say that a society is racist is to say that a racist fantasy underlies its social order.

The Racist Fantasy examines how this fantasy provides the psychic basis for the racism that appears so conspicuously throughout modern history. The racist fantasy informs everything from lynching and police shootings to Hollywood blockbusters and musical and literary tastes. This fantasy takes root under capitalism as a way of explaining the failures and disappointments that result from the relationship to the commodity. To struggle against racism, one must work to dislodge the fantasy structure and to change the capitalist relations that require it. This is the project of this book.

Reviews and Endorsements

"We confront the world these days with increasing perplexity as old problems resurface from a distant and, we presumed, superseded past. How is this so? Facing squarely one such problem Todd McGowan lucidly explains why racism is so recalcitrant and how it exposes the naivete of prevailing theories of the phenomenon, while offering an extended account of its complex phantasmatic structure. A timely and thorough book." - Joan Copjec, Professor of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University, USA.

"Rarely is theory elucidated with such clarity or applied with such historical range. By foregrounding fantasy as the frame that structures our enjoyment, McGowan's The Racist Fantasy baldly positions psychic enjoyment as the unconscious source for varieties of racism, from anti-blackness to antisemitism and anti-Muslim racism. This is a capacious study, able to unveil the function of the racist fantasy not only at the heart of our contemporary capitalist society but also at the root of the Enlightenment thinking that gave birth to our modern world. The Racist Fantasy is a needed corrective to contemporary anti-racist thinking that only nominally invoke the unconscious or that completely ignore its role in structuring the enjoyment that binds us to racism." - Sheldon George, Professor and Chair of Literature and Writing, Simmons University, USA and coeditor of Lacan and Race: Racism, Identity and Psychoanalysis

About the Author(s)

Todd McGowan teaches theory and film at the University of Vermont, USA.

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