Authored by: Derek Hook

Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalytic Political Theory

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138696310
eBook ISBN: 9781315524771
Adobe ISBN:


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Historically, psychoanalytic accounts of racism have been subject to critiques of psychological reductionism, to charges of decontextualizing and depoliticizing racism, and to attacks contending that psychoanalysis invariably approaches racism at the exclusive level of the intrapsychic, as a phenomenon of (inter)subjectivity, personality, or individual psychopathology. Beginning with an overview of these critiques and foregrounding the historical strengths of psychoanalytic perspectives—such as their ability to account for the emotional and symbolic intensity of racism, its embodied dimension—this chapter introduces a Lacanian account of racism as (the theft) of libidinal enjoyment. A detailed and conceptually contextualized description of this theory—which thinks racism in relation to notions of the (death) drive, fantasy, jouissance, the Lacanian objet a, libido, and the superego—arguably represents an advance on foregoing psychoanalytic theories. Such a Lacanian approach connects the passionate, embodied, and libidinal facets of racism with its sociohistorical, cultural, ‘moral’, and symbolic dimensions.

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