Trauma and Race
Trauma and Race
In Trauma and Race author Sheldon George begins with the fact that African American racial identity is shaped by factors both historical and psychical. Employing the work of Jacques Lacan, George demonstrates how slavery is a psychic event repeated through the agencies of racism and inscribed in racial identity itself. The trauma of this past confronts the psychic lack that African American racial identity both conceals and traumatically unveils for the African American subject.
Praise for Trauma and Race
“The most important book on psychoanalysis and race in the twenty-first century, Sheldon George’s Trauma and Race makes the crucial argument that only a Lacanian theory of enjoyment, or jouissance, can help us understand the excesses of racist bigotry and violence.”
Clint Burnham, Professor of English, Simon Fraser University and co-editor of Lacan and the Environment
“Trauma and Race has changed the landscape of thinking about racism. By understanding the psychic dynamics underlying racist structures, Sheldon George has propelled the analysis of racism into uncharted territory. All of a sudden, factors in racism that were formerly obscure become perfectly clear, and the most senseless acts of racist violence become comprehensible in terms of the psychic forces driving them. It’s an epochal book that no thinking person can afford to ignore.”
Todd McGowan, author of Capitalism and Desire
“Trauma and Race offers a ground-breaking intervention into how the fantasy of race consolidates racist logic. George issues an urgent and eloquent proposition for how embracing race’s structuring negativity not only impedes the hold of racist structures but also unlocks a potential space of freedom for the subject.”
Jennifer Friedlander, Edgar E. and Elizabeth S. Pankey Professor of Media Studies, Pomona College
“A study of enormous analytical subtlety and precision. Trauma and Race is a pioneering text which has deservedly risen to the very forefront of scholarly work attempting to think racial identity—and the traumatic American history of slavery informing contemporary associated formations of race—psychoanalytically. Rarely have Lacanian psychoanalysis, African-American Studies, and the exploration of American literature (particularly that of Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, and W.E.B Du Bois) been so deftly and expertly interwoven. Simply put: one cannot enter debates on race, racism and Lacanian theory without citing this landmark contribution.”
Derek Hook, Associate Professor, Duquesne University and author of Six Moments in Lacan
Trauma and Race presents a compelling and original approach to race that confronts head-on the seemingly intractable attachment of identity to race in America. Through fresh and innovative readings, Sheldon George shows how classic African American texts like Morrison’s Beloved and Ellison’s Invisible Man can suggest new and revitalizing sources for African American identities. With admirable clarity and persuasive force, George uses Lacanian psychoanalytic concepts to offer a new perspective on race that will surely excite debate and reorient discussions about race in America.
Jean Wyatt Author of Risking Difference: Identification, Race and Community in Contemporary Fiction and Feminism
With well-grounded roots in Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, Sheldon George reveals the real trauma of slavery in the United States. This is a masterly work of analysis that makes an important contribution to the emerging discussion around slavery and trauma.
Ron Eyerman, Professor of Sociology, Yale University
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Reading Contemporary Black Women Writers
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Praise For Reading Contemporary Black Women Writers
Reading Contemporary Black British and African American Women Writers
Race, Ethics, Narrative Form
Reading Contemporary Black British and African American Women Writers: Race, Ethics, Narrative Form brings together British and American scholars to explore how, in texts by contemporary black women writers in the U. S. and Britain, formal narrative techniques express new understandings of race or stimulate ethical thinking about race in a reader.
Taken together, the essays demonstrate that black women writers from both sides of the Atlantic borrow formal structures and literary techniques from one another to describe the workings of structural racism in the daily lives of black subjects and to provoke readers to think anew about race.
Narratology has only recently begun to use race as a category of narrative theory. This collection seeks both to show the ethical effects of narrative form on individual readers and to foster reconceptualizations of narrative theory that account for the workings of race within literature and culture.
Reading Contemporary Black British and African American Women Writers
Race, Ethics, Narrative Form
"Reading Contemporary Black British and African American Women Writers is original and at the leading edge of a developing interest in this topic. It could potentially be one of the key texts of this field. It is outstanding in its engagement with appropriate theory."
Helen Cousins, Newman University, Birmingham, UK
"Working at the intersection of race and gender, the insightful and engaging essays collected herein open up space for readers to better understand their own ethical positioning by better understanding the nuances of narrative as a means of ethical communication."
James J. Donahue, SUNY Potsdam, New York, US
"Offering an important corrective to the notion that black-authored works are little more than social texts, the fourteen contributors to Wyatt and George’s collection make a compelling and spirited case for the rigorous analysis of literary form in the works of black women authors. This is an important and innovative book that will help to reorient and reenergize the scholarly conversation and critical practice surrounding the works of contemporary African American and Black British women writers."
J. Brooks Bouson, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, US
“This is such an important volume for developing an underexplored area of critical theory, and there is a sense of urgency about the endeavor of this collection, shared across essays. It establishes an excellent foundation for future work in the field.”
Helen Cousins. Book Review for Postcolonial Text
“...a superb collection of essays” that “adds to the literature that approaches the work of Black British and African American women novelists with the serious intention of learning to listen to, to attend to, the formal qualities of an extraordinary body of work, some of the most important writing of our time.”
Jennifer Gustar. Book Review for Contemporary Women’s Writing
Content and Contributors
Introduction: Narrative Theory and Contemporary Black Women Writers
SHELDON GEORGE AND JEAN WYATT
1 At the Crossroads of Form and Ideology: Disidentification in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen
2 “She Was Miraculously Neutral”: Feeling, Ethics and Metafiction in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah
3 Disabling Racial Economies: Ableism and the Reproduction of Racial Difference in Nella Larsen’s Passing and Toni Morrison’s “Recitatif”
4 “When We Speak of Otherness”: Narrative Unreliability and the Ethics of Othering in Toni Morrison’s Jazz and Home
5 Learning to Listen in Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing
6 Maternal Sovereignty: Destruction and Survival in Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones
7 Narrating the Raced Subject: Toni Morrison’s Jazz and the Literature of Modernism
8 Swing Time: Zadie Smith’s Aesthetic of Active Ambivalence
9 Zadie Smith’s Narratives of the Absurd: A Social Vision Represented through Humor
10 Buchi Emecheta: Storyteller, Sociologist and Citizen of the World
PAMELA S. BROMBERG
11 “Where Are You (Really) From?” Transgender Ethics, Ethics of Unknowing, and Transformative Adoption in Jackie Kay’s Trumpet and Toni Morrison’s Jazz
12 White Allyship and Narrative Dissonance in Andrea Levy’s Small Island
13 “Civis Romana Sum”: Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe and the Emancipatory Poetics of (Multi-) Cultural Citizenship
14 Reinventing the Gothic in Oyeyemi’s White Is for Witching: Maternal Ethics and Racial Politics
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Lacan and Race
List of Content and Contributors
Lacan and Race
This edited volume draws upon Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to examine the conscious and unconscious forces underlying race as a social formation, conceptualizing race, racial identity, and racism in ways that go beyond traditional modes of psychoanalytic thought.
Featuring contributions by Lacanian scholars from diverse geographical and disciplinary contexts, chapters span a wide breadth of topics, including white nationalism and contemporary debates over confederate monuments; emergent theories of race rooted in Afropessimism and postcolonialism; analyses of racism in apartheid and American slavery; clinical reflections on Latinx and other racialized patients; and applications of Lacan’s concepts of the lamella, drive and sexuation to processes of racialization. The collection both reorients readers’ understandings of race through its deployment of Lacanian theory and redefines the Lacanian subject through its theorizing of subjectivity in relation to race, racism and racial identification.
Lacan and Race will be a definitive text for psychoanalytic theorists and contemporary scholars of race, appealing to readers across the fields of psychology, cultural studies, humanities, politics, and sociology.
Content and Contributors for Lacan and Race
Introduction: Theorizing Race, Racism and Racial Identification
Sheldon George and Derek Hook
PART 1: Reading Racism Through Lacan
1 The Bedlam of the Lynch Mob: Racism and Enjoying Through the Other
2 Pilfered Pleasure: On Racism as "The Theft of Enjoyment"
3 Confederate Signifiers in Vermont: Fetish Objects and Racist Enjoyment
4 The Function and Field of Speech and Language in White Nationalist Manifestoes
5 Oedipal Empire: Psychoanalysis, Indigenous Peoples, and the Oedipal Complex in the Colonial Context
PART 2: Racial Identification and the Subversion of Race
6 In Medium Race: Traversing the Fantasy of Post-Race Discourse
7 The Object of Apartheid Desire: A Lacanian Approach to Racism and Ideology
8 Raced Group Pathologies and Cultural Sublimation
PART 3: Race and the Clinic
9 Race, Perversion and Jouissance in Portrait of Jason
10 The Lost Souls of the Barrio: Lacanian Psychoanalysis in the Ghetto
11 Dereliction: Afropessimism, Anti-Blackness and Lacanian Psychoanalysis
KAREEN MALONE & TIARA JACKSON
12 Japanese Inter-signifier Subjects: Jouissance in the Locus of the Character
PART 4: Theorizing the Racialized Lacanian Subject
13 The Lacanian Subject of Race: Sexuation, the Drive and Racial Subjectivity
14 Skin-Things, Fleshy Matters and Phantasies of Race: Lacan’s Myth of the Lamella
15 Fanon’s "Zone of Non-Being": Blackness and the Politics of the Real
GAUTUM BASU THAKUR
Afterword: There is Only One Race…
KALPANA R. SESHADRI
Praise for Lacan and Race
"‘Lacan’ and ‘race’ seem two totally disparate notions: obscure French theory, brutal social struggles... However, this book provides an explosive mixture of the two - after reading it, neither Lacanian theory nor racism and anti-racist struggles will appear the same to you. George and Hook demonstrate that authentic theory is needed today more than ever. An instant classic!
Slavoj Žižek, University of Ljubljana
"Lacan and Race arrives at a very significant and urgent historical moment, one that symbolically and existentially speaks to the logics of racism as necropolitical, consumptive, phantasmatic, and a problematic pleasurable perversity. Given the unabashed reemergence of white racism within the context of a greater neo-fascist threat, its analysis is critically needed."
George Yancy, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Philosophy at Emory University
"This groundbreaking volume, edited by Sheldon George and Derek Hook, turns conventional notions of race and racism on their head, delivering compelling Lacanian perspectives from leading scholars in the field. Including thought-provoking ideas such as racism as enjoyment and race as an object of the drive--as well as covering a breadth of forms of contemporary racism--this book will undoubtedly inspire future scholarship and conversations about race alike! With Lacan and Race: Racism, Identity and Psychoanalytic Theory, George & Hook have brought us what will undoubtedly serve as the central text on the subject for many years to come."
Stephanie Swales, University of Dallas, co-author of Psychoanalysing Ambivalence with Freud and Lacan: On and Off the Couch
"Written at a time of heightened polarization, xenophobia, and ethno-nationalism, the essays in this collection detail various ways to alter the structures of hatred and otherness that make racism seem immovable and inevitable. Probing and incisive, the essays draw on a range of insights from Lacanian psychoanalysis concerning race transference and unconscious fantasy, the enjoyment of the Other, and the forms of jouissance that continue to propel and underwrite racism today. Insightful, rigorous, and strongly recommended."
Christopher Lane, editor of The Psychoanalysis of Race
"Of late, Lacanian theory has come to play an increasingly important role in critical analyses of gender and sexuality. This sterling collection presents the strongest case to date for extending such analysis to the category of race. In powerful, wide-ranging essays, the contributors demonstrate time and again that psychoanalytic concepts such as fantasy, fetishism, jouissance, and disavowal aren’t merely applicable to the phenomena of racial identification and racism, but are absolutely integral to grasping how such phenomena function in the first place. A must read—not only for those still laboring under the (mis)belief that Lacan was an obscurantist whose work has little to contribute to social theory, but especially for those committed to exploring the socio-political purchase of psychoanalysis."
Russell Sbriglia, Seton Hall University
"No doubt race and racism are dynamically back on the agenda, both in the US and internationally. Recent events demand a rigorous attempt to clarify what is at stake beyond the obvious: what keeps returning, what seems to resist understanding and intervention. Focusing on the ‘other scene’ animating the multiplicity of drives, identifications, enjoyments and fantasies involved, psychoanalysis can help considerably in this process. This rigorous and timely collection put together by George and Hook is bound to unsettle and reorient our energies, intellectual and affective, by brilliantly orchestrating an impressive Lacan-inspired re-appraisal of our ongoing predicament."
Professor Yannis Stavrakakis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, author of Lacan and the Political and The Lacanian Left: Psychoanalysis, Theory, Politics.
"In a time like ours, when otherness and singularity are universally commodified, nothing like Lacanian psychoanalysis can throw light on the tension between One and Other. In the early 1970s Lacan indeed predicted the explosion of racism in conjunction with ‘capitalist progress’. This wonderful book explores and contextualizes racism by taking seriously Lacan’s insight that its proliferation and tenacity has less to do with what we know about the other than with what we don’t know about ourselves."
Fabio Vighi, Cardiff University, UK, and author of Zizek’s Dialectics