Thoughts on the Political Unconscious
Drawing on Fredric Jameson’s work, Long argues that alienation - understood as 'a relation of relationlessness’—is an insoluble problem in human history and a defining feature of the political unconscious. Whereas Freud and Marx wrote about the alienated subject as a universal subject, Long shows how Du Bois, Fanon, and Mannoni address the workings of alienation in particular social formations, that is, racially divided or colonial societies. He concludes with reflections on how alienation bubbles up in South African life, apropos the poor and working classes, the aspiring black middle class, and white South Africans.
Dr. Wahbie Long is a clinical psychologist and associate professor in the Department of Psychology, the director of the Child Guidance Clinic, and a deputy dean in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Cape Town. He has held research fellowships at Harvard and Durham and is interested in the application of psychoanalytic theory to social issues. His latest book is Nation on the Couch: Inside South Africa’s Mind (Melinda Ferguson Books, 2021).
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