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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:53892
Doc. No:TL23846
Call number:‭3254035‬
Main Entry:Bettina Prato
Title & Author:The politics of melancholic reason: Negotiating trauma, witness, and responsibility in contemporary Israel/PalestineBettina Prato
College:University of California, Berkeley
Date:2006
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2006
Page No:445
Abstract:Discourses of trauma are sometimes a prominent ingredient of genealogies of ascriptive identity and of their political articulations, both in Western democracies and in the Middle East. Moreover, trauma has recently become a recurrent category of analysis and of normative engagement in the social sciences, notably vis-à-vis "extreme" socio-political violence. This dissertation investigates some theoretical and political implications of these phenomena with a focus on contemporary discourses and practices of trauma-bearing nationhood in Israel/Palestine. More specifically, it articulates, contextualizes, and finally challenges fatalistic readings of the "politics of trauma" in this region against the backdrop of current debates on witnessing, violence, and subjectivity in political theory and anthropology. The starting point is a discussion of the psychoanalytic vocabulary of contemporary trauma discourses, with a focus on Freud, Klein, and Lacan. This is followed by an attempt to sketch out a critical genealogical framework for discourses of trauma surrounding the interplay of taboo-breaking violence, sovereignty, and identity in political theory and in Israeli and Palestinian histories. In particular, the text engages the evolution of discourses and institutions supporting a "biopolitics of memory" in modern Western societies, as well as a Western tradition of theorizing the political as a site of testimonial subjectivities simultaneously secured by sovereignty, reason/ratio , and the constant possibility of horror. This is complemented by a historical review of discourses of trauma-bearing Israeliness and Palestinian-ness and of their violent implications. Rather than viewing these as evidence of two ethno-national destinies trapped in "compulsive repetition" of biopolitical violence, the text shows the possibility of life-enabling politics starting from the testimonial paradoxes of both sovereignty and (national) identity after trauma. This is accomplished by investigating how two peace groups (Rabbis for Human Rights and the Parents' Circle/Families Forum) engage experiences and discourses of trauma to destabilize the symbolic and economic orders of exclusionary citizenship, sacrificial violence, and redemptive sovereignty in Israeli and Palestinian societies. The result is a politics of "melancholic reason" rooted in disenchanted forms of life-enabling praxis and responsibility, in counterpoint to deconstructionist approaches to justice and identity and to the work of Arendt, Levinas, and Derrida.
Subject:Social sciences; Israel/Palestine; Palestine; Responsibility; Testimony; Trauma; Witness; Middle Eastern history; Political science; 0615:Political science; 0333:Middle Eastern history
Added Entry:W. Brown
Added Entry:University of California, Berkeley