Journal Article

MIGRATION AND MELANCHOLIA: FROM KRISTEVA'S ‘DÉPRESSION NATIONALE’ TO PINEAU'S ‘MALADIE DE L'EXIL’

Sam Haigh

in French Studies

Published on behalf of Society for French Studies

Volume 60, issue 2, pages 232-250
Published in print April 2006 | ISSN: 0016-1128
Published online April 2006 | e-ISSN: 1468-2931 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fs/knl078
MIGRATION AND MELANCHOLIA: FROM KRISTEVA'S ‘DÉPRESSION NATIONALE’ TO PINEAU'S ‘MALADIE DE L'EXIL’

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In her recent Contre la dépression nationale, Kristeva argues that France is currently suffering from a ‘national depression’ that is similar in character to the individual depression of the patient seeking psychoanalysis. Having never recovered its national self-esteem after the Second World War, France has, according to Kristeva, become isolated and inward-looking and, like the depressed analysand, is in need of a restored self-image. Openness to the other, the foreigner, the immigrant is one way in which France can rescue itself from depression and, building on its post-revolutionary, Enlightenment tradition of hospitality, begin to thrive and evolve once more. What is striking, of course, is that the immigrant him- or herself disappears as subject, and instead remains simply a means through which the French subject may be healed. Through an analysis of the dynamics of melancholia, this essay examines both Kristeva's notion of ‘national depression’ and what Chinese-American theorist Anne Anlin Cheng has recently termed the ‘racial melancholia’ of the migrant subject elided by Kristeva. More specifically, and taking Gisèle Pineau's L'Exil selon Julia as an example, it examines the ‘maladie de l'exil’ of the French Caribbean migrant subject who has been left out by almost all studies of immigration in France but who can be seen to have functioned as France's primary ‘melancholic object’.

Journal Article.  8853 words. 

Subjects: European History ; European Languages ; Literary Studies (European)

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