Trauma, Memory and the Political

Kate Schick

in Gillian Rose

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780748639847
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780748676675 | DOI:
Trauma, Memory and the Political

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This chapter interrogates the question of how we should think about and respond to historical trauma. It argues that predominant responses to trauma in theory and practice are melancholic and eschew working through. It examines two sets of dominant responses: mainstream responses that attempt to secure the state by adopting simplistic meaning-making narratives and theoretical responses that focus on the traumatic wound, resisting its assimilation or forgetting. Both sets of responses posit Manichean binaries that shut down the political and work against comprehension. Rose's much more difficult notion of working through offers a profound critique of these melancholic responses, resisting their one-sidedness in the pursuit of an anxiety-filled journey towards comprehension. Her inaugurated mourning promotes an inherently political response: the struggle to situate traumatic events allows connections to be made between the traumatic interruption and the broader socio-political and historical context in which it took place and points to ways in which the possibility of recurrence might be mitigated in future.

Keywords: Trauma; Mourning; Melancholia; Working through; The political; One-sidedness; Comprehension

Chapter.  9236 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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