Beyond mourning and melancholia: Nostalgia, anger and the challenges of political action

Nancy Luxon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Political theorists have increasingly adopted the psychoanalytic language of 'mourning' to characterize experiences of loss and injury, and to legitimate these as claims about a past political or cultural order. Mourning would seek to work through these experiences while opening persons to their shared vulnerabilities. With this article, I return to Freud's original distinction between mourning and melancholia, along with its development through the work of Donald Winnicott and the relational school of psychoanalysis. Although psychoanalytic mourning balances a coming-to-terms with loss against investment in new social relations, when it is extrapolated to a broader community it risks over-determining the social field. The cost is a foreclosure of other modalities for articulating claims about injury and political order, and in particular those that might draw on anger as a resource for political action and solidarity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-159
Number of pages21
JournalContemporary Political Theory
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Keywords

  • Freud
  • Judith Butler
  • Winnicott
  • anger
  • mourning
  • psychoanalysis

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