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Freud and the Cannibal: Vignettes from Psychoanalysis' Colonial History

Vyrgioti, Marita (2022) 'Freud and the Cannibal: Vignettes from Psychoanalysis' Colonial History.' In: Bar-Haim, Shaul and Coles, Elizabeth Sarah and Tyson, Helen, (eds.) Wild Analysis: From the Couch to Cultural and Political Life. Routledge.

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This chapter explores psychoanalysis’ contribution to postcolonial thinking by focusing on a controversial topic often overlooked by Freudian scholars: Freud’s references to the taboo of cannibalism. Rather than providing a thoroughgoing theory (as he did in the case of incest relations, for example), Freud’s position on cannibalism emerges sporadically, in footnotes, in emotionally invested texts, and through a writing of significant obscurity. Reconstructing the cannibalistic discourse, embedded in the nineteenth century evolutionism and exploring Freud’s engagement with it, this chapter argues that Freud found in the colonial imagery of the cannibal trope an entry point to critique the hegemonic, Christian colonial subjectivity through the ritualistic repetition of cannibalism in the Eucharist. This chapter concludes that Freud’s subtle, yet apposite references to excessive appetites expose both psychoanalysis’ continuous engagement with subjectivity as racialised and a form of critique which is exemplary for postcolonial ethics.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2022 13:57
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2022 13:57

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