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About this book

Sociological explanations of racism tend to concentrate on the structures and dynamics of modern life that facilitate discrimination and hierarchies of inequality. In doing so, they often fail to address why racial hatred arises (as opposed to how it arises) as well as to explain why it can be so visceral and explosive in character. Bringing together sociological perspectives with psychoanalytic concepts and tools, this text offers a clear, accessible and thought-provoking synthesis of varieties of theory, with the aim of clarifying the complex character of racism, discrimination and social exclusion in the contemporary world.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Sociology, Racism and Psychoanalysis: An Introduction

Abstract
There are two central themes in this book which I want to explore and map out for the reader. First, the relationship between sociological thought and psychoanalytic theory, and, second, how we may use these ideas to gain a better understanding of racism and ethnic hatred. Psychoanalysis has enjoyed a somewhat uneasy position within the sociological community, often rejected because certain key concepts are difficult to demonstrate empirically, not least the epistemological basis of the idea of the unconscious mind. There is a subtext to this book in which I try to make psychoanalytic thinking more accessible for sociologists, social scientists and cultural theorists by positioning psychoanalysis as a hermeneutic interpretative method — a sociology of the imagination. In doing so, I am not positing psychoanalytic sociology as a ‘better’ explanation of racism and ethnic hatred, rather, I am arguing that the combination of psychoanalysis and sociology gives us a deeper understanding of the subject area. I think to understand racism and other hatreds is about as good as we can get, or hope for; to explain it fully seems as elusive as stopping racism entirely, and naive to boot; hatred of the other is as old as history itself.
Simon Clarke

Chapter 2. The Concept(s) of Race(s) and Racism(s)

Abstract
In this chapter, and Chapter 3, I want to provide an introduction to some of the theoretical, conceptual and definitional issues surrounding the terms ‘race’, racism and ethnicity, the concepts of which are highly contentious, each meriting a book in its own right. What I hope to provide, therefore, is not a definitive guide, rather a point of reference from which to provide working definitions of concepts, terms and notions that will be used throughout this book.
Simon Clarke

Chapter 3. New Racism(s) for Old

Abstract
Cultural forms of racism, or what has been termed the New Racism are not dependent on racial stereotypes or typologies but are rooted in notions of cultural and ethnic difference. These, it could be argued, are nothing new; rather, there is a shift in emphasis. Biological racism uses, as we have seen in the previous chapter, inferiority as a means not only of demonising the subject but also the culture of that subject. Publicly and certainly politically it is unacceptable to talk of people as biologically inferior; the emphasis has therefore switched to a discourse of cultural difference in which the Other becomes demonised, a referent in a late twentieth-century political project. Phil Cohen (1999) has noted that the concept of new racism has provided an intellectual resource for the anti-racist movement allowing an emphasis on subtle forms of stereotyping and discrimination (1999: 4). Within the context of the debate on immigration policy, Mason (1995) and Balibar (1991) draw attention to the political aspects of border retention and policy-making, in that there has been a marked shift in emphasis from biologism to talk of ethnic boundaries and the culture of difference. In answer to the earlier question ‘If the Holocaust did indeed put an end to “race” science, as is generally thought, why do we still have racism?’ we can retort:
current racism … fits into a framework of ‘racism without races’… It is a racism whose dominant theme is not biological heredity but the insurmountability of cultural differences, a racism which, at first sight, does not postulate the superiority of certain groups or peoples in relation to others but ‘only’ the harmfulness of abolishing frontiers, the incompatibility of life-styles and traditions.
(Balibar, 1991: 21; emphasis added)
Simon Clarke

Chapter 4. Sociology, Racism and Modernity

Abstract
What is the relationship, if any, between modernity and racism? Has sociology reached its limits in the explanation of racism and ethnic hatred? How can we bridge the gap between sociological theory and psychoanalysis? These are some of the questions which I address in this chapter. The Holocaust represents the culmination of race science, of eugenics and of social engineering. It is almost unthinkable to talk of inferior or superior ‘races’ after the terror and evil of Nazi Germany, so what has replaced the concept of ‘race’. Academically, we have seen the adoption of ethnicity and new ethnicities, but is there a post-race other? I suggest in this chapter that Zygmunt Bauman’s concept of the stranger provides us with a sociological model, a psycho-social character that bridges the gap between sociological analysis and psychoanalytic theory. In other words, we have notions of both social structure, that is the nation-state, bureaucracies and technologies of modernity, and some recognition of the role of our imagination and of our ‘inner’ world encapsulated in this model.
Simon Clarke

Chapter 5. Freud, Racism and Psychoanalysis

Abstract
What does Freud mean by this statement? Although strikingly poignant, how can psychoanalysis help us understand racism? This chapter is an exploration and interpretation of the way in which Freudian psychoanalytic theory can contribute to our understanding of conflict which may result in racism and exclusionary practices. I start with a general discussion of psychoanalytic theory before going on to focus on the theoretical underpinnings of Freud’s work in which I discuss his models of mind, the mechanisms of defence — sublimation, repression and projection — and finally Freud as both interpreter and philosopher. Freud has come under tremendous criticism for developing a pseudo-science, for not being scientific enough and indeed claiming that psychoanalysis is a science. This often distracts from Freud’s other qualities, as a thinker, as an interpreter of society and as a philosopher of mind. Using Freud’s monograph das Unheimlich, I will show this other side of Freud, whilst charting the development of a central concept in psychoanalytic thinking — projection. I argue that the ‘uncanny’ is central to our understanding of projection and the way in which we both perceive and treat others. To paraphrase Freud, ‘what appears repellently alien is in fact all too familiar’.
Simon Clarke

Chapter 6. The Frankfurt School: Paranoid Projection and the Persecuted Other

Abstract
How can we explain racism using Freudian concepts? What are the implications and problems, if any, of using this type of analysis? Can psychoanalysis help answer the central concern of the Frankfurt School, ‘Why is mankind, instead of entering into a truly humane condition, sinking into new forms of barbarism?’
Simon Clarke

Chapter 7. Colonial Identity and Ethnic Hatred: Fanon, Lacan and Zizek

Abstract
How can psychoanalysis help us understand the construction of colonial identity? Why choose to hate? Why do we fear the theft of our enjoyment? In this chapter I examine some of the philosophical and theoretical developments in the area of racism, hatred and colonial identity-formation through the lens of the work of Frantz Fanon, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Lacan and Slavoj Zizek. In some sense this chapter provides a bridge between Freudian, post-Freudian and object-relations schools in the practical application of psychoanalytic theory.
Simon Clarke

Chapter 8. Melanie Klein, Racism and Psychoanalysis

Abstract
Kleinian psychoanalytic theory provides a powerful basis for our understanding of the ubiquitous and visceral elements of racial hatred and discrimination. In this chapter I will outline some of the basic concepts in Kleinian thought and argue that a Kleinian psychodynamic interpretation of racism can complete and build on Freudian theory, providing us with a critical analysis of the social and psychological dynamics in a racist society. It is the communicative aspect of Kleinian psychoanalytic theory which can help explain the ways in which we think of others, feel about others and, crucially, how we make others feel. I begin this chapter with several sections on the major theoretical underpinnings of Klein’s work before going on to start thinking about how we can apply these concepts to racism and ethnic hatred.
Simon Clarke

Chapter 9. Projection, Projective Identification and Racism

Abstract
Projective identification is for Klein (1946) a crucial mechanism of defence. As we have seen in Chapters 5 and 6, projection per se is a relatively straightforward mechanism in which unpalatable impulses, feelings and parts of the self are projected out and onto others. In other words, we project onto the world experiences and qualities that are part of ourselves as if they are part of someone else. Hence we have Freud’s notion of the uncanny: ‘what appears repellently alien is in fact all too familiar’. Klein’s notion of projective identification, however, differs significantly and it is important to differentiate between the terminology at the onset. As I have argued, Horkheimer and Adorno’s use of projection in explanation of anti-Semitism provides us with a useful insight into the psychodynamic processes that underpin racism and ethnic hatred. What Horkheimer and Adorno fail to explain is the way in which the recipient of the projection is made to feel, for example, inferior. This is a useful way of differentiating between projection and projective identification. Whereas projection is a relatively straightforward process in which we attribute our own affective state to others, for example we may feel depressed and view our colleagues in the workplace as being miserable, or blame others for our mistakes. Projective identification involves a deep split, a ridding of unpalatable parts of the self into rather than onto, someone else.
Simon Clarke

Chapter 10. Conclusion

Abstract
It is well-known that Conrad’s (1902) Heart of Darkness has a deeply psychoanalytic alter-ego. Initially Conrad’s work seems an adventure which unfurled into a critique of the cruelty, greed and senseless barbarity of colonialism in which ‘white’ is the root of all evil in darkness. A further reading reveals a very different journey — a journey into the unconscious, the unknown, the heart of darkness. Of imaginary fears and enemies, of phantasy. It is both a journey into our psychological prehistory and, as O’Prey (1983) argues, ‘the darkness is a deeply suppressed inner anarchy which is impossible to comprehend, or explain and better not to imagine’ (1983: 22). I would of course disagree that it is impossible to comprehend; an exploration of both inner and outer worlds has been central in this book and this disagreement has been fundamental in the writing of this work.
Simon Clarke
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