Re-Constructing Identities: History, Trauma And Healing In The Post-Colonial Narrative
This dissertation essays to fill a gap that exists currently in postcolonial theory and criticism: that constituted by the dearth, if not total absence, of a psychological approach. Long before postcolonial studies became a discipline, Frantz Fanon declared that -only a psychoanalytical interpretation of the black problem can lay bare the anomalies of affect that are responsible for the structure of the complex.[DOUBLE VERTICLE LINE] Fanon would later emerge as a canonical figure in the field, even spawning an academic cottage industry memorably dubbed -critical Fanonism.[DOUBLE VERTICLE LINE] But much of this criticism ignores the essence of Fanon's call for a sociodiagnostic, a psychoanalytic interpretive tool informed by social and economic realities. My intervention seeks to answer the question of what it would mean to read post-colonial history as the history of a trauma, of the subversive return of the repressed. Yet, to speak of psychic epiphenomena and social realism in one breath presents, admittedly, an apparent contradiction. To show this problem as more apparent than real, I bring psychoanalysis into dialogue with philosophical realism. I look to the emergent theory of post-positivist realism for a conception of reference that provides the referential link between -traumatic[DOUBLE VERTICLE LINE] and -ordinary[DOUBLE VERTICLE LINE] experience. In my readings of the primary texts that form this study, I show the link between the traumatic wound of (post)colonialism and the strange and often bizarre effects it produces even today. Thus, for instance, I expand our current understanding of the confounding drama of death and continuity in a colonized world recently voided of its will (Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman), and of the debilitating symptoms of a repressed past that must be workedthrough in order to recover agency (Derek Walcott's Omeros). My exegesis serves as a critique of the tendency in postcolonial studies to privilege only the cultural-political mode of interpretation, thereby leaving a crucial dimension of the postcolonial predicament inadequately explored. If asked to restate the goal of this dissertation, I would, for want of a better term, say simply, -Towards a psycho-social realist theory of the post-colonial narrative.[DOUBLE VERTICLE LINE] It is a close cousin of -the political unconscious,[DOUBLE VERTICLE LINE] the closest that a materialist attempt at probing the repressed strata of postcolonial trauma has yet come.
dissertation or thesis