Law and Critique

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 43–60 | Cite as

Keyu and Others (2015): Derridean Hauntology and Lacanian-Žižekian Psychoanalysis in Between the Lines



This article will explore Derridean hauntology in relation to the UK Supreme Court case of Keyu & Others, as well as through the lens of Lacanian-Žižekian psychoanalysis. In particular, this article will argue that there are two main groups of spectres, or ghosts, which loom over the case. The first are the spectres of Marxism and class struggle, which form the overarching framework of the case. The second are the spectres of the victims of the Batang Kali killings in 1948 at the hands of a Scots Guard patrol. Here, Lacanian-Žižekian psychoanalysis can shed light on the tension between democracies and undemocratic measures, which co-exist side by side and indeed are mutually constitutive. In addition, Lacanian-Žižekian psychoanalysis can provide a way to further understand the need for the victims’ and their relatives’ voices to finally be heard and acknowledged by the Symbolic Order (the big Other). Lacanian-Žižekian psychoanalysis can further offer a useful interpretive framework through which to understand the traumatic impact of the killings of the Batang Kali rubber plantation workers on their relatives (the appellants of the case), and how it can potentially be mitigated through articulation and integration into the Symbolic. In so doing, this article will expose and bring to light the spectres and ghosts, as well as the obscene underside, that are latent in cases of historical human rights violations, whether those are related to insurgencies in the days of the decline of the British Empire or otherwise. This is important in terms of giving a voice, as well as acknowledging that voice, of the victims and survivors of such human rights violations, which is often silenced or ignored, as well as exposing and acknowledging the obscene supplement that characterizes, for example, democracies and their workings.


Derrida European Convention on Human Rights Hauntology Jacques Lacan Keyu and Others (2015) Slavoj Žižek 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Sociology and Social PolicyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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