Abstract

It was suggested at the end of the previous chapter that psychoanalytic theories of anti-Semitism consistently founder on the issue of ‘otherness’, which is often seen as a convenient category into which to project unwanted aspects of the self, but is not fully explored as a fundamental principle of social — and hence psychological — organisation. The argument here is that otherness, embodied in a person or people called ‘the other’, is a primary source of subjectivity; that is, it is in relation to ‘the other’ that subjecthood is formed, that the individual comes to experience her or himself as having a self and a psychic life. This is how society works: it defines numerous axes around which personhood is structured (class, ‘race’, sexuality and gender being the classic ones) and requires every subject to find a ‘location’ with respect to these axes, becoming inserted along the way in a web of contrasts between different kinds of ‘sameness’ and otherness’. Socially, this produces various kinds of fractions embodied in the different contrasts (for instance, working class or bourgeoisie, to use the traditional Marxist model, or heterosexual and homosexual to use the categories of contemporary queer theory); psychologically, it produces patterns of identification and repudiation out of which identities emerge. Various kinds of cultural myths arise in the course of history to define certain kinds of others as particularly significant, especially in carrying the unwanted projections of the majority culture.

Keywords

Defend Exter Plague Hate Compro 

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Copyright information

© Stephen Frosh 2005

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  • Stephen Frosh

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