Trauma theory: Contexts, Politics, Ethics


Radstone, Susannah 2007. Trauma theory: Contexts, Politics, Ethics. Paragraph. 30 (1), pp. 9-29.
AuthorsRadstone, Susannah

This article discusses the current ‘popularity’ of trauma research in the Humanities
and examines the ethics and politics of trauma theory, as exemplified in the
writings of Caruth and Felman and Laub.Written from a position informed by
Laplanchian and object relations psychoanalytic theory, it begins by examining
and offering a critique of trauma theory’s model of subjectivity, and its relations
with theories of referentiality and representation, history and testimony.
Next, it proposes that although trauma theory’s subject matter—the sufferings
of others—makes critique difficult, the theory’s politics, its exclusions and
inclusions, and its unconscious drives and desires are as deserving of attention
as those of any other theory. Arguing that the political and cultural contexts
within which this theory has risen to prominence have remained largely unexamined,
the article concludes by proposing that trauma theory needs to act as
a brake against rather than as a vehicle for cultural and political Manicheanism.

Keywordstrauma theory; culture; ethics; politics; memory; subjectivity; history
Journal citation30 (1), pp. 9-29
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PrintMar 2007
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Deposited20 Apr 2010
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Radstone, S. (2007) ‘Trauma theory: Contexts, Politics, Ethics’, Paragraph 30 (1) 9-29..

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