Negotiating identity in the post-colonial Arab world: Clues from psychoanalytic theory

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This paper argues that the identity problematique remains at the centre of contemporary Arab writings on emancipation. Drawing from prominent Maghrebi historians and philosophers, I argue that debates about 'self-emancipation involves two 'others': The Arabo-Islamte heritage and the West. I contend that preoccupation with identity in contemporary Arab writings is not just a dated remnant of nationalist ideology. Rather, it reflects unsettled battles from the colonial past-most vividly analysed by Frantz Fanon in Algeria-between imported modern politics, on one hand, and local cultures and languages, on the other. While the liberal democratic states' efforts to reconcile universal citizenship with distinct cultures could be a useful political model, the liberal's fundamental focus on the rational individual in pursuit of interest is limiting. To understand the tortuous course of self-emancipation in the historical context of the Arab world, I suggest the metaphor of the child's traumatic and symbolically violent emancipation from both the mother and the father figures. Copyright © 2004 Mediterranean Institute.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Maghraoui, A

Published Date

  • January 1, 2004

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 / 1-2

Start / End Page

  • 263 - 287

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1016-3476

Citation Source

  • Scopus