ISRF Mid-Career Fellow 2014
ISRF Mid-Career Fellow 2014
Derek Hook is a scholar and a practitioner of psychoanalysis with expertise in the areas of Lacanian psychoanalysis, post-colonial theory (the work of Frantz Fanon in particular), the psychology of racism and critical social psychology.
Lacanian psychoanalysis – in both its clinical and socio-political applications – is the predominant focus of much of his teaching, research and clinical supervision. Derek has taught classes on Lacanian clinical and social theory in a variety of global and organizational from South Africa (University of the Witwatersrand, University of Pretoria) to the UK (Birkbeck College at the University of London, London School of Economics) and the US (Duquesne University) over the last 20 years.
In addition to co-editing the successful Palgrave Lacan Series with Calum Neill (which has published 16 titles in the past five years) he is one of three editors (along with Stijn Vanheule and Calum Neill) of the landmark 3-volume series Reading Lacan’s Écrits (Routledge). His most recent book is Six Moments in Lacan (2017). His edited collection, Lie on Your Wounds: The Prison Correspondence of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe was published in 2019 (Wits University/New York University Press).
Motivated by concerns of increased social division in South Africa, this project investigates the identifications and affective network of belonging of the country’s most privileged sector – white English-speaking South Africans. While sociological and discourse analytic studies have explored the prevailing self-representations of this group, what remains still to be developed is a ‘libidinal economy of the mass’ able to investigate the particular psychical investments of this group, and to link subjective identifications with a network of belonging. This project explore such issues of belonging and identification – and thereby issues of social division – by gathering a series of 50 interviews, many captured on video, of white South Africans of differing backgrounds. To encourage talk on social identification and belonging, interviews will accordingly take place both in participants’ familiar locations (homes, neighborhoods) and at sites of cross-racial public interaction (shared and/or recreational spaces underwritten by values of ‘the nation’). The aim will thus be to track both longstanding historical discourses of belonging and the potential of newly-emerging points of subjective investment in South Africa. The semi-structured interviews will be analyzed by psychoanalytic discourse analysis and will be linked to a conceptual frame derived from psychoanalysis. Freudian group psychology pin-points those trajectories of affect – discourses and affects of identification here being intractably interwoven – that prove indispensible in constituting a group. These include: 1) an idealized regime of self-representations; 2) the factor of a symbolic legacy; 3) the supposition of a lost/utopian object; and 4) shared forms of suffering or enjoyment. Collectively these nodal-points outline a ‘libidinal economy of the mass’ which links discourses and affective ties. The functioning of this economy – its particular dynamics, patterns and repetitions – will be characterized by means of recourse to psychoanalytic notions (as hysterical, neurotic, perverse, melancholic, etc. in nature).
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