The Future Life of TraumaPartitions, Borders, Repetition

The Future Life of TraumaPartitions, Borders, Repetition

Jennifer Yusin

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780823275458

Publisher: Fordham University Press


The Future Life of Trauma elaborates a transformation in the concepts of trauma and event by situating a ground-breaking encounter between psychoanalytic and postcolonial discourses. It unfolds a new materialism that asserts the coincidence between the symbolic and empirical domains of life. Proceeding from the formation of psychical life as it is presented in the Freudian metapsychology, Future Life thinks anew the relation between temporality and the traumatized subjectivity, demonstrating how the psychic event, understood as a traumatic event, is a material reality that alters the determining character of the structure of repetition. It comprises two major sections. The first elucidates how the case of the psychoanalytic concept of trauma discloses the self-transformative tendency of life as the movement immanent to the real. Through a focus on the role of borders in the history of the 1947 Partition of British India and the politics of memorialization in post-genocide Rwanda, the second brings to light the implications of trauma as a material event in pressing contemporary issues of nation-formation, sovereignty, and geopolitical violence. In showing how the form of the psyche changes in the encounter, Future Life presents a challenge to the category of difference in the condition of identity. The epilogue pushes toward a new approach to ethical and political responsibility that breaks the deconstructive loops perpetuated by the idea of promise. The result is the formation of a form of life that elaborates a new relation to destruction and finitude by asserting its innate power to transform itself.