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This paper, the first of two focussed on the topic of libidinal attachments between white children and black domestic workers in narratives contributed to the Apartheid Archive Project (AAP), offers a series of methodological insights derived from a Lacanian type of psychoanalytic reading practice. A Lacanian reading practice is one which emphasizes the importance of symbolic juxtaposition, of recombining different facets of texts, and of attempting to locate what I term the “absent mediator” implied by tacit conjunctions and associations within texts. In this paper I focus particularly on a puzzling aspect shared by a series of contributions to the AAP, namely the role of animals in the narratives of white participants, which appear to emerge precisely when the question of a loving relation for a black person is posed. I argue that this narrative device is an attempt to make sense of a prospective relationship, particularly when such a relationship is effectively prohibited by the prevailing rules of interaction. In response to pressing questions of inter-racial loss and love, and in respect of an ambiguous inter-racial relationship, recourse to an animal provides a fantasmatic “solution”, a model of how to manage a relationship that otherwise difficult to understand.
Keywords: Absent mediators, Apartheid Archive, Lacan, psychoanalysis, racism
One of the unintended consequences of apartheid’s massive injustices of social division and inequality was – paradoxically – the production of relations of racial proximity. This pinpoints one of apartheid’s internal contradictions: as its white beneficiaries came increasingly to rely on the domestic labour provided by an oppressed black population, so a series of intimate white spheres – the site of the home, and more particularly, the care of children – were effectively opened up to “inter-racial” contact. It is for this reason that, psychoanalytically, the literature discussing the relationship of white children and black – childminders (“nannies”) (Cock, 1980 & 2011; Motsei, 1990; Ally, 2009) is so crucial to an understanding of the libidinal economy of apartheid. This literature speaks to the presence of intimacy within structures of power, to the factor of affective attachments, sexual and familial alike, occurring across seemingly impassable divisions of race. Read more
This paper, the second of two focussed on the libidinal attachments of white children to black domestic workers in narratives contributed to the Apartheid Archive Project (AAP), considers the applicability of the concept of social melancholia in the case of such “inter-racial” attachments. The paper questions both the psychoanalytic accuracy, and the psychic and political legitimacy of such an explanation (that is, the prospect of an “inter-racial” melancholic attachment of white subjects to black care-takers). By contrast to the political notion of ungrievable melancholic losses popularized by Judith Butler’s work, this paper develops a theory of compensatory symbolic identifications. Such a theory explains the apparent refusal of identification which white subjects exhibit towards black caretakers and it throws into perspective an important conceptual distinction regards loss. On the one hand there is the psychotic mechanism of melancholic attachment, which expresses absolute fidelity to a lost object, even to the point of self-destructive suffering. On the other, there is the neurotic mechanism of compensatory identification, in which the original object is jettisoned and a substitution found, such that a broader horizon of symbolic and ideological identification is enabled.
The companion piece (see: Rozenberg Quarterly) to the current paper investigated a series of Apartheid Archive narratives via the means of psychoanalytic reading practice. That paper and this one share a similar aim: of shedding light on certain of apartheid’s “lost attachments”. The analytical undertaking of a mode of psychoanalytic discourse analysis is not, of course, a-theoretical, and at least one crucial facet of the texts considered – their ostensibly mournful as aspect – begs further conjecture. In supplementing the foregoing article then, I am shifting here from a focus on specific strategies of textual reading practice to a critical exploration of the usefulness of a key psychoanalytic concept in the illumination of these texts. The first of these two papers engaged with the “dathow one might psychoanalytically read the repression of libidinal attachments via certain absent mediators. The current paper comprises an extended theoretical development of psychoanalytically reading a political situation of loss and how this should be conceptualized. Read more
Multicultural education, intercultural education, nonracial education, antiracist education, culturally responsive pedagogy, ethnic studies, peace studies, global education, social justice education, bilingual education, mother tongue education, integration – these and more are the terms used to describe different aspects of diversity education around the world. Although it may go by different names and speak to stunningly different conditions in a variety of sociopolitical contexts, diversity education attempts to address such issues as racial and social class segregation, the disproportionate achievement of students of various backgrounds, and the structural inequality in both schools and society. In this paper, I consider the state of diversity education, in broad strokes, in order to draw some lessons from its conception and implementation in various countries, including South Africa. To do so, I consider such issues as the role of asymmetrical power relations and the influence of neoliberal and neoconservative educational agendas, among others, on diversity education. I also suggest a number of lessons learned from our experiences in this field in order to think about how we might proceed in the future, and I conclude with observations on the role of teachers in the current socio-political context.
The state of the art of the social sciences at the end of the sixties of the past century was characterized by a strong mood of optimism.
The rediscovery of the critical roots of social sciences as exemplified by the work of Marx and Weber contributed to the idea that one of the main tasks of social science should be to unravel the dynamics of social inequalities and to demystify ideological legitimatizations of those inequalities. Besides, the development of analytical tools and the recognition of the fast growing capabilities of computer software that could process huge amounts of data offered new opportunities to study the complexities and dynamics of modern societies. The combination of theoretical ambitions and research-technical possibilities seemed to promise new ways for social research inspired by ‘sociological imagination’ (C. Wright Mills, 1967).
A well-known example is the ambitious project of The Club of Rome: a group of interdisciplinary researchers who aspired to develop a model encompassing a variety of social, economical, cultural and environmental factors to study the development and possible futures of the living conditions of societies, social groups within these societies, and mankind in general (Meadows, 1972). The explicit ambition of Dennis Meadows and his colleagues was to combine a holistic approach with a well-founded research strategy using new analytical tools. However, the validity of their research results was rather limited due to the fact that the theoretical focus of their research was biased by a neo-Malthusian political agenda.
The ways in which journalists frame HIV stories can strongly contribute towards news consumers’ perceptions of the epidemic. This paper discusses the news values of HIV radio programmes in Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa. It argues that the culturally appropriate ‘humanisation’ of HIV stories and the proper use of conflict as adding news value are paramount to the impact of stories.
The skillful application of news values can make almost any HIV-related story newsworthy and therefore part of mainstream news. Moreover, it is maintained that HIV advocacy environments contribute to the newsworthiness of HIV stories in the media.
The AIDS advocacy milieus of South Africa and Kenya are compared and related to the type of HIV stories that are published and broadcast in the respective countries. Journalism training methods are critically discussed in the context of the above. It is argued, that, in developing countries, where journalists often lack basic journalism skills, it is not sufficient to provide reporters with HIV-related information; HIV information sharing should be combined with general journalism training and mentoring.
In December 2007, an excited Bashir Osman – a Somaligna-speaking journalist from Dire Dawa in the east of Ethiopia – broadcast a live call-in show on breastfeeding and HIV to his Somali audience on Dire 106.1 FM. According to the most recent Ethiopian government figures, Dire Dawa has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the country, and almost doubles the national average. Each year there are almost 1, 000 HIV positive pregnancies with at least 230 children born with the virus. Yet this was the first HIV programme that Bashir had ever produced. AIDS was so stigmatised in the region that Dire 106.1 FM hardly ever discussed it on air. And Osman had no problem following this route. A week before the broadcast, the journalist – like most of his listeners – refused to be in the same room as people with HIV because he “didn’t want to risk breathing the same air” (Osman cited in De Masi, 2008) as them. He would never consider sharing a plate, or hosting an HIV positive person in his home, and thought it a deep insult to be tested for the virus.
But then Osman accessed what turned out to be a precious piece of culturally relevant information: he learned that babies of HIV positive women can get infected with the virus through their mothers’ breast milk (personal communication, December 6, 2007). All mothers with babies in his community breastfed their infants x including his very own wife. His own five-month old baby could be at risk, he perceived with shock, because neither he nor his wife knew their HIV status. The realisation changed Osman’s entire view on AIDS, and HIV was suddenly a virus that had the potential to directly impact his own life and those of everyone else he knew, in ways he had previously vehemently denied (personal communication, December 6, 2007). In short, this piece of information made AIDS newsworthy to Osman, his community and his editors. It became something that was crucial and worthwhile to talk about.
HIV and the News Media
Several communication experts, AIDS activists and journalists (Collins, 2005; Kinsella, 1989; Malan & Gold, 2006; Scalway, 2003; Shilts, 1987) have argued that the news media have the potential to be an immensely powerful tool in the response to HIV. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS Executive Director (UNAIDS), dr. Peter Piot, “journalists can save more lives than doctors in terms of HIV prevention because preventing HIV is about communication and changing norms” (Piot, 2006).
Proving statements like this, however, is very complex; studies have not been able to conclusively show that stories in the news media have resulted in change in HIV-related behaviour on a large scale. Research has, however, strongly suggested that news stories are capable of setting the framework in which citizens discuss public events. McCombs and Shaw (1972) demonstrated that there was a strong relation between the topics that the news media highlighted during an American election campaign and the topics that news consumers identified as important. Another US study illustrated the power of broadcast news to set the policy agenda when it proved that evening news bulletins had the effect of defining the policy areas by which the president should be judged (Iyengar et al., 1984).
McCombs and Ghanem (2001) have argued that “the level degree of emphasis placed on issues in the mass media influences the priority accorded these issues by the public” (cited in Reese, Gandy & Grant, 2001, p. 67). Dearing and Rogers (1996) stated that this proposition had been supported by more than 200 studies. But, I would argue that the regular publishing or airing of stories on a certain subject does necessarily lead to the public taking note of that subject. If such stories do not directly relate to the lives of readers or broadcast audiences, or are not presented in captivating ways with strong news values, they are unlikely to influence news consumers’ opinions – whether negatively or positively. In the case of a highly stigmatised and sensitive subject such as HIV/AIDS, even more so. Read more