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Title: The cruel imagination : visual politics of cruelty in contemporary culture
Author: Chow, Olivier
ISNI:       0000 0004 2670 150X
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis deals with cruelty, its representation and its underlying symbolic and political subtext on a psychic as well as on a social level. The perspective that will be adopted within this research is one with a strong emphasis on French theory, psychoanalysis and continental philosophy. This research provides an interface between philosophy and the visual through the angle of cruelty. The central hypothesis of this thesis is that cruelty is an archaic and transversal phenomenon which, while it finds many local, individual and specific expressions throughout cultures and histories, nevertheless indexes a global resonance of pain, desire, death and obscene enjoyment. Cruelty operates a return to the body, a return to desire, a return to archaic beliefs and representations. Cruelty is also an act of mediation between self and other, a relation where the other is integrated through destruction. This power-relation of cruelty is highly political in the sense that it inevitably begs questions of sovereignty and subjection. This power-relation survives in our imagination, contemporary culture and politics under very specific forms, psychic as well as collective figures, postures, enactments, sensations and movements. The objective of this thesis is thus to analyse the trans-cultural and trans-historical visual politics of cruelty.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available