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Title: Theorising the politics of survivors : memory, trauma and subjectivity in International Politics
Author: Supachalasai, Chyatat
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 3845
Awarding Body: Aberystwyth University
Current Institution: Aberystwyth University
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis aims to develop a theory of the politics of survivors based on the interrelated issues of memory, trauma, and subjectivity. It defines survivors as those who psychologically suffered from a traumatic event and whose mentalities continue to be affected by traumas. This thesis understands survivors as active participants in political resistance aimed at overthrowing current, authoritarian governments. In order to develop an appropriate theory of the politics of survivors, this thesis examines literature across the disciplines of social science. First, it adopts memory literature to argue that the political crises survivors have endured lead to the development of collective memory among survivors. Second, it incorporates literature of trauma to demonstrate that trauma cannot be conveyed in its entirety in testimony or language. Rather, testimony is used politically in the course of political resistance aimed at undermining the legitimacy of authoritarian governments. Third, the thesis relies on the insights of Slavoj Žižek, whose work highlights the nature of antagonism embedded in the ontology of ultrapolitics. The use of memory by survivors is consistent with Žižek's thesis on the nature of political antagonism; the Real is something which transgresses the social fantasy. Fourth, a theory of the politics of survivors can only succeed if we take into account the formation of survivors' subjectivities. Drawing on an insight of a psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan, it shows the relationship between testimony and survivors' social existence through the tension between the object petit a, the object of desire filled with the lack, and the Real. The theory also incorporates the notion of jouissance, which refers to 'the surplus enjoyment', 'the not-all', and 'the enjoyment outside norm', to argue that recalling a traumatic memory for political resistance reflects survivors' enjoyment, and does not trigger a trauma as some have argued. The thesis tests the utility of this theory through examining the political histories of Southeast Asian countries, notably, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand.
Supervisor: Edkins, Jennifer ; Powel, Brieg Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available