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Hook, D. (2004). On the Psychical Technology of Monuments. Free Associations, 11(3):400-420.

(2004). Free Associations, 11(3):400-420

On the Psychical Technology of Monuments

Derek Hook

This paper provides a psychoanalytic engagement with the ‘space—power—identity relation’, a relation that I argue may be conceptualized not simply as effect of discourse, but rather, following psychoanalysis, as an embodied, ‘figure-to-figure’ route of identification. The challenge thus posed is that of thinking both the power and the interpellative properties of the imagined subjectivity of place, psychoanalytically, and, furthermore, the ideological affects of a subject-place ‘intersubjectivity’. A narrative drawn from the history of the Strijdom Square Monument — a site of real and symbolic violence, where identity, power, and space intersected in precisely uncanny ways — serves to ground the argument, focusing it on the uncanny affects of monumental space. The operation of the uncanny, extending Freud (1919h), is an affect of disjuncture (typically that between body and spirit) that begs a compliment to correct a variety of ontological dissonance. It is on this basis that I propose the idea of the ‘ideological uncanny’ as means of thinking an aspect of the space—power—identity relation — namely that of the ‘psychic technology of monuments’.

The Space-Power-Identity Relation

The Notion That Space — or more specifically, delimited sites of invested social and cultural meaning, that is, place — plays a vital role in informing practices of identity and power has received much theoretical substantiation of late.

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