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Hollander, N.C. (2010). Anti-Muslim Prejudice and the Psychic Use of the Ethnic other. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 7(1):73-84.

(2010). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 7(1):73-84

Brief Communications

Anti-Muslim Prejudice and the Psychic Use of the Ethnic other

Nancy Caro Hollander

I write this essay in early January 2009, in the midst of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, with its catastrophic impact on the Palestinian civilian population. My analysis of anti-Muslim prejudice in the United States has implications for understanding US Middle East policy, which one can hope will be positively affected by a new Obama administration, whose first Black president will be more sensitive to representing the rights and needs of all the ethnicities and religions that compose this country's history and culture.

I want to approach the analysis of anti-Muslim prejudice in the US from two different perspectives: first, I want to show how the patterns of US anti-Muslim prejudice can be understood as one variant of the general history of White racist cultural tradition in the United States. Second, I will analyze some unique properties of anti-Muslim prejudice and anti-Arab racism that emerge from the prominence of Christianity in US cultural history and from the exigencies of this country's foreign policy.

I employ the construct of “the psychic use of the ethnic other” as a psychoanalytic method of understanding some important features of anti-Muslim prejudice in this country. My analysis of the psycho-dynamics of prejudice is informed by my training as a Latin American historian, which taught me to take account of how economic, social and ideological forces affect unconscious dynamics and group behavior and relations. I propose that anti-Muslim prejudice and its intra-psychic and intersubjective determinants must be understood within the specificities of the economic structures, cultural traditions and class and race relations of this country.

My perspective is influenced by my history within the Jewish tradition that is committed to the principles and struggles for universal social justice and from my professional and personal identification with the narrative of the other, which has developed during four decades of my experiences as a researcher and participant in Latin American peoples' struggles to challenge their fate as the other of US hegemonic ideology and policy.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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