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Pursley, S. (2018). ᶜAli Al-Wardi and the Miracles of the Unconscious. Psychoanal. Hist., 20(3):337-351.

(2018). Psychoanalysis and History, 20(3):337-351

ᶜAli Al-Wardi and the Miracles of the Unconscious

Sara Pursley

In the 1950s, the Iraqi sociologist ᶜAli al-Wardi attempted to work through, for a popular Iraqi readership, various theories of unconscious forces that shape human conduct, from Sufi conceptions of the hidden dimensions of the mind, to Freudian theories of the id and the super-ego, to insights into extrasensory psychic forces emerging from what al-Wardi considered to be the cutting-edge science of parapsychology. While earlier Iraqi intellectuals had engaged with Freudian terms in order to appropriate a reasoning ego worthy of sovereignty, al-Wardi was more interested in appropriating an unconscious, albeit one not entirely aligned with the Freudian understanding. According to al-Wardi, that understanding was too focused on the negative effects of the unconscious and neglected the miraculous or supernatural dimensions of the psyche. This project took on explicitly political and anticolonial implications in some of his works, which envisioned an Islamic revolutionary tradition that repeatedly disrupted the abstract reason of the state by drawing on the irrational but politically effective powers at the core of the human.

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