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Collecting Time: Some Reflections on the Psychopolitics of Belonging

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Starting with the return to the aesthetic of the 'peace camp' that we have seen in the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings stretching from North Africa and the Middle East to the central squares of Madrid and Athens, this paper re-reads Luisa Passerini's classic 1988 text, Autobiography of a Generation: Italy, 1968, as a way of understanding the intergenerational dynamics of protest. Passerini's text reads the events of 1968 through collecting political testimony in the mid 1980s from those involved primarily in the occupation of the Palazzo Campana at the University of Turin, which she then juxtaposes with an account of her own psychoanalysis that she undertakes during the research period. Her psychoanalytic journey takes her to the core traumatic event of her childhood - the death of her mother at the age of six - which can only be worked through in relation to a working through of the events of 1968. I argue that through an engagement with the psychoanalytic tropes of remémoration and delayed action, we can see how the text both engages and reverses the classic feminist slogan, the personal is political, showing that it is through a capacity to attach to one's own generation and to establish retroactively the lateral relations of 'my time', that the work of psychoanalysis can take place. Drawing on Bracha Ettinger's notion of the matrixial, the essay further proposes that this capacity for attachment to 'my time', is linked to what is not possible to separate from, lose, or abject, which Ettinger traces as an alternative substrata to psychic life, marked in the feminine as a form of positive difference. I read the matrixial in political rather than personal terms, linking the matrixial with a return to the aesthetics of communal living proposed by the 'peace camp'. The essay concludes by tying together the double meaning of generation: generation (the collective time-frame of the political) with generation (the matrixial substrata of psychic life).
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 7, 2013

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  • new formations is an inter-disciplinary journal of culture, politics and theory. It covers a wide range of issues, from the seduction of perversity to questions of nationalism and postcolonialism.

    'essential reading for those who want to understand politics in the light of the most important trends in contemporary theory' Chantal Mouffe.

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