TRB Podcast: Stefan Bird-Pollan on the Oedipus complex and the problem of colonial father figures

On September 18, the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto invited Professor Stefan Bird-Pollan to deliver a lecture, titled “Fanon, Freud and the Intersubjective Sources of Colonial Psychopathology.” In his abstract, Bird-Pollan writes that his talk uses

Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex to illuminate Fanon’s diagnosis of the widespread breakdown of intersubjective relations in the French colonies of the Antilles. I argue that the Oedipal model is helpful in showing that the problem in the colonies, as Fanon sees it, is that the Antillean is not given the opportunity to properly rebel against the father figure and hence to authorize his or her own social relations because the father-figure, from whom this authority is to be taken, is himself divided into familial father and colonial master. This failure produces a sense of inferiority which can only be overcome when the Antillean becomes conscious of the difference between the colonial master and the familial father-figure. Fanon conceptualizes this movement, I argue, on the model of Hegel’s masterslave dialectic. Accordingly, the only way to become self-authorizing is to engage in the struggle for decolonization and revolution. [Taken from the U of T Press Release]

Listen and enjoy!

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Stefan Bird-Pollan (D.Phil Oxford in German Literature; PhD Vanderbilt, in Philosophy) is an assistant professor at the
University of Kentucky. He is working on a book manuscript entitled The Dialectic of Emancipation: Fanon, Hegel and Freud, which places Frantz Fanon’s social critique in the tradition of German idealism. He has published articles on Rawls, Kant, Hegel and Fanon.

About the author

Sydney Hyatt
By Sydney Hyatt