My talk aims to highlight the need to explore the political, historical and psychoanalytical dimensions of ‘self-hatred’. I discuss ‘self-hatred’ as a genuine authentic, non-pathologized, and overlooked emotion that can help us understanding a core aspect of identity politics.
There is a whole history of the ‘self-hatred Jew’ (similar but not equal to self-anti-Semite) which I’m going to present briefly – a concept which turned from a pathology in the 19th century, to a psychological and sociological concept in the mid-20th century, into a rhetorical accusation in debates mainly over Zionism. However, I argue, ‘self-hatred’ is functioning in discourses of identity groups such as the so-called ‘diaspora Jews’ as a sort of a ‘shadow emotion’ of narcissism, that is a degraded emotion it is illegitimate to express in public (for example, non-Zionists Jews are in constant attempt to deny any self-hatred by performing ‘loving to the world’ as Jews, which I will trace back to Hannah Arendt). My goal will be to understand how self-hatred became a cultural taboo; and also, to ask some questions about the inflation, I believe, in the idea of ‘internalization’ in identity discourses, and in the social sciences more generally, in a way that excludes the possibility for some emotions to be manifested publicly.
Chaired by Niall Gildea; The paper will be followed by short comments and discussion from three other contributors: Josh Cohen (Goldsmith’s UL), Sherrill Stroschein (UCL), Louise Braddock (independent scholar).