(Re-) imagining the ‘Self’ of Ontological Security: The Case of Brazil’s Ambivalent Postcolonial Subjectivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

In this article, I critically engage with and develop an alternative approach to ontological security informed by Jacques Lacan’s theory of the subject. I argue that ontological security relates to a lack; that is, the always-frustrated desire to provide meaningful discursive interpretations to one’s self. This lack is generative of anxiety which functions as the subject’s affective and necessary drive to a continuous, albeit elusive, pursuit of self-coherence. I theorise subjectivity in Lacanian terms as fantasised discursive articulations of the Self in relation to an idealised mirror-image other. The focus on postcolonial states’ subjectivity allows for the examination of the anxiety-driven lack generated by the ever-present desire to emulate but also resist the ‘ego-ideal’ represented by the Western other. I propose, therefore, to explore the theoretical assertion that postcolonial ontological security refers to the institutionalisation and discursive articulation of enduring and anxiety-driven affective traces related to these states’ colonial pasts that are still active and influence current foreign policy practices. I illustrate the force of this interpretation of ontological security by focusing on Brazil as an example of a postcolonial state coping with the lack caused by its ambivalent/hybrid self-identity.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-164
Number of pages23
JournalMillennium - Journal of International Studies
Volume46
Issue number2
Early online date27 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • ontological security , postcolonialism, subjectivity, foreign policy , Brazil

ASJC Scopus subject areas