1887

n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Afrikaner-identiteit : 'n psigoanalitiese interpretasie

Volume 47, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0041-4751

Abstract

Hierdie artikel is 'n ondersoek na die ideologiese konstruksie van groepsidentiteite, en na die psigologiese, sosiale en politieke belange wat deur hierdie identiteite gedien word. Meer spesifiek word gefokus op die idee van "Afrikaner-identiteit" en die pogings in Suid-Afrika vandag om dit in stand te hou. Vir die analise van (Afrikaner) identiteit word die idees van twee psigoanalitiese denkers gebruik, naamlik Sigmund Freud en Slavoj Žižek. Freud se werk oor groepsvorming is interessant omdat dit die essensialistiese illusies wat steeds aan ons begrip van identiteit vaskleef, begin wegstroop. Deur sy werk raak dit duidelik dat 'n versameling mense met gedeelde eienskappe nog nie 'n groep is nie. Die organiserende beginsel met betrekking tot groepe is eerder kunsmatigbehaalde identifikasie (met 'n sogenaamde "vader" of leier). Žižek vervang dan laasgenoemde Freudiaanse vader met die meesterbetekenaar. Hierdeur word die simboliese en ideologiese aard van identiteit, subjektiwiteit en die werklikheid beklemtoon. Hy illustreer ook hoe simboliese identiteite altyd misluk en ons laat met slegs die traumatiese leemte wat eintlik subjektiwiteit karakteriseer. Daar word geargumenteer dat "die Afrikaner" as meesterbetekenaar in Suid-Afrika vandag die hegemoniese bindkrag daarvan verloor. Die pogings om dit te laat herleef verteenwoordig óf 'n oorblyfsel van essensialistiese denke rakende Afrikaner-heid óf 'n poging om 'n politieke platform te bewerkstellig vanwaar in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks gehandel kan word. In hierdie omstandighede is dit nie die verantwoordelikheid van die filosoof om identiteite te artikuleer nie, maar eerder om die kunsmatigheid en veranderlikheid daarvan te beklemtoon, en die ideologiese funksie daarvan te evalueer.


The aim of this paper is to investigate the ideological construction of group identities, as well as the psychological, social and political interests these identities might serve. More specifically the focus falls on the notion of "the Afrikaner", its supposed threatened status and the attempts in South Africa today to preserve it. In the analysis of (Afrikaner-) identity the ideas of two psychoanalytical figures are employed, namely Sigmund Freud and Slavoj Žižek. Freud's work functions as a bridge for understanding Žižek's analysis of subjectivity. His analysis of group formation is interesting as it starts to strip away some of the essentialist illusions stubbornly clinging to theories of identity. Through his work it becomes evident that a collection of people sharing certain characteristics does not constitute a group. Also, the motivation for group formation cannot be reduced to the demands of survival or to a "herd-instinct". Rather, the organizing principle with regard to groups is artificially achieved identification with the so- called "father" or leader. This notion of identification implies, for Freud, that an individual replaces his or her superego with a person who serves as ego-ideal. A group is then constituted when a collection of people share one and the same ego-ideal or leader.
Using Lacanian vocabulary, Žižek replaces the Freudian father (or leader) with the mastersignifier. The master-signifier is the signifier in terms of which all other signifiers (that make up the Symbolic Order or social reality) become comprehensible. In this sense it serves to close or "suture" the Symbolic Order. But it is different from the Freudian father as it is characterized by a lack of content and a conflict of interpretations. Also, the master-signifier never fully succeeds in closing off the Symbolic Order, and can never fulfil the subject's desire to coincide with itself. Consequently, the Symbolic Order must be understood as an ideological field in which signifiers continually contend for dominance.
Žižek use of the master-signifier (as opposed to the Freudian father) emphasizes the symbolic and ideological nature of identity, reality and subjectivity. He further illustrates how symbolic identities (and master-signifiers) always turn out, leaving us with only the traumatic void which constitutes the subject and which demands renewed symbolic identity construction. Žižek also amends and elaborates on Freud's theory of identification. According to Žižek identification takes place in all three of the Lacanian registers of mental experience (Imaginary, Symbolic and Real), and it is only when we take identification with the Real into account that a space opens for the subject's freedom, for ideology-critique and for resistance to oppression.
With this in mind it is argued that the "Afrikaner" can be understood as a master-signifier in the South African political context, but one which is losing its hegemonic power in South Africa today. Although it still contends for dominance, many so-called "Afrikaners" feel uncomfortable with this signifier, and most experience it as being in a transitional phase. Understood in this way, the attempts at the resuscitation of Afrikaner-identity might represent a residue of essensialist thought regarding the notion of Afrikaner-ness. Alternatively, they are attempts to establish a questionable political platform from which to strategize in the South African context. This platform is questionable as it carries with it a heavy load of ideological baggage, and because it excludes many South African citizens who sympathize and stand to gain from the political objectives of "Afrikaner"-movements (the promotion of the Afrikaans language, for instance, and the protection of the rights of minorities). With this paper I do not propose that we do away with the notion of "the Afrikaner" altogether. However, in these circumstances it is not the responsibility of the philosopher to articulate a new Afrikaner-identity, or any other identities. Rather, the philosopher should emphasize the artificial and contingent nature of symbolic identities, and should assess the interests they aim to serve.of the philosopher to articulate a new Afrikaner-identity, or any other identities. Rather, the philosopher should emphasize the artificial and contingent nature of symbolic identities, and should assess the interests they aim to serve. the philosopher to articulate a new Afrikaner-identity, or any other identities. Rather, the philosopher should emphasize the artificial and contingent nature of symbolic identities, and should assess the interests they aim to serve. er to articulate a new Afrikaner-identity, or any other identities. Rather, the philosopher should emphasize the artificial and contingent nature of symbolic identities, and should assess the interests they aim to serve.

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/content/akgees/47/1/EJC20021
2007-03-01
2019-10-19

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