A Psychoanalytic Revisiting of Fieldwork and Intercultural Borderlinking

in Social Analysis
View More View Less
  • 1 KU Leuven Renaat.Devisch@soc.kuleuven.be
Restricted access

Since the early 1970s, the author has been working among the poverty-stricken Yaka people in rural southwestern Congo and suburban Kinshasa. A descendant of a colonizing society, the author sought immersion in a particular Congolese community and later in suburban Kinshasa, as well as insights from within the host group's own rationale and perceptions. Through reciprocal fascination and compassionate encounter, hosts and anthropologists transfer onto each other images, longings, and thoughts that in many ways are unconsciously biased. The self-reflective experience of integration in other life-worlds has helped the author to self-critically scrutinize his own native Belgian socio-cultural matrix. The article advocates a type of post-colonial and psychoanalytically inspired anthropology that urges self-critical understanding of definitions of self-creation in relation to alterity constructs. Any further development of psychoanalytically informed anthropology, or of culture-sensitive psychoanalysis, should draw on this understanding of co-implication and intercultural polylogue, thereby allowing these disciplines to transcend their Eurocentric antecedents.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology