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‘Trauma work’ as hindrance to political praxis during democratisation movements

Published version
Peer-reviewed

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Abstract

jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pThis paper examines the impact of a shift in focus from political praxis to trauma work in the context of a failed democratisation movement. It investigates the various phenomena which emerge when intellectuals, under the traumatic impact of violence and atrocities, place trauma narration at the core of their interventions. Drawing on document analysis, participant observation and semi-structured interviews with twenty nine exiled Syrian intellectuals in Paris and Berlin who had participated in the revolutionary movement of 2011, the paper suggests that an inversion of the normative power structures pertaining to how intellectuals relate to their publics occurs when they adopt, under conditions of extreme violence and trauma, what we call a radically embedded positionality vis-à-vis ‘the people’. This results in the dismantling of previous figurations of the ‘militant intellectual’ along with praxis-focused notions of the ‘responsibility of intellectuals’, ultimately undermining their ideational influence upon domestic publics and weakening their political impact and critical role within a revolutionary movement.</jats:p>

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Keywords

4404 Development Studies, 44 Human Society, Physical Injury - Accidents and Adverse Effects, 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Journal Title

Theory and Society

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0304-2421
1573-7853

Volume Title

53

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC