Empire Bites Back
Empire Bites Back
In chapter three, “Empire Bites Back: Morbid Projection and Technologies of Introjection,” I explore two temporally and geographically distinct cases that show how introjection functions as a complex response to paranoid or morbid projection. I begin the chapter by stressing the uncanny similarity between the theatres of violence in the dynamics of melancholia and introjection--both of which shape the subject by an internalized exercise of a punishing agency--to mark the extent to which the docile subjection to colonial authority resembles what might seem to be its antidote: a critical, disalienating, counter-colonial or queer melancholia that makes a show of refusing to let go of injury, shame, or the losses that cannot be mourned because they cannot be counted as losses. The sense of introjection as the incorporation of not only what may be hated, feared, or ambivalently desired and loathed but also that which exceeds or violates the law or norm has been crucial for work in postcolonial, queer, and feminist revisions and uses of psychoanalysis concerned with stubborn attachments to the losses of history, not just the dead we carry with us but the expropriated and denied pasts, the stubborn remainders of the refused discharged as refuse, the waste or dead matter that nonetheless sticks and haunts as not just the aporias or holes but the unmournable losses, the never-was and the as-yet that persist as the unassimilable. Building on this work of a politicized ethics of melancholy, I attend in this chapter to the unstable and hauntingly anachronistic performance of introjection in two cases (Tipu Sultan’s Englishman-eating-tiger-organ automaton and acts of possession in Zora Neale Hurston’s Tell My Horse) involving the violent taking in of the punishing colonial law as complex responses to morbid projection. This chapter’s consideration of introjection serves as the fulcrum or pivot point for a larger argument about the volatile instability inherent in the dynamic, disciplinary scene of projection that spans the sites of metropolitan science (chapter 1) and those of colonial conflict (chapter 2), the profound difficulty, that is, of casting out the vulnerabilities of embodied witness as well as the threats to self at once introjected as the surveilling and punishing super-ego and cast out onto abject “Others” whose retaliation the ego dreads and defends against.
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