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The relational ethics of conflict and identity

Frosh, Stephen (2011) The relational ethics of conflict and identity. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society 16 , pp. 225-243. ISSN 1088-0763.

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The contemporary psychoanalytically inflected vocabulary of relational ethics centres on acknowledgement, witnessing and responsibility. It has become an important code for efforts to connect with otherness across fractures of hurt, oppression and suffering. One can see the deployment of this vocabulary to challenge patterns of exclusion and dehumanisation in zones of intense political conflict in many situations in which destructive hatred reigns. This paper traces some of the use of and disputes over this ‘acknowledgement-based’ relational ethics in the recent work of Jessica Benjamin and Judith Butler. The field of application is their response to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, given their position as Jews. The challenge of the acknowledgement agenda leads back to an issue of general concern – the degree to which relational ethics can prise open apparently closed and defensive psychosocial identities.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: “This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society. The definitive publisher-authenticated version (Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, September 2011, v.16, pp.225-243) is available online at
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): relational ethics, recognition, acknowledgement, conflict, Jewish identity, Israel–Palestine
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Psychosocial Studies
Depositing User: Stephen Frosh
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2011 08:23
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33

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