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    The Maternal Death Drive: Greta Thunberg and the question of the future

    Baraitser, Lisa (2020) The Maternal Death Drive: Greta Thunberg and the question of the future. Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society 25 (4), pp. 499-517. ISSN 1088-0763.

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    The centenary of Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle (Freud, 1920a/1955) falls in 2020, a year dominated globally by the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the effects of the pandemic has been to reveal the increasingly fragile interconnectedness of human and non-human life, as well as the ongoing effects of social inequalities, particularly racism, on the valuing of life and its flourishing. Drawing on earlier work, this paper develops the notion of a ‘maternal death drive’ that supplements Freud’s death drive by accounting for repetition that retains a relation to the developmental time of ‘life’ but remains ‘otherwise’ to a life drive. The temporal form of this ‘life in death’ is that of ‘dynamic chronicity’, analogous to late modern narratives that describe the present as ‘thin’ and the time of human futurity as running out. I argue that the urgency to act on the present in the name of the future is simultaneously ‘suspended’ by the repetitions of late capitalism, leading to a temporal hiatus that must be embraced rather than simply lamented. The maternal (death drive) alerts us to a new figure of a child whose task is to carry expectations and anxieties about the future and bind them into a reproductive present. Rather than seeing the child as a figure of normativity, I turn to Greta Thunberg to signal a way to go on in suspended ‘grey’ time.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): time, temporality, Greta Thunberg, death drive, motherhood, future
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Depositing User: Lisa Baraitser
    Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2020 09:52
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:03


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