In this chapter, I propose to examine social trauma from the unexplored perspective of environmental violence. Why is environmental violence a useful lens through which to approach social trauma? This chapter argues and develops new insights into how environmental violence sheds light on the continuation of the logic of war-time long after the military conflict has ended. This is evidenced in the phenomenon of deaths that are caused by lingering conditions that kill slowly, over an extended period of time—meaning that they are usually not recognised as connected to, or caused by, the environmental violence of conflict. These deaths thus remain officially unregistered in political discourse and in popular memory. Working with the concept of “slow violence,” I analyse the pervasiveness of disavowal by communities in relation to such violence, which testifies to their overwhelming anxiety. Particularly, this is relevant for post-socialist contexts, like in former Yugoslavia, in which current authoritarian regimes continue to maintain ethnic hostility in order to disguise the continuation of sacrificing and disposing of people in the name of profit. Such authoritarian regimes have managed to enforce internal compliance by populations, threatening the part of self, in individuals and groups, that seeks reality with violence and exclusion. The “myth of apathy” of communities, promoted within and without Bosnia and Herzegovina, further entrenches the victimised position and thus enables the extractivist and exploitative logic to persist. In efforts to analyse slow environmental violence, psychoanalysis has much to offer towards understanding the unconscious mechanisms at play by insisting on the subject of the unconscious—non-rational and split subject—which underpins any emancipatory thought and action.
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Arsenijević, D. (2021). Environmental Violence and Social Trauma in a Post-War Context: A Psychoanalytic Approach. In: Hamburger, A., Hancheva, C., Volkan, V.D. (eds) Social Trauma – An Interdisciplinary Textbook. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-47817-9_30
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