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Transference, Desire, and the Logic of Emancipation

Psychoanalytic Lessons from the “Third Wave”
  • Antti SaariEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)

Abstract

The modus operandi of many pedagogies indexed under the rubric “critical” and “transformative” is to acknowledge and overcome oppressive structures ingrained in dominant societal ideologies. Yet in practice, some of such pedagogies may be susceptible to what Gert Biesta has called the “logic of emancipation.” This means that those who are to be emancipated ultimately remain dependent on the “truth” provided by the critical educator.

This chapter provides a critical discussion of the possibility of overcoming the logic of emancipation from the point of view of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. Transformative learning process is analyzed as a formation and a subsequent unraveling of transferential fantasies and desires invested in the critical educator as a “subject supposed to know.”

As a case example, the chapter analyzes an (in)famous pedagogical experiment conducted in a Palo Alto High School in 1967. In a World History class, a teacher taught his students about the perils of fascism by using unorthodox teaching methods. While lecturing them about the history of the Third Reich, the teacher allured his students to adopt decidedly fascist discipline and forms of mutual persecution. The aim was to help students learn how easily almost anyone can willingly succumb to authoritarianism.

This provocative case is used to illustrate the power of transferential fantasies in education and the difficult process of trying to unravel them for the purposes of a transformative experience. Moreover, the case raises questions about the ethics of such pedagogic practices.

Keywords

Psychoanalysis Critical pedagogy Emancipation Lacan Jacques Ideology 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tampere UniversityTampereFinland

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