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Screened history: nostalgia as defensive formation

Hook, Derek (2012) Screened history: nostalgia as defensive formation. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 18 (3). pp. 225-239. ISSN 1078-1919

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Identification Number: 10.1037/a0029071


This article reconsiders the much-lauded transformative potential of nostalgia and proposes that an adequately psychological engagement with nostalgia is necessary if the critical capacities of this phenomenon are to be adequately assessed. To do this, the article identifies parallels between the concept of nostalgia and a series of psychoanalytic concepts (the imaginary, fetishism, fantasy, affect, screen-memories, and retroaction). Such a comparative analysis allows both for a critique of sociological notions of nostalgia and a series of speculations on how nostalgia as a defensive formation may aid rather than overcome types of structured forgetting. The use of psychoanalytic concepts enables us to grasp how nostalgia may operate: 1) in the economy of the ego, 2) in the mode of the fetish, 3) in the service of fantasy, 4) as an affect concealing anxiety, 5) as screen-memory, and 6) as means of reifying the past or present rather than attending to relations of causation obtaining between past, present, and future. One should thus investigate each of these possible defensive functions within any given instance of nostalgia before proclaiming its transformative potential.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 American Psychological Association
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2014 09:36
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:16

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