Contemporary French Civilization

Articulating difference: When I was ethnic. A tribute to Lawrence Schehr

Contemporary French Civilization (2012), 37, (2-3), 151–157.

Abstract

As the title indicates, this essay is a tribute to the late Lawrence Schehr. Writing and reading are powerful forms of intersubjective communication that remain active beyond even the literal death of the author and are vital enough to sustain subjectivity even through great loss. Yet I would argue that writing and reading are still limited, because to heal psychic trauma there is the need for witnessing in person, for addressing and responding to empathic listeners - for that affective, embodied communication from heart to heart that is at the heart of subjectivity. Lawrence R. Schehr's life and work demonstrate the limitations of writing in the act of witnessing, even as they bear witness to the efforts required to articulate differences and questions of otherness. Thus the question of the representation of the other as unrepresentable has been at the center of Schehr's concerns, his intellectual project as a whole. The "unrepresentable as oppositional" (a notion that I draw from Schehr's work Figures of Alterity) is structured by discourse to speak and to have the courage to tell the truth à la Foucault, an important notion that has played a significant role in my own research.

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Author details

Ekotto, Frieda