Savages and neurotics: Freud and the Colonial School

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By means of comparative cultural analysis and drawing on Freud’s cultural theory, particularly his thinking in Totem and Taboo, the article examines the role played by the Colonial School in Lisbon as a disciplinary apparatus at home and in the overseas colonies. It looks at how the educational guidelines set up an hierarchical system of power that not only contributed to implement regulatory practices to discipline the colonized, but which at the same time established mechanisms of contention for uneducated settlers, seen as the European counterparts to colonial savagery. It also argues that the discursive practices of colonial education produced by the system were contentiously ambivalent. As seen in Schwalbach Lucci’s Emigração e colonização (1914), the colonial narrative was indeed disrupted by conservative counter-discourses that denounced the settler’s pathological neurosis. This worked as a figuration of reverse appropriation that struck at the psychotic heart of the colonial fantasy and became a subversive counter-narrative to the tale of hegemonic imperialism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-41
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Romance Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


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