Presented by: Ross Truscott, ICGC Visiting Scholar, University of the Western Cape
This talk sounds out a tentative introduction to a book manuscript titled, The Order of Empathy: Post-apartheid Fellow Feeling. The general backdrop to the project is a ubiquitous injunction to empathize: the question of whether we are empathetic enough—always accompanied by suggested steps to foster more of it in those sections of society diagnosed as lacking it—blares from the left and the right. While neither for nor against empathy, The Order of Empathy takes as its point of departure certain points of correspondence between the discourse of empathy and colonial discourse. The essays reflect, along different lines, on the ways that empathy has been utilized to move beyond colonialism, on the way, that is to say, a colonial concept has been used to stage postcoloniality. The focus is further narrowed by taking South Africa as an example, considering the ways in which empathy has been used in psychoanalytic scholarship on South Africa’s transition from apartheid.