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European Trauma: Governance and the Psychological Moment

  • Catarina Kinnvall
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 266-281
Publication/Series: Alternatives
Volume: 37
Issue: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: SAGE Publications Inc.

Abstract english

This article examines the unfolding of traumas as structural and sociopsychological narratives focused on the bordering of identity and the governing of past present and future. Proceeding from a Lacanian conception of trauma and a Foucauldian understanding of governmentality, the analysis is centered on hegemonic counternarratives, even crises, involving the bordering of both Islam/Muslim identity and Europe/national identity. This "European trauma," or psychological moment, is exemplified through events in London 2005 and Norway 2011. It is perceived in terms of Chosen Traumas and Chosen Glories, the mythologization of past events that are retold, reinvented, and awarded new meanings in the present. Such traumas and glories can create a foundation for governing practices in which hegemonic interpretations of identity turn into normalizing narratives that justify violence. However, the governing of narratives is a contested process and alternative narrative understandings in terms of everyday practices can stimulate social resistance and psychological resilience, eventually challenging the normalizing bordering processes encountered in Europe today.


  • Political Science
  • Europe
  • trauma
  • Lacan
  • governance
  • narrative
  • Breivik
  • 7/7


  • ISSN: 0304-3754
Catarina Kinnvall
E-mail: catarina [dot] kinnvall [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se


Department of Political Science

+46 46 222 80 94

+46 72 542 00 15



Department of Political Science
Lund University
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Postal address: Box 52, SE-221 00 LUND
Telephone: +46 46-222 89 52

Faculty of Social Sciences