Gautam Basu Thakur and Meghant Sudan are co-authors of a book chapter titled Beyond Reason: The Subject of Desire and Enjoyment in Populism, which appears in the collection of essays “Populism and Its Limits: After Articulation” edited by Prasanta Chakravarty and published by Bloomsbury (Oct. 18, 2020).
In this article, the authors use the current surge of populist fervor in many parts of the world as an occasion to rethink some dominant views in contemporary critical theory about populism and the structure of society. Engaging Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, Hegelian and Husserlian phenomenology, and debates between Ernesto Laclau an Slavoj Zizek, the authors argue for a more fundamental role for agonal acts of desire and enjoyment over contracts of reason in the prevailing theories of society and populism. Focusing on the subject of desire in this way helps understand the play of ideologies in our times as heavily marked by signs of embodiment and temporality and arranged around unconscious enjoyment or jouissance.
Basu Thakur is an associate professor in the Department of English and director of the critical theory minor. Sudan is a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and affiliated faculty in the critical theory minor.