Volume 12, Issue 1/2, 2009
Art, Praxis, and Social Transformation
W.E.B. Du Bois and the Sorrow Songs
Unburying Resistance in the Roots of Trauma
While psychoanalysis credits the entrenchment of systems of subordination to the necessity of socialization and the transmission of dominant values from parent to child, by claiming social symbolics independent of the dominant hegemony, W.E.B. Du Bois calls for resistant forms of identification. Psychoanalytic
accounts of social power relations often assume that the dominant social group produces the only operative social symbolic and that this symbolic is also identical with the nation, but Du Bois’s attention to the slave song allows him to trace the burial of a black American symbolic rather than a traumatic inculcation of the dominant white symbolic.