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Modernity, Domination, and Education: Rethinking the Concept of Surplus Repression in the Work of Marcuse

Sun, April 11, 10:40am to 12:10pm EDT (10:40am to 12:10pm EDT), SIG Sessions, SIG-Marxian Analysis of Society, Schools and Education Paper and Symposium Sessions


The work of critical philosopher Herbert Marcuse powerfully illuminates the historical and contemporary contest between forces of domination and forces of liberation. In Eros and Civilization, Marcuse demonstrates that the instincts that are sublimated into the work of culture, according to Freud, come to animate a decisive surplus-repression within contemporary administered society. This paper argues, however, that Marcuse overlooks the determinative force of processes, within the context of colonialism, that inaugurate modernity as a logic of imposition. I consider how central starting points in Marcuse can be productively rethought from the perspective of decoloniality, as articulated in the writings of Bartolomé de Las Casas and contemporary theorists, and I explore the implications of this rethinking for education and public pedagogy.