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Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of Colonization

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In his now classic volume Prospero and Caliban, Octave Mannoni gives his firsthand account of a 1948 revolt in Madagascar that led to one of the bloodiest episodes of colonial repression on the African continent. It is in Prospero and Caliban that Mannoni constructs the notion of the “dependency complex,” for which his book has since been remembered and widely discussed in In his now classic volume Prospero and Caliban, Octave Mannoni gives his firsthand account of a 1948 revolt in Madagascar that led to one of the bloodiest episodes of colonial repression on the African continent. It is in Prospero and Caliban that Mannoni constructs the notion of the “dependency complex,” for which his book has since been remembered and widely discussed in both psychoanalytical and anthropological writing. Prospero and Caliban was one of the first books to challenge traditional approaches to the study of native American societies by Western colonizers and anthropologists; and Mannoni is recognized today for his close association with and influence on the French psychoanalyst Lacan.   Noted anthropologist Maurice Bloch has written a powerful and critical new foreword to the English translation, which allows the reader to view Mannoni’s unique work in its historical and intellectual context.  


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In his now classic volume Prospero and Caliban, Octave Mannoni gives his firsthand account of a 1948 revolt in Madagascar that led to one of the bloodiest episodes of colonial repression on the African continent. It is in Prospero and Caliban that Mannoni constructs the notion of the “dependency complex,” for which his book has since been remembered and widely discussed in In his now classic volume Prospero and Caliban, Octave Mannoni gives his firsthand account of a 1948 revolt in Madagascar that led to one of the bloodiest episodes of colonial repression on the African continent. It is in Prospero and Caliban that Mannoni constructs the notion of the “dependency complex,” for which his book has since been remembered and widely discussed in both psychoanalytical and anthropological writing. Prospero and Caliban was one of the first books to challenge traditional approaches to the study of native American societies by Western colonizers and anthropologists; and Mannoni is recognized today for his close association with and influence on the French psychoanalyst Lacan.   Noted anthropologist Maurice Bloch has written a powerful and critical new foreword to the English translation, which allows the reader to view Mannoni’s unique work in its historical and intellectual context.  

53 review for Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of Colonization

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tessa

    Mannoni is a self-proclaimed Freudian psycho-analyst. Some of his insights seem a little out there. Also, he writes specifically to Madagascar with the thought that some of this might apply to Africa as well. But living in Madagascar, I found book is historically and psychologically enlightening. One of the biggest insights I’ve taken away from this Mannoni is the psychological dynamic of the colonial personality, which he says hinges on inferiority. The colonial European is conditioned to break Mannoni is a self-proclaimed Freudian psycho-analyst. Some of his insights seem a little out there. Also, he writes specifically to Madagascar with the thought that some of this might apply to Africa as well. But living in Madagascar, I found book is historically and psychologically enlightening. One of the biggest insights I’ve taken away from this Mannoni is the psychological dynamic of the colonial personality, which he says hinges on inferiority. The colonial European is conditioned to break off from his community and become an individual, foregoing collective identity and forging an individual personality. However, this estrangement from being sent out leaves the individual feeling inferior and needing to prove themselves over and against other individuals. It is also this lack of collective identity that prompts more communal cultures to find a way to bind the individual to the community through dependency. It is this dynamic that leads Westerners, seeing the world through individualism, call the Malagasy lazy and greedy, always asking them for things while the Malagasy puzzle over the Westerner without community and try to bring them into community by depending on them for things.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim Cook

    I just finished Mannoni’s book about the psychology of colonization and, because of that, re-read Shakespeare’s The Tempest. At the time Mannoni’s book was first published in France (Psychologie de la colonisation) in 1950, psychologists around the world were spending a lot of effort studying personality types and personality development. For example, in the same year the famous Adorno et al project, The Authoritarian Personality, was published. Mannoni, who was later to become a loyal student o I just finished Mannoni’s book about the psychology of colonization and, because of that, re-read Shakespeare’s The Tempest. At the time Mannoni’s book was first published in France (Psychologie de la colonisation) in 1950, psychologists around the world were spending a lot of effort studying personality types and personality development. For example, in the same year the famous Adorno et al project, The Authoritarian Personality, was published. Mannoni, who was later to become a loyal student of the maverick French psycho-analyst Jacques Lacan, was also very familiar with the issues of colonization having been resident in Madagascar for many years. This is a challenging book in many ways, and is still somewhat controversial. The more famous Frantz Fanon was to write a pretty scathing critique of it two years after it was published. Regardless of the books merits as a work of social psychology, however, it later had a big impact on how Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, was performed. If fact, I don’t think you can think about Shakespeare’s characters Prospero and Caliban in the same way after reading Mannoni’s book, which is perhaps praise enough.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Ce livre qui propose un modele psychologique du comportement du colonisateur et du colonise dans le tier monde a été vivment contesté lors de sa parution en 1950. D'apres ses critiques qui etaient surtout des milieux communiste, la Psychologie faisait l'apologie de l'imperialisme et a été rasciste. Face a la vehemence de la critique, la maison d'édition a lachement retire ce livre de la vente. La these de Mannoni est que le colonisateur a adopté un mentalité rasciste afin de justifier son exploit Ce livre qui propose un modele psychologique du comportement du colonisateur et du colonise dans le tier monde a été vivment contesté lors de sa parution en 1950. D'apres ses critiques qui etaient surtout des milieux communiste, la Psychologie faisait l'apologie de l'imperialisme et a été rasciste. Face a la vehemence de la critique, la maison d'édition a lachement retire ce livre de la vente. La these de Mannoni est que le colonisateur a adopté un mentalité rasciste afin de justifier son exploitation du colonisé tandis que le colonisé surevaluait le pouvoir du colonisateur afin de justifier sa soumission. Le point de vue de Mannoni ne me semble pas etre vraiment rasciste. Il n'a ni nié le caractere rasciste du systeme colonaliale ni le fait qu'il etait un systeme d'exploitation economique. Son péché etait de proposer une these qui s'accordait mal avec l'orthodoxie marxiste-leniniste. Devant la puissance des communistes dans les milieu intellectuelles, personne en France ne voulait defendre le droit de Mannoni de presenter sa these. C'a ete un affaire tres triste dans l'Histoire de la vie intellectuelle francaise.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Scarlet

    There went my Wednesday

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barbi

  7. 5 out of 5

    David

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alannah Adriel

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    Sheldon Muchmore

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    Michael Toler

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    Nikola

  12. 5 out of 5

    Leah

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    Anat Peled

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    John

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    Patrick Teed

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    Masood Ashraf Raja

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    Lara Pitch

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    Mujib Abid

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    Will

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    Larisa A-g

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    Nicole Breckau

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    Javier Montes

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    Harry kendall

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    Dono421846

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  51. 5 out of 5

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    Jeremy

  53. 4 out of 5

    Guillermina

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