new imaginary (1)

Any of you who have followed my work know that I am always looking for re-framing of the nature and role of Fear in history (histories). One of my favorite quotes in this regard, is one written by a political history scholar, Corey Robin (2004) [1]. I am always looking to shift focus on "fear" and put critical analysis on how we create knowledge about Fear. One of the main reasons for this shift is to try to get the 'talk about fear' into the public sphere and not so restricted, as it is, in the private domain (e.g., fear is in my body or mind, or fear is in my genes, or fear is in my problems and thus made for only my counselor or therapist or intimate others). I want to see Fear as part of regular public discourse, including public policy. More and more, slowly, I am finding others who are seeing this is an essential move if we are to ever adequately deal with the Fear Problem of evolution, history, and development itself. 

Robin, among a few others, have acknowledged that "fear" may be (in part) treated as a primal and powerful emotion, feeling, reaction to threat, etc. And, yet, to my delight, they are working to expand that imaginary intellectually so as to expand the conception of Fear in much broader and historical, sociopolitical contexts. Robin (2004) wrote,

"Fear arrives, as it did on 9/11, wrapped in layers of intellectual assumption, some woven centuries ago, that fashion our perception of and responses to it. As an item of public discussion, fear takes its shape from political and cultural elites [primarily], who take their cues from previous elites. Political fear, in other words, has a history, and to a surprising degree, it is a history of ideas. Knowing that history, we can see how our ideas have changed or not--enabling us to better assess [individually and collectively] our own ideas and change them if necessary." (p. 28).

I cannot think of a more worthwhile task on this planet than to critically assess and change our ideas about Fear. Thank you Dr. Corey Robin!


1. Robin, C. (2004). Fear: The history of a political idea. NY: Oxford University Press.

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