Emotional Politics, with Omar Kholeif and Jonathan Sklar

In the final episode of Series 2, Turi speaks to Omar Kholeif and Jonathan Sklar about how emotions and psychoanalysis can help us understand the nature of opinion.

S2 E25: Emotional Politics

“The world that we live in today is fuelled by heightened emotion…”

Over the course of these two seasons of On Opinion, we’ve looked at opinions through the lens of philosophy, psychology, social science, anthropology and evolution. But one area we’ve missed is that of feeling.

Omar Kholeif and Jonathan Sklar take very different approaches to understand the world we live in, but both see emotion as something that can affect individuals and collective groups.

Jonathan feels that you can transpose psychoanalysis, which is designed for the individual, to a culture and a moment in history. Omar is convinced not only that ‘ages’ have emotions, dominant leitmotifs of feeling that impact everyone around them, but also that today is a particularly emotional age - that our feelings are closer to the surface.

Listen to Turi speak to Jonathan and Omar about:

  • How we define ‘ages’
  • The difference between the Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter protests
  • Whether we need to ‘fix’ an age of anxiety
  • The rise of hatred across the West
  • How psychoanalysis can heal emotional wounds of trauma
  • The importance of mourning

“There’s a considerable rise in anxiety and tension and people hating other people, and there’s far less debate going on…”

Works cited include:

Read the Full Transcript

Omar Kholeif

Omar is a writer, curator, and cultural historian, and is Director of Collections and Senior Curator at Sharjah Art Foundation, Government of Sharjah, UAE. Trained as a political scientist, Kholeif’s career began as a journalist and documentary filmmaker before entering into the picture palace of museums. Concerned with the intersections of emerging technologies with post-colonial, and critical race theory, Kholeif’s research has explored histories of performance art; the visual experience of mental illness; the interstices of social justice, as well as the aesthetics of digital culture.

Jonathan Sklar

Jonathan trained in medicine at the Royal Free, University of London in 1973, and then trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy in the Adult Department, Tavistock Centre for four years with adults, children and adolescents. At the same time he trained at the Institute of Psychoanalysis and has been a psychoanalyst since 1983 and a training analyst since 1996. He is chair of The Independent Psychoanalysis Trust.

On Opinion is a member of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.

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The Parlia Podcast asks: what is an opinion? where do they come from? And what does that mean for politics and society?

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 30 Jun 2021 at 17:28 UTC