By Lee Nan-hee

In philosopher, psychoanalyst and feminist Julia Kristeva's work, when the infant becomes a subject, it desires its former comfortable place, which is nothing but the mother's body. Kristeva calls this process "sublimation." Ironically, the mother is an object of banishing as well as sublimation. This aspect shows the very paradoxical side of the mother and, thus, of woman.

The concept of "abjection" refers to a kind of border, in that it is neither a subject nor an object, but it is a material aspect occurring between the subject and the subject (Ko Kaphee, 2000, 212). It implies a maternal body, the semiotic as well as denial, sublimation, the subject and a sort of inter-subjectivity. (Ko Kaphee, 2000, 212) Whereas in Freud and Lacan, the father was regarded as a frightening one of authority and law that makes the infant have castration anxiety, Kristeva asserts a father of love who embraces the infant. She does not just deny paternity, but further suggests maternity and paternity as well.

Kristeva's theory criticizes and tries to overcome the male-centeredness of Freud's and Lacan's theories. Kristeva's theory can be epitomized as follows: an infant has relationships and the semiotic stage with his or her mother prior to relationships with his or her father; the infant learns social regulations through that relationship with the mother; the infant forms into a subject through the process of abjection in which the infant banishes, excludes, as well as identifies with the mother. Thus, a conclusion can be drawn that there doesn't exist a male subject like a fixed substance. The mother willingly helps the infant form into a subject by way of negating herself (or making herself abject); the father also embraces the infant with love, not with the fear of castration. Through Kristeva theories, the woman's subjectivity and the mother's active, positive role have been explicated and highlighted.

Reading and learning more about Kristeva, I felt that much light was shed on my early experiences in childhood and in relationships with my mother and father. I thought that I could not form solid and steadfast relationships with my mother, as she had to go through her own difficulties. Nor did I enjoy a pleasant, positive relationship with my father, because he was a strict, obstinate person in a sense. Thus, I used to have problems with regards to having a model, desirable human relationship and stable, positive views toward other human beings as well as the world. From Kristeva's work, I was able to figure out what led me to who I was, learn many lessons and feel that I will be able to live a much happier life in the future.

At the end of the day, every theory and theology including feminist theology or Asian women's theology exists for the sake of the well-being and happiness of human beings, including, of course, men and women. On top of that, no theory or theology is infallible or complete in itself in that it cannot explain or shine light on every aspect of human lives and this world. This is why I become humble whenever I read books or address issues in my life and in society from a Christian perspective.


Dr. Lee Nan-hee (godorchid@gmail.com) studied English in college and theology at Hanshin University.


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Julia Kristeva, women and myself

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28.09.2022
By Lee Nan-hee

In philosopher, psychoanalyst and feminist Julia Kristeva's work, when the infant becomes a subject, it desires its former comfortable place, which is nothing but the mother's body. Kristeva calls this process "sublimation." Ironically, the mother is an object of banishing as well as sublimation. This aspect shows the very paradoxical side of the mother and, thus, of woman.

The concept of "abjection" refers to a kind of border, in that it is neither a subject nor an object, but it is a material aspect occurring between the subject and the subject (Ko Kaphee, 2000, 212). It implies a maternal body, the semiotic as well as denial, sublimation, the subject and a sort of inter-subjectivity. (Ko Kaphee, 2000, 212) Whereas in Freud and Lacan, the father was regarded as a frightening one of authority........

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