Towards a Critical Trauma Studies: A Response to Felix Lang

  • Vivienne Matthies-Boon University of Amsterdam
Keywords: Trauma, Critical Theory, Politics, Phenomenology


In this response, I agree with Felix Lang about the need to problematize trauma studies’ prevalent underlying assumptions. However, I suggest that we should go a step further, namely towards a phenomenological account of trauma rooted in Frankfurt School critical theory. Such an approach enables us to pay attention to the political power dynamics within which trauma studies is enmeshed, and argue against the reification and objectification of trauma. It also allows for an intersubjective (re)interpretation of trauma that explicitly grounds the experiences of trauma in social and political contexts.

Author Biography

Vivienne Matthies-Boon, University of Amsterdam

Dr Vivienne Matthies-Boon is an Assistant Professor of International Relations of the Middle East at the University of Amsterdam. Her primary interest is in the phenomenology of trauma and counter-revolutionary suffering in Egypt. She has written articles for the Journal of Global Ethics, Journal of North African Studies, and Journal of International Political Theory, amongst others. She has also written for popular outlets such as Aswat Masriya, OpenDemocracy, and MERIP, as well as newspapers. Her forthcoming book Life, Death and Alienation: Counter-Revolutionary Trauma in Egypt will be published by Rowman and Littefield.

How to Cite
Matthies-Boon, V. “Towards a Critical Trauma Studies: A Response to Felix Lang”. Middle East - Topics & Arguments, Vol. 11, Nov. 2018, pp. 159-62, doi:10.17192/meta.2018.11.7812.