The Cannibal's Antidote for Resentment: Diffracting Ressentiment through Decolonial Thought

Research in Phenomenology (forthcoming)
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(Manuscript draft accepted for publication in 2024 by 'Research in Phenomenology') The purpose of this essay is to diffract ressentiment through decolonial theory. I would like to see what sort of light this sheds on the psychological undercurrents that impose barriers on colonial and decolonial thought, as well as on the conceptual dynamism of ressentiment. This essay is split into two different experiments in thought. The first will be to diffract ressentiment through the works of Gloria Anzaldúa, Édouard Glissant, and Gilles Deleuze. To this end, I will begin by providing an analysis of ressentiment as developed by Nietzsche in On the Genealogy of Morals and then supplement this with Deleuze’s analysis of ressentiment in Nietzsche & Philosophy. I will create a bridge with decolonial thought by interpreting Anzaldúa’s concept of the nopal de castilla and mestiza consciousness through the interpretive lens of ressentiment to show the affinity that exists between the work of Anzaldúa and Nietzsche. I will finish the first experiment by looking at ressentiment through some of the concepts Glissant offers us in the Poetics of Relation. In particular, I will argue that ressentiment resists the creolization of identity and culture, and that Glissant’s demand for the right to opacity for all is the sign of a thinking that has overcome ressentiment. The second experiment is to diffract ressentiment through Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s Cannibal Metaphysics, beginning with an analysis of the most relevant points of that text for our discussion then putting our diffracted version of ressentiment in conversation with Amerindian perspectivism. However, this does not mean that I am aiming at a synthesis of ressentiment with Amerindian perspectivism. Rather, in the spirit of the Brazilian author’s post-structural anthropology, this essay sees only a disjunctive synthesis of the two: a ressentiment becoming-Amerindian perspectivism and an Amerindian perspectivism-becoming-ressentiment (we will focus on developing the former). I hope that, by the end of this experiment, we may have a richer conceptual understanding of ressentiment by offering this concept an image of itself that only our decolonial thinkers and an Amerindian perspective can reveal.

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Pedro Brea
University of North Texas


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