Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Living politics by awakening history: A critical approach to Walter Benjamin through Sigmund Freud

Alex Betancourt-Serrano, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The first and second chapters of this dissertation focus on the theoretical relation between dreams, history, and politics in the writings of Walter Benjamin, paying particular attention to The Arcades Project. These chapters are an intervention in contemporary debates whose main concern is the articulation of a historiography that takes into consideration the political climate of its discursive field. Chapters three and four aim at presenting two self-understood leftists approaches to politics. In these chapters I present the limitations of these contemporary approaches when compared to the possibilities that a Benjaminian project offers. More generally, the dissertation seeks to formulate a politics that is attentive and responsive to silenced voices insofar as these can be articulated historically. Hence, in order for such historical articulation to take place the dissertation proposes a philosophy of history that encompasses marginalized subjects. This attempts if is to provide such philosophy of history it has to respect difference critically, and if it aims to provide a political openness to depoliticized subjects, it must do so outside the parameters of liberalism. Hence, I argue only a dialectical approach to the articulation of history and politics can sustain a critical history attentive to historical otherness and a leftist politics that remains outside the sphere of liberalism.

Subject Area

Political science

Recommended Citation

Betancourt-Serrano, Alex, "Living politics by awakening history: A critical approach to Walter Benjamin through Sigmund Freud" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3212724.