Home / Regular Issue / JSSH Vol. 31 (1) Mar. 2023 / JSSH-8690-2022


Objet petit a and Jouissance: A Critical Study of Gaulib Shiraz Dhalla’s The Exiles (2011)

Sandhya Devi Nithyananda Katta and Kirankumar Nittali

Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 31, Issue 1, March 2023

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47836/pjssh.31.1.22

Keywords: Desire, excessive desire, heteronormativity, homosexuality, marriage, suppression, unattainability

Published on: 17 March 2023

The experiences of homosexual individuals are diverse and unique. Suppression of desire is consequential when homosexuality is considered a taboo, and heterosexuality is rooted in a social and cultural organizations. This research paper attempts to analyze Gaulib Shiraz Dhalla’s The Exiles using the concepts of Jacques Lacan’s objet petit a and jouissance. Jouissance describes the deeply rooted yearning/surplus enjoyment, and objet petit a discusses the lack that is present in an individual, which sets forth a journey of seeking fulfillment. This study also focuses on the difficulties of confronting one’s homoerotic desires and attempts to demonstrate how the deeply embedded heteronormative society, including the family, suppresses and prevents homoerotic desires from attainment. The paper found that the heteronormative society does influence one’s attainment of homoerotic desires, which results in the suppression of such desires accompanied by shame, despair, and loss. This paper also discovered how heteronormativity, especially the societal and cultural stigma, can be detrimental to homosexual individuals from achieving objet petit a and jouissance.

  • Belsey, C. (1993). Desire in theory: Freud, Lacan, Derrida. Textual Practice, 7(3), 384-411. https://doi.org/10.1080/09502369308582173

  • Berliner, A. K. (1987). Sex, sin, and the church: The dilemma of homosexuality. Journal of Religion and Health, 26(2), 137-142. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf01533684

  • Butler, J. (2002). Gender trouble. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203902752

  • Clemens, J., & Grigg, R. (Eds.). (2006). Jacques Lacan and the other side of psychoanalysis: Reflections on seminar XVII. Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822387602

  • Dean, T. (2003). Lacan and queer theory. In J.-M. Rabaté (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Lacan (pp. 238-252). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521807441.014

  • Duggan, L. (2012). The twilight of equality?: Neoliberalism, cultural politics, and the attack on democracy. Beacon Press.

  • Foucault, M. (2019). The history of sexuality: 1: the will to knowledge. Penguin UK.

  • Freud, S., & Crick, J. (1999). Sigmund Freud the interpretation of dreams (J. Crick, Trans.). Oxford University Press. (Originally published 1899)

  • Herz, M., & Johansson, T. (2015). The normativity of the concept of heteronormativity. Journal of Homosexuality, 62(8), 1009-1020. https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2015.1021631

  • Jackson, S. (Ed.). (1999). Heterosexuality in question. Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446217382

  • Kirshner, L. A. (2005). Rethinking desire: The objet petit a in Lacanian theory. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 53(1), 83-102. https://doi.org/10.1177/00030651050530010901

  • Lacan, J. (1992). The ethics of psychoanalysis: The seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII (D. Porter, Trans.). WW Norton. (Original work published 1992)

  • Lacan, J. (2001). Ecrits: A selection. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203995839

  • Lacan, J. (2006). Ecrits: The first complete edition in English. WW Norton & Company.

  • Lacan, J., Sheridan, A., & Bowie, M. (2020). The subversion of the subject and the dialectic of desire in the Freudian Unconscious. In Écrits (pp. 323-360). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003059486-9

  • Miller, J. A., & Lacan, J. (2018). The four fundamental concepts of psycho-analysis. Routledge.

  • Myers, K., & Raymond, L. (2010). Elementary school girls and heteronormativity: The girl project. Gender & Society, 24(2), 167-188. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243209358579

  • Rich, A. (1980). Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 5(4), 631-660. https://doi.org/10.1086/493756

  • Sedgwick, E. K. (2008). Epistemology of the closet. University of California Press.

  • The Dangerous Maybe. (2019, June 20). Lacan’s concept of the object-cause of desire (objet petit a). Medium. https://thedangerousmaybe.medium.com/lacans-concept-of-the-object-cause-of-desire-objet-petit-a-bd17b8f84e69

  • Toomey, R. B., McGuire, J. K., & Russell, S. T. (2012). Heteronormativity, school climates, and perceived safety for gender nonconforming peers. Journal of Adolescence, 35(1), 187-196. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2011.03.001

  • Warner, M. (1991). Introduction: Fear of a queer planet. Social Text, 29, 3-17. https://doi.org/10.2307/2076123

  • Zizek, S. (1989). The sublime object of ideology. Verso.

  • Žižek, S. (1997). The plague of fantasies. Verso.