In my thesis, I examine the role and interrelation of the body and language in modern cultures and study the often problematic interaction between the individual and the collective. I use various interdisciplinary approaches such as Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, anthropology and phenomenology of theatre to discuss the challenges of constructing identity while facing dehumanizing elements of our everyday life. I define theatre as a paradigm of analysis of human interactions and thus a process of humanization. Theatre acts to negotiate between language and body, while addressing and confronting the self in its inscription within language, culture, and environment. I first study the mirror effect in psychoanalysis as well as in cinema and theatre in order to define the human subject as a spectactor. I then study the problematic of violence as a revealing tool for defining identity using the work of the French playwright Bernard-Marie Koltès. I continue with a discussion of identity as a fluctuating concept and question the role of psychological and physical violence in the construction of identities with the work of the francophone playwright Marie N'diaye.
My dissertation moves toward a new discourse on the relationship between identity and violence, by articulating that the necessary condition for cognition is embodiment. In doing so, I situate my research between the phenomenology of the subject and that of theatre, which reaffirm together the place and responsibility of the self in relation to himself/herself and to the others.