International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 278


The influence of ideological state apparatuses in identity formation: Althusserian reading of Amiri Baraka’s “In Memory of Radio”

Seyyed Shahabeddin Sadati
Islamic Azad University-Roudehen Branch, Iran.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 15 October 2013
  •  Published: 31 December 2013


The present research with the help of Louis Althusser’s definition of “Ideology” and “Ideological State Apparatuses” (ISAs) attempts to study Amiri Baraka’s well-known poem “In Memory of Radio”. Althusser is important in modern literary theory and criticism because of his redefinition of the Marxist term ideology. According to him, ideology is “a representation of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence”. Althusser believes individuals are always-already subjects and subjects act in and by the system. According to Althusser, it is ideology which functions in material experiences and forms (through ISAs) which changes individuals to ideological subjects within capitalist societies. He adds there is no escape from ideology because we live in ideology, nothing happens outside ideology, and we cannot understand ourselves outside of ideology or we find our identities in front of the mirror of ideology. “In Memory of Radio” is a well-known poem by Amiri Baraka written in his Beat period which has been mentioned in many poetry anthologies. The present research scrutinizes the hidden meaning of “In Memory of Radio” by explaining the function of radio programs, comic series, and religious talks as ISAs. It tries to reveal the negative role of the dominant ideology and radio programs as ISAs in identity formation of individuals in society, African American identities are hailed by White ideology.

Key words: Amiri Baraka, Ideology, ISA, RSA, Louis Althusser.