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Aesthetics, Ethics, and Politics in Bracha L. Ettinger's Matrixial Psychoanalysis

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Organizer: Sheila Cavanagh

Co-Organizer: Julian Gutierrez

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Worldwide renowned feminist philosopher, psychoanalyst, and artist, Bracha L. Ettinger has inspired new thoughts in art history and art theory, and her theories have contributed to renovating French philosophy and feminist theory, as well as psychoanalysis. Working at the intersection of female sexuality, psychoanalysis, and aesthetics, Ettinger extends the work of contemporary philosophers and psychoanalysts. Ettinger has pioneered a revolutionary theory of the feminine in human subjectivity, providing us the resources to rethink the imbrication of psychic pain with the struggle for social and political justice and offering us an antidote to the persisting structures of social and political violence. Ettinger provides us with a radical understanding of the specificity of feminine difference beyond patriarchal concepts. Ettinger challenges the phallocentric and Oedipal logics that underpin our still dominant patriarchal culture and offers an alternative way of looking at others beyond our conventional phallic economies of looking. Ettinger emphasizes self-fragilizing trans-subjective encounter-events, via art-working or in our relations with others, providing us models of relating to others based on acts of creation and co-creation. She expands and opens up boundaries and limits, making us reconsider and rethink the relations between and binary oppositions of inside and outside. Ettinger provides us with new ways of understanding compassion, hospitality, or responsibility as the basis of our ethical and political relations. Connecting the philosophy of art, artistic practice, and psychoanalytic theory with personal experience and shared traumatic traces of the Shoah and of feminine difference, Ettinger emphasizes the gift of femininity to human subjectivity and to our understanding of plurality and difference in the light of the risks of catastrophe in our current world. To explore and reflect on the interdisciplinary nature and increasing influence of Ettinger’s work in the American academy, the organizers welcome proposals for presentations (200-250 words) on the following topics by September 23: the intersection of Ettinger’s matrixial psychoanalysis and the fields of philosophy, psychoanalysis, aesthetics, ethics, feminist, and queer theory, as well as art-history, Holocaust and more generally genocide studies, cultural studies, film, and comparative literature. We welcome papers that foreground the imbrication of Ettinger’s work with modern and contemporary art and literature, Ettinger’s emphasis on the systemic relations among psychoanalysis and ethics across extended historical periods, the interfaces of psychoanalysis and art, art and ethics, and psychoanalysis and politics, as well as Ettinger’s contribution to contemporary discourses on the feminine, the maternal, subjectivity, trauma, and memory. For further information contact: Sheila Cavanagh ( and Julian Gutierrez (

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