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Race and the Psychoanalytic Clinic

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Organizer: Linette Park

Co-Organizer: Prathna Lor

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Psychoanalytic theory continues to be a powerfully productive discourse for queer theory, critical race theory, Asian-American studies, and Black studies. Queer theorists, for example, have located in Sigmund Freud’s “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality” the “polymorphous perversity” that constitutes all human sexuality. Yet, while queer theory and psychoanalysis has had a lot to say about subject formation, the death drive, and anti-social forms of belonging, they have had very little to say on the conditions which allow access to such conceptual models. Conversely, while queer, critical race theorists have deployed psychoanalysis to diagnose the social conditions that generate racialized subjects as inhuman or nonhuman, very little has been said on the topic of the institutional practices of psychoanalysis and race. As Helen Morgan states (2013), reflecting on the status of anti-black racism in the British psychoanalytic context: “What might be thought of as a rather noisy problem has a particular sort of silence within it so that we in psychoanalytic institutions seem unable to talk to ourselves about it.” In a similar register, Black Feminist and African American literary scholar, Hortense Spillers, has proposed for a “psychoanalytics—‘a project that would think through aspects of a psychoanalytic culture criticism and how one might go about determining its shape and style’” in order to reflect on the ways in which a dominant mode of thought in the practice, discourse, and clinical site of psychoanalysis both drive and enervate “race” as problem and concept. Placing these two provocations together, the seminar seeks to explore the role of the psychoanalytic clinic and its practice in relation, or against, the concept of “race.” While not bound to clinical practice, the seminar asks what clinical re-imaginings and revisions might make possible for psychoanalytic theory. At the same time, it also aspires to consider what and/or how these reimaginings might make impossible, or the foreclosure, to conceive racialized subjects and subjectivity. It, therefore, invites papers on (but not limited to): the unconscious and racial violence; the clinic, accessibility, and (dis)ability; topology and sites of analysis; policing and desire; race and queerness; literature, discourse, and the unthought; psychoanalytic thinkers and practitioners (such as Frantz Fanon and Ralph Ellison); fantasies of race; critique of “post-race” and colorblindness; race and trauma; the racist and/or racial imaginary; clinical thinking, otherwise; psychoanalytic landscapes; psychoanalytic case histories; intersubjectivity and kinship; libidinal economies, race, and erasure; dialectization, desire, and demand; social death, the death drive, and economies of pleasure  Seminar co-convened by Prathna Lor, Linette Park, and Hortense Spillers; please email questions to: p.lor@mail.utoronto.ca or linettep@uci.edu

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