‘Psychoanalysis in the Wake’ by Stephen Frosh | London Critical Theory Summer School 2021


Psychoanalysis has a long history of engagement with racism, often through theorising racism’s sources. It has nevertheless been criticised for its neglect of Black experience and its narrowness in relating to the social realities of racism as lived in the wider Black community.

Very recently, there have been attempts by psychoanalytic institutes and practitioners to respond positively to the emergence and strengthening of the Black Lives Matter and decolonising movements. In this talk, the possibility of this response is examined through the lens of one particular Black studies text that has had a substantial impact and offers one of the clearest and most potent articulations of Black lives in the wake of slavery. This is Christina Sharpe’s book, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being.

This session draws out some of the issues from In the Wake that seem to have most potential for challenging psychoanalysis to rethink some of its assumptions and practices in relation to the ongoing violence of antiblack racism.

This is a recording from 7th July 2021. Run by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, the internationally renowned London Critical Theory Summer School enables graduate students and academics to engage in a two-week course of study with acclaimed critical thinkers.

Stephen Frosh is Professor in the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, UK. He is the author of many books and papers on psychosocial studies and on psychoanalysis, including most recently Those Who Come After: Postmemory, Acknowledgement and Forgiveness (2019).

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