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Psychoanalysis as Decolonial Judaism

Pears Institute Lunchtime Seminar

Event Information

29th October, 2019
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Birkbeck, University of London
Stephen Frosh, Birkbeck, University of London

In some recent work on decolonization, there has been an attempt to claim some Jewish writers of the twentieth century as participating in a rethinking of ‘barbarism’ that aligns Jewish thought with the decolonial movement. This is problematic, especially because post-Holocaust and Zionist discourses have positioned Jews normatively as part of European ‘civilization’ opposed to barbarism. Nevertheless, the reclaiming of a radical Jewish tradition allied with other movements of the oppressed may provide resources for barbaric thinking, using ‘barbaric’ here in the positive sense to mean that which confronts the hegemony of European colonial thought. The relative absence of psychoanalysis from this discussion is striking. Given the place of psychoanalysis both as a ‘colonial’ discipline and as a contributor to critical and postcolonial thought, can it be seen in the positive tradition of Jewish barbarism? This seminar offers an account of Jewish barbaric possibilities and suggests ways in which psychoanalysis might connect with them.

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