1st Edition

Lacan and Race Racism, Identity, and Psychoanalytic Theory

Edited By Sheldon George, Derek Hook Copyright 2021
    324 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    324 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This edited volume draws upon Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to examine the conscious and unconscious forces underlying race as a social formation, conceptualizing race, racial identity, and racism in ways that go beyond traditional modes of psychoanalytic thought.

    Featuring contributions by Lacanian scholars from diverse geographical and disciplinary contexts, chapters span a wide breadth of topics, including white nationalism and contemporary debates over confederate monuments; emergent theories of race rooted in Afropessimism and postcolonialism; analyses of racism in apartheid and American slavery; clinical reflections on Latinx and other racialized patients; and applications of Lacan’s concepts of the lamella, drive and sexuation to processes of racialization. The collection both reorients readers’ understandings of race through its deployment of Lacanian theory and redefines the Lacanian subject through its theorizing of subjectivity in relation to race, racism and racial identification.

    Lacan and Race will be a definitive text for psychoanalytic theorists and contemporary scholars of race, appealing to readers across the fields of psychology, cultural studies, humanities, politics, and sociology.

    Introduction: theorizing race, racism, and racial identification 

    Sheldon George and Derek Hook

    PART I

    Reading racism through Lacan

    1 The bedlam of the lynch mob: racism and enjoying through the other


    2 Pilfered pleasure: on racism as "the theft of enjoyment"


    3 Confederate signifiers in Vermont: fetish objects and racist enjoyment


    4 The function and field of speech and language in white nationalist manifestoes


    5 Oedipal Empire: psychoanalysis, Indigenous Peoples, and the Oedipus Complex in colonial context



    Racial identification and the subversion of race 

    6 In medium race: traversing the fantasy of post-race discourse


    7 The object of apartheid desire: a Lacanian approach to racism and ideology


    8 Raced group pathologies and cultural sublimation



    Race and the Clinic 

    9 Race, perversion, and jouissance in Portrait of Jason


    10 The lost souls of the barrio: Lacanian psychoanalysis in the Ghetto


    11 Dereliction: Afropessimism, anti-Blackness, and Lacanian psychoanalysis


    12 Japanese inter-signifier subjects: jouissance in the locus of the character



    Theorizing the racialized Lacanian subject 

    13 The Lacanian subject of race: sexuation, the drive, and racial subjectivity


    14 Skin-things, fleshy matters, and phantasies of race: Lacan’s myth of the lamella


    15 Fanon’s "zone of nonbeing": Blackness and the politics of the Real


    Afterword: there is only one race…




    Sheldon George is professor and chair of English at Simmons University, USA. He is the author of Trauma and Race: A Lacanian Study of African American Racial Identity.

    Derek Hook is an associate professor of Psychology at Duquesne University, USA, and an extraordinary professor of Psychology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is the author of Six Moments in Lacan.

    '"Lacan" and "race" seem two totally disparate notions: obscure French theory, brutal social struggles... However, this book provides an explosive mixture of the two - after reading it, neither Lacanian theory nor racism and anti-racist struggles will appear the same to you. George and Hook demonstrate that authentic theory is needed today more than ever. An instant classic!  

    Slavoj Žižek, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

    'Lacan and Race arrives at a very significant and urgent historical moment, one that symbolically and existentially speaks to the logics of racism as necropolitical, consumptive, phantasmatic, and a problematic pleasurable perversity. Given the unabashed reemergence of white racism within the context of a greater neo-fascist threat, its analysis is critically needed.'

    George Yancy, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Philosophy at Emory University, USA 

    'This groundbreaking volume, edited by Sheldon George and Derek Hook, turns conventional notions of race and racism on their head, delivering compelling Lacanian perspectives from leading scholars in the field. Including thought-provoking ideas such as racism as enjoyment and race as an object of the drive - as well as covering a breadth of forms of contemporary racism - this book will undoubtedly inspire future scholarship and conversations about race alike! With Lacan and Race: Racism, Identity and Psychoanalytic Theory, George and Hook have brought us what will undoubtedly serve as the central text on the subject for many years to come.'

    Stephanie Swales, University of Dallas, co-author of Psychoanalysing Ambivalence with Freud and Lacan: On and Off the Couch

    'Written at a time of heightened polarization, xenophobia, and ethno-nationalism, the essays in this collection detail various ways to alter the structures of hatred and otherness that make racism seem immovable and inevitable. Probing and incisive, the essays draw on a range of insights from Lacanian psychoanalysis concerning race transference and unconscious fantasy, the enjoyment of the Other, and the forms of jouissance that continue to propel and underwrite racism today. Insightful, rigorous, and strongly recommended.'

    Christopher Lane, editor of The Psychoanalysis of Race

    'Of late, Lacanian theory has come to play an increasingly important role in critical analyses of gender and sexuality. This sterling collection presents the strongest case to date for extending such analysis to the category of race. In powerful, wide-ranging essays, the contributors demonstrate time and again that psychoanalytic concepts such as fantasy, fetishism, jouissance, and disavowal aren’t merely applicable to the phenomena of racial identification and racism, but are absolutely integral to grasping how such phenomena function in the first place. A must read - not only for those still laboring under the (mis)belief that Lacan was an obscurantist whose work has little to contribute to social theory, but especially for those committed to exploring the socio-political purchase of psychoanalysis.'

    Russell Sbriglia, Seton Hall University, USA

    'No doubt race and racism are dynamically back on the agenda, both in the US and internationally. Recent events demand a rigorous attempt to clarify what is at stake beyond the obvious: what keeps returning, what seems to resist understanding and intervention. Focusing on the "other scene" animating the multiplicity of drives, identifications, enjoyments and fantasies involved, psychoanalysis can help considerably in this process. This rigorous and timely collection put together by George and Hook is bound to unsettle and reorient our energies, intellectual and affective, by brilliantly orchestrating an impressive Lacan-inspired re-appraisal of our ongoing predicament.'

    Professor Yannis Stavrakakis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, author of Lacan and the Political and The Lacanian Left: Psychoanalysis, Theory, Politics

    'In a time like ours, when otherness and singularity are universally commodified, nothing like Lacanian psychoanalysis can throw light on the tension between One and Other. In the early 1970s Lacan indeed predicted the explosion of racism in conjunction with "capitalist progress." This wonderful book explores and contextualizes racism by taking seriously Lacan’s insight that its proliferation and tenacity has less to do with what we know about the other than with what we don’t know about ourselves.'

    Fabio Vighi, Cardiff University, UK, and author of Zizek’s Dialectics