1st Edition

Psycurity Colonialism, Paranoia, and the War on Imagination

By Rachel Jane Liebert Copyright 2019
    176 Pages
    by Routledge

    176 Pages
    by Routledge

    Across the world, the rhetoric and violence of white supremacy is rising up. Yet, explanations for white supremacist attacks typically direct attention toward an unreasonable, paranoid state of mind, and away from the neocolonial security state that made them.

    Offering a response to US expressions of white supremacy, Liebert reads paranoia as a dis-ease of coloniality by following its circulation within the ultimate place of reason, indeed a key arbitrator of it: Psychology. Through reflexivity, interviews, participant observation, scientific artefacts, and public art, this unique work seeks to argue for and experiment with unsettling the entwined coloniality of Psychology and the current political moment, joining with struggles for a world where it is not only white lives that matter. Tracing the spinning cogs and affective coils of the prodromal movement – a program of research that, capturing potential psychosis, illustrates the serpentine workings of a control society – Liebert argues that, within a context of psycurity, paranoia hides as reasonable suspicion, predicts the future, brands threatening bodies, and grows through fear, thereby seeping into the cracks of white supremacy, stabilizing it. Catching this argument as itself enacting psycurity, she then engages the more-than-human to search for paranoia’s decolonizing, otherworldly potential; one that may revive the psykhe – breath – of psychologies too.

    Calling for psychologies to leave Psychology’s comfort zone and make space for imagination, this performative, interdisciplinary work will engage students, researchers, and activists from an array of disciplines who wish to examine a critical and creative response to present-day racism and fascism.

    1. Terrain  Blood. Borders. Book.  2. Machine  Terror. Reason. Prodrome. Smoke. 'America'. Serpent 3. Cogs  Nets. Borderguards. Custody. Search. Fuel.  4. Coils  Legacy. Psycurity. Supremacy.  5. Roots  Wound. Cliff. Coatlicue. Borderland. Ecology. Beside-the-mind.  6. Compost  Space-making. Re-turning. Magical ideation.  7. Serpent Otherworldly correspondence. War on imagination. Weaponless.


    Rachel Jane Liebert, from Aotearoa New Zealand, has a Psychology Lectureship at the University of East London and a Psychology PhD from the City University of New York. Seeking to breach the genocidal legacies of her settler and intellectual ancestry, she collaborates with decolonizing and feminist scholarship, art, and activism.

    ‘Don’t read Psycurity: Colonialism, Paranoia, and the War on Imagination simply because Rachel Jane Liebert is brilliant. Nor because she elaborates with terrifying specificity the well funded, porous membrane that links psychology and psychiatry to surveillance and security technology. Don’t read this book only because Liebert meticulously interrogates the claws of colonialism and white supremacy sutured into the long and dangerous psychological coils of paranoia.

    But do, please, curl into bed with this volume if you yearn for a text penned in critical theory that provokes and incites; a manuscript that radically challenges the eugenic history and yet resuscitates the wild possibilities of a decolonizing psychology; a text that interrupts the common sense of "distress" with aesthetic provocation and a manuscript that spikes the radical imagination for madness and poetry, social theory and art, revolution and justice.

    And then you will thank Liebert for a theoretical, empirical and aesthetic journey through terror, madness and the gift of radical imagination.’ - Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Critical Psychology, The Graduate Center City University of New York, US.

    ‘This is an intellectually demanding, thoughtful, original, and personal book. It is not only of interest in terms of content, forasmuch as Rachel Liebert represents a new generation of critical psychologists that need not rely on classical canons of scholarship to make their case. She demonstrates that reflection can draw on a variety of streams in the critically-oriented humanities and social sciences and how a transdisciplinary approach in pursuing psychosocial questions can be advanced. Critical psychology and critical reflection are in good hands and the book gives reason to be hopeful.’ - Dr. Thomas Teo, Professor of Psychology, York University, Canada.