ACLA 2016 Seminar: “Psy-” Elsewhere

“Psy-” Elsewhere

ACLA Seminar, 2016

Harvard: March 17-20

Organizer: Cate I. Reilly, Department of Comparative Literature, Princeton University

I am putting together a seminar entitled, “ ‘Psy-’ Elsewhere” for the 2016 American Comparative Literature Association annual meeting. A description of the seminar can be found below, as well as on the ACLA website at

If interested, please send a 350-word abstracts to no later than September 23.
I look forward to hearing back from you.

Cate I. Reilly

Seminar Description:

Since Freudian psychoanalysis first posited a topographical model of the mind, the notion of an elsewhere in the “psy disciplines” (psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, psychology) has often been associated with either the realm of the unconscious or the totemic objects connected to the archeological structure of psychic processes. From Freud’s collection of Persian rugs and Far Eastern, Greek, Egyptian and Mexican artifacts to Jung’s commentaries on the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the I Ching, the “psy disciplines” have long turned to non- Western sources as both interpretive points of reference and a reservoir of purported wisdom. Yet as these disciplines expanded transnationally, driven by professionalization, the need to standardize treatment practices, and reach new patient populations, they grew increasingly attentive to geo-political elsewhere(s). As Derrida points out in his assessment of “geopsychoanalysis,” the transposition to non-European locations was as much shaped by actual geography as by an institutional imagination of what did (and did not) constitute global reach.

This seminar asks: What is the nature of the “elsewhere” both created by these disciplines but also seen in excess of them? How does it reflect back on these disciplines’ own definition? How is this elsewhere generated, sustained and responded to? When and how is affirmed or resisted? By whom or by what?

This interdisciplinary seminar will examine the “psy disciplines” in contexts beyond Western Europe and the continental U.S., by both looking to narrative works that thematize these intersections and by bringing literary tools to bear on clinical scenarios. The seminar invites papers dealing with authors and theorists whose work reflects on the ambiguous, fraught and politically resonant configurations that resulted as European “psy disciplines” negotiated new local sites of practice and vice versa. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: colonial psychiatry and racism (e.g. Memmi, Mannoni, Fanon, Girindrasekar Bose, Ashis Nandy) problems of translation and the clinic (Lacan and beyond); abuses carried out under the Soviet system; contemporary psy-ops military strategies; psychoanalysis in/and Latin America; the growth of country specific manuals of psychiatric disorders; debates surrounding biopolitics (Hardt and Negri, Agamben, Mbembe, Esposito); global affect management and the relevance of these disciplines for politics (as in Said’s Freud and the Non-European).