Why decolonization and freedom of speech need feminine law

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Psychoanalysis and Politics

24 November 2021

Time: 18:00 - 19:30

Price: £28

Location: online


By Jill Gentile 24 November at 6pm London time / 7pm Berlin time

Part of the Psychoanalysis and Politics digital series Crises and Transmission.

If psychoanalysis is to fulfill its potential as a decolonizing theory and praxis, it must subject itself to its own post-colonial critique so that we might reveal what has remained effectively obscured or ‘naturalized’ within our discourses.

Such critique exposes the political and clinical urgency of appealing to an unwritten, found (in the Real) feminine law, beyond psychoanalysis’s conventional laws of the father. Neither prohibitive nor inscribed, feminine law opens a primordial and paradoxical signifying space for indigeneity, heterogeneity, and intuitively anarchic, border crossing expressions that counter the weight of colonizing signifying baggage. Feminine law, a law of no rule and no one’s rule, enables paternal law to function ethically while also helping psychoanalysis to resuscitate its rule of free association, to support an inclusive, robust, disruptive praxis for freedom of speech and for desire’s voice, and to claim its radical, emancipatory potential.

Jill Gentile, PhD is faculty member at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis and the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity. She is an associate editor of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and Studies in Gender and Sexuality, and also sits on several other editorial boards. She was awarded the 2017 Gradiva Award for her essay, “What is Special about Speech?” Her book Feminine Law: Freud, Free Speech, and the Voice of Desire, with Michael Macrone (Karnac, 2016) explores psychoanalysis as a praxis of emancipatory democracy through the lenses of freedom of speech and the feminine.

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