Psychoanalysis

Six Theses on Anxiety & the Prevention of Militancy

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Today’s public secret is that everyone is anxious. Anxiety has spread from its previous localised locations (such as sexuality) to the whole of the social field. All forms of intensity, self-​expression, emotional connection, immediacy, and enjoyment are now laced with anxiety. It has become the linchpin of subordination. One major part of the social underpinning of anxiety is the multi-​faceted omnipresent web of surveillance. The NSA, CCTV, performance management reviews, the Job Centre, the privileges system in the prisons, the constant examination and classification of the youngest schoolchildren. But this obvious web is only the outer carapace. We need to think about the ways in which a neoliberal idea of success inculcates these surveillance mechanisms inside the subjectivities and life-​stories of most of the population.

The Dreadful Dr Freud

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Macedonian writer and Gender Studies devotee, Goce Smilevski, draws in his latest novel on an alleged episode from the life of Sigmund Freud to show that the founder of psychoanalysis was a misogynistic pervert, fascinated by Nazism, and obsessed with money and masturbation: in short, a repulsive character. To do so, he has constructed a novel written in…

Immigration Manhunts and British Post-​Colonial Identity

No I will not show you my papers

Last week the British government’s Border Agency (UKBA) pushed its new and controversial “go home” campaign into full effect along with an accompanying, and highly criticized immigration stop and search at several London tube stations. The vast majority of the criticism to UKBA’s campaign has been largely focused on the basic premises that the Tories are…

Law and The Senses: Symposium, Performance, Phenomenon?

Pietro Paolini - Allegory of the Five Senses

The announcement of the event ‘Law and the Senses’ at the University of Westminster sounded intriguing. The call for papers asked: What is Law’s relationship to senses? In a sense, Law, the anaesthetic par excellence, is constantly engaged in numbing the sense into common sense; manipulating, channelling and controlling the sensible; inserting properties and forbidding contacts; dissimulating violence, regulating sounds…

Seven Theses on Human Rights: (6) Desire

Portrait

Liberal theories from Immanuel Kant to John Rawls present the self as a solitary and rational entity endowed with natural characteristics and rights and in full control of himself. Rights to life, liberty, and property are presented as integral to humanity’s well-​being. The social contract (or its heuristic restatement through the “original position”) creates society and…

The Lacanian Trials

Jacques Lacan

The 30th anniversary of Lacan’s death in September 2011 was marked by an “intellectual dispute,” one which was not settled in the sphere of ideas or public academic debate, but in a defamation trial in the French criminal courts. While a still on-​going war of petitions and lawsuits is partly informed by individual rivalries, the juridical scope…

Lincoln Unchained: Is Obama the Global Uncle Tom?

Samuel Jackon as Stephen in Django Unchained

Beware. This article contains spoilers. Let’s start with a self-​evident affirmation. Movies, or more precisely Hollywood, is the ultimate contraption of hegemonic ideological diffusion. The prophetic dystopias in which secret police would place the mechanisms of control inside the private realm of people, fall way short of the intrusive violence of today’s reality. Now we pay…

Compliance: The Uncomfortable Reality of Docile Bodies

Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (1736–1806), Coup d’oeil du Théâtre de Besançon, 1804

The movie ‘Compliance’ is disturbing on many different levels, and left me with a feeling of extreme discomfort, and even disorientation, long after the credits rolled, no less because it is based on true events, referred to by the American media as the “strip search prank call scam’. As the story unfolds in the movie in the same sequence as it did in reality, Sandra, the manager of an Ohio “Chickwich” fast-​food outlet, receives a call from a man falsely claiming to be a police detective. Referring to himself as “Officer Daniels” or “Sir”, he accuses a young female cashier, Becky, of stealing money from a customer. He then enlists Sandra’s assistance in physically detaining Becky in the store room of the outlet and strip-​searching her. Sandra and two other employees are caught up in events that become increasingly unsettling, escalate throughout, and ultimately culminate in the degrading sexual abuse and humiliation of Becky by Sandra’s boyfriend, Van.

Capturing The Social Sciences: An Experiment in Political Epistemology

Bee Orchid

According to the title that identifies this panel, we are here to enter into a discussion around the productive powers of something called “critical theory”. At first sight, critique and productivity might strike anyone as being opposite terms. Isn’t critique related to a certain form of negativity? To saying “no” to power? And isn’t the demands for capitalistic “productivity” what some of us criticise, or at least attempt to do so?

The title of this panel, however, seems to put such a taken-​for-​granted relationship at risk. “The Productive power of critical theory”– can we think of a productive criticality? or a critical productivity? What might it mean to engage in a form of critical-​productive thought and how might such engagements contribute to challenging and transforming our knowledge-​practices within the social sciences and the humanities? These are some of the questions with which I will attempt to experiment in what follows.

To be sure, these questions are not new, and many researchers and thinkers in the social sciences and the humanities are becoming increasingly interested in them, to the extent that arguably none of the latest so-​called turns within these fields, be it the “ontological turn”, the “practice turn”, the “affective turn” and so on, leave the question of the relation between critique and productivity untouched.

War Crimes after the War Ended

Many ethnic German refugees in the east were herded onto freight trains bound.

The history of war crimes is one of the sites of the politics of memory par excellence. The arrangements of world politics today still seat on the consequences of the Second World War –the permanent members of the UN Security Council being one of the more visible. The legitimacy of the contemporary world order depends to…

To Finn Finn Finn-​Again with Finnegans Wake: Julian Assange’s Radio Interview of 21st December 2010

Julian Assange

The book ends (Fin), only to begin once more (again); James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is the eternal return of its hero, Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker. This time around, the book may read differently, as it always does, but the basic plot remains the same. Whether we’re talking about Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (as Joyce does), Charles Stewart…

Towards a Radical Anti-​Capitalist Schizophrenia?

Francis Bacon second version of triptych 1944–3

Internet shopping has entered mainstream culture. Every major corporation in the world has a web site offering product information, interactive advertisements, and, increasingly, the ability to buy products on-​line. Discount books, pizza delivery, stocks, and just about anything else you can imagine are available for purchase in cyberspace. Internet based commerce exemplifies and extends the trends…