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Cultural Imagination in Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice
November 18, 2023 @ 10:30 am - 1:00 pm
Speaker and Content
The mental representations of culture, our cultural imagination, has been a relatively unexplored territory in psychoanalytic discourse. And yet, it is disseminated through myths, legends, iconic artworks and in tales told to stories. Equally, cultural imagination can be seen in parenting, in the future vistas they hold out to their children and even in the way their children are touched, fed and carried about. If the ego is a skin ego, dependent upon the physical body to find its mental representation, then the early life of skin—shaped after all by culture—impacts how ego gets constructed in different cultural contexts.
For more than a century, the cultural imagination of psychoanalysis has been assumed and largely continues to be assumed as being Western, despite Western culture being clearly distinguishable from the cultural imaginations of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Iranian and other non-Western civilizations. The rise of the multi-cultural movement in many Western societies, has resulted in more and more calls from analysts to re-examine the issue of culture in psychoanalysis. Yet despite this, it is the cultures of race and class rather than that of a society or even a civilization that continue to draw most psychoanalytic attention.
The continuing resistance in psychoanalysis to acknowledge the crucial role of cultural imagination in the constitution of the psyche is due to the way psychoanalysis imagines itself. Psychoanalysis’ self-understanding is as a unique, ‘depth’ psychology, in contrast to the more ‘superficial’ psychologies that are oriented towards cultural and social surround of the person. Psychoanalysis considers itself unique in that it can access the instinctual forces operating in the depth of the human psyche, in the unconscious; these are forces of a person’s biological nature that antecede culture. But what if this bedrock of psychoanalytic thought is susceptible to doubt? If we can show how culturally specific and socially constructed our ideas of nature , and thus human nature actually are?
This talk will seek to address questions raised for psychoanalytic theories and models, as also for clinical practice, by the cultural imaginations of non-western civilizations.
PROFESSOR SUDHIR KAKAR, is a psychoanalyst and writer who lives in Goa, India. He is one of the leading figure in the fields of cultural psychology and the psychology of religion.
Dr. Kakar’s person and work have been profiled in The New York Times, Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Neue Zuricher Zeitung, Die Zeit and Le Nouvel Observateur, which listed him as one of the world’s 25 major thinkers. He is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, the Board of Sigmund Freud Archives in the Library of Congress, Washington and the Academie Universelle des Culture, France. In February 2012, he was conferred the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the country’s highest civilian order.
Dr Kakar’s twenty books of non-fiction and six of fiction, include The Inner World, Shamans, Mystics and Doctors , (with J.M. Ross ) Tales of Love, Sex and Danger, Intimate Relations, The Analyst and the Mystic, The Colors of Violence, Culture and Psyche, (with K.Kakar) The Indians: Portrait of a People, (with Wendy Doniger),and Divine: Spirit and Psyche in the Modern world. Four volumes of Sudhir Kakar’s collected essays Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, Religion, Biography are under preparation for publication by Oxford University Press in its series Great Thinkers of Modern Asia.
Programme for the day
The Webinar will be hosted on Zoom on Saturday 18th November. Participants will be sent a Zoom link in advance of the day.
A recording will be made available to all ticket-holders for at least 30 days after the event.
CPD certificates can be provided for those attending the Webinar.
Buy tickets for £25-45 at https://www.hallaminstitute.org/product/ticket-cultural-imagination/
Invitations will be sent out to all those who have registered for the event 24 hours before the event.
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