By the 1920s, psychoanalysis was a technology of both the late-colonial state and anti-imperialism. Insights from psychoanalysis shaped European and North American ideas about the colonial world and the character and potential of native cultures. Psychoanalytic discourse, from Freud’s description of female sexuality as a “dark continent” to his conceptualization of primitive societies and the origins of civilization, became inextricable from the ideologies underlying European expansionism. But as it was adapted in the colonies and then the postcolonies, psychoanalysis proved surprisingly useful for theorizing anticolonialism and postcolonial trauma. Our understandings of culture, citizenship, and self have a history that is colonial and psychoanalytic, but, until now, this intersection has scarcely been explored, much less examined in comparative perspective. Taking on that project, Unconscious Dominions assembles essays based on research in Australia, Brazil, France, Haiti, and Indonesia, as well as India, North Africa, and West Africa. Even as they reveal the modern psychoanalytic subject as constitutively colonial, they shed new light on how that subject went global: how people around the world came to recognize the hybrid configuration of unconscious, ego, and superego in themselves and others. Contributors Warwick Anderson Alice Bullard John Cash Joy Damousi Didier Fassin Christiane Hartnack Deborah Jenson Richard C. Keller Ranjana Khanna Mariano Plotkin Hans Pols
Claire Edington's fascinating look at psychiatric care in French colonial Vietnam challenges our notion of the colonial asylum as a closed setting, run by experts with unchallenged authority, from which patients rarely left. She shows instead a society in which Vietnamese communities and families actively participated in psychiatric decision-making in ways that strengthened the power of the colonial state, even as they also forced French experts to engage with local understandings of, and practices around, insanity. Beyond the Asylum reveals how psychiatrists, colonial authorities, and the Vietnamese public debated both what it meant to be abnormal, as well as normal enough to return to social life, throughout the early twentieth century. Straddling the fields of colonial history, Southeast Asian studies and the history of medicine, Beyond the Asylum shifts our perspective from the institution itself to its relationship with the world beyond its walls. This world included not only psychiatrists and their patients, but also prosecutors and parents, neighbors and spirit mediums, as well as the police and local press. How each group interacted with the mentally ill, with each other, and sometimes in opposition to each other, helped decide the fate of those both in and outside the colonial asylum.
Transnational Unconscious examines psychoanalysis as both a national and trans-national phenomenon. It explores the distinctive national and international aspects of the reception and circulation of psychoanalytic thought and practice, psychoanalysis as a cultural paradigm, and both its oppressive and liberatory potential at different historical periods. While focusing on specific national cases, the essays emphasize the transnational aspects of local reception and diffusion of psychoanalysis, in particular the flow of people, ideas, and practice.