Skip to main content Skip to navigation

For a Materialist Psychoanalysis Conference

University of Warwick, May 8-9, 2015

Keynote Speakers:

Dina Al-Kassim (University of British Columbia)

John Fletcher (University of Warwick)

Conference Organisers:
Daniel Katz and Christian Smith, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick
All Events: Social Sciences Building, University of Warwick


Registration Now closed.

Scroll down for archived videos.


Conference Programme

Friday, May 8: Post-Graduate / Early Career Seminars
(Auditors Welcome)

12.30-13.00: Registration (in front of Seminar Room S0.10 (Social Sciences Building))

13.00-15.00: Seminar 1

Chair - Christian Smith (Warwick)
Guest moderator - Dina Al-Kassim (British Columbia)
1. Efstathea Veremi
2. Joe Shafer (Warwick)
3. Tamas Nagypal (York, Toronto)
4. Ana Tomcic (Zagreb)
5. Andrew Stones (Warwick)
6. Alireza Fakhrkonandeh (Warwick)

Coffee Break and registration in front of seminar room

15:30-17:30pm - Seminar 2. Room S0.10

Chair - Christian Smith (Warwick)
Guest moderator - John Fletcher (Warwick)
1. Gila Ashtor (Tufts)
2. Rafael Dernbach (Cambridge)
3. James Cetkovski (Oxford)
4. Hannah Proctor (Birkbeck)
5. Kirsten Haywood (East Anglia)
6. Ivan Juritz (Queen Mary, London)

Saturday, May 9: Keynotes, Panels, Papers

9.00-9.45 Registration (SO.21, Social Sciences Building)
9.45 Opening and Welcome: Daniel Katz (Warwick)
10:00- 11:15 Keynote Address (1):

Dina Al-Kassim (British Columbia): "Said Avec Fanon: A Psychoanalytic Critique of Postcolonial Capital"
Chair: Daniel Katz
11:15- 11:30 Coffee break

11:30- 13:15 Panel 1
Chair: Oliver Davis (Warwick)
1. Miguel de Beistegui (Warwick) - " 'The Political Honour of Psychoanalysis': Lacan from a Foucaultian Perspective"
2. Tamara Dellutri (CFAR) + Carlos Gómez Camarena (Diderot-Iberoamericana) - "The Latin American 'Lacanian Left': A Materialism of the Letter."

13:15-14:15 Lunch

14:15- 16:00 Panel 2
Chair: Julie Walsh (Warwick)
1. Laura Chernaik (Site for Contemporary Psychoanalysis) - "Friendship and the Irreconcilable in Walter Benjamin and Gretel Karplus's Letter Writing"
2. Christian Smith (Warwick) - "Wilhelm Reich's Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis"

3. Benjamin Levine (Queen Mary, London) - "Misreadings & Misleading: Reification in Cultural Apprehension of the Psychoanalytic and Political"

16:00-16:30 Coffee Break

16:30 - 17:45 Keynote (2):

John Fletcher (Warwick) - "Psychoanalysis' Challenge to Materialism"

Chair: Christian Smith

17:45-18:00 Closing Remarks and Farewell: Daniel Katz

Wine Reception


The purpose of this conference is to consider the usefulness of psychoanalysis for political critique, as well as politically-oriented frameworks for reading cultural phenomena. Rather than view psychoanalysis as a transhistorical, universal paradigm for resolving the mysteries of the human in all their manifestations, the goal will be to explore how psychoanalytic inquiry provides a way into history, rather than an escape from it. In terms of the current global economic predicament, we hope to investigate how psychoanalysis can help us move beyond the limited “rational choice” theories of neo-liberal economics without replacing them with a potentially problematic form of socialist rationalism sometimes embraced by the left. How can we envisage an economically egalitarian, cooperative, and democratic society while acknowledging that the symptom and the unconscious are inexpugnable from all social constructions? How can psychoanalysis help us to respond to the historical lesson of the twentieth century in which so many explicitly Marxist experiments perpetuated relations of domination in other forms and spectacularly failed to produce the transformation of social relations which is anti-capitalism’s greatest promise?

The relationship between psychoanalysis and Marxism has been fraught with tension throughout its history. Some Marxists claim that psychoanalysis is not materialist. However, this assertion suffers from the undialectical assumption that psychoanalysis is a homogeneous system of thought. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many strands of contending scholarship that fall under the umbrella term psychoanalysis. Some are more materialist than others. In fact, it is possible to imagine that psychoanalysis could be a tool for a critique of contradictions such as that between materialism and non-materialism. Similar to Marxism, psychoanalysis should provide the means for its own auto-critique.

To investigate these broad questions, we intend to examine the history of joint articulations of psychoanaltyic and progressive thought—specifically Marxist—in the hopes of constructing new paradigms for progressive thinking and action. In particular, this conference calls for papers that explore or theorise psychoanalysis as a materialist practice. In this regard, we look forward to work on figures, groupings, and tendencies such as Surrealism, Reich, the Frankfurt School, the Situationists, the Lacanian-Althusserian nexus, schizoanalysis, queer studies, feminism, post-colonial studies, and Žižek, among many others. We would also welcome papers on the relationship between psychoanalysis as an institution and its own left-wing, including the relationship of Freud and his circle to radical politics in Vienna and beyond.


Standard registration: £30.00

Students, unwaged, Warwick staff: £15.00

Registration fees include lunch and wine reception, Saturday, May 9

Please see here for full Terms and Conditions.

All Queries: Daniel Katz ( and Christian Smith (

hrc_logo.jpg Supported by the Humanities Research Centre, the Department for English and Comparative Literary Studies, and the Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature, and the Arts, University of Warwick