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Week 15: Psychologising Africa

This week's seminar will interrogate Wulf Sach's 1937 text, Black Hamlet. In this work, Sachs attempted to test the applicability of modern methods of psychoanalysis in a non-Western context. His interactions with the Manyikan healer 'John Chavafambira' convey insight not only with an individual's pyschological makeup, but a range of ideas about race and medicine in South Africa.


Discussion Questions:

-What does Black Hamlet reveal about psychiatry in a colonial context?

-Is Black Hamlet a reliable source? Why or why not?

-How is traditional African medicine portrayed in Black Hamlet?


Required Reading:

**Wulf Sachs, Black Hamlet (1937). Complete original edition online available through the Internet Archive. A modern reprint (1996) is available through the library.

*Try to read at least one chapter/article about Black Hamlet from the list below to help contextualise your reading. You might also want to read the 'Introduction' to the 1996 edition by Saul Dubow and Jacqueline Rose.


Further Reading:

Andreas Bertholdi, ‘Shakespeare, Psychoanalysis, and the Colonial Encounter: The Case of Wulf Sachs’s Black Hamlet,’’ in Post-Colonial Shakespeares, edited by Ania Loomba and Martin Orkin (London, 1998), pp. 235-258.

Jonathan V. Crewe, 'Black Hamlet : Psychoanalysis on Trial in South Africa' Poetics Today, 22 (2001), 413-433.

Saul Dubow, 'Wulf Sachs's Black Hamlet: A Case of 'Psychic Vivisection'? African Affairs 92 (1993), 519-446.

Sander Gilman, Freud, Race, and Gender (Princeton, 1993)

Richard C. Keller, Colonial Madness: Psychiatry in French North Africa (Chicago, 2007)

Ranjana Khanna, Dark Continents: Psychoanalysis and Colonialism (Raleigh, 2003)

Sloan Mahone and Meghan Vaughan (eds.) Psychiatry and Empire (Basingstoke, 2007)

Jacqueline Rose, ‘‘Wulf Sachs’ Black Hamlet,’’ in The Psychoanalysis of Race, edited by Christopher Lane,
(New York, 1998), pp. 333-352.

Jonathan Sadowsky, Imperial Bedlam (Berkeley, 1999)

Megan Vaughan, Curing Their Ills: Colonial Power and African Illness (Cambridge, 1991), esp. Chapter 5: ‘The madman and the medicine man: Colonial psychiatry and the theory of deculturation,' pp. 100–128