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The taming of psychoanalysis in geography

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In the last decade, social and cultural geography has experienced a 'psychoanalytic turn': geographers have used insights from Freud, Lacan, Klein, Winnicott, Kristeva and others to deepen and re-orient our understandings of subjectivity and socio-spatial formations. In this paper, I argue that in the process, psychoanalytic geography has tended to render psychoanalysis compatible with the imperatives currently driving social and cultural geography (such as the demand to theorize resistance and develop particular understandings of politicized subjectivities and spatialities). Many of Freud's founding insights, however, work at odds with such imperatives: Freud's formulation of the unconscious points to a realm that is not malleable in terms of cultural resignification, and that conceives the individual as subject as much to inertia and repetition as to progressive transformation. The paper demonstrates how geography has worked to tame psychoanalytic theory by downplaying its more politically unpalatable aspects. In so doing, it argues that the time is now right for those aspects to be brought to light.
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Keywords: Freud; Psychoanalysis; cultural geography; psychoanalytic turn; resistance; unconscious

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK

Publication date: 2003-09-01

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