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Lacan and Whiteness: From Theory to Clinical Practice

  • May 15, 2022
  • 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • Zoom


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Lacan and Whiteness: From Theory to Clinical Practice

Sunday, May 15, 2022

12:00 - 2:00 PM

Where:          Live via Zoom

*Pre-registration required for Zoom invitation

Cost:              Members: $20  

 New professionals (3 years): $10

                      Students: Free

 Non-members: $35


CE Credits available

We will begin with a discussion of Recitatif, a short story by Toni Morrison.  Readers of this story will find themselves looking at race through a Lacanian lens absent any formal acquaintance with Lacan!  Building on this exercise, our session facilitator will offer a lecture in which she will help us examine at a distance the lens we’ve already put to use in order to better appreciate its analytic power. 

From a Lacanian perspective, racism is not a problem of knowing the wrong things about others, which we could readily correct and eliminate with anti-racist education. Rather, racism is a problem of desire.  Racism exists because it promises those who invest in it access to being better, more human, more full; indeed, it promises access to being itself.  Yet, because racism requires testimony to visible difference in order to exist and fulfill its promise, racism is fundamentally contradictory.  When the human subject perceives that racial others’ desires are met—through their music, food, religious and cultural beliefs—that subject fears their own access to objects of desire will be blocked by these others.  Paradoxically, however, the racial other also is the focus of enjoyment, albeit a disavowed enjoyment.  Anxieties associated with this contradiction are tenacious and fuel deep investments in racism—specifically, in our conversation in this session, investments in whiteness.  Whiteness is a signifier that racializes the body around zones of disavowed enjoyment, promising to fill a constitutive lack in being that the “sexing” of human subjects has not and cannot overcome. 

With a Lacanian theory of whiteness foregrounded, we will discuss its potential application in a clinical setting to see how the racially identified subject and its others might be disentangled from ensnarement in racialized desire.


1)     to view racial identification through a Lacanian lens

2)     to bring to the fore clinical considerations in light of this perspective 


12:00 - Welcome

12:05 - Short story as "case study" 

               -Breakout groups (20 min) 

               -Large group discussion (20 min) 

12:45 - Break

12:50 - Lecture

1:30 - Discussion

2:00 - End 

SESSION PREPARATION (20-25 minutes before May 15)

1)     For 2 and 3 below:

·       If your last name begins with the letter A-K, focus on Twyla.

·       If your last name begins with the letter L-Z, focus on Roberta.

2)     Read Recitatif, a short story by Toni Morrison. 

·       Even reading half (10 minutes) will enhance understanding of Lacan. 

3)     As you read, please consider these questions:

·       Who is each woman?  (e.g., age/ages in story, gender identity, race, education, socioeconomic status, marital situation, etc.)

·       Were Twyla or Roberta to present in your practice, what two concerns from different times in each woman’s life can you imagine each sharing with you? 


Martha J. Reineke (Ph.D. Vanderbilt University) is Professor Emeritus at the University of Northern Iowa, where she has taught courses on Existentialism, feminist theory, and the psychoanalysis of religion.  She is the author of Sacrificed Lives:  Kristeva on Women and Violence (Indiana University Press, 1997) and Intimate Domain:  Desire, Trauma, and Mimetic Theory (Michigan State University Press, 2014).  She is the editor, with David Goodman, of Ana-María Rizzuto and the Psychoanalysis of Religion:  The Road to the Living God (Lexington Books, 2017).  For the past decade, she has planned sessions at the Psychology and the Other Conference (Boston College), which brings together psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, and scholars for dialogue about pressing issues located at the intersection of clinical practice and psychoanalytic theory. 

100 W. Franklin Avenue, Suite 200

Minneapolis, MN  55404


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