Why decolonization and freedom of speech need feminine law

JILL GENTILE in dialogue with BARNABY BARRATT   Nov. 24th at 6 pm London time/ 7 pm Berlin time/ 1 pm New York time/ 8 pm Cape Town and Jerusalem time

 Part of the Psychoanalysis and Politics digital series Crises and Transmission


If psychoanalysis is to fulfill its potential as a decolonizing theory and praxis, it must subject itself to its own post-colonial critique so that we might reveal what has remained effectively obscured or ‘naturalized’ within our discourses. Such critique exposes the political and clinical urgency of appealing to an unwritten, found (in the Real) feminine law, beyond psychoanalysis’s conventional laws of the father. Neither prohibitive nor inscribed, feminine law opens a primordial and paradoxical signifying space for indigeneity, heterogeneity, and intuitively anarchic, border crossing expressions that counter the weight of colonizing signifying baggage. Feminine law, a law of no rule and no one’s rule, enables paternal law to function ethically while also helping psychoanalysis to resuscitate its rule of free association, to support an inclusive, robust, disruptive praxis for freedom of speech and for desire’s voice, and to claim its radical, emancipatory potential.

Jill Gentile, PhD is faculty member at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis and the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity. She is an associate editor of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and Studies in Gender and Sexuality, and also sits on several other editorial boards. She was awarded the 2017 Gradiva Award for her essay, “What is Special about Speech?” Her book Feminine Law: Freud, Free Speech, and the Voice of Desire, with Michael Macrone (Karnac, 2016) explores psychoanalysis as a praxis of emancipatory democracy through the lenses of freedom of speech and the feminine.

Barnaby B. Barratt a training analyst in the South African Psychoanalytic Association and a supervising analyst in the Indian Psychoanalytic Society. He is a full clinical member of both the International Psychoanalytical Association and the European Association for Body Psychotherapy. He is the author of the trilogy “Rediscovering Psychoanalysis”; What is Psychoanalysis? 100 Years after the ‘Secret Committee, Radical Psychoanalysis: An Essay on Free-associative Praxis, and Beyond Psychotherapy: On Becoming a (Radical) Psychoanalyst, all published by Routledge.

This event has passed. The film based on the seminar is available for rental on Vimeo, here.