The Psychosis of Race: A Lacanian Approach to Racism and Racialization

Routledge, 2023

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The Psychosis of Race offers a unique and detailed account of the psychoanalytic significance of race, and the ongoing impact of racism in contemporary society.

Moving beyond the well-trodden assertion that race is a social construction, and working against demands that simply call for more representational equality, The Psychosis of Race explores how the delusions, anxieties, and paranoia that frame our race relations can afford new insights into how we see, think, and understand race's pervasive appeal. With examples drawn from politics and popular culture—such as Candyman, Get Out, and the music of Kendrick Lamar—critical attention is given to introducing, as well as explicating on, several key concepts from Lacanian psychoanalysis and the study of psychosis, including foreclosure, the phallus, Name-of-the-Father, sinthome, and the objet petit a. By elaborating a cultural mode to psychosis and its understanding, an original and critical exposition of the effects of racialization, as well as our ability to discern the very limits of our capacity to think through, or even beyond, the idea of race, is provided.

The Psychosis of Race speaks to an emerging area in the study of psychoanalysis and race, and will appeal to scholars and academics across the fields of psychology, sociology, cultural studies, media studies, and the arts and humanities.

'The Psychosis of Race usefully intervenes upon contemporary theories of race and racism. By drawing attention to a psychotic structure that underlies the anxieties, delusions, and fantasies that spur racial violence in our present historical moment, this study takes Lacanian psychoanalysis in directions it has not fully explored.' Sheldon George, author of Trauma and Race: A Lacanian Study of Race

'In arguing that our relationship to race is organized by the psychic structure of psychosis, Jack Black both aptly diagnoses our contemporary moment and puts forward an "ethical sensibility" for overcoming race and racism's psychic hold. Specifically, through an accessible exposition of key Lacanian concepts and original analyses of popular cultural artifacts, The Psychosis of Race sets us on the path to forging creative and agentic possibilities for overcoming our attachment to race as a futile attempt to secure our place within an unreliable socio-symbolic field.' Jennifer Friedlander, author of Real Deceptions: The Contemporary Reinvention of Realism

'In this truly invigorating and critical analysis, Jack Black utilizes the vocabulary of terms developed by Jacques Lacan for the treatment and conceptualization of psychosis and applies them, in a distinctive cultural mode, to the psychical life of racialization, racism, and racial identity. In so doing, he moves us beyond the "post race" consensus and the shortcomings of equal representation as adequate responses to racist social structure. He highlights the distinctive analytical potential of thinking our psychical entanglements with race in terms that are uniquely illuminating.' Derek Hook, author of Six Moments in Lacan and co-editor of Lacan on Depression and Melancholia