2 – 3 May 2024

Psychoanalysis in Translation

A Global Conversation
The advent of psychoanalysis has led to profound transformations in the understanding of subjectivity in the Western world and beyond. These changes have often been attributed to the fact that, from the 1940s onwards, post-Freudian theories and therapies have been integrated into a dominant discourse produced essentially in the US, penetrating not only psychiatric and medical institutions, but also intellectual life and, through the film industry, much of Western culture. Despite the received view of such political and cultural affinities, psychoanalytic theories and techniques have nevertheless been adopted and developed in very different contexts. Although the institutional centres of psychoanalysis were initially located in Western Europe and in the United States, multiple processes of translation and reception also occurred early on in Latin America, Africa, the Asian and the Arab World. These processes raise important questions about the translatability of psychoanalysis in cultural and political structures different from liberal democracies, sometimes under colonial rule or in postcolonial contexts. Were Freud’s original insights into the unconscious distorted in order to become tools of domination or do his theories lend themselves naturally to such usages, as some authors have claimed? While it seems evident that the unilateral diffusionist model of reception that has prevailed for almost a century must be abandoned, simplistic equations of psychoanalytic practices with political contents or ideologies cannot provide alternatives.

This conference aims to explore the potentials of writing a history of psychoanalysis from a global perspective through a comparative study of its politics of translation. The major questions to be explored are the following: To what extent can a comparative perspective redraw the geopolitical map of psychoanalysis? How should one account for processes of translation and reception integrating Freudian and post-Freudian theories in other philosophical and ethical systems of thought and belief? What have been the potentials of processes of translation of psychoanalytic practices when dealing with traumatic pasts, both on an individual and a collective level? And, is it possible to reframe the question of the violence of processes of translation within psychoanalysis, which many critics see as being structurally anchored in the asymmetric setting of its practice, especially when it is dealing with subjects and conditions perceived as deviant or marginal?


ICI Berlin
(Click for further documentation)


Ana Antic
Roberto Beneduce
Howard Chiang
Omnia El Shakry
Nancy Rose Hunt
Elizabeth Lunbeck
Andreas Mayer
Marlon Miguel
Romain Tiquet

Organized by

Elizabeth Lunbeck
Andreas Mayer
Romain Tiquet
A Centre Marc Bloch event as part of the ERC-funded programme MaDAf in cooperation with the ICI Berlin

In English

First published on:
Rights: © ICI Berlin
Cite as: Psychoanalysis in Translation: A Global Conversation, conference, ICI Berlin, 2–3 May 2024 <>