Conference: Psychoanalysis, Money and the Economy

2 11 2009

A three day conference convened by David Bennett (University of Melbourne) and Ivan Ward (Freud Museum)
supported by Birkbeck College, the London Consortium and the Australian Research Council.

Freud once warned his fellow analysts that there are two subjects that “civilized people” will always treat “with the same inconsistency, prudishness and hypocrisy” but about which psychoanalysts must insist on speaking with “the same matter-of-fact frankness”, namely: “money matters” and “sexual matters”. Yet the psychoanalytic profession has often followed Freud’s own example in decoding “money matters” as symbolic displacements of “sexual matters”. What would speaking “frankly” about money and psychoanalysis entail, not least during the current “global financial crisis”? This conference, and the volume of essays that will result from it, aims to explore all aspects of the nexus between psychoanalysis, money and the economy, including, but not limited to:

• psychoanalytic interpretations of economic behaviour, including the psychology of compulsive spending and saving, financial risk-taking and gambling, stock-market booms and busts, the ‘highs’ and ‘depressions’ of economies, financial traders and investors

• the roles of money and economic models in psychoanalytic theory and case histories

• the history of attempts to fuse psychoanalytic with economic explanations of social and cultural processes, as in the Freudo-Marxist tradition and its critiques of liberal economics’ theories of Homo oeconomicus, or as in Keynes’s recourse to psychoanalysis to explain the ‘irrationality’ of money-hoarding

• the roles of money and class in the analyst–analysand relationship, the psychotherapeutic encounter, and in analysands’ narratives

• psychoanalytic interpretations of monetary transactions and relationships in fiction, film and fantasy

• histories, theories and practices of libidinal economy, including sexual-economic revolutionary theories and movements

• how psychoanalysis as a profession, an institution, and a body of theory is articulated wth specific economic conditions and trends, whether regionally, nationally or internationally.

Confirmed speakers, to date, include: Etienne Balibar (Univ. Paris X-Nanterre), Zygmunt Bauman (Univ. of Leeds), David Bennett (Univ. of Melbourne), Claire Colebrook (Penn State Univ.), Stephen Frosh (Birkbeck, Univ. of London), Bruce Fink (Duquesne Univ.), Jean-Joseph Goux (Rice Univ.), Viktor Mazin (St Petersburg Univ.), Susie Orbach (London), Andrew Samuels (Univ. of Essex), Bernard Stiegler (Pompidou Centre and Goldsmiths, Univ. of London). Gillian Tett (Financial Times) and Vincent Cable (Shadow Chancellor, Liberal Democrats, House of Commons) have also agreed in principle to contribute, subject to their availability. Invited but as-yet-unconfirmed speakers include: Rachel Bowlby, Laura Mulvey, Eric Santner and Slavoj Zizek. The pre-conference programme will include a workshop convened by Andrew Samuels on the theme: “What kind of economic system do we want? – an exploration with psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in mind”. Pre-conference events will be held at the Freud Museum, Hampstead, and the conference venue will be Birkbeck College, Bloomsbury.

For further details, see here.




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