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Psychoanalysis and the Middle East: Discourses and Encounters

Psychoanalysis and History Volume 20, Issue 3

Edited by Omnia El Shakry, Sarah Pursley, Caroline McKusick


Explores psychoanalytic theory and practice in the 20th-century and contemporary Middle East

This special issue stages an encounter between psychoanalysis and the Middle East by reopening the psychoanalytic canon to consider key concepts through unexpected interlocutors, religious traditions, and intellectual formations. This includes bringing Islamic philosophical concepts of the Cloud to bear on conceptions of causality and après coup; and thinking from the point of view of the Last Judgment in dialogue with the therapeutic work of a Moroccan imam and the Lacanian analyst Fouad Benchekroun. Authors also recover lesser known histories of psychoanalytic theory: in the work of Egyptian psychoanalyst Sami-Ali, who developed a distinctly expansive theory of the imaginary influenced by Islamic apophatic theology and his own clinical work; and in Iraqi sociologist ʿAli al-Wardi’s critical reevaluation of the unconscious, via the Islamic revolutionary tradition, as a source of the miraculous. Moving to the contemporary era, chapters tackle the various uses of psychoanalysis in ‘dialogue initiatives’ that delegitimize Palestinians’ use of violence in Palestine/Israel; and in efforts to ‘lay on the couch’ the figure of the jihadi in contemporary France in the service of a secular modernizing project. Engaging critical theory, history, anthropology, and Islamic studies, this special issue will be of interest to all those concerned with psychoanalysis in relation to a geopolitical elsewhere.

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"Introduction," Omnia El Shakry, Sara Pursley, and Caroline McKusick

"Cloud, Precinct of the Theological-Historical," Joan Copjec

"Divine Trial and Experimentum Mentis: The Psychoanalyst, the Imam, and the Ordeal of Madness" Stefania Pandolfo

"Psychoanalysis and the Imaginary: Translating Freud in Postcolonial Egypt," Omnia El Shakry

"ʿAli al-Wardi and the Miracles of the Unconscious," Sara Pursley

"Psychoanalysis Under Occupation: Non-Violence and Dialogue Initiatives as a Psychic Extension of the Closure System," Stephen Sheehi

"Jihad on the Couch," Nouri Gana.