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Eric Smadja: Freud and Culture

When: Wednesday 31st October 2018, 12:30-14:00pm
Venue:Birkbeck, University of London, Dreyfus Room (Room 202, 28 Russell Square)

All welcome; first come, first seated

Speaker: Dr. Eric Smadja

This talk explores the representations of society and culture that Freud developed in the course of his work, distinguishing two periods and discussing the Freudian central notion of Kulturarbeit, which is constructed from a strictly Freudian perspective. Freud constructed a personal socio-anthropology that was distinct from contemporary sociological and anthropological conceptions, and was virulently criticised by the social sciences. But what exactly is meant here by “culture” and “society”? Do we mean Freud’s own Viennese society or Western “civilised” society in general? In addition, Freud was interested in historical and “primitive” societies from the evolutionist perspective of the British anthropologists of his time. The talk considers the interrelationship between these different societies and cultures, and raises many questions. What constitutes a culture? What are its essential traits, its functions, its relationships with society? 

 

Dr. Smadja is a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst, a member of the Société psychanalytique de Paris and of the International Psychoanalytical Association, and a couples psychoanalyst. He works both in Paris and London. He is also an anthropologist, an associate member of the American Anthropological Association and a member of the Society for Psychological Anthropology. 

In 2007, he was awarded the IPA’s Prize for “Exceptional Contribution made to Psychoanalytical Research”. He is the author of the several books, including Laughter (Le Rire) “Que sais-je” series, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1993 (1st ed.), 2011 (4th ed.); 1st English edition, 2013 (College Publications, London); The Oedipus Complex, Crystallizer of the Debate between Psychoanalysis and Anthropology (Le complexe d’Œdipe, cristallisateur du débat psychanalyse/anthropologie), Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2009. 1st English edition by Routledge, October 2017; The Couple: A Pluridisciplinary Story (Le Couple et son Histoire) Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2011 (1st edition) ; 1st English edition in 2016 (Routledge); Freud and Culture (Freud et la Culture), Paris : Presses Universitaires de France,  2013 ; 1st English Edition by Karnac Books and The International Psychoanalytical Association (2015). His most recent book is On Symbolism and Symbolisation (2017): The Work of Freud, Durkheim and Mauss, to be published by Routledge in 2018.

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