Dr Derek Hook
B.A. Hons & Ph.D. in Psychology (University of the Witwatersrand)
Room 506, 30 Russell Square
Department of Psychosocial Studies
Birkbeck College, University of London
London WC1B 5DT
tel: 020 7079 0664
Research and teaching
Living through the end of the apartheid era in South Africa provided me with the questions that set my research career in motion. How, for example, are we to understand the persistence of race and racism even within ostensibly tolerant and multicultural societies? What is the nature of the relation between subjectivity and power? How, furthermore, might we best grasp the unconscious dimension of ideology? The thread joining these questions is given by the over-arching objective of my research, the goal of developing a wide-ranging ‘analytics of power’ able to grapple with the unconscious and psychological dimensions of racism and ideological subjectivity. Three lines of analysis have proved particularly valuable to me in this respect: Foucault-inspired (discourse analytic), postcolonial and psychoanalytic modes of critique. One of the key objectives of my work is thus to bridge the domains of critical social theory and social psychology, and thus to open up novel conjunctures for critique and analysis.
Foucault and the ‘analytics of power’ : My interests in the subliminal aspects of power and how such aspects might be analysed led me to a discursive approach to subjectivity and to critical discourse analysis.
My PhD, a Michel Foucault-inspired ‘analytics of power’ examined the minutia of influence, control and role-induction in the psychodynamic psychotherapeutic domain, linking the technology of the clinical practitioner to a diffused array of normalizing governmental objectives.
My paper, ‘Discourse, knowledge, materiality’, published in Theory & Psychology in 2001, attempted to pin down a series of methodological injunctions that a close-reading of Foucault could provide for a discursive analysis of power. A linked paper, a Foucauldian contribution to the conceptualization of spatial identity and power in South Africa, ‘Gated communities, heterotopia’ aimed to extend these methodological reflections in reference to the analysis of spatio-discursive topographies.
My first monograph, Foucault, Psychology and the Analytics of Power (2007) further developed these methodological frameworks, elaborating upon Foucault’s critique of psychological individualism and advancing the notion of governmental technologies of affect.
Lacanian Psychosocial Studies: One of my current research and teaching initiatives involves the attempt to retrieve the critical agenda of psychoanalytic social psychology. This tradition, especially in its Frankfurt School and postcolonial variants provides a vital means of analysing a series of contemporary political concerns (the affective ties of Nation and 'race'; the 'psychotechnics' of contemporary regimes of governmentality; the issue of possessive investments in "whiteness", and so on).
A key concern here lies with developing a distinctive psychosocial studies line of analysis that draws on Lacanian theory. Lacanian thought, especially as articulated in the work of Judith Butler, Joan Copjec, Ernesto Laclau, Yannis Stavrakakis, Slavoj Zizek and associated authors provides a distinctive means of approaching themes that much other social theory shies away from (fantasy, unconscious belief, structures of sexual difference, notions of libidinal economy, etc).
Of particular importance here are a series of distinctive Lacanian concepts: the idea of fantasy as ideological mode designed to mask social antagonism; the notion of the big Other as point of symbolic registration and appeal; the concept of jouissance as surplus libidinal 'enjoyment' present in racist fantasies of the theft of enjoyment', and so on. The objective in exploring the analytical usefulness of such concepts is to provide an alternative route of understanding the multiple means in which subjects are located within a given social and ideological field.
This research project has resulted in three jointly edited special issues of journals: 'Psychoanalysis and Social Psychology: Historical Connections and Contemporary Applications' (with Ian Parker, 2008, Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology), 'Intersubjectivity and the impossibility of connection' (with Calum Neill, 2008, Subjectivity) and ‘Zizek and Political Subjectivity’ (also with Calum Neill, 2010, Subjectivity).
Psychoanalysis and racism: Much of my most recent work has taken up a series of psychoanalytic conceptualizations (Fanon's 'phobogenic object'; the Freudian dreamwork; the 'real' of embodiment; the stereotype as fetish; the notion of fantasmatic exchanges) and experimented with their usefulness in explaining facets of racism.
This work takes as its point of departure the Lacanian notion of the 'real' – deadlocks or traumatic impossibilities of human existence that evade symbolic mediation – and investigates their role in consolidating what I refer to 'communities of intolerance'.
This material includes engagements with the literary and theoretical contributions of, among others, Julia Kristeva, Homi Bhabha, J.M. Coetzee, Chabani Manganyi, Frantz Fanon and Steve Biko.
I have attempted to knit together issues of apartheid racism (and the 'post-racism' evidenced in contemporary South Africa) with post-colonial theory and a critical psychology of anti-racism.
One of my research priorities for the next year is to consolidate my published work in this respect – currently a sequence of five published papers – as a book.
My recent text, A Psychology of the Postcolonial: Biko, Fanon, racism and psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2011) collects much of this material and advances a form of ‘vernacular psychoanalysis’ as inspired by Fanon and the Black Consciousness thought of Steve Biko.
My work on the psychoanalysis of racism has dovetailed with my involvement in The Apartheid Archive Project located at Wits University in South Africa, where I am also a research fellow
Psychoanalytic practice and Lacanian theory: In addition to my scholarly work I am a trainee psychoanalyst at the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research in London where I am active in supervision meetings, lectures and seminar groups
- Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis; apartheid racism and the post-apartheid South African context; postcolonial theory (with emphasis on the work of Frantz Fanon); the 'psychic life of power'; discourse theory and the work of Michel Foucault; Lacanian clinical practice and social theory. If you are interested in pursuing research in any of these areas, you should first read our advice on how to apply for MPhil/PhD research before submitting an application.
- Hook, D. (2011). A critical psychology of the postcolonial: Biko, Fanon, racism and psychoanalysis. Routledge: London and New York.
- Hook, D., Franks, B. and Bauer, M. (Eds). (2011) The social psychology of communication. Palgrave: London and New York.
- Hook, D. (2007). Foucault, psychology and the analytics of power. Palgrave: London and New York.
- Hook, D. (2004) (Ed.) Critical psychology. University of Cape Town Press: Cape Town.
- Ratele, K. and Hook, D. (Eds.) (2004). Self, community and psychology. University of Cape Town Press.
- Hook, D., Eagle, G. (Eds). (2002). Psychopathology and social prejudice. University of Cape Town Press: Cape Town.
- Hook, D., Watts, J. and Cockcroft, K. (Eds). (2002). Developmental psychology. University of Cape Town Press: Cape Town.
- Terre Blanche, M., Bhavnani, K. and Hook, D. (Eds). (1999). Body politics: Power, knowledge and the body. Histories of the Present Press: Johannesburg.
- Gholizadeh, S. and Hook, D. (in press). The Discursive Construction of the 1978-9 Iranian Revolution in the Speeches of Ayatollah Khomeini. Journal of Community and Social Psychology.
- Hook, D. (in press). Psychoanalytic contributions to the political analysis of affect. Ethnicities.
- Hook, D. (2011). Narrative form, impossibility and the retrieval of apartheid history. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 16, 71-89.
- Hook, D and Long, C. (2011). The Apartheid Archive Project, heterogeneity and the analysis of racism. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 16, 1-10.
- Bowman, B. and Hook, D. (2011). Paedophile as apartheid event: Genealogical lessons for working with the Apartheid Archive. Psychology in Society, 40, 64-82.
- Hook, D. (2011). Retrieving Biko: A Black Consciousness critique of whiteness. African Identities, 9, 1, 19-32.
- Zizek, S., Aristodemou, M., Frosh, S. and Hook, D. (2010). Unbehagen and the subject: An interview with Slavoj Zizek. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 15, 418-428.
- Hook, D. (2010). Power and Das Ding: Sublimation as a political factor. Journal of the Centre of Freudian Analysis and Research, 20, 91-121.
- Hook, D. and Neill, C. (2010). Zizek and political subjectivity. Subjectivity.
- Hook, D. (2010). The powers of emptiness. Theory and Psychology, 20, 6, 855-870.
- Hook, D. (2009). Restoring universality to the subject. Annual Review of Critical Psychology, 9. http://www.discourseunit.com/arcp/7.htm
- Hook, D. (2009). Lacan's Kantian logic of sexuation. Journal of the Centre of Freudian Analysis and Research, 19, 89-117.
- Hook, D. (2008). Articulating psychoanalysis and psychosocial studies: Limitations and possibilities. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 13, 397-405.
- Hook, D. (2008). Fantasmatic transactions: On the persistence of apartheid ideology. Subjectivity, 24, 275-297.
- Hook, D. and Neill, C. (2008). Perspectives on Lacanian subjectivities. Subjectivity, 24, 247-255.
- Hook, D. (2008). Absolute Other: Lacan's 'Other' as adjunct to critical social psychological analysis? Personality and Social Psychology Compass.
- Blackman, L., Cromby, J., Hook, D. Papadopoulos, D. (2008). Creating subjectivities. Subjectivity, 1, 1 -27.
- Polatinsky, S and Hook, D. (2008). On the ghostly father: Lacan on Hamlet. Psychoanalytic Review, 95, 3: 359 - 385.
- Hook, D (2008). Postcolonial psychoanalysis. Theory and Psychology, 18 (2), 269-283.
- Hook, D. (2008). The 'real' of racializing embodiment. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 18, 2,140-152.
- Parker, I. and Hook, D. (2008). Psychoanalysis and social psychology: Historical connections and contemporary applications. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 18, 2, 91-95.
- Rienstra, B. and Hook, D. (2006). Weakening Habermas: the undoing of communicative rationality. Politikon. 33, 3, 313-340.
- Hook, D. (2006). 'Pre-discursive' racism. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. 16, 207-232.
- Hook, D. (2005). Affecting whiteness: Racism as technology of affect. International Journal of Critical Psychology. 16, 74-99.
- Hook, D. (2005). Monumental space and the uncanny. Geoforum, 36, 688-704.
- Hook, D. and Howarth, C. (2005). Future directions for a critical social psychology of racism/antiracism. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. 15 (6), 506-512.
- Howarth, C. and Hook, D. (2005). Towards a Critical Social Psychology of Racism: Points of disruption Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. 15 (6), 425-431.
- Hook, D. (2005). The racial stereotype, colonial discourse, fetishism, racism. The Psychoanalytic Review, October, Volume 92, Number 5, pp. 701-734.
- Hook, D. (2005). A critical psychology of the postcolonial. Theory and Psychology, 15 (4), 475-503.
- Hook, D. (2005). Genealogy, discourse, 'effective history'. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 2: 1-29.
- Hook, D. (2005). On subjectivity, the historicity of discourse and questions of power-knowledge and 'politics'. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 2: 34-38.
- Hook, D. (2005). Paradoxes of the other. Psychology in Society, 31, 9-30.
- Hook, D. (2004). Racism as abjection: A psychoanalytic conceptualization for a post-apartheid South Africa. South African Journal of Psychology, 34(4), 672-703.
- Hook, D. (2004). The psychic technology of monuments. Free Associations, Vol 11, Part 3 (No. 59): 400-421.
- Hook, D. (2004). The psychoanalytic pastoral. Psycho-analytic psychotherapy. Vol 12, Number 1. 19-36.
- Hook, D. (2003). Psychotherapy and 'ethical sensibility'. International Journal of Psychotherapy. Vol. 8, No. 3, December, pp. 195-212.
- Hook, D. (2003). Foucault's psychoanalysis. Psycho-analytic psychotherapy. Vol 11, Number 2, pp. 24-39.
- Hook, D. (2003). Language and the Flesh: Psychoanalysis and the Limits of Discourse. Pretexts: Literary and Cultural Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 43-64.
- Hook, D. (2003). Reading Psychotherapy through the sovereignty-discipline-government complex. Theory and Psychology, 13 (5), October, pp. 605-628.
- Hook, D. (2003). Reading Geldenhuys: Constructing and deconstructing the Norwood Killer. South African Journal of Psychology, Volume 33, Number 1, pp. 1-9.
- Hook, D. (2002). The other side of language: The body and the limits of signification. Psychoanalytic Review, 89 (5), October, pp. 681-713.
- Hook, D. and Vrdoljak, M. (2002). Gated communities, heterotopia and a "rights" of privilege. Geoforum, 33, 195-219.
- Hook, D. (2001). Discourse, knowledge, materiality, history. Theory and Psychology. 11 (4), 521-547.
- Hook, D. (2001). Therapeutic discourse, co-construction, interpellation, role-induction; psychotherapy as iatrogenic treatment modality? The International Journal of Psychotherapy, Volume 6, Number 1, 47-66.
- Hook, D. (2001). The disorders of discourse. Theoria. Number 1, (97), June, 41-68.
- Hook, D. (2001). Critical psychology in South African: Applications, limitations, possibilities. Psychology in Society, 27, 3-17.
- Hook, D. and Harris, B. (2000). Discourses of order and their disruption: the texts of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. South African Journal of Psychology. Vol 30. Number 1. 14-22.