This talk traces the history of a psychiatric movement called “institutional psychotherapy” which had an important influence on many intellectuals and activists, including François Tosquelles, Jean Oury, Felix Guattari, Frantz Fanon, Georges Canguilhem, and Michel Foucault.

Anchored in Marxism and Lacanian psychoanalysis, institutional psychotherapy advocated a fundamental restructuring of the asylum in order to transform the theory and practice of psychiatric care.  More broadly, for many of these thinkers, the asylum could function as a microcosm for society at large and as a space to promote non-hierarchal and non-authoritarian political and social structures.  Psychiatry, they contended, provided a template to better understand alienation and offer perspectives for “disalienation.”

Camille Robcis is Professor of French and History at Columbia University.  She specializes in Modern European History with an emphasis on gender and sexuality, France, and intellectual, cultural, and legal history.  She is especially interested in the intersections of politics and ideas.  She is the author of The Law of Kinship: Anthropology, Psychoanalysis, and the Family in France (Cornell UP, 2013) and of Disalienation: Politics, Philosophy, and Radical Psychiatry in Postwar France (Chicago UP, 2021).  She is currently working on a new project, The Gender Question: Populism, National Reproduction, and the Crisis of Representation.  She has received fellowships from the Penn Humanities Forum, LAPA (Princeton Law and Public Affairs), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

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MIT Global LanguagesFrench+ Initiative

Global France Seminar Spring 2022 series

02/28/22. 5pm. Camille Robcis (Columbia University)
03/29/22. 2pm. Christy Pichichero (George Mason University)
04/11/22. 5pm. François Noudelmann (New York University), April 11, 5pm.
04/25/22. 5pm. Adi Bharat (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor),
05/02/22. 5pm. Jean Casimir (University of Haiti)