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Theorizing Repression: From Psychoanalysis to Counterinsurgency Theory

Uncover the entwined history of psychoanalysis and state power in a captivating exploration of repression tactics. Join us as we delve into the intersections of Freudian theory with military strategy, urban policing, and guerrilla warfare. 

  • All levels
  • 21 and older
  • $335
  • Earn 10% Rewards
  • Price Lock
  • Online Classroom
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions

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  • $335
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions
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Class Description

Description

What you'll learn in this lecture class:

“The individual’s dangerous desire for aggression,” theorized Sigmund Freud in Civilization and Its Discontents, can only be “disarmed” by the establishment of “an agency within him to watch over it, like a garrison in a conquered city.” For some, Freud’s invocation of surveillance and military occupation were no mere metaphors: they entailed concrete approaches to social control. Indeed, throughout the 20th century, figures in surprising places—from military think tanks and the halls of power to prison cells and underground safe houses—turned to Freud and psychoanalysis more generally to formulate new strategies for state violence and guerilla subversion alike. “Repression” was not just a psychical phenomenon: it was a tactic.

In this course, we will excavate the neglected and provocative history of psychoanalytic thought’s relationship to the development of new approaches to urban policing, military operations, and psychological warfare. From early psychoanalytic criminology to the rise of counterinsurgency theory, we’ll explore how the work of Freud and his successors offered a point of departure for state actors to pathologize resistance, profile dissenters, and formulate strategies for everything from “de-Nazification” to COINTELPRO to outlandish ventures in search of “mind control.” We’ll also explore how various radical thinkers turned to psychoanalytic concepts to theorize social dynamics and justify actions they saw as revolutionary—actions that could at times be quite literally explosive. Is the psyche the real battlefield where “hearts and minds” must be won? Do state terror and dissident terrorism operate in a kind of libidinal dialectic? And are the concepts of psychoanalysis inherently revolutionary – or are they just as easily put towards reactionary ends? Readings will be drawn from works by Franz Alexander, Rosa Luxemburg, J. Edgar Hoover, Antonio Gramsci, Frantz Fanon, Erich Fromm, Angela Davis, Daniel Guérin, Mao Zedong, Jean Genet, Dagmar Herzog, Thomas Szasz, David Petraeus, and others.

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

Refund Policy

  • Upon request, we will refund less 5% cancellation fee of a course up until 6 business days before its start date.
  • Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to 75% refund or full course credit.
  • After the first class: 50% refund or 75% course credit.
  • No refunds or credits will be given after the second class.

In any event where a customer wants to cancel their enrollment and is eligible for a full refund, a 5% processing fee will be deducted from the refund amount.

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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