LI. Sigmund Freud Lecture by Homi K. Bhabha: On the Excessive Power of “Affective Coloring”: Trauma, Race and the Dance of Death

Lecture in English


Welcome: Monika Pessler, Sigmund Freud Museum

Introduction: Lisa Appignanesi, King's College London


Monday, May 6, 2024, at 19 h

Library of Psychoanalysis at the Sigmund Freud Museum and via Zoom


Registration required: Please register below or click here for the Zoom link.

The Sigmund Freud Museum invites to the now fifty-first Sigmund Freud Lecture on the occasion of Sigmund Freud's birthday on May 6.


On the Excessive Power of “Affective Coloring”:
Trauma, Race and the Dance of Death

My lecture explores the distinction Freud makes in The Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis between ‘traumatic neuroses’—produced in times of war or in the aftermath of sudden accidents involving fatal-risks—and ‘spontaneous neuroses’ that are habitually investigated and treated by analysis. My interest in the economy and genealogy of traumatic neurosis focuses on the brevity of its temporal occurrence—a ‘fixation to the moment’, ‘a short period of time’—whose powerful ‘affective coloring’ transplants the subjects into an anxiety of imminent anticipation, ‘as though they were still faced by the [trauma] as an immediate task that has not been dealt with.’
In dealing with experiences of racial fixation, postcolonial and contemporary, I will argue for a distinction between systemic racism and traumatic racism. My talk will range across issues of art, politics and poetics, and it will engage with the works of Frantz Fanon, James Baldwin, William Kentridge, Claudia Rankine and other kindred spirits.
(Homi K. Bhabha)


Homi K. Bhabha is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities in the Departments of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University. At Harvard, he served as the director of the Humanities Center, founding director of the Mahindra Humanities Center, and in the inaugural position of Senior Advisor to the President and Provost. He is the author of numerous works exploring postcolonial theory, psychoanalysis, cultural change and power, contemporary art, and cosmopolitanism. His works include The Location of Culture, the edited volume Nation and Narration, and forewords to Frantz Fanon’s major works. Bhabha has also written articles on contemporary art for Artforum and exhibition catalogues. He is a Corresponding Fellow at The British Academy, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and Critic-in-Residence at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He holds honorary degrees from Université Paris 8, University College London, Freie Universität Berlin, and Stellenbosch University.


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