SPA Panel on Political Subjectivity – April 1, 2011, Santa Monica

This article is part of the following series:

The biennial meeting of the Society for Psychological Anthropology this year took place from March 31 to April 3 in Santa Monica, California. Below you will find audio recordings of a panel myself and Byron Good had put together on the topic of political subjectivity. Terry O’Nell requested that her presentation not be published here due to ethical concerns regarding public circulation of the content.

Panel Title:

Does Psychological Anthropology Need a Postcolonial Psychology?


Byron Good (Harvard University)
Sadeq Rahimi (University of Saskatchewan)
Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good (Harvard University)


Byron Good (Harvard University)
Sadeq Rahimi (University of Saskatchewan)
Stefania Pandolfo (University of California, Berkeley)
Angela Garcia (University of California, Irvine)
Terry O’Nell (University of Oregon)

Session Chair: Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good (Harvard University)
Discussant: Sarah Pinto (Tufts University)

Panel Abstract:

The increasing use of the terms “subject” and “subjectivity” in anthropology points to widespread dissatisfaction with an earlier generation of psychological and cultural theorizing for investigations of psychological experience and inner lives in settings in which anthropologists work today. Anthropologists have increasingly focused on the deep interconnections between the political and the psychological, on global forces producing massive dislocations and new economies of labor and desire, and on individual lives lived amidst these conditions. Papers in this panel use the rubric ‘postcolonial psychology,’ as against the more classic ‘cultural psychology,’ to explore new forms of theorizing that may help advance such a project.
Departing from the assumption that ethnographic studies of “subjectivity” drawing on French psychoanalytic, poststructuralist, and feminist writings are both feasible and productive, the papers on this panel explore several broad claims: 1) that viewing subjectivity through the lens of the “postcolonial,” or more broadly, “the political,” provides a language and analytic strategies valuable for investigations of lives, institutions, and regimes of knowledge and power in the societies in which anthropologists work today; 2) that despite the hazards of the trope “disorders,” contemporary studies of subjectivity must necessarily address the intertwined personal and social disorders associated with rampant globalization, neo-liberal economic policies, postcoloniality, and the political in its broad sense; and 3) that anthropology must find new ways to investigate that which is not said overtly, that which is unspeakable and unspoken, which appears at the margins of formal speech and everyday presentations of self.

Audio Recordings:

Byron Good:

Theorizing the Subject in Contemporary Ethnography

Sadeq Rahimi:

Political Subjectivity in
Psychoanalytic and Anthropological Work today

Stefania Pandolfo:

Clad in Mourning

Angela Garcia:

Memory’s Touch:
Love, Drugs and the Politics of Inheritance

2 replies on “SPA Panel on Political Subjectivity – April 1, 2011, Santa Monica”

Sorry for this difficulty, Maree. I’ve tried but can’t quite figure out what the problem is. It might have to do with the new design, and we might need to re-format the video files, but I can’t be sure. I need to get someone with more technical knowledge to help. In either case this will be fixed soon.

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