SHADOW, SUBSTANCE, CULTURAL UNCONSCIOUS, IDENTITY
Presenter: Cleonie White, Ph.D.
Discussant: Michelle Stephens, Ph.D.
Sojourner Truth: I sell the shadow to support the substance
Philip M. Bromberg: Shadow and Substance … [A] nakedly honest portrayal of the painful in being simply human
Hank Willis Thomas: Artists should work in society’s subconscious
On January 9, 2017, the New York Times published a letter to the editor, submitted by a white identified woman, who offered her reasons for deciding against participating in the Women's March in Washington, DC, although she had initially made plans to do so. She would not participate, she declared, because she felt silenced by the spoken voice of a young woman of color, a Brooklyn blogger, who urged that white women hold their pronouncements at bay, and, instead, inhabit more of a listening stance. Later, on August 13, 2017, New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, titled his Op-ed column thus: “I'm a White Man. Can I Continue?”
Much like the white woman who chose not to join the Women's March, Bruni questions the efficacy of identity politics, which, to his mind, elevates victimhood and, equally disturbing to him, forecloses argument, or dialogue. Is the search for, or the assertion of, one’s cultural identity, a political act? Is it transgressive? What is transgressed when particular members of a culture insist upon defining, constructing, and presenting their own cultural identity? What renders the demand for recognition, on their own terms, so awful an act that it wreaks of social and intellectual betrayal - of political treachery?
There is everything to examine here, particularly in these times when uncertainty reigns at the intersections of politics, identity, and sense of place. It can be said that Art, in its multiple forms, is always a reflection of the cultural moment in which it is created. What about Psychoanalysis? This colloquium will engage these questions both in search of meaning, and in an attempt to expand the reach of Psychoanalysis into the cultural sphere. The speaker will address questions pertaining to racial identity, self, otherness, what is shadow, and what substance.
Cleonie White, Ph.D., is Fellow, faculty, and supervisor of psychotherapy at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology. Dr. White was the 2015-2016 President of the William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Society, an organization of graduates of the Institute’s adult certificate program in psychoanalysis. She is Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at New York University's Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, and is also faculty and supervisor at the Stephen Mitchell Center for Relational Studies. She supervises in the doctoral program in clinical psychology at CUNY, and is a supervisor of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in NYC. Dr. White is a member of the Editorial Board of ContemporaryPsychoanalysis, and is an Associate Board member of Psychoanalytic Dialogues. A co- founder of the Study Group on Race and Psychoanalysis at the White Institute, Dr. White was also a participant in the film, “Black Psychoanalysts Speak”. She has also written multiple psychological evaluations of immigrants at risk of deportation for presentation to Immigration Courts in NYC. Her interests and writing are in the areas of trauma and dissociation, race, class, the immigrant/foreigner Other, identity, and creativity in psychoanalysis.
Michelle Stephens, Ph.D., is the Dean of the Humanities at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Originally from Jamaica, West Indies, she graduated from Yale University with a Ph.D. in American Studies. She teaches undergraduate courses in African American, American, Caribbean and Black Diaspora Literature and Culture and graduate courses in Race and Psychoanalysis and Archipelagic American Studies. Among other works, she is the author of Skin Acts: Race, Psychoanalysis and The Black Male Performer (Duke 2014) States, 1914 to 1962 (Duke University Press, 2005), and the exhibition catalog Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago, co-edited with Tatiana Flores (Duke 2017). Dr. Stephens is also a 2016 graduate of the Licensure Qualifying Program at The William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology, where she is a co-founder of the Study Group on Race and Psychoanalysis.