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(2019). Psychoanalysis in the Barrios: Race, Class, and the Unconscious, by Patricia Gherovici and Christopher Christian (Eds.), New York, NY: Routledge, 2019, 244 pp., $39.95. Psychoanal. Psychol., 36(4):355-356.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 36(4):355-356

Psychoanalysis in the Barrios: Race, Class, and the Unconscious, by Patricia Gherovici and Christopher Christian (Eds.), New York, NY: Routledge, 2019, 244 pp., $39.95

Review by:
David Lichtenstein, Ph.D.

The origins of the Spanish word barrio are somewhat obscure, but the consensus seems to be that it derives from the Andalusian Arabic barriyah meaning “outside of the city,” what is now referred to as the outskirts. Cities typically establish an inside and an outside. When they were walled and gated, this was physically evident, but even without walls the sense of the city and the suburbs, or outskirts of the city, the included and the excluded, the inside and the outside, were always significant in social, political, and economic terms.

The idea of the outskirts is noteworthy because today the “inner city” is referred to as a neighborhood that is somehow both inside and outside, deep inside the confines and “walls” of the city, inner, but somehow outside of the economic and commercial vitality of the modern city. Barrios, especially in the United States at this time, are inner city in this sense: both inside and outside of the city at the same time. They are cultural outskirts that are nevertheless within the geographical space of the city. Thus El Barrio, the barrio that for New Yorkers could be called the barrio of record, is the neighborhood of East Harlem, which of course is on Manhattan Island, not an “outer borough.” It is an area that had housed immigrant groups before it became a Puerto Rican barrio and indeed was once known as Little Italy. It became El Barrio after World War II, and condensed in that name are the many contradictions of postcolonial cultural identities: pride and defiance, humor and poverty, authority and disenfranchisement.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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