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Forter, G. (2006). Introduction. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 3(2):113-117.

(2006). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 3(2):113-117

Introduction

Greg Forter

The following essays are based on papers delivered at the symposium on “Psychoanalysis, the Iraq War, and the Prospects for a Lasting Peace,” which took place at the University of South Carolina on May 13-15, 2005. They are unusually “conjunctural” essays, in the Marxist sense of that term: they were written to address a particular historical moment from a specific social location (psychoanalytically informed critique), and they thus exhibit a particular kind of political and theoretical urgency. The historical event that precipitated them was, of course, the Iraq war. More specifically, the authors of the essays were responding to a feeling that I believe all of us shared, and that motivated my organizing the symposium in the first place: that mainstream discourse about the Iraq war has lacked the psychological sophistication necessary to understanding and effectively resisting it, while psychoanalytic responses to it have often been limited by a tendency to reduce historical factors to psychic ones. A central aim of the conference was thus to fuse psychological and historical modes of analysis. That aim was wedded to the project of developing effective strategies of resistance — strategies that needed to rest, in our view, on an adequately rich understanding of the psychopolitical “ground” of the war.

Attempts to fuse psychoanalytic methods with historical approaches are not new. The very difficulty of the task, however, seems to make the fusion a more or less perpetual work-in-progress.

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