Libidinal and Political Economies: Sex, Money, and the Unconscious

Talk by Maya Andrea Gonzalez and Book Presentation by Samo Tomšič
Organized by BICAR, Hosted by 98weeks
Thursday November 26, 7pm, 98weeks Project Space (address below)

Maya Andrea Gonzalez (UC Santa Cruz) will discuss with Marwa Arsanios (98weeks) and Anne van Leeuwen (James Madison University), the relationship between sex, love and money within the libidinal economy. They will approach this topic from three analytical perspectives: (Marx) money as a title to social wealth; (Lacan) money as signifier, surplus and remainder; (Foucault) money as an apparatus of governance. Looking at the circuits of money and commodities within the libidinal and informal economy today, money, sex and the work of intimacy will be illuminated as a site of subjectivation and criminalization under conditions of austerity. Furthermore, the rise of the “anti-trafficking” movement–an apparatus emerging to manage migrant surplus-populations–is currently deploying radical-feminist saviorist discourses in order to expand the detention-industrial-complex through the redemption of “young girls.” This presentation hopes to critically examine the political stakes underlying “the war against sex-slavery” by first outlining the class-relation between sex and money. Through the methodologies and structural analytics of Marxism and psycho-analysis, it also hopes to open up a discussion of revolutionary feminist Foucaultian strategies to confront the anti-trafficking apparatus as it currently unfolds.

The talk is followed by the presentation and discussion of The Capitalist Unconscious: Marx and Lacan, a book by Samo Tomšič. Samo Tomšič will be in a roundtable discussion with Nadia Bou Ali (BICAR), Anne van Leeuwen (James Madison University), and Sami Khatib (BICAR).

The Capitalist Unconscious: Marx and Lacan is amajor systematic study of the connection between Marx and Lacan’s work Despite a resurgence of interest in Lacanian psychoanalysis, particularly in terms of the light it casts on capitalist ideology—as witnessed by the work of Slavoj Žižek—there remain remarkably few systematic accounts of the role of Marx in Lacan’s work. A major, comprehensive study of the connection between their work, “The Capitalist Unconscious” resituates Marx in the broader context of Lacan’s teaching and insists on the capacity of psychoanalysis to reaffirm dialectical and materialist thought. Lacan’s unorthodox reading of Marx refigured such crucial concepts as alienation, jouissance and the Freudian ‘labour theory of the unconscious’. Tracing these developments, Tomšič maintains that psychoanalysis, structuralism and the critique of political economy participate in the same movement of thought; his book shows how to follow this movement through to some of its most important conclusions.

Maya Andrea Gonzalez is a Marxist feminist from Oakland California. She is currently a PhD candidate in The History of Consciousness department at University of California at Santa Cruz working on a dissertation thesis on Lotta Femminista, the group who founded the Wages for Housework movement in Italy in the 1970s. Her work is an intellectual history of the movement focusing on a theory of reproductive labor from primitive accumulation to the present. She is also a member of the journal Endnotes. Currently she is working on themes of violence, race and the capitalist state form with respect to slavery, prostitution and the sex-trade.

Samo Tomšič obtained his PhD in philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. In the past he has worked at the Institute of Philosophy in Ljubljana and at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, and is currently research assistant in the interdisciplinary cluster Image Knowledge Gestaltung at the Humboldt University in Berlin. His research areas comprise continental philosophy, structuralism, psychoanalysis, critical theory and epistemology. He is also co-editor (with Andreja Zevnik) of Jacques Lacan Between Psychoanalysis and Politics (Routledge, 2016).

Anne van Leeuwen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at James Madison University (USA). She has a PhD in Philosophy from the New School for Social Research and wrote a dissertation on Luce Irigaray. She is co-editing a volume on Simone de Beauvoir and Luce Irigaray that is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Her current research is in structuralist and poststructuralist theory.

BICAR.The mission of the Beirut Institute for Critical Analysis and Research (BICAR) is to develop and encourage research in critical thought and a practice of critical pedagogy. Through workshops, seminars, public discussions, and publications, BICAR will provide a platform for researchers, teachers, academics, artists, writers, students, and interested members of the public to engage critically with social, cultural, and political developments. BICAR is committed  to the relationships between intellectual inquiry, social reality, political praxis, and concrete change. In light of its locale in Beirut and Lebanon, BICAR aims to create an environment for collective reflection, analysis, and response to the contradictions of labor, capital, production, and subjectivization in conditions of globalisation.