Extimacy: Authority, Anxiety and the Desire for Revolution

February 20 – 21, 2020
American University of Beirut, ACC Auditorium 1 – 2

Over a century ago, Freud surmised that the transformations of modernity, the age of neurosis par excellence, pave the way for the “psychological misery of the masses.” In the mid-twentieth century, Lacan reassessed this characterization by asking: What is the Other, if there really is an Other? How do signifiers structure a social link? How is the relation between subjectivity and otherness structured around desire, anxiety, and fantasy? It may be that modernity is not just the result of the retreat of the discourse of the master; yet it is only in modernity that the crisis in symbolic identification tout court comes to be analysed as a crisis of phallic representation, or perhaps more accurately, as the exposure of the inherent instability of the master signifier itself. The master has taken on different forms that cannot be reduced to a single formula: it is at once many, not-One, and not-All. All identification revolves around a lack; a constitutive lack structured around the question: What does the Other want of me? But psychoanalysis reveals the inconsistency of the Other.

The Other in modernity is propped up by regimes of enjoyment or libidinal modes of interpretation that are at work in constituting social reality. This shift appears to canalise anxiety: what do we do when the lack lacks, when incompleteness and excess are two sides of the same coin?

With the concept of “extimacy”, psychoanalysis proposes that unassimilable otherness is not something outside us but resides deep within us and makes us what we are. Psychoanalysis has always been political because its basic premise is that symptoms are never simply personal but rather expressions of the extimate link between the individual and the social. This conference investigates the concept of extimacy as a site in which the link between psychoanalysis and politics can be explored.

Nadia Bou Ali
Silvio Carneiro
Alejandro Cerda Rueda
Mladen Dolar
Carlos Gómez Camarena
Amanda Holmes
Anna Jovanovic
Sami Khatib
Alexi Kukuljevic
Vladimir Safatle
Surti Singh
Samo Tomšič
Goran Vranešević
Andreja Zevnik
Alenka Zupančič

This conference is organized with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of the “Extimacies: Critical Theory from the Global South” early-career scholars program and Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Critical Theory (PACT).

Faceboook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/544349459505614

Historical Materialism Conference Beirut

As the Beirut Historical Materialism conference is getting closer, we would like to share the final version of the program (see attached) and information about your travel, accommodation and local transport with you.

The conference will take place from March 10, 2017, 2.30pm to March 12, 2017, 7pm on the main campus of the American University of Beirut (AUB). When you enter the campus through the main gate (Bliss Street), please make sure to carry a valid ID, ideally your passport. You will register as a conference speaker for HM Beirut at the main gate at the protection office. The registration is free of charge; it’s a regular security procedure.


Historical Materialism Beirut 2017 final program (PDF)

We recommend staying in Hamra during the duration of the conference; the AUB campus (Bliss St, main gate) is located in Hamra, walking distance. Other nearby neighborhoods include Clemenceau, Ain Mreisseh, and Manara. Airbnb lists many places in Hamra.
Nearby hotels are listed on commercial platforms like trip advisor:

Best Hotels Near American University of Beirut, Lebanon
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AUB regularly hosts guests in Gefinor Rotana and Le Commodore.
A less pricy hotel is “35 Rooms,” also in Hamra:

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General Information
General information about the Campus of AUB, directions etc. can be found here:

AUB – About Us – Campus
The American University of Beirut, AUB, is a private, non-sectarian institution of higher learning, founded in 1866, which functions under a charter from the State of New York. It is administrated by a private, autonomous Board of Trustees.

AUB campus map, indicating where the conference rooms and buildings are:

The Official Map of the Campus of the American University …
ada dodge hall 13 agriculture building 58 assembly hall 16 bechtel engineering building 57 biology building 78 daniel bliss hall 07 ccc scientific research building 0567

Visa regulations
Please make sure that you know what kind of visa you need. Please check the website of the Lebanese embassy of the country that issued your passport.
Tourist visas (1 month) are normally obtained at the airport upon arrival, free of charge.

Lebanese General Security – posts
The type of request The formalities required A cost-free visa of one month extendable to 3 months is granted for immigrants from the following countries :

Please also check your passports for Israeli stamps/visas, as you cannot enter Lebanon if you have one.

Upon landing you need to fill in a landing card for the border control. You have to provide the address of your hotel or airbnb place; please make sure to have this information.

Local Transport
Most of you have already booked the flights. You will arrive at Beirut’s main international airport, Rafic Hariri International Airport:

الرئيسية – مطار رفيق الحريري الدولي بيروت
Airport, Beirut, Rafic Hariri, Opentech,Lebanon,web development, web application مطار، بيروت، رفيق الحريري، لبنان، شركة …

We recommend ordering a taxi online before you travel. Please provide the taxi company with your email and cell phone number in order to coordinate the pick up from the airport. Local taxi companies are serving the airport 24/7; however, some drivers might try to charge you excessively. A regular fare from the airport to the city center should not be more than 20 USD (30.000 LL).
AUB normally works with Allo taxi Lebanon, you can book your airport pick up service online:

With AlloTAXI you can book a taxi in just a few seconds: Call 1213, Book Online, or Download the app. Enjoy FREE High-Speed internet by Alfa onboard

Other local companies are
Queen Taxi: +961 1 423340
Alfa Taxi: +961 1560910
Charlie Taxi: 1514

Official currency is Lebanese Lira (LL), also called Lebanese Pound (LBP).
However, US Dollar is a parallel currency, widely accepted. Please make sure to carry smaller notes of USD with you; some drivers or restaurants might refuse to give you change for 100 USD notes. You can always combine LL and USD to pay cash. International credit cards are also widely accepted.
1 USD = 1.500 LL
1.000 LL = 0,66 USD

Phone contacts of the organizing team
Nadia: +96176705659
Sami: +961.78847394 or +49.15145930952 (whatsapp)

CfP: Historical Materialism Beirut

Historical Materialism Conference (HM) in Beirut from March 10 to March 12, 2017. BICAR is organizing this event in collaboration with the Center for Arts and Humanities (CAH) at the American University of Beirut (AUB); Jnanapravaha Mumbai (JP); and the Historical Materialism Journal in London.

Debates around historical materialism have evolved in the wake of the collapse of ‘actually existing’ socialist states, particularly since the fall of the Soviet Union, where historical materialism was the officially sanctioned method for understanding the dynamics of revolutionary reality. Socialist states in Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as South and South East Asia also claimed to follow historical materialism, whether officially or semi-officially, as part of the Cold War battle against the ideology of positivist neutrality. However different the outcomes of these historical attempts and experiments were, they prove the futility of turning states into an exclusive embodiment of historical materialism and treating the latter as an empty signifier serving the purposes of ideological state apparatuses. Post 1989, these contexts are no longer the historical embodiments of the method and historical materialism has been taken up and debated by the Left during the past three decades. Scholars around the world have attempted to rethink historical materialism in a post Cold War world where the end of history has been simultaneously proclaimed and perpetuated, both descriptively and normatively. Here we encounter a double fissure, the first triggered by the collapse of the very historical experiences that gave rise to historical materialism as a method, and the second by the schism between the realities of global capitalism today – the political status quo it generates – and the immanent imperative of the historical materialist method – the need to politicize theory despite the depoliticizing effects of capitalist ideology.

What happens when historical materialism, because of the historical conditions in which it is situated today, becomes a theoretical endeavor rather than a political weapon? Is it possible to reconnect method and practice, critique and practice, when the structural conditions – the untimely absence of a political avant-garde, mass mobilization movements with emancipatory agendas, and revolutionary political programs on a large scale – makes praxis difficult, even impossible?

This conference invites scholars, activists and other invested members of the public to think the possibility of praxis today by taking Beirut as both a critical site of the troubled legacies of communism, socialism and Stalinism, and as a site for critique. At the same time, Beirut is the dumping ground for neoliberal, authoritarian, and theocratic policies that date back to Lebanon’s role during the Cold War era. This ideological wasteland has a material base, articulated by the contradictions of global capitalism in today’s Lebanon: Beirut is the future past of the national state, a state without a state, run by sectarian neoliberalism. Despite this present, the short history of Beirut and Lebanon in the 20th century tells the untold story of what could have been: the unredeemed desire for a non-capitalist modernity, neither secular nor religious, neither “Western” nor “Eastern.”

Among the themes we would like to explore:

  • The False Promise of the Victim and the Desire for the Revolution
  • Primitive Accumulation
  • The Capitalist Unconscious: Lacan and Marx
  • Marxist and Materialist Feminism
  • Capitalism, Alienation, Authenticity
  • World History Without a Worldview
  • The Invisibility of the Class Struggle in the Aftermath of Colonialism
  • History and Repetition, or the Temporalities of Capitalism
  • Capitalism and Barbarism
  • What is Praxis?
  • Materialist Aesthetics
  • Deprovincializing Marxism

(This is a non-exclusive list – other subjects are of course welcome too. Pre-constituted panels are welcome but we reserve the right to disaggregate them and create new panels with some of the speakers proposed.)

The submissions (300 word abstracts) should be sent to info@bicar-lebanon.org, by August 15, 2016.