It has become a commonplace for psychoanalytic feminist scholars to
return to the ‘‘great debate’’ of the 1920s and 1930s, when central figures in
the movement explored the question of whether an autonomous model of
female sexuality should or could be delineated as distinct from the hetero-
centric, male-based one that had been privileged in Sigmund Freud’s ac-
counts. This debate is recapitulated in diverse collections of essays, in
which the early arguments of the original protagonists (Freud, Jeanne
Lampl-de Groot, Helene Deutsch, Ruth Mack Brunswick, Marie Bona-
parte, Karen Horney, Ernest Jones, Joan Riviere, and Melanie Klein) are
variously summarized, then contemporary analysts or theorists take up the
contentions anew, extending or revising conceptualizations of ‘‘female sex-
uality’’ in both clinical and applied areas of psychoanalysis.∞ Psycho-
analysis, in other words, has been from its inception an explicit and ob-
vious terrain for exploring and critiquing sexual and gendered di√erence,
and has been brandished both as a tool for and an obstacle to political
intervention in systems of gender and sexual oppression.
By contrast, until the work of Frantz Fanon in the 1950s, and more
recently in the 1990s psychoanalysis has not been seriously considered a
likely arena for the exploration and critique of racialized constructions of
subjectivity.≤ This is not to say that throughout the late nineteenth and
twentieth centuries there has been no intersection of psychology and race.
Indeed, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw a prolifera-
tion of psychologies of the inferiority of the ‘‘dark races’’ elaborated in the
service of colonialism and slavery, with their accounts of pathologies as-
sumed to be specific to the ‘‘Negro’’ or ‘‘native’’; more recently, social
psychology in the United States has construed the Negro as either inher-
Previous Page Next Page