Introduction: Kristeva and Race


  • Carol Mastrangelo Bové University of Pittsburgh



Kristeva, race, psychoanalysis, literature, philosophy


The Kristeva Circle Conference of 2017 in Pittsburgh confirmed that writers throughout the world have been engaging with Julia Kristeva’s thought in large numbers and in ways relevant to “an ethics of inclusion,” the topic of the Conference. The question of race arguably came to a head at the conference when one of the founders of the Kristeva Circle, Fanny Söderbäck, commented on the paper just delivered by Kristeva via Skype, “The Psychic Life--A Life in Time:  Psychoanalysis and Culture.”  According to Söderbäck, we run the risk of reinforcing Islamophobic views that equate terrorism with Islam if we focus on young women intent on jihad without simultaneously addressing the behavior of white men bent on white supremacist violence and terrorism.  Kristeva did not directly address the issue of her lecture’s reinforcement of Islamophobic views in her response.  Instead, she spoke at some length about a patient whose confrontation with Arabic poetry led to improvement in her psychic health. I introduce the following papers in part as a dialogue with Kristeva on race and as a response to Söderbäck’s comments.  The essays all make reference to questions of race and ethnicity in Kristeva’s work. They do so in ways that provoke thought on the contributions of psychoanalytic writing, appreciated and also criticized for its universalizing tendencies, which may in part explain its vulnerability to charges of racism.