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Violence, Trauma And The Making Of Racial Identity – Dr. Sheldon George

May 22, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 12:15 pm

$30 – $65

The tone of collective discourse has rapidly degenerated, damaging the forms and rituals that give coherence to our lives, cultures and professional disciplines contributing to a sense of communal and global unrest. In these intimate Saturday morning seminars our desire is to nourish a spirit of reflection rather than repeating the sounds of panic and alarm, or pretend hopes. Stepping back from the present situation, we will reflect on the current moment through trans-disciplinary lenses including philosophy, theology, history, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, and anthropology. Together we will seek new perspectives that may help us move into an open future.

In a historical moment when the news media has repeatedly displayed the wanton killing of black men and women, the connection between African American identity and trauma seems especially salient. This talk will work through Lacanian psychoanalytic notions of subjectivity to ground an understanding of African American identity as mediated by social trauma. It will address, in particular, the 2012 Florida shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn, a white male whose excessive response to the loud rap music played by Davis and his friends demonstrates a Lacanian understanding of jouissance, or the other’s mode of enjoyment, as a root-source of notions of racial alterity. Moving through a series of Lacanian concepts relevant to race and racism (from hainamoration, to aggressivity, invidia and Atè), the talk will discuss how this jouissance, bound to fantasies of race, often structures both racism and racial identity around acts of violence and trauma, inducing African Americans to embrace willfully the very racial identities against which this violence is directed.

Sheldon George is Professor of English and Chair of the English department at Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts. His scholarship centers most directly on Lacanian psychoanalytic theory and applies cultural and literary theory to analyses of American and African-American literature and culture. He is author of Trauma and Race: A Lacanian Study of African American Racial Identity and co-editor, with Jean Wyatt, of Reading Contemporary Black British and African American Women Writers: Race, Ethics, Narrative Form. He is currently completing a collection, co-edited with Derek Hook for Routledge press, that is titled Lacan and Race: Racism, Identity and Psychoanalytic Theory.

Continuing education credits will be provided.

2 CEU hours provided for Licensed Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, and Social Workers

CEU Learning Objectives (2 CEUs offered – including ethics):

  • To increase critical thinking skills in order to apply interdisciplinary knowledge into clinical work and practice.
  • To increase understanding of the dynamics of historical foundations behind racialized thinking and current forms of political violence.
  • To better understand how we as clinicians can identify how race and racism may serve as tools that produce psychic pleasure for clients and how that function relates to contemporary manifestations of discontent, social suffering, and ethical dilemmas.

For more information and registration, please visit:

Violence, Trauma and the Making of Racial Identity – Dr. Sheldon George