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Castration Fever: On Trans, Body, and Psychoanalysis in Modern China

The Body in the East Asian Imaginaire Series at the University of Chicago's Center for East Asian Studies.

May 10, 2021 3:00pm

This lecture considers the evolution of the speaker’s research over the last 15 years in which the treatment of castration as a historical problem holds promise for bridging disparate scholarly fields and paradigms. In particular, by tracing the shift in intellectual focus from the science of sex change to the history of transcultural psychoanalysis, some insights are offered in regard to the intertwined politics of transness, Chineseness, and the unconscious. Though psychoanalysis may appear as a subject far removed from the eunuchs of ancient China, this talk highlights some of the methodological stakes that have saturated the historical study of both topics. These reflections can serve as a touchstone for thinking beyond disciplinary norms and conventions, especially in Chinese studies and the history of science.