A seminar on the concepts of ‘whiteness’ and anxiety from the perspective of the movie District 9 and Lacanian psychoanalysis


There has been much talk of late regards the notion of ‘white fragility’. ‘Whiteness’ being seen here as something akin to a defensive – and typically racist – formation of privilege. These issues can be differently approached by taking a Lacanian standpoint on anxiety (as opposed to ‘fragility’), and by utilizing examples drawn from the popular culture of post-apartheid South Africa, most instructively, the trend of dystopian science fiction best exemplified by District 9.

In this talk, Dr. Derek Hook will give a brief overview of Lacan’s theorization of anxiety in Seminar X, before exploring its usefulness in thinking the political and subjective occurrence of ‘white anxiety’. Science fiction becomes a particularly suggestive medium regards an exploration of themes such as the ‘end of whiteness’ and ‘white extinction’, themes routinely mobilized by the far right. Likewise suggestive here is Lacan’s well-known illustrative device for anxiety (the masked subject confronting the towering figure of a prey mantis). This illustration not only helps us explore further the dimensions of anxiety (in its ‘real’, subjective, symbolic and fantasy forms), but causes us – as does the Kafkaesque transformation we witness in District 9 – to consider how the white subject might persist beyond ‘the end of whiteness’.

Derek Hook is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and a Professor of Psychology at the University of Pretoria. A former lecturer at the London School of Economics and at Birkbeck College, he is a psychoanalytic practitioner, and the author of Six Moments in Lacan.

Tuesday 3 March, 18:30 – 20:00
University of Edinburgh, George Square
LG.09, The David Hume Tower, Edinburgh, EH8 9JX

Open to all and free with Eventbrite ticket.

Facebook event found here.

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