Italian Feminism and the Practice of the Unconscious
Tues 2 Apr, 7–9pm
SPACE Mare St
Free & open to all
Led by Helena Reckitt
If the insights were extraordinarily far-reaching, the amount of suffering and madness that would emerge from this work were greatly underestimated. Paola Melchiori
The April meeting of the Feminist Duration Reading Group looked at the Italian feminist use of psychoanalysis. Refusing to separate individual from collective liberty, or cultural from political aspects of oppression, Italian feminists from the 1970s to the early 1980s used psychoanalysis to research patriarchy’s unconscious operations. Through ‘thinking in presence’ amongst other women, they not only dissected patriarchal knowledge, but gained a deeper sense of their subjective existences and possibilities. In addition to developing feminist approaches to speaking and listening, writing became a key tool, enabling women to find their voices and agencies outside as well as within the collective. Yet this powerful work was not without its challenges and ‘shadow-sides’. The Practice of the Unconscious provoked deep-seated feelings of ambivalence and ambiguity, rivalry, fear, complicity and guilt amongst participants, emotions that prevailing ideologies of solidarity and sisterhood were ill-equipped to deal with.
Paola Melchiori is a key figure within Italian and global feminism, the founder and past president of The Women’s Free University in Milan, and Crinali, the research and intercultural association. She is author of three books, co-editor of seven collections of oral history, and over 70 articles and reports on knowledge creation, interdisciplinary and relational learning, and education. She has produced videos on international struggles of women in Argentina, Iceland and Albania.