Hysteria – Perversion – Subversion. Some Remarks from a Queer Perspective

Esther Hutfless

Hysteria and perversion are two of the most controversial psychoanalytic concepts. On the one hand, feminist and post-modern thinkers have interpreted hysteria and perversion as subversive forces undermining the hegemonial, heteronormative and patriarchal order. On the other hand, the same thinkers have reminded us that both concepts – perversion and hysteria – function as discursive strategies within power relations and produce and control specific subjects. Weiterlesen


Has Psychoanalysis ever thought of the body?

Esther Hutfless

As philosopher and queer-theorist I have been dealing with bodies for a long time now. I am concerned with their construction and deconstruction, with the way they are embedded in discourses, with their sex and gender; I am aware that bodies are also matter and have, as such, their own obstinacy and resistance; I am encountering bodies which interact with other bodies, with objects and other matter and in doing so shape those other bodies and objects and are shaped by them,[1] I am encountering bodies and their abilities, bodies as organs of perception, which situate us in the world. This situatedness is never arbitrary. Societal conditions place black, white, female, male, disabled or queer bodies differently, control and direct their abilities in different ways, distribute them differently in space.
Bodies matter in different ways. Weiterlesen

Queer Theory: Answering some Prejudices

Esther Hutfless

After attending a psychoanalytic lecture focusing on gender-identities and sexual orientations and following the discussions there, I am forced to deal with the prejudices concerning the term queer and the topic of gender and sexual identity that obviously circulate in psychoanalytic discourses. There are many prejudices in psychoanalysis against Queer Theory and Gender Studies that are the result of a wrong and simplified understanding of these perceptions and that therefore lead to the ongoing discrimination of people who do not identify conforming to heteronormative gender-dichotomies. Weiterlesen

Psychoanalysis and Queer Theory. An Approximation.

Esther Hutfless

Maybe psychoanalysis and Queer Theory (1) are not as different as it seems. Both investigate questions of identification, of subject formation, of adopting a specific gender, and both are dealing with the complexity of sexuality and desire. “Whereas queer theory approaches these ideas via sustained intellectual, political and practical engagement and psychoanalysis privileges the transferential relation between patient and analyst, the goal of delimiting a heterogeneous horizon that queers subjectivity, social relations, power and knowledge in order to challenge normative knowledges, practices, beliefs, identities and the production of new social links is shared.” (2)
Moreover, many ideas and perceptions within Queer Theory, Gender Studies and Feminist Theory were and still are affected by the affirmation and the critical reflection of psychoanalytic approaches. Weiterlesen

Collapse – The Political Dimension of the „passage à l’acte“

Esther Hutfless

A collapse is a fall, a downfall, a breakdown, a failure. Lacan has these multi-layered meanings of the term “collaps” in mind, when he writes about the passage to the act (1) as radical act, as political act. This article will retrace Lacan’s notion of the act. It will explore the act’s intertwining with the gift but will also, at the same time, break with Lacan’s interpretation of the gift, which – in his view – remains that what she has not. Contrary to Lacan, the present text will read the act in terms of the impossibility of a certain symbolical order. Weiterlesen

queer …

That’s one of the things that “queer” can refer to: the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent elements of anyone’s gender, of anyone’s sexuality aren’t made (or can’t be made) to signify monolithically.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick: Tendencies. Routledge, New York 1994, p. 7.

Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant. There is nothing in particular to which it necessarily refers. It is an identity without an essence. ‘Queer’ then, demarcates not a positivity but a positionality vis-à-vis the normative … [Queer] describes a horizon of possibility whose precise extent and heterogeneous scope cannot in principle be delimited in advance.
David M. Halperin: Saint Foucault: Toward a Gay Hagiography. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1995, p. 62.

QUEERNESS IS NOT yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality.
José Esteban Muñoz: Cusing Utopia. The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York University Press, New York 2009, p. 1.

If the term „queer“ is to be a site of collective contestation, the point of departure for a set of historical reflections and futural imaginings, it will have to remain that which is, in the present, never fully owned, but always and only redeployed, twisted, queered from a prior usage and in the direction of urgent and expanding political purposes.
Judith Butler: Bodies that matter. Routledge, New York 1993, p. 228.

Queer always exceeds the monologue dimension of signification. It is emanating in all directions – in time and space. It bears multiple histories of exclusions, of reassessment, of potentialities, of ambiguities. Queer first describes an orientation, which does not correspond to norms, which suspends traditional representations without founding them new. As attribute of gendered forms of expression and sexual orientations, queer does not signify monolithically. Queer leaves itself open, it remains fluid and dynamic. This marks its force.
Esther Hutfless & Elisabeth Schäfer:
Thinking the Transience of the Living / Promising a Queer Philosophy. Download full essay here.


… to be continued …