Past Event

Marco Ramos - Woke Science: Psychoanalysis and Revolutionary Awakening in Cold War Argentina

March 13, 2024
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
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Online and in-person: Fayerweather Hall (Room 513), Columbia University, 1180 Amsterdam Avenue, New York

Event Description 

In the 1970s, a young generation of psychoanalysts in Argentina attempted to forge a “new science” that would liberate the oppressed classes in Latin America. These practitioners connected political revolution to psychological liberation and imagined mental health as a site where broader visions of justice, from Marxist revolution to decolonization, could be transformed through experiences of care, intimacy, and love. However, their diverse dreams of a more just science were crushed by the rise of the violent dictatorship of General Jorge Videla in 1976. With support from the United States, Videla’s regime “disappeared” citizens through imprisonment, torture, and murder to stem the tide of Communism. Military officials labeled Freud and Marx “ideological criminals,” and activist-practitioners were murdered, forced into exile, or driven to abandon their revolutionary politics out of fear. This talk resurrects these visions of justice from the terror that attempted to erase them from history. In contrast to structuralist approaches to Freudo-Marxism that emerged in Europe at the time, militant psychoanalysts in Argentina developed a humanist attention to the emotions and embodied experiences of the revolutionary subject. A central concern of their work was an attempt to study and harness the phenomenological power of “political awakening,” which they witnessed through the psychoanalytic care of leftist guerrilla fighters in the clinic. Marco Ramos compares their preparatory vision of a science oriented toward future revolution to the reparatory understanding of human rights that would come to dominate the field of mental health following the trauma of the Latin American Cold War. The talk concludes with a discussion on the possibilities and limits of “awakening” as a platform for structural change.

Event Speaker

Marco Ramos, Assistant Professor in History of Science and Medicine at Yale University

Event Information

This event is free and open to the public; Registration required. Please contact [email protected] or [email protected] with any questions. 

This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series.

Sponsoring Organizations:

  • Columbia University in the City of New York
  • NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • The New York Academy of Medicine
  • The New York Academy of Sciences

The Center for Science and Society makes every reasonable effort to accommodate individuals with disabilities. If you require disability accommodations to attend a Center for Science and Society event, please contact us at [email protected] or (212) 854-0666 at least 10 days in advance of the event. For more information, please visit the campus accessibility webpage