"Psychiatry for Internal Colonialism: Harlem's Lafargue Clinic, 1946-1958" Kevin Duong (University of Virginia)

Feb 8, 2024, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
Laura Wooten Hall, Room 301 (Kerstetter Room)
Open to Princeton University ID Holders and Other Academic Affiliates


Event Description


This lecture assays the experimental politics of anticolonial psychiatry undertaken at Harlem's Lafargue Clinic from 1946-1958. Named after Karl Marx’s son-in-law and the author of Le Droit à la paresse, the clinic operated out of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church and treated patients free of charge. Its mission was as radical as it was simple: psychoanalysis and psychiatric care should be available to anyone and everyone. Those damaged by the color line and those who were poor deserved, as much as anyone else, treatment for their neuroses. Internationally famous at the time, the clinic has yet to receive the attention it deserves from political theorists and intellectual historians, even though its history is ripe with clues for understanding what it means to “decolonize the mind” in conditions of extraordinary economic duress and spatial segregation. What does psychic repair look like when the wound is as wide and deep as racism itself? What happens to the clinical encounter when neither clinic nor patient has any money? Can improving individual psyches do anything to mitigate collective structures of domination? These questions guided Lafargue Clinic’s psychotherapeutic techniques and compelled its theorist-clinicians, many involved with the aesthetic avant-garde, to theorize “self-rule” anew for the psyche and the social world.


  • Department of Politics
  • University Center for Human Values
Event Category