Thursday, 3 February 2022

Annual Sociology Lecture Series 2022: Methodological Dialogues Between Anthropology and Psychoanalysis

The Department of Sociology and Social Work Student Association organized its Annual Sociology Lecture Series in conjunction with Socius, Applied Sociology Student's Collective. The first lecture of this series was held on the 4th of February by Professor Anup Dhar, a Senior Fellow at the Livonics Institute of Integrated Learning and Research (LILR).

The welcome address was given by Serene Scaria of 2MSoc, who also introduced the speaker for the event - Dr Anup Dhar, who spoke about the connection between Post-Freudian psychoanalysis and Micro-ethnography.

The focus of this lecture was on micro-ethnography, which is based on the client's life history, wherein psychoanalysis takes place across a person's lifespan or for an extended time. The connection between these two methodological domains lies in the interest of the participants' language, history, and the power of listening and understanding subtext and the nuances of dialogue. The purpose of psychoanalysis is to enable the client to reflect on their image through the medical lens of the analyst, who acts as a mirror into the client's innermost, unconscious thoughts and desires.

Next, Professor Dhar explained the layers of language and culture through which an organism passes, leading to a dichotomy between the macro cultural world and the micro-social world. Hence, studying the methodological dialogues between anthropology and psychoanalysis through a bi-focal vision becomes necessary. The unique perspective of psychoanalysis explores the social structures which constrain the individual through material goods as they age and grow older. The process of transference is based on the axis of conscious and unconscious speech that can be understood by a psychoanalyst trained to pick up on subtext and unconscious cues that sometimes surface through speech and language.

Professor Dhar elaborates on how culture can be understood through its history and origin, becoming culture as an entity. The perception of culture beyond reality is complex, involving various archetypes of collective dictionaries that unite individuals. This axis of conscious and unconscious communication plays a role in semi-structured and unstructured interviews. A two-layered understanding of dialogue (conscious and unconscious speech) has been harnessed by psychoanalysis in the domain of micro-ethnography.

The unconscious domain manifests itself through dreams, subtext in speech, and spontaneous body language, which is not done consciously by the individual. Clinical ethnography refers to the unconscious taken into account as part of the research process between the participant and the researcher. Prof. Dhar connects the birth of culture to how childhood desires are manifested through speech, based on a lifetime of socialization and conditioning. Psychoanalysis allows us to identify the unconscious quips in language, speech, dialogue, and communication.

To conclude, integrating psychoanalysis into ethnography is the only way to apply this methodology in real-life situations. The question-answer session was interactive, with the idea of ethics and power dynamics in psychoanalysis coming into the picture. Hence, the lecture allowed students to glimpse how we can apply psychoanalysis to micro-ethnography through the conscious and unconscious mind. Sanskriti Chakraborty of 2MSoc gave the vote of thanks and concluded the session with a heartfelt note of gratitude.

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