Life at the Margins

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS2017234

Semester and Year Offered: Winter semester, 1st year

Course Coordinator and Team: Deepti Sachdev

Email of course coordinator: deepti[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in


Aim: Through a focus on the discourses, location and phenomenology of marginality, the course ‘Life at the Margins’ attempts to enable students to move beyond the mainstream psychology of the ‘neuter individual’ to a critical understanding of the self-in-process-in-context, including contexts of life within real and imagined marginalities. Through ethnographic encounters with the margins and a close reading of narratives from the margins, the course will trace the shifting interstices of the psyche-in-class.

Course Outcomes:

Students will be able to discuss how subjectivity can be a useful tool of epistemology and ways in which psychoanalytic perspectives can be used to theorise lived experience

  1. Students will be able to ask questions concerning power, positionality and representation in ethnographic work with the margins
  2. Students will be able to conceptualise how clinical work can be taken to the community, outside of the psychoanalytic private clinic, and the challenges involved therein
  3. Students will be able to appreciate the value of empathic listening skills and tolerance for states of not-knowing in working with the marginalized

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  1. Introducing Critical Psychology; its convergences with depth psychology
  2. The field and its vagaries. Positionality of the researcher- Writing culture and listening to loss.
  3. Body and the City
  4. Psychodynamic reflections on gender/class/ caste
  5. Engaging with the world of the historical survivor
  6. Identity and Leadership at the Margins

Assessment Details with weights:

  1. Written assessment: 40 percent
  2. Group Presentations: 40 percent
  3. Class participation/Reflections: 20 percent

Reading List:

  • Danto, Elizabeth (2005) Freud’s Free Clinics: Psychoanalysis and Social Justice. Columbia University Press, New York.
  • Dhar, Anup. (2016) At the Edge of (Critical) Psychology Discourse Unit
  • Hook, Derek, (2004) Critical Psychology, UCT Press
  • Nandy, Ashis, (1997) Essays in Politics and Culture: At the Edge of Psychology. New Delhi: Oxford University Press
  • Das Veena. (1992) (ed.), Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots and Survivors in South Asia, p. 69-93. Bombay: Oxford University Press.
  • Das Veena (2007) Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary. Oxford University Press: New Delhi.
  • Rosaldo, Renato (1989) Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis, 1-21 and 46-67.
  • Pile, Steve (1996) Body and the City Bodies: Desire and disgust in the flesh (P 173-210)
  • Low, Setha (2001) The Egde and the Center: Gated Communities and the Discourse of Urban Fear: Setha M. Low
  • Phadke, Shilpa (2009) Why Loiter Dissent and Cultural Resistance in Asias
  • Lynne Layton (2006) Psychoanalysis, Class and Politics
  • Altman, Neil ( ) Analyst in the Inner City
  • Fanon Franz (1959) Black Skin, White Masks
  • Lifton, R.J. (1976 ) The life of the Self: Toward a New Psychology. Simon and Schuster: New York.
  • Papadopoulos R. K., (2002) Refugees home and trauma in Therapeutic Care for Refugees: No Place Like Home, H Karnac (Books) Ltd., London
  • Erikson, Erik (1968) Identity Youth and Crisis. Norton Inc: New York.