CineLab • International Seminar

The Psychic and the Social Founding Violence of Law

Ghalya Saadawi

The seminar draws out relations between founding repression and the founding violence of Law. We trace lines between the inception through repression of social law and the law of/in psychoanalysis. We try to understand the contradictions of the need for law, the violence of the founding of law, and law’s transgression, meaning the contradictions of the split in law that creates a transgressive underside in the demand for law. We do so through introducing Lacanian psychoanalytic propositions such as the ethics of desire between the Symbolic and the Real, and superego’s injunctions to obey and to enjoy. We connect this to the critique of the historical contention that liberating the drives was sufficient for liberation itself, from law and from repression, misunderstanding the drives’ doubleness as both instinct and congealed forms of the social. Critical theory and psychoanalysis help us navigate the terrains of emancipation, obedience, transgression and enjoyment in and of law, and clarify concrete social implications therein.


Ghalya Saadawi is a writer and a senior lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her teaching and research interests span critical theory, critical approaches to human rights, witnessing and testimony, law and psychoanalysis, aesthetics and politics, Lebanese art and documentary, among other areas. Between 2015 and 2017 she was Resident Professor of the Ashkal Alwan Home Workspace Program (Beirut), and has been theory tutor at the Dutch Art Institute since 2018. Saadawi is also a member of Beirut Institute for Critical Analysis and Research (BICAR). Some of her writing has appeared in magazines and journals such as Bidoun, frieze, Bidayat, the derivative, Third Text, ArtMargins, Journal of Visual Culture, PhiloSOPHIA, among other publications. Her forthcoming book Between October and November (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2025) is an essay on loss and the persistence of forms under an extended capitalist modernity.

Registration is free but limited to the number of seats available. Please send an email with a short CV to by 08.02.2024. Confirmation of registration will be sent by email.

The seminar will be in English.

For further information, please contact:
Tel + 351 21 352 11 55 | |

Event supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e para a Tecnologia) of the Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science under the project UIDB/00183/2020 and UIDP/00183/2020.