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Psychoanalysis and radical philistinism in the museum


This article proposes a psychoanalytic reading of ‘radical philistinism’ in museum contexts. Radical philistinism in the museum is defined as the proposition that curatorship can continue while civilisation falls and cultivation fails. The participation of museums in a cultural game that produces contingent bodily trauma in dominated groups, is contrasted with examples in which a psychoanalysis of the museum allows for a focus on curatorial acts that bring about a worsening or deterioration of the games of culture and civilisation in which the museum is enmeshed.

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  1. Sonia Boyce’s intervention is documented in her film and wallpaper installation Six Acts, see

  2. Gunther von Hagens (born Gunther Gerhard Liebchen, 10 January 1945) has pioneered the technique of ‘plastination’ for preserving specimens of human tissue and has organized numerous Body Worlds exhibitions to demonstrate this technique.


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Correspondence to Malcolm Quinn.

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Quinn, M. Psychoanalysis and radical philistinism in the museum. Psychoanal Cult Soc 27, 20–36 (2022).

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  • Museum
  • Trauma
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Philistinism
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