Unseen City: The Psychic Lives of the Urban Poor

unseen city book cover

In Unseen City: The Psychic Lives of the Urban Poor, Ankhi Mukherjee offers a magisterial work of literary and cultural criticism which examines the relationship between global cities, poverty, and psychoanalysis. Spanning three continents, this hugely ambitious book reads fictional representations of poverty with each city's psychoanalytic and psychiatric culture, particularly as that culture is fostered by state policies toward the welfare needs of impoverished populations. It explores the causal relationship between precarity and mental health through clinical case studies, the product of extensive collaborations and knowledge-sharing with community psychotherapeutic initiatives in six global cities. These are layered with twentieth- and twenty-first-century works of world literature that explore issues of identity, illness, and death at the intersections of class, race, globalisation, and migrancy. In Unseen City, Mukherjee argues that a humanistic and imaginative engagement with the psychic lives of the dispossessed is key to an adapted psychoanalysis for the poor, and that seeking equity of the unconscious is key to poverty alleviation.

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