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The Liquid Club #10: Anthropophagic Subjectivity by Suely Rolnik

The Liquid Club is a monthly discussion group which invites collective thinking and drives the development of Liverpool Biennial 2020.

For our November session, we propose to read “Anthropophagic Subjectivity” by the Brazilian psychoanalyst and writer Suely Rolnik. Meaning to eat human flesh – a ritual practiced by Brazil’s indigenous Tupi population – the term anthropophagy took on a different meaning in the 1930s with the rise of the anthropophagous movement. Rather than taking on a literal meaning, it highlighted Brazil’s history of cannibalising other cultures. The movement argued that the ability to incorporate and re-appropriate other cultures is Brazil’s greatest strength and has been a way for the country to assert its independence over European colonial culture.

In discussing how the movement has brought about a particular mode of cultural production in Brazil, Rolnik’s essay points out the subjectivity of any Brazilian who is created as the result of infinite ‘miscegenation’ – the mixing of those seen to be of different racial backgrounds. She argues that the anthropophagous movement makes this position explicit, giving it retrospective visibility but, above all, the dignity to affirm it in the present.

In a world where national, cultural, ethnic, religious, social and sexual territories are becoming increasingly complex, can anthropophagic subjectivity be a strategy for rearticulating our complex modes of existence? How can we explore this disorientation? How can we acquire some meaning in a world where identity has been mixed up in multifarious ways to a point that irreversibly denaturalises the conventional boundaries and territories of subjectivity?


Suely Rolnik, “Anthropophagic Subjectivity”, 1998.


Suely Rolnik is a psychoanalyst, cultural critic, curator and professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, where in 1982 she founded the Subjectivity Studies Centre in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program. Since 2008, she has been guest professor of the Programa de Estudios Independientes, MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art). Her research focus is on the politics of subjectivation and creation in different contexts, approached from a trans-disciplinary theoretical perspective. Her publications include Molecular Revolution in Brazil (1986) co-authored with Félix Guattari.


This month's Liquid Club is hosted by Bidston Observatory Artistic Research Centre, an experimental project based in a historic building on the Wirral, and directed towards cultural production and supporting the development of communities.


Held on the first Wednesday of every month, The Liquid Club is a mobile platform activated at different venues across Liverpool. On each occasion, reading material including texts, films and music are distributed in advance online. It is free and open to all.

Please note spaces are limited and advance booking is required.


06 November 2019, 6.30–8pm


Bidston Observatory
Wilding Way
CH43 7RA

Directions on how to get there