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Camille Robcis

Associate Professor of History and French, Columbia University

Camille Robcis

Website(s)

Overview

Seminar: Critical History and the Archive

Camille Robcis specializes in modern European intellectual history, with a focus on nineteenth- and twentieth-century France. Her interests have circled around three issues: the historical construction of norms, the intellectual production of knowledge, and the articulation of universalism and difference in modern French history. Prior to coming to Columbia, she taught at Cornell for ten years.

Robcis is the author of The Law of Kinship: Anthropology, Psychoanalysis, and the Family in France which was published by Cornell University Press and which won the 2013 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize. It examines how and why French judges and legislators turned to structuralism – and more specifically, to some of the most difficult and abstract concepts of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Jacques Lacan – to reassert the centrality of the heterosexual family in political debates around bioethics, same-sex unions, single-parent households, family names, surrogacy, and adoption.

Her second book, Disalienation: Politics, Philosophy, and Radical Psychiatry in Postwar France (Chicago, 2021) traces the history of institutional psychotherapy, a movement born in France during the Second World War that called for the profound transformation of the theory and practice of psychiatric care, through the lens of Marxism and Lacanian psychoanalysis.

Robcis is currently working on a new project, tentatively titled The Gender Question: Populism, National Reproduction, and the Crisis of Representation in which she tries to make sense of the protests against the so-called “theory of gender” that have raged in various parts of the world since the 1990s, especially in their conceptual links to populism.

Affiliations

  • Columbia University