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Xochitl Marsilli-Vargas | Genres of Listening: An Ethnography of Psychoanalysis in Buenos Aires

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Join us for a conversation to celebrate SHC fellow (2020-21) Xochitl Marsilli-Vargas's new book, "Genres of Listening: An Ethnography of Psychoanalysis in Buenos Aires,"  as part of the Inside the Center series, which highlights the writing and research of current and former Humanities Center fellows. 

In Genres of Listening, Xochitl Marsilli-Vargas explores a unique culture of listening and communicating in Buenos Aires. She traces how psychoanalytic listening circulates beyond the clinical setting to become a central element of social interaction and cultural production in the city that has the highest number of practicing psychologists and psychoanalysts in the world.

Marsilli-Vargas develops the concept of genres of listening to demonstrate that hearers listen differently, depending on where, how, and to whom they are listening. In particular, she focuses on psychoanalytic listening as a specific genre. Porteños (citizens of Buenos Aires) have developed a “psychoanalytic ear” that emerges during conversational encounters in everyday interactions in which participants offer different interpretations of the hidden meaning the words carry. Marsilli-Vargas does not analyze these interpretations as impositions or interruptions but as productive exchanges. By outlining how psychoanalytic listening operates as a genre, Marsilli-Vargas opens up ways to imagine other modes of listening and forms of social interaction. 

About the Author

Xochitl Marsilli-Vargas is Assistant Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Emory University. Her work centers on the reception and circulation of mental health discourses, media technologies, intercultural communication, linguistic analysis, and listening practices. She received her PhD in cultural and linguistic anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. Her book Genres of Listening: An Ethnography of Psychoanalysis in Buenos Aires is an ethnography of listening practices. It proposes that listening can be categorized into genres: just as there are many ways of speaking, there are many possible ways of listening.


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