MLA Convention 2023: Samuel Beckett Society Panel, Sunday 8 January (Virtual)

This year’s MLA Convention is being held in San Franciso, California from 5-8 January, and continues the recent trend of combining in-person and on-line panels. The annual Samuel Beckett Society panel will be held virtually and can be accessed world-wide by those registered for the convention. The panel, which will take place at 8:30 to 9:45 PST promises a particularly rich discussion under the rubric Beckett and the Work of Care featuring the following participants:

Elizabeth Barry (University of Warwick]: ‘The Salvation Army Is No Better’: Beckett, Aging, and the Ambivalent Work of Care.

Swati Joshi (Indian Inst. of Tech., Gandhinagar): Caring Nurses and Nursing Care in Beckettopia

Molly Crozier (U of Liverpool): Care, Need, and Gendered Labour in Endgame and Happy Days

Laura Salisbury (U of Exeter]: Waiting for Beckett: Suspended Time as the Work of Care.

The panel will be chaired by Feargal Whelan (Trinity College Dublin).

More details about the convention are here.

Save the Dates, The Time of Care, A Waiting Times Conference – Tuesday 28th – Wednesday 29th March

We would like to invite you to save the dates for our end-of-grant hybrid conference: The Time of Care: Conclusions from the Waiting Times Project. The event will take place on Tuesday 28th March – Wednesday 29th March 2023, together with a special show by renowned performance artist, Martin O’Brien, to open proceedings on the evening of Monday 27th March.

Waiting is one of healthcare’s core experiences. There from the time it takes to access services; through the days, weeks, months or years needed for diagnoses; in the time that treatment takes; and in the elongated time-frames of recovery, relapse, remission and dying. However, though often discussed and considered in terms of waiting lists and times, and especially in relation to health and social care crises, waiting is also vital to practices of care. 

Waiting Times has explored what it means to wait in and for healthcare by examining lived experiences, representations, and histories of impeded and delayed time. The project has mobilised a range of artistic and engaged research methodologies, as well as ethnographic, philosophical and historical investigations to consider different forms of suspended, elongated, and “non-productive” temporalities in different sites and practices: in forms of watchful waiting and recurrent waiting with that take place in general practice, mental health services, and trans care; within modes of chronic care and forms of time that are held and unfolded within psychotherapy; and as part of cultural framings, experiences, and care provided at the end of life.

The conference offers a final chance for our researchers to showcase their work, to reflect collectively on its meanings and implications, and to bring the team into conversation with invited speakers and research partners across a number of panels and performances.

We would be very keen for you to join us for these interactions, either in-person (at the Friends’ House, Euston Road, London) or online. 

Registration will open very soon, and we will share the Eventbrite link once our page is live. Attendance is free, and there will be no cap on online attendance. Our in-person capacity will be limited, however, and spaces will be made available in due course. 

We (somewhat ironically) can’t wait to share this time with you and we very much look forward to seeing you in some capacity in March!

The Waiting Times Team.


From the Bariatric Clinic – Dialogue between Dr Anuradha Menon and Prof Lisa Baraitser, 5 December 2022

The history of human obesity is complex. Modern Bariatric services offer medical and surgical interventions towards what proves a challenging task for both patient and clinician – that of encouraging sustained, substantial weight loss over a lifetime. Psychological approaches within bariatric services have a place not only in supporting treatment before and after surgery, but also in those who choose lifestyle modification over surgery. However, the focus of evidence-based approaches in healthcare settings is time-limited; and predictably on weight loss as the main desirable outcome rather than an exploration of the totality of the obese patients’ experience. Today’s Maudsley lecture is an attempt to address this gap by exploring the setting and frame of a Bariatric service from a psychoanalytical perspective. Dr Anuradha Menon who is a liaison psychiatrist and psychoanalyst working in a Bariatric service in Leeds will be in dialogue with Professor Lisa Baraitser, a psychoanalyst who has written widely on feminist theory, motherhood, ethics, care and temporality.

Chaired by Simon Harrison and Emma Hotopf

Anuradha Menon is a Member of the British Psychoanalytic Society and has an analytic practice in Leeds. She also works part time as a Consultant Psychiatrist in Medical Psychotherapy and Liaison Psychiatry in the Leeds and York Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust and leads the psychological service offered by the Specialist Weight Management Service (SWMS), a Tier 3 regional service for Bariatric patients seeking medical and surgical treatments for Obesity.

Lisa Baraitser is Professor of Psychosocial Theory in the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London, and a Psychoanalyst and Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society. She is the author of Enduring Time (Bloomsbury, 2017) and Maternal Encounters: The Ethics of Interruption (Routledge, 2009) and has written widely on feminist theory, motherhood, ethics, care and temporality. She currently co-leads a Wellcome Trust research project on waiting in relation to healthcare.

5 December 2022
6:30pm – 8:00 pm
Recording available for 1 week to all registered participants
Hybrid Event
Online via Zoom and In Person at 10 Windsor Walk SE5 8BB
Click here to book the ticket.


New paper: ‘What about the coffee break?’ Designing Virtual Conference Spaces for Conviviality.

Reflections from the ‘Material Life of Time’ conference team regarding online networking, engagement, and overall success of the online conference by Michelle Bastian, Emil Henrik Flatø, Lisa Baraitser, Helge Jordheim, Laura Salisbury, Thom van Dooren

Short Abstract

Online conferences provide one avenue for potentially reducing academia’s carbon footprint. Their widespread take up is accompanied by concerns that they cannot provide adequate alternatives to the face-to-face, particularly in terms of building new networks. This paper reports on The Material Life of Time conference and the success of our efforts to plan explicitly for conviviality.

Full text is available here.

PPNow 2022 Insiders and Outsiders: Navigating identities and divisions inside and outside the consulting room. 11-12 November, 2022

This conference considers divisions between the ‘internal’ and the ‘external’, what is ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the psychoanalytic profession and practice, and how we might take more of a psychosocial and intersectional perspective in psychoanalytic work.

PPNow 2022 will open with a public lecture by Dr Noreen Giffney on the evening of Friday 11 November, followed by a full programme on Saturday 12 November.

Saturday 12 November Professor Lisa Baraitser will give a talk ‘On being with others ‘now’’.

Registration and details are here.

Beckett & Poetry/y La Poesía: 7th Annual Conference of the Samuel Beckett Society. Buenos Aires, 26-28 October 2022

The 7th annual Conference of the Samuel Beckett Society takes place this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Taking Beckett and Poetry as its theme, the conference will allow for an exploration of Beckett as a poet and the broader themes of poetics within his oeuvre. The event includes papers in English and Spanish further enhancing the opportunities for broadening interest in the Spanish-speaking world developed through the Society’s previous conferences in Mexico City (2018) and Almería (2019).

Laura Salisbury will present a keynote paper ‘What is the Word Again?’

Other keynote speakers include Daniel Caselli (University of Manchester], Ulrika Maude (University of Bristol), José Francisco Fernández (Universidad de Almería), Patrick Bixby (Arizona State University), and Feargal Whelan (Trinity College Dublin)

The conference is organized by the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires and CEAMC (Fundación Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Música Contemporánea) under the stewardship of the indefatigable Lucas Margarit.

Full details of events and the complete conference programme are available here.

Where is the Planetary? A series of events about the planet. Berlin, October 14-17th

Bild: Where is the Planetary? | Images by Koki Tanaka © All rights reserved

An old practice of “inhabiting” the earth is failing; a new one is not yet in sight. What diverse worldviews underlie the way we deal with the crisis of the planet? How can shared agency emerge from this? Where is the Planetary? brings together perspectives on a fragile and changeable planet in collaborative exercises and conversations. In experimental setups by the artist Koki Tanaka, scholars, artists and activists develop ways of living together under planetary conditions.

With Ravi Agarwal, Mohammad Al Attar, Felipe Castelblanco, Maria Chehonadskih, Shadreck Chirikure, Myung-Ae Choi, Orit Halpern, Valentina Karga, John Kim, Francine McCarthy, Margarida Mendes, Claire Pentecost, Jahnavi Phalkey, Patricia Reed, Sophia Roosth, Nishant Shah, Adania Shibli, Fernando Silva e Silva, Rebecca Snedeker, Nikiwe Solomon, Koki Tanaka, Simon Turner, Mark Williams, Mi You and Jan Zalasiewicz. Facilitated by Lisa Baraitser, continent., Kai van Eikels, L. Sasha Gora, TINT and Gary Zhexi Zhang.

Where is the Planetary?
A Gathering | In Collaboration with Koki Tanaka

Fri–Sun, Oct 14–16
Practices and Conversations
In English
Free admission

Lisa Baraitser is opening the event with Koki Tanaka on Friday 14th October and will participate with the talk about care, repair and maintenance in relation to planetary damage on Saturday 15th.

More about the program:

Earth Indices. Processing the Anthropocene
An exhibition by Giulia Bruno and Armin Linke

Until Mon, Oct 17
Daily, except Tue, 12 noon–8 pm
Free admission
More about the exhibition:

Circumcision on the Couch: The Cultural, Psychological and Gendered Dimensions of the World’s Oldest Surgery

29th of September, in The Old Operating Theatre, Jordan Osserman talked about his recent book Circumcision On the Couch. The evening was illuminated by short art performances by Martin O’Brien and FYTA, and a discussion with Professor Lisa Baraitser.

“Penises, and the things people do with them, have been subjects of controversy for a long time. Jordan Osserman’s recently published book Circumcision on the Couch draws on the discipline of psychoanalysis to examine how one thing that some people do to penises – surgically remove the foreskin – has become a site upon which vital questions of gender, race, religion, sexuality, and psychic life are negotiated. In this event, Jordan and his invited guests will make use of the Old Operating Theatre’s incredible surgical setting to bring to life some major themes of the book: the nineteenth-century transformation of circumcision from a religious rite to a medical procedure designed to cure ‘nervous illness’; the psychological dynamics of contemporary anti-circumcision activism (‘intactivism’); and the psychoanalytical theories that address the symbolic significance of the phallic ‘cut’. The event will include two short performances by internationally acclaimed artists Martin O’Brien and FYTA which will address contemporary debates around circumcision and gender politics, and a discussion with Professor Lisa Baraitser about the book”.


Martin O’Brien, photo by Alma Daskalaki

Jordan Osserman and FYTA, photo by Alma Daskalaki


Jordan Osserman is a Lecturer in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies at the University of Essex and a psychoanalyst in formation. His research interests include the medical humanities, the Lacanian tradition of psychoanalysis, left-wing politics, and gender/sexuality studies.
Martin O’Brien is an artist and scholar, concerned with the performance and representation of illness and disability. His artistic practice uses physical endurance, hardship and pain-based practices to challenge common representations of illness and to examine what it means to be born with a life-threatening disease. He is a member of the Waiting Times project and has performed at venues including the Tate Britain, ICA, and ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, and has been commissioned by organizations including Arts Council England and British Council.
FYTA are an Athens- and London-based conceptual and performance art duo comprised of artists and academics Dr Foivos Dousos and Dr Fil Ieropoulous. Their interdisciplinary work draws on queer and psychoanalytic ideas to question and destabilize notions of truth, national belonging, and naturality. They have performed/exhibited in venues including the Freud Museum, the Whitechapel Gallery, and the Athens Biennale; most recently they were commissioned by the Greek National Opera to stage a queer rendition of Orpheus.
Lisa Baraitseris Professor of Psychosocial Theory in the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, and co-PI of the Waiting Times project, a five-year cycle of research on temporality and care in health contexts. She is the author of an award-winning monograph, Maternal Encounters: The Ethics of Interruption(2009) andEnduring Time(2017). Her work is concerned with gender and temporality, focusing on a range of durational practices and social projects (psychoanalysis, mothering, care, incarceration, activism) in a bid to understand affective survival in late liberal conditions.

This event was generously supported by the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies at the University of Essex, and the Waiting Times project.

‘Queuing for Britain: What are we Waiting For?’ by Laura Salisbury and Lisa Baraitser

Britain may be less united in mourning the death of the Queen than portions of the media would like to suggest, but somehow the epic queue to file past her coffin mattered. The Queue was a sign of national grief, we were told. Its orderly length was peak Britishness. The Queue represented an urge to feel part of history being made. The Queue was a spectacle that was consciously being managed to produce the feeling of a nation united.

People tutted at celebrities who appeared to have jumped the Queue, or praised the levelling effect of a structure that forced David Beckham to wait with all the other ‘subjects’. Other voices pointed out that standing in line for over a day to pay one’s respects to a figurehead whose riches were literally (and strategically) untold, is a deeply ambiguous expression of equality.

Maybe what mattered most about the Queue to see Queen Elizabeth II lying-in-state, though, was its representation of a form of benign waiting. The Queue evoked an atmosphere of sacrifice and service that drew together the monarch and ‘her people’ under a sense of continuity and tradition that seemed to mean something to many. The Queue also looked, and seemed to feel, like a glimpse of a sense of community, half imagined, half real but passed over, where people would ‘look after’ each other. Although queuing is an ordering structure based on very strict hierarchies, people spoke of putting others’ needs – for snacks or clothing or cheery conversation – temporarily ahead of themselves.

We are told, over and again, that our contemporary society of instant access and 24-7 availability means that we no longer know how to wait. In the Queue, however, we had a representation of patience returned to its etymological root of endurance, even suffering. Although religious practices structured by waiting for deliverance and a better world to come have lost much of their force in a more secular society, the Queue to see a figurehead who was, anachronistically, both the Head of State and of the Church of England, echoed with religious and spiritual affects, if not necessarily always with their beliefs.

Of course, the idea that late stage capitalism means that we have lost our ability to wait is grimly contradicted by the reality of contemporary Britain.[1] As NHS waiting lists for elective surgery are at record levels and everyday bits of care like seeing (or speaking to) a GP or dentist become tests of endurance, waiting is a grinding reality for most. People in the gig economy lead working lives structured by frenetic activity and periods of unpaid inactivity, as they wait to service the demands of other people’s clocks.[2] People wait, pedalling on hamster wheels of maddening bureaucracy, for care packages delivered by hollowed-out, contracted-out services that councils are no longer resourced to afford.[3] People wait to find out if they can survive the coming winter.

One thing the Queue made clear is that waiting – the long and painful experience of extended time that does not pass – can be transfigured into a more manageable state by a belief that what we are waiting for will, in the end, be delivered. Waiting is also structured and managed by narratives that shape experiences of suffering into ideas of sacrifice. People can wait and endure in the name of something they understand to have an importance that reaches beyond the themselves. People can wait for the idea of the service of the Queen that her lying-in-state represents. People waited to ‘Protect the NHS’ during the COVID lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 beyond what most behavioural scientists advised was possible at the beginning of the pandemic.[4] And as we learned during lockdown, time that does not pass easily is made more bearable when waiting becomes a shared, collective practice, and the overarching waiting for of a grand project is grounded and made possible through small, everyday caring acts of waiting with others.[5]

One might accurately read the Queue as structure that manages and disciplines the time of a period of mourning, producing the optics of a sense of historical continuity with the institutions and practices the Queen represented. But in terms of what Raymond Williams named ‘structures of feeling’,[6] the culture of the Queue also evoked affects of collectivity, service, and even the ambiguous equality of being a ‘subject’ that reached beyond our current times and the capitalist structures that have penetrated most aspects of British life.

Other feelings are available, of course, despite some of the crude attempts to police them. For many, the British monarch’s death represented a moment when the reality of the violence of Empire must be faced, alongside the extractivism on which capitalism, inextricably bound to colonialism, has fed and through which it continues to flourish. Not all waiting is benign. As historian Dipesh Chakrabarty has described it, colonised nations were forced into the waiting room of history while British interests were served.[7] Martin Luther King also insisted that suggestions that Black Americans should wait a little longer for emancipation would not do when ‘“Wait” has almost always meant “Never”’.[8] As those living on with the consequences of colonisation know all too well, being asked to wait when lives might be preserved by being attended to, or being asked to wait in pain while the resources to alleviate it are being withheld or funnelled elsewhere, is political violence.

Waiting in and for the NHS tells us much about the violence of waiting, but it also tells us about possibilities for something else – possibilities for care.[9] Since its inception, there have been concerns about waiting times in the NHS as they became the explicit responsibility of the State. In the early decades of the NHS, new technologies like appointment systems were introduced to rid GP practices of queues that sometimes stretched well out of the door. Appointment systems, which might also have been used to manage the current Queue, were introduced to take care of the doctors’ time first, and then the patients’, producing more timely access to care and fewer working hours lost.[10]

It was during the 1980s and 90s that long waiting times became a specific marker of failure in the NHS. In the period defined by so-called ‘Targets and Terror’, little was left of the shared post-war idea that there was a benign or necessary form of waiting, say, for spectacles or false teeth, as the new NHS slowly repaired the damage to the nation’s health produced by previous unequal access to treatment.[11] Instead, as the historian of the queue, Joe Moran, has argued, by the 1970s and 1980s queueing was associated with faltering communist regimes. It was no coincidence that the iconic Saatchi and Saatchi poster campaign commissioned by the Conservative Party in 1978 and 1979 used an image of a queue to represent the ruling government’s failed socialism. The queue meant, simply, ‘Labour isn’t working’.[12]

But in the early years of the NHS, for many British citizens waiting in a queue for healthcare was a scene of possibility and change. To be waiting meant that you were now a patient of the NHS who would, in the end, be seen, rather than someone who could never afford to call the doctor out. The queue, whether literal or in the form of a waiting list, signalled a form of care that aimed to manage need rather than to service the ability to pay.[13] And new structures of feeling and identifications slowly emerged in which there was an NHS to wait for, albeit a highly imperfect one, and others to wait with.[14]

This NHS could not have been built and staffed without the labour of British ‘subjects’ from decolonised and decolonising nations.[15] Indeed, the wealth to provide a Welfare State at all in the UK was born over centuries from industries thoroughly dependent on Empire. Nevertheless, being asked to wait and even to queue for the NHS, and the Welfare State more broadly, produced something progressive that is worth holding on to. Waiting did not simply mean ‘never’; instead, it was structured by a collective sense of ‘looking after’ others who had been placed ahead by a service that aimed to allocate care according to need. If a commitment to care and the allocation of resources is to be genuinely underpinned by principles of justice and equality, which would include attending to the injustices of the past and the present and taking care of the future, then the process of ‘looking after’ will require renewed forms of collective action. But it will likely also require new forms of collective waiting, of holding back, perhaps even of queueing. Instead of imagining that waiting must always be reduced through processes of restructuring, privatising, and the delivery of services for profit under the pressures of market forces, perhaps we might use some of the structures of feeling that underpin the capacity to wait to prioritise a collective commitment to care, service, and to justice. That would surely be worth waiting for.


Laura Salisbury and Lisa Baraitser.

18 September, 2022.



[1] Lisa Baraitser, Enduring Time (London: Bloomsbury, 2017).

[2] Sarah Sharma, In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics (Durham: Duke UP, 2014).

[3] For an account of this dynamic that has only intensified in the last decade, see Ivor Southwood, Non-Stop Inertia (London: Zero Books, 2011).

[4] Ulrike Hahn et al, ‘Why a Group of Behavioural Scientists Penned an Open Letter to the U.K. Government Questioning Its Coronavirus Response’, Behavioural Scientist, 16 March 2020

[5] Lisa Baraitser and Laura Salisbury, ‘Containment, Delay, Mitigation: Waiting and Care in the Time of a Pandemic’Waiting and Care in Pandemic Times, Wellcome Open Research, 2020.

[6] Raymond Williams, ‘Culture is Ordinary’, (1958), Resources of Hope: Culture, Democracy, Socialism (London: Verso, 1989), pp.

[7] Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), p. 8.

[8] Martin Luther King, Why We Can’t Wait, (1964) (London: Penguin, 2018), p. 91.

[9] See Lisa Baraitser and William Brook, ‘Watchful Waiting: Temporalities of crisis and care in the UK National Health Service’, Vulnerability and the Politics of Care: Transdisciplinary Dialogues, ed. Victoria Browne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).

[10] Martin D Moore, ‘Waiting for the Doctor: Managing Time and Emotion in the British National Health Service, 1948–80’, Twentieth Century British History, 33, 2, (2022), pp. 203–229

[11] With thanks to Martin D Moore for this point.

[12] Joe Moran, ‘Queuing up in Post-War Britain’, Twentieth Century British History, 16, 3, (2005), 283-305.

[13] Martin D Moore, ‘Waiting for the Doctor: Managing Time and Emotion in the British National Health Service’, 1948–80. Twentieth Century British History, 33,2 (2022), pp. 203-229.

[14] See, Mathew Thomson, ‘The NHS and the Public: A Historical Perspective’,

[15] See Roberta Bivins, ‘Picturing Race in the British National Health Service 1948-1988’, Twentieth Century British History, 28, 1, (2017).


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