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4th James MacKeith Memorial Lecture - Shadow Lives: The Impact on Wives and Families of the War on Terror

Location: Institute of Psychoanalysis, Byron House, 112a Shirland Road, London - Click for map


Victoria Brittain's lecture is based on her experience over the last ten years of living close to a number of families whose male members were caught up in the British authorities' response to the US War on Terror.  Her book Shadow Lives, the Forgotten Women of the War on Terror, will appear early next year, but for her lecture she will be using the material differently and focus mainly on psychological experiences.

 "Victoria Brittain will reveal the unique and bizarre situations of the wives and family of men who were refugees and now disappeared into Guantanamo or Belmarsh, how they were plunged back into overwhelming earlier traumatic losses and displacements,  resorted to extreme denial to manage their lives in the shadows without recourse to due process, and in a society that was heartless and almost wholly negative to their plight". 

She was a journalist, mainly at The Guardian, for many years, and lived much of that time in Africa, and the Middle East.  Much of her reporting was as a war correspondent, starting with Vietnam.  She has been a UN consultant on two reports on the impact of conflict, one on women, and one on children. 

She has previously written, co-written, and edited seven books before her new one.  All of them came from her life experience outside the UK.  She has also written or co-written two plays related to Guantanamo Bay prison. The Meaning of Waiting is one of her plays and one of her books Enemy Combatant was written with Moazzam Begg on his experiences in that prison. When Moazzam came to speak at an Institute meeting in January 2007 he asked her to accompany him.  It was the last time they saw James MacKeith.

Victoria Brittain had met James MacKeith earlier as he was one of the very few people in the early days of 2003 who was sufficiently appalled by the black hole of knowledge, as well as of law, relating to Guantanamo, to want to discuss what might be done about the men from Britain who were there.

JAMES MACKEITH OBE, who died in 2007, was an outstanding Forensic Psychiatrist, dedicated to Human Rights issues and to the collaboration between his field and psychoanalysis.

In 2010 Victoria Brittain wrote on the effect of the War on Terror on families

In Victoria Brittain's play Waiting (2010) five women spoke and sang their stories of the unseen fallout of the war on terror.
It was part of the Southbank Centre's Election 10 series
With: Juliet Stevenson, Gemma Jones, Simone James, Carole Wilson mezzo-soprano, Oliver Coates (Cello).
Directed by Poppy Burton-Morgan, Original score by Jessica Dannheisser, libretto by Poppy Burton-Morgan.


Full price:  £15 (includes drinks)

Students:  £10 (includes drinks)

Time: Drinks from 6.30pm, lecture from 7.00pm.

To book tickets contact Marjory Goodall on 0207 563 5017 or  Click here to book online.  Please make cheques payable to: The Institute of Psychoanalysis and send to Marjory Goodall, The Institute of Psychoanalysis, Byron House, 112a Shirland Road, London W9 2EQ.

Image: The Boy and the Bird by Davina Jackson, oil on canvas, 2003