Information about Lacan Circle Cartels




In 1964 Jacques Lacan invented a particular form of working group
He named it a cartel



What is a cartel?

A cartel is a small working group for the study of texts, ideas and questions related to psychoanalysis and the Lacanian clinic. It has a unique and defined structure. Between 3 and 5 “cartelisands” elect to work together with a “plus one”, usually a practicing psychoanalyst, who can offer direction for the selection of texts, the questions for discussion and the outcomes of the work. The plus one is not the teacher and they do not presume to be the “master” of knowledge. Rather their role is to animate the life of the cartel, facilitate a functioning group dynamic and to maintain the distance between knowledge and truth. Each cartel has a title chosen by its members and declared to the school. Each cartelisand also declares a theme for their own particular work in the cartel to the school. Lacan saw the cartel as central to the life of school, the transmission of psychoanalysis and the formation of psychoanalysts.

The LCA has an active cartels culture and encourages all those who participate in its activities to form cartels. Cartels are open to anyone with an interest in Lacanian psychoanalysis. There are no fees, and no prerequisites other than desire.


What makes a cartel different from a reading group?

A cartel has a firmer structure than a reading group: 3-5 members, plus one. The members and questions of a cartel are articulated in advance, through a declaration to the school. This functions as a commitment. A cartel should not go on indeterminately and two years is the longest period it may operate. This gives urgency to the work and prevents stasis. Finally, those who work in a cartel work towards producing some new knowledge. Cartelisands can present this work at a Cartel Study Day.

If you are interested in attending a reading group, the LCA runs an open and free reading group every Wednesday night on zoom. Information can be found here.


What makes a cartel different from a seminar?

The most important difference is that a cartel has no teacher, and its structure is non-hierarchical. Each member of the cartel is responsible for contributing actively to the work of the group and for pursuing their own singular questions. A cartel is small enough to refuse any anonymity. Every member of the cartel is known to each other and has an active role in the group.

If you would like to attend a seminar, the LCA has a seminar program that you can find out about here.


How to find a cartel

The best way to find a group of people to work with in a cartel is through attending the LCA’s program of seminars, reading groups and study days where you will meet other people interested in the study of psychoanalysis.

The LCA’s calendar of events can be found here.


How to find a plus one

The plus one is generally chosen by the cartelisands. However, if your cartel needs help finding a plus one, the LCA cartel delegate may be able to assist you to connect with someone suitable in the LCA, NLS or WAP.

Please contact the cartel delegate if you would like help with finding a plus one.


How to register your cartel with the LCA

Cartels can be registered with the LCA by emailing Ellen Smith, the cartel delegate, here.

In your email please state the title of your cartel and the names, themes and location of each of its members. The cartel will then be taken to the LCA committee of management for approval before being listed on the LCA cartel page which you can find here.

Once your cartel is registered with the LCA, the cartel delegate will also submit it for registration with the NLS.

Information about the cartels of the  NLS can be found here.


Cartel study days 

The LCA runs annual cartel study days where members of cartels can present their work. The next cartel study day will be held both in person and on zoom in late 2024.

Our end-of-year study day for 2023 was held on 4 November and you may request the recording here. Our mid-year event was held in June 2023 and you may request the recording here.

We also encourage the publication of cartel work in the publication of the NLS cartel newsletter:  4 + one quartreplusone


Current Lacan Circle Cartels

The list of currently registered cartels of the Lacan Circle of Australia can be found here.


Further reading about cartels

The following texts can provide further orientation around the place of the cartel in the Lacanian school

Jacques Lacan Founding Act

Frank Rollier The Cartel’s Whirlwind Affinities Between the Cartel and Lacanian Psychoanalysis


Contact information

LCA cartel delegate: Ellen Smith

NLS cartel delegate: Marina Frangiadaki




Lacan Circle Cartels are intended to facilitate research and study in the Freudian Field, and are registered with the NLS. To enquire about NLS cartel activity please contact the NLS Cartel Delegate Marina Frangiadaki.


4 + one quartreplusone is the journal of NLS cartels. It is published regularly and the latest edition, June 2024, is here


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Art by Peggy Kuiper, Session