Portrait of Dr Alvise Sforza Tarabochia

Dr Alvise Sforza Tarabochia

Lecturer in Italian


Dr Alvise Sforza Tarabochia joined the University of Kent as a lecturer in 2011, after obtaining his PhD in Italian Studies. His doctoral research project focused on the relationship between the thought of Franco Basaglia, chief proponent of the 1978 reform of psychiatric health care, Italian biopolitical theory and Lacanian psychoanalysis. He published his doctoral dissertation as a monograph for Peter Lang in 2013, with the title Psychiatry, Subjectivity, Community. Franco Basaglia and Biopolitics. 

Alvise has researched, lectured and published in the fields of history and philosophy of psychiatry, Italian theory, biopolitics and Lacanian psychoanalysis. He is currently working on Italian visual culture, carrying out a long term research project bringing together photography, psychiatry and the medical sciences in Italy.

Research interests

Alvise's research interests include:

  • Medical Humanities, with particular focus on intersections between visual culture, especially photography, and medical sciences, especially psychiatry, in Italy 
  • History and philosophy of psychiatry and forensics in Italy 
  • Italian biopolitical theory 
  • Lacanian psychoanalysis in Italy


Alvise teaches Italian visual culture, cinema, contemporary Italian history, culture and language at all levels, including translation.



  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2018). Photography, Psychiatry, and Impegno. Morire di Classe (1969) Between Neorealism and Postmodernism. Italianist 38:48-69.
  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2016). From the Obligation of Birth to the Obligation of Care: Esposito’s Biophilosophy and Recalcati’s ‘New Symptoms’. Culture, Theory and Critique [Online] 58:33-47. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14735784.2016.1190290.
    This essay addresses the controversial status of subjectivity in Esposito’s affirmative biopolitics and articulates it using Recalcati’s psychoanalytical theory, with the aim of promoting a non-vitalistic affirmative biopolitics. In biopolitical theory in general, and in Esposito’s especially, subjectivity has a problematic status: while life precedes intersubjectivity, it is not clear whether subjectivity is regarded as a consequence or as the precondition of intersubjectivity (and thus of life). Esposito acknowledges such an aporia, the subjectum suppositum, but fails to recognise it in his own reasoning, ultimately envisioning a powerful interpretative and transformative paradigm—affirmative biopolitics—whilst leaving at its core a life-less subject. In this essay, I read Esposito’s affirmative biopolitics through Recalcati’s clinical approach to the ‘new symptoms’, with the aim of envisioning a subjectivity compatible with the ontogenetic primacy of life posited by biopolitical theory. Ultimately, the aim of this article is to suggest that an affirmative biopolitics, grounded on the promotion of neither a pre-subjective bare life, nor of a lifeless subject, but of a fully subjective life, a living subject is possible.
  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2013). The Aphanisis of the Pirandellian Subject. Italian Studies [Online] 68:123-137. Available at: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/maney/its/2013/00000068/00000001/art00007.
    Although Pirandello’s oeuvre is very much open to a psychoanalytical reading, to date few have studied it in terms of Lacanian psychoanalysis. This article analyses Pirandello’s Enrico IV and Uno, nessuno e centomila in the light of Lacan’s theory of the subject. It demonstrates how both Pirandello’s and Lacan’s notions of subject rely on a paradoxical Aphanisis (disappearance) of subjectivity itself: according to both authors there is no subjectivity outside of otherness, or outside of the maschere created by the Other through which the subject is alienated.
  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2011). Affirmative Biopolitics and Human Nature in Franco Basaglia's Thought. Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities [Online] 16:85-99. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0969725X.2011.621223.
  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2009). La questione della cura fra psicoanalisi e consulenza filosofica. Esercizi Filosofici [Online] 4:86-92. Available at: http://www2.units.it/eserfilo/art409/sforza409.pdf.
  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2008). Grafting and De-Grafting Mental Illness: The Identity of Madness. Skepsi [Online] 1:67-74. Available at: http://blogs.kent.ac.uk/skepsi/issues/v01i01/.
    I wish to begin my paper with a statement by Foucault, how considers, in concluding his Histoire de la folie, madness as a graft onto the world of reason. The social implications of this thesis cross all of his work: as a plant grafted onto another plant not only produces a new species but also depends on the host for nutrition, so happens with madness. There is no autonomous space for something like an identity of madness in the contemporary culture. The social body defines its reason setting against an excluded background and affirming itself in a negative fashion. This social graft has an important echo in each individual be it sane or insane. The age of the asylum opened the gates to the so called positivist psychiatry. In turn, this current could be said to graft onto man’s nature mental illness, rendering him corrupt and dangerous in his very essence. In order to overcome this discriminating reductionist naturalism, phenomenological psychiatry introduces a new relationship between the physician and the patient, modelled on the idea that both their subjectivities have to be called into question. This is achieved primarily through and epoché: the psychiatrist has to bracket all his illusions of objectivity, as well as any organicist categories, in order to approach a fellow human being. This perspective is adopted and yet surpassed by Franco Basaglia, the psychiatrist who reformed Italian psychiatric health care. Not only should the psychiatrist bracket his assumptions in order to avoid treating madness as a graft onto the nature of man, but also he has to fight the asylum, that physical and metaphorical space from which madness could live only grafted, according to Foucault, onto the world of reason. Therefore, if there is something like an identity of madness, from these three perspectives we understand that it has to be sought to a paradoxical return: a return from a state in which it is grafted; a return to a state in which it has never been.


  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2013). Psychiatry, Subjectivity, Community. Franco Basaglia and Biopolitics. [Online]. Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien: Peter Lang. Available at: http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?event=cmp.ccc.seitenstruktur.detailseiten&seitentyp=produkt&pk=69697.
    Law 180, which abolished mental asylums in Italy, was passed in 1978. It came to be known as the ‘Basaglia Law’, after the physician whose work revolutionised psychiatry in Italy and worldwide. Franco Basaglia (1924-1980) battled to overturn an obsolete but prevalent conception of psychiatry, rooted in the asylum, where allegedly dangerous madmen were incarcerated rather than cured. Following Law 180, the asylum system was indeed dismantled in Italy, to be replaced by community centres. This radical transformation coincided with the emergence of ‘biopolitics’, a direct involvement of political power with the biological lives of the subjects, by means of homogenising disciplines such as the statistical analysis of the population.
    Examining both his practice and his theory of psychiatry, this book argues that Franco Basaglia foresaw this change in the paradigm of power, and that it is possible to trace its embryonic conception in his writings. Combining history of ideas, social and cultural history, and philosophical analysis, the book contextualises Basaglia’s works within the intense current debate on biopolitics. In doing so, it shows not only how his theory of the subject and his criticism of psychiatry are still as powerful and relevant now as they were in the 1970s, but also how Basaglia’s philosophy makes an integral contribution to the burgeoning field of contemporary Italian theory.

Book section

  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2018). Il realismo di Morire di classe. Forme di impegno postmoderno in fotografia e psichiatria. in: Fotografia e scienze della mente tra storia, rappresentazione e terapia. Aracne, pp. 195-220.
  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2014). Lacking Subjects and Subjects of Lack: Basaglia and Lacan. in: Chiesa, L. ed. Lacan and Philosophy: The New Generation. Melbourne, Australia: re.press, pp. 221-237.
  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2011). Boris: metatelevizija v fuoriserie italiana. in: Kre?i?, J. and Novak, I. eds. Proti koncu: sodobna TV serija in serialnost. Ljubljana: Slovenska Kinoteka.

Edited journal

  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2014). The End Sforza Tarabochia, A. ed. European Journal of Psychoanalysis [Online] 1. Available at: http://www.journal-psychoanalysis.eu/summary/.
  • Arribert-Narce, F. et al. (2010). Pharmakon: Literature and Violence. Skepsi 3 (2)Co-edited volume of Skepsi. Arribert-Narce, F. et al. eds. 3 (2).
  • Arribert-Narce, F. et al. (2009). Graft and Transplant, Identities in Question. Skepsi 1 (1)Co-edited volume of Skepsi. Arribert-Narce, F. et al. eds. 1 (1).
  • Arribert-Narce, F. et al. (2009). Ambiguities: Destabilising Preconceptions. Skepsi 2 (2)Co-edited volume of Skepsi. Arribert-Narce, F. et al. eds. 2 (2).


  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2013). Review of Torunn Haaland, 'Italian Neorealist Cinema'. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television [Online] 33:343-346. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01439685.2013.782623.


  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. and Diazzi, A. (2019). Social and Mental Alienation in Italy between the Economic Miracle and the Years of Lead. in: The Years of Alienation in Italy. Factory and Asylum from the Economic Miracle and the Years of Lead. Palgrave.
    This chapter discusses the multiple meanings of the notion of alienation, providing some essential coordinates for the understanding of such a slippery concept. This chapter proceeds by contextualizing what we call the “years of alienation” and explaining why we believe this is a particularly telling label for Italy’s sociopolitical and cultural situation between the so-called Economic Boom and the Years of Lead (1958–1980). In order to do so, we explore, on the one hand, the ideological debate on alienation understood in its sociopolitical connotations, which found in literature and cinema a privileged site of elaboration; and on the other hand, Franco Basaglia’s subversion of the field of psychiatric health care. In particular, we pay attention to the clinical and the political meanings that mental alienation took on in this context, and the influence this revolution in psychiatry had on literature, cinema, and popular music.
  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. (2019). Mental, Social and Visual Alienation in D’Alessandro’s Photography. in: The Years of Alienation in Italy. Factory and Asylum from the Economic Miracle and the Years of Lead. Palgrave.
    This chapter analyzes the first of several photobooks that illustrated the reform of psychiatric health care in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s: Luciano D’Alessandro’s 1969 Gli esclusi. In 1967, D’Alessandro was invited by the director of the asylum of Nocera Superiore, Sergio Piro, to document through photography the abysmal conditions of the “total institution” that was the pre-reform mental hospital. D’Alessandro first published a small selection of photos, in Popular Photography Italiana (1967), which he then expanded in Gli esclusi. This chapter claims that, in the evolution between the two publications, we can read the complex and multilayered notion of alienation that informed the work of reform, especially that of one of the most famous figures associated with it, Franco Basaglia. By analyzing D’Alessandro’s Gli esclusi through the notion of alienation, this chapter lets what Sekula calls the conditions of “readability” of the photographic message emerge.
  • Sforza Tarabochia, A. and Diazzi, A. eds. (2019). The Years of Alienation in Italy. Factory and Asylum from the Economic Miracle to the Years of Lead. Palgrave.
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