Lene Auestad

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Lene Auestad, PhD, is Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Oslo, and affiliated with the Centre for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities, Oslo. She currently resides in the UK to pursuing long-standing interests in British psychoanalysis. Working at the interface of psychoanalytic thinking and ethics/political theory, her writing has focused on the themes of emotions, prejudice and minority rights.

Her books include:

  • Respect, Plurality, and Prejudice: A Psychoanalytical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Dynamics of Social Exclusion and Discrimination (Karnac, 2015)
  • Nationalism and the Body Politic. Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia (Karnac, 2014)
  • Psychoanalysis and Politics – Exclusion and the Politics of Representation (Karnac, 2012)
  • Action, Freedom, Humanity – Encounters with Hannah Arendt (in Norwegian)

Auestad founded and co-directs the interdisciplinary conference series "Psychoanalysis and Politics," which aims to address how crucial contemporary political issues may be fruitfully analyzed through psychoanalytic theory and vice versa – how political phenomena may reflect back on psychoanalytic thinking.

In the book we'll be discussing today, Respect, Plurality, and Prejudice: A Psychoanalytical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Dynamics of Social Exclusion and Discrimination (Karnac, 2015), Auestad brings together psychoanalytic theory, philosophy, and sociology to create a bold and lively study of prejudice and its causes and effects at personal and social levels. The scope of her work is thrilling, moving from a clear investigation of how the unconscious and primary process play out in the phenomena of racism and prejudice; to the ethical issues of hate speech; to an exciting mash-up of Adorno and Bion on the implications of the authoritarian personality. But, following the example of Hannah Arendt, Auestad does not rest in the realm of detached theory, rather, she draws lessons from experience and current news headlines, exploring abuses and prejudice related to treatment of asylum seekers and migrants. Auestad is rigorous and thorough intellectually, but also uncommonly willing to consider how everyone plays a role in the workings of prejudice– including philosophers and psychoanalysts. During the interview, we attempt both to consider the content of Auestad's study, but also to tell the intellectual story of her efforts to work across disciplines in ways that hold great promise for using psychoanalytic theory to understand social space.

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