OSLO 25th to 27th of MARCH 2011

We cannot, argued Gullestad in Plausible Prejudice (2006), “understand the appeal of right-wing politics if we do not take into account how this rhetoric is underpinned by and embedded in rearticulated neo-ethnic ideas.” She argued that politicians from other than the right-wing populist parties have resisted specific ways of talking that are considered too extremist, rather than their underlying frame of interpretation.

Recent news stories appear to lend support to her view: Civil rights campaigners have accused governments, not just in France but across Europe, of adopting anti-immigrant and anti-Roma policies to win popular support. The issue of the so-called ‘Ground Zero mosque’ has caused agitation in the US. In Denmark, the nationalist party is supporting the current government, while the Sweden Democrats has been battling up in the recent elections, appealing to hostility towards immigrants and Muslims in particular, employing the slogan “Tradition and Security”.

In relation to the Wolf-man’s phantasies, where the passive role he had played towards his sister had been envisioned as reversed, Freud (1914) wrote that they “corresponded exactly to the legends by means of which a nation that has become great and proud tries to conceal the insignificance and failure of its beginnings.”  Given that we are witnessing a revival of nationalist ideas, it is worth asking what fantasies these give voice to. One might think in terms of ‘cultures of fear’ (Moïsi (2009) in reference to recent developments in USA and Europe), of fantasies of fusion or ‘imagined sameness’ (Gullestad). Alongside the image of the nation as a mother and/or father, Reich (1933) called attention to the fantasy of the nation as a body. This metaphor is echoed in Money-Kyrle’s (1939) characterization of ‘group hypochondria’ in connection with the burning of witches and heretics; “The Church, and State united to it, could tolerate no foreign body within itself, and turned ferociously upon any that it found.” The analogy may call to mind fantasies of scooping out, sucking dry, of poisoning, or of the other’s supreme enjoyment.

Where ‘the foreign body’ in Freud/Breuer’s formulation designates the memory of the trauma, they admit that the analogy breaks down in that the resistance is what infiltrates the ego and that the treatment consists in “enabling the circulation to make its way into a region that has hitherto been cut off” (1893-95). Thus, conversely, one might think, along the lines of Butler’s (2004) reflections on the obituary as an act of nation-building, the instrument by which grievability is publicly distributed, which call attention not as much to the iconic images celebrated as to what violence and what losses are derealized. When the national public sphere is constituted on the basis of a prohibition on certain forms of public grieving, what has been cut off?

This is an interdisciplinary conference – we invite theoretical contributions and historical, literary or clinical case studies on these and related themes from philosophers, sociologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, literary theorists, historians and others. Perspectives from different psychoanalytic schools will be most welcome.

Presentations are expected to take half an hour; another 30 minutes is set aside for discussion. Please send an abstract of 200 to 300 words to moc.liamgnull@scitilop.sisylanaohcysp by December 1st 2010.

Conference venue: The Norwegian Psychoanalytical Society, Oslo. 

This is a relatively small symposium where active participation is encouraged. Researchers, post-graduate students and professionals are invited to attend and present their work in a friendly and enjoyable social atmosphere. A participation fee, which includes two shared dinners, of 1000 NOK/1146 SEK/932 DKK/€ 125/£ 109/$ 171/1956 EEK/89 LVL/432 LTL, is to be paid before the symposium. Additional information in this regard will be given after your abstract has been accepted or after the conference programme has been finalized.

The organizers would like to thank The Board of NSU for accepting our proposal for a three-year ‘Psychoanalysis and Politics’ conference series 2011-20213 and The Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and British Psychoanalytical Society for their support.


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