Nationalism and the Body Politic: Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia

Editor : Lene Auestad

Part of The New International Library of Group Analysis series - more in this series

Nationalism and the Body Politic: Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : January 2014
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 304
  • Category :
  • Category 2 :
    Psychotherapy and Politics
  • Catalogue No : 32947
  • ISBN 13 : 9781780491028
  • ISBN 10 : 1780491026
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This volume aims to question the recent revival of neo-nationalist policies in the light of what unconscious fantasies are involved in these developments. It examines both recent movements of right-wing extremism and the way in which rearticulated neo-ethnic ideas have been adopted by mainstream politicians and in mainstream public discourse. Politicians from other than the right-wing populist parties have tended to resist specific ways of talking that are considered too extremist, rather than their underlying frame of interpretation.

Governments across Europe have adopted anti-immigrant and anti-Roma policies. Xenophobia and hostility towards 'others' is on the rise, along with appeals to "Tradition and Security". 'Cultures of fear' are linked with fantasies of fusion or 'imagined sameness'. 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, 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." To address the current political developments, the volume stresses the urgency of understanding the fantasies and affects which underpin them.

Reviews and Endorsements

Nationalism and the Body Politic is a fine, timely collection that should be read by anyone concerned by the rise of nationalist and far-right politics in Europe and beyond. Offering numerous insights and frequent provocations to further thought, it brings together an impressive selection of topics and national contexts. Informed by a generous range of theoretical traditions, the book is also a model of open-minded critical dialogue. Above all, the collection is testament to the ongoing relevance of psychoanalytically informed political and social analysis – perhaps needed now more than ever.’
— Peter Redman, Editor of Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society

‘Psychoanalysis has traditionally eschewed discussing politics and neutrality has been held as the touchstone of its scientific respectability. Nonetheless, this is tantamount to a major gelding of psychoanalytic thought and an undue restriction of its impact on human life, both individual and collective. This fascinating collection of articles on the subject of psychoanalysis and politics, meticulously edited by Lene Auestad, is a major effort to redress this long-standing omission. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested and engaged in psychoanalysis, group analysis, social science, philosophy, or politics. It is definitely worth your while.’
— Juan Tubert-Oklander, training and supervising analyst at the Institute of the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association

‘This unique volume presents a selection of contemporary theoretical discussions of the recent revival of neo-nationalism, but reaching beyond the traditional political debates of the topic. The different contributions in the book offer new and fascinating perspectives by exploring the unconscious fantasies of neo-nationalist policies. As Adorno and Marcuse have already shown, xenophobia, racism, ethnocentrism, and prejudice are connected with deep-rooted emotions – with hatred, uncanny desires, anxieties, and overwhelming fears of annihilation. These emotions cannot be fought politically if it is not possible to understand them as expressions of unconscious and unresolved political conflicts within society. Therefore, this book is a most valuable and a much-needed contribution to a scientifically neglected issue that threatens Europe from within its own societies.’
— Elisabeth Rohr, Professor of Intercultural Education, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany; group analyst; counsellor of group therapy training projects in Guatemala and Ramallah

‘This book is an eye-opener for all of us. It addresses dramatic changes in the political and socio-economic climate of our time and calls for simultaneous testing of external and psychic reality. If we fail to grasp how external reality, history, and trauma shape our experience of the world, we miss a fundamental momentum in the process of understanding and elaboration.’
— Judit Szekacs-Weisz, psychoanalyst and co-editor of Sandor Ferenczi – Ernest Jones: Letters 1911–1933

About the Editor(s)

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 moved to the UK to pursue 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. She is the author of Respect, Plurality, and Prejudice: A Psychoanalytical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Dynamics of Social Exclusion and Discrimination, and Psychoanalysis and Politics: Exclusion and the Politics of Representation, as well as a number of articles, including 'To Think or Not To Think', in the Journal of Social and Psychological Sciences, and 'Splitting, Attachment and Instrumental Rationality', in Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society.

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