The Other, Belonging and Dignity

November 07, 2016

Lene Auestad

Monday, November 7, 6:00PM–8:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Co-sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities, the Lacan Salon, & the Western Branch Canadian Psychoanalytic Society (WBCPS)

The current refugee crisis is a marker of worldly and political change which puts dignity into question. This paper examines the nature of the contemporary forms of dehumanisation of refugees and reflects on the ethical challenge it poses to us as modern subjects. In Arendt, Heidegger's thoughts on the spatiality of being––on how we dwell in places that afford possibilities for being, where we can be projected so as to have potentiality, make space and show care for things, people and projects––are reconstructed as communicative and political. The loss of a place in the world, of membership in a political community, entails the loss of the relevance of one's speech, the capacity to disclose one's 'who' and thus one's dignity. Thinking psychoanalytically, I shall argue that the dehumanisation involved in the current depiction of refugees has two distinct modes: 1) demonization in terms of invasion of one's 'I', body, or territory; and 2) non- or misrepresentation as expressions of shared primary process thinking (i.e. of today's social unconscious). This making invisible or blurring of the non-belonging other raises questions of representation in relation to spatiality. I shall end by outlining some conditions for hospitality, for sharing the world with others.


Lene Auestad holds a PhD in Philosophy from The University of Oslo. She is editor of Psychoanalysis and Politics: Exclusion and the Politics of Representation (Karnac, 2012), Nationalism and the Body Politic: Psychoanalysis and the growth of Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia (Karnac 2013) and a book on Hannah Arendt in Norwegian (Akademika, 2011). Her monograph Respect, Plurality, and Prejudice: A Psychoanalytical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Dynamics of Social Exclusion and Discrimination was published by Karnac Books in 2015. She founded and runs the international and interdisciplinary conference series Psychoanalysis and Politics.