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Which subject, whose desire? The constitution of subjectivity and the articulation of desire in the practice of research

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Following recent debates within Psychosocial Studies, this paper explores the interpretive trajectories initiated in contrasting conceptualisations of the relation between subject and other. Starting from a discussion of countertransference, I go on to examine Lacan’s notion of the ‘action of interpretation’ and what this might look like within the practice of research. My analysis is organised around instances from an interview-based research project investigating unconscious relations in academic practice. These instances relate to moments of disruption to disciplinary or methodological identities. The analysis thus draws attention to shifting locations and modes of articulation of desire within research.

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Many thanks to the editors and reviewers and to Zoe Charalambous, Jason Glynos, Angela Kühner, Sara Matthews, Ian McGimpsey, Diego Santori, Laura Teague, and Angie Voela and Natasha Whiteman for their incredibly useful contributions. The ESRC funded the research project that produced the data analysed in the paper.

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Lapping, C. Which subject, whose desire? The constitution of subjectivity and the articulation of desire in the practice of research. Psychoanal Cult Soc 18, 368–385 (2013).

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