Interview with Leyla Safta-Zecheria--March 14, 2017

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Interview with Leyla Safta-Zecheria, PhD student in the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations at the Central European University in Budapest. The interview was conducted in Vienna, Austria, on March 14, 2017. Safta-Zecheria has an MA in European Ethnology from the Humboldt University in Berlin and has also studied in Bremen and at Istanbul Bilgi University. She is currently writing her doctoral dissertation at CEU, which is tentatively titled “Away towards the Asylum: The Politics of Biopolitics in Psychiatric Deinstitutionalization in Romania.”

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Interview themes 00:00 Introduction 00:55 Given her training in various disciplines, how Safta-Zecheria defines her field of scholarly interest 02:40 What brought Safta-Zecheria to the study of psychiatric hospitals and orphanages 06:20 Personal experiences that influenced her interest in the subject 08:00 On how Safta-Zecheria's perspective on the topic has changed over time 13:40 On the critique of human rights claims and interventions and, if not human rights, then what? 18:15 Parallels between dissent under state socialism and the nature of human rights claims (does the subaltern ever get to speak?) 26:00 The paradox of therapeutic interventions and power: can there be therapy/amelioration without repression? 32:40 On how Safta-Zecheria learned about anti-psychiatry 37:25 On patient "self-determination" and its challenges 41:30 Safta-Zecheria's take on theory (specifically Foucault's biopolitics) and its application 45:15 Are there viable alternatives to biopolitical approaches to this topic? 51:40 Whether a patient can both be considered to have agency as well as to be embedded in a repressive power structure 58:40 Academic institutions where Safta-Zecheria has studied (Humboldt, Bilgi, Bremen, CEU) 1:02:15 Social projects in which she has been involved (specifically in Brazil), and the apparently "endless" opening that "stopped seeming endless" around 2010 (as experienced from Turkey in particular) 1:12:40 On the first signs that the "endlessness" was coming to an end 1:17:05 On why she decided to go to CEU and the atmosphere there 1:19:00 How Safta-Zecheria characterizes the time we are living in 1:22:50 Her views on Europe, its trajectory and significance both as the EU and as a concept 1:26:00 Books and individuals who have had a strong impact on Safta-Zecheria (Book: Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed) 1:29:30 On how, "in order act politically and to do something, there need to be some geographic conditions of possibility" (i.e., you have to be in one place)


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biopolitics; Romania; psychiatric institutions; orphanages


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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International



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