Nations and Democracy
New Theoretical Perspectives
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Using the ideas of Wittgenstein and Lacan, Amanda Machin expertly explains that the overlapping and conflicting language games of the nation produce it as an object of desire in an uncertain world. The nation is not a pre-political thing but a matter of persistent political contestation and coalition. She reveals that the nation still has a vital part to play in democratic politics, but that this role is one of improvisation. While they endure as tools of emancipatory promise, nations nonetheless remain potential categories of violent exclusion. They cannot be pinned down as easily as anti-national and pro-national alternatives suggest. It is precisely the indeterminacy of the nation that gives it ongoing importance for democracy today.
Providing an urgent riposte to dominant accounts, this thought provoking and highly original account demands a re-politicisation of the nation. This book will appeal to those engaged in theory and empirical research on nations and nationalism and the question of their link to democracy in a changing world, as well as those interested in psychoanalysis and Wittgenstein.
Introduction: The Persistent Nation 1. The Puzzling Nation: The Challenge for Traditional Accounts 2. The Protean Nation: Wittgenstein and Language Games 3. The Potent Nation: Lacan, Desire and the Imaginary Ego 4. The De-Politicised Nation: Problems in Contemporary Accounts 5. The Political Nation: Democracy and Identification Conclusion: What is the Nation? Why should we ask the question?