Enjoying the Nation: A Success Story?

Yannis Stavrakakis

in The Lacanian Left

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780748619801
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672073 | DOI:
Enjoying the Nation: A Success Story?

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This chapter explores the potential of Lacanian theory to improve our understanding of nationalism. Undoubtedly, constructionist and modernist approaches have been instrumental in explaining the (modern) emergence of nationalism. However, important as these approaches to nationalism may be, they tend to emphasize the form of nationalist discourses, rather than their force. They can explain the modes of their articulation and highlight their historicity and contingency, but cannot sufficiently account for their weight, salience and longevity. The Lacanian concept of enjoyment (jouissance), on the other hand, offers an analytical angle able to explain the remarkable stability and force of national identifications within the milieu of modernity. Developing further certain Freudian insights, Lacanian psychoanalysis can be an essential resource in efforts to construct a more comprehensive theory of nationalism. In that sense nationalism's success as an object of identification, its ability to institute its discursive configuration as an imaginary horizon in modernity, clearly indicates that the hegemonic success and longevity of a discourse presupposes an efficient manipulation of enjoyment.

Keywords: Nation; Nationalism; Jouissance; Constructionism; Identity

Chapter.  8912 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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