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The Lacanian LeftPsychoanalysis, Theory, Politics$
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Yannis Stavrakakis

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748619801

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748619801.001.0001

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Enjoying the Nation: A Success Story?

Enjoying the Nation: A Success Story?

(p.189) 5 Enjoying the Nation: A Success Story?
The Lacanian Left

Yannis Stavrakakis

Edinburgh University Press

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

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