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  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: December 2017

6 - Sexing the Nation: Subversive Trans-localities


This chapter presents a final assessment of the preceding analysis with particular emphasis on the ‘national question’ asked at the beginning of the study. I have argued in this book that national narratives are never immutable; they are impure, creolised phenomena, porous and polluted spaces that are open to interpretive manipulation. In order to govern that reality, psycho-nationalisms are socially engineered to simulate uniformity and positive distinction from the ‘other’. In this sense, psycho-nationalism is a border creating device, it is meant to create ‘iron walls’ staffed by intolerant gatekeepers. In its traditional manifestation it provokes distinctly fascist politics. In apartheid South Africa and in Israel among the right wing, it has informed policies of separation and oppression. And in continental Europe today, it is challenging the idea of the European Union in the name of an anti-immigration agenda – borders are re-staffed, barbwires rolled out and fences are being put up. The resurgence of the politics of identity spearheaded by Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen is a strong contemporary indicator of the dangers of psycho-nationalism. The so-called ‘Left’ is trapped in ideological controversy that merely proclaims a counter-identity, admittedly more optimistic, but without a great leap towards a politics of radical federal democracy that empowers citizens and communities rather than the central state.

And yet in my previous book I have shown that any effort to separate the ‘self’ from the ‘other’ creates a very particular form of interdependence, a ‘disjunctive synthesis’ that does not yield neatly delineated identities. Thus, representations of ‘self’ and ‘other’ are entirely interdependent even when they are geared towards antagonistic politics. The preceding chapters gave empirical support to that claim. Iranians may have parodied seemingly divergent identities with their significant others – Arabs, Europeans, Americans – aimed at setting themselves apart as a separate and authentic ‘nation’, but their performative acts achieved the opposite. By allocating to the other side a prominent discursive presence, the interdependence between the national narratives suggesting ‘an Iran’ are now entirely dependent on the ideational territory presumed to be beyond those imagined confines. In other words, Iran's significant ‘others’ are now entirely subsumed in the meaning of Iran.

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  • Online ISBN: 9781108394918
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