EASA2012: Uncertainty and disquiet

Nanterre University, France, 10/07/2012 – 13/07/2012

(W076)

Anxious sovereignties

Location V307
Date and Start Time 13 Jul, 2012 at 11:30

Convenors

Rebecca Bryant (London School of Economics) email
Jakob Rigi (Cental European University) email
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Short Abstract

This panel will investigate the everyday anxieties produced by perceived threats to state sovereignty in a global order. The analytical focus will be 'sovereignty practices,' or ways in which states and their citizens construct and project sovereignty in everyday life.

Long Abstract

Much recent theorizing of the nation-state has described its withering as an effective political space in an era of global capital and transnational legal mechanisms. In the past decade, however, increased security concerns have led to more protective and insular nationalisms, manifest, for instance, in the proliferation of walls and security fences at nation-state borders. Under the title 'Anxious Sovereignties', this panel will investigate the everyday anxieties produced by perceived threats to state sovereignty in a global order. The analytical focus will be 'sovereignty practices,' or ways in which states and their citizens construct and project sovereignty in everyday life. Drawing upon an important recent literature that has questioned the reification of sovereignty, we will examine the sovereign state as a social construct produced through discursive claims and practices, both domestic and international, which simultaneously 'perform' sovereignty and create it. Globalization makes apparent the socially constructed, performative, and contingent nature of sovereignty, creating both anxiety and opportunity. The focus on everyday life allows us to ask not only how states respond to such perceived threats through changing technologies of governance, but also how citizens use transnational legal and political mechanisms, global human rights movements, and technologies such as the Internet to bolster or reconfigure state sovereignty.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Between scylla of europeanization and charybdis of nationalism: the EU accession of Croatia

Author: Anita Sujoldžić (Institute for Anthropological Research)  email
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Short Abstract

The EU accession process in Croatia brings many uncertainties to its citizens. The paper focuses on the existence of different discursive positions and articulations of sovereignty, Europe and neoliberal agenda that shape the beliefs and perceptions of the citizens.

Long Abstract

In Croatia the EU pre-accession campaign has provided a framework for the political debate on the Europeanization and nation building process. Like in other post-socialist countries, the negotiation process has been shaped by the non-negotiable requirement to accept as both natural and necessary the wholesale transformation from a post-socialist regime to a market-based neoliberal society, and by continual EU surveillance. The discursive space is defined by the consensus of relevant left/right political parties on the desirability of European integration, and by increasing opposition to the EU by radical nationalists, unions and different civil organizations. These various actors clearly have different interests but also different capacity to exercise the influence on the agenda of public discourse. The key issues during the campaign refer to the Croatian identity, sovereignty and economy, while the content is constrained by the articulations of different discourses. The performed analysis of the campaign official and unofficial slogans reveals three dominant discursive positions: 'Europe as a chance', 'there is no alternative' and 'Europe as a threat', all consisting of several options. The slogans based on the first, politically most powerful position that considers Europe as a desirable achievement stress historical and cultural ties to Europe and detachment from the Balkan advocating neoliberalism as ideology, mode of governance and policy package. Those with the position of inevitability articulate fears of being isolated politically when staying outside the EU and posit that domestic costs in terms of sovereignty are lower compared to the benefits to be gained by reducing economic uncertainty. The third position is characterized on one hand by radical nationalists concerned mostly with threatened national sovereignty and on the other by articulations that oppose market fundamentalism and consumerism along more traditional lines of pursuing the public good rather than profits by enhancing civil society and social justice.

State racism, nationalism, and securitization: anti-Roma violence in postnational Europe

Author: Erin McElroy  email
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Short Abstract

Contemporary discourses of European state securitization reify the imaginary of the immigrant-terrorist-enemy, a conflation that sanctions violence upon heterogeneous Roma communities. How do the apprehensions of the postnational state reinforce nationalist and continental xenophobias?

Long Abstract

Long 'Othered' within the continent, Roma have historically been perceived as threatening to European constructs of its own purity. Eastern Europe, in desiring assimilation into the West, endeavors to eradicate its own difference, either by enforcing state policies that calcify raced and classed societal stratification, by granting impunity to nationalist vigilante groups that target Others, or by implementing liberal integration policies that seek to assimilate Roma difference into artifacts recognizable to the West.

Within the last decade, supranational securitization has emerged as an additional site upon which formations of European governance can impose anti-Roma policy and discourse. Securitization of European nation-state borders is rendered as a political imperative that both discursively and ideologically reifies the 'immigrant-terrorist-enemy', a conflation that sanctions violence upon heterogeneous Roma communities across the continent. Post-Communist socio-economic conditions, the rise of Islamaphobia in the West, and shifting relationships between Eastern and Western European states within the EU collectively consolidates this violence.

This paper will look at emerging forms of violence that Roma are facing, making use of both archival research and of counter-narratives of Romanian Roma in Eastern Europe and the diaspora who, despite efforts to transgress the confines of state and continental racism, remain circumscribed by it. How do the politico-economic and psychosocial apprehensions of the postnational state reinforce nationalist and continental xenophobias?

Construction of an 'internal enemy' and affirmative action: the 'good' and the 'bad' cités young people

Author: Nuria Alvarez Agüí (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper examines the construction of 'cités young people' as a French Republic's 'internal enemy' after the 2005 civil unrest. Nevertheless, the state has encouraged affirmative action policies to reward some ´good´ individuals among visible minorities living in the cités (social housing areas).

Long Abstract

According to Carl Schmitt, the State can determine an 'internal enemy' to which confer a specific treatment by means of special laws, exclusion, or ostracism. Through different episodes as those of cité des Quatre Mille, 2005 civil unrest or the 'Great Debate about National Identity', French government has contributed to the discursive construction of the 'cités young people'. This construction has been made by the aggregation of stereotyped images as 'the racaille' (scum), 'the young boy wearing a baseball cap and talking the local slang', 'those who whistled at the Marsellesa', etc.

Furthermore, the government has approved specific laws for this group, as the 2006 'Law for Equal Chances' and, to a lesser extent, the 2008 'Hope for Suburbs Plan'. Some of these laws aim to reward the outstanding performances amongst people marked as belonging to the 'visible minorities'. An analysis of the best seller Parisian newspaper from September 2009 to march 2010 shows that affirmative action measures from government or enterprises are the most common subject of the news about 'cité young people'.

These two kinds of discourses superimpose to design a 'moral frontier' that divides in half the stigmatized group. Its members are then obligated to continually prove in which side they are of this 'moral frontier'. It is necessary to take into account this implicit demand in order to understand the spectrum of strategies displayed by the stigmatized subjects.

State-building in a globalizing world: reimagining sovereignty through Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste

Author: Victoria Stead (Deakin University)  email
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Short Abstract

Local experiences of statehood in Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste are not of decline, but of extension. In places where customary forms of land tenure remain dominant, coterminous processes of globalization and state-building are giving rise to potentially radical reimaginings of sovereignty and the state-citizen relationship.

Long Abstract

This paper draws on multi-sited ethnographic research in Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. The dominance of customary land tenures in both countries means that the presence of the state in local communities has only ever been, at best, partial. Contrary to the linear trajectories postulated by some recent theorising (e.g. Agnew, 2005; Sassen, 2008), which describe the era of the modern state system transitioning to a late/post-modern global order where Westphalian sovereignty, if not expunged, is significantly diminished, here the dominant experiences of statehood are not of decline but of (uneven) state-building. Local experiences of globalization and state-building as dynamically interlinked processes are producing deeply ambivalent practices of sovereignty and citizenship. Land reform projects seeking to bring customary land within the administrative control of the state are often fiercely resisted as incursions on place-bound structures of authority, identity and culture. As communities are simultaneously drawn into the extended social relations of global capital, however, the lack of actual or effective state structures can create heightened vulnerability, and various forms of accommodation to the state (land registration, titling, or lease-lease-back agreements) are sought or compelled. Discourses of citizenship and national belonging are being invoked as the basis for rights claims, even as some of those making such claims act in other ways to keep the state at bay. On the one hand insecure and precarious, on the other hand these ambivalent local responses to state-building in a globalizing age suggest the possibility of radical reimaginings of sovereignty and the social contract.

Is federalism a threat to state sovereignty? The politics of new interprovincial regions in Argentina

Author: Julieta Gaztañaga (CONICET- University of Buenos Aires)  email
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Short Abstract

Drawing from my ethnography among politicians who enacted a 'new region' in Argentina by bolstering 'a new federalism', this paper examines the relations between state sovereignty and an ongoing project of nation-state building marked by a specific language of consensus/ confrontation

Long Abstract

Federalism has been a controversial concept since the very origins of Argentine nation-state. From the bloody civil wars that followed the declaration of independence in the 19th century, to the current scenario of macro-politics of federal taxes, 'federalism' seems to work as an omnipresent metaphor of the Argentine state imagination. However, this sort of magic concept which connects both past and present, and range of dramas and possibilities of the state's legitimacy, is also a political value that enacts specific -and sometimes controversial- policy making.

Drawing from my ethnographic research among Argentine politicians who enacted a 'new region' -Región Centro of República Argentina- by bolstering 'a new federalism', in this paper I'd like to use this case to reflect about the relations between federalism and state sovereignty. This Region is a political construct lead by three provinces which are among the wealthiest within the national compound. However, and contrary to common assumptions regarding this type of policy making -i.e. political and economical negotiation/opposition with national government-, I propose that most of the debates conveyed by the concept of federalism are not about political organization neither about distribution of resources, but about an ongoing project of nation-state building, marked by a specific language of consensus/ confrontation rather than an ideology of integration/cohesion. This case, thus, calls for a particular anthropology of the state, contemplating the relations with its constituent others; namely, between spatial interactions with the state and creative actions of sovereignty, like Central Region itself

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The new life of sovereignty

Author: Duško Petrović (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb)  email
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Short Abstract

Leaning on Agamben's concept of the normalized state of exception, the paper will investigate the new life of sovereignty. The analytical focus will move from the theory of sovereignty to ethnographical material and back.

Long Abstract

Drawing on Carl Shmitt's concept of sovereignty as s point of indistinction between normal state (valid legal order) and the state of exception (as suspension of legal order), the paper will analyze Agamben's concept of the normalized state of exception on several levels. The paper will try to show, firstly that the normalization of the state of exception is the effect of an ongoing process of globalization and the so called 'postmodern condition'; secondly, How sovereignty (as point of indistinction between normal state and state of exception) is restored in everyday state policies and practices (security controls, border controls, wars indistinguishable from police activity, continuous exercise of violence etc.); thirdly, the dominant view of the Other and others as a threat to security and life on the example of ethnographically and anthropologically well documented cases of institutional policies and public attitudes toward immigrants, foreigners, asylum seekers. At the end, it will put into question the political and the philosophical concept of sovereignty.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.