Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Social and Political Sciences Program
“A Genealogy of the Nation”
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
14:00, FASS 2034
In the last century and a half, the national ways of being took control of the political and the ethical. I argue that this state of affairs has come about due to two events that are inseparable from each other: "Death of God" and the normalization of the national ways of being. In this paper, I first analyze how the death of God has prepared the conditions under which the nation has become a metaphysical entity giving meaning and sense to the ways in which human beings conduct themselves and comport themselves towards others. In other words, I analyze the ways in which homo nationalis has come into existence. Then, I focus on the ways in which the national has become normalized. I argue that the primary technology through which this normalization took place was the definition of the nation as that entity towards which all human beings were primarily and essentially responsible. In other words, I show how this responsibility towards the nation meant—when necessary—the sacrifice of all other responsibilities, be they political or ethical. I argue that it is through a deconstruction of the ground on which the nation stands that alternative ways of being political and ethical, which do not reduce differences and singularities to sameness and homogeneities can be articulated. That is why, in the final section of the paper, I attempt to articulate a different understanding of responsibility that does not aim to replace the nation with another metaphysical entity but to open the possibility to imagine political and ethical ways of being that are grounded on what Arendt has called the "basic human condition": difference. In other words, my question in this final section is: how can we imagine being with others, as political and ethical beings, without creating metaphysical entities that reduce our differences to sameness?