L'identité nationale, une énigme by Marcel Detienne

By Marcel Detienne

En 2007, une state qui fait partie de l'Europe, comme tant d'autres, décide de créer un ministère de l'Identité nationale. Pour familières qu'elles paraissent, les notions d'identité et de state se révèlent d'une complexité qui éveille los angeles curiosité de l'histoire et de l'anthropologie. Aussi, conjuguant les deux disciplines, Marcel Detienne met en viewpoint quelques manières radicalement différentes de se représenter ce qui semble faire partie du sens commun, à savoir ce que nous sommes ensemble et ce que les autres ne sont pas. Ces manières sont autant de fictions du passé ou du présent : le pur Celte de Padanie, en Italie ; l'Hindou-hindouiste à racines védiques, dans l'Inde contemporaine ; le Japonais né de l. a. terre des dieux sans autres prédécesseurs ; l'Athénien qui se veut pur rejet de los angeles Terre autochtone ; l'Allemand historial d'hier, plus grec que les Grecs, du temps de Heidegger et de Hitler : le local, citoyen de souche américain sur un continent ouvert à l'immigration. Sans oublier le Français de souche, à nouveau raciné.

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Many of which are summarized in Ozkirimli 2010: 120–37. Theories of Nations and Nationalism 21 condition without much insight into just what manner of difference serves to satisfy this condition. Nairn, for example, makes this point explicitly: “As capitalism spread, and smashed the ancient social formations surrounding it, these always tended to fall apart along the fault-lines contained inside them. ”18 But can this simply be taken as “elementary truth” without further examination? Or, if these fissures of nationality indeed preexisted the social forces of modernity that drastically increased their salience, is it not still incumbent on us to seek their source and examine the question why certain “national” fissures proved more relevant than others?

He is correct in identifying an existing ethnic community with a predefined mythology as an important resource in the construction of the nation. But, in many if not most cases, the value of this resource lies as much in its ability to give the nation something to be discontinuous with, to define itself against, as it does in the need for continuity. Thus, we identify the nation as a system of identity burdened with an inherent contradiction. One would think that the presence of such a contradiction would weaken rather than strengthen the nation as a system of meaning.

Smith 1991: 67–8. Theories of Nations and Nationalism 29 earlier golden age that was subsequently corrupted. But this need not always be the case, and even where it does occur, it is generally only one strand of the nationalist discourse and not universally acknowledged or internalized. On the other hand, a national ideology will confront the nation’s ethnic origins very differently to the extent that it identifies its foundation in a moment of revolution. A nation explicitly founded on the principle of strangling the last king with the entrails of the last priest (to paraphrase Diderot) does not have to negotiate a balance between modernity and continuity; or, at least, is confronted with the problem in a very different way.

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