2018, Fri, Mar 16

The Nation-Form: Histories and Presence

With Brenna Bhandar, Baidik Bhattacharya, Manuela Bojadžijev, Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Kalindi Vora and others

In their chapter on “The Historical Nation,” Balibar and Wallerstein work out how racism emerges in connection with the constitution of the classes, thus ensuring social stratification. Nationalism, in turn, mobilizes society to demarcate the state in contrast to others and to enforce imperialist strategies. How do we read this analysis in our current conjuncture, with its proliferation of authoritarian and racist nationalisms? Today, the nation-state is being re-articulated through political, technological, economic, social, and cultural transformations. For example, traditional household structures dissolve while reproductive labor has been outsourced in care chains and surrogate motherhood at a global scale. Digital technologies increasingly structure all aspects of social and economic interaction, which introduces a new set of questions concerning citizenship and workers’ rights. It has become evident that there is an inherent contradiction between the push for the free circulation of goods on the one hand and an intensified effort to restrict the movement of human bodies across national borders on the other; the domain of property becomes ever-more expansive. But what impact do these changes have on the current understanding of the nation-form? In this context, which sees a repetition of some earlier structures and atmospheres of authoritarian nationalism while also operating within newer regimes of transnational, financialized capital, how can the issues of individual and collective rights as well as a democratic constitution for societies be imagined? How does this enclose and disclose political mobilizations for the Left?

Program in collaboration with Manuela Bojadžijev, Katrin Klingan, Kaushik Sunder Rajan

Short biographies: Brenna Bhandar, Baidik Bhattacharya, Manuela Bojadžijev, Katrin Klingan, Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Kalindi Vora