(I can't get no) enjoyment: Lacanian theory and the analysis of nationalism

Yannis Stavrakakis (Colchester) with Nikos Chrysoloras (London).

This article explores the potential of Lacanian theory to improve our understanding of nationalism. Undoubtedly, constructionist and modernist approaches have been instrumental in explaining the (modern) emergence of nationalism. However, important as these approaches to nationalism may be, they tend to emphasize the form of nationalist discourses, rather than their force. They can explain the modes of their articulation and highlight their historicity and contingency, but cannot sufficiently account for their weight, salience and longevity. The Lacanian concept of enjoyment (jouissance), on the other hand, offers an analytical angle able to explain the remarkable stability and force of national identifications within the milieu of modernity. We conclude that, developing further certain Freudian insights, Lacanian psychoanalysis can be an essential resource in efforts to construct a more comprehensive theory of nationalism.