Director of CISRUL and Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, Aberdeen, and author of Knowing History in Mexico: An Ethnography of Citizenship (2012) and co-editor of “Citizenship Beyond the State?” special issue of Citizenship Studies (2007).
- focus of Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (host) as well as lead-up to Political Community workshop
- working definition of “political community” (see link at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/cisrul/events/2269/)
Senior Lecturer in Law at Aberdeen, is a legal theorist who has worked on a range of issues concerning rule of law and the nature of the modern state.
Aristotle: when villages come together, state comes into existence for sake of good life
> only happens in relation to self-sufficing community
What can do with this Aristotelian idea?
- on one hand implausible because we
- no longer think of polit communities in need of vision of good life and institutions to achieve it
- have rejected essentialism about communities coming about and giving rise to state
- politicial communities may be artificial
- don’t come into being independent of institutional functioning
- no sense of political communities being tied into international community, which influences how political communities develop own institutional structure etc.
- on other hand
- there is a close connection between political community and political institutions: one calls for the other
- political communities are not like other communities: even if not targeted to good life, self-sufficiency is important
- not to conflate political communities with communities that have political needs or agendas > here deviates from my working definition
- necessarily representational relationship: political institutions have claim to authority if can claim to represent people
- this is what allows nation-states to claim sovereignty (strong claim to power)
Problems with working definition
- likes institutional aspect and focus on authority, but need to be more specific about kind of authority invested in institutions, e.g. not clear how can accommodate popular sovereignty
- relatedness of people to institutions which I try to capture with “having stake” but not all these stakes are constitutive of political communities
- perhaps need self-sufficiency for more restrictive definition
Nate Jezzi: though political community is used in everyday discourse, this is working definition – but depends on what our aims are e.g. TS trying to avoid normative position but later saying structures of legitimate authority
> TS explains that legitimate here means legitimate in the eyes of people
Franka Winter: link between having stake and being seen as legitimate is dubious e.g. in Latin America – groups have a stake but don’t act according to laws
Nigel Dower: to what extent is being part of political community constitutive of one’s well-being and not just instrumental?
Nadia Kiwan: proposes building in multiplicity, cultural complexity e.g. transnational political community, as well as class
- political communities never really achieve representation; political community does exclude and concept makes no sense without it – exclusion comes with the territory
- John Finnes: political community is one in which one can have many persona vs. football club in which only one persona > this is where self-sufficiency important – we don’t have to go outside community to do full range of things
Daniel Koltonski: would want to distinguish imagined and artificial communities
- surely all human communities are imagined – members accept norms and narratives that false > leave out events etc. that don’t accord what we want our relationship to be
- are they artificial when authorities manipulate citizens etc.?
> Matyas: anthropologists find communities in relatedness etc. with identities; but political institutions need to claim representational relation to community (which higher order than family or religious denomination) > this is what such institutions gives the final say
Anna Rader: interested in choice of “members” but different senses: those who have stake vs. those who subscribe to norms or decisions… is there not mutual entailment of members and institutions?
Sian Lazar: Matyas said that some authorities claim to trump other authorities in name of political community – but
- are there not always multiple claims of this kind, including in the name of transnational and local communities
- if so, are these concentric circles, or series of different political communities, all of which may claim to trump each other?
Silvia Pasquetti: suggests more emphasis on practices > political community is not only something born into, it can take a lot of work to become a member – and this may be not available or desirable
Marek Szilvasi: is there a risk of treating political institutions as given, rather than looking at the process through which e.g. institutions struggle to claim representation of community?
> Matyas: Laski argued against Schmitt that one should give up on nation as overriding political community with sovereignty, but Matyas sides with Schmitt on this score