The daily creation of the nation-self and the problem of the border

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University of Alabama Libraries

This dissertation is an attempt to give a more accurate answer to the perennial question of “What is a nation?” by offering a novel theory of the nation-as-self. The theoretical foundation of this theory is largely built upon the works of Ludwig Feuerbach, Carl Schmitt, and Friedrich Nietzsche by arguing that the nation is created through a regular (if not daily) process by which a rational self-reflective agent generates a conception of nation as an alienated version of the politics of that self. Nation essentially possesses the political and personal characteristics of the self yet stands, abstractly, in distinction to the self. The individual then uses the nation-self to examine other claims of nation by other selves as a way of determining whether they are similar enough to the self to warrant a tenuous and temporary designation as a conational or be designated as exception. After establishing this theory of the nation-self, I will examine the potential of civic compassion as a method by which we can relax the view of nations as essentially bordered and imagine a paradigm of boundless political identities without states of exception and exclusion.

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Political science