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Ephemeral Territories: Representing Nation, Home, and Identity in Canada

Erin Manning
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Ephemeral Territories
    Book Description:

    Ephemeral Territories weaves together narratives and representations of Canadian identity—from political philosophy and cultural theory to art and films—to develop and complicate familiar views of identity and selfhood. In a critical engagement with notions of territory, identity, racial difference, separatism, multiculturalism, and homelessness, Manning delves into the question of what it means to be at home in Canada.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9354-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface: Unmoored
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction. Close to Home: Canadian Identity, Nationalism, and Errant Politics
    (pp. xv-xxxii)

    There are many ports of entry into the discourse of nationalism. Indeed, nationalism by its very nature depends on policed ports of entry from whence enunciation is limited by the vocabulary of the nation, a language that determines which bodies are qualified to speak. Accordingly, those who have curtailed access to the vocabulary of the nation—due to their renunciation of, expulsion from, or incomprehension of the nation’s semantics—are invariably politically disqualified: as a noncitizen, I am denied access not only to your passport but also to your language, guaranteed nothing more than the amorphous vocabulary of homelessness and...

  6. 1. An Excess of Seeing: Territorial Imperatives in Canadian Landscape Art
    (pp. 1-30)

    Robert Racine’s artworkPage-Miroir: Terrir-1950-Testdemonstrates an engagement with the deterritorialization of the landscape in contemporary Canadian art by calling forth a rewriting of the assumptions within the notion of territory. Racine’s work is marked by the specificity of Quebec culture and its linguistic tensions, as well as by his necessary affiliations within the sovereignty movement and the resultant political implications, within his work, of territory and identity. InPage-Miroir,Racine employs the French-languageDictionnaire Robertas his canvas, imposing the landscape onto the (missing words of the) dictionary, inviting the viewer to read critically the accepted meanings of territoriality....

  7. 2. Beyond Accommodation: National Space and Recalcitrant Bodies
    (pp. 31-60)

    According to Nietzsche, “German philosophy as a whole—Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, to name the greatest—is the most fundamental form of romanticism and homesickness there has ever been” (1968:225). In response to the gnawing homesickness that characterizes modern thought, where the unity destroyed in Greek life must achieve realization at a higher level in modernity, modern philosophy writes the discourse of state sovereignty and national coherence as the organization of the political, thus perpetuating the notion that thepolisis the homelike structure that organizes democratic political community. The thinker most concerned with the consequences of this adamant return...

  8. 3. Where the Zulu Meets the Mohawk
    (pp. 61-92)

    National narratives in Canada are written to support the elusive notion of “Canadian identity.” At the basis of the concept of “national identity” lies the idea that Canada (as long as we occlude the native presence) is a “nation of immigrants” whose separateness can be mapped onto their places of origin. “Canadian identity” thus depends on a mortgaged investment in the specter of identity, where identity is conceptualized as the voice of a singular culture. The idea of a culture that belongs to “us” remains rooted in an essentialism about who “we” are, underscoring a desire to remain rooted even...

  9. 4. Face-to-Face with the Incommensurable: Srinivas Krishna’s Lulu
    (pp. 93-120)

    Beyond its contemporary currency in political philosophy and film theory, the emphasis on the face and its legacy on modern political thought can be traced through the history of visuality in art history. In art history, the face is evoked as a disquieting continuum between the somatic and the social. This organization of the face can be traced to the late nineteenth century, when we observe “the relatively sudden emergence of models of subjective vision in a wide range of disciplines” (Crary 1995:46). The emergence of models of subjective vision in art history takes place roughly during the period from...

  10. 5. Dwelling within the Language of the Other
    (pp. 121-148)

    Claude Jutra’s internationally acclaimed filmMon Oncle Antoine(Canada 1974) begins with the words,“Dans la nation de Quebec.”¹ These are heated words that speak to the emotional connection between identity and territory that resides at the heart of the Quebecois nationalist and separatist imagination. According to the current political vista, these are fictional words, words that speak more to a desire for a future not yet mapped than to a past already deciphered. What I hear in Jutra’s words is the endeavor to imagine a separate nation that always already existed. Some would argue that Quebecois separatist politics are...

  11. Conclusion: Water from the Rock
    (pp. 149-156)

    Language, writes Bakhtin, is “populated—overpopulated—with the intentions of others” (1986: 42). In the name of incommensurability and difference, sovereignty and dominion, language articulates all of our modes of being-in-common and being incommon. All attempts to reengender our various cultural and political vocabularies take place through a radical reconception of the manner in which the political is articulated through language. ThroughoutEphemeral Territories,I have made an attempt to subvert territorial definitions of the political through a dissemination of the vocabulary of the nation. I have sought to reformulate, through language and its effects of representation, the basis for...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 157-168)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 169-182)
  14. Index
    (pp. 183-188)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 189-189)