We and the terrorist Other: On the construction of the French and Danish national political 'we': An analysis of the public debates in France and Denmark after the terror attacks of January and February 2015

Allan Dreyer Hansen, Marianne Høi Liisberg

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskning


A central claim of Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory (Laclau & Mouffe 1985) is theneed of any identity to delimit itself from a constitutive Other. When it comes to the articulation ofa national political identity – a People - explicit attempts of such articulations are relatively rare: inday to day politics, agonistic relations tend to dominate the political landscape. However, the publicdebates following the terrorist attacks in France (January 2015) and Denmark (February 2015)several political leaders addressed this very question in explicit antagonistic terms: one of thecentral issues of these debates were exactly that of the identification of a particular national Peoplein relation to the Other.The two events took place within few days, and triggered equivalent, yet different, articulations inthe two countries. Apart from that France and Denmark are interesting cases since they belong todifferent tradition of state- and nationhood, the republican, universalist and the cultural,respectively. Whereas Mouffe has argued liberal democracies are based on allegiance to theprinciples of freedom and equality for all (and the left should seek their radicalisation, rather thanreplacement), in any actual articulation of basic principles, we do not only see specificinterpretations, we (of course) also find their articulations with other principles and logics.Through an analysis of a selection of articulations from the two debates, we compare and discussthe way the two debates construct the national We through a chain of equivalence of a series ofcentral signifiers linking constitutive principles and logics to the national political communities, i.e.the People. Intimately linked with the question of We is the question of the Other. A central, but asof yet, undeveloped challenge in the Laclau and Mouffe tradition, is how we can analyse the ‘We’by way of the exclusions of the Other.
Publikationsdato8 feb. 2019
Antal sider22
StatusUdgivet - 8 feb. 2019
BegivenhedDiscourse Theory: Ways Forward - Palace of the Academies, Bruxelles, Belgien
Varighed: 7 feb. 20198 feb. 2019


KonferenceDiscourse Theory: Ways Forward
LokationPalace of the Academies


  • Folk
  • terror
  • demokrati
  • Demokratiets Anden
  • Danmark
  • Frankrig
  • diskursteori
  • Laclau
  • Mouffe

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