The Discursive Competition Between Very Different Counter-Hegemonies: Neo-Nationalism Vs. "Subaltern Counterpublics"

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: Booth 62
Oral Presentation
Christian KARNER , University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom
This paper draws on a decade of research on the politics of national identity and ethnicity in contemporary Austria. Employing a critical discourse analytical approach, it argues that in our current phase of globalisation and in the context of the EU as the “quintessential network state” (Castells 2000), the dimensions and meanings of counter-hegemony vary according to the political context and geographical scale being considered. Based on an analysis of diverse media materials, public debates and civil society organizations in Austria today, two very different forms of counter-hegemony are discerned: First, neo-nationalism as self-defining resistance against “transnational flows” and external others; second, the “identities, interests and needs” articulated by groups of migrants and other subordinated groups in what Nancy Fraser (1993) terms “subaltern counterpublics”.

The discourse analysis of relevant data offered here revolves around the key-concepts of the topos – or “structure of argument” (Reisigl and Wodak 2001) – and deixis, or “rhetorical pointing” (Billig 1995) effecting the (re)production of social boundaries. The central argument being developed is as follows: Key to conceptualizing the defining differences between neo-nationalism and subaltern counterpublics is Michel de Certeau’s distinction (1984) between “strategies” and “tactics”; while the former define neo-nationalist discourses being articulated from an “institutional power base”, “tactics” are typically encountered among the subaltern who do not control such spaces of power and nonetheless manage to temporarily and discursively slip through the “webs of power” that surround and constrain them.