Where Are You Really from?: Normative Schemes of Intelligibility and Encounters of Address

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Anna TSALAPATANIS, Australian National University, Australia
'I just remember– that's my clearest memory of any question that I had all through my teenage years, it was more or less all reflecting on my identity and my place. Because one of the first questions, if you met someone new when I was in high school, was, ‘What's your natio?’, was the first question. ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Oh, down the road [laughter].’ ‘I live - see that street over there [laughter]. Where are you from? What's your natio?’ It was perfectly acceptable, for whatever reason, it was an important question to everybody that I hung around, and everybody who I happened to meet.’

Drawing on Judith Butler’s concept of ‘normative schemes of intelligibility’ this paper explores the constraints both imposed and implicit within encounters of address: when one is addressed or is called on to respond to that address, they must do so in a way which fits within existing normative schemes, including those of nationalism, and neoliberalism. These social and socialized limitations in terms of address, and the repetitive calls to ‘give an account of oneself’ may lead to significant consequences including those of double alienation and rupture, which will also be examined.

Drawing on empirical evidence obtained through of series of in-depth interviews with multiple citizenship status holders, in Australia and Greece – from which the opening quotation is sourced – this paper explores the limitations encountered when one is called on to give an account of oneself, and in the at-times violent address they receive from others.