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Catarina Kinnvall and Ted Svensson on ‘Hunger for certainty’: misrecognition, masculinity and agentic action in India’s and Russia’s desires for neocolonial subjecthood’

Catarina Kinnvall and Ted Svensson, photo.
Professor Catarina Kinnvall and Associate Professor Ted Svensson, Department of Political Science, Lund University.

Abstract

This article takes as its point of departure the postcolonial understanding of the nation as a subject constructed through the colonial encounter. It argues that at the core of both colonial and postcolonial subject formations lies a desire for reconstructing a homogeneous nation that fulfils a ‘hunger for certainty’. The use of the term ‘hunger for certainty’ testifies to the emotional as well as corporeal desires involved in the quest for recognition. However, any such quest is always a process of misrecognition, involving fantasies of impossible wholeness and fulfilment. Proceeding from a Lacanian account of sublimation, lack and desire, we analyse the relationship between misrecognition, ontological insecurity, masculinity and agentic action in two neocolonial settings: Russia and India. By discursively deconstructing the official discourse of those speaking in the name of the state – in our case, Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi – we show how this ‘hunger for certainty’ is at the core of neocolonial agentic action and how desires for recognition are constantly underpinned by masculinity and unfulfilled desires for wholeness.

Title: ‘Hunger for certainty’: misrecognition, masculinity and agentic action in India’s and Russia’s desires for neocolonial subjecthood’

Publication: Global Discourse, vol. 14, issue 1, (pp. 116-140) 2024.

Authors: Catarina Kinnvall and Ted Svensson

Link to the article: https://doi.org/10.1332/20437897Y2023D000000032