GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

October 27, 2015

Addendum to “Groups”

Filed under: GA — adam @ 6:28 am

I suppose I assumed that it goes without saying, but in discussing groups it should be remembered that every group has a more or less mythicized founding event, involving a “nomos,” in Carl Schmitt’s terms: an originary division of a property cleared away for the “settlement” of the group. This “property” can be, and has been for most of history, land, but can take on other organizational and institutional forms (activist groups “own” a particular constituency and will battle other groups for it). There will always be land, though, so such groups must be considered the most fundamental—other groups exist at the sufferance of the group that “owns” (through some mutual defense covenant) the land. Attempts to reaffirm the group’s identity are always restorations of the imagined nomos, including a defense of territorial boundaries and form of internal allotment—and such attempts presuppose some disorder in the nomos, which will most likely be attributed to some betrayal on the part of some portion of the community (which presumably has misused its allotment, or manipulated the rules of allotment). Members of groups must imagine themselves in their groups in these terms, whatever violence to reality must be done—but we need not assume that the imagined allotment always does violence to reality, anymore than we assume that such violence is done by the originary hypothesis itself.

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