From discussions on democracy, to attempts to widen the scope of citizenship beyond the confines of the nation-state, Western thinking of the political community has continued to assume a unifying principle of sameness, reflected in history, space, language, or reason, as the condition of possibility of the community.
The author assesses how, despite attempts to broaden the scope for inclusion and the meaning of political existence, contemporary political theory gives rise to new externalities through relying on a notion of the community as predicated on sameness. Proceeding normatively and hermeneutically, The Question of Political Community seeks to divert the thinking of political community from assumptions of calculability, unity, and boundedness by elaborating a notion of sameness that does not presuppose difference and a notion of difference that does not presuppose identity.
Through close engagements with texts in contemporary political theory and continental philosophy, it is argued that in order to confront the problem of closure and exclusion, the question of political co-existence needs to be reformulated and relocated so as to grasp the meaning of an incalculable community.
Introduction / Part One: Expanding the Community / 1. Sameness / 2. Logos / 3. Space / Part Two: Incalculable Community / 4. Incalculable Space / 5. Reasoning with the Incalculable / Conclusion / References
Jonna Pettersson is a Senior Lecturer in Global Politics at Malmö University and an external lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Copenhagen.
Unity and sameness are usually assumed to be inseparable but in this deeply thoughtful book Jonna Pettersson parses them, offering a much richer understanding of relationality as a result. What emerges is a notion of politics that is based, not on exclusion, but rather on the myriad ways that we are together and many, the same and different, both calculable and incalculable.
Against the closure of politics wrought by theories of political community predicated on unity, Pettersson incisively argues that place and dwelling open up an “incalculable space” as conditioning the possibility of a political community which, resisting exclusion, makes room for all. This book is an important contribution to the highly topical debate about boundaries and community.
In this book, Jonna Pettersson addresses how sameness grounds membership in the political community, and simultaneously closes some people off from the spaces in which they live and dwell. Arguing for a political community where there is space for all, this book makes an essential and timely intervention in contemporary debates on sovereignty, statelessness and democratic membership.