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Type: Conference paper
Title: 'Isn't it embarrassing?' The affective basis of Australian political language and identity
Author: Corcoran, P.
Citation: Proceedings of the APSA 2001Annual Conference, 24 September, 2001
Publisher: Griffith University
Publisher Place:
Issue Date: 2001
Conference Name: Australasian Political Studies Association Conference (2001 : Brisbane, Qld.)
Editor: John Wanna
Statement of
Paul Corcoran
Abstract: 'Isn't it embarrassing?' Politically aware Australians will be familiar with this commonplace rhetorical question. Although the emphatic interrogatory can easily be understood as a remonstration that invites detachment from an object of odium, I want to explore quite a different implication. My aim is to show how the invocation of the negative emotions of shame and embarrassment is a mode of strong national identification. In a world of increasingly unstable identities, the recognition of nationality, along with a host of other cultural markers (race, religion, ethnicity, gender), becomes at once a more risky and more important concern. Recognition in the sense in which I use it here is not simply a theoretical or legal concept, but is rather a perceptual, moral and aesthetic task - very difficult to achieve - with which we all struggle every day. This paper endeavours to uncover such efforts precisely where Australian identity appears on the surface to be undermined by powerful emotional factors which discourage or deny recognition.
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Politics publications

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