Nation-ness, subjectivity, ethnography : a Polish-British case study
This thesis is concerned with the relationship between nationness and subjectivity, and is based on nine months' ethnographic fieldwork in Poland. It pursues two main arguments: first, that postmodern ethnography should not only treat ethnographies as texts, but must also involve radical psychoanalytic questioning of the ethnographer as text; and secondly, that the modern occurrence of the nation and national identity can be explained by linking a Foucauldian epistemological analysis of the historical development of nation-ness to a Lacanian model of subjectivity. Chapter One comprises an autobiographical narrative about my interpretations of Poland in the 1980s. This exemplifies the argument in Chapter Two that post-modern ethnography should not only interrogate the temporal and historical assumptions of ethnographic texts, analyse their rhetoric, and foreground autobiographical material, but should also analyse the narratives of the ethnographer, reflecting rigorously on such factors in personal terms by drawing on psychoanalytic experience. Chapter Three provides an ethnographic account of Polish national identity in the mid-1990s, and is presented as a point of comparison with Chapter One in an attempt to avoid the impression of cultural stasis often otherwise created in synchronic approaches. In Chapter Four, I argue that macro- and micro- political approachesto nation-ness can usefully be integrated by articulating Foucault's epistemological analysis of culture with Lacan's structuralist analysis of the subject, and ask why nation-ness is a relatively modern phenomenon, and how and why subjects acquire national identity. In Chapter Five, I return to the key themes of the thesis and to two of its central metaphors - the Copernican Revolution and the Royal Castle in Warsaw - to suggest parallels between the construction and reconstruction of national, subjective, and ethnographic narratives, and to analyse why the relationship between these phenomena is currently undergoing change.