Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Every once and again I stumble upon a strikingly simple statement, powerful in the force of its simplicity. Reading through R. James Goldstein's The Matter of Scotland (1993), a book that attempts to think through the discursive formation of Scotland as a nation during the late medieval period, I come across the following statement:

But if communities, both then and now, are by definition the site of conflicting voices and interests, to make them speak monovocally is to deny the significance of political difference.

Such clear statements are always seductive, but I'm especially delighted with this one simply because it poignantly problematizes any notion of a "people" — and such a statement is especially timely, here, in the last five months of a presidential campaign in which all candidates continue to rely, and to great rhetorical effect, on the notion of a unified, internally consistent, homogeneous American people.