The Belfast Agreement, the Purloined Letter and the ``Politics of the Ostrich''
Author: Collins, B.
Source: International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, Volume 15, Number 3, 2002 , pp. 273-292(20)
Abstract:Jacques Lacan's Seminar on The Purloined Letter gives centrality to the operation of the signifier in the construction of the subject, rather than to any `content' that might pertain to the signifier. In Lacan's account, the trajectory of the signifier is organised around three intersubjective positions: seeing, not seeing and seeing oneself not being seen. This article, in an examination of the operation of `the nation' as an origin for legal authority in the 1998 Belfast Agreement, will explore the relevance of Lacan's insight to the questions of sovereignty and authority thrown up by legal transition in Northern Ireland. In particular, this article will explore the way in which nation is `suspended' as a foundation of legal authority from the administrative discourse of the Belfast Agreement, but remains a potent point of legal and political identification. This will be done by treating `the nation' not in terms of its capacity to represent the foundation of legal authority, but as a signifier whose displacement from `grand' aspirational constitutional discourse to the more `banal' administrative discourse of the Belfast Agreement operates to reconfigure legal and political identification.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: School of Law, University of East London, Longbridge Road, Dagenham, Essex RM8 2AS, UK (E-mail: email@example.com)
Publication date: January 1, 2002