In the face of the public debates and protests fueled by Spain's persistent economic, social, and institutional crisis (2008–present), the country's politicians and media have consistently identified these debates and protests—in a word, social unrest—with three phenomena: nationalism, populism, and feminism. In my essay, I begin by showing how Spanish public discourse tends to situate all three on a single continuum, identifying their intersections in negative terms as a potentially disruptive excess that must be controlled, if not eliminated, to avoid a crisis of democracy. The second part of my essay moves to a theoretically informed reflection on the nature and function of political elements categorized as “excessive” in consensus democracies. Drawing on C. Lefort, J. Rancière, C. Mouffe, W. Brown. B. Honig, and L. Grattan, among others, I delve into how these perceived forms of excess function as dissonant remainders that account for the paradoxes of popular sovereignty, signaling its limits as well as its conditions of possibility.
Accounting for Democracy: Excessive Subjects in a State of Consensus
L. Elena Delgado is a professor in the Department of Spanish and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, and University Scholar at the University of Illinois (Urbana–Champaign), where she directs the School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics. She is an expert on modern and contemporary Spanish culture, with particular emphasis on the construction of Spanish identity in the contemporary period. She is currently researching the role of emotions and affects in the public sphere.
L. Elena Delgado; Accounting for Democracy: Excessive Subjects in a State of Consensus. boundary 2 1 August 2021; 48 (3): 115–144. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-9155761
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