If the national is narrated, renegotiated and maintained within discursive communities where does this discourse take place? How does place influence the conversation? Is there more to polities than imagined communities and institutional frameworks? Are some spatial and material conditions more suitable to public speech and action than others?
In my PhD project I focus on shedding new light on these questions by looking closer at transitional stages in American history and more specifically on three crucial events exhibiting changing relationships between what Hannah Arendt defines as the political phenomenon of public speech and action and the world of public common things. The historical analysis focuses on the early American fabrication of the political landscape; the late 19th century creation of new technological background conditions during the sociotechnical transition from an agrarian to an industrial society; and the more current reemphasis on remaking American greatness. These events represent cases in which the relationship between the political community and their common things are being established and drastically altered. In turn they are examples that illustrate the preconditioning function of common things—their temporal, spatial and epistemological effects— on the discursive realm of the political, but also points to evidence for the materiality and spatiality of political communities, currently reduced to that of institutional state and the imagined national community. The theoretical framework of my thesis is based on Arendt´s political thinking and her emphasis on the division between the private, public and political sphere— between earth, labor and necessities; world, work and common things; public speech, action and common sense.
- Sneltvedt, Ole (2017). Experience the future in full-scale: Technological background relations and visions of the good society at the World's Columbian Exposition. Technology in society. ISSN 0160-791X. 52, s 46- 53 . doi: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2017.10.001 Full text in Research Archive.