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The political nature of fantasy and political fantasies of nature

Behagel, J.H. and Mert, A., 2020. The political nature of fantasy and political fantasies of nature. Journal of Language and Politics. Online

Abstract

Within post-structuralist discourse theory, there has been an ongoing interest in fantasy and the fantasmatic logic. We propose a new way forward and suggest a focus on fantasies of ‘nature’ and what is deemed ‘natural’. Fantasies are structurally entwined with language, desire, and political ontologies. Discourses of nature hold a privileged position in this entwinement. We use the psychoanalytic concept of fantasy to explore how symbolic engagement with the world is supported by fantasmatic mechanisms. We argue that political fantasies express political subjects and objects via the imaginary mechanisms of splitting and projection. In an era of ecological crises and global pandemics, we find that fantasies that create a split between nature and society are a central part of the transformation of political imaginaries and discourses. Studying fantasies of various “naturecultures” and the politics of nature is thus an important new direction for discourse theory to explore anti-essentialist ontologies.

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