Subordinate, Subsumed and Subversive: Sub-national Actors as Referents of Security

  • Varun Sahni
Part of the Hexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace book series (HSHES, volume 3)


Identity politics, the politics of difference, is always intrinsically and intensely relational. We define who we are, and who we are not, by either linking ourselves with, or differentiating ourselves from, those around us.1 Coping with difference has always been an important aspect of human and social life. Sometimes difference is enriching, at other times merely functional; often, however, it is ominous and menacing. When difference seems to be, or indeed becomes, threatening, what emerges is a securitization of difference. It is this dimension of security — how the state deals with the threat of difference within itself, and how sub-national actors position themselves vis-à-vis the threat posed by the state — that is the principal theme of this chapter.


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  1. 1.
    As Charles Taylor (1992: 32–33) would put it, “We define our identity always in dialogue with, sometimes in struggle against, the things our significant others want to see in us.”Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    The general apprehension in this regard is captured well by Charles Taylor: “The claim is that the supposedly neutral set of difference-blind principles ... is in fact a reflection of one hegemonic culture.... [Only] the minority or suppressed cultures are being forced to take alien form” (Taylor 1992: 43).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    On this point, see at: < membres/etats/>, accessed 1 September 2005.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    The classic treatment of this problem is Myron Weiner’s “Macedonian Syndrome” model, which is based on “the transnational character of ethnic groups and the disputes over boundaries [between states]” (Weiner 1971: 667).Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    On mestizaje, see Basave Benítez (1992). The conception of México mestizo (mixed race Mexico) has in recent years been contested by the diametrically opposed conception of México profundo (deep ‘hinterland’ Mexico), with strong indigenous overtones. On the latter, see Bonfil Batalla (1996).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Varun Sahni
    • 1
  1. 1.School of International StudiesJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

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