Misrecognition and the Indian State: The Desire for Sovereign Agency

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A focus on misrecognition allows us to move between levels of analysis in a holistic fashion. If misrecognition works through the conscious and the unconscious we can account for the many overlapping insecurities and securities believed to exist at the individual, group, or state level – and thus felt. These insecurities also present themselves through the categories used to describe them and the policies through which they become materialised, technologised, and depoliticised, often by closing down discursive boundaries. Lacan’s concepts of desire, real and lack are here important for understanding the impossibility of recognising something that cannot be recognised. Hence, a perspective that takes misrecognition not as an end result or as failed attempts to reformulate the exceptional as the normal, has the potential to rethink the political subject. In empirical terms, the article discusses how this process of misrecognition has been shaped in the Indian context of postcolonial state formation and articulations of sovereignty. We show how the Indian state is being rethought, restructured, and reimagined through Hindu nationalism and how the concept of misrecognition accounts for desires for sovereign agency and group cohesiveness, but also for resistance to various reimaginations of the Indian state.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
  • Globalization Studies


  • misrecognition, sovereignty, security, psychoanalysis, India
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-921
Number of pages20
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch