Research Article

Persistent essentialism in Polish nationalist discourse: a Wittgensteinian critique


Abstract

Essentialism, an erroneous way of thinking that can be traced to classical philosophy, assumes a thing to hold necessary intrinsic characteristics. Such thinking has been commonly employed for a popular understanding of bounded groups of people, establishing imaginary communities and achieving political aims. This article explores different iterations of essentialist understanding of the Polish nation in naturalist, theogenic and primordialist ways. It then considers the persuasiveness of nationalist essentialism and argues that making the fallacy of such thinking visible is a necessary first step in anti-essentialist politics.

Get new issue alerts for Anthropology Southern Africa