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Ordinary DemocracySovereignty and Citizenship Beyond the Neoliberal Impasse$
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Ali Aslam

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190601812

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190601812.001.0001

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Idleness Is the Problem

Idleness Is the Problem

(p.27) 1 Idleness Is the Problem
Ordinary Democracy

Ali Aslam

Oxford University Press

Those seeking to recuperate democracy from the violent and increasingly de-democratizing politics of sovereignty and the nation-state have championed popular movements as authentic expressions of democracy. The Idle No More movement challenges this thesis because it seeks to democratize sovereignty. Democratizing sovereignty involves unlearning the forms of citizen idleness that complement depolitized forms of state power and unilateral assertions of sovereignty. Performing the Round Dance in shopping malls during the Christmas holidays and blocking busy highways is a reminder of how citizens participate in the exercise of state sovereignty through their actions and inactions. This chapter examines the links between subject and state practices of sovereignty in order to argue that movements must cultivate vitality among citizens if they are to democratize state powers. Evidence of how the Round Dance awakens feelings of vitality among dancers is traced through poetry, interviews, and reflections generated by the movement.

Keywords:   Idle No More, Round Dance, blockade, vitality, citizen idleness, exercise of state sovereignty, subject and state practices of sovereignty

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