chapter  3
26 Pages

Liminality in the politics of becoming

This chapter continues the development of the theoretical framework of the study by moving out into three concentric circles. First, it conceptualizes the notion of a security imaginary, drawing mainly on the works of Cornelius Castoriadis and Charles Taylor, and contextualizes it vis-à-vis the concept of strategic culture. It then explores the process of alteration of a security imaginary by

engaging dialogically with the imaginaries of other security communities. The notion of the politics of becoming, opened up against the backdrop of the more positivist concepts of socialization and Europeanization, encapsulates the multiple ways in which a collectivity’s officially endorsed security imaginary can be informed, infused and transformed by other respective imaginaries. The concept of liminality as an ambiguous borderline condition between different formations and subject positions is then introduced in order to disentangle the specificities of the transition from an outsider to an insider status in the process of the politics of becoming. ‘Liminality’ is taken to be an especially appropriate concept for examining the historically peripheral East European states’ relations with the West. Bakhtin’s conceptualization of carnival as a liminal condition sui generis is examined in detail as part of the second analytical move of the chapter which sketches out the politics of becoming and the role of liminality in the process. Carnival creates pockets of resistance for the subjects cast in the liminal or outrightly subaltern position. It therefore emerges as a moment of crystallization or, indeed, a curious, concentrated version of the politics of becoming which, by definition, entails potential for improved agency of the liminal subjects in their relations vis-à-vis those that occupy the position of an authoritative ‘self’. In the final methodological part of the chapter, the Foucaultian discourseanalytical approach for the examination of discursive formations will be outlined, pointing to the ways in which it delineates key features of the Polish and Baltic post-Cold War politics of becoming European.