The Gift of The Nation

Marcel Mauss and the Intersocial Turn of Sociology

in Durkheimian Studies
Author:
Francesco Callegaro Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina f.callegaro@unsam.edu.ar

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Abstract

In order to question the modernist common sense of mainstream sociology, epitomised today by the charge of methodological nationalism, this article offers an overall reading of Marcel Mauss's The Nation. Conceived during the Great War and written mainly in 1920, Mauss's work radically re-examined both the nation and nationalism from a regenerated sociological viewpoint centered on the relations between societies. Distinguishing between partial relations of exchange and total relations of encounter, Mauss came to discover the gift as a total social fact, seeing it as the traditional unconscious spring of the federative dynamics that had to be reactivated in Europe to associate its nations in a great ‘Inter-nation’ and avoid the risk of a new total war. The Nation, by reviving the original ambition of Émile Durkheim's sociology to be a way rethinking and reshaping the concepts and institutions of modernity, helps us explore the contradictions and pathologies involved in the concept and history of the nation, in a situation currently marked by the return of nationalism and the quest for a social Europe.

Contributor Notes

Francesco Callegaro obtained his PhD from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and is currently a Professor of Social Sciences at the Universidad Nacional de San Martín in Buenos Aires, where he teaches political philosophy, sociology, conceptual history and psychoanalysis. His current research project aims to consider anew the role of political philosophy in the context of the social sciences by explaining their conceptual and normative implications as preconditions for a better understanding and critique of modernity. He has published several articles on the history of political philosophy and sociology, the epistemology of the social sciences, social philosophy and contemporary pragmatism. He is the author of a study on the sociology of Émile Durkheim, La science politique des modernes: Durkheim, la sociologie et le projet d'autonomie (Economica, 2015) and co-editor, with Jing Xie, of a book on the social philosophy of Vincent Descombes, Le social à l'esprit: Dialogues avec Vincent Descombes (EHESS, 2020). E-mail: f.callegaro@unsam.edu.ar

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