Accounting for Democracy: Excessive Subjects in a State of Consensus

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In the face of the public debates and protests fueled by Spain's persistent economic, social, and institutional crisis (2008–present), the country's politicians and media have consistently identified these debates and protests—in a word, social unrest—with three phenomena: nationalism, populism, and feminism. In my essay, I begin by showing how Spanish public discourse tends to situate all three on a single continuum, identifying their intersections in negative terms as a potentially disruptive excess that must be controlled, if not eliminated, to avoid a crisis of democracy. The second part of my essay moves to a theoretically informed reflection on the nature and function of political elements categorized as “excessive” in consensus democracies. Drawing on C. Lefort, J. Rancière, C. Mouffe, W. Brown. B. Honig, and L. Grattan, among others, I delve into how these perceived forms of excess function as dissonant remainders that account for the paradoxes of popular sovereignty, signaling its limits as well as its conditions of possibility.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-144
Number of pages30
JournalBoundary 2
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021


  • Spain
  • crisis
  • consensus
  • excess
  • democracy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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