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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 46, Issue 1, 2018

Ott Puumeister
Pages 90-116

Surviving Finitude
Survival as a Constructed Foundation of Identity

The article deals with the biopolitical underpinnings of the Estonian national identity construction which is analysed by concentrating on public media coverage of (1) the Estonian Population and Housing Census 2011; and (2) the passing of the Registered Partnership Act in 2014. The object of analysis is the discourse – or the manner of speaking – that becomes apparent in the discussion of these cases. It is called the discourse of survival, since the main aim of national identity construction is to ensure the perseverance and preservation of this identity. This enables us to insert political identity construction into a biopolitical framework in which the political subject is understood as a fundamentally finite living being. In conceptualizing biopolitical finitude and the accompanying need of survival as the logic of identity construction, the article suggests the semiotic logic of this type of identity process as auto-communicative solidification of identity that has a presentist temporal structure.

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