Eating Besides: Constitutional Parasitism in Northern Ireland

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Northern Ireland, a small, politically ill-defined (province? region? nation? country?) and ill at ease (British/Irish/both/neither) territorial nodule on the edge of Europe, which in the recent state- quake of the Brexit process became and seemingly remains, as the ‘Northern Irish Protocol’, the pivot around which achievement or not of the entire negotiated EU/UK separation hinges, has taken up a status of suspended semi-animation – a matter of borders, here or there, on land or in the sea, simply functional or irredeemably symbolic... Borders are paradigmatic places of the liminal, ruptures in the flow from one place to another; one thinks of passport officers, customs checks, currency exchange bureaux and all the refined machinery of control, but also of no-man’s lands, of smugglers, of refugees, clandestine night-crossings... In a fundamental sense then, constitutionally, in the space where law is both code and symbol, the identity of people and goods, are defined by, parasitic upon, the concept of border, just as the occupation of smuggler is parasitic in worldly terms. Michel Serres has made of the parasite a figure through which he attempts to knit together the philosophical and the worldly. This paper attempts to take a tentative step towards asking what light might be cast on the murky goings-on in the extended no-man’s land, ‘foot in both camps’, space of Northern Ireland, by a foregrounding of the parasite as a prime concept or framework of analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-127
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Political Anthropology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Nov 2023


  • Northern Ireland
  • Michel Serres
  • parasite
  • constitutional parasitism
  • EU
  • Brexit


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