Studies in nationalism often focus on land and nation. There are, however, cases where populations become peoples without strictly defined territories. This panel explores how a people can be founded on rhizomatic ties, which unite mobile populations through, for example, shared culture and symbols.
Though we focus on the North American Métis and the emergence of a continental identity, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's concept of the rhizomatic could also be applied worldwide to other peoples such as the Vlach, the Roma and many others. This panel will explore the ways in which mobile populations, whether that of the French-speaking voyageurs often forged in mo(u)vement or others, were able to create and maintain communities over large distances. Whereas most traditional analyses of nationhood focus on peoples within enclosed territories, this panel will focus on how mobile populations can develop a sense of nation or peoplehood in spite of having no strictly defined homeland, past or present. Central to the analysis is the examination of how everyday acts are central to identity, problematizing the idea that top-down notions of enclosed-geographies with associated populations can be seen as the only vectors of political identities. Identity ties could be understood as horizontal, and not only vertical, uniting individuals over space, but not necessarily in a pre-set hierarchy. Likewise, ties and memories can be shared between community members and over many generations, in spite of larger national narratives. Such identities and their narratives can re-emerge when large social forces enable their legitimacy, or when enough discursive space is provided for holders of these identities to assert their existence. Wishing to provide such space, our panel will include community members currently struggling for their narrative not to be suppressed by vertical and top-down nationalist metanarratives.