Vol. 56 No. 4 (2008)
Research Article

Nicknames, Interpellation, and Dubya's Theory of the State

Published 2008-12-01



George W. Bush freely assigns nicknames to political aides, cabinet secretaries, legislators, reporters, and others who cross his presidential path. Nicknaming seems an innocuous, playful social behavior, but it is a more complex onomastic maneuvre than it seems, and more significant: it is a species of Althusserian interpellation, a means of 'hailing' actors within the state and converting them into subjects of state ideology, which, on one construction (the one operating here), collapses state authority and the executive power of the American presidency. Nicknaming, then, is evidence of a theory of state and an instrument of its institution.


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