The main, political point I am trying to make as the subtext of this paper is that there is - there can be - no community without the recognition and acceptance of dissent and disagreement. The obsession, of at least one leading early medievalist, with painting a picture of cozy consensus and harmony in early medieval politics, seems to me to be entirely reactionary, rather like the Haigiography I discussed a couple of weeks ago - a case of 'we're [or we were] all in this together.' It finds a pretty obvious context in the politics of the present. Indeed it maps pretty well onto the social politics of academic early medieval history in the UK, which are pretty viciously conservative - for all the widespread pretence at left-wing credentials.
As for the paper itself, it opens with a critique of the notion of the individual - whether as something natural, something to be valorised, or even as an analytically useful category - suggesting that each social actor stands at the (ever-changing) intersection of a number of different identities of groups. Each identity functions, however, only as an ideal, towards which a subject may move, and thus as a signifier like any other, as much composed of what it is not as what it is, or might be. Even what it might be is ever-changing as a result of social dynamics. The subject is thus always already excluded from whatever category s/he may wish to be included in. I propose a concept of the 'unworked individual' as a basis for discussion. Social dynamics are discussed as more contingent and uncertain, and with a greater possibility of misrecognition and miscommunication than I acknowledged in early works.