With our twenty-third issue we return to the role of signs in the making of nations (as we saw in Issues 1 and 9), but this time, we add the dichotomy of the Self and the Other to the mix. Indeed, Greimas would probably have agreed that self-identity cannot be well explained without an exploration of the concomitant but opposite realm of alterity. We might think of the meaning of the St George figure to English (or Russian, or Catalonian...) nationhood; and with it we must ask about the meaning of the dragon he is said to have slain.
Thus this issue is devoted to two opposing groups of sememes: the Self and the Other. Along with this question, of course, comes that of the concept of the ugly, the monstrous, the non-self. Our first article, by Christos Zagkos and his colleagues, explores nationhood symbols in Balkan country banknotes. In it, the authors explore the possible significance of nationalism in racial conflict against the Other. The second represents a turn toward the monstrous. Lydie Ibo attempts to understand the limits and quantification of monstruosity itself in an elegant analysis. The third article goes slightly beyond this scope and into the realm of the deliberately ugly, as we see it in shock web sites popular in the USA and elsewhere for their extreme character.
It seems that these questions are semiotically related, and merit investigation together.
For the Editors,