While numerous studies into phenomena of intergroup conflict, outgroup derogation and similar negative relations between groups exist, there is a noticeable absence in the literature. Safe from some contributions on enemy-images in the late 1980ies, hardly any literature on enemies or enmity as a concept exists. Given Carl Schmitt’s (1932) argument for the distinction between friends and enemies as being particularly important for political thoughts and behaviours, this is somewhat surprising. However, even within neighbouring disciplines, such as philosophy or sociology, a similar lack of debates on enmity can be found. The main goal of this paper is twofold, firstly it will present an overview of the existing literature on enmity (e.g. Holt, 1989; Wiseman & Duck, 1995; Zur, 1991), providing a tentative definition of ‘enemies’ from a psychological perspective and discussing the predominant historical context of psychological studies on ‘enemies’, namely the decline of the Soviet Union as a major ‘global enemy’ to the ‘Western World’. Given there is no similar treatment of contemporary conflicts, e.g. with regards to Political Islam, it will secondly pose the question whether a clearly defined concept of enmity can add to our understanding of conflict beyond existing models of social identity and intergroup hate (e.g. Reicher, Haslam & Rath, 2008) or social cognition and contempt towards the outgroup (e.d. Cuddy, Fiske / Glick, 2008).
In this paper, we argue that beyond understanding nations as imagined communities, the metaphor of an ‘imagined family’ or ‘filial community’ is a more useful concept towards understanding links between gender and nationhood as family relations in four ways: (1) providing a clear, hierarchical structure; (2) prescribing social roles and responsibilities; (3) being linked to positive affective connotations; and (4) reifying social phenomena as biologically determined. In order to empirically substantiate our claim, we will explore the prevalence and use of family metaphors in a key symbol of nationhood discourses. Through a qualitative analysis of national anthems as ‘mnemonics of national identity’, we demonstrate the widespread presence of family metaphors, discussing how they reproduce ideas of family and gender. Finally, we discuss how the ‘imagined family’ as present in anthems and other forms of national representation could inform future studies of nationalism and national politics.