The Team of Six Million

The Pandemic, Political Antagonism, and Anti-Returnee Sentiment


  • Richard B. Keys



After seven weeks of lockdown from late March through to May, the so-called ‘team of five million’ had (temporarily) defeated the virus and the country’s focus swung back to the border and the threat posed by returning New Zealanders. As a companion piece to Murdoch Stephen’s intervention in this issue of Counterfutures, this intervention employs Chantal Mouffe’s reading of ‘Schmitt against Schmitt’ as a heuristic device for discussing the figure of the returnee. In an era punctuated by global political, economic, and environmental crises, by a failing neoliberal consensus and rising ethnonationalism, thinking through the issues posed by the figure of the returnee and the antagonisms that it embodies can tell us much about the politics of our moment, providing us a way to think about broader issues of displacement, citizenship, sovereignty, nationhood, and globalisation.


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