Archive for February, 2009

Breaking! Hot off the wires–two scholarships have now become availble for students enrolling in the MSc Nationalism Studies at the University of Edinburgh. They are each worth £1,000.

Get more info here:


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Perhaps prematurely there has been a spate of articles, papers and magazine issues devoted to the question of what the future holds for Sri Lanka once the Tigers have been defeated. I fear that the conflict is far from over yet and that we will see the loss of many innocent lives before it is. It does, though seem like a good time to reflect on the situation. I have been prompted to post this by February’s issue of Himal magazine http://www.himalmag.com which has a number of thoughtful articles devoted to this topic. One key point to emerge is that the focus on militant (hot) Tamil nationalism has diverted attention from its Sinhala counterpart. As Kadirgama argues:

‘The post-Tigers period will have the potential to reshape the political landscape of Sri Lanka, just as the post-war periods in many other countries have transformed politics. But then, there are also those who argue that the post-LTTE period will only serve to further entrench majoritarianism. They argue that this would be read as a victory of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, and note that the victors in war rarely spare the loot. Such an unfortunate hijacking of the polity would actually mean the decisive end of the national question, with its resolution indefinitely shelved.’

Clearly, the policies adopted and processes followed in the advent of a cessation of hostilities are absolutely crucial. Unless a resolution that bring Tamils and other minorities into the polity can be devised we will have cause to echo Billig’s warning that banal nationalism is not necessarily benign.

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In studying genocide, I spend quite a lot of time reading about the role of women as ideological figures and sometimes as actors, both in shaping nationalism and being shaped by nationalism.  It is a relatively well-researched field, particularly with the recent upshot of research done regarding the role of rape as a tool in nationalist warfare.  What I was wondering is if anyone has any thoughts on the role of the feminine or the masculine in nations at peace?  How does gender (or, more broadly *does* gender) affect changes in nationalism in non-conflict societies?

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There’s an interesting piece by Monbiot in today’s grauniad. that calls for an English parliament. The way this is framed is not surprising: ‘Three nations in the United Kingdom, as a result of one of this government’s rare progressive policies, now possess a representative assembly. The fourth, and largest, does not. England, the great colonising nation, has become a colony. It is governed by a Scotsman who uses foreign mercenaries – Scottish, Welsh and Irish MPs – to suppress parliamentary revolts over purely English affairs’.


The article goes on to argue that an English parliament is a democratic imperative rather than a nationalist one. I must say I tend to agree and would welcome democratisation south of the border. The comments are also worth reading – the first few contain typical grumbles against the Scots and digs at HBOS.

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The Times has dug out various government documents from the 1970s which reveal Whitehall/Downing Street fears over Scottish Nationalism’s claims on UK oil reserves:



Might we see the return of a hoary old slogan (“It’s Scotland’s Oil …”) given the economic downturn?


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Personalising Nationalism?

I came across this article today and could not resist sharing it: http://www.hindu.com/2009/02/09/stories/2009020956790100.htm

A Tamil politician in India is proposing not to celebrate her birthday … in sympathy with the Tamils in Sri Lanka. I can’t help thinking that her actions serve to trivialise the real real suffering of Tamils caught up in the fighting. Can you think of other similar sacrifices for a nationalist cause? Would you forego your birthday celebrations for the greater good?

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A couple of new articles of potential interest to students of nationalism and national identities in the UK popped into my inbox this week. So far, I have managed to read Bryan Turner’s essay in Citizenship Studies, 13 (1), ‘T.H.Marshall, social rights and English national identity’. This has some interesting things to say about citizenship, and even gets round to discussing how nationalism and citizenship might be related. But at the end I had to go back and check that the title of the paper really was what I thought it was. The reason? Englishness or English national identity barely rates a mention in the entire piece. A curious mismatch of title and content. Disappointing. The other paper is Richard Wyn Jones’ ‘From Utopia to Reality: Plaid Cymru and Europe’, in Nations and Nationalism, 15 (1), a look at the historical evolution of PC’s position re Europe. Not had the chance to read this in full yet.

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The opinion poll in yesterday’s Sunday Herald newspaper suggested that 38% of Scots would vote for Independence in a referendum (and 40% oppose it). How does this square with the conventional wisdom that small countries (e.g. Iceland, and Ireland) don’t fare well in the global economic crisis?

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….why does this twee constructed version really wind me up?


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In January Sage published British Social Attitudes: The 25th Report, the National Centre for Social Research’s annual report on the British Social Attitudes Survey.

Rather helpfully some of the content has been made freely available online, including John Curtice’s chapter on “Is there an English backlash? Reactions to devolution”.

Well worth reading if you’re at all interested in issues of national identity and/or the course of nationalisms in contemporary Britain.

You can find the chapter here:


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