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Archive for May, 2009

There is a debate at the moment, especially in Poland, following an issue of the German magazine Der Spiegel on collaboration with the Nazis in Europe. It sounds like a revival of the Historians’ Dispute of the 1980. Readers reacted to that issue and their statements constitute interesting material for those interested in the mechanisms of “coming to terms with the past” and apologetic historicism.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,626281,00.html

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Just back from a really interesting meeting and conference in Antwerp to launch a trans-European research project on the historical development of national movements. The project is entitled NISE (National Movements and Intermediary Structure in Europe) and seeks to coordinate archival material on sub-state nations from across Europe (and perhaps Quebec too!). Watch this space for updates and check out: http://nise.eu/en/

The guest of honour at the conference was Miroslav Hroch, famous for his widely regarded analysis of the development of national movements, which identified their emergence from a period of limited scholarly interest, passing through a period of political agitation before becoming mass popular movements. Hroch has developed this analysis and has recently published this as Das Europa der Nationen. Die moderne Nationsbildung im europäischen Vergleich. For the non-German speakers, we can only hope that it won’t be too long before an English translation is available!

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An article in yesterday’s Economist acknowledges the SNPs success in gaining support from Muslims in Scotland, and the general compatibility of Muslim and Scottish (as opposed to English) identities:
http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13611699

In particular it focuses on the SNP’s selection of Osama Saeed to challenge Labour MP Mohammad Sarwar’s Glasgow Central seat.  Picking up on the theme of symbolising nationalisms, consider the photo.  What, if anything, in it signals that the boy is Muslim (apart from the fine print on the placard)?  And does the phrase ‘Islam in Tartan’ imply certain things about the ‘superficiality’ versus ‘depth’ of certain identities?  I’m not having a go at the authors, just interested in the more subliminal meanings, whether or not they are intended.

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If you had to capture the ‘spirit of the nation’ in an image what would that image be and why?

The thought springs to mind thanks to the following snapshot in the Hindu: http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/05/stories/2009050550710200.htm

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At a recent meeting of scholars interested in issues of nationalism and national identity we briefly discussed how national identity in Australia is constructed to emphasise (Christian) ‘whiteness’ and thus exclude indigenous aboriginals as well as more recent non-white, non-Christian immigrants and their descendants. An article in the latest issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies (32/5) might offer an interesting contribution to this debate:

What settler Australians talk about when they talk about Aborigines: reflections on an in-depth interview study, Pages 781 – 801
Author: Anthony Moran

Coincidentally, the issue also contains a paper which compares indigenous peoples in Chile and Australia.

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At the recent 19 Annual Conference of the Assoc. for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism, with the theme of ‘Nationalism and Globalisation’ I was expecting to encounter many arguments about the logically opposed relationship between globalisation and nationalism, how globalisation errodes the nation-state, nationalisms are ‘reactions’ to globalisation, etc. etc.  I was surprised to find that the ‘common sense’ position among conference goers seemed to be that nationalism and globalisation (understood as a longer term process, not just post WWII) are interdependent, in many respects mutually constituting processes.  I found this refreshing, and am wondering if this whole area of discussion has finally matured.

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A couple of Dharavi’s residents may have made the big time with the help of Danny Boyle’s film, but the majority continue to live in the slum and struggle with poor infrastructure and shoddy sanitation. As ever the elections have brought promises of something better for the nation’s poor. Such promises are usually treated with cynicism, but the redevelopment of the biggest slum in Mumbai has become one of the most pressing issues in this constituency. If we think of the nation as an immagined community it is clear that close fought elections like this one are one of the few opportunities for the poor to articulate and press for their imaginations to be taken into account. Once the ballots have been counted, though, how much say will the ‘slumdogs’ (a horrible term but one that captures the way slum dwellers are perceived by many) continue to have?

http://www.hindu.com/2009/04/30/stories/2009043052031300.htm

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