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Archive for February, 2010

An interesting discussion of Serbian responses to the new Croatian President Ivo Josipović’s (‘Mr. Clean’) inauguration, in which Kosovo inevitably figures, can be found here:

http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/serbia-elephant-room-croatia-celebration-news-260498

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Our group found this article from Time magazine concerning the Israeli/Palestinian conflict very interesting:

http://tinyurl.com/ykul6nk

The article discusses how both sides in the conflict are using the politics of archaeology surrounding Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to inform their respective nationalist narratives and provides a good opportunity to compare two mutually defining, deeply causally interlinked cases of rival nationalisms.

Ariel Sharon at the Temple Mount

Ariel Sharon, accompanied by security personnel, visits the Temple Mount

The Temple Mount is a contested site that has tremendous resonance to both sides as both a national and religious symbol. Its importance is illustrated by the fact that the second intifada was initiated in response to a visit to the site by Ariel Sharon in September 2000. Moreover, the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process at the Camp David Summit in July 2000 was, in no small part, due to the inability of the parties to come to agreement over the sovereignty of the Temple Mount complex.  In a recent paper, Ofir Abu identified three dynamics that contributed to the deadlock.

“First, the high volume of hybridization of secularism and religion as manifested in the way both Israelis and Palestinians framed their claims for sovereignty over the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. Second, the Israelis and the Palestinians were caught in a process of “secularity outbidding,” where each of them blamed the other for introducing theology into the process, while they themselves kept the political discussion rational. Third, the conflicting sides were also entangled in “religiosity outbidding,” where each side attempted to prove that their historic and religious right is stronger and much more valid than the other’s right.” (Abu 2008: 1)

These complex dynamics illustrate why this is such an interesting case to analyse.

In our presentation we shall explore further why this is a case of mutually defining nationalisms and consider how this narrative is not only contested between the Israelis and Palestinians but also how it is contested within each camp. Do you think this a nationalist conflict, a religious conflict or a mixture of both?

There is a video that accompanies the Time article here:

http://tinyurl.com/yhqml4a

Finally, for a detailed Israeli view of the issue please look at this article:

http://tinyurl.com/ybg8n2s

References

Abu, Ofir (2008). “Nationalism, Religion, and the Breakdown of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process”. (Paper prepared for the 66th Annual Conference  of the Mid-Western Political Science Association, 2008.) Available online: http://tinyurl.com/yegopot

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Following the ongoing debate on national identity in various European countries, and what this should entail in every national context, the French have ‘come up’ with a concise (strict, some would say) notion of Frenchness.

“French children are to be given a “citizen’s handbook” to teach them to be better republicans…Schools will be ordered to fly the French flag and to have a copy of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in every classroom.” (Guardian, 8/02)

According to Premier Fillon (who is leading the debate), this is to enhance the commitment of citizens to ‘the’ French national identity, while critical voices have claimed the debate to have xenophobic tendencies towards Islam as religion and immigrants in specific.

See the Guardian article for more info:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/08/france-citizen-handbooks-identity-debate

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Hey there sports fans,

It didn’t escape the notice of our group that this weekend there were some strange sights to be seen on the streets of Edinburgh. If you too saw an unusual number of men attired in kilts, or people wrapped in French or Scottish flags, then you’ll know what we mean. It was Scotland v. France this weekend in Six Nations Rugby. The Americans also had sport to celebrate this weekend: the National Football League Championship, more commonly known as the Super Bowl, was played Sunday between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. The AP reported today that 106 Million people tuned in to watch this years Super Bowl, making it the most-watched TV program of all time. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/football/nfl/super-bowl/02/08/ratings.ap/index.html?eref=twitter_feed

This wonderful weekend of sports, with the many national symbols we spotted in both cases, inspired our groups presentation for nationalism this week: exploring American identity through the Super Bowl, and British identity through Six Nations Rugby. We believe there is a very interesting comparison to be made between the two. Both utilize national symbols in a way that reinforces national identity, but we think there is a compelling case that this is done in very different ways. National anthems are an important part of both events.

  

We believe that though national symbols are visible in both displays, they are used to different effect in British rugby games than they are in the Super Bowl. Here we have pictures of rugby fans, as well as fans supporting the Colts and the Saints. Do you see differences in the way the fans demonstrate support their team- particularly in the use, or lack, of national symbols?

It will be our contention that the nature of the Super Bowl reinforces American identity, irregardless of the American cities from which the competing teams originate, with the use of national symbols at the beginning as well as the ritual of coming together to watch the game (and the commercials! To watch this years Super Bowl commercials, always a highlight of Super Bowl Sunday, go to http://www.cbssports.com/video/player/superbowlcommercials). We will argue that the use of national symbols in British rugby matches is more overt and more contentious, and exposes the national fault lines within Great Britain.

As it happens, we’re not the only ones who have been interested in what it means when nations get together to watch these events. Please look here for some academic insight into the national character of Rugby matches http://www.aafla.org/SportsLibrary/FootballStudies/1999/FS0201e.pdf and the ritualistic nature of the Super Bowl http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=1375.

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I would like to organise a panel for the annual conference of the GHS in Manchester. Possible themes could include e.g.: ‘politics of the past in the FRG’, ‘biography and nationalism in Germany’, or ‘liberal and romantic nationalism in the FRG’. Please let me know if you are interested or if you know any potential participant (christian.wicke@anu.edu.au).

http://www.germanhistorysociety.org/news/conference-2010-panel-proposal.php

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