Archive for February, 2011

This information was circulated on the Migration & Citizenship mailing list earlier today … might be of interest!


ESRC Scholarships in Migration Now Available

We are pleased to announce that the University of Oxford has recently become an ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. Within this 3 ESRC scholarships have been allocated to a Migration Studies Pathway.  It is not too late to apply for this year’s intake.

The scholarships are open to students applying to either the MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies and the MSc in Migration Studies (and intending to continue on to a DPhil), or to students applying directly for admission to a DPhil on a migration-related topic.

This pathway recognises the University’s research strength in interdisciplinary migration studies, based in the ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), the International Migration Institute (IMI), and the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC). Please visit http://www3.qeh.ox.ac.uk/teaching/migration_scholarships.pdf for further information.

How to apply

Applicants should first apply to the university for the degree that they wish to obtain through the standard on-line application procedure <http://compas.createsend1.com/t/r/l/ykjidud/fhuiioi/t>  – deadline Friday 11th March 2011.

Application for ESRC funding is separate (there is no application form). Applications should consist of two things:

(1) a doctoral-level proposal (3-4 pp.) containing a description of the project, the problem to be addressed and the methods to be used, together with a brief timetable for the proposed research; and

(2) a curriculum vitae. Applicants for 1 + 3 (MSc + DPhil) may like to warn their referees, who have submitted references to support their application to the university for the MSc, that they may also be approached for a statement about the candidate’s suitability for doctoral work.

Applications for the ESRC funding should be sent to:

Director of Graduate Studies, c/o Ms Marina Kujic, Department of International Development, University of Oxford, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TB

by 12 noon on Friday 18th March 2011. (We are unable to accept electronic applications)

All applicants must satisfy the ESRC’s citizenship and residence requirements and are advised to acquaint themselves with relevant ESRC sources of information on these requirements directly. EU citizens are eligible for ‘fees only’ awards.

ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society
University of Oxford,
58 Banbury Road, Oxford,

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As the Tea Party continues to attract attention and gain political legitimacy in the US, the party itself remains something of an ambiguous entity. One one hand, its strongest supporters view the party as a bastion for American values and limited government with a romantic view of the American constitution and a belief that the party will protect the nation from descending into a socialist, non-capitalistic state. On the other, its harshest critics label it as a racist, reactionary group of conservative nationalists who use increasingly divisive rhetoric to encourage xenophobic sentiment throughout its base.

Take, for instance, the following article found on teapartynationalism.com:


This website clearly views the party as a dangerous group with questionable motives. Consider the following passages:

– “The oft-repeated Tea Party call to “Take it Back, Take Your Country Back” is an explicitly nationalist refrain. It is sometimes coupled with the assertion that there are “real Americans,” as opposed to others who they believe are driving the country into a socialist ditch”

– “Despite the fact that Tea Partiers sometimes dress in the costumes of 18th century Americans, wave the Gadsden flag and claim that the United States Constitution should be the divining rod of all legislative policies, theirs is an American nationalism that does not always include all Americans. It is a nationalism that excludes those deemed not to be ‘real Americans;’ including the native-born children of undocumented immigrants (often despised as ‘anchor babies’), socialists, Moslems, and those not deemed to fit within a ‘Christian nation.'”

– “As the Confederate battle flags, witch doctor caricatures and demeaning discourse suggest, a bright white line of racism threads through this nationalism.Yet, it is not a full-fledged variety of white nationalism. It is as inchoate as it is super-patriotic. It is possibly an embryo of what it might yet become.”


While pointing out the party’s allegedly damning characteristics, this point of view also recognizes that the Tea Party remains in the early stages of its evolution, which can either scare or excite you, depending on how you view the party.

Importantly, those who defend the party would claim that the racist rhetoric often associated with the party is by-and-large a minority opinion magnified disproportionally in the media. Instead, members and many leaders will argue, Tea Party members simply stand for the constitution of the United States and policies of limited government.

So, with this said, how do you view the tea party? Do you have any political parties in your country that are comparable in rhetoric or reputation? And finally, do you view the Tea Party as a legitimate political party with respectable claims and demands, or an extremely right-wing party that could lead to a new form of American nationalism?

Or is it possible that the Tea Party is misrepresented both by its leaders and by its biggest critics? Could it be, rather than one extreme or the other, simply a new political party to add to the ongoing debates regarding issues such as immigration and economic policy in the US?

The development of the party could depend largely on which party members are elected into congressional positions. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

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Forgetting, I would even go so far as to say historical error, is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation. — Ernest Renan

In our presentation tomorrow, Group 2 will be taking a postmodern view of nationalism in Scotland and China. Postmodernism emphasizes authorial agency in the process of creating history. “History” in this context – as something created, rather than something that is the natural consequence of the passage of time – refers to a constructed narrative, with elements that are highlighted and suppressed, often on a utilitarian basis with present-day challenges in mind. One element which is often highlighted in national narratives is the “other,” an enemy whose battles with the national group plays a leading role in its definition. As Frederik Barth wrote is 1969, “Groups tend to define themselves not by reference to their own characteristics but by exclusion, that is, by comparison to “strangers.” As we survey Scottish and Chinese national anthems, education, pop-cultural image, and symbols, we’ll be looking at their emphasis on battling their enemies, as well as what moments they have conveniently “forgotten.”


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This message went round ASEN members … please circulate to any likely applicants …

Dear ASEN Members,
The Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism is offering a scholarship worth £1000 to PhD candidates in the fields of nationalism and ethnicity. All ASEN members who are PhD students registred at institutions in the UK and Ireland are eligible. If you are not yet a member of ASEN, please follow this link before applying: http://www2.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/units/ASEN/Membership/Registration.aspx 

Please send the following documents in one pdf: your ASEN membership number, CV, Cover Letter, 1000-word research proposal, a reference from your PhD supervisor and a 500-word description of how this money would be used. Examples for the suitable appropriation of the scholarship money would be: language tuition linked to the field of research, conference costs (proof of conference registration required), field research costs, and acquiring research materials.
The closing date for the applications is on 15 May 2011. Please send your application in a single attachment to asen@lse.ac.uk.
For more information about ASEN, please visit: www.lse.ac.uk/asen 

ASEN: The Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism
London School of Economics
Houghton Street,
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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As a starting point for this blog, and for Thursday’s discussion, please watch the following YouTube video comparing a US military ad with that of the Nordic Battlegroup.

Question: What does military say about national identity? – US vs. EU

United States

As the video above shows, a military can evoke strong nationalist sentiment or, in the case of the Nordic Battlegroup, a supranational EU-sponsored military group, it can avoid national symbols altogether and instead focus on humanitarian aid. So, the question is, to what extent can a military encourage or discourage nationalism?

American culture and identity are historically linked to the country’s military and the wars it has participated in. The US was created out of the Revolutionary War, it was held together because of the Civil War, and the US arguably became the world’s sole superpower during and after World War II. It was also at this time that American ‘patriotism’ perhaps peaked.

While wars often create states – that is, geopolitical entities – wars created a nation in the United States. The US is a nation that universally embraces its military and its citizens are expected to be supportive of it at all times. With the exception of those labelled extremists, even staunch anti-war Americans would be quick to proclaim their support for the troops.

The bumper sticker seen above is one example. But the military is an institutionalized part of American society; the flag is seen as supporting the troops who defend it, military jets fly over the Super Bowl at the culmination of the Star Spangled Banner (even if Christina Aguilera is singing), and Veteran’s Day is a national holiday. The Star Spangled Banner, by the way, was written by Francis Scott Key as he watched the Americans defend Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. So, one might claim that American identity and ‘patriotism’ partially stemmed from and have been maintained by the country’s constant military presence.

The ad for the United States Marines reflects this connection, mentioning the ‘courage’ that it requires to join and the ‘honor’ it provides those who are part of this elite group of soldiers. Set to a dramatic and emotional dramatic orchestral background, the video reminds its viewers that those in the Marines are serving for the good of their country, after which it shows a Marine standing proudly in front of an American flag. This overt sense of national pride is commonplace in American military ads, and contrasts well with the lack of symbols and national emblems seen in the Nordic Battlegroup ad.

Overall, in the case of the United States Marines video, the military is romanticized and portrayed as an institution of national pride. It focuses on the prestige associated with enlisting in the Marines and serving one’s country, a stark difference when compared to the EU-sponsored ad, which focuses more on a humanitarian, nation-less perspective.

The primary difference, of course, is that one advertisement represents the military of one country, while the other represents a multinational entity, still in the early stages of its development. As we move on to discuss the EU battlegroup, continue to consider the impact that military has on nationalism. Also, consider how a nation’s/region’s political history is linked to the development of its military.

The Nordic Battlegroup/European Union

As we can see from the Nordic recruitment clip, many European countries are increasingly forming military alliances and recruiting on that basis.  The Nordic battle group is one of eighteen European battle groups.  It consists of around 2,200 soldiers including officers, with manpower contributed from the five participating countries Sweden, Finland, Norway, Ireland and Estonia.  As a supranational military it is not possible to hinge this group on any single national affiliation or sense of duty.  This explains the lack of national symbols in the clip and its evocation of humanitarianism rather than patriotism.  How do these European battle groups and indeed a European army compare to national armies such as the US?



The prospect of a ‘European Army’ may have been once considered the dream of delirious Europhiles.  However, is the dream on its way to becoming reality?  Consider recent developments:

  • In the last year, countries such as Germany and Sweden have abolished their compulsory national military service.
  • In 2008, British defence secretary, John Hutton publicly supported the idea – a significant U-turn for the UK.  The top three E.U. military spenders, U.K. / France and Germany, were in agreement.
  • Alliances such as the Anglo-French Treaty (2010) – a pragmatic solution to dramatic cuts in national defence budgets.
  • Aloys Rigaut, President of European Liberal Youth (LYMEC), has highlighted the potential benefits: ‘EU Member States have some 1.9 million soldiers, i.e. 50 percent more than the United States, yet the effectiveness of these armies is one-tenth of the U.S. military. We also have 27 armies, 27 airforces, 27 procurement agencies, etc. A common European military force would be much more efficient economically and effective militarily!’


So….what are the implications of this ambitious project on European nationalisms?

  1. Is a national military important for national self-image?
  2. Would people be as willing to die for a political institution as they would their homeland?
  3. As a multi-national entity, would a Euro Army erode or protect individual nationalisms?

NOTE: the current attitude of the New Flemish Alliance.  The separatist party wants Belgium to evaporate within the E.U. and a decisive shift of power to Flanders: ‘Danny Pieters, the N-VA president of the Belgian Senate, says he sees no need for a Flemish army as one day Belgian forces will be part of a European one. For the N-VA, Europe is the acid that will help to dissolve Belgium’. (http://www.economist.com/node/18008272).

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David Cameron argued at a security conference in Munich that the UK needed a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to all kinds of extremism. Hence, he claims that multiculturalism has “failed” to prevent “the radicalisation of Muslims”.

In his own words, “we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity. Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.” His discourse reminds me to the Clash of Civilisations theory (Huntington 1996) and to scholars such as David Miller (1995), who argue for the instrumental value of the nationality in creating mutual trust and solidarity.

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One need only keep an eye on the current news to be struck by yet another wave of demos-driven nationalism in Tunisia and Egypt, and perhaps beyond. To me this once again underscores that it is demos (the demand of a people for self government) rather than ethnos (the symbolisation of cultural identity) that is the dominant force shaping nationalism in our era, however much it may need to dress in some ethnic markers, and may provoke more ethnos-based responses. A combination of misrule, inflation, and a young, well-educated but underemployed generation, seems to be more effective than external military intervention in advancing the cause of democracy in the region.

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