Archive for April, 2011

We’re really pleased to announce the launch of our ‘Working papers in Nationalism Studies’, aimed at showcasing our most excellent student dissertations over the last several years.

Each working paper is an unedited version of a dissertation submitted by one of our students as part of their normal degree programme and which we believe deserves a wider audience.

Numbers 1-4 are available online at the WPiNS webpage:

WPINS_1 Daniel Brember, Zionism and the end of Exile

Daniel Brember graduated with distinction from the programme in June 2010.

This dissertation examines the relationship between Zionism and Exile, specifically in the thought, work, and policy of the movement’s most prominent minds in the pre-state period. The persistent dominance of the Zionist master narrative obscures the complexities to the Yishuv’s ethno-nationalist discourse and the purpose here has been to challenge the validity of this narrative.

WPINS_2  Julia Santiago Stockler, The Invention of Samba and National Identity in Brazil

Julia Santiago Stockler graduated with distinction from the programme in December 2008.

This dissertation, after acknowledging the dearth of works on nationalisms in Latin America and, particularly, the scarcity of publications on national identity in Brazil, investigates the processes through which samba (Brazil’s prime national symbol) was invented as a national tradition during the first half of the twentieth century and the aspects of Brazil’s national identity which can be discerned through samba lyrics.

WPINS_3  Erin E. Hughes, Nation Rebuilding in Rwanda and South Africa: An Assessment of Identity Formation, Governance, and Economic Growth

Erin E. Hughes graduated with distinction from the programme in November 2007.

Rwanda and South Africa suffered extraordinary efforts to cleanse their societies on the basis of ethnicity; Rwanda through a horrifically efficient genocide and South Africa through the protracted exclusion and oppression of apartheid.  The new governments have constructed a non-ethnic, state-centred national identity around which to unite their divided populations; they have strived for political systems able to withstand, if not preclude, any remaining extremism in the polity; and they have embraced the pursuit of economic growth.  This paper assesses the confluence of these undertakings as they transition each society to an inclusive nation.

WPINS_4  Christian Wicke, Catching God’s Coattail: Comparing Bismarck’s and Kohl’s Profile in Nationalism

Christian Wicke graduated with distinction from the programme in November 2007.

It has been assumed that the first German unification was driven from above, whereas the second unification was driven from below and that Bismarck played a greater role in the respective process than Kohl. This comparative study rethinks the interaction between nationalisms from ‘above’ and ‘below’ and shows that contextualising individuals can be a fruitful method to overcome mistaken theoretical assumptions. Considering nationalism from below before the unifications, in combination with an analysis of the actions, socialisations, political philosophies and nationalist ideas of Bismarck and Kohl, leads to the conclusion that both unification processes were too dialectical to accept the abovementioned dichotomy.

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The relationship between Sport and Nationalism is by no means a new one. This topic has been widely discussed in this blog and I even think that Spanish football was discussed recently. I noticed a couple of news items in ‘Marca’, the first Spanish sports newspaper, which I found rather curious.

You may find the first one [in Spanish] here. It is entitled ‘The [Spanish] anthem will sound like an aircraft flying at low height’. The article says that the Spanish national anthem will be played before the match at 120 decibels, presumably to silence the whistling and shouting from Barça supporters. It is stated that this level of sound might even be dangerous for the crowd’s ears.

The organisers obviously fear the same whistles and boos that welcomed the Spanish anthem two years ago, when Barça played Bilbao in the final, and many Catalans and Basques expressed their rejection to the Spanish national tune. You may check a video here.

However, tomorrow Barça is not playing Bilbao but Real Madrid, in another edition of ‘El Clásico’, this time in the Spanish Cup Final, and Marca reports that ‘Madrid supporters want to fill the stadium with Spanish flags‘. The news article argues that Madrid supporters’ associations have been using social networks to encourage fans to bring Spanish flags to the stadium in order to counterattack a most plausible rejection to the Spanish anthem by the Catalans.

Hence, the football rivalry will be complemented by a political/national rivalry tomorrow. It is curious how easily the match has been politicised, especially because it normally is the press from Madrid who calls for a complete separation between sport and politics when the Spanish national team plays. Further, there is an implicit assumption that all Barça supporters are Catalan and nationalist, which is not accurate at all. However, are sports identities that different from national identities? If Barça fans see their rivals waving Spanish flags, they might wave Catalan flags instead, even if their are not nationalists, just to attach a symbol to the rivalry. If this is the case, tomorrow the stadium might be split in two halves: one with Catalan and blaugrana flags supporting Barça and the other with Spanish flags supporting Real Madrid. This definitely would be the closest thing to a Catalonia v Spain football match, a rivalry nonetheless that goes far beyond sports. We shall see it tomorrow night, at 9pm.

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Join this PAC if you love your country

Political advertisements often utilize national symbols in order to gain public support, but this advertisement for Tom Pawlenty’s new political action committee surely takes the cake. Republican Pawlenty launched this in the last month before officially announcing his intention to run for president on April 12.

I found it interesting to see how broad the ad is in its depiction of American symbols, from Valley Forge to landing on the moon to the US Hockey victory over the Soviet Union in the early ’80s. It’s powerful stuff when complemented by dramatic music and evocative national images (albeit seemingly random at times). Please watch:

And now, arguably much better, is Stephen Colbert’s satirical response to the ad. Enjoy:

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The theme and dates for next year’s ASEN conference has been announced:

03-05 April 2012, London School of Economics

Nationalism, Ethnicity and Boundaries


Further information will follow, in due course, on the ASEN website

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Kyrgyz-Uzbek Conflict

The Kyrgyz-Uzbek conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010 was the greatest tragedy that Kyrgyzstan has faced since its independence from the Soviet Union. The country faced a terrible crisis with more than a hundred thousand Uzbeks fleeing the conflict, and thousands dead and injured between both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. To what extent can this conflict can be labeled merely ‘ethnic’ is a subject for debate and, especially, research. Based on my trip to southern Kyrgyzstan in July 2010, my recent article suggests that it is impossible to understand the causes of conflict and, most importantly, to undertake a peace building process in the post-conflict situation without taking into account the social and political context of Kyrgyzstan, especially since its independence when it has struggled to build a well-functioning state and robust state policies. Check out my article at: http://www.youblisher.com/p/88711-SRF-Review-colour/.

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