Archive for the ‘Publications’ Category

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Confronting Fragmentation: Socioeconomic and health impacts of the crisis in Syria

Date: Monday 20 June, 16:00 – 17:30
Venue: Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15A George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LD
Speakers: Rabie Nasser and Khuloud Alsaba

Conflicts transform populations’ living conditions and their daily living experiences, and are therefore recognized by the World Health Organizations’ Commission on Social Determinants of Health as structural determinants of health and health inequalities. The past five years in Syria have witnessed intense change in the political landscape with profound and violent results. Earlier this year, the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR) published figures from a unique survey of population status conducted in 2014 that has transformed understandings of the impacts of the conflict: since 2011, 470,000 people have been killed as a result of the conflict, a further 1.9 million wounded, and 45% of the population displaced from their homes. The collapse of Syria’s infrastructure and national institutions has contributed to a fall in life expectancy, from 70 in 2010 to 55.4 in 2015.

In this seminar, two of the authors of the report Confronting Fragmentation will present their findings to a UK audience for the first time. Rabie Nasser is a co-founder of the Center, while Khuloud Alsaba has worked with the Center since it was established in 2012 and is a PhD student in the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social & Political Science.
The seminar will present data and analyses from the Syrian Center for Policy Research examining the diverse impacts of the conflict on the Syrian population.

The Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR): http://scpr-syria.org/index.php is an independent non-governmental, non-profit entity which undertakes public policy-oriented research to influence and facilitate policy dialogue and advocate policy solutions.

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Neil Davidson’s (University of Glasgow, Department of Sociology) new collection of essays Nation States, Competition and Consciousness will have a book launch at 6pm on Friday the 3rd of June, in Lower Ground Room, David Hume Tower. Jamie Allinson (Politics and IR, University of Edinburgh) is the discussant. More information at: http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/Nation-States

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On 19 May, the Constitution Unit hosted its third Brexit seminar. Our panellists Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Queen Mary University of London, Professor Jim Gallagher of Nuffield College, Oxford, Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, University of Ulster, and Dr Rachel Minto, Cardiff University discussed the impact that Brexit would have on Devolution and the Union. This briefing paper, written by Robert Hazell and Alan Renwick, explores this topic in further depth. It opens by explaining that public opinion is much more pro-EU in Scotland and Northern Ireland than in England and Wales; this creates the possibility of a divided, and divisive, referendum result if the different nations in the UK vote in different ways. The paper then discusses the process of withdrawal, how the devolved nations would be represented during the Brexit negotiations, and whether a vote for Brexit would trigger a second independence referendum in Scotland. It concludes by considering the long term policy consequences of Brexit, in terms of the scope for greater policy differentiation between the different nations of the UK, and the scope for the devolved nations to develop different relationships with the EU.

Read the briefing paper here.


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A_Life_Beyond_Boundaries_cover_1050-2b13e17141f26373888b3c46493677d6A Life Beyond Boundaries: A Memoir

An intellectual memoir by the author of the acclaimed Imagined Communities
Born in China, Benedict Anderson spent his childhood in California and Ireland, was educated in England and finally found a home at Cornell University, where he immersed himself in the growing field of Southeast Asian studies. He was expelled from Suharto’s Indonesia after revealing the military to be behind the attempted coup of 1965, an event which prompted reprisals that killed up to a million communists and their supporters. Banned from the country for thirty-five years, he continued his research in Thailand and the Philippines, producing a very fine study of the Filipino novelist and patriot José Rizal in The Age of Globalization.

In A Life Beyond Boundaries, Anderson recounts a life spent open to the world. Here he reveals the joys of learning languages, the importance of fieldwork, the pleasures of translation, the influence of the New Left on global thinking, the satisfactions of teaching, and a love of world literature. He discusses the ideas and inspirations behind his best-known work, Imagined Communities (1983), whose complexities changed the study of nationalism.

Benedict Anderson died in Java in December 2015, soon after he had finished correcting the proofs of this book. The tributes that poured in from Asia alone suggest that his work will continue to inspire and stimulate minds young and old.

More details here.

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The Institute of Governance has provided open online access to the full text of the full run of Scottish Government Yearbooks (1976-92).

The Yearbooks provide unparalleled insights into a crucial period in Scotland’s political and social development. This archive is of particular interest to students of nationalism since its contents bears witness to, and carefully analyses, a Scotland in which a devolved Assembly seemed inevitable, a Scotland where those assumptions were dashed through the referendum of 1979, and a Scotland which rejected Thatcherism but endured its radical shaking of key institutions.

The Yearbooks end in 1992, when ‘home rule’ stood reinvigorated and when the question of devolution was again dominating the Scottish political agenda. As the introduction to that final volume notes there was by then “a real sense of an uncompleted agenda” in, and for, Scotland. To address that agenda the Yearbooks morphed, in 1992, into Scottish Affairs, Scotland’s longest running peer-reviewed journal of contemporary Scottish issues.

You can find the archive HERE

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Il numero 3 (2014) di “Nazioni e Regioni” è disponibile on-line.
Disponibile il terzo numero della rivista elettronica “Nazioni e Regioni”, scaricabile qui gratuitamente in versione pdf.

In questo fascicolo:
– Àlex Amaya Quer, Stato e questione nazionale in Romania. Il caso della Transilvania (1918-1960);
– Arnau Gonzàlez Vilalta, La JERC e la costruzione dell’indipendentismo giovanile catalano di sinistra (1973-1994);
– Pål Kolstø, Il nation-building in Russia: una strategia orientata sui valori;
– Stephen Norris, Nazione nomade: cinema, nazione e memoria nel Kazakistan post-sovietico;
– Rigas Raftopoulos, Le radici politiche del nazionalismo greco nel XX secolo. Dal regime di Ioannis Metaxas (1936-40) al regime dei colonnelli (1967-74);
– Aleix Romero Peña, Illuminismo e fueros. L’azione foralista di Mariano Luis de Urquijo.

Completano questo numero 3 (2014) le recensioni di Francesca Zantedeschi, Gaizka Fernández Soldevilla e Xosé M. Malheiro Gutiérrez.

Cogliamo l’occasione per ricordare che il call for papers del n. 4 (2014) resta aperto fino al 30 settembre, data dopo la quale verrà aperto il call relativo al n. 5 (2015).

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Through the radical and rapid shifts in how Scotland is governed (and how, indeed, it governs itself), the Scots have barely raised their voices, let alone thrown punches and smashed windows. Perhaps what is most remarkable about the upcoming referendum is how normal it feels. ‘Independence’ was, in the 1970s, something rather exotic. Yet here we are, with a White Paper, and a Red Paper, and the ‘guarantee’ of substantial new powers if we vote ‘No’, and of a new – but unthreatening – dawn if we vote ‘Yes’. Independence is one possible future, one to be discussed, debated, weighed and judged soberly and democratically. It feels less a matter of ‘freedom’, or of the destruction of a hallowed unity, than of how to find the best fitting governing mechanism to meet Scotland’s aspirations.

In making sense of the referendum Scottish Affairs has produced a Special Issue intended to make an accessible contribution to the debate. The Issue has two main parts. In the first part, John Curtice – key contributor to What Scotland Thinks – describes the difficult tasks of polling companies in predicting public opinion whilst satisfying the ‘relentless’ demands ‘from an impoverished media for polls to be conducted as cheaply as possible’. Lindsay Paterson then unpacks a broad historical view of Scottish political culture and its paradoxical foundation upon an insistence on a universal humanity. ‘Perhaps more than any other small nation,’ Paterson avers, Scotland has ‘the inclination to universalism inescapably at the heart of its identity’. Frank Bechhofer and David McCrone then provide a welcome antidote to casual assumptions about national identity and constitutional politics. Unionism and nationalism, they remind us, ‘are intertwined and not polar opposites’ and ‘one cannot read off constitutional aspirations from how people construe [national] identities’.

The following four articles then address specific aspects of the referendum: Meryl Kenny explores how the ‘engendering’ of the new Scotland after 1999 has proved, in many ways, a disappointment. She warns that ‘Women’s issues are constitutional issues’ and that ‘gender reforms can easily slip off the political agenda’. Michael Rosie then tackles some ‘tall tales’ about religion, not least against a deeply secularised background. Evidence suggests that religious belonging plays little, if any, role in shaping constitutional opinion. Jan Eichhorn presents results from the first comprehensive and representative survey of those Scots, aged 14–17 in 2013 and who will be eligible to vote in the Referendum. The survey punctures several myths, not least about voting intention, attitude formation and interest in politics. Eichhorn also cautions that, regardless of the result in September, Scotland must ‘think about how to better harness the interest of young people in politics’. Here the essay by Ellen Stewart, Iain Wilson, Peter Donnelly and Scott Greer makes an important contribution since it focuses upon the experience of young (potential) voters in the pilot Scottish health board elections of 2010.

The first section is rounded off by Daniel Kenealy’s discussion of the vexed ‘European Question’. Kenealy concludes that a ‘Yes’ vote would put ‘tremendous pressure on all EU Member States to avoid a sudden and sharp dislocation to the single market’. That pressure will lead to negotiation: statements which call into question Scotland’s post-independence membership of the EU ‘have utterly failed to engage with the deeply impractical scenario’ of a Scotland even temporarily out of that Union.

The second part of the Special Issue consists of four essays on the theme of Scotland seen from (near or) afar. Euan Hague and Alan Mackie note how little discussion the Referendum has excited in US media, but also describe how different viewpoints mould the ‘meaning’ of the Referendum to their own purposes. Within the
Diaspora there seems to be a significant disjuncture between the ‘historical narrative’ preferred by some ancestral Scots (a narrative that parallels America’s own founding myths) and the social democratic claims of the SNP. Ilenia Ruggiu reports a broadly similar reshaping of the Referendum in several Italian regions. Here, in places such as Sud-Tirol, Sardinia or Veneto it is the fact of Scotland’s referendum, rather than its detail, that provides inspiration for groups seeking greater autonomy within, or outright secession from, the Italian state. Keith Dixon describes the lack of a clear French understanding of what the United Kingdom actually is and, therefore, on the politics of territory within it. That, more recently, has shifted and Dixon describes a ‘relatively well-informed and even-handed presentation of the referendum debate in the French press’. Closer to home, Keith Shaw, outlines different reactions to the prospect of a more autonomous Scotland of whatever form) in the North East of England and in Cumbria. These reactions span anxiety, envy, regret and hope – all reflective of the common bonds shared in the Borderlands on both sides of the Tweed-Solway.

In the first ever editorial of Scottish Affairs, back in 1992, Lindsay Paterson insisted that, should Scotland’s movement for self-government prove successful, ‘then the form of that autonomy, and the strategy needed to reach it, must be subject to much stricter scrutiny than has been available hitherto’. Scottish Affairs has contributed to that scrutiny both during the campaign for self-government, and across the subsequent life of the Scottish Parliament. Whatever the result in September, there will be continued – indeed in many ways more pressing – need for scrutiny of policy and politics through well evidenced and accessible research. Scottish Affairs relishes that challenge.

The full table of contents for the Special Issue (and access for subscribers) can be found at the Edinburgh University Press website.

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The latest entry in our ongoing Working Papers in Nationalism Studies series is now available.

Nino Kemoklidze graduated with distinction from our MSc programme in November 2006 as we are very pleased to present her dissertation as WPiNS number 6:

Nationalism and War: Georgia in the 1990s

The causes and effects of nationalism in the violent conflicts within the former Soviet space have long been a topic of hot debate among scholars of social sciences. In ethnically heterogeneous places like the Balkans and the Caucasus, many tend to blame the outbreak of military confrontations on the intrinsic cultural differences between the different ethnic groups. In this dissertation, however, I argue against this notion and try to demonstrate that labelling these conflicts as ‘ethnic’ is mistaken altogether. The question of why inter- and intra-ethnic conflicts turned violent in Georgia in early 1990s is intrinsically linked to how ethnicity has been constructed, institutionalised, and politicised during Soviet rule. Based on observation of these events and on interviews conducted with the political and military elite of Georgia, as well as close examination of the available documentary material and other sources in Georgian, Russian, and English languages, I further outline three major factors that have played a decisive role in linking nationalism and war in the case of Georgia: institutions, elites, and the Russia factor.


You can access the paper here:



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Quite an interesting research, considered worth it to share.

by Doug Gavel
Not every child in America has the opportunity to attend Fourth of July celebrations, but those that do are prone to be more politically engaged and associate more closely with the Republican Party than their peers. Those are two conclusions in a new research paper co-authored by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor David Yanagizawa-Drott and Bocconi University Assistant Professor Andreas Madestam.

The paper, titled “Shaping the Nation: Estimating the Impact of Fourth of July Using a Natural Experiment,” examines how important childhood experiences shape political views and behavior patterns later in life by investigating the impact of youth participation in Independence Day activities and adult engagement in the political process.

“In 2010, an estimated 144 million Americans age 18 or older celebrated Fourth of July by attending a barbecue. Another 98 million watched the fireworks or went to a community festivity, while more than 28 million saw a parade,” the authors write. “Beyond the immediate fervor of the festivity, however, do national day celebrations matter? Does participation in national ceremonies and parades have a deeper impact by affecting children’s political beliefs, identity, and behavior?”

Researchers face two main challenges when they examine how important formative experiences in childhood affect later-life outcomes. First, it is difficult to disentangle the causal impact of any particular experience – may it be the family, the education system, peers, or an event such as Fourth of July. Second, there is a lack of data linking childhood experiences to adult outcomes.

In their paper, the researchers use a simple but novel strategy to address these problems: they use historical data on rainfall on Fourth of July. When it rains children and their parents are less likely to participate and the events are often cancelled. Moreover, since rain is a random event, some children growing up experience nice weather and are more likely to celebrate, while others are hit by bad weather making it less likely that they join the festivities. This allows the researchers to isolate the effect of attending the celebrations from other important factors such as family background and education.

Key conclusions in the paper include:

• Fourth of July celebrations have a significant impact upon people’s political preferences;
• Attending one Fourth of July before age 18 increases the likelihood of identifying as a Republican by at least 2 percent and voting for the Republican candidate by 4 percent. It also increases voter turnout by 0.9 percent and boosts political campaign contributions by 3 percent.

“We were surprised to find that childhood experiences of Fourth July celebrations could have such persistent effects. The evidence suggests that important childhood events can have a permanent impact on political beliefs and behavior and that Fourth of July celebrations in the US affect the nation’s political landscape,” concludes Yanagizawa-Drott.

Here is the original research paper available for free download http://www.hks.harvard.edu/fs/dyanagi/Research/FourthOfJuly.pdf

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