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Its the end of an era for Nationalism Studies at Edinburgh as we bid a fond farewell to our long-time home in Chisholm House. The centre of the programme will now move to the Chrystal MacMillan Building, George Square, at the heart of the main campus. Fittingly, we were able to say goodbye to Chisholm House whilst welcoming back our class of 2011, back in Edinburgh for a very happy reunion. Always good to see old friends!

chisholm-house

Chisholm House, High School Yards

class-of-2011

The class of 2011

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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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In the reflection of our small group discussion on Hroch’s explanation of the term ”nationalism” in ”Nationalism and national movements: comparing the past and the present of Central and Eastern Europe”, I considered relevant to post a piece that I bumped today online from “Learning from Small Nations”, interview with Miroslav Hroch, New Left Review, 58, 2, pp. 49-50.

Q: Could you explain why you feel the term ‘nationalism’ is so dysfunctional?

A: It is very easy to label as ‘nationalism’ every phenomenon or attribute that has anything to do with the nation or national matters, rather than differentiating between national identity, national consciousness, national awareness, patriotism, chauvinism, loyalty and so on. And it is not at all a ‘neutral’ term, as many Anglophone authors believe. In the American case, this supposed neutrality is pure hypocrisy: you find thousands of titles about ‘American patriotism’ but almost none about ‘American nationalism’—the others are nasty nationalists, but we are noble-minded patriots! According to this terminology, both an ss man in occupied Norway and a member of the Norwegian resistance are ‘nationalists’. In that case, what use does the term serve? Naturally, one can add adjectives to it, as Carlton Hayes did early in the 20th century. Tom Nairn’s concept of nationalism as Janus-faced is helpful, to a certain extent. But does nationalism refer to an activity or a state of mind, or both?

We also need to bear in mind that the word ‘nation’, from which the term derives, has different connotations in different languages. In English, ‘nationalism’ is understood to imply a struggle for statehood, but this is not the case in German or Czech. In 18th-century definitions one can already see a difference between a ‘political’ concept of the nation in English and a ‘cultural’ one in German and Czech. The French understanding is somewhere in between, with both state and linguistic unification forming the basis for a nation. Anglo-Saxon authors writing on Slovene, Czech or Slovak national movements describe them as ‘nationalist’, with the explicit or implicit view that they were focused on a struggle for statehood, and then seem surprised when these leaderships did not fight for independence. This is an error, based on the fiction that a nation cannot exist without a state.

…I use the term ‘nationalism’ only for extreme cases, where expressions of national identity extend into overestimation of one’s own nation and hatred towards others, as in the case of Croatia in the 1990s, for example.

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Recently, I watched one of the rarest videos of Ernest Gellner, particularly his conference talk at Cambridge in 1977, where he shared his views on evolutionism, functionalism, social change and antique models of state foundation. I think it worth to spend around 20 minutes to listen and watch to the Great Polymath.

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by Meerim Maturaimova

Today Russia has won the fight to host 2018 World Cup, and it is the main topic for discussion in Russian forums. Even the president of the state Dmitrii Medvedev, whose posts in his Twitter account are usually very official, simply posted today: “Hurray! Victory!” (http://twitter.com/MedvedevRussia). Russian channels did not take long to release the official promo video which brought them this victory.

The video shows different Russian landscapes, cities, villlages and even deserts – meaning how big Russia is, and depicts Russians as a nation totally keen on football. An elderly woman, ballet dancer and even people living in a desert area – all of them do play football and demonstrate their skills at the very high level. Reminded me of Anderson’s ‘imagined communities’. Which theory or theorist does it remind you?

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I wanted to raise my awareness about the functions and responsibilities of Scottish Government and Parliament. Recently read this article from OpenDemocracy by author Gerry Hassan. I can not evaluate the objectivity of information, but I think the article contains some interesting elements for nationalism students.
Here are small parts from article:

The current and forthcoming crisis shows that we don’t have a fully responsible Scottish Parliament and Government: instead have an aspiration and ambition for a real Parliament and Government, but still a high degree of reservation and hesitancy about how to drive them forward and what the consequences might be.

This all amounts to the end of devolution. We can snuggle down to an ever more limited politics of apathy, inertia and status – one represented by institutional capture and conservatism – a politics which can be expressed either in the benign, but unattractive vision of grumpy-old-men-unionist-Scotland or the dogma and zealotry of the outsourced state, in which Scotland plc belatedly joins what the new forces of knowledge, expertise and power like to call the modern world; this would entail joining the Anglo-American order as an outhouse of the British state, just as the whole rotten edifice is collapsing around our heads.

Or we can attempt to navigate a different path and dare to dream of a Scotland which has a fully empowered Parliament and Government along with a wider notion of political and societal power and change that isn’t just focused on politicians.

Original can be read from here

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I was really wondering after one of the lectures by Professor McCrone, why Jewish-Czech liberal (all possible combinations to be anti-communist) Gellner was upset about the demise of the Soviet Union? I deem I discovered a visual answer to the question.
Despite the typical Soviet content of the song about the glory of Lenin and Comsomol it worth to watch it, because it clearly serves as a facade illustration of Soviet multiculturalism (the only thing Gellner liked in “Evil Empire”). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yCr5RRuGV4&feature=player_embedded#!

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