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Books:

Summary: A timely work that is the second in the series dealing with the historic arguments surrounding the region of the Balkans known now as the former Yugoslavia. Noel Malcolm’s Kosovo A Short History is a far superior volume to his first tome dealing with the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina in terms of scholarship and the embracement of the dialectic of opposing nationalisms which manifest into competing national movements. Structured into seventeen chapters, of which 14 are divided into relevant historic eras (allowing for a neat separation of the various occupations suffered by all the peoples of Kosovo into understandable timeframes for the novices), this book is the most comprehensive work available in the English language which delves into the history of the Kosovar Albanians. Significantly, the first two chapters are designed to guide the novice through the forest of various ethnic groups, their origins, rulers and myths. The second chapter “Origins: Serbs, Albanians and Vlachs” is a much needed review of the historic claims of autochthony by all three groups in the province and is of much use to scholars of ancient Rumanian and Macedonian history as it is to those of Albanian and Serbian. The fact that a chapter is given to the study of Kosovo’s other minorities such as Vlachs, Gypsies, Turks, Jews and Circassians also allows the student of nationalism to view the fluidity that existed between many of these communities for nigh on a millennium, counter to the claims of the Milosevic regime and some KLA extremists. More importantly, chapter 4’s concentration on the “Battle and Myth” of Kosovo polje, which has been overly cited by the mass media in a fallacious attempt to understand the cause of the contemporary war, sheds light on how nationalism as a created sentiment and responsive ideology has enabled to shape policy in Serbia towards Kosovo- since its occupation by Serbia in 1912- which run contrary to the realities on the ground. Each communities history is considered legitimate, and herein lies the strength of Malcolm's analysis, in that whilst respecting Serbia’s history in the region he treats it as such, ie, history. In this sense he is able to dismantle the nationalist rhetoric and territorial claims of the Milosevic regime which are more linked to Kosovo’s rich mineral resources rather than any true empathy with the civil rights of the province’s 10% Serb ethnic minority. Noel Malcolm’s Kosovo A Short History is an essential piece of scholarship for both serious academics and interested novices alike (Pero Ercegovac).


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Summary: Written by political commentator Andrew Marr, The Battle for Scotland provides an excellent introduction to the history of the Scottish national movement and its history. While scholars will find little new, this is an invaluable text for lay readers. An opening chapter provides a summary of pre-Twentieth century Scottish history, while the remainder of the book covers the development of the Scottish National Party right up to the exceptionally important 1992 General Election. The text is generally reliable, however the brief section of ultra-Nationalism and terrorism should be taken with a grain of salt as it is based on highly questionable source material. [E. Zuelow]


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Summary: This book is the product of an effort by the Community Relations Council to examine the use of symbols in Northern Ireland in the hope that by better understanding the feelings of both Unionists and Nationalists about their respective symbols might help find broadly acceptable responses. The authors found that any given symbol might have little meaning to one person but prove exceptionally offensive to another. The study focuses on "any flag, emblem or anthem which is important to some section of the community, but which, it could be argued, causes offence to others, and equally are concerned with any flag or anthem which might help to overcome such controversies" (2). The authors utilized an interdisciplinary approach towards the topic and much of the study is based on interviews conducted with people on both sides of the political/social/cultural/religious divide in Northern Ireland. This book will be of interest to those concerned with the "northern question" as well as those interested in symbols/flags/national anthems more broadly. [E. Zuelow]


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Summary: In this excellently arranged and well-balanced review of the theoretical literature on nationalism, David McCrone sets out to critically survey the leading accounts of the "main manifestations of nationalism: in its classical form of nineteenth-century nation-building; twentieth century liberation nationalism; but also in its more recent formulations—neo-nationalism or autonomism in Western societies, and post-communist nationalism" (21).

Chapter 1, "The fall and rise of nationalism," introduces some of the leading contemporary positions on nationalism, and then considers why the founders of sociology—Marx, Durkheim, and Weber—took relatively little theoretical interest in it. Chapter 2, "Tribe, place and identity: ethnicity and nationalism" is a critical examination of the role of ethnicity in creating nationalism (or, as some theorists would argue, vice versa). Chapter 3, "Inventing the past: history and nationalism" considers how history (and, more often than some would wish, historiography) is mobilized—and selectively forgotten—in order to affirm and demarcate particular group identities as being national. Chapter 4, " ‘Devils at his back’: nationalism and Ernest Gellner," reviews the contributions of the founder of modern nationalism studies, and also offers a very interesting discussion of the personal encounters with nationalism that Gellner had, and how these led him to theorize nationalism as he did. Chapter 5, "Nation as state: nationalism and state-building" engages in a close critical analysis of theories that argue that nationalism is essentially an instrument for establishing and maintaining a state. Chapter 6, "Dialectic with the other: liberation nationalism in the twentieth century" scrutinizes the liberation nationalisms of the twentieth century, seeing these "Third World" nationalisms not as essentially derivative forms of Western nationalism, but rather as being equally determined by what McCrone understands to be the constitutive ingredient of all nationalisms: the dialectic of Self and Other. Chapter 7, "In and out of the state: the rise and rise of neo-nationalism" surveys the "neo-nationalisms" of the industrialized Western states in the late twentieth century, and argues that such nationalisms are largely civic, not ethnic. Chapter 8, "The unforeseen revolution: post-communist nationalism" analyzes the nationalisms of the post-communist states, and finds that these predominantly ethnic nationalisms have their origins in "a complex lack of correspondence between political and ethnic identities" (166). Chapter 9, "Nationalism and its futures," speculates on what—if any—new form nationalism will take on in the 21st century; inter alia, McCrone contends that Europe will not become a nation-state, but rather a politically-defined union along the lines of 18th and 19th century Britain, but with the imperial-nationalist pretensions and excesses left out. [Tom Donahue]


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Summary: This is a general introduction to the sociology of Scotland and it should prove indispensable to students and scholars alike. McCrone writes: "The agenda . . . of this book is as follows: to construct a sociological account of a society and a nation which is struggling to assert its identity out of an older nation-state; to understand how it is that a distinct society and culture could survive and be periodically remade even within a highly centralized economy and polity; and to appreciate how and why it has diverged from certain English trajectories." The resulting discussion is exceptional. Scholars interested in Scotland, as well as those interested in nationalism more generally would do well to read this book. [E. Zuelow]


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Summary: In this collection of essays written throughout the 1990s, the political philosopher David Miller considers the main themes governing his reconceptualization and spirited defense of the nation as the preeminent form of political community. He also deals with several objections that have been made to his arguments over the years.

Of the ten essays collected here, six will be of special interest to users of this website: "In Defence of Nationality," (a summary of the views set forth in his treatise On Nationality) "Group Identities, National Identities and Democratic Politics," "Bounded Citizenship," "Secession and the Principle of Nationality," "Nationality in Divided Societies," and "National Self-Determination and Global Justice."

The book suffers a bit from the brevity of some of the essays, which tend to leave the reader with a host of unanswered questions. But the concepts expounded and the distinctions made throughout the collection are invariably lucid. Undergraduates and beginning graduate students seeking guidance in how to go about doing political philosophy are strongly encouraged to make a careful study of the methods of argument used in this book. [Tom Donahue]


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Summary: Speaking very broadly, we may say that there are two kinds of political philosophers: those who begin their normative theorizing by assuming that everyone knows what is meant by "political community," and those who, troubled by this blithe indifference to issues of social ontology, scrutinize the ties that bind human beings before immersing their readers in political prescriptions. This book proves that David Miller is emphatically a political philosopher of the latter kind.

It is hardly exaggerating to call On Nationality a contemporary classic of political philosophy. In it, Miller has staked out a position from which he can engage in a fruitful dialogue with progressive political theorists, from the Rawlsians on one side to the theorists of difference on the other. Plus, his laser-like focus on nationality provides us with an analytical apparatus that is well suited to normative theorizing in the age of the new nationalisms.

The book "sets out to explore and defend what [Miller calls] ‘the principle of nationality’, a principle which [he believes] can offer us rational guidance when, as individuals or as citizens, we have to respond practically to some national question" (2). Miller groups the questions of this kind into four main categories: (i) questions about boundaries, (ii) questions about national sovereignty, (iii) questions about nationality’s relation to states’ internal policies, and (iv) questions about the ethical weight that should be assigned to nationality. Note here that Miller is using the term "nationality" to denote the principle for which he will offer a "discriminating defence" (183). He does not wish to defend the principle of "nationalism," because the term conjures up unhappy associations. This sensitivity to the normative power of words is as laudable as it is infrequent among scholarly defenders of the nation-principle.

Miller’s idea of nationality encompasses what he refers to as "three interconnected propositions," videlicet: (i) a person’s identity may properly include belonging to a nation (this proposition subdivides into two: (a) that nations "really exist" and (b) that making our nationality an essential part of our identity is not "rationally indefensible"); (ii) nations are ethical communities; and (iii) national communities "have a good claim to political self-determination" (10-11, italics added).

Chapter 1 introduces the above concerns and lays out the book’s strategy for dealing with them. Chapter 2 examines national identity and its putative irrationality. Chapter 3 investigates the ethical significance of nationality. Chapter 4 considers national self-determination and secession. Chapter 5 explores nationality’s relation to states’ internal policies. Chapter 6 mulls over the question whether nationality is on the decline. Chapter 7 concludes the book by laying out the nationality-principle’s "main practical implications for ethics and politics" (188). [Tom Donahue]


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Summary: Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars continues Mosse’s quest to understand the phenomena which made the rise of Nazi Germany possible. In this volume, he traces the way images of war were desensitized for the masses, creating a “myth of the war experience” which served to make war easier to bear. Mosse finds the roots of the myth in the Napoleonic Wars where ordinary citizens (as opposed to mercenaries) were used as troops for almost the first time--necessitating that they become heroes and that war be viewed as glamorous. With the tremendous casualties of World War I, the myth of the war experience was raised to new levels. The horror of trench warfare was downplayed and the trenches painted almost as a continuous party. The rats, mud and constant threat of death were downplayed, both to the public at large and by the soldiers themselves after the war. The initial construction of this myth was made possible by the first volunteer armies in which young men went off to die for their countries. Their deaths made them martyrs for their nations. The memory of their sacrifice was immortalized in tangible memorials and carefully constructed graveyards. These memorials and graveyards were the first specifically designed to honor the average soldier. While before only generals had received mention, now every soldier was a hero worthy of recognition. This was seen nowhere more clearly than in the appearance of tombs dedicated to unknown soldiers following the French and English examples of 11 November 1920. Mosse notes that modern war memorials did not so much focus upon one man, as upon figures symbolic of the nation--upon the sacrifice of all of its men. To die for the nation was to become a hero.[E. Zuelow]


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Summary: The Nationalization of the Masses links the importance of monuments and ceremony to the deification of the nation, the emergence of popular politics and the formation of a kind of “secularized religion.” Mosse writes: "How was this done? From the beginning of the nineteenth century onwards, through the use of national myths and symbols and the development of a liturgy which would enable the people themselves to participate in such worship. The concept of the general will lent itself to the creation of myths and their symbols. The new politics attempted to draw the people into active participation in the national mystique through rites and festivals, myths and symbols which gave a concrete expression to the general will. The chaotic crowd of the “people” became a mass movement which shared a belief in popular unity through a national mystique. The new politics provided an objectification of the general will; it transformed political action into a drama supposedly shared by the people themselves” (2). More specifically, two factors emerged during the nineteenth century which made this process necessary: nationalism (which required symbols) and mass movements (which demanded a new political style). Initially it was necessary to construct a secular religion of myths and symbols. These myths were rural in orientation because of a longing “to escape from the consequences of industrialization” (6). The new myths stood outside of the modern age and, indeed, outside of time itself. They served to reunite the fragmented nation. As time went on, these symbols were enshrined in massive monuments—most often constructed in the countryside near cities. These rural settings served a duel purpose: first, they served to place the new symbols in rural settings and thus to separate them from urban reality; secondly, they provided adequate space for the ceremonies of the national liturgy. This new symbolism was heavily tied to Romanticism and reflected these ties in the various monument designs. In addition to providing concrete and irrepressible representations of the nation, Mosse argues that the monuments conditioned the population to participation in the new politics (7). By the rise of the Third Reich, this system of symbols, myths and the liturgy which encompassed them was easily adopted by the Nazis—though Mosse is careful to stress that it was not a cause of the Third Reich’s achievement of power.[E. Zuelow]


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Summary: Margaret Moore’s treatise is motivated by a concern for what she characterizes as the "two distinct, but related, kinds of problems associated with nationalism": (a) control of the state by the majority nation and (b) state-breaking (1). This book attempts to construct an ethical framework for dealing with these issues and with subsidiary problems that arise from nationalist politics.

The book begins with an introductory chapter and is followed by two parts, "Membership" and "Land," which consider problems (a) and (b) respectively. "Membership" is divided into four chapters, the first three of which consider three types of arguments that are often used to justify giving institutional recognition to national identity: (i) the argument that nationality is intrinsically valuable; (ii) arguments that culture provides either autonomy or self-respect, and so should be institutionally recognized in national form; and (iii) instrumental arguments that link the successful functioning of the state to the cohesiveness provided by national identity. Chapter 5 considers "the kinds of nation-building policies that the state is justified in pursuing" (102).

In Part Two, "Land," Moore critically examines two normative theories of national secession: (i) those that use just-cause as the criterion, and privilege previous administrative boundaries; and (ii) those that use choice as the criterion, making the question turn on the will of the peoples involved. The final chapter defends a particular set of principles and procedural mechanisms for secession, arguing that international law should be reformed to recognize a (limited) right of secession, and that the United Nations should institute procedures for regulating secession and national self-determination. [Tom Donahue]


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Summary: “To be blunt,” declares Ronaldo Munck, “nationalism has often been in competition with Marxism” (1). This observation provides the stimulus for this historical survey of Marxist frustrations with “the chameleon qualities of nationalism” (1). Chapter 1 takes us on a quick tour of Marx and Engels’s thought on the national question, and finds it wanting. Chapter 2 examines the thought of the men of the Second International—Marx and Engels’s inheritors—on the national question, placing Karl Kautsky as an exponent of the orthodox (read: Engelsian) Marxist view of nationality, and Otto Bauer, author of the 1907 The Nationality Question and Social Democracy (recently republished by the University of Minnesota Press) as the first thinker to have elaborated a Marxist theory of nationality. Chapter 3 focuses on Rosa Luxemburg, arguing that examination of the corpus of her writings shows she had a much more complex view of nationalism than is usually thought by those who have only read her polemic against Lenin. Chapter 4 then turns to Lenin’s views of the matter, especially his famous defense of the right of nations to self-determination. Munck places Lenin to the right of the internationalist Luxemburg and to the left of the national-patriot Bauer. Chapter 5 scrutinizes the Third International (the Comintern) of 1919-1943, in which the problem of colonialism was first taken seriously by Marxist thinkers. Divisions quickly surfaced in the 1930s between Stalin and Mao, with Stalin calling upon the Chinese revolutionaries to disavow any alliance with the Chinese bourgeoisie, while Mao was quite willing to countenance a strategic admixture of pan-Chinese nationalism with socialism. Chapter 6 surveys the thought of Amilcar Cabral and Franz Fanon, two of the greatest thinking revolutionaries of the mid-twentieth century, on the links between anti-imperialism, socialism, and nationalism. Munck then looks at the ambiguous example set by Che Guevara (internationalist Communist? Anti-colonial nationalist?) for the colonized peoples, and the appropriation of Maoism by “Third World” revolutionaries. Chapter 7 examines the Soviet Union’s imperialistic tactics—fomenting nationalism or clamping down on it, whichever best served its interests—against both the peoples of the Soviet Union and the satellite states of the Warsaw Pact. Chapter 8 confronts the non-Marxist modernist views of nationalism put forward by Ernest Gellner, and also the national-Marxist thought of Tom Nairn. [Tom Donahue]


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Summary: In this book, one of India’s (some might say, of the world’s) most eminent intellectuals sets out to examine the anti-nationalist thinking of a "dissenter among dissenters," the Nobel Prize-winning Bengali poet, novelist, and moral figure, whom Gandhi called gurudev, "great teacher": Rabindranath Tagore (b. 1861—d. 1941).

This double dissidence calls for elucidation. According to Nandy, in the golden age of the Indian freedom movement, many of the leading actors in that movement had become ambivalent about nationalism, associating it with the rapine and violence of colonialism. Most of these antinationalist freedom-activists believed that nationalism was a premodern artifact that would melt into air as soon as the principles of the Enlightenment were embraced. But a small band, Nandy contends, saw nationalism as being rather the inevitable by-product of modernity, and wanted nothing to do with the homogeneous universalism that was proffered as a solution to the problem. "Their alternative," he says, "was a distinctive civilizational concept of universalism embedded in the tolerance encoded in various traditional ways of life in a highly diverse, plural society" (xi). Nandy sees Rabindranath Tagore as being one of the proponents of this heterogeneous approach to modernity and the pathologies of nationalism.

The essay "explores, mainly through an analysis of the three explicitly political novels Tagore wrote, the political passions and philosophical awareness which pushed him towards a dissident concept of national ideology" (3). In Chapter One, "The Ideology," Nandy positions Tagore as the high-culture modernist (who was nonetheless a sharp critic of modernity) to Gandhi’s low-culture antimodernist (who nonetheless found much between the cracks of the modernity monolith that was worth celebrating). He then discusses the main thrust of Tagore’s 1917 book, Nationalism. In Chapter Two, "The Novels," Nandy reads Char Adhyay (Four Chapters), Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World), and the celebrated Gora, moving from the political-sociological concerns of the first, to the political-ethical concerns of the second, to the political-psychological concerns of the third. In Chapter Three, "The Lives," Nandy examines Tagore’s complex relationship with the Bengali revolutionary nationalist Brahmabandhab Upadhyay. The conclusion considers how Tagore could celebrate the mother-nation in his imaginative literature, and at the same time be a committed opponent of nationalism. [Tom Donahue]


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Summary: The work is an outline of the Armenian duduk and its relation to the Armenian national identity. It attempts to deepen our understanding of musical instruments not only through an examination of musical and constructional features, but also through the application of a sociocultural framework which allows a theorisation of the idea of the instrument as social being. In so doing, it demonstrates the importance of emotionally-loaded symbols for the construction of national identity. (A. Nercessian)