Nationalism Articles


H-Nationalism Interviews

Summary: Includes interviews with Professor John Breuilly (Chair of Nationalism and Ethnicity in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics) and Professor John Hutchinson (Senior Lecturer in Nationalism in Europe in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics). These interviews cover a variety of subjects including major debates within the field and the future of nationalism studies.


“About a Wall," Social Analysis. Spring 2004. IIL:1. pp. 14-20. (.pdf file).
Article by Glenn Bowman, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Kent

Summary: Ethnographic study of the impact of Israel’s “Anti-Terror Fence” (more commonly known as “The Wall”) on the people of Beit Sahour, a Palestinian town in the West Bank.  The article addresses themes such as homelands, borders, and emigration.


"Constitutive Violence and the Nationalist Imaginary: Antagonism And Defensive Solidarity in 'Palestine' and 'Former Yugoslavia'" in Social Anthropology (Journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists). XI:3. December 2003. pp 37-58. (.pdf file)
Article by Glenn Bowman, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Kent

Summary: "This paper examines the processes through which nationalist movements developed among both the Palestinian people and those national communities which made up the late Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia so as to examine the role played by 'antagonism' in what the paper terms the 'nationalist imagery.'  Fundamental to the text’s respective analyses of nation formation and state dissolution is the concept that the imagined violence of a national enemy is at the core of the 'defensive' mobilizations we call nationalisms.  This idea that the ‘inside’ of identity formation is not only shaped by but also grounded on the ‘outside’ of the perceived antagonism of an other poses a substantial challenge to essentialist conceptions of the various modalities of communal identities."


"'Migrant Labour': Constructing Homeland in the Exilic Imagination" in Anthropological Theory. II: 4. December 2002. pp. 447-468. (.pdf file)
Article by Glenn Bowman, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Kent

Summary: "This paper investigates the way communities which experience antagonisms in locations they perceive as exilic imagine places in which those antagonisms will be extirpated and their identities fully realized. For the most part [the] focus is on processes of constructing imagines of 'homeland' from a position outside its borders, and thus the paper largely deals with dislocation and identity construction. Nonetheless, there is implicit in the project of imagining a homeland from a position of exile the prospect of a movement through which exiles 'return' to make themselves 'at home' in terrain they heretofore could only imagine. [The article suggests] using historical and contemporary examples, that returning exiles, rather than finding a place which corresponds with their fantasies, often not only find that 'home' is unfamiliar but also that it is occupied by others uncannily similar to the antagonists with whom they struggled while 'outside.'"


"The Two Deaths of Basem Rishmawi: Identity Constructions and Reconstructions in a Muslim-Christian Palestinian Community" in Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. March 2001. VIII:1. pp. 47-81. (.pdf file)
Article by Glenn Bowman, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Kent

Summary: "This article illuminates political transformations in a West Bank Palestinian town over the past decade by examining the ways storeis of a killing which took place in 1981 produced radically different conceptions of community during the period of intensive intifada mobilisation and subsequently as the Palestinian National Authority established its rule in the wake of Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Agreements. The paper examines how political arrangements between the Israeli state and the Palestinian administration forced the the local community to negotiate intra-communal conflicts in the terms of an archaic and divisive idiom of tribal law which in turn accelerated the disintegration of the nationalist solidarity which had characterized intifada-period social life. The paper contends that shared perceptions of antagonistic violence are central to processess of collective identity formation, and shows that discursive shifts can, in certain contexts, give rise to new formations of identity antipathetic to those which preceded them."


"The Violence in Identity" in Anthropology of Violence and Conflict (eds Bettina Schmidt & Ingo Schroeder). London: Routledge. 2001. pp. 25-46. (.pdf file)
Article by Glenn Bowman, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Kent

Summary: An "Afterward" to a collection of essays examining "not only the ways violence manifests itself in different cultural contexts but also the roles our perceptions of the violences of others have played in forging our European cultures and the disciplines we wield in our examinations of other cultures."


"Xenophobia, Fantasy and the Nation: The Logic of Ethnic Violence in Former Yugoslavia" in Anthropology of Europe: Identity and Boundaries in Conflict . (ed. Victoria Goddard, Josep Llobera and Chris Shore). London: Berg. 1994. pp. 143-171.
Article by Glenn Bowman, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Kent

Summary: "In this paper I will analyze the logic of ethnic antagonism as it is manifested in the new nations which have sprung up on the territories of what was Yugoslavia in order to suggest that ethnic nationalism cannot be understood in the terms of the modernist rationalism of its analysts. Instead, I will argue, it is often constituted within political discourses which link passion and rationality in a manner which modernism--with its image of humankind as intellectively rational--is incapable of explaining or undermining. Former Yugoslavia may be a harbinger of a long period of ethnic wars engulfing not only the territories which were, until very recently, stabilized by communist rule but also other regions which had been politically fixed by the global antagonism between communism and capitalism. An understanding of the processes which led to the bloody collapse of Yugoslav federation may thus enable social scientists to devise new models for the analysis of identity which may allow comprehension of the 'irrational' resurgence of impassioned exclusivist communalisms and the inter-communal wars they promote."


"'A Country of Words': Conceiving the Palestinian Nation from the Position of Exile" in The Making of Political Identities. (ed. Ernesto Laclau). London: Verso. 1994. pp. 138-70 (.pdf file)
Article by Glenn Bowman, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Kent

Summary: "In this paper I will essay a mapping of the 'country of words' that has come to stand in the place of Palestine in Palestinians' thoughts and activities. Here, then, is a survey, a Palestinian 'topography,' that investigates how this recent diasporic people constructs and maintains a sense of a national identity when the territorial base to which that identity refers is occupied by another national movement--itself constituted through the denial of the legitimacy of any Palestinian national aspiration. Central to this inquiry is the ways Palestinians, in the numerous places to which they have been scattered by the loss of their homeland, discursively construct images of themselves, their homeland, and the antagonists that have prevented them from achieving the national fulfilment which grounds their identities. . . ."


"Nationalising the Sacred: Shrines and Shifting Identities in the Israeli-Occupied Territories" in Man: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. XXVIII:3. Sept. 1993. pp. 431-460. (.pdf file)
Article by Glenn Bowman, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Kent

Summary: "In this article I present a reading of Christian and Muslim Palestinian uses of two West Bank Christian holy places. The first is the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Elyas (the Prophet Elijah) located on the Hebron Road between Bethlehem and Jerusalem; the second is the municipal shrine of Bir el-Saiyideh ('The Well of the Lady') in Beit Sahour, a mile to the east of Bethlehem. I elucidate how Palestinians of different sectarian affiliations engage the complicated processes of interpreting the significance of a holy place and defining their relationship to it. The investigation of the shrine activities around Mar Elyas on the prophet's feast day will show that the place has very different meanings to the various groups of people who attend the feast, and will set out how the members of these groups interpret the site and their engagement with it. This multivocality of place raises the issue of the politics involved in 'fixing' its meaning: moving both in space and time to Beit Sahour during the intifada, I will discuss how the Christians and Muslims who live in the town have elaborated a means of maintaining their religious relationship with a holy place they see as a central feature of their town's identity without succumbing to the pressure, imposed upon them by religious hierarchies, to fix the identity of that place (and of themselves as users of the place) in sectarian terms."


World-nationalism: normative globalism as pan-nationalism
Article by Paul Treanor, Political Scientist, Independent Scholar.

Summary: Recent works on normative globalism or political cosmopolitanism (Held, Falk, Miller) continue a long tradition. It claims an 'ethical' status, reinforced by the usual contrast with the 'amoral' realist tradition. This is misleading. In its rejection of widely spread sovereignty or autonomy, it shares the central feature of nationalism. It is a form of pan-nationalism. The arguments for global political institutions - based on unity as value, common status, common problems, peace, and historicism - are logically flawed. They cannot justify one type of state against others. The UN, too, cannot claim any ethical superiority. The alternatives to the present world order are other world orders, not reduction to one planetary nation state.


Ethnicity and Nationalism: Anthropological Perspectives
Monograph by Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Dr. polit. (social anthropology),
University of Oslo.

Summary: Contains the following sections: Preface, Contents, 1. What is ethnicity?, 2. Social classification: Us and Them, 3. Groups and boundaries, 4. Ethnic identity and ideology, 5. Ethnicity in history, 6. Nationalism, 7. Minorities and the state, 8. That which is not ethnic, Bibliography, Index.


Irish Immigration and the Construction of Scottish Identity
Conference paper by Liam Connell, University of Sussex (1997). A version of this paper was originally presented to the BAIS conference, The Irish and Britain, 5TH - 7TH September 1997, at the University of Salford.

Summary: "The central argument of this paper is . . . that the presence of a large immigrant-Irish community in Scotland served as a potential challenge to notions of Scottish nationality based upon essentialised definitions of Scottishness. Whenever the majority Scottish people sought to present an image to the world of the characteristic Scot, they were now required to responded to this sizeable new element in Scottish society. Either this community could be accepted as Scottish, requiring novel ways of characterising the Scottish people; or they could be rejected as an alien influence whose presence would dilute the purity of the Scottish race. Both these reactions were prevalent in Scotland between the First and Second World War. . . . a similar argument might easily be made about any large immigrant community at any time or in any country."


Reinventing Roots, New Media and National Identity
By Dr. Piet Bakker. Paper presented at the Second Expert Meeting on Media and Open Societies, organized by The Amsterdam School of Communications Research ASCoR of the University of Amsterdam and the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University, Amsterdam, 21-23 October 1999.

Summary: "The Internet can be a very important vehicle for the transmission of ideas concerning a national identity, particularly for people who have lost or left their homeland. Presenting it as very complete and historic enduring, going back for several thousand years emphasizes this identity. [sic] Completeness of the identity means presenting it with as many aspects as possible: art, culture, music, cuisine, flags, anthems, tourism, politics etc. These findings are derived from a small pilot study on 30 websites of Kurd, Armenian and Macedonian origin."


Culture and Political Nationalism in Wales
Article by Johan Schimanski. This is a draft version of the first chapter of Schimanski's Dr. art. dissertation.

Summary: Schimanski is a literary scholar and here casts his literary and historical gaze toward the Welsh national movement. He concerns himself with borders, word choice and with the nature of the Welsh national movement vis-a-vis the state. Of particular interest, he considers the relationship between nationness and statehood in Wales in the 1950s and the 1990s.


Competing National Ideologies, Cyclical Responses: The Mobilisation of the Irish, Basque and Croat National Movements to Rebellion Against the State.
Dissertation by Peter Anthony Ercegovac.

(Also available as an Acrobat PDF. 1.2MB)

This thesis was submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy at University of Sydney, 1999.

Summary: This thesis explores the role of the state as a catalyst for movement mobilisation, through the dynamic process of state centralisation and reciprocal peripheral actvism against the centre. What emerges is a parallel, yet interdependent, development of centre-periphery mobilisation. The state, hence provides the frame in which the challenge from the periphery occurs and also the ideological preconditions for peripheral counter movement mobilisation. Nationalism, as such, provides a social movement with an ideological and strategic link with past conflicts that allow protest communities to attain a level of historicity and continuity that more traditional forms of social movements would find difficult to achieve. It is within the cyclical formation and re-formation of state that political opportunity structures emerge between expanding and consolidating state centres and reactionary peripheries.


Maps, Markers, and Bodies: Hikers Constructing The Nation in German Forests
Article by Scott Moranda, now Assistant Professor of German History, SUNY-Cortland

(Also available as an Acrobat PDF. 196k)

This paper was submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for Bob Kaiser's Geography 918 at University of Wisconsin - Madison, Fall 2000.

Summary: Hiking had been a part of everyday life in Germany at least since the last decade of the nineteenth century. Hiking brought Germans to the forests – a key component of a symbolic national landscape. These forests were more than natural ecosystems; they were places constructed and preserved by state foresters, landscape architects, farmers, and communal forest administrators. Forest landscapes were monuments to the nation. However, forests were also places as historically contingent processes. Tourists entered forests and contributed to the social construction of a place; they brought their own meanings and often left behind their own mark. This paper describes several sets of tourists: Wandervogel youth, Naturfreunde socialists, Pfadfinder boy scouts and Heimat tourist societies. This will not be a complete analysis of all aspects of hiking life in Germany. Instead, it focuses specifically on three aspects of everyday hiking culture: map reading, trail construction, and body culture. If, indeed, foresters intended forests to represent one vision of the German nation, different tourists brought their own conception of a future nation to bear. On the trail, these hikers partook in the constant construction of the nation through their attempt to create both more natural bodies and more natural relationships with the landscape. Hikers hoped to secure their vision of the national body by constructing a better interface between individual German bodies and German soil.


False Opposites in Nationalism: An Examination of the Dichotomy of Civic Nationalism and Ethnic Nationalism in Modern Europe.
Masters Thesis by Margareta Mary Nikolas

(Also available as an Acrobat PDF. 456k)

This thesis was submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts in European Studies at the Monash University Centre for European Studies, 1999.

Summary: This study is an examination of the exercise of nationalism as the assertion and/or reassertion of the mutual (political) sovereignty of a community in the form of a nation-state. It aims to explore two theoretically different routes and forms of exercise of nationalism focusing specifically on modern Europe. These two routes are civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism. For nationalism to be successful it must involve an interplay of the principles of both civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism, rather than these components acting as mutually exclusive concepts. The nature of this interplay is examined throughout the thesis and the collaboration is explored via two competing perspectives: that held by the modernists and that proposed by the ethnicists, both operating within the framework of modernity. The key distinction between the two is their focus and the point at which they identify a group imagining themselves as a community and society. Their respective cases will be critically examined with respect to those elements that determine that an interplay occurs.