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National identity and nationalism: pride, prejudice and politics

Race and ethnicity: Week 7
by

Nicholas Cimini

on 7 June 2013

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Transcript of National identity and nationalism: pride, prejudice and politics

National identity and nationalism ‘RACE' AND ETHNICITY IN BRITISH SOCIETY: WEEK 7 Dr Nicholas Cimini Session aims To situate ideas about 'the nation' and nationalism in historical context

To evaluate sociological accounts of nationalism

To explore contemporary ideas about the British nation and nationalism What is a nation? Claims commonly made in describing nations (Calhoun 1997: 4-5) A stable, continuing community A distinct territory Economic relations Boundaries, of territory, population, or both. Indivisibility - the notion that the nation is an integral unit. Sovereignty, or at least the aspiration to sovereignty, and thus formal equality with other nations, usually as autonomous and putative self sufficient state. An 'ascending' notion of legitimacy - i.e. the idea that government is just only when supported by popular will or at least when it serves the interests of 'the people' or 'the nation'. Popular participation in collective affairs - a population mobilized on the basis of national membership (whether for war or civic activities). Direct membership, in which each individual is understood to be immediately a part of the nation and in that respect categorically equivalent to other members. Culture, including some combination of language, shared beliefs and values, habitual practices. Temporal depth - a notion of the nation as such existing through time, including past and future generations, and having a history. Common descent or racial characteristics. Special historical or evern sacred relations to a certain territory. A collective character A common language Mapping the Modern Nation An image of the world as divided by different 'peoples' 'This image is reinforced when we travel: we show passports and cross immigration checkpoints; we pay customs duties and fill out forms that ask our nationality'
(Calhoun 1997: 12) 'But the globe has not always been divided into the patchwork quilt of differently coloured countries shown in today's maps. Making maps in this way, with sharp borders between countries and an attempt at a 'bird's eye' view from above is a modern practice' (ibid.) A nation can have some, all or none, of the following attributes: In the 17th and 18th C., 'maps began commonly to represent the world as divided neatly into territories with clear borders rather than vague frontiers. This reflected not only the Enlightenment passion for clarity but the increasing division of the world into the dominions of the different European states, and the closely related policing and even militarization of borders' (Calhoun 1997: 13). Pride, Prejudice and Politics Pride Politics Prejudice Liberty leading the people Eugène Delacroix (1830) The word 'nation' remains essentially contested, as there is no single attribute or characteristic that is shared by all nations The origins of 'nationhood' The Nation as Primordial The Nation as Constructed The Nation as Instrumental The nation is given, rather than constructed, and exists throughout time - past, present and future. Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.
Albert Einstein The nation is constructed through social and historical processes The social-construction of the nation can be 'a self-conscious and manipulative project carried out by elites who seek to secure power by mobilizing followers on the basis of nationalist ideology' (Calhoun 1997: 30). How do nationalist leaders claim history and use it instrumentally, in mobilizing people for nationalist purposes? 'British jobs for British workers'
Gordon Brown 2007 Nationalism, imperialism and war What is 'Britishness'? A political entity that has a high degree of sovereignty Nation Can be a geographic, cultural or ethnic community State Solidarity with oppressed national groups Repulsion at the crimes committed in the name of national interest Political debate on nationalism Disraeli and 'one nation' conservatism - appealing to 'the nation' to unite all factions of British society, the rich and the poor, under one cause: British imperialism. Nationalist ideology and "the national interest" Nationalist ideology: the idea that humanity is clearly divided up into easily identified 'nations'. However, 'clear criteria for deciding which group is or is not a nation simply does not exist' (Adams 1998: 155). Nationalist ideas are espoused by liberals, conservatives and socialists – there are thus conflicts in nationalist theory over how to govern: should the state protect the so-called 'traditional values' of a nation or promote radical change (potentially threatening traditional values)? Nationalism as an incomplete ideology: it always needs to be supplemented with other ideas to make it complete Imagined communities “It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their community.”
Anderson (cited in Davidson 2007) The nation 'belongs exclusively to a particular, and historically recent, period. It is a social entity only insofar as it relates to a certain kind of modern territorial state, the 'nation-state', and it is pointless to discuss nation and nationality except insofar as both relate to it (Hobsbawm 1992: 9-10). Nations as a natural, God-given way of classifying men, as an inherent ... political destiny, are a myth; nationalism, which sometimes takes pre-existing cultures and turns them into nations, sometimes invents them, and often obliterates pre-existing cultures: that is a reality.
Gellner (cited in Hobsbawm 1992: 10) Ethnicity and the nation Enoch Powell: 'What kind of people are we [British]?'. ''We' were not muggers, 'we' were not criminals, Rastafarians, aliens or purveyors of arranged marraiges. 'We' were the white man, frightened that in fifteen to twenty years, 'the black man would have the whip hand over us'' (Gilroy 1987: 48, quoting Powell). In 1978, M Thatcher thought that Britain was being 'swamped by alien cultures' (cited in Smith et al 2011) David Cameron tells Britain to 'pull together' and then criticises 'multiculturalism', just as funding is cut to a range of public services REFERENCES
Adams, I., 1998. Ideology and politics in Britain today, Manchester: Manchester University Press.  
Calhoun, C., 1997. Nationalism, Buckingham: Open University Press.  
Davidson, D., 2007. Socialists and Scottish Independence. Available at:http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=302[Accessed February 22, 2011].  
Gilroy, P., 1987. "There ain't no black in the Union Jack": The cultural politics of race and nation, London: Hutchinson.  
Hobsbawm, E.J., 1992. Nations and nationalism since 1780, 2nd ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  
Jacobson, J., 1997. Perceptions of Britishness, Nations and Nationalism, 3, (2), 181-199.
Smith, M. et al., 2011. More division over multiculturalism. The Guardian. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/09/more-division-over-multiculturalism [Accessed March 4, 2011].
All images from Wikipedia In 2011, David Cameron criticised multiculturalism and branded Muslims the 'enemy within' England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland ‘Prior to 1948, those in the British Isles and those in the British Empire were, formally, equal “subjects” of the Crown’ (Cohen cited in Jacobsen 1997: 184). European identities Respect for "British" institutions? Politicians, the Monarchy, the police, the army, 'strategic interests' abroad NHS and national sporting teams 'Englishness' as synonymous with 'Britishness' - England, particularly London, is 'constructed as the centre - the key to Britain, the crucial economic site, the cultural heart and the political pulse of the nation.
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