The Politics of National Identity: Past and Present
Full course description
In this course students will investigate the concept of national identity and its uses in (western) politics and society, both in the past and at present. Starting point is the rise of neo-nationalism in western politics since the 1990s. In the decades after World War II, and increasingly after the 1960s, nationalism cannot be said to have been absent in European politics, but it surely was anathema for a long time. After the breakdown of the Soviet empire, however, nationalism again surfaced as a massive political force, first in eastern Europe and since the 2000s increasingly also in West European countries. To the surprise and embarrassment of some observers, the discourse on national identity made a remarkable political comeback, among anti-establishment parties and political elites alike.
The course will focus on the idea and concept of national identity that plays a decisive role in (neo) nationalism. Taking a constructivist perspective, the course will ask how national identity manifests itself, or rather how it is presented, produced and reproduced. Furthermore, the course addresses the question what the concept does. How does its use affect citizens and politicians, politics and policy making? By exploring the theme of ‘banal nationalism,’ - i.e. the everyday reproduction of national identity in established nations - attention will not only be paid to the uses of national identity in ‘high politics’, but also to the re-creation of national identity in everyday life, e.g. through tourism and advertising.
To give students insights into
-the concept (and the study) of national identity
-the construction of national identities since the 19th century
-tools and mechanisms in the construction of national identity
-national identity and nationalism in the age of globalisation
-Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. (Revised Edition). London and New York: Verso.
-Billig, M. (1995), Banal Nationalism. London, New Delhi: SAGE.
-Leerssen, J. (Eds.) Imagology. The cultural construction and literary representation of national characters. A critical survey (pp. 17-32). Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi.
-Pickering, M. (2001), Stereotyping. The politics of representation. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave.