Nations and Nationalism

Module Leader:
Gombos Taylor
2015-2016 Tavasz

In our times, we experience an increase of nationalisms in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Often, this is referred to as a parallel process to strengthening forces of globalization, European integration and so on. Are these mutually complementing or weakening processes? Are ‘Western nationalisms’ and ‘Eastern nationalisms’ different, the former being labelled as good while the later as something bad? Are these the two faces of the same Janus-face of nationalism, as researcher earlier referred to this double-character of the same phenomenon? Ernst Gellner argues that nations are completely modern constructions born of nationalism, which is “primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and national unit should be congruent”. Hobsbawm points out that nations are not unchanging social entities. What does it mean in the current context, in a post-1989 Europe, struggling with multiple challenges, including economic difficulties, challenges posed by global migration, identity crisis of the European Union, among many issues? What is the role of ethnicity in the recent increase of nationalisms? How does the far-right construct its ideology? Who are their primary targets and why? Hobsbawm also claims that nations have traditionally been understood as top-down constructions, but they must also be looked at from the bottom up. What do nations and the ideology of nationalism mean to common man, in everyday life in Eastern Europe and other parts of the EU? The course will mainly rely on classic texts from the Nationalism studies, but will also use contemporary texts addressing current issues. The course will apply a multidisciplinary approach to the discussed topics, including historical, sociological, anthropological approaches, introducing cases from the beginnings of modernity as well as from late-modernity.

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