History Notes > Oxford, Keble College History Notes > Disciplines of History - Comparative History Notes
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Nationalism Can comparative method demonstrate that a national history is "exceptional"?
Do all communities need foundation myths?
Do collective identities require an Other against which to define themselves?
Is racism a product of nationalism?
Is nationalism a modern phenomenon?
- Point of comparisons should be zooming in on two/three cases. Should probably shore these up more. Do I have too many, is it too diffuse?
- really, choose three. That's what I'll do for the rest of the day. Performative/independent - rational. What are the variables?
Make this clear, make it obvious. Don't just do society a ---society b. Make a model or a theory and then ask how it applies in the context of my societies. Common features? But different? The consequences - society A is this, but society B is this.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------How should we interpret nationalism? Which societies exhibit which sorts?
Primordial (Linear) - A. Smith
ethnicity, language, social relations are rooted in nonrational foundations of personality. Deep emotive significance that do go some way in shaping political and social groupings. Karnataka: temples, language, kings and deity in 11th century India. In the 1950s, a Karnataka separatist movement emerges. Some sort of direct link. Cultural, linguistic, geographic identities. A linearity here. What about Catalonia? A straight linkage from the distant past to the modern day - no interfering channels.
what problems can we find with this? Multiple dimensions to identity.
Often sustained by mythology?
o Economistic/functional - Hobsbawm/Gellner
State dimensions - tie people into the state by means of the market, mass communication, transport links, etc. Hobsbawm
- a need to compete, state needs to intervene to strengthen and centralise its control. Who are the main agents? The bourgeoisie, who demand access to goods, communications, educated workforce, better-integrated markets. A symptom of modern nations, but an enabler of them too.
Opposed to ethnic determinism: existence of cultural commonalities does not guarantee that any particular collectivity will develop a sense of identity.
Citizenship - entails multiple dimensions, a wider nationalism perhaps. o Cultural constructivists - Anderson
Reworking of traditions - instrumental more spontaneous, created from scratch. Differs from Smith in the sense that its been constructed, adapted, etc. Myth is important here. Print capitalism, for Anderson. This is something beyond nebulous 'primordialism.' Creates a more focused sense of identity, raising an awareness of this - a structural force in itself. Goes beyond the face-to-face community; 'imagined communities.' Misrepresentations in the case of developments such as the novel - an amalgamation of Smith's primordial approach, but NOT a straight line - a confused development of myth and real, tangible forces like language and etc are combined with more politico-cultural manipulations. For the newly literate, not the masses perhaps but the artisans, the clerks and bureaucrats of the 18th/19th century, etc.
A reciprocity between elite and sub-elite groups in their understanding of national identity. Links here to the 'commonwealth' idea in Brit IV. Folkloric traditions are important in areas like music, etc. Essentially then, something broader than just a top-down movement.
What is important here? Nationalism grows out of popular challenges to the authority and legitimacy of those at the top . o Parliament had affirmed in the Civil War that the unconstrained actions of the sovereign could justify his deposition. Civil liberties of the subject triumphed in the long-term over those of the ruler - in no small part a consequence of the achievements of Civil War. o Not an institutional legacy, but an intellectual one Civil War provided the means for the justification of depositions: must uphold religion as by law established, main impetus for Parliament to take up arms against a sovereign. o Civil War failed to define the English revolution in institutional terms - this would take the events of 1688/9. But it did define it in intellectual terms. A crucial thread in the development of nationalism was the idea that political power could only be legitimate when it reflected the will, or at least served the interests of the people subject to it. The notions of 'nation' and 'people' became increasingly intertwined. o A definition of 'the people' had to be formulated in order for government in the interests of 'the people' to work. o It was a nation with a distinctive national identity that people could claim a right to self-determination and to government in their interests.
Instrumental constructivists - Brass/Breuilly. May argue that cultural dimensions are resources exploited by the elite that, ultimately, control power. Cynical ways of mobilising people around a particular view of the nation. Inherently political. Use aspects of tradition they believe will secure the support of the people - a more shallow, manipulative process.
Unificatory (19th century, Germany, Italy)
Separatist (Scotland, Quebec, Catalonia)
Anti-colonial (India, USA)
Statist - Breuilly, important - exercised by a small hegemonic elite that hold power within the state apparatus. A statedriven programme of nationalism. More top-down. (Russia impose language, etc. USSR also to an extent?) Nations that have tried to go through unificatory movement perhaps such as Japan. 'We have Italy, now have to make Italians.'
Reform nationalism (fascists - Nazi G, secure state power but wish to reform from the inside. Statist about using the currently-constituted state, reform nationalism is much more about those in power modifying the state.)
• Constructivist/primordialist debate. Former emphasises historical and sociological processes, the other self-conscious manipulation.
Gellner: political and national unit should be congruent. Kedourie agrees: a determination of the will. Fichte: 'power of the soul.'
Kedourie: a philosophy of neither the Left or the Right: politics secondary to self-determination. Bolsheviks could perceive as regressive/progressive depending on stage of economic development. o We can have states without having nations (Venice, etc). How? Must individuals feel it in their hearts (cultural constructivism)? A 'daily plebiscite?
Not reducible to any one development, but reliant on a convergence of several, which implies that a purer understanding of nationalism is indeed a modern phenomenon. o Requires a sense of the state, mobilisiation of citizens, mass politics and communication. To an extent a question of heuristics. 'Beneath the decline of sacred communities, languages and lineages, a fundamental change was taking place in modes of apprehending the world, which, more than anything else, made it possible to "think" the nation. (Anderson) o Nationalism, then, could be best described as modern without being new. A cumulative process, requiring certain strands of development to come together.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Consider also: forms of ideology
Forms of ideology
Legitimising o Who needs this? Those who aren't in power. Challenging the state in the name of the people, a national heritage, etc. Where does power really reside? Challenges to monarchs, aristocrats derided as politically illegitimate. Same goes for anti-colonial and the like. Reform nationalists: Hitler. Against the cosmopolitan, outward-looking tides, etc. Don't have the national interest at heart. o So is this modern? That power resides with the people?
Republican, humanist discourses in the early-modern period. But implicit theory is that this is a deal-breaker. Peasants Revolt don't want to do away with the king, for example. o But who are the people? It's relatively arbitrary, whoever suits the leaders of nationalist movements who are attempting to define the nation. Competing identities. Total war? Claiming to speak in the name of some sort of 'people' against opponents.
Coordinating o Pre-modern societies, power resides in the localities. Power is diffuse - the hands of landlords, aristocrats, etc. Co-ordinating movements attempt to pull resources in, aggregate them. Can organise and coordinate less-coherent movements to incorporate greater numbers. o Standing armies for medieval kings.
Mobilising o Anti-constitutional, often. Danger that control might be lost as mob momentum generates. Generally indulged in by extreme fringe members, or very cautiously by those who are basically pro-regime but who aren't getting anywhere.
We can, then, disaggregate nationalist movements. Doesn't have to make sense, or be ideologically coherent to function (at least initially.)
Calhoun argues that the origins of nationalistic sentiment, in its most basic form, has ancient origins, in the sense that a core principle of nationalism is group loyalty. o Ancient? Herodotus: Then there is our common Greekness: we are one in blood and one in language; those shrines of the gods belong to us [both the Spartans and the Athenians] all in common, and the sacrifices in common, and there are our habits, bred of a common upbringing.
Pre-modern loyalties and awareness did exist. o City-states, some institutional bearing: In Ancient Greece you couldn't talk of a Greek 'nationalism' as the first loyalty was to the City-State, each one being notably different. They were autonomous in political, social, economic, cultural, and military terms. They even had their own specific Gods. Loyalty to the State could develop distinctly in this scenario because interaction with the state and its institutions was concentrated in the city. Some political enfranchisement, invested interests.
But never 'national', even with pan-Hellenic wars with Persia: no no authoritative centre capable of propagating and sustaining that self-consciousness through the existence of pan-Hellenic institutions, at the expense of loyalty primarily to the city-states, did not emerge.
Does show us that warfare can create national sentiment. England and France in the Hundred Years: years of warfare created a nationalism from opposition, where one defined one's sense of identity as an 'Englishman' or a 'Frenchman' based on the relation to the other. Stereotypes emerge. o For instance Edward III used heraldic symbolism to foster a sense of national identity. Initially he did this through his adoption of the Leopard as his personal emblem, which increasingly stood in clear opposition to the Valois Lily, itself a device utilised by the French monarchy to create a united French identity, around which they could rally against the English. o This can still only be considered a nascent nationalism however as no coherent ideology of nationalism was consistently maintained and arguably the nationalist feeling was only notable in the areas of both countries directly involved in the war (in terms of supplying men, transporting them, and where battles and raids were specifically taking place).
Case studies: England & France England
What was preventing national claims? The universal Church and higher loyalties, universal language (Latin), poor communications and feudal ties. o But...growing use of vernacular, awareness of king. Hundred Years War forges anti-French sentiment. o A growing feeling of obligation to the king and to the community of the realm. But ultimately a need for several coinciding factors. o Barnaby Keeney - 'These feelings existed, but they are of no importance historically unless they were concentrated in political channels and unless the government used them to further its ends.'
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