IS NATIONALISM OBSOLETE?
The goal of this workshop, which will be held in Prishtina, Kosova, in the summer of 2019, is to explore if nationalism is obsolete. Is it capable of meeting, or even addressing, the issues of our time? In “National Independence: The Only Possible Outcome,” Frantz Fanon argues that the French public opinion is no—nationalism is strictly a regression. For example, the French public views Algerian nationalism as extremist, backwards, and anti-progress. That definition aligns with the way nationalism is generally discussed today in relation to far-right parties, Islamophobia, Anti-semitism, the desire to establish a “Christian Europe,” whiteness, and Eurocentricity. Nationalism is understood to align the past, present, and future in a timeless continuity, thus reducing to a threat all “external” elements, such as immigration and global capitalism. Nationalism is understood to be furthered by strict immigration policies, euroscepticism, and anti-globalization, among others. The Economist even coined the term “New Nationalism” to denote contemporary nationalism as inherently anti-globalization. This new nationalism is understood to necessitate a rejuvenation of national pride, which supposedly has been wounded in the international scene. Besides “New Nationalism,” new terms like “Trumpism” are employed to denote specific formations of nationalism today.
Authoritarian populism, national movements, Trumpism, Brexit, are all read as challenges to the global community. These movements (examples often include Russia, Turkey, India, Austria, Sweden, to name a few) are thought to be products of populist leaders who mobilize people against foreign influence, thus creating the conditions for the emergence of authoritarian tendencies and extreme national ideologies. In response, people turn their backs to international institutions and the ideal of global unity. In other words, nationalism is placed in direct conflict with democratic capitalism.
The popular understanding of nationalism obfuscates its revolutionary potential. First, conflation of terms like “nationalism,” “populism,” “right-wing,” and “fascism,” has given space to reactionary voices to claim nationalism as fascism with another name. Second, there is a lack of serious engagement with demands for nationalist strategies because such strategies are seen as relics of the past. Specifically, nationalism is seen to have failed alongside anti-colonial wars and socialist projects. Third, nationalism, which cannot be disarticulated from the nation-state model, appears anachronistic in our increasingly globalized world. With globalization and the demise of traditional colonization, nationalism signifies, to the liberal mind, only a backwardness that should have been replaced with transnationalism. It should be understood that these narratives of nationalism are very different from those developed by formerly colonized countries, for whom nationalism was often a strategic feature of decolonization.
Examples of revolutionary nationalism are: Vietnam; Black nationalism internal to the United States (e.g., Black Panther Party, Black Liberation Army); numerous African nationalist movements including Algeria, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Angola, and Mozambique; numerous South American nationalist movements including Venezuela, Chile, Colombia, and Peru; and nationalist movements among First Nations Populations in the Americas which have lasted centuries. Given BSTP’s orientation toward the Balkans, we seek to consider these nationalist movements alongside those that have emerged prior to and after the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
We welcome papers from all disciplines that deal with the question of nationalism.
Topics and questions to consider may include, but are not limited to:
How can we understand nationalism in Eastern Europe, both in terms of nationalist colonial projects (such as the movement for “Greater Serbia”) and in terms of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist nationalist struggles?
How can we understand Kosovar nationalism? Is the work of Gani Bobi (e.g.,“The Context of Self-Culture” and “Trials of Modernity”) still relevant to understand Kosovar nationalism
Can nationalism be liberatory?
How does the media shape our understandings of nationalism? Does it nurture an understanding of nationalism as extremist? If yes, how does it affect territorially and ethnically divided societies, like the case of Mitrovica?
What is the relationship between nation and literature? What is the role of literature in challenging nationalist projects (e.g., Rosario Castellano’s work)?
Places and peoples at the margins of the national center (e.g. Édouard Glissant’s work).
What is the role of art in nationalism (e.g., the role of music in national anthems or the integration of pop music into national events and political rallies)?
How can we articulate the specificity of nationalism in the postcolonial context?
What is the relationship between nationalism and globalization?
What is the relationship between nationalism and communism?
Indigenous nationalism/ Mestiza nationalism
Marx and Engels on nationalism and internationalism
How have Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin, Subaltern Studies, Latin American studies addressed the question of nationalism?
Feminism and Nationalism (e.g. the work of Kumari Jayawardena)
The workshop will be a collaborative space for sharing and workshopping research projects. Papers should be works in progress, open to development in response to feedback. Participants will be asked to share their papers before we gather in Prishtina. This will ensure that each participant has had sufficient time to review the material. The workshop format will consist of a 20-25 minute presentation of the key points discussed in the paper, followed by a general discussion, questions, and feedback from the group. We will discuss two papers per day, reserving approximately 2 hours per paper.
Evening programs will include screenings of films and documentaries, as well as parties with local music/musicians;
Guest lectures and panels;
Lunch is provided each afternoon following the workshop. A portion of the program fee will go to local women from Prishtina who have graciously offered to cater our meetings. Dietary restrictions will be accommodated to the best of our abilities. Please contact us for more information.
The first and last days of our program will include receptions following an afternoon of workshopping. Drinks and snacks will be provided for all the participants. A portion of the program fee will go toward reception catering services.
The workshop will take place in English.
Wifi and projectors will be available. Printing shops are available in the city, close to the workshop, for affordable printing.
Image above: Untitled, from the series "Imagined States and Desires: A Balkan Journey." Kosovo, 1999 © Vanessa Winship