Weekend Reading 06/24/2017

Justin Collier's picture

H-Nationalism’s Weekend Reading series highlights recent and thought-provoking reviews, blog posts, brief articles, and op-eds.  Have something to say about something you read?  Feel free to respond here or contact David Prior (prior@mail.h-net.msu.edu) and Justin Collier (collierjustin@gmail.com) about writing a blogpost. Follow us on Twitter @HNationalism.



Dear All,


Deutsche Welle has a column on nationalism in cricket in Pakistan and India. National Herald India has an op-ed on the relationship between sports and nationalism. Al Bawaba has a piece on social media and Indian nationalism.


The Belfast Telegraph has a piece on rivalry between southern nationalist and northern unionist in Ireland. Irish Times has a similar story.


The American Spectator has an article Trumpian nationalism and Catholic doctrine. Patheos has an article on the American church and White nationalism.


IB Times has an op-ed on the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s attempt to aggressively push nationalism in Saudi foreign policy.


Daily Times has an op-ed on citizenship and nationalism in the South Asian political environment.


The New York Times has an op-ed on the end of the Left and the Right as we knew them and the rise of nationalism to the position of new main political line of fracture.


Bloomberg has an article on  nationalism is Japan and business.


Inclusive nationalism and narratives of citizenship  - a panel discussion with Professor Arlie Hochschild, Professor Yuli Tamir, Dr Maya Tudor, Patrick O’Flynn (UKIP), at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford





For H-Nationalism, Giacomo Lichtner reviews Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s book Italian Fascism's Empire Cinema (2015, Indiana University Press), which analyzes how the African and Balkan colonies were presented in films produced in Fascist Italy.


For E-International Relations, Raj Kaithwar reviews Daniel Haines’s book Indus Divided: India, Pakistan and the Indus Basin Dispute (2017, Penguin), which “highlights the entanglement of territoriality, sovereignty and water rights as well as the layers within them which collectively continue to shape the relations between the two states (India and Pakistan) even now”.




Shota Kincha, Kit Man, Emmanuel Dalle Mulle, and Justin Collier

Dear All,

My name is Nicholas James and I’m a MSc student in comparative politics. I’ve decided to begin making weekly commentaries on the Weekend Reading series to fill in some of the egregious free time which I’ve been faced with recently. After a discussion with some of H-Nationalism’s editors, we decided that the best avenue for these commentaries would be as direct replies to the original posts. These commentaries are meant to analyze general themes extracted from the week and so will cover 1-5 of the articles. They are purely for auxiliary reading and represent my own views and understandings. Feel free to reply to me here, on twitter @nicholasdjames, or on my H-Net profile.


The week preceding June 24th was exciting for India-Pakistan watchers—a world championship cricket match between underdogs and, well, world champions lit the blogosphere ablaze with all the nationalist rhetoric which surrounds world sporting events. Bearing this in mind, I wrote on Indian and Pakistani nationalisms.


In the Daily Times, Nyala Ali Khan wrote an informative op-ed about the nature of Indian and Pakistani nationalism. In the piece, Khan argues that the two nations were constructed against each other on religious grounds after the Partition of India in 1947. She then draws on this assertion and states that any differences between the current populations are arbitrary and thus not necessarily substantive. Following this, Khan proposes that a scholarly approach which seeks to place emphasis on personal memory and imagination over politically-biased historiographies will offer reconciliation and social cohesion. I largely agree with this approach—ethnographies that affirm individual experiences and remembrances are crucial for understanding the place that nationalist politics have on the microscale. However, I found troubling implications in how her specific approach deals with the issue of endogeneity and the future of Indo-Pakistani relations.

In her short piece, Khan affirms cultural and ethnic ties and shared historical experiences as being the supreme legitimizer of a nation. For Khan, the Partition of India is an unjust dividing line between peoples since it created states and constructed nations on religious grounds and ignored ethnicity and shared historical experiences. In her own words,

“The nation is rendered all the more threatening when the war that leads to its construction is internecine and does not bind Muslims to Hindus or Punjabis to Kashmiris — rather it sunders Punjabis from other Punjabis and Kashmiris from other Kashmiris. Such irregular war had polarized these ethnic groups into Hindus and Muslims and required them to disaffirm their cultural, linguistic, and social unities.”

This argument is in direct opposition to the two-nation theory which legitimized the 1947 partition on ethno-religious grounds—a majority Hindu India, and a majority Muslim Pakistan. Ironically, in the quest for finding a truthful narrative—something which fluidly crosses borders, as it were—Khan’s argument falls in step with the Indian government’s stance on the place of South Asian ethnic groups as being part of a larger whole (i.e., Greater India). If we are to take this paragraph seriously, Khan is stating that the post-Partition Hindu-Muslim divide between Pakistan and India is irregular for the fact that all South Asian ethnic groups, whether Hindu or Muslim, are culturally, linguistically, and socially intertwined and thus in the same perennial ‘family.’ It is an argument that can easily be guided away from her original meaning of natural “Greater Indian” peace and cohesion into something which resembles much of the nationalist dialogue surrounding the conflict in the first place.

For me, these points are reminiscent of the rhetoric which surrounds the question of whether Greater India and its ethnic groups belong in some way to India or not. My main issue with Khan’s approach is that it affirms the sameness between Pakistanis and Indians by shedding the ethnically and religiously salient conflicts of the last 70 years. Remembrances and imagination are important for how ethnicity, nationality, and even religion are constructed. However, remembrances and truth are seldom allied through time. Seeking a historiography which is true to the people’s remembrance may not reveal a true history, but rather it would give a snapshot of an identity or conception of identity. That is where I think that Khan’s approach will have the most promising and important results.

Moving away from Khan’s argument, I’d like to address the divergence between Pakistani and Indian identities through a quick analysis of cricket. The recent win of Pakistan over India for the Champions Trophy exemplifies some of the national tensions and divides which Khan touches on. Deutsche Welle reported that social media went ablaze between Pakistani and Indian fans, where much of the celebrations were in that vein of religious nationalism talked about previously. A secular activist from Pakistan stated that even (read: especially) sport is marked by nationalism and Islam alike. Moreover, much of the anger on the Indian side was in terms of constructing the Pakistani team in terms of an enemy. An Indian outlet spoke out against fellow members of the media who called for the removal of Pakistanis from the country because of a cricket match. The two countries have a strong social media backlash against each other with both sides taunting, jeering, and provoking each other. So, whether Khan’s presumption that these two sides are similar enough is correct or not, we can clearly surmise that in the year 2017, two separate identities are tangibly here. 

It would be fascinating to be able to hear Sahana Udupa’s latest lecture which touched upon Indian and specifically Hindu social media dialogues on national belonging and how these are shaping and restructuring the common conception of nation. Adapting her framework of analysis to look at the social media responses of the cricket match would answer several questions. Are the two sides constructing nation-building dialogues against each other concurrently? And, if so, by what mechanism does that transfer outside of the digital media realm and into popular consciousness?

Moving forward, it is imperative to examine the state of remembrance and its complex relationship to nationality in both India and Pakistan. A nuanced approach which does this sort of examination rather than deconstructs the status quo’s own legitimatizing factors of nationhood through a lens which, like any, carries biases, would prove significant. A successful strategy for approaching the remembrances of 1947 and the subsequent Indo-Pakistani Wars is to, yes, deeply engage with historical cultural and social ties per Khan’s approach but to view these ties as stepping stones to social cohesion between two groups of newly and endogenously defined people. The very fact that a group says that it is a group, means it is a group—it is nearly impossible to force a shedding of that new umbrella of identity.


Great work! Appreciate your time and insights, best from Portugal, Rui Santos Masters IR