Weekend Reading 07/22/2017

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,

Forbes has an op-ed discussing the resurgence of American nationalism. Vanity Fair has a piece that explores the origins and evolution of President Trump’s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s nationalist views. Education Dive has a brief story on how nationalism is impacting higher education. Seattle Weekly has a story on how musicians, club owners, bartenders and others are coming together to prevent White nationalists groups from performing in Seattle.

The National has a piece discussing global sub-nationalism.

Huffington Post has an op-ed investigating if globalism is really anti-nationalism.

Daily Times has an op-ed that investigates Pakistani nationhood. Daily Times also has a piece on ‘Welfare Nationalism’ in Pakistan.

The Guardian has an op-ed written by Graça Machel wife of the late Nelson Mandela arguing that the increase in nationalism around the world is a threat to Nelson Mandela's legacy.

NDTV has a story on how Chinese state-run media is warning that Hindu nationalism could lead to conflict between China and India. Hindustan Times has a similar story. Daily-O has a response arguing that the issue actually lies with Chinese expansionism. The Hindu has a piece on recent comments made by a popular writer and critic that cultural nationalism has been supplanted by Hindu nationalism. The Washington Post has a story on the election of Hindu nationalist Ram Nath Kovind. Vice News also has a story on the election but offer insight into how this election will impact Indian PM Modi. First Post has a story on recent critical comments from India's commerce minister aimed at the Trump Administration’s ‘nationalist’ foreign policy. The Tribune has an op-ed piece discussing the political tension between globalists and nationalists.

The Telegraph has a story on acclaimed conductor and opponent of Brexit Daniel Barenboim’s recent plea for European unity during a BBC Proms concert. The Guardian also has a story on Barenboim’s comments. The Guardian has an op-ed arguing that the Duke and Duchess Of Cambridge were ‘duped’ into supporting Polish nationalism.



For H-Nationalism, Paul Steege reviews Nicholas Stargardt’s book The German War: A Nation under Arms, 1939-1945 (2015, Basic Books), which explores how ordinary Germans experienced the Second World War.

For Reviews in History, John Borgonovo reviews Fearghal McGarry’s book The Rising: Ireland: Easter 1916 (2016, Oxford University Press), which reconstructs the Easter Rising in an attempt to end the British rule, using over 1,700 eye-witness statements.



Kit Man 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 comment on 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 past week has been alight with news and op-eds surrounding how nations and nationalisms are built and ought to be built. So, I'm going to discuss 2 articles which adressed the future of Pakistani nationalism.

The Daily Times had one of the more erudite pieces this week. It discussed Pakistani nationalism through a mostly modernist lens. In the piece, Elahi elaborates on how Pakistan can begin to form a more cohesive nation. He tries to strike a balance between the ethnosymbolist and modernist views of nations and nationalism: on one hand Pakistan has shared myths, symbols, and history; on the other, the nation has always depended on state institutions. Elahi relies more on modernism and heavily quotes Gellner and Anderson. It seems to me that he strikes a rather muddied balance between ethnosymbolism and modernism. For instance, he neglects the importance of proto-national ethnies and then blames problems inherent to the Pakistani system from its founding on ethnolinguistics and ethnicity. His argument really says that Pakistan ought to form a centralized “imagined community” around the state by way of mass education, mass media, and the (re)discovery of shared cultural anchors—it must ignore or suppress the saliency of ethnicity. In many ways, Elahi wants to see differing remembrances in ethnic minorities disappear without contest. However, as I have written about here, differing remembrances between majority/minority groups may prove to help stimulate separate cultural nationalist movements—if a state or majority group attempts to subvert these remembrances in an unnatural way, it stokes the flames and fallouts of regionalism. In a word, differing remembrances in a nation’s peripheral may be a prime driver of sub-nationalism and/or anti-state cultural nationalist movements.

Fittingly, the article begs the question as to how the nation and nation-state should placate local needs? This question underscores Elahi’s dilemma—he must choose between political and national decentralization and centralization. Elahi grapples with these problems surrounding sub-nationalism and regionalism (which, according to The National, are becoming more prevalent forces in the world). In Elahi’s understanding, local ethnic leaders create regionalism and sectarianism out of contempt for national unity for reasons of ethnic pride. This argument lacks proper emphasis on the structural conditions which allow for sub-nationalism in the first place. Furthermore, his solutions here don’t offer any power-sharing mechanisms or ways to truly influence social cohesion between minority groups. Instead, the analysis seems to offer only one way into the Pakistani nation—through the shedding of local identities. However, the proper solution to the question posed above is in finding the correct balance between centralization and decentralization. Local identities must be subsumed into the national whole in consensual terms. So, the nation must become an umbrella identity and not a replacement—citizens must engage in what Ernst Renan calls a “daily plebiscite” for a just and cohesive nation to form.

Elahi is most on point when he says that literature and media have the educational power to coalesce units of the nation through divining the spirits of the past—or, as Anthony Smith might say, through becoming political archaeologists. It’s through a process of discovery and rediscovery where the most formative and salient facets and versions of the nation are formed. He praises this process of discovery and rediscovery:

“Justice and tolerance will strike down ethnic, sectarian and class divide. Our sterling traditions and history can be highlighted to further strengthen nationalistic sentiments. There is also no harm in narrating myths and memories which enhance pride in our nationhood. If we follow these steps, the nation and nationalism will thrive.”

What would be a boon to his argument, is support of national rediscovery which includes and supports minority rights. In a word, it would be helpful for Elahi’s arguments in sum to focus on that word, “tolerance.” A nation needs more than a shared language to rise above “the banes of ethnicity.” It needs tolerance, power-sharing, and collective stakes in the newly formed identity.

In a tangential piece, Jahanzeb Awan argues that Pakistan should stimulate nationalism through creating a strong welfare state. Stronger welfare would give citizens more stake in the nation and their neighbors regardless of ethnic group or language. Elahi’s article naturally begs the Pakistani reader to help form the nation through supporting its institutions, history, and culture. Awan is one of those participants that Elahi looks towards as hope for his nation—a builder who brings functional approaches to the table that seek to deepen institutions and ties to the state and nation.