Anthropology, International relations, Political science, Sociology

in co-operation with the University of Edinburgh

Course date

22 June - 26 June, 2020
14 February, 2020
Course Director(s): 

Gezim Krasniqi

Department of Sociology, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Szabolcs Pogonyi

Nationalism Studies Program, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Margit Feischmidt

Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

Jon Fox

School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies, University of Bristol, United Kingdom

Daphne Halikiopoulou

Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Reading, United Kingdom

Michael Rosie

School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

The past decade has been marked by the return of explicitly nationalist politics. Politicians on the Left and Right have called for the strengthening of national sovereignty in order to mitigate the impact of global free trade as well as migration. As a result, scholarly interest on nationalist/populist political mobilization has exploded across many disciplines including political science, sociology and international relations.

The course provides an overview of the main topical issues and scholarly perspectives on the politics of nationalist mobilization in the contemporary word. The main aim of the course is to explore the dynamics of nationalist revival in Europe and beyond. Through the comparative analyses of different cases in and outside Europe, the course seeks to investigate the social, political and economic contextual variables that facilitate (and, indeed, hinder) nationalist mobilization. The main objective of the course is to test theories of nationalist contention in comparative analysis in order to find out when, why and how nationalist claims-making succeeds or fails. In order to complement the macro-political dimension of nationalist mobilization, the course will also incorporate bottom-up micro-sociological perspectives (everyday nationhood, national indifference) to investigate how nationalist politics impact (or fail to impact) the everyday life and behavior of citizens.

The course targets advanced MA and PhD students as well as young researchers with interest in contemporary issues related to migration and territorial and supra-territorial governance. The empirical sessions of the summer course are strongly comparative in their scope and multi-disciplinary in their methodology

In order to make the learning experience as efficient as possible, we will draw on e-learning applications. Course materials will be circulated online well ahead of the course.  Participants will be asked to study the readings in advance, and to outline a research idea on the questions addressed in the course.  The course directors will create an e-learning discussion group to initiate interactive learning in order to facilitate an exchange of ideas even before the course starts.  The e-learning feature of the course will also provide opportunities for students for follow-up conversations and networking.  Participants will be asked to present their research ideas and will be encouraged to publish the papers formulated during in-class presentations and discussions.  The range of expertise and perspectives represented by the faculty team offers participants a valuable opportunity to get guidance on a range of research ideas, as well as on projects combining normative theory with case study; as well as policy papers.

Session 1:  Non-Mobilization: ‘banal’ nationalism
Michael Rosie, University of Edinburgh, UK

Nationalism often comes to public and scholarly attention when it is mobilised. As this session will discuss, nationalism cannot be mobilized from nothing – it generally relies on what Michael Billig described as ‘banal nationalism, the routine and unreflexive (re)production of a world and an ideology of nations and nationalism. After outlining the core ideas around banal nationalism the session will query whether the theory of banal nationalism itself presupposes the existence of the nation-state.

Session 2:  Non-Mobilization: Scotland, ‘the dog that did not bark’
Michael Rosie, University of Edinburgh, UK

In the long 19th C, (1789-1914) nationalism was the crucial mobilising force on a global scale, ushering in an era whereby Empires crumble and nation-states arose. Yet in Scotland, which had surrendered independent statehood only in 1707, the period was one in which no serious attempt was made to assert a politically independent Scottish nation. Scotland, then, was one case where the nationalist ‘dog’ did not bark. This session takes Scotland as a case study, evaluating cultural and economic impetuses to the (non) mobilisation of nationalist movements.

Session 3:  Everyday Nationhood
Jon Fox, University of Bristol, UK

Who are the ordinary people who are mobilizing behind their nations?  To what extent is nationalist mobilization popular mobilization?  Put somewhat differently, does nationalist mobilization work, ie, does it mobilize the people in whose name it claims to speak?  In this session we will explore the role of the ordinary people – ‘the masses’ – who make up the nation.  We will begin by considering the ways in which the engage with (and also disengage from) nationalist politics before turning to the ways they are complicit in the production and reproduction of nations separate from the realm of nationalist politics.

Session 4:  Case Study:  Everyday Ethnicity in Cluj?
Jon Fox, University of Bristol, UK

How does nationalist mobilization work, and not work, in the ethnically-mixed and politically-contested city of Cluj, Romania.  Cluj is home to a Romanian majority and Hungarian minority, both with competing nationalist claims to the city.  The city has been the focal point of intense nationalist struggle at varying intervals and in different ways since 1989.  But how have local Clujeni (residents of Cluj) responded to all of this?  How has nationalism mattered – or not mattered – to them?  What, more fundamentally, is the relationship between nationalist politics on the one hand and everyday ethnicity on the other?  We will explore these questions with a grounded exploration of (everyday) nationalism in Cluj.

Session 5:  Social resentments and politics of fear on the European semi-peripheries. The political mobilization of nationalism and xenophobia
Margit Feischmidt, Research Center for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

A central element of politics of fear is the denomination of individuals or groups of individuals as the enemy. This is effectuated by discourses that depict members of certain social categories – usually some kind of ethnic, religious or political minorities – as enemies either by racializing or dehumanizing them. This section presents a conceptual framework grounded in anthropology, sociology and critical security studies meant to understand the discursive realization of a politics of fear and security. This is continued by a presentation of how the politics of fear and security is initiated by local far-right actors in interaction with national and international players. Thirdly, the section presents a structuralist explanation of how the local responsiveness to xenophobia can be explained by social resentments and anxieties of the people living on the European (semi)peripheries. Finally the session includes an ethnographic verification and illustrates the conceptual claims by investigating discourse-based ethnographic encounters to show how dehumanizing discourses were absorbed in everyday talk on the nation.

Session 6:  Popular culture, nostalgia and neo-nationalism
Margit Feischmidt, Research Center for Social Sciences, Hungarian academy of Sciences

Theoretical approaches stressing the everyday, the banal and mundane forms of nationalism have recently appeared in works of sociologists, anthropologists and political scientists. Some of them, like Tim Edensor became aware that everyday forms of national identification can be understood only if we take into consideration a new dimension: popular culture. The current section investigates this dimension by asking how old contents related to nationhood and nationalism are produced and spread in new forms in popular culture while they are generating new social and political meanings. A special attention will be given to elites who play a major role in constructing new discourses of the nation and seek to control cultural identities and collective memories of their followers. This “view from above” will be complemented with a “view from bellow” by investigating the meanings that audiences give to and the uses they make of the popular forms of neo-nationalism.

Session 7:  Mobilization and the Far Right
Daphne Halikiopoulou, University of Reading, UK

Far right parties are on the rise across Europe. Their shared populist rhetoric, emphasis on sovereignty and policies that promote a ‘national preference’ has facilitated the term ‘the new nationalism’. How may we explain this phenomenon? Is it driven by demand or supply-side dynamics? Are different European far right parties comparable? What are their similarities and differences? This session provides a broad overview of the theories and approaches to the study of the far right across Europe, focusing on the commonalities and differences in support for such parties across case and circumstance.

Session 8:  Case Study: Golden Dawn?
Daphne Halikiopoulou, University of Reading, UK

Why has the extreme right Greek Golden Dawn, a party with clear links to fascism, experienced a rise defying all theories that claim that such a party is unlikely to win in post-Second World War Europe? And, if we accept that economic crisis is an explanation for this, why has such a phenomenon not occurred in other countries that have similar conducive conditions in Europe?

Session 9: Unsettled States, Disputed Lands, Incomplete Democratisation and Nationalist Mobilisation in the Balkans
Gezim Krasniqi, University of Edinburgh, UK

This lecture discusses the rise and spread of nationalist mobilisiation and ethnic politics in post-communist Balkans. It explores some of the key factors that led to the rise of nationalism in the late 1980s and early 1990s as well as those factors sustaining nationalism and ethnic politics today. In particular, it sheds light on the role of unsettled states, disputed lands and incomplete democratisation in nationalist mobilisation in today’s Balkan countries.

Session 10: Case study: Nationalist Mobilisation in and around Kosovo
Gezim Krasniqi, University of Edinburgh, UK

The Serb-Albanian political dispute and conflict in the 20th century has revolved around two intertwined issues: territory and political and legal status of the respective people. ‘Incomplete’ nation and state-building, frequent border changes and state transformations and dissolutions have resulted in a situation where political and territorial borders remain ‘incongruent’. This lecture explores the Kosovo conundrum as a constant source of nationalist mobilisation in the region.

Session 11: Transsovereign Ethnic Mobilisation in Post-Communist Europe
Szabolcs Pogonyi, Central European University

Ethnically preferential citizenship policies have remained widespread in postcommunist Central and Eastern European countries throughout state consolidation and democratic transition. Quite puzzlingly, ethnically inclusive non-resident citizenship has become more common even in countries that have become full members of the European Union. This session investigates how and why ethnically selective kin-citizenship has prevailed as a major transborder mobiliszation tool despite the Europeanization of the region and the normalization of inter-state as well as inter-ethnic relations.

Session 12: Case study: Kin-citizenship and National Indifference in Hungary
Szabolcs Pogonyi, Central European University

This session explores how non-resident citizenship impacts the national identification of newly naturalised non-resident Hungarians. The research presented compares how citizenship as a legal institution is perceived, practiced and consumed by Hungarians living in Hungary’s neighbouring countries and overseas diasporas. Not denying the instrumental implications of the Hungarian passport, the paper argues that it is also an important means of constructing national identities. In some cases, the passport strengthens the holder’s sense of belonging to the national group, and kin-citizenship is also considered as a valuable symbolic asset which can be instrumentalised as means of social closure. Interestingly, in other cases transborder Hungarians fail to respond to, or in even outright contest the Hungarian government’s transnational mobilization project. The presented empirical research help us to define the diverse modalities of nationalist responses given to the Hungarian government’s project of ‘national reunification beyond the borders’.