Nations and nationalism from the margins. A research agenda

In order to further this research agenda, we have organised four intensive workshops from 2016 through 2018 resulting in four edited volumes or themed issues of journals. The following themes have been dealt with:

  1. Breaching banal nationalism
  2. National indifference
  3. Emotions and everyday nationhood
  4. Rethinking civic vs. ethnic nationalism

The first three of these workshops were on the crucial issue of what might be called the ‘nationalisation of the world’ in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, or the general spread of feelings of national distinctiveness across ever broader reaches of society. How ‘ordinary people’ have come to identify with the nation remains one of the most elusive issues in nations and nationalism research.

The first two workshops were in a sense different sides of the same coin. Michael Billig’s theory of banal nationalism holds that the self-evident and almost unnoticed omnipresence of nationalist discourses and practices in the public realm signals a broad society-wide interiorisation of nationalist premises. The concept of ‘national indifference’, however, implies the opposite. Very strong nationalist discourses and practices may in fact cause counterproductive reactions of ‘national indifference’ among the populace. The impact of banal nationalism on ‘ordinary people’ needs to be examined more thoroughly. This was not only the aim of the first two workshops, but also of the third, which will focus on the personal and individual dimension of collective national identifications. 

The last workshop tackled the crucial distinction of civic vs. ethnic forms of nations and nationalism.