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'Tensile Nationality'

National Identity as an Everyday Way of Being in a Scottish Hospital

Nigel Rapport

This article reports on research undertaken in a Scottish hospital on the theme of national identity, specifically Scottishness. It examines the ways and extents to which Scottishness was expressed in the workplace: as a quotidian aspect of individual and institutional identity, in a situation of high-pro file political change. The research was to situate nationality as a naturally occurring 'language-game': to explore everyday speech-acts which deployed reference to nationality/Scottishness and compare these to other kinds of overt affirmation of identity and other speech-acts when no such identity-affirmations were ostensibly made. In a contemporary Scottish setting where the inauguration of a new Parliament has made national identity a prominent aspect of public debate, the research illuminates the place of nationality amid a complex of workaday language-games and examines the status of national identity as a 'public event'.

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Anthropology Misapplied?

The Culture Concept and the Peace Process in Ireland

Andrew Finlay

This article is animated by a concern that anthropological ideas of culture, particularly the 'old' idea of culture as the way of life of a distinct people, have been misapplied in the government of Northern Ireland during the period of the peace process. Rather than accept disciplinary responsibility for this, I trace the provenance of the notions of culture and identity implicit in the Good Friday Agreement. While people trained in anthropology have been involved in implementing cultural policy, other disciplines—notably law, history and political science—have been more influential in its conception, with only occasional references to anthropology for legitimation. Paradoxically, the influence of the old anthropological concept of culture is a sign of the relative weakness of anthropological influence in government circles. Ultimately, though, anthropological circumspection in this regard might be preferable to the hasty and vainglorious claims of other academic disciplines.

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The Editors

Among the many new books on comic strips published in the past year one of the most provocative has been Nicolas Rouvière’s Astérix ou la parodie des identités [‘Asterix or the Parody of Identities’].1 Rouvière provides a fascinating analysis of questions of national identity in René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s famous series of albums. Grosso modo, he suggests that the strips undermine hard nationalist prejudices, to create universal understanding between peoples. Rouvière contends that the Astérix series encourages the French to question the myths of their own national identity, and satirises their stereotyping of their neighbours (the French image of the British, the Belgians, the Swiss, etc.). He concludes that Astérix runs counter to a world based on the ‘clash of civilisations’ model famously employed by Samuel Huntington.

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The 1905-1907 Revolution in the Kingdom of Poland

Articulation of Political Subjectivities among Workers

Wictor Marzec

The article examines the political mobilisation and construction of modern political identities among workers during the 1905-1907 Revolution in the Kingdom of Poland. Political process, creation and alternation of the political subjectivities of workers are explained in terms of hegemonic articulations as presented by the political discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau. While social claims merged with resistance against the national oppression of the Tsarist regime and the struggle for social and political recognition, political subjectivities took various contingent and competitive forms; thus the same demands could be integrated into different political narratives and collective identities. Combining discourse theory and process tracing makes alternations of the political field in time intelligible.

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John S. Brady and Sarah Elise Wiliarty

In December 1995, the Center for German and European Studies at

the University of California at Berkeley hosted the conference, “The

Postwar Transformation of Germany: Prosperity, Democracy, and

Nationhood.” During the proceedings and in the edited volume that

resulted, conference contributors explored the reasons for Germany’s

success in making the transition to a liberal democratic polity

supported by a rationalized national identity and a modern, dynamic

capitalist economy. In charting postwar Germany’s success, the contributors

weighed the relative contribution institutional, cultural, and

international variables made to the country’s transformation.

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Christine McCourt

In opening this 2009 volume of Anthropology in Action, it seems important to comment on what are self-consciously interesting times. The first quarter of the year has already witnessed the inauguration of Barack Obama as US president, bitter and destructive bombing campaigns in Gaza, and further financial shocks in the world’s markets, with a seeming domino effect of wealthy capitalist institutions turning to national governments for support. Global and local relations, networks, identities and conflicts have been brought into sharp focus by world events, but anthropology is rarely visible in the news, and anthropologists rarely called upon to comment, despite a wealth of potentially valuable knowledge. Applications of anthropology are becoming gradually more accepted within the academy, but seem to have come only a short distance in terms of public profile or ability to influence national and trans-national policies.

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Editorial

Open-Themed Issues

Soheila Shahshahani

In the 1970s and 1980s, North and South Yemen appeared to be two states pursuing opposing, sometimes hostile, economic and political policies. Then, in 1990, they suddenly united. This article analyses sport diplomacy as an instrument in opening institutional contacts between the two governments and as a venue for conveying important socio-political and historical messages. Cross-border football contests reinforced the largely invented notion of a single Yemen derived from pre-Islamic kingdoms. This idea remains a foundation of Yemeni nationalism and a base of Yemeni national identity.

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Introduction

Literature of the Thirties – Region and Genre

Mary Joannou

The second special issue on the literature of the thirties follows on from an earlier edition of Critical Survey which brought together new critical writings on the period (volume 10, number 3, 1988). The first four essays selected are responses to regionalism and identity and the last two to the issues raised by the relationships of gender and generic fiction. Simon Featherstone analyses how two popular artistes, Gracie Fields (the ‘mill girl’) and Max Miller (‘the cheeky chappie’) achieved success in an entertainment industry that was changing rapidly in response to technological and cultural pressures. Their stardom depended on the dialogues between regional and national identities as part of a national cultural dynamic during a decade in which mass popular forms reconstituted the older regional and local traditions of dialogue and performance. Steven Matthews sees Auden’s injunction to ‘Consider this and in our time’ as a ‘clarion call to a particular, post-The Waste Land, form of modernity’. Focusing on Scottish and Irish writers (Louis MacNeice, Sorley Maclean, Grassic Gibbon et al.) Matthews argues that the temporality of some thirties’ writing aligns it closely with the emergent nationalisms familiar in recent postcolonial theory.

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Editorial

Subjects and Citizens

Lincoln Geraghty

In the last few months Britain has lived through several moments when the idea of being a citizen has been at the forefront of people’s minds. In the space of twenty-four hours in July 2005 we experienced the jubilation of winning the right to host the 2012 London Olympics and felt the horror and shock caused by the terrorist attacks on the London transport network. Both events showed in stark contrast what being a citizen means for a nation in the twenty-first century: the inevitable coming together of a people to celebrate national success turned to bewilderment as Britons struggled to understand how fellow citizens could inflict such destruction on their own country. Questioning citizenship is now a daily occurrence in the national press as tabloids call for loyalty tests, immigrants to be repatriated, and tougher laws for extremists. The following six articles, written before the aforementioned events, tackle some of the very same issues that now trouble us. They address themes such as identity, nationality, confinement, attacks on liberty, citizenship, and being the subject of oppression. Analysing at a fundamental level the nature of being a subject or citizen, these papers challenge notions of dominant ideology and highlight the importance of self in the construction of identity and a harmonious citizenry.

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Introduction

Postcolonial studies and postsocialism in Eastern Europe

Jill Owczarzak

The introduction to this special section explores the ways in which postcolonial studies contribute a deeper understanding of postsocialist change in Central and Eastern Europe. Since the collapse of socialism, anthropological and other social science studies of Eastern Europe have highlighted deep divides between “East” and “West” and drawn attention to the ways in which socialist practices persist into the postsocialist period. We seek to move beyond discourses of the East/West divide by examining the postsocialist context through the lens of postcolonial studies. We look at four aspects of postcolonial studies and explore their relevance for understanding postsocialist Eastern Europe: orientalism, nation and identity, hybridity, and voice. These themes are particular salient from the perspective of gender and sexuality, key concepts through which both postcolonialism and postsocialism can be understood. We thus pay particular attention to the exchange of ideas between East/West, local/global, and national/international arenas.