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Textbook Revision and Beyond

New Challenges for Contemporary Textbook Activities

Basabi Khan Banerjee and Georg Stöber

Whereas “classical” textbook revision involved two or more nation-states, this article explores current challenges in this field which are internal or go beyond the level of nation-states: textbook activities after internal wars, the search for a “European textbook,” immigration, international schools, and examinations. All of these challenges touch upon the question of identities which are distinct from “traditional” national identities. The article sketches the respective backgrounds of these current challenges as well as practical aspects that need to be considered. We also question whether solutions can be found by replacing constricted identities with more comprehensive ones.

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Bruce Mazlish

Identity is a key concept in psychoanalytic psychology and, consequently, in psychohistorical studies. My task here is not to say anything further about the concept itself – my use of it will be in generalised and unrigorous terms – but to extend its use in psychohistory from its normal attachment to personal, ethnic, religious, and national contexts to the global.

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Richard Child

Statists claim that robust egalitarian distributive norms only apply between the citizens of a common state. Attempts to defend this claim on nationalist grounds often appeal to the 'associative duties' that citizens owe one another in virtue of their shared national identity. In this paper I argue that the appeal to co-national associative duties in order to defend the statist thesis is unsuccessful. I first develop a credible theory of associative duties. I then argue that although the associative theory can explain why the members of a national community should abide by egalitarian norms, it cannot show that people have a duty to become or to continue as a member of a national community in the first place. The possibility that citizens might exercise their right to reject their national membership undermines the state's ability justifiably to coerce compliance with egalitarian distributive norms and, ultimately, the statist claim itself.

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Arielle Fridson Bikard

In what way does national history shape the interpretation of international events in that country's media? Germany has always had a particularly sensitive and complex relationship with Israel. The Holocaust left such a scar on German identity that the country cannot consider Israel without confronting its own history. In Israel, Germany sees a “reflection“ of its own historical and symbolic space. In this article, I draw together a close reading of major German newspapers with more interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives in order to illuminate the mechanism of what I call “mirror reading,“ and especially to reveal its workings during what I consider a key shift in the discourse on German identity. The German print media, which I treat as the activating agent in German narration of national identity, plays a central role in this reflection by projecting national symbols onto Israel. In particular, I identify the initial reception of the Israeli wall (2003-2004) as a turning point in the debate on German self-understanding after the Holocaust. I establish that there are two extremes in a continuum of how German national history can frame the Israeli wall, one making Germany an active agent and the other a passive one. Employing national symbols in the media distorts the domestic perception of foreign events. My study casts a first light on this little understood—but nonetheless crucial—phenomenon.

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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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Margit Sinka

Launched in 1998 on the eve of the eighth Day of German Unity, the Denk ich an Deutschland television film series was intended to reframe discourses on national identity formation in a positive light through documentaries focused on the present rather than on the dark German past. While Andreas Kleinert's Niemandsland (No Man's Land, 1998) and Andreas Dresen's Herr Wichmann von der CDU (Vote for Henryk!, 2003), the first and last films televised, do center on the present, they highlight dissonances between personal and national concerns. Still, Kleinert deconstructs the dissonances and artificial syntheses he himself invents in order to reveal them as constructs to be reconfigured by viewers. By showing the inability of politicians to bridge the gap between personal and national concerns due to the erosion of their private identities, Dresen also appeals to viewers to initiate needed societal changes themselves.

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Margaret McCarthy

German popular filmmakers who participated in the Denk ich an Deutschland series brought a range of conflicting impulses to their meditations on Germany, including the universalizing tendencies of popular culture, together with the personal and political strains often present in documentary films. With varying degrees of success, each director agitates national identity via an idiosyncratic selfhood, a process which in turn expands our notions of Germany beyond generic convention. The best of the five films discussed in this essay—directed by Doris Dörrie, Fatih Akin, Katja von Garnier, Sherry Hormann, and Klaus Lemke—feature their creators' struggle to box themselves out of a larger collective identity. By modeling their own existential Bildung, they chip away at an otherwise implacable German identity and provide a psychic service for Germans potentially more salutary than the way Hollywood films sustain American identity.

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Inge Manka

During the course of the 2006 Soccer World Cup, Germans started to celebrate a “new patriotism.” As the construction of national identity is inseparable in Germany from the Nazi past, this occurrence can be considered an indicator of an altered relationship to this past. This article examines these changes by focusing on a nationally recognized site of remembrance, the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg, where five matches of the World Cup were played. The convergence of site and event evokes contradictions and ambiguities, such as the encounter of the opposed needs of sports and remembrance at the same location. It shows what problems arise at a site of national collective memory today, when the role of the national collective is challenged by developments like European integration, migration within and to Europe, and the on-going effects of globalization.

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Charlotte Galpin

The European Union has been in its biggest ever crisis since the onset of the Greek sovereign debt crisis in 2010. Beyond the political and economic dimensions, the crisis has also sparked discussions about Germany's European identity. Some scholars have argued that Germany's behavior in the crisis signals a continuation of the process of “normalization” of its European identity toward a stronger articulation of national identity and interests, that it has “fallen out of love” with Europe. This article will seek to reassess these claims, drawing on detailed analysis of political and media discourse in Germany—from political speeches through to both broadsheet and tabloid newspapers. It will argue that the crisis is understood broadly as a European crisis in Germany, where the original values of European integration are at stake. Furthermore, the crisis is debated through the lens of European solidarity, albeit with a particular German flavor of solidarity that draws on the economic tradition of ordoliberalism. Rather than strengthening expressions of national identity, this has resulted in the emergence of a new northern European identity in contrast to Greece or “southern Europe.”

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Babak Rezvani

The Fereydani Georgians are Shi'a Muslims, while the Georgians of Georgia are predominantly Orthodox Christians. This article deals with the mechanism by which Fereydani Georgians reaffirm their Shi'a identity in harmony with the Iranian Georgians' role in the Iranian history. After discussing the theoretical foundation of the relationship between history and ethnic (and national) self-identification, the article describes how Fereydani Georgian identity is represented today and how important historical events are narrated in order to create a cohesive and coherent image of self - an outcome that is called 'emic coherence'. The concept of historical peak experience is introduced on an ethnic level.