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Never-ending Modi

Hindutva and Gujarati neoliberalism as prelude to all-India premiership?

Tommaso Bobbio

This article proposes a non conventional analysis of the most significant phenomenon that has marked Indian political life in the past decade. The electoral competition for the 2014 general election is played around two main elements, namely, the selection of convincing prime ministerial candidates and the definition of electoral coalitions. In this perspective, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main party of the right-wing coalition (National Democratic Alliance, NDA), has taken a decisive step by selecting Narendra Modi as its front man for the electoral campaign, and thus the “natural” candidate for the post of prime minister in case of success. A highly controversial figure, Modi polarized the public debate for over a decade: he is either considered a fascist politician or he is praised for the high economic growth rates achieved by the state under his government. This article proposes to move beyond such a dichotomy to highlight Modi's complexity and success in promoting a political culture that merged religious traditionalism and neoliberal economic arguments. Whether his coalition will win the election or not, and whether he will become the next prime minister or not, is greatly significant to the future of India and to the possibility of the many contradictions and diversities that underpin the Indian democracy being conciliated.

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Temporalization of Concepts

Reflections on the Concept of Unnati (Progress) in Hindi (1870–1900)

Mohinder Singh

This article analyzes the historical semantics of the concept of unnati in the nationalist discourse in Hindi between 1870 and 1900. The article first outlines the basic features of the Enlightenment concept of progress using Koselleck's analysis. It then goes on to discuss the place of the concept of progress in the colonial ideology of a “civilizing mission,“ and concludes by taking up the analysis of the usage of the term unnati in the nationalist discourse in North India.

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Christian Egander Skov

The article explores the concept of empire, or rige, in the context of a small nation-state with no immediate claim to imperial greatness and with a rooted self-understanding as anything but an empire. It does this by exploring the concept of empire in the far right movement Young Denmark on the basis of a close reading of their imperialist program in the pamphlet Danmark udslettes! from 1918. Rige had been a vague term for the larger Danish polity that originated in a pre-national conceptualization of the polity as a realm. The article suggests that rige-as-realm was translated by the radical right into a concept of empire. In the process it dramatically changed its emphasis, reorienting itself toward a "horizon of expectation". It became a politically loaded battle concept that then entailed a critique against the dominant liberal conceptualization of the polity and nation. Rige came to signify the ambition of being a great power, the spiritual elevation of the nation through the transcendence of the decaying liberal modernity. The program addressed the tension between a conservative political attitude and modernity and thus signified a kind of reactionary modernism that rejected liberal values while at the same time celebrating technology, industrialization, and the process of modernization.

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Civilization

Comparing Concepts and Identities

Pim den Boer

This article is a transnational comparative study of the history of the concept of civilization. It starts with a brief review of the meaning of concepts that historically preceded it, such as civilitas and civilité. Next, it focuses on the appearance of the concept in eighteenth-century England and France and the ways it was used by different political theorists and polemists, mostly in the sense of politeness. During the nineteenth century in the colonies outside Europe, in Africa, in Asia, and in America, the concept of civilization played a key role in the discourse of colonization. First it was used from above, by the colonists, but later on it was appropriated by the colonized. At the end of the nineteenth century, civilization acquired one more layer of meaning as it was incorporated into nationalistic discourse. Eventually, the concept also became so internalized that the majority of people in a country could identify their own nation as the supreme form of civilization.

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Migration and Citizenship in “Athens of Crisis”

An Interview with Vice Mayor Lefteris Papagiannakis

Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou and Nina Papachristou

In this interview with UCL’s Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou, Lefteris Papagiannakis explains his role as Athens’ vice mayor for migrants and refugees. He discusses the city’s responses to the arrival of thousands of refugees and migrants in the last few years. He reflects on the complex relationship of the municipality of Athens with non-government support networks, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations, as well as autonomous local activists, in providing support services to migrants. Papagiannakis also addresses how Athens negotiates its support for these groups in the current European anti-immigrant climate, and the relationship between the Greek economic crisis and the so-called “refugee crisis.”

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'Inter-publics'

Hindu Mobilization beyond the Bourgeois Public Sphere

Ursula Rao

This article develops the notion of interconnected publics as a means to understand better both the escalation of Hindu political activism in the 1990s in India and its subsequent waning in the new millennium. I argue that the prime visibility of Hindu fundamentalism in the 1990s was a result of the effective—yet tenuous—connection between various spaces for public communication. The emerging 'inter-public' effectively imbricated the private viewing of religious soap operas with public ritual and political debate to produce, for a short historical moment, the image of a vibrant, forceful, and dominant Hindu nation. The aim of this article is to contribute to Indian studies by discussing the essential, yet in the literature mostly neglected, connections between devotional practices, media Hinduism, and political mobilization. At the broader conceptual level, I argue for a theory of inter-publics that interrogates how multiple 'micropublics' link up to create tangible political effects.

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Achieving the Ordinary

Everyday Peace and the Other in Bosnian Mixed-Ethnicity Families

Keziah Conrad

In Bosnia, 20 years aft er a war of ethnic cleansing, mixed-ethnicity families swim against the stream of nationalist separatism that insists all Bosnians should be neatly sorted into ethnic categories. When asked about their experiences, however, mixed families in Sarajevo during fieldwork from 2011 to 2012 repeatedly insisted that they were just “ordinary,” “normal” families. In this article, I look closely at an ordinary evening in the life of one such family, examining how they achieve this atmosphere of everydayness within which ordinary kin relationships are sustained despite the volatility of diff erences in ethnic and religious affi liation. Using a conversation analytic approach and building on the work of ordinary ethics theorists, I argue that the sense of being an ordinary family is an accomplishment constituted through active intersubjective work.

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Luke Ulaş

This paper argues that the two models of collective responsibility David Miller presents in National Responsibility and Global Justice do not apply to nations. I first consider the 'like-minded group' model, paying attention to three scenarios in which Miller employs it. I argue that the feasibility of the model decreases as we expand outwards from the smallest group to the largest, since it increasingly fails to capture all members of the group adequately, and the locus of any like-mindedness becomes too abstract and vague to have the causal force the model requires. I thereafter focus on the 'cooperative practice' model, examining various ways in which the analogy Miller draws between an employee-led business and a nation breaks down. In concluding I address the concern that my arguments have worrying consequences and suggest that, on the contrary, the rejection of the idea of national responsibility is a positive move.

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Censorship as Freedom of Expression

The Tailor and Ansty Revisited

Maryann Gialanella Valiulis

Censorship laws were introduced in the Irish Free State in 1928 and sparked immediate controversy among intellectuals, the media, and the political classes. The issue of censorship became the center of a conversation about Irish national identity. It was, in part, an assertion of independence and a conscious rejection of colonialism, an attempt to decide what stories would be told about them, what image they would portray to the world. In 1942, one text in particular sparked a renewal of the censorship controversy: Eric Cross's book, The Tailor and Ansty, which was banned because it was a realistic portrayal of Irish peasant life that was unacceptable to post-colonial Ireland, and because the author, an English folklorist, was perceived to be trying to undermine post-colonial attempts to establish a modern identity for Ireland. Thus, the application of censorship laws in Ireland can be seen as a move to free Irish self-identity from the negative portrayals of the Irish so prevalent in the colonial period.

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The Terror of their Enemies

Reflections on a Trope in Eighteenth-Century Historiography

Ronald Schechter

This article attempts to explain the appeal of "terror" in the French Revolution by examining the history of the concept of terror. It focuses on historiographical representations of sovereign powers, whether monarchs or nations, as "terrors" of their enemies. It argues that the term typically connoted majesty, glory, justice and hence legitimacy. Moreover, historiographical depictions of past rulers and nations frequently emphasized the transiency of terror as an attribute of power; they dramatized decline in formulations such as "once terrible." For the revolutionaries, terror therefore provided a means of legitimation, but one that always had to be guarded and reinforced.