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Eschatology, Ethics, and Ēthnos

Ressentiment and Christian Nationalism in the Anthropology of Christianity

Jon Bialecki

Christian nationalism, a long-running and arguably increasingly influential political force, appears to consist mainly of an open set of affectively charged but cognitively underdetermined concepts and images that are capable of being constituted in a number of widely divergent forms. Despite this potential variety, the various instantiations of Christian nationalisms documented by the anthropology of Christianity tend to have similar features, even as they are actualized in quite different milieux and understood as being responses to quite different threats. Drawing on ethnographic work in the United States, this article argues that this recurrent crystallization of Christian nationalism into the specific form under certain conditions—the adoption of a temporally ambivalent eschatology, an ethics oriented around mimesis, and, most of all, an outward-facing ressentiment—works to self-catalyze the production of a racialized Christian nationalism that envisions itself at once as an entitled majority and as an embattled minority.

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The Determination of Educational Policy

Shas, Politics, and Religion

Anat Feldman

This article examines the reasons why countries change their educational policies, using Israel as a case study. Employing quantitative and qualitative methods, I show that political constraints can cause governments to modify their educational policies without professional pedagogical discourse. Using the example of the ultra-Orthodox ethnic political party Shas, I demonstrate how—thanks to the political power that the party had gained, as well as the weakening of nationalist values— it succeeded in establishing a network of party schools with state funding despite the fact that some of these schools teach neither the state’s values nor the core curriculum determined by the Ministry of Education.

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Richard Wright and the 1955 Bandung Conference

A Re-Evaluation of The Color Curtain

Babacar M'Baye

The Color Curtain reflects Richard Wright's problematical assessment of the 1955 Bandung Conference and his difficult attempts to reconcile his sincere denunciation of the consequences of colonialism and racism on people of Asian and African descent with his condescending representation of Third World nationalism during the middle of the twentieth century. The book reveals striking paradoxes in Wright's evaluation of a nationalism that he occasionally vilifies as an ideology that was grounded on impassioned and essentialist cultural or religious affiliations and feelings. Yet Wright's demeaning, elitist, and patronizing attitudes about Third World nationalism and cultures did not prevent him from identifying with the core spirit of the Bandung Conference. In his assessment of the summit, Wright occasionally reveals his admiration for a Third World nationalism that echoed his disparagement of Western racism and imperialism.

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The Unfolding of the Tulip

From Ethnic to Religious Identification among Volga Tatars

Jesko Schmoller

In Tatarstan in the 1990s and early 2000s, a switch took place from an identity primarily based on ethnicity, to an identity more strongly informed by religious belonging. This happened in official political and scholarly Islamic discourse as well as in everyday Muslim life, and is linked to different variants of Tatar nationalism.

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Pascal Bourdeaux

Indochina played a pioneering role during the decolonization of the French empire, and the religious issue proved important to the process. Even to this day, state-church relations bear signs of this contentious and painful past. The historiography of the Indochina War, as well as that of the Vietnam War, clearly call attention to the activism of religious leaders and religious communities, especially Buddhists and Catholics, who fought for independence, peace, and the needs and rights of the Third World. And religion was put to the service of shaping public opinion both in Vietnam and internationally. Naturally, ideological convictions during the era of decolonialization account for the dominance of political analysis of this subject. But with the passage of time we can now develop a more sociological understanding of people's religious motivations and practices and the role they played in the conflict between communism and nationalism. The historian can also re-examine the secularization process in decolonized societies by analyzing, on the one hand, the supposed loss of ascendancy of religions in society and, on the other hand, the appearance of new religious movements that tended to adapt to modernity. This essay explores these politico-religious dynamics in the context of the decolonization of Vietnam.

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The Chimes of Liberation and the Millennial Frontier

Extract of the Statement at the Conference Forum 2000, 4 September 2007

Wole Soyinka

The rise of extreme nationalism, racism and xenophobia that swept through France, Germany, the United Kingdom and even some Scandinavian countries during the past decade – a tendency that appears only very recently to have begun very slightly to reverse itself – is yet again evidence of the ease with which the collective mind can be swept up by demagoguery that appeals to that 'zone of faith' in the consciousness of most human beings. The 'nation' is only another article of faith – like religion and ideology, and an appeal to the irrational baggage that sustains it in the mind is no different from the irrational supports of religious or totalitarian orders.

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Belonging in a New Myanmar

Identity, Law, and Gender in the Anthropology of Contemporary Buddhism

Juliane Schober

“To be Burmese is to be Buddhist” is a slogan commonly identified with the dawn of nationalism in the country known today as Myanmar, where violence between Buddhist, Muslim, and ethnic communities has increasingly jeopardized liberalizing reforms. How do contemporary forms of Theravada Buddhist discourse shape ideas of belonging in a multi-religious and ethnically diverse Myanmar following the dissolution of military rule in 2011? How do digital technologies and globalizing communication networks in this nation influence rapidly changing social identities, anxieties, and imaginaries that Brigit Meyer identifies as ‘aesthetic formations’? In this article, I trace diverse genealogies of belonging to show how contemporary constructions of meaning facilitate religious imaginaries that may exacerbate difference by drawing on past ideologies of conflict or may seek to envision a new and diverse Myanmar.

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Robert Pirro

In times of political or social crisis, issues of identity and affiliation

tend to become more salient. In response to the threatened or actual

disruption of the routines of material provision, social order, and

ideological legitimation, definitions of self and community that had

formerly been considered authoritative come under more frequent

and more extensive questioning. Responses to this condition of

uncertainty and doubt about identity and affiliation are typically

forthcoming from many different quarters: party politicians, leaders

of social movements, public intellectuals, religious authorities. Such

responses can also be quite varied as was the case, for example, in

the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Only months after the

event and with major questions about the future of the two Germanies

in the air, Jürgen Habermas surveyed the various possible sources of German identity that were on offer at that time—economic prestige

(“DM nationalism”), cultural inheritance, linguistic unity, ethnic

descent, historical fate, aesthetic experience, and constitutional patriotism—

and found all but the last seriously wanting.3 In any given

episode of crisis and questioning, most responses will ultimately

have little or no effect; the eventual reestablishment of the routines

of provision, order, and legitimation usually means that one or

another set of definitions of self and community has won out and

become authoritative for a critical mass of citizens.

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David N. Coury

Since its founding in 2014, Pegida has positioned itself as a populist movement striving to limit immigration and to preserve Germany’s cultural heritage. It has also aligned itself with other right-wing European political groups whose exclusionary views are rooted in theories of a civilizational clash between the West and the Islamic world. Pegida’s pushback against immigration also includes appeals to resist globalization and the growth of multiculturalism by embracing what Verena Stolcke has termed “cultural fundamentalism.” This ideology assumes cultural hierarchies and segregates religious and ethnic groups spatially and geographical as a means to maintain cultural uniformity. In doing so, Pegida posits that it is not racist or xenophobic, rather that it seeks solidarity in maintaining Western cultural values. The danger in Pegida’s ideology is that it rejects not only constitutional principles and notions of cultural pluralism, but that it furthers a cultural divide that need not exist and, in fact, embraces an exclusionary nationalism that is not unlike the values that they purport to reject.

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Dan Rabinowitz, Russell Stone, Guy Ben-Porat, Paul Scham, Wilhem Kempf, Lior Libman and Asaf Sharabi

Alon Tal, The Land Is Full: Addressing Overpopulation in Israel (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016), 377 pp., $40 (hardback).

Orit Rozin, A Home for All Jews: Citizenship, Rights, and National Identity in the New Israeli State (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2016), 231 pp., $40 (paperback).

Marek Cejka and Roman Koran, Rabbis of Our Time: Authorities of Judaism in the Religious and Political Ferment of Modern Times (New York: Routledge, 2016), 232 pp., $148 (hardback).

Galia Golan, Israeli Peacemaking Since 1967: Factors Behind the Breakthroughs and Failures (London: Routledge, 2015), 235 pp., $155 (hardback), $52.95 (paperback).

Oren Meyers, Eyal Zandberg, and Motti Neiger, Communicating Awe: Media Memory and Holocaust Commemoration (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 185 pp., $100 (hardback), $95 (paperback).

Ranen Omer-Sherman, Imagining the Kibbutz: Visions of Utopia in Literature and Film (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015), 352 pp., $84.95 (hardback).

Nissim Leon, The Turban and the Flag: Nationalism versus Mizrahi Ultra- Orthodoxy (in Hebrew) (Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: Van Leer Institute Press and Ha-kibbutz Ha-me’ukhad Press, 2016), 156 pp., $21 (paperback).