The Necessary Nation

The Necessary Nation

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    The Necessary Nation
    Book Description:

    In this controversial look at nationalism, Gregory Jusdanis offers a sweeping defense of the nation as a protector of cultural difference and a catalyst for modernization. Since the end of the Cold War, the nation-state has undergone intense scrutiny among critics in the media and the academy. Many believe that civic nationalism may be fruitful but that cultural nationalism fosters xenophobia and backward thinking. Jusdanis, however, emphasizes the positive collaboration between nation-building and culture.

    Through a series of critical readings of multicultural, postcolonial, and globalization theories, the author reveals how nationalism enables people to defend their distinctive ways of life, to fight colonial oppression, and to build an independent society of citizens. He explains why people over the last two hundred years have politicized their ethnic identities and have sought a union of culture and power within an autonomous nation-state. While seeking to defend nationalism, Jusdanis also examines its potential to unleash extraordinary violence into the world. He thus proposes federalism as a political solution to the challenges posed by nationalism and globalization.

    Jusdanis applies the tools of disciplines ranging from anthropology to philosophy, as he explores the nation-building projects of numerous and diverse countries around the world. What emerges is a fresh perspective on the subjects of national culture, identity, political nations, globalization, postcolonialism, and diaspora.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2415-1
    Subjects: History, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-16)

    An apology for the nation? It is necessary and overdue. The nation has been maligned today, charged with xenophobia, fascism, and genocide. Journalists and academics, conservatives and liberals, Marxist and cultural studies critics seem to hold the nation responsible for the most odious crimes. Although they differ in their political and epistemological orientations, these writers launch their attacks on the nation from primarily two camps, cosmopolitanism and particularism—paradoxically the two forces that have led to the rise of the nation in the first place. On the one side are those who reject the nation as a betrayal of universal,...

  5. Chapter One ON NATIONALISM
    (pp. 17-43)

    The return of nationalism surely counts as one of the most stunning occurrences of the past quarter century, having baffled politicians, journalists, diplomats, and academics alike. Most of them felt that the anticolonial struggles in Asia and Africa had ushered in a postnational world, a global order never to be shaken again by nationalist tremors. This conclusion was strengthened by the speed with which capitalism was creating an interconnected web of cultural, economic, and technological exchanges. There was much talk about the end of history, the death of the nation-state, and the twilight of national culture.

    Nationalism—for many, a...

    (pp. 44-70)

    By making ethnicity the raison d’être of the state, modernity has given cultural identities a prominence they could not have had in earlier periods. Because it has accentuated the significance of ethnic identity, it steadily creates more ethnicity. By this I do not mean that modernity fashions ethnic groups, but that it promotes the conditions in which they become self-conscious entities—nations. National culture is, as I noted earlier, an ethnicity that has been politicized, given an essence, and made to justify the existence of the state. The emergence of national culture exemplifies the emphasis put in modernity on autonomy...

    (pp. 71-101)

    Cultural nationalism appeared two centuries ago and is still a vibrant force today because it is seen as a blueprint for modernization, a sentinel of ethnic identities, and a spark to postcolonial struggle. Nationalism arose as a result of the interaction of peoples in modernity through war, imperialism, and trade. Although groups have always fought with one another and exchanged goods, in modernity this interchange has been intensified as never before by capitalism and by new technologies in the fields of transportation and communication. Moreover, conquering states and colonial powers had at their disposal the bureaucratic, military, and technical means...

    (pp. 102-133)

    Nationalism emerges out of comparisons people make regarding the relative standing of nations. What David Hume referred to as the “situation of the nation with regard to its neighbors” (1898: 244) becomes a vital source of national culture. Nations differ in the extent of their development and devise strategies to narrow the gap between themselves and their neighbors or colonizers. In modernity, relationships drawn among nations inevitably reveal that most are technologically, culturally, and politically belated with regard to early modernizers. Those considering themselves or seen by others as backward have no choice but to try to search for models...

    (pp. 134-165)

    Because of the overwhelming urge today to denounce nationalism as a disease or a dead end of history, I have attempted to present nationalism as a positive force in the recent modernization of societies. Despite its potential to destabilize social life, nationalism has had a productive role to play in the past two centuries. In this chapter I turn to the so-called political nations, which are hailed by a number of political and social theorists as examples of nonethnic forms of political association. I argue that the concept of the political nation is conceivable only in an imaginary sense, for...

  10. Chapter Six THE END OF IDENTITIES?
    (pp. 166-196)

    That cultural matters have figured prominently in endeavors to build nation-states is beyond dispute. What remains to be seen is whether national culture will continue to be prominent in the new millennium. What will its future be in an era when the authority of a nation-state is undermined externally by global forces and challenged internally by demands for greater autonomy? This is one of the most burning questions facing the nation today. Will national culture, a modern phenomenon, deteriorate along with the edifice of the nation-state? Is ethnicity itself going to be transformed under conditions of postmodern and postindustrial society...

  11. Chapter Seven FEDERAL UNIONS
    (pp. 197-224)

    Any defense of the nation has to acknowledge nationalism’s two-sided nature, that it can inspire the best and worst of humanity and bring about freedom and endless ethnic conflict. In certain times and places it can propel groups to attain autonomy, democracy, and justice just as in other instances it can incite in them xenophobic hatred of others and brutish violence. Tom Nairn rightly characterized nationalism as “morally, politically, humanly ambiguous” (1977: 48). The twentieth century has provided much evidence of this ambiguity, having borne witness to the loftiest and basest manifestations of nationalism—struggles against imperialism and oppression but...

    (pp. 225-258)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 259-261)