Class as a subtext to neonationalism after 1989

Don Kalb (University of Bergen)
Gabor Halmai (CEU)
Don Kalb
George Baca
Start time:
29 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This session explores the role of "class" as an analytical category in studying the recent ascent of nationalisms all over the globe. In an era of rising uncertainties and inequalities, class has been a consistent subtext of studies on neonationalism but their inter-relation has recently not received the explicit attention it deserves. What can anthropological analysis of class contribute to understanging and explaining neonationalist mobilizations/sentiments.

Long abstract:

As neoliberal globalization gained center stage, the staunchest counter-movement has increasingly come in language of nationalism. From the xenophobic anti-immigrant parties of the West to Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East and Hindu Nationalism in India, from indigenous rule in South America to anti-Communism in Eastern Europe, "nation" has served as the central metaphor with which to bring new constituencies into politics and reignite old ones. While the language of "class" has been dormant in most of these instances of political community-building, it only features explicitly in Bolivarian pseudo-socialist attempts. Similarly, social scientists have only hinted at the importance of class for their analyses of neo-nationalism. Anthropologists possess a unique vantage point to understanding this new wave of political mobilization through fieldwork and inter- and intra-regional comparison. Consequently, the session aims to tackle the following range of questions: What is the role of "class" and class based experiences in studying and explaining the recent ascent of nationalisms all over the globe? What is its relation to the language of "nation" in political mobilization campaigns? How do the followers of these new nationalisms understand and frame their position vis-à-vis the rest of society? How has global capitalist restructuring influenced the local manifestations of nationalism - both in the sense of helping to ignite them, to frame them and to limit them? How can anthropology help us understand the growing appeal of nationalism as well as its limits as a counter-ideology in such disparate local contexts?