New Nationalism in a Global Perspective

Plenary Sessions

Chairs: Prof. Hasret Dikici Bilgin

Plenary Speaker: Liah Greenfeld

Presentation: Globalization of Nationalism

This plenary lecture will address the nature of nationalism: national consciousness, national identity, and the organization of communities as nations – that is, as sovereign communities of fundamentally equal members, however the membership is defined. Connecting nationalism to modern democracy, liberal and authoritarian, and examining its relationship to political ideologies of the last two and a half centuries, left and right, socialism, communism, classical liberalism, populism, fascism, and feminism, among others, it will attempt to demonstrate that nationalism lies behind modern politics, in general, essentially defining modern political culture. It will, next, analyze the reasons for the continued appeal of nationalism in the context of an increasingly open world, attributing this appeal to the dignity with which nationalism endows personal identities of common people. Globalization, it will argue, though usually seen as the opposite of nationalism, is, in fact, a product of nationalism and, to the extent that world is becoming unified, it is becoming unified in the shared – national – consciousness, paradoxically drawing countries into ever more intense competition for international dignity, or prestige. To conclude, the lecture will focus on the most striking contemporary example of the globalization of nationalism – its penetration, after decades of failed efforts to achieve it on the part of the Chinese government, into the colossal population of China.

Questions & Answers:

  • Dr. Kim Fontaine-Skronski: "I wonder what your thoughts are on the future of nationalism in the context of the transformations of globalization and, in particular, the importance of non-“national” actors in dealing with global problems, I am thinking here of cities who are key actors to deal with climate change, as well as mobility and migration issues. Where does nationalism stand in a world where “inter-nation” and global/multi-stake-holder cooperation is necessary to tackle global crises?"
    • As I believe I said in response to Dr. Hanieh's comment, nationalism is not necessarily connected to borders and, therefore, to any particular nation. It is a mistake to equate nationalism (as it is frequently equated) with particularism. Nationalism is the dominant form of consciousness of our day; it is a consciousness based on the principles of popular sovereignty and fundamental equality of membership in a community -- at its core lies the image of the natural community (called "nation") as sovereign and consisting of fundamentally equal members. This consciousness and this image may apply to a global community as much as to separate communities of particular nations.
      Specifically, globalization is a product of nationalism and global community is indeed imagined in terms of national consciousness -- i.e., humanity as a sovereign community of fundamentally equal members.  The non-"national" actors dealing with global problems, whom you mention, imagine the world in national terms and act in accordance with the fundamental principles of nationalism: popular sovereignty and fundamental equality of membership in the (world) community;  they try to implement these nationalist principles on the world scale. In-so-far as the climate change problem is concerned, such non-"national" groups consider themselves representatives of the world community (self-appointed carriers of the nationalist principle of popular sovereignty). In-so-far as migration and mobility issues are concerned, it is the nationalist principle of the fundamental equality of membership in a community -- with the community in question being the world -- that gives inter-national migration and mobility legitimacy and makes it nigh impossible for national governments to oppose immigrants. 
      Given that nationalism is the dominant form of consciousness of our time, it is impossible to preclude its application (that is, the application of the principles of nationalism) to the global community, unless an undisputed national super-power (such as the USA was for the first two decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but no longer is, and such as China at present is poised to become) puts a stop to it.

  • Mr. Tommy Leung: "How do you think Taiwan and Hong Kong fit into the picture of Chinese nationalism and the rise of China in the globe?"

    • You and I have talked already about the prospects of Taiwan and Hong Kong vis-a-vis nationalist China and in a world dominated by it. You know that I believe, realistically, that for relatively small entities, such as Taiwan and Hong Kong, there is no possibility to oppose China, in the long run they will have to submit to its will. One can only hope that this would happen without great emotional costs.

  • Mr. Satadru Bhattacharyya: "How do you think China's interaction with its immediate neighbors will change in terms of the emerging trends in Chinese Nationalism?"

    • Not being a futurologist, I can only surmise that China would become firmer in its demands and harder to refuse vis-a-vis its immediate neighbors -- as well as the world at large.

Plenary Speaker: Adam Hanieh

Presentation: Migration, Methodological Nationalism, and the Global Political Economy: Thinking Across Borders

Debates around borders and migration have been a central flashpoint of politics over the last few years, accentuated by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Although the movement of people across and within borders has been integral to capitalism since its inception, there have been numerous important changes to patterns of migration at a global scale. We now see a multiplicity of different routes and forms of migration that span all parts of the globe: significant flows of refugees and asylum seekers connected to violence and conflict across the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia; increases in forms of unfree migrant labour (including trafficking and modern slavery); a proliferation of temporary migration schemes that connect labor markets in the North and South; on-going large-scale rural to urban migration; and a regionalisation of labor migration flows centered around new poles of capital accumulation in East Asia and the Middle East. Such movements of people – particularly over the last decade – have been accompanied by the rise of an anti-immigrant sentiment emanating from far-right, nativist, and populist movements. This presentation surveys key theoretical approaches to migration in political science, and makes the case for renewing and developing a global political economy perspective that is grounded in a critique of methodological nationalism. Such a perspective can provide important insights into the place of nationalism in the contemporary world, and help us think in new ways about borders, class, and national identity.