We’re moving… actually, we’ve kinda moved already. Come find us there!

There are new and exciting things coming up for SEN this new season. One of them is a move to our own unique domain – http://senjournal.co.uk and an upcoming re-design of our layout. Don’t miss out and keep checking in with us.

 – The Editors


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New Article Spotlights, September-October 2013

Read on for some SEN articles that reflect on recent news reported on the blog over the past several weeks:

Identity Politics, Reform and Protest in Jordan, Curtis R. Ryan, Volume 11, Issue 3, December 2011, pp. 564-578

This article provides a brief examination of the main ethnic and national fault lines within Jordanian politics, and how these affected – and are affected by – the 2011 uprisings in the Arab world.

The Nation-State Form and the Emergence of ‘Minorities’ in Syria, Benjamin White, Volume 7, Issue 1, March 2007, pp. 64-85.

Minorities are specifically modern political groupings: they belong to the era of nation-states. This article explores the emergence of minorities in Syria under the French mandate. It examines the contradictions caused by French attempts to impose a religious political order within the secular form of the nation-state, showing how that form created minorities, most of whom cannot simply be mapped onto the millets, or religious communities, of the Ottoman Empire.

Using French and Syrian sources from the archives of the French High Commission, the article examines various religious and ethnolinguistic minorities to show how their emergence was governed by the nation-state form. French colonial policy influenced their development, but not their existence. The article draws on publications from the nationalist press of the period to show how the formation of minority and majority consciousness constitutes a larger process that is intimately linked to the nationstate form. The Syrian case is presented for comparative study and warns against an unreflective use of ‘minority’ as an analytical category.

Nationalism, Exclusion, and Violence: A Territorial Approach, John Robert Etherington, Volume 7, Issue 3, December 2007, pp. 24-44.

Nationalism can be understood as a doctrine of territorial political legitimacy, in the sense that demands for national self-government necessarily involve claims over a given territory. Such claims are ultimately justified by establishing a relationship of mutual belonging between the nation and ‘its’ territory. This makes nationalism intrinsically exclusionary and potentially violent, since purely civic nations become impossible in practice. Shared political and social values on their own fail to bind nation and territory together, and as such the nation’s ‘home’ might be anywhere, and thus, in a world of competing political claims over territory, nowhere. Ethnic elements of national identity are therefore necessary if an exclusive relationship is to be established between the nation and ‘its’ territory. These arguments are illustrated by analysing a series of nationalisms that have been traditionally considered to be ‘civic,’ such as those found in the United States, Canada and England.

Zionist Awareness of the Jewish Past: Inventing Tradition or Renewing the Ethnic Past, Yitzhak Conforti, Volume 12, Issue 1, April 2012, pp. 155-171.

Since the 1980s, the question of how nations are formed has been the topic of historiographic debate: is it correct to define nation-building in terms of inventing traditions, or is the ethnic-symbolic viewpoint more useful in understanding the process of development of the nation-state? This debate is also reflected in research on Jewish nationalism. In this article, I will examine this issue in relation to the Zionist movement, focusing on several clear examples of forging the nation and nation-building: 1) the change in configuration of traditional Jewish holidays; 2) ceremonies and Zionist holidays on kibbutzim; 3) the status of the Bible in the Zionist movement; and 4) Jewish history and Zionist historiography. These examples indicate that the process of nation-building reveals a strong ethnic-cultural link to the Jewish past. I will argue that modern political explanations such as inventing tradition do not offer a full explanation of the phenomenon of Jewish nationalism. In order to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of the success of Zionism in consolidating around it a group willing to commit such a high level of personal sacrifice over time, we must give consideration to cultural-ethnic continuity as well as the feeling of commitment and sanctity that Jewish nationalism offered to its believers, both religious and secular.

Intercultural Citizenship, Civic Nationalism, and Nation Building in Québec: From Common Public Language to Laïcité, Jean-Francois Dupre, Volume 12, Issue 2, October 2012, pp. 227-248.

This article analyses the current citizenship-nation building nexus in Québec in light of government publications and recent public discourses on ethnocultural pluralism and immigrant integration. First, the article surveys the changing relationship between Québécois nationalism and citizenship according to political circumstances in Québec, suggesting that debates over immigrant integration have played a central role in the creation of a civic Québécois identity, initially based on French as the public language and interculturalism. The article then analyses recent public debates surrounding ‘reasonable accommodation’ in Québec, and identifies a growing emphasis on laïcité – the secularisation of the public space – as identity marker. This article attributes this growing focus on secularism to dissatisfied nationalists seeking to reclaim the cultural prominence of the French Canadian majority in provincial institutions and press for measures aimed at enhancing Québec’s distinctiveness and autonomy within the Canadian institutional framework. On a more normative note, the article argues that while language nationalism is reconcilable with ethnocultural pluralism, recent discourses on the secularisation of the public space constrain the emergence of an openly pluralistic stance on national belonging in the province, and undermines the legitimacy of Québec interculturalism.

Between the National and the Global: Exploring Tensions in Canadian Citizenship Education, George H. Richardson and Laurence Abbott, Volume 9, Issue 3, December 2009, pp. 377-394.

Over the last fifteen years, most national public education systems have added some component of ‘global citizenship education’ to their existing civic education curricula. This move to expand the confines of citizenship education has generally been applauded as a way in which schools might better prepare students to understand and address the challenges and possibilities of globalisation. However, a close analysis of curriculum documents in Canada tends to highlight the fact that in terms of civic education, significant ideological tensions exist between global citizenship and national citizenship. In this article, we draw on Canadian civics and social studies curricula from across Canada to examine the different sources of civic tensions between the ‘national’ and the ‘global’.

The Relevance of Kohn’s Dichotomy to the Russian Nineteenth-Century Concept of Nationalism, Susanna Rabow-Edling, Volume 8, Issue 3, December 2008, pp. 560-578.

This article challenges the common distinction between a Western and an Eastern type of nationalism with regard to Russian nationalism. Analysing the civic nationalism of the Decembrists and the cultural nationalism of the Slavophiles, it argues that the type of nationalism that appears in a specific country has more to do with timing than with place or social conditions. The article also suggests that intellectual thought should be studied in an international rather than a national context and that the world of ideas has to be granted a considerable degree of autonomy from socioeconomic conditions.

Nationalism, Ethnicity and Self-determination: A Paradigm Shift?, Ephraim Nimni, Volume 9, Issue 2, September 2009, pp. 319-332.

An ongoing paradigm shift is giving birth to a more multidimensional understanding of the relationship between nationalism, sovereignty, self-determination and democratic governance. A common element among the various versions of the new paradigm is the dispersal of democratic governance across multiple and overlapping jurisdictions. Governmental processes are no longer seen as discrete, centralised and homogenous (as in the old nation-state model) but as asymmetrical, multilayered, multicultural and devolved into multiple jurisdictions. These changes have hardly affected the two main conceptual frameworks that dominate the study of nationalism: modernism and ethnosymbolism. As a result, these frameworks risk becoming irrelevant to the new forms of national self-determination, asymmetrical governance and shared sovereignty. Modernism and ethnosymbolism insist that nationalism seeks to equate the nation with a sovereign state, while in reality the overwhelming majority of nations are stateless and unable to build nation states because they often inhabit territories shared with other nations. The paradigm shift occurs through the realisation that nation-state sovereignty is no longer a feasible solution to the demands of stateless nations. Ethnosymbolism is in a much better position to adapt to the paradigm shift provided it abandons the claim that the nation state is the best shell for the nation.

The Ethnic and Civic Foundations of Citizenship and Identity in the Horn of Africa, Redie Bereketeab, Volume 11, Issue 1, April 2011, pp. 63-81.

The article seeks to analyse the ethic and civic forms of citizenship and identity in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia and to some extent Sudan are pursuing the ethnic model. While Eritrea and Djibouti pursue the civic model, Somalia represents a special case. Ethnic citizenship may guarantee equal rights, self-rule, and self-fulfilment; however, it could also be a cause of division and irredentism. Civic citizenship could create unity and cohesion in polyethnic societies; it could also lead to majority domination. The article contends that both models are relevant where the national level could be served by the civic model and the sub-national is served by the ethnic model. The article concludes that the politics of domination are the main obstacle to the equal rights of citizens, and therefore politics of domination should be replaced by the politics of rights.

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SEN News on Sunday: October 6 – 13, 2013

Montreal Jews protesting the proposed Charter of Quebec Values, which aims to restrict public displays of religious faith, Sept. 29, 2013. (David Ouellette)

  • The New York Times (09/10/13) also reports on the growing extremism in Kenya, in particular among the country’s “own neglected, disaffected Muslim population.”

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SEN News on Sunday – September 29 – October 6, 2013

Supporters of the ultra-right-wing Golden Dawn Party wait outside the Athens courthouse for the transfer of party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos to the prosecutor Wednesday. Four lawmakers from Greece's neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn have been indicted on charges of belonging to a criminal organization.

  • Al Jazeera (06/1/13) reports on the proposed formation of a Russia-led Eurasian Union (EAU), however critics have stated that this move could compromise the sovereignty and independence of Caucasus states.
  • The Washington Post (04/10/13) reports on the recent flare up of ethnic and religious conflict in Kenya, due to the recent murder of a well-known Muslim cleric.

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SEN News on Sunday: September 22 – 29, 2013


  • The BBC (27/09/13) analyses football and the rise of nationalism in Central Europe in its World Service radio programme.

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SEN News on Sunday: September 15-22, 2013

Alex Salmond

  • The Guardian (22/09/13) comments on the Scottish independence movement and wonders whether “broadcasters [can] convey authentic Celtic atmosphere without recourse to cheap, nationalistic imagery?”
  • The Gatestone Institute (19/9/13) provides an analysis on the deep split in Turkish society, which is evident by the recent spate of government protests in the country.
  • The Guardian (17/09/13) reports on criticisms of the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Alex Salmond, by his former aide.
  • CNN (17/09/13) reports that for the first time ever an American of Indian descent has won the Miss America title, which also sparked a series of ethnic and racist comments on the internet.
  • The Economist (16/09/13) reports that “for the first time Poland’s tiny German minority is allowed to vote in German’s elections.”

Stay tuned for SEN Article Spotlights, which will be posted later in the week.

News compiled by Karen Seegobin.

If you would like to write a response to any of these news stories, please email us at sen@lse.ac.uk.

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SEN News on Sunday: September 8-15, 2013

Red Square, Moscow

  • Globe and Mail (12/09/13) reports that Québécois MP, Maria Mourani, has been kicked out of her Parti Québécois for denouncing the party’s Charter of Quebec Values as discriminatory.  The National Post (13/09/13) comments on the subject and on the Charter’s widespread condemnation by other Canadian leaders.
  • RiaNovosti (11/09/13) reports on a recent national poll in Russia, which examined key factors which influence national identity, and revealed that sexual orientation and ethnicity were on top of the list.
  • Albawaba (10/09/13) reports on Saudi themed contact lenses which have become popular in celebrations of Saudi Arabia’s national day, to be held on September 23rd.
  • Al Jazeera (09/09/13) reports on Norway’s recently held national elections, in which the Conservative Party and its right-wing allies defeated the incumbent Prime Minister.

Stay tuned for SEN Article Spotlights, which will be posted later in the week.

News compiled by Karen Seegobin.

If you would like to write a response to any of these news stories, please email us at sen@lse.ac.uk.

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From Dissidence in Israel to Theorising Ethno-Linguistic Holism


Inter-connections between our past academic articles and last week’s news, read it here:

Bent Twigs and Olive Branches: Exploring the Narratives of Dissident Israeli Jews Volume 13, Issue 1, pages 20–37, April 2013

This article explores symbolic boundaries and identity-formation of the ‘ethnonational Us’, using narrative analysis of eleven Israeli-Jewish dissidents. The hegemonic nationalist discourse in Israel – Zionism – constructs the dissidents’ identities as the ‘Virtuous Us’, yet these individuals genuinely try to connect with the ‘Demonized Palestinian Other’. I suggest that the dissidents attempt to use alternative national identity discourses to overcome symbolic boundaries. I highlight inconsistencies within individual dissidents’ narratives and attribute them to the employment of multiple discourses, suggesting that some discourses fail to coherently reconcile ‘national’ history with the well-being of the Other, whilst others repel dissidents by appearing to negate or destroy their identities. The dissidents, therefore, cannot use the available discourses to fully overcome symbolic boundaries. Only the hegemonic nationalist discourse can offer a self-evident and compelling enunciation of the dissidents’ political reality, leading one insightful dissident to conclude that there is ‘no way out’ of his dilemma.

A Holistic Approach to Language, Religion, and Ethnicity Volume 13, Issue 1, pages 101–104, April 2013

If language, religion, ethnicity, and nation are all sources and forms of social distinction and personal identification, what happens when these categories/identities overlap or cut across each other? How are these terms used in everyday contexts, and what can we learn from the slippages between them? In light of these two questions, we question Brubaker’s sanguinity regarding religious and language pluralism in the twenty-first century.

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SEN News on Sunday: August 29 – September 1, 2013

Migration is Changing the World (Part 3/3)

  • The Guardian (29/08/13) reports on the claim that Westminster’s welfare reforms could actually strengthen the case for independence.
  • Bloomberg.com (29/08/13) features an article by Paul Collier, who argues that nationalism could combat racism rather than inflame it.
  • The Economist (28/08/13) blogs about recent studies which designed methods of ranking languages on a universal scale of difficulty.
  • NPR.org (28/08/13) features a unique audio-visual experiment which reflects on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, one of the largest civil rights rallies in U.S. history, and where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I have a dream” speech.
  • 972mag.com (27/08/13) analyses the creation of national identity in Israel, in light of the country’s proposed controversial law, “the Basic Law: Israel – the Nation-State of the Jewish People”.

Stay tuned for SEN Article Spotlights, which will be posted later in the week.

News compiled by Karen Seegobin.

If you would like to write a response to any of these news stories, please email us at sen@lse.ac.uk.

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SEN News on Sunday: August 18 – 25, 2013

  • WorldBulletin.net (22/08/13) reports that Nigeria, for the first time in the nation’s history, will include questions on religion and ethnicity in its 2016 census.

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