SEN Journal: Online Exclusives would like to present this interview conducted with Professor Rogers Brubaker, a Professor of Sociology and UCLA Foundation Chair at the University of California, Los Angeles. He gave the Ernest Gellner Nationalism Lecture at the 2012 ASEN Conference and was also one of the conference’s keynote speakers. You can view a video of the Gellner Lecture on the ASEN YouTube channel.
Vesselina Ratchev and Karen Seegobin interviewed Professor Brubaker at the 2012 ASEN Conference, held at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
1. What are the main themes you’ve been working on this year?
I’ve been working my way into the literature on religion.
2. What is the best book on nationalism that you’ve read in the past year?
Well actually the most significant reading experience of the past year has been reading an old book. Why just new books? The old book I read which was very compelling and interesting is by Jose Casanova called Public Religions in the Modern World.
3. What new directions are nationalism studies taking?
The quality of nationalism is such that it is continually reinvented in new forms, so there is a guarantee that there will be continually ample material and that the literature will continue to evolve. There has been a massive cultural turn in nationalism studies in the last few decades, but it’s not a sharply bounded field. It’s marked off from the study of ethnicity, but there are interesting inter-penetrations. I think the religion-nationalism nexus is something which is increasingly interesting to a number of people. For instance, I spoke to someone yesterday who was doing an edited volume on nationalism and Islam.
4. What was the key piece of news from the last year that you found the most interesting?
I can think of some pieces not in the last year but the last three, namely the whole set of issues about economic crisis and nationalism. Once again, this is a rather undeveloped research terrain.
SEN Journal: Online Exclusives would like to thank Professor Brubaker for taking the time to be interviewed. For more on the topics discussed, please take a look at the following SEN articles, which can be found in the print edition:
Tibi, B. (2010), Ethnicity of Fear? Islamic Migration and the Ethnicization of Islam in Europe. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 10: 126–157.
Hellyer, H. A. (2011), The Allure of Politicisation of Religion – and the Necessity of Empirical Justification. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 11: 329–332.