IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - The Persistence of Nationalism: from imagined communities to urban encounters
Why does nationalism persist in contemporary global politics? And how might we understand this persistence given the many different attempts over the past quarter of a century or so at undoing nationalism’s founding assumptions? This lecture will examine the difficulties of thinking and acting politically in ways that refuse the terms offered by nationalism. It will also develop an argument about how a ‘national imaginary’ is much more prevalent than we might assume.
Reflecting on the political landscape of the War on Terror and the imaginative geographies of ‘us’ and ‘them’, the lecture will examine various examples of the enduring and affective force of nationalist politics. By drawing attention to the ideas about time and space that underpin our political imaginaries, it will address the difficulties and limits of going ‘beyond’ nationalism. For example, it will argue that nationalist ways of seeing the world often inform attempts at offering alternatives to nationalism. This means that the challenge involves more than replacing the national with the global or with the cosmopolitan. This lecture will instead call for a more creative engagement with the question of what it means to imagine community, drawing inspiration in part from various literatures on the experience of city life.
Angharad Closs Stephens is Lecturer in Human Geography at Durham University and author of The Persistence of Nationalism (Routledge, 2013).
This lecture is free and open to all.
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