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Advanced Studies:

Nation, Nationalism and Nationalist Modernity

Core courses: Nationalism and Women in the 'Third World' (Elliston), Political Anthropology (Wilson), Political Ecology (Ferradas), Latin America Seminar (Ferradas), Kinship, Gender, & Sexuality (Elliston), The Global and the Local (Ferradas), Topics in Migration and Transnationalism (staff), Sexuality Studies Seminar (Elliston), Transnationalism and Diaspora (staff).

Current social theory has approached modernity as a discourse constituted through specific epistemological, metaphysical and political projects and has critically interrogated modernity's prior meaning as simply an historical epoch (i.e., modes of social organization that emerged in Europe around the 16th century). This major shift in theorizing modernity has founded a wide variety of critical analytical projects including the ongoing debate about the relationship between modernity and post-modernity. Apart from the distinctiveness of "modern" social institutions and their reinforcing processes, key ideological projects and commitments of modernity that have come under challenge are:

Our faculty are researching how nationalists describe, imagine (and produce) the nation-state "cultural policies" and the ways they rely upon and reproduce structural inequalities by masking differences within cultural communities and promoting a vision of the nation as a unified, distinctive cultural community vis-à-vis other nations. Other faculty are engaged in cognate studies of how the terms of belonging to the nation are forged and in projects focusing on the specific social practices through which identifications with the nation are made compelling to many – but never all – people of a given nation. Still other faculty research related questions about the processes through which belonging and identification are produced in relation to other forms of community-building.

Such belongings demonstrate that neoliberal globalization and transnational processes – the spatial re-arrangements of capital, culture, social movements and migration beyond the boundaries of nation-states – are increasingly challenging the projects of contemporary nation-states. While some analysts predicted that the sovereignty of nation-states would be replaced by the sovereignty of the market and powerful supra-national institutions, current developments show that far from disappearing, nation-states are playing key roles in the restructuring of the world economy, politics and culture. These processes have generated impoverishment and insecurity and have widened the gap between the rich and the poor. Moreover, new forms of politics emphasizing particularisms and difference have emerged.

Our faculty are concerned with the contradictory and complex processes triggered by neoliberal restructuring and the globalization of culture. Research projects focus on regional and local contestations of the fragmentation and marginalization created by global capital, and on the tensions between national, regional and global projects in such arenas as international borders, environmental politics in de-industrialized and impoverished nations of the South, processes of privatization and capitalization of nature, the development of nationalist social movements, the emergence of transnational classes such as cosmopolitans, the role of central banks in a globalized economy, and the transformations of modernization and development paradigms.

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Last Updated: 10/10/12