The XXXth Annual ASEN Conference Nationalism & Crisis
This year’s conference theme seems inevitable, given the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, on top of many other episodes of social and political instability over the last few years. Crisis can take many forms (and can be used too loosely) but for those who study nationalism it evokes the question of existential strains on national communities and the world that nationalism made. The ways in which incidents are framed as national crises – by governments, academics, journalists, and other public-facing interpreters of events or spokespersons of various national and international organisations – tell us something about particular conceptions of the nature of nationalism and national identities.
Prominent at the current moment are pressing planetary issues such as Covid-19 and climate change. But these planet-wide, global crises themselves arise in a period of geopolitical crisis linked to the huge economic shifts from West to East, as well as the breakdown of established international institutions. In the liberal democratic West, national governments are under pressure from populist movements – national movements which are inward-looking, exclusivist, authoritarian, and opposed to large-scale immigration. These types of national movement are seen as threatening liberal democratic polities, challenging their political pluralism and implicit or explicit flexibility of their national membership. Authoritarian regimes are also in crisis, under threat and fractured by liberal, national, and people-centred movements, as in Turkey, Syria, Belarus, and Hong Kong. Finally, the rekindling of ethnic strife in the Caucasus shows the return, if not persistence, of historical ethnic crises.
The economic impacts of the 2008 financial crisis linger on in many parts of the world, compounded by the current global pandemic. Cultural, ethnic, racial, and class divisions become sites of contestation under crisis conditions. As always, scrutinizing historical cases of nationalism and crisis can help us gain perspective on the present, and theorising our terms of inquiry can contribute to scholarship.
- Covid-19 as a crisis impacting nations and nationalism
- Is liberal democracy in crisis?
- Political polarisation and crises of political legitimacy
- BLM as a response to crisis
- Globalisation in crisis in the face of populism
- Is Brexit a national crisis?
- Ecology, including climate change as a source of crisis for nations
- Demographic change (e.g. shifting age structure) as posing crises for nations
- Crises of authority in science, religion, and cultural institutions
- Representations of national history in crisis?
- The shaping of national identities by crises (past and/or present)
- How do we define ‘crises’, and assess their impact on nationalism?
- Is national identity, belonging and solidarity in crisis?
- Crises’ impact on borders and citizenship
- Trade-off between democracy and authoritarianism in addressing Covid-19