A short documentary that explores the reemergence of nationalism in our time, explaining how it works, why is it so powerful, and why has it returned.
Nationalism is back. In the last two years, nationalists have conquered the core of conventional politics in an electoral resurgence that has brought it back from the fringes. Its support, discourses and arguments draw on old logics but directly address grievances born out of global effects of the economic revolution that begun in the 1980s. While 2017 saw the consolidation of nationalist successes in the West, 2018 will see their ideas put to the test.
We studied Fiji because we were interested in the impact of climate change on peoples' links with their state and territory. However, the more we learnt, the more Fiji helped us re-examine some of the concepts that are often naturalised or presented as organic and inevitable by nationalists, and enabled us to rethink our ideas about political communities. What follows is an attempt to engage critically with these ideas.
No one could foresee it becoming an issue in last year’s Norwegian General Election: the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s (NRK) launch of the TV show ‘Faten goes to the polls’. Before the show was even aired, NRK had received around 6000 complaints, different in nature, but all deeply dissatisfied with a hijab-wearing woman being the protagonist of the show. The discussion around what the hijab symbolised, and whether it was compatible with Norwegian values, fired off.
On the 4th of November 1872, a newspaper in Istanbul featured a rather poetic editorial claiming that “if all the improvements in the world were photographed in a picture, the whole civilised world could only show as much as London”. Signifying somewhat of an internalised orientalism, literary depictions of the ‘civilised’ West were common in late-19th century Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, there is more to this than meets the eye.
History is one of the battlegrounds of nationalist movements. In their attempts to naturalize the nation and to control who belongs to it, nationalists mythologize some events while silencing others. In France, the return of nationalism in last year’s elections is indicated by the place that the pretended need for a “roman national” occupied in the electoral debates.
Anywhere you go in France or in the world, for any event be it a football match, a presidential election or a music concert, there will be a Breton flag. This is Brittany’s soft power and cultural expression. Although it is a pretty small region of France, Brittany’s history and cultural identity is powerful.
Saturday 30th of September 2017. Demonstrators gather in Madrid in protest of the Catalonian referendum. In front of the city hall, some perform the fascist salute while singing the Falangist hymn Cara al Sol (Facing the Sun), an official anthem of the Francoist regime. You’re probably thinking: something must be going wrong if an increasing number of citizens resort to symbols of the dictatorship to defend the unity of their country.
Ever since its exciting entrance in the global economy, China has undergone the scrutiny of many. Specifically, that of the Western world, trying to comprehend and justify its unpredictably successful communist authoritarian regime. In fact, since the economic boom initiated by Deng Xiaoping in the 1990s, China has been growing at stunningly fast rates that the West can, as of today, only dream of.
Taiwan throughout history had been given the status of terra nullius, until the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty was able to see the strategic value of the island. He eventually brought Taiwan onto the map, and ever since Taiwan has been considered as part of China. However, the First Sino-Japanese War changed the history of Taiwan, sparking a first identity struggle on the island. Suddenly, Taiwan was no longer part of the Han civilization but under the colonial control of the Japanese, where it remained for 50 years.