Nationalism

The term nationalism has more than one dimension. On the one hand, it can be used to describe the process of increasing self-confidence of a repressed people, being on a peaceful way towards independence, and on the other, as the exaggeration of national devotion, the declaration of an absolute exclusiveness of a nation to the point of war and genocide. A quick look into European history since the 19th century reveals that nationalism did not always have the same intentions and aims.

Constitutional for every form of nationalism is to identify with a national principle, a feeling of belonging to a certain community that defines itself as a nation. But how is such a corporate feeling constituted? Which processes contribute to the formation of a national identity? Which topoi are used and how are they exploited in order to reach the goals of various national movements? Which differences can be seen in the developments of the European states? How can these developments be integrated into the bigger context of the history of ideas? Which patterns can be found and how did the importance of the concept of nationalism change during the past two centuries? Do we still need a national identity today, in an age of globalization and multiculturalism, or has it – after seeing the 20th century’s bloodshed in the name of nation – become obsolete or even condemnable?

Besides theoretical questions regarding the preconditions, formation, development and concept of nationalism, the workshop primarily wants to deal with and compare concrete examples from several regions and cultural areas of Europe, past and present, and beyond. With the help of these exemplifications, an attempt shall be made to get to the bottom of the concept of nationalism, to extract types and patterns and to critically question the historical and present significance and actuality of national identity.

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