NW 28 Sociologies of Education: Return of the nation? Sociologies of education in an era of rising nationalism and populism

Return of the nation? Sociologies of education in an era of rising nationalism and populism.

Nationalism remains a supreme force of contemporary societies and is thus ironically endemic to what is often described as a global world. Historically education has been a central vehicle of the reproduction of nationalism both strategically and by way of being embedded in national structures and discourses. In this year's call, we ask participants to examine the return of nationalism and the rise of populism in global and national politics and everyday practices of education. We also encourage thinking about how sociological research could harness productive means of critique and practical ways of overcoming antagonisms to (re)build shared humanity.

The Call
Nationalism comes in many forms and has been conceptualized by scholars in a variety of ways: as ideology, discourse, politics and daily practice (Gellner 1983; Hobsbawm 1990; Ichijo/Uzelac 2005; Özkırımlı 2010; Bonikowski 2016; Skey/Antonsich 2017). Nationalism is also an international model that perceives the world as divided into mutually exclusive sovereign national units and cultures that appear ‘natural’, but in fact do so only because they have been reproduced through carefully planned, but also mundane, long-term nation-building policies and practices, adopted to diffuse and strengthen a sense of nationhood. This is why a sociological question asked of nationalism has been, in Brubaker’s (1996) wording, not what a nation is but how is nationhood as a political and cultural form institutionalised and practised. Likewise, nation-states are not natural categories of analysis or ‘things' to be accurately described; they represent categories of practice and are products of socio-political processes (Özkirimli 2000).

In the current context of troubling times characterized by poverty, environmental crisis, intensifying cross-border migration flows, strengthening populism and far-right nationalism, among others, it is becoming increasingly imperative to scrutinize the continuous reproduction of nationalism – including its capacity for reinvention (Millei 2018) - in global and national politics and everyday contexts of education – particularly in view of the historical role of (state) education as the prime site of nationalistic socialization, but also contestation. As scholars, we must also study our own banal embeddedness in methodological (and epistemological) nationalism (Wimmer/Schiller 2002) not only as an issue of the taken-for-grantedness of the nation-state as a ‘natural’ unit of analysis, but in the form of nationalism being too familiar to be noticed, or taken seriously as an object of intellectual scrutiny. We might ask to what extent are epistemologies and ontologies still framed by unconscious national sentiments and institutionalized habits and systems of truths?

In this call, we ask authors to consider the following questions, among others:
How can the concept of nationalism help us understand the role of the nation in being a central mediator between international policy frames and the political work that takes place in the classroom?
How do populism and the intensification of nationalistic discourses influence the making of national education policy agendas now and in the future?
How does contemporary nationalism materialise, that is, how do actors, knowledges and pedagogies of re-nationalisation emerge in the practice of education? Moreover, how does social media enable and channel nationalism and populism?
Acknowledging the intensification of transnational flows of people, ideas, policies and practices, how do we study nationalism from outside or stretching beyond the nation, problematizing the binary scalar division between national and global?
Thus, how do we understand nationalism in a global context – where policies are increasingly developed in intensified interaction between different actors?
Finally, how could we harness sociological theory and imagination to help us understand the continuous attractiveness of nationalism, and could sociological research help to develop productive means of critique and practical ways of overcoming antagonisms to (re)build our common humanity?

Contact person(s)
Nelli Piattoeva (nelli.piattoeva(at)tuni.fi)
Jitka Wirthova (jitka.wirthova(at)fsv.cuni.cz)
Sofia Viseu (sviseu(at)ie.ulisboa.pt)

Bonikowski, Bart Nationalism in Settled Times. Annu. Rev. Sociol. 2016. 42:427–449.
Brubaker, Rogers Nationalism Reframed. Nationhood and the National Question in the New Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2005 [1996]
Gellner, Ernest: Nations and nationalism. Oxford, UK: Blackwell 1983
Hobsbawm, Eric J.: Nations and nationalism since 1780: Programme, myth, reality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press 1990
Ichijo, Atsuko/Uzelac, Gordana (eds.): When is the Nation? Towards an Understanding of Theories of Nationalism. London, UK: Routledge 2005
Millei, Zsuzsa: Pedagogy of nation: A concept and method to research nationalism in young children’s institutional lives. In: Childhood 26(1), 83–97. 2019.
Özkırımlı, Umut: Theories of Nationalism: A Critical Introduction (2nd edition). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan 2010
Skey, Michael/Antonsich, Marco Everyday Nationhood Theorising Culture, Identity and Belonging after Banal Nationalism. Palgrave Macmillan. 2017
Wimmer, Andreas/Schiller, Nina Glick: Methodological nationalism and beyond: Nation-state building, migration and the social sciences. In: Global Networks 2(2002), no. 4, 301-334

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Interview with Link Convenor 2019