The number in each panel session indicates the room that the panel takes place in. For instance, A2 would be in room 2, and C5 would be in C5, and so on.
A1: Central Europe 1
Chair: Hanno Brand
Using Marginalized Strategies in the Mainstream: A Discourse Analysis of a Governing Party “Under Attack”, the Case of the Austria People’s Party
Media and communication strategies have been key to understanding populism’s appeal and impact on the political discourse. In their communication, right-wing populists constantly invoke images of the nation, often by referring to it as being under attack from the outside or from the inside. Until now, research on populism and the media has mostly focused on radical-right opposition parties. For instance, the Austrian Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs) has been employing these images for decades, especially in their party media, creating “echo chambers” where the proliferation of conspiracy theories plays a key role in connecting with their sympathizers.
More recently, traditional conservative parties in government have adopted communication strategies of the populists. When an investigation against Sebastian Kurz ,Austrian chancellor and leader of the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei), for committing perjury became public in May 2021, he and his party did not hesitate to employ rhetorical strategies usually ascribed to populists, such as exclusive constructions of national identity, self-victimization, calculated ambivalence and conspiracy theories for constructing a threat against the leader, the party and the nation as a whole. These strategies were accompanied by attacks against the media, the opposition and the judiciary and continued for several months until Kurz stepped down as chancellor in October 2021.
Reflecting on a discourse analysis of the party’s communication between May and October 2021, this paper addresses the question of how governing parties use populist concepts and strategies to allege conspiracies against their leaders, themselves and the nation as a whole.
Nationalist internet. Reconstructing the media ecosystem of Polish far-right websites
Since the populist right took power in Poland in 2015, those in power from the Law and Justice party and its coalition partners have more or less openly flirted with various radical nationalist circles. This official support has translated into an increase of various initiatives, including media activities, signed by the extreme right. The National Media, created by the extreme right, has become an equal media partner for the authorities, just like the public and commercial media, despite the openly racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim content published on their air. However, the National Media is a small part of the broader media base of the far right.
The main objective of this paper is to present the media ecosystem of the Polish far-right websites. Using Social Network Analysis, over 200 far-right sites were identified and several hundred sites referred to by nationalists. On this basis, the websites, constituting crucial propaganda tubes of the Polish far-right, will be presented and the links between nationalist circles and external entities (political parties, NGOs, religious groups, etc.). Based on the content analysis, a classification of the websites was made in terms of the message’s thematisation, type and degree of radicality.
Previous analyses conducted by the author indicate that thriving far-right social media are only a tool to attract new supporters, whereas websites (organisation’s website, blogs, media) are the primary ideological device of the far right. At the same time, the blurring of boundaries between different nationalist circles and their interconnections mean that new people who reach far-right sites offering soft nationalism can quite quickly reach extreme right radical content.
A Clash of Interpretations? Polarized domestic media representations of the 2021 March of Independence in Poland
The annual March of Independence is one of the most controversial, both praised and condemned manifestations of Polish nationalism. As a large-scale street event originally initiated by the All-Polish Youth and the National Radical Camp, it regularly attracts not only self-proclaimed patriots commemorating Poland’s liberation but also far-right extremist nationalist groups of an anti-pluralist, homogenous and anti-democratic character (Pankowski & Kormak, 2013).
Although the event has been criticized by left-wing liberal media outlets and supporters ever since its establishment in 2011, the debate surrounding the March became even more polarized when the right-wing populist Law and Justice, standing in defense of the March, took over the Polish government in 2015. Interpretations of the March regularly conflict with each other, drawing on partisan and foreign enemy images expressed in insinuations, allegations, and suspicion toward the political opponent.
Reflecting on discussions connecting Critical Discourse Studies (CDS), online ethnography, and participant observation as methods of increasing importance to the research of social media discourse, the following article reflects on the political ramifications of “echo chambers” and their contribution to political antagonism. Through the analysis of selected excerpts and press releases from political representatives, media outlets, and proponents associated with the Polish government vis-à-vis the opposition and related to the 2021 March of Independence, the article seeks to answer how instances traditionally situated on vertically different levels horizontally intertwine against the common “other” on social media to further cement the already observed political polarization between a national conservative and a liberal camp in Poland.
Nationalism and othering of Europe in Polish media
Joanna Orzechowska-Wacławska and Agnieszka Sadecka
Since the victory of Law and Justice (PiS) and its coalition partners in 2015, Poland has witnessed an illiberal and nationalist turn. The public discourse has become dominated by the notion of national sovereignty understood as an absolute value, that should not be shared or delegated to a supranational level. The key role in the process of legitimizing and consolidating the power of the right-wing national populists has been played by the media, which not only transmitted national(ist) message of political leaders, but also actively contributed to the new national narrative.
The images of national community has most convincingly been painted through various the practices of othering, allowing to draw the boundary between the in-group and what it stands for, and the out-group, “the other” perceived as not belonging to the group, disruptive and threatening its well-being.
This paper focuses specifically on the strategies of othering of Europe and the EU used by national populists in Poland in the name of promoting (and defending) Polish national traditional values, which have been portrayed as endangered by the post-Enlightenment, liberal, cosmopolitan values professed by the EU.
The authors focus specifically on media narratives by studying Polish right-wing weekly magazines (2015-2020). The study is twofold combining the analysis of interviews with populist political figures, and the interpretation of magazine covers (textual and visual). The goal of the paper is to explore the ways in which the national self is contrasted with the European other in media narratives in contemporary Poland.
A2: Cinema 1
Chair: Bruno de Wever
Discourses of cultural diversity and inclusion in Flemish film policy (2002-2021)
Alexander De Man
While film policy in Flanders has traditionally been a locus of Flemish nation-building, antithetical considerations of multiculturalism and ethnic diversity have intermingled in recent years. Interest groups such as Represent have advocated for diasporic creative workers in the film industry by adding issues of social exclusion and the lack of (self-)representation to the policy agenda. While policymakers have responded by emphasizing their awareness of this “diversity conundrum”, critics keep highlighting their responsibility. Therefore, I aim to scrutinize how Flemish film policymakers have conceptualized, framed, and operationalized matters of cultural diversity and inclusion within a subnational context in the last two decades. Who are the relevant actors with power and what are their dominant expressions in language and practice? How do these discourses relate to broader ideological underpinnings and how are they materialized into the concrete governance of Flemish film production? To answer these questions, a critical discourse analysis is currently being carried out, drawing on a database that was previously set up with all the publically available Flemish film policy documents (i.e. laws, decrees, managerial agreements, annual reports, parliamentary discussions, …) from 2002 until now. Intermediate results suggest that policy discourses on diversity and inclusion are consistently dovetailed with Flemish-nationalist tenets of homogeneity and social cohesion and the (neo-)liberal mantra of difference-blind universalism. The result is a toned-down and perhaps intentionally ambiguous lexicon of diversity that fails to subvert the neoliberalism-nationalism nexus that has prevailed as the impregnable doctrine in Flemish film policy.
‘Well, I miss the Pilsner.‘ The transmission of national values and beliefs in Czech popular film production from the 1970s to the 1990s.
After the 1968 suppression of the Prague Spring uprising, the new post invasion authorities decided to develop a new consensus with the subordinated citizens that was no longer based on the enthusiastic building of socialism and the notion of individual sacrifice for the benefit of the collective. In order to sell the ideological offer to the public, the propagandistic effort was shifted to the sphere of popular culture. Cultural production was carefully planned in accordance with current ideological needs. The new hegemony, hereby spread through popular culture, tried much harder to accommodate the values and beliefs shared by the population. Part of this effort included a certain redefinition of nationalism, based more on defining the ‘self’ against the ‘foreign’ rather than on a combination of anti-German Pan-Slavism and internationalism as during the 1940s and 1950. The new authorities sought to gain popular support by reinforcing shared auto- and heterostereotypes, (Us versus Them), a rhetoric that had survived from the national revival in the 19th century, supplemented with new meanings associated with the Communist Party and the Soviet Union, which included defining oneself against the (treacherous, dangerous) West. In the proposed paper, I will present an analysis of Czech film production from the 1970s to the 1990s, which, through widely popular works, presented a certain understanding of national values and qualities as being in contrast to foreigners or Czech emigrants. This worldview has been preserved in many cases even in the later post-socialist film production, free of censorship and imposed propaganda.
Reimagining ‘Belgitude’ in Contemporary Belgian Cinema
Bram Van Beek
This paper explores recent tendencies in contemporary Belgian cinema through the lens of the concept of ‘belgitude’. Coined by literary critics in the 1970s, the term came to stand for a distinct Belgian identity that ceased to problematize the political and cultural divisions between the linguistic communities, and instead embraced the country’s biculturalism as an enrichment. The concept was subsequently used to characterize the work of filmmakers from that period, most notably André Delvaux’s magic realism. Although belgitude was declared dead by the end of the 20th century, aspects of it can be discerned in contemporary Belgian cinema, particularly in co-productions between the Flemish and French communities. By exploring notions such as multilingualism, hybridity, and in-betweenness in the work of contemporary Belgian filmmakers such as Alex Stockman, Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth, Nabil Ben Yadir, and Marion Hänsel, this paper traces the contours of a reemerging belgitude in Belgian cinema. A comparison with André Delvaux’s work reveals that, while traditional belgitude emerged as a hybrid (non-)identity between Flemish and Walloon culture, its contemporary articulation also incorporates transnational and cosmopolitan identities as constitutive elements of Belgian identity. As a phenomenon that transcends the language border, the tendency described in this paper is at odds with the dominant perception of a (supposed) division between Flemish and Belgian Francophone cinema, as well as with recent evolutions in Belgian politics. In exploring this dynamic, this paper contributes to the study of the relationship between cinema and nation-building in Belgium.
Chair: Daniel Biltereyst
“Despite everything, love”: Commemorative journalism and the withdrawal from the critical rereading of the Israeli past
Danielle Yusufov and Oren Meyers
This study examined how commemorative journalism shapes collective memory by exploring 18 printed supplements and special projects commemorating Israel’s 70th anniversary. Studies of commemorative journalism allow for an examination of the practices through which journalists construct national memories, and simultaneously, contribute to processes of forgetting and silencing. The research questions focused on three central narrative characteristics of journalism: protagonists, plots, and narrators.
The findings show that the supplements mostly presented hegemonic and non-critical memory versions. The protagonists of the narratives were mainly Jewish men who took part in plots that focused on the triumphs of Zionism. Within the constant struggle among memory agents, journalists were not the narratives’ primary sources of authority; however, the few narratives that did present critical and even subversive versions of the national story were conveyed by journalists.
Our examination also revealed the ways in which those located at the fringes of the ethnic-national community were excluded from these journalistic narratives, conveying mostly a tale of Israeli strength, narrated by Jewish men. Women were presented as the mothers of the nation. We maintain that the current dominant memory version narrated by the supplements reflects a withdrawal from and rejection of recent, more critical journalistic readings of the Israeli past. This conscious return to older, hegemonic patterns of narration of the national past could be understood within the context of two central conditions, shaping the construction of Israeli reality over the past two decades: the growing dominance of the political Right and changes in Israel’s media map.
Relational approach to state policies and media production. Prioritization of the state and proliferation of nationalist discourses on a global scale
The presentation’s aim is to explain the relational nature between nation-states and media, within the ongoing debate about globalisation and media production. The article is moving beyond the binary distinction between globalisation-enthusiasts, who see a decline of state role in media management, and globalist-sceptics, who problematise the extent of transnational media production and the role of international media intervention (Flew T., Iosifidis P., Steemers J., 2016). I argue for relational approach that considers the contemporary power relations; the internalization of national discourses by various global social and political actors; and contemporary discourses, especially those that refer to social justice issues. The analysis is based on three interpretation frameworks: 1) primacy of state security over national communities; 2) interstate protection of neo-colonial/settler colonial hegemony; 3) hierarchization of national communities, resulting in supporting nationalisms of certain nation-states at the expense of other communities.
I argue that not only certain states are still great facilitators of transnational media processes, but they prolificate and promote specific national discourses and utilize international procedures to foster specific interstate discourses.
I base my analysis on the case study of international and states’ control over media representation and knowledge production about Palestine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the US support of the official Israeli-state nationalist discourse. Among other issues, I tackle the problem of international censure of Palestinian national discourse on such platforms as Facebook or Tweeter.
A4: Provinces and peripheries
Chair: Dirk Rochtus
‘Aliens’ – the framing of ‘the other’ in the local press – Provincial Lancashire 1914-1926
The First World War ushered in a profound re-envisaging of ‘the other’ in Britain. Nationalism and Xenophobia drew on earlier currents of antisemitism, but with heightened expressions of Germanophobia. This coincided with state-imposed legislation, including Alien’s restriction Acts of 1915, 1919, and 1920, and the infamously racist ‘Coloured Alien Seamen Order’ of 1925. Fairly well-established pre-existing migrant communities were exposed to this hostile environment. Furthermore, a process of systematic control and internment began of enemy aliens during the First World War, with camps established in a global imperial network, including one at Lancaster. Historians such as Tony Kushner and Katherine Knox consider the post-First World War period as one of ‘triumphant anti-alienism’. This can be linked to nationalistic practices such as Empire Day and patterns of war remembrance. This article considers the influence of the local press in acting as a catalyst for this anti-alien sentiment, and as a mirror to reflect on highly localised cultures. Countless extracts highlighted police control of Aliens, reinforcing stereotypes of foreigners as criminals. Taking into consideration smaller towns such as Lancaster, Fleetwood, and Preston, this paper highlights the role of nationalist ideology in parochial settings. In doing so, it addresses neglected areas of historiography. Overall, media narratives can be situated within broader structures. The imagined community of ‘the nation’ is threatened by the perceived malign influence of ‘the
other’. This research has contemporary relevance linked to present media discourses of the position migrants, refugees, and asylum
seekers in British society.
A peripheral voice. The political culture of sardinian nationalism from 1968 to 1989.
After the victory of the independentist faction led by Antonio Simon-Mossa in the 1968 convention, the Partito Sardo d’Azione suffered a significant decline in support throughout the 1970s, when the party risked total political irrelevance. This restriction of the party’s strength was matched by a cultural dynamism thanks to the revival of issues that had already undergone a process of rejuvenation with the work of Simon-Mossa. Small groups were born that tried to combine traditional Sardism within a Marxist and anti-colonial perspective.
But these issues did not have a great deal of response in the official media channels, limiting themselves to the underground press and the use of mimeographs that circulated among militants. The academic world and the major newspapers on the island (Unione Sarda and Nuova Sardegna) were interested in the internal ups and downs of the two major parties: Democrazia Cristiana and Partito Comunista.
Even during the 1980s, when the Partito Sardo d’Azione had an electoral success, things changed very little. The attention of the Sardinian and Italian media focused on the electoral miracle but, at the same time, the “separatist specter” was agitated, aimed at demonizing the P.S.d’Az. and to frighten the electorate.
In this study I will examine the main ideas that animated those years (the protection of the Sardinian language and culture, the search for a new relationship with the Italian State) and the attempt by Sardist intellectuals to leave from a peripheral condition not having the structures and financing channels of the Italian parties.
Nationalism After Print Capitalism? Exploring the Impact of Contemporary Media Work on Scottish National Identity
In 1992 Scotsman Editor Magnus Linklater noted that, ‘The Scots like their newspapers — and they like them to be Scottish.’ Linklater was referring to a buoyant indigenous newspaper industry that had helped establish and sustain Scottish national identity for over a century (Donaldson 1986; Smith 1994; Douglas 2009). Such remarks draw on long-standing popular narratives linking Scottish national identity with ‘respect for the printed word’ (Linklater 1992: 126). Indeed, as McCrone (2001) points out, the press traditionally functioned as a ‘key civil institution in Scotland which reinforces national identity.’
However, the recent decline of the press in general, and Scotland’s two quality broadsheets the Herald and the Scotsman in particular, has supplanted a once autonomous newspaper sector previously managed and owned in Scotland (Blain & Hutchison: 2016). In place of these institutions, Scotland’s public sphere has witnessed a steep rise in journalism carried out by the ‘networked freelancer,’ (Hayes & Silke 2018) while the shift from newsrooms to a ‘liquid work environment’ (Deuze 2007: 85) poses acute challenges for both the vocational identity of journalists and the traditional role of newspapers as repositories of national identity (Brennan 1993: 49).
In order to elucidate this predicament, this paper will draw on a data set consisting of 25 interviews with former Herald journalists who worked at the title from 2003 – 2019; the years in which Scottish nationalism came to dominate public life. It will then go on to contrast these findings with the experiences of media workers on digital-only outlets in Scotland.
Chair: Eline Ceulemans
Stranger friends: Basque nationalism in the Congress for Cultural Freedom and the cultural Cold War
“Exile is paper on which we write”. This is how Joseba Sarrionandia, an awarded Basque writer, describes exile after being exiled for more than 30 years.
Exile is an important factor to study Basque nationalism and media is the means for nationalism to survive, expand and evolve while the nation has had to go into exile.
The Basques were forced into exile when Carlists and Fascists were winning the war in the Basque Country and Spain, right after the first Basque Government had been formed, on October 1st, 1936. In this respect, exile becomes a protection against dictatorship, not only in the real sense of what Antoon de Baets defines as “a blessing in disguise”, since the exiles abroad are living and enjoying the freedom of living in democracies despite the fact of having been expelled from the motherland, but also an opportunity to protect and develop their nation, clearly threatened by Francoism.
Manuel Irujo, member of the Basque Nationalist Party and one of the main ideologists of traditional Basque nationalism, developed during his long exile ceaselessly writing to keep the Basque nation alive.
Despite the hundreds of articles written by him in “Alderdi”, the official party publication, and in many other Basque publications abroad, what is analyzed in this paper is the special relationship made with the Anti-Stalinist and CIA’s funded “Congress for Cultural Freedom”.
Basque nationalism stablished a strategy to internationally disseminate its cause using the Congress’ platform, publishing in their media and collaborating with well-known intellectual socialists in order to achieve its goal.
Political frames, semantic spaces and critical junctures: meanings trajectories in Spanish mainstream press during the Catalan secessionist challenge (2012-2019)
Jose Javier Olivas Osuna
In the context of an identarian conflict, like the one in Catalonia, media frames acquire a particular salience. The fight for political hegemony implies a fight at the ideational level and specially a competition in terms of decontestation of meanings of certain key concepts, such as “the people” and “the nation” (Ranciere 1995; Freeden 1996). Language helps to discursively create internal frontiers and to fix political identities around them (Laclau and Mouffe 2001; Laclau 2005). Media frames activate “frames of thought” and therefore impact the way in which the public processes and reacts to information. (Chong and Duckman 2007).
Using an unsupervised machine learning method we track the relative salience, level of semantic fragmentation and fluctuations in meanings of a set of key political terms in the two largest Spanish newspapers, El País and El Mundo throughout, 8 years (2012-2019). This is achieved via the extraction (using Python code), vectorization and comparison (via R-coded algorithms) of over 70,000 words. We apply a Latent Semantic Analysis technique (Dumais 2004) and an innovative methodology for the alignment of semantic spaces (Jorge-Botana et al 2020). Moreover, we use new institutional theory (Hall and Taylor 1996); to explain the observed changes in political frames in the context of the Catalan political crisis. We demonstrate that the paths followed by relevant nationalism-related frames fit a punctuated equilibrium model (Baumgartner and Jones, 2010) and that some political events in Catalonia, acted as critical junctures, leaving long-lasting legacies in the meanings reflected in Madrid’s press.
Land of peaceful separatists – the Szeklerland in Romanian media
In Romanian media, Szeklerland — a region in Central Romania with an ethnic Hungarian majority – is often evoked as a troublesome part of the country, where Romanians are discriminated and Hungarian separatism undermines the authority of the state. This representation has endured since the fall of Communism in 1989, even though — unlike in other regions of Europe — the local Hungarian autonomist movement has always relied on peaceful means. The mainstream Romanian discourse, with its focus on the political efforts of Hungarian parties, the symbolic rivalry between Hungarian and Romanian elites and the fight for economic resources has been largely unchanged. This conflict-oriented perspective makes for a skewed and ethnicized representation of Szeklerland, portrayed as an „intolerant region” as local anthropologist Biró A. Zoltán (1998) and Bucharest-based sociologist Ștefan Bruno (2009) have pointed out. While the region witnessed only a minor Hungarian–Romanian conflict in March 1990, the topics of instability and constant tension pervaded the media discourse regarding Szeklerland during the 1990s; even though the dominant nationalist discourse has become less virulent, this pattern has persisted with the advent of digital and new media formats. Many contemporary representations of Szeklerland on commercial television and social media platforms keep reproducing the stereotypes inherited from the 1990s. My paper is based on a historical approach, and through the analysis of several recent Romanian short documentary films about the Szekler area I will highlight the reproduction of the region’s imagery and the most common strategies that feed this polarising representation.
B1: Xenophobia and populism
Chair: David Landon Cole
Aestheticizing the Lost Land of Hungarians: How the Carpathian Basin Appears in Right-Wing Populist Media
Robert Imre and Attila Kustán Magyari
In this paper I examine parts of the vast supply of the aestheticizing of a ‘lost land’ examining everyday interactions as well as official politics. The Carpathian Basin – as an imagined homeland of all Hungarians – serves as a surrogate of the Greater Hungary dissolved by the Treaty of Trianon in 1920.
It appears in many forms in webshops: as bumper stickers on the back of cars, as hanging clocks, badges, on hats, t-shirts, mugs, on public monuments, or in the form of Facebook memes. These forms are immediately recognizable by all Hungarian-speaking peoples as the pre-Trianon map of Greater Hungary. Many of these objects or images are products of grassroots memory politics or self-expressions: small businesses, civil organizations, nationalist rock bands and their fans produce or wear and use these not only in Hungary but in the dis-annexed territories too.
Right-wing populist-nationalism also tends to include the imagined Carpathian Basin in its communication. In 2020 May the Hungarian Prime Minister posted on Facebook a message for graduating students showing a photo of the globe with the Greater Hungary on it, provoking reactions from neighbouring countries. The Hungarian Center for Fundamental Rights research institute – with missions such as “preserving national identity, sovereignty and Christian social traditions” – has promoted a campaign with the slogan “Together we make the Carpathian Basin great!”. The far-right party Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland) often refers to the Carpathian Basin, while different objects can be bought in their webshop, with the map of the Greater Hungary on them.
Contested “Japaneseness” in the hybrid media system: Nationalism and xenophobia in news media and Twitter networks
In contemporary Japan, nationalism serves as a dominant ideology that rationalizes social exclusion and marginalization of minority communities as well as the deep-rooted conflicts with its neighboring countries. The meanings of Japanese identity, historically considered more settled, have become complicated and contested, particularly since the end of the Cold War. What it means to be a Japanese (“Japaneseness”) is floating in the sense that it does not have a stable meaning and is shaped by constant power struggles over the signification processes. Using a combination of computational (LDA topic modeling and social network analysis) and discourse analytic approaches, this study examines potentially diverged (or converged) interpretations of Japanese identity. It focuses on two long-standing controversies that signify Japanese society’s ideological divide between traditionalists and revisionists: the “Comfort Women” issue and the “separate/dual surnames” system. Analyzing large-scale social media data helps capture how non-elite, everyday people—whom many studies treat merely as audiences of nationalist elite propaganda—actively problematize, make sense of the nation, and narrow down or expand its meaning. I also trace the power dynamics that shape this contestation over “Japaneseness” by identifying dominant news “sources” in traditional media (newspaper) and “influencers” in digital media (Twitter)—along with their mutual interactions in a hybrid media system. The study illustrates how nationalism reinforces racism/xenophobia, historical revisionism, and sexism, and the challenges facing actors who push back against it.
Anti-Refugee Bias Re-tweeted: #Idontwantsyriansinmycountry
Pınar Dilan Sönmez Gioftsios
This paper explores the sources of anti-refugee prejudices through the case of the naturalization of displaced Syrians in Turkey and the role of social media on host country nationals’ attitudes. In July 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the proposal of exceptional citizenship for the displaced Syrians who are defined as ‘guests’ and his pledge sparked huge, nationalist, anti-refugee reactions on both mainstream and social media. The Twitter hashtags #IdontwantSyriansinmycountry and #NoSyrians hit the global list of trending topics on July 3 and continued to be intensely used until the attempted coup on July 15 which dramatically changed the political agenda. The contents of tweets posted with these hashtags and related threads did not only display increasing strong anti-refugee sentiment but also crystalized embedded biases in citizenship discourses of ordinary people. Therefore, through the analysis of 400 unique tweets posted between July 3 and July 15, this article investigates how the perceived threat and understanding of national membership in everyday life determine prejudiced attitudes and act as a legitimizing tool for the exclusion. Social media is usually seen as one of the most powerful tools that generate new possibilities for removing local, regional, and national boundaries and as a public sphere contributing to democracy by playing a key role in initiating and promoting participation and deliberation. However, this study reveals that it is also a strong dividing tool for the reproduction and spread of prejudices, stereotypes, and discrimination as well as a mundane, digital form of nationalism.
B2: The former Yugoslavia
Chair: Joana Duyster Boreda
Symbolic nation-building through images in post-Yugoslav history textbooks
Tamara Pavasović Trošt and Jovana Mihajlovic Trbovc
The use of history textbooks in instilling particular images of the nation and national identity, particularly in places where the government controls the textbook publishing process, has been widely recognized, and has resulted in an extensive field of research on how history textbooks construct nationhood narratives, stereotypes, and boundary-drawing. These studies have mainly focused on the problematic content in the textbooks themselves, and on the discursive strategies and semantic techniques used to impart particular images of the nation through the textbook text. Yet, in addition to the text itself, history textbooks rely on a range of other media: photographs of people, events, and artefacts, maps, figures, illustrated timelines – which can both overtly (e.g. through the description accompanying the image which instructs how students should interpret the image) and implicitly (e.g. by omitting information in maps or representing borders as uncontested) play an important rolein visually signposting the nation and national identity. While some of these images serve primarily as a form of representation aligned with the text itself, other aspects of visual content, such as the use of symbolic geography (Monnet 2011), distinctly and autonomously construct national identity. In this piece, relying on qualitative visual analysis (Knoblauch et al. 2008, Banks 2018), we analyze the visual elements of history textbooks, and particularly the function played by images in symbolically constructing the nation in contemporary textbooks in four of the post-Yugoslav republics: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to pointing to the main functions of visual representations in constructing the nation through history textbooks in the post-Yugoslav region, we propose a systematic classification the various functions of the visuality in history textbooks.
Watching and listening to our neighbors
The article is looking into division of media space between constituting nations of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Focus is on state units’ public broadcasters – RTRS (Television of Republic Srpska) and FTV (Federal Television) because of its fixed narrative positions and strong relations to national elites’ standpoints. Important feature of our case is the same language (although called differently) spoken on both mentioned TV channels; it’s reach covers almost every citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina no matter of their group identity or place of residence. Nevertheless, the programs delivered by public TV channels are rarely watched by “non-members”; and when it happens, it is with a purpose. This article argues that reasons for such situation are the following: the individual subject treated in those programs always belongs to one group (non-members are structurally and situationally treated as “others”), narratives are strange and incomprehensible to non-members, and finally, common language, that is understood and perceived as mother tongue by non-members, serves as antagonizing factor because implicit anti-features of presented national positions are actually basis of identity of competing groups. In the second part of this article, elites of Bosnian Serb nation and its masses are confronted regarding adherence to RTRS narratives. That condition is compared to much more complex one regarding public TV in Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina where narrative is a compromise between Bosniak and Croat national positions and, most importantly, that of census “Others”. “Others”, for our specific needs, are further looked into as carriers of civic nationalism that contains a flavor related to country’s socialist past.
National ideology, media consumption and transculturality: everyday nationalism and transcultural identities in the border area of Slovenian Istria
The paper discusses the relationship between the media consumption and self-identification in the national, local and transcultural terms. The inhabitants of Slovenia Istria are to a certain extend less bound to the national milieu and more to the local environment. However, their self-identification and their narrations of identity are still framed by the national ideology, yet they also express fluidity of their (transcultural) identities – in part due also to their Italian media consumption (but not only).
The paper thus stems from the Billig’s (1995) notion of “flagging the homeland daily” in different (everyday) situations, including (mass) media and its unique forms of everyday reminders which are “not being experienced as remembering” and are thus “in effect, forgotten” (Billig 1995, 38). Further, the paper also follows the discursive turn as other scholars in nationalism studies – turning the attention from “what” and “when” is the nation, to the “how” is the nation, “i.e. the ways nations are discursively narrated and reproduced” (Skey and Antonsich 2017,2). The case study was conducted in the border area of Slovenian Istria with the telephone survey in October 2014 (N=715) and interviews from February to June 2015 (N=30), focusing on inhabitants’ understanding, experiencing, and making sense of their national and cultural identity in general and more specifically in relation to media consumption in the time of the study and in the past.
B3: Flemish nationalism
Chair: Gertjan Willems
The Encyclopedia of the Flemish Movement as a touchstone of the problem of methodological nationalism
When examining the role of media in nation-building processes, historical reference works should be taken into account. According to the theory of methodological nationalism even many of the most critical studies of nation-building and nationalism perpetuate the ideology of the nation. By sticking to the national framework and by interpreting historical evolutions in a one-dimensional way in the light of nations and national movements, history scholars may (unwittingly) reproduce and naturalise the nation as a ubiquous worldview. In this presentation it will be argued that encyclopedias should be considered as a media-tool for nation-building. The two editions of the Encyclopedia of the Flemish movement offer a suitable case study to elaborate on this issue. Whereas the first edition, published in 1973-1975, had not yet completely freed itself from the tradition of nationalist historiography, its successor was considered a symbol of the scientification of nationalism studies in Flanders. While this second edition, published in 1998, did away with the main hagiographic and apologetic patterns in historiography, it did not entirely succeed in avoiding the pitfalls of methodological nationalism. Now that a third and digital edition is in the making, the issue of how and to what extent this challenge to nationalism research can be met arises.
Animated nationalism: editorial cartoons and Flemish nationalism post-WWII
Animated nationalism: editorial cartoons and Flemish nationalism post-WWII
The prominent scholar of nationalism Benedict Anderson once characterized (editorial) cartoons as an archetype of political communication. As Anderson explained, cartoons constitute a form of ‘symbolic speech’, conveying ‘visual condensations of significance’ to an anonymous and fleeting audience. This particularly rings true for cartoons, as their inclusion in daily newspapers or weekly magazines at once responds to the political issues of the day, whilst simultaneously attributing a symbolic visual narrative to said events.
In this paper, I will further explore the relation between editorial cartoons and nationalism, using the case of Flemish nationalism in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. Focusing on the Flemish nationalist ‘IJzertoren’ monument – which was destroyed by explosives in 1946 – I will highlight how cartoonists’ visualization of the destroyed IJzertoren must not be considered as an isolated case, but as an example of the burgeoning Flemish cartoon scene that was intrinsically transnational, borrowing from styles and representations that were not limited to the Flemish context.
Secondly, I will argue that cartoons functioned as a social locus that gave readers the opportunity to ascribe different meanings to the post-WWII Flemish context. Via readers’ submitted subscripts to weekly published cartoons, we can gauge how people ascribed different significances and meanings to Flemish nationalism following the Second World War. In this sense, cartoons simultaneously registered and shaped public opinion. Moreover, it underscores the relevance of editorial cartoons and visual representations when analyzing nationalism and the construction of national identities.
From scoop to horoscope: media discourses and nation-building in post-war Flanders (1945-1962)
While it seems obvious that mass media play a role in nation-building, how they do so has hardly been studied. This is also true for Flanders, a federal region that is the product of two centuries of nation-building processes in Belgium. This project investigates the relationship between media and nation-building in post-war Flanders (1945-1962) based on five Flemish newspapers and several radio programs of the public broadcaster (NIR-BRT). The postwar period represented the heyday of Belgian nationalism but ended with a huge Flemish show of force during the Marches on Brussels. What do media tell us about the development of national identities in Flanders between 1945 and 1962? Did Flanders, more than Belgium, become a nation in media discourses? What was the meaning of Europe? This project offers a content and critical discourse analysis of the full range of genres in newspapers and radio programs, ranging from political scoops to horoscopes and from sports reports to ads. In doing so, this project makes an original and crucial contribution to scholarly and social debates at the intersection of history, communication studies, and nationalism studies.
B4: Global Perspectives
Chair: Daniel Biltereyst
History and national identity in the perception of youth: the case of Latvia
Ieva Berzina, Gatis Krūmiņš, Jānis Šiliņš, and Māris Andžāns
The paper examines to what extent knowledge of history forms national identity among Latvian youth. The case of Latvia is unique as it provides an opportunity to analyze the role of history in the formation of national identity among youth in a multi-ethnic country. The majority of Latvia’s ethnic minorities are Russian-speaking; therefore, an essential aspect of the research problem is the influence of the Kremlin’s promoted historical narratives on national identity in Latvia. The paper addresses research questions: What is the role of historical knowledge in forming a national identity for young people? How do views on history concerning national identity differ among dominant ethnic groups and ethnic minorities? How Kremlin’s promoted history narratives affect national identity among Latvian youth? The paper uses a qualitative approach – the empirical findings are based on 30 in-depth interviews with young people. The main findings are that history is an underused resource in Latvian nation-building because history is vital for the national identity of Latvian youth, albeit their history knowledge is insufficient. Furthermore, the Kremlin’s history narratives divide Latvian society ethnically, which is experienced by Russian-speaking youth as contradictory history narratives being told at school and in a family.
Italian Nationalist Symbols on Visual Social Media
Giovanni Daniele Starita and Maria Alicia Cusinato
The development of the nation is intimately associated with a series of complex processes and phenomena because ‘nation’, as a historical phenomenon and as an object of study, is a multi-faceted historical construction.
Similarly, the concept of nationalism has been object of debates and controversies. Since the 19th century nation and nationalism have been studied separately. Still, the use of socio-cultural and historical elements related to the nation made by nationalisms shows a strict relation between the two phenomena. Most importantly, certain elements of nations explain not only their capacity to persist over the time – the longue durée of nations – but also the potential to mobilize communities of nationalisms.
Drawing from Anthony Smith’s ethno-symbolic understanding of national phenomena, the proposed study aims to verify its assessments on the material nature of the nation and of its symbols as used by Italian neo-populist right-wing parties proposing a nationalist agenda. Specifically, it wants to explore the validity of Smith’s remarks on materiality and historical groundings of nations that make nationalist discourses resonate with multiple generations.
Based on Smith’s reflections on the importance of ethno-symbolic complex, we will inquire into their validity for the contemporary, Italian political landscape. Specifically, we will base our analysis on the visual communication of party leaders Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni on their official social media accounts. Based on this data, we will reflect upon the validity of traditional understandings of nationalisms in the contemporary, Italian political landscape, where populist and nationalist narrations contaminated each other.
The Power of Difference
Looking at representations of fashion in cultural magazines and satirical images from Germany, Great Britain and Sweden during World War I, my presentation aims to discuss the crucial role of visual fashion discourse in creating and consolidating difference and power relations in political and national as well as class- and gender-based identities. It will highlight fashion as expressive dramatizing and clearly differentiating costume for different (satirical) characters on different national and international stages and problematize the impact of visual stereotypes based on strategic contrasts in clothing and body-types in political discourse during wartime. Comparisons between depictions of fashion and dress in the war-faring nations of Germany and Britain and the neutral zone of Sweden, show significant variations in the discursive function of fashion as on one hand emphasizing and triggering political, racial and ethnic antagonisms between the nations and on the other negotiating national power struggles between the classes and sexes in societies dealing with the terrors of war while at the same time handling the rise of modernity. The presentation will synthesize my previous case studies on British Punch and its staging of a national theatre of the classes with distinctively dressed characters during the early years of the war, German Simplicissimus and its agitating visual stereotypes and caricatures of enemy nations and Swedish Strix where visual fashion representation mainly served a national war between the sexes under the challenge of modern women in Paris fashion destabilizing traditional national values.
Contrasting representations of national identity and race through media sport events: the case of England and Italy at the UEFA Euro 2020
International mega-sport events have arguably developed into the most powerful sites for the projection and representation of national identities. Since the 1930s, mass media have been instrumental in this process, contributing to the global popularisation of sport events while using them as an opportunity to (re)articulate the idea of the nation. Nation-states tend to emerge from this process as fixed entities, crystallised around characteristics and traits which are the result of gendered selections, and which legitimise the marginalisation of ethnic minorities and immigrants. At the same time, media representations of sport events provide an opportunity to challenge dominant ideas about the ‘nation form’. The final of the 2020 UEFA European Men’s Championship proved to be a precious opportunity to observe these dynamics. England fielded numerous players with multiple national backgrounds, and the team was eager to send a clear anti-racist message. Italy was the only Western European team that did not include players with an immigrant background, while it included three Brazilian players with distant Italian ancestors, a subtle indication of the prevalence of the jus sanguinis over the jus soli. Faced with the decision to take the knee, the Italian team split, with half of the team supporting the anti-racist campaign. This paper aims to share the preliminary findings of a critical comparison of media discourse in Italy and England about their teams at EURO 2020, focusing on major national newspapers and traffic on their social media accounts.
B5: Memes and Discourses
Chair: Joep Leerssen
Online Discursive Strategies in Constructing Albanian Identity 2009-2019 (Kosovo and Albania) Online Discursive Strategies in Constructing Albanian Identity 2009-2019
Albanians have their own special way for treating religion and national identity. Non-religious identity has been promoted and well cultivated in the culture and the politics of Kosovo and Albania. Despite their similar cultural and historical intermixing, they share different social and political past. This paper explores construction of national identities (2009-2019) through online media, by national leaders, religious and intellectuals of other social domains. The discussion on ‘radical Islam’ and the involvement of Albanians in the foreign conflict countries has affected the results. Overall analysis suggests that not only there are inter differences and not static construction of what people say about the national identities but there are multiple forms of secularity used by both religious and non-religious elites.
Imagined community of memes. Nationalism in the context of digital folklore
The Internet is a new space for folkloric expression. Digital folklore, same as traditional folkloric expression, serves as a ‘mirror’ of societal and cultural values. The so-called memes (Photoshop lore – a visual form of digital communication) play a role for reproduction of nationalism by making national symbols and discourses part of everyday life. Viewing memes is a social practice that contributes to the formation of a ‘imagined community’ by spreading nationalist discourse across Internet ‘community of laugh’. This cyber-folkloric form of nationalist discourse has a bottom-up, vernacular character. It is produced by anonymous authors and widespread by Internet users. It means that only accepted content will be distributed further by entertained Internet users. The paper is an analysis of the nationalist discourse in the context of digital folklore. I focus on a presence of the category of the nation in the Photoshop lore. The source material includes the contents of one popular Polish website for humorous content – Demotywatory.pl.
Meme-making, nationalism, and the power of new media to mobilize imagined communities,
Widely abundant across platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, Douyin or VKontakte, throughout the last decade, digital memes have become one of the major devices of nationalist propaganda in our contemporary world. Nevertheless, in spite of their ubiquitous presence in digital vernacular culture and their intense exploitation by very disparate forms of nationalism around the globe, their theoretical study has not received the necessary attention and the close inquiry that their relevance demands. Referring to the competing forms of nationalism within spanish politics as a case of study, and drawing on Ryan Frazer and Bronwyn Carlson’s employment of deleuzian theory to understand the role of meme-making in digital discourse’s “invention of a people”, my paper will resort to a critical review of the existing literature on memes and nationalism to explain their crucial role in the forge of nationalist imaginaries in times of “deep mediatization”. First, for allowing the creative blending of antique nationalist mythscapes” with the “pop” cultures of the digital web. Second, for providing nationalism with a “vehicle” for the “viral dissemi-nation” of their ideology that is universally accessible, easy to propagate and can be “engineered” without any technical expertise. Third, for promoting a fun, polyvocal and participatory approach to digital politics that favors the emergence of densely networked communities of partisan users. On the basis of the close inspection of these factors, as a conclusion, I will defend the virtues of conceiving “memes-making” as a key “meta-practice” in the contemporary imagination of national communities.
C1: The turn of the twenieth century
Chair: Meredith Carbonell
Forging a German Nation: The Press and the National Movement in Nineteenth Century Germany
My paper focuses on an historical case study concerning the association between the media and the formation of national consciousness. It investigates the role of the press in shaping and disseminating the concept of the nation in Germany during the first half of the nineteenth century. Growing literacy and unprecedented production of reading material since the late eighteenth century encouraged the development of the public sphere, the Öffentlichkeit (Habermas). News, commentaries, and personal views propagated through newspapers, contested information conveyed by the absolutist regime. As a central means of mass media, newspapers helped to create a political community that questioned the sovereignty of ruling dynasties and demanded consideration of the nation’s will. In the semi-absolutist regime that characterized many German states after the Napoleonic Wars, the press provided a platform for unofficial participation in politics. In my paper I will demonstrate how leaders of the German national movement conceptualized the importance of press in molding national public opinion and serving the nation’s cause. Thus, for example, the Bavarian publisher Johann Wirth declared in 1832 that the press has the task to promote the conviction of a democratic German Reich among all citizens. And the poet Robert Prutz wrote during the 1840s that when “the press is free… the Volk is matured”. These understandings of the mass media’s role, I argue, were decisive during the 1848 Revolution, in which the liberal national movement used the press as a main vehicle to achieve its national objectives, more than any other violent means.
Media, Journalists, and Nationally Motivated Violence in 1897
The Badeni language ordinances of 1897, equalization of Czech and German as inner official languages in Bohemia, and following German obstruction of the Imperial Council caused a wave of riots and demonstrations in Cisleithania. Media played a crucial role in the transfer of the tensions to the public space, with its daily coverage of violence in the parliament, political manifestations, and attacks targeting members of the Czech minority. The influence of media was even more visible in the smaller cities, where journalists often advocated a more radical stance towards nationalism. They promoted merciless acts and even violence not only in their articles but also personally, often facing legal repercussions afterward. One of them was the editor of Nationale Zeitung Edmund Pummer, who, according to the county court in Most, led rioters towards violence against the Czech minority in Žatec. He was sentenced to four months of imprisonment, followed by five years of exile from Bohemia.
In my contribution, I examine this dual role of journalists. In the first part of my work, I analyze Czech and German national media (Národní listy and Nationale Zeitung) to present the strategies used in mobilizing citizens towards nationally motivated violence. In the second part, I elucidate how chosen journalists acted as local nationalist leaders and directly influenced the way violence was exercised during the riots of 1897.
The media campaign against denunciations as a tool of nationalist mobilization in Finland, 1899–1917
This paper explores how the print media shaped national experience by demonizing the practice of denunciation in Finland during the late years of Russian rule, 1899–1917. In this period, the Russian government sought to integrate the semi-autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland more closely to Russia and to tighten police surveillance in Finland. However, these measures provoked powerful opposition in the Finnish press, which enjoyed large freedom compared with the print media elsewhere in the empire and which had evolved in close connection with the Finnish national movement in the late nineteenth century. The nationalist press fought the imperial integration measures, amongst other ways, by campaigning against Finnish informers, who sent denunciations on anti-government activity to the Russian authorities. Not only did hundreds of writings depict denunciations as a threat to the (Finnish) nation, but the press also exposed numerous people as informers and targeted them for countermeasures in local communities. Hence, it can be claimed that the campaign served to disseminate a more radical form of popular nationalism and to build a collective experience of national betrayal. However, by raising popular awareness of the practice of denunciation, the campaign may have also nourished denunciations and served the imperial interests by creating an atmosphere of ubiquitous surveillance. In the paper, I tackle these themes by analysing media content and the letters of exposed informers to the Russian authorities. The analysis also sheds light on nationalist networks, which included editors and local correspondents of newspapers as well as state officials.
C2: Television and film
Chair: Daniel Biltereyst
Beauties and Beasts: Syrian-Lebanese Television Drama Co-productions. The Case of Ramadan 2020
Lebanon-Syria relations have always been burdened by their intertwined post-colonial history and their overlapping and contradicting national identities and ideologies. As the civil war in Syria erupted in 2011, the once-thriving Syrian drama industry faced a backlash. Consequently, many Syrian talents moved to neighboring Lebanon and joined the local industry there, producing what will be known as ‘Syrian-Lebanese television drama co-productions’ presenting plotlines and characters from both nationalities. This popular phenomenon is thought to have revived the industries of both countries by combining the Syrian experience in screenwriting, acting and directing with the Lebanese technical capabilities, production value and ‘pretty faces’. Nevertheless, with every new series, media scuffles on both sides of the borders arguing over who owes whom more in this collaboration. Considering that the representation of national character influences national and transnational imagination, the current study joins a discussion on national culture, media representation, narratology and screenwriting in a thematic qualitative content analysis of four Syrian-Lebanese drama co-productions that were produced and released in the Ramadan season of 2020. With the focus being primarily on how characters are constructed as Syrian or Lebanese, we aim to understand the role that ‘Syrian-ness’ and ‘Lebanese-ness’ play in these series’ narrative arcs which also gives an insight into the nature of screenwriting in such a hybrid industry.
Disrupting the Scenic Landscape? – Nationalism, Precarity and Community in Nomadland (2020)
The use of landscape is a key theme in the representation of national identity, which is particularly visible in relation to US cinema. This paper interrogates the recent Academy-Award-winning film Nomadland’s (Chloe Zhao, USA 2020) use of US rural landscape in its account of contemporary precarity and poverty in the United States. I argue that while the film is ostensibly invested in locating alternative modes of living in the face of neoliberal marginalisation, it ultimately reaffirms neoliberalism’s core tenet, individualism, through its fascination with what Kenneth Olwig calls the “scenic” landscape. This approach to landscape understands nature as an unchanging, essential “stage” on which a nation’s history is played out and which thus ultimately naturalises nationalism. Thereby, the film reaffirms the nationalist myth of the “wide open spaces” of American landscape which, especially in visual culture, has historically been instrumental in the displacement of people excluded from US national identity. This can be contrasted with a more interactive, more inclusive approach to landscape which understands landscape as the result of interaction between a solidary community and its environment. Recent US films such as Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, USA 2018) identify precisely such an interactive, cooperative understanding as a basis for potential resistance against the exclusionary forces of nationalism and neoliberalism which perpetuate precarity.
Nationalism on the Side of Breakfast: The Case of Asadora TV Dramas as a National Institution
Nationalism is a prominent ideology in modern social conceptions. Sinisa Malešević describes nationalism as an ideology grounded in modern social reality through the development of three elements: organisational capacities within nation-states; the penetration of disseminated ideologies; and the envelopment of micro-solidarity on the national scale. Several institutions and organisations exist that function as grounding agents. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of Serial TV Novels, or Asadora (Morning Dramas) in the context of grounded nationalism. Asadora is a popular tv drama series that has been on Japanese television for over 60 years. Despite the decreasing number of television watchers over the years, the number of viewers watching Asadora has increased in the past decade. Also known as a ‘national drama,’ Asadora has a significant presence in Japanese media, and it often depicts stories of national interest: depicting specific historical eras or episodes, as well as geographic regions of Japan. By conducting a multi-modal investigation on Asadora including archival work, documentary analysis and discourse analysis, this paper aims to understand in what ways Asadora contributes to the grounding of nationalism in contemporary Japan.
C3: Europe and populism
Chair: David Landon Cole
Three Strands of de-Europeanization: Insights from the EUMEPLAT Horizon 2020 project,
The talk will present some first results of the Horizon 2020 project EUMEPLAT- European Media Platforms: Assessing Positive and Negative Externalities for European Culture. We will focus on three emerging threats to Europeanization, all related to resurgence or strengthening of nationalism: the level of trust in political and media institutions; the lack of contents circulation among countries; and the fracture between Eastern and Western European media systems.
In the first case, second-hand data will show a consistent pattern, according to which people tend not to trust the EU, and at the same time they are increasingly skeptical about news media and public service media – to some extent, the problem on which disinformation campaigns are premised. In the second case, data reveal the scarcity of cultural exchanges among countries, and the stable centrality of national TV contents, thus preventing the shaping of a properly pan-European audiences and taste. Finally, the last decade has also marked an inversion in the convergence process between Eastern and Western European media systems, with Western investors leaving Eastern Europe after the 2007-2008 economic downturn. With this respect, the “first-wave” of reformation has played everywhere a fundamental role in the de-monopolization of State control and in the transition from public control to public service, without being able to overcome some structural limits, related to slow technological innovation, limited professionalization of journalism, and lack of Europeanization of media regulation, likely to favor new concentration tendencies and the resurgence of nationalist discourse.
Nationalist mobilisation in the age of social media: the organisation of Greek rallies against the Prespa Agreement 2018-2019
The role of social media in fomenting polarised debates and their echo chamber effect have been largely explored during the last decade. Under that scope, the relevance of social media in nationalist movements and mobilisations seems rather obvious. However, the specific modes of the use of facebook groups and pages, as well as twitter accounts, for the formation of de-localised militant organisations and the organisation of large-scale nationalist mobilisation needs to be further examined.
Based on previous extensive research on the public debate regarding the Macedonian issue before and after the signing of the Prespa Agreement between Greece and North Macedonia (June 2018), this paper proposes a two-fold examination: a) concerning the social media groups that were active in disseminating nationalist propaganda, in setting-up public actions and in participating in the organisation of massive rallies against the Prespa Agreement; b) comparing the top-down organisation of the rallies for Macedonia in the 1990s (organised by municipal and public authorities, along with long-established cultural associations) with the down-top organisation of the 2018-19 rallies, which were called by social media groups and newly founded (via the social media) nationalist associations with the contribution of different local and transnational organisations, all connected through the internet. The specificities of their mode of operation, their membership, their political profiles and their discourse will be analysed in order to elucidate in what extent the social media, rather than simply replacing other forms of communication, enabled formerly passive publics to become active agents of nationalist militantism.
Nationalist Populism in Times of Pandemic: Using Social Media to Frame Elites as Enemies of the Nation
Scientific literature has repeatedly shown that populism feeds on crises, exploiting divisions which grow within society. Populist narratives that flourished during the COVID-19 pandemic argued that the health crisis represented yet another pretext for the ”corrupt, globalist elites” to strip “honest citizens” of their values – many of which associated with their national identity. In Romania, the newcomer Alliance for the Unity of Romanians (AUR) won 9 percent of the votes during parliamentary elections held in December 2020, despite being totally absent from traditional media. For its political communication, AUR used Facebook almost exclusively, thus proving that, at least in Romania, populist narratives found social media to represent a truly propitious space.
Applying content analysis on a sample of 78 social media materials of AUR spanning over one year, and exploring the data through ATLAS.ti (a powerful tool for qualitative research), the current paper looks into how AUR framed elites as enemies of the nation, blaming them for loose, if not severed connections with ordinary citizens and their values.
Results show that AUR’s political narratives are somehow paradoxical, accusing national elites for undermining nationhood, while supranational elites for threatening the very essence of the “traditional family”. The paper concludes that, as opposed to similar political movements in Romania, AUR resembles an anti-elitist populist party that embraces religious nationalism. The study also taps into how AUR managed to reinvent nationalist narratives in Romania, by making use of the full potential of social media in its political communication strategy.
Chair: Athena Leoussi
The dilemma of Indian media: propaganda vs. human rights
In India, 425 million Indians are estimated to read the newspaper. While the three pages of matrimonial columns constitute its most consulted section, the large distribution of newspapers through different platforms, whether paper or via internet, has given greater exposure and visibility to extreme nationalist principles. The paper examines whether media platforms serve as a handmaiden for nationalist propaganda, or on the contrary, provide an alternative space to combat these principles.
According to Stephen Ward, journalism is one of the core elements of democracy, yet at its worst it can be used as a propaganda tool to manipulate information. On 23 September 2021, a video of the death of a Muslim Assamese – killed and beaten up even after his death by Indian policemen and a government appointed photographer during protests against forced evictions – made headlines. In this precise case, journalists used the expressions of ‘illegal Bangladeshis’ and ‘encroachers’ to justify the dehumanization of individuals. These expressions consolidated a hate dominated ‘banal’ emotional matrix that marks the political ideology of Hindutva.
Based on this case, the paper will discuss the key role of media in endangering human rights. While newspapers have an obligation to objectivity, their treatment of the violent death of a Muslim Assamese underlined the use of state propaganda in daily English and Hindi national journals, to dehumanize certain minority communities. What are its implications for the vitality of Indian democracy and its pluralist secular foundations?
Notes from a Democ(k)racy: A social history of media and humour under Hindu nationalism
Humour has a definitive role in shaping the margins of what is often referred to as “collective consciousness”. In nation-al imaginations, the comic space has always been incessantly contested. Literature on nationalist regimes discusses how humour has been used by the ‘powerful’ to ridicule and stigmatize the “other”; even as the deviant joke keeps up the spirit of resistance. This dichotomy creates illusions of a totalitarian propaganda model which dilutes the social origin of “the joke” and underplays any notion of a nation-al consent (Merziger, 2007). A critical understanding of humour therefore, is relevant to any bottom-up conceptualisation of the dispositif of expression, i.e., media. In India, the rise of Hindu nationalism since the early 1990s is marked by an invasion and explosion of the comic space. This is mediated by both ‘mainstream’ and digital networks, but has its roots in socio-political imaginations and respective identities. In this paper, we examine primary and secondary sources and qualitatively analyse media content to situate humour in the context of a majoritarian polity. Case studies on the 2019 general elections and other contemporary instances of zealous nationalist expression would help us in our endeavour. We conclude by arguing that nationalist movements, in a Gramscian exercise, seek to accommodate the multidirectional flow of humour and institutionalised media find it convenient to follow its lead under the existing forms of capitalist social reproduction.
Safe Ambivalences and Privileged Resistance in Contemporary Hindi Cinema: New Gendered Subjectivities amidst Cultural Unrest in India
India opened its economy to the world through ‘Globalisation, Liberalisation and Privatisation’ policies in 1991, heralding an era of neoliberalism that augmented the nation’s GDP without significantly addressing economic and social inequality. This has produced a new elite – urban, English-speaking, globalised, and prosperous enough to sustain a growing consumerist economy, where women too can participate (provided they continue to manage the household). While Western cultural products find a massive market in India, an increasingly authoritarian government led by Narendra Modi since 2014 has nonetheless inspired Hindu majoritarian nationalism among wide sections of the population, including among these new elites. Meanwhile, homegrown feminist, LGBTQ+ and anti-caste movements have gained ground, often clashing with the government’s vision for an India that embraces global capitalism but remains firmly rooted in traditional Hindu values.
In this contested cultural landscape, commercial Hindi films since 2014 have increasingly featured urban, upper-class female protagonists, departing from Bollywood’s ‘hero’-oriented tradition, and articulating what I call ‘privileged resistance’ rooted in neoliberal modes of storytelling. I argue that these ‘new women’ of Hindi cinema enact ‘safe ambivalences’ towards challenging issues of gendered violence and class division prevalent in the contemporary nation-state, thus remaining comfortable in their privilege while demanding greater personal freedom. This paper analyses this concept through two films, Highway (2014) and NH10 (2015), which force female protagonists to discard safe ambivalences when they physically leave the city, and to articulate privileged resistance when faced with entrenched attitudes about ‘honour’ and ideal Indian womanhood.
C5: Music, museums, and maps
Chair: Jonathan Hearn
Statues in Museums: The Role of Media in Revisiting Historical Narratives
Andi Haxhiu and Tara Peggram
Many social activists, scholars, and politicians have echoed the necessity to bring down King Leopold’s statue in Belgium and supported the ongoing request to remove Cecil Rhodes’s statue from Oxford University. Similarly, increasing dissatisfaction with Winston Churchill’s ‘racist past’ has occurred among British citizens. In Scotland, the renaming of the David Hume Tower from the University of Edinburgh has been divisive both locally and within the university staff. At the same time, the splashing of the George Washington monument with red paint following the tragic murder of George Floyd marks just another of the recent symbolic events that have accentuated the necessity to revisit historical figures and their past.
With the debates on history, statues, and monuments absorbing extensive attention from both the scholarly and media world recently, the role of (national) museums and their (in)ability to depict the plural nature of national histories poses an opportunity to examine how history and memory can be reshaped through media’s discursive shift.
Therefore, by using a critical discourse analysis, this research evaluates the role of media in re-positioning certain historical figures in the present socio-cultural contexts. As a result, this research extensively explores how statues and museums can cohabitate with each other and serve as sites for critical understanding and retroactive reading of historical events.
Justus Perthes in Gotha: Publishing and Marketing Images of a ‚Globalized‘ Nation
The Justus Perthes Publishing House in Gotha came to prominence during the era of upcoming German nationalism and imperialism in the 19th century. It was no accident that its area of expertise, the publishing of maps and cartographic material became of relevance and popular interest during the same time. Indeed, the publishing house succeeded in addressing a scientific global audience as well as a popular audience at home and establishing images of the „nation“: Maps conceptualized Germany as a nation in Europe as well as an Imperial power overseas.
This paper looks at how maps by the Justus Perthes Publishing House in Gotha imagined Germany as a nation in a globalized world and how it marketed this vision to Germans at home and overseas. Cartographic material was not only a scientific medium for the newly established academic discipline of geography in Germany: It also satisfied (and created) a popular demand for visual material on political realities and (in many cases) fictions. To make its argument, the paper utilizes the holdings of the Perthes Collection of the Gotha Research Library and draws therefore from a rich fundus of archival cartographic material. It examines not only the visual techniques and statements in the maps, but also how they were published, distributed, and marketed to the target audience.
Colonial Maps on the Bench, Local Concepts of Territory and Territoriality: The Case of 20th Century Northern Ethiopia
There is strong literary evidence on the use of rivers, big mountains, and tumulus as the principal references of boundary marks in northern Ethiopia. This local knowledge of designating one area as belonging to oneself or to other groups was transferred from one generation into another via oral traditions, land charters, and different Ethiopic genres. Although this traditional boundary identification or marking process have helped people to establish a strong attachment to areas which they believe were theirs; however, it has affected Ethiopia’s cartographic scholarship until the arrival of the Italian colonial power since 1890s. Hence, this paper will address issues on how local concepts of territory, territoriality, and boundary marking were corroborated into the colonial maps published following the establishment of Eritrea as an Italian African colony.
Following the defeat at the battle of Adwa in 1896, Italy was engaged in producing an administrative map of Eritrea, nicknamed Colonia Primogenita (“First-born Colony”). The purpose of the maps was to permanently insulate Eritrea from northern Ethiopia, Tigray, using politically motivated boundaries. To this end, various maps were published using the traditionally promoted concept of territoriality and boundary-making maxims among the indigenous societies of northern Ethiopia and the modern state of Eritrea. At some point, some of the maps were with errors in marking some places and Rivers. Some maps even err to address the indigenous concepts to satisfy the colonial objectives of the cartographers who were serving under the Italian colonial government.
A qualitative research on the construction of national identity in and through music: the case of Jacques Brel
Hanne Van Haelter
In 1977, the Belgian chansonnier Jacques Brel provoked a polemic debate with the lyrics of his song ‘Les F’, by, among others, referring to the Flemish people as “les Flamingants” – an intentionally derogatory term for Flemish-nationalists (Weyn-Vanhentenryck) – as well as calling them “Nazis during the war”. Brel nevertheless referred to himself as a ‘French-speaking Fleming’ and even emphasized “his sense of Belgian ethnicity” with the term “belgitude” (Tinker, 2002). With these practices, Brel alludes to the complex, multi-layered and inherently ambiguous nature of Belgian national identities and the historical, socio-political divide between the Dutch-speaking Flemish region in the north, and the French-speaking Walloon region in the south.
These lyrical representations of Belgium, Flanders and Wallonia by Jacques Brel, as well as the public controversy created by them, demonstrate the contentious role that media play in the discursive construction of nation states and their corresponding national identities. While much scholarly attention has been paid to how different forms of media such as written press (Anderson, 1991), television (Van den Bulck, 2001) and film (Willems, 2014) have contributed to the phenomenon of nationalism, the role that music plays in the discursive construction of national “imagined communities” has been much less researched so far. As such, with this research I aim to conduct an in-depth textual analysis of a sample of 10 song lyrics within the oeuvre of Jacques Brel, in order to scrutinize how Jacques Brel articulated his role in the prevailing conflict between Flemish and Walloon subnational identities in Belgium.
D1: Central Europe 2
Chair: David Landon Cole
Interpreting Martyrdom & (Re)Shaping Victimhood: Religious Symbols in Czech Nationalism (1890-1920)
Religious symbols were an important part of Czech victimhood nationalism and their identity-building process at the end of the nineteenth century. Their struggle for independence was rooted in the Hussite heritage from the fifteenth century, as well as the Battle of White Mountain. According to Czech historian Palacký and French historian Ernest Denis, both elements opposed the Catholic Habsburg oppressor and the Protestant-minded or Hussite Czech. Individuals (journalists, politicians) not belonging to the protestant or Hussite communities used these elements to demonstrate their own right to be part of the Czech national identity – or to highlight the ways in which they differed from it. This was the case of Jews, who in newspaper articles (including but not limited to Českožidovké listy and Rozvoj) discussed the question of their Czech and Jewish identity through these symbols, one of which was Jan Hus’ martyrdom. Analysing the ways in which the Jewish community interacted with the narrative of victimhood can help us understand better the success of the Czech – and later Czechoslovak – nation-building and state-building processes as a unifying phenomenon. This study looks into how Jews addressed this issue of Czech identity and victimhood, in a context of increasing antisemitism on the side of the wider Czech society. Events such as the Hilsner Affair or the First World War are especially of interest for this discourse analysis of selected written media sources.
Debates Regarding the Swastika in Jewish Newspapers from Cernăuți, Romania (1920s)
Philippe Henri Blasen
The Romanian ultranationalist movements, despite having an Atheist among their founding fathers, became deeply religious after World War I, practising (mostly Orthodox) Christian rituals and even developing a kind of mysticism in the case of the Iron Guard. The main ultranationalist movement of the 1920s, which the Iron Guard would later largely overshadow, was the League for National Christian Defence, whose leader was Alexandru C. Cuza. It used the swastika as a symbol and claimed that it had been the first nationalist organisation to do so. While National Socialists largely interpreted this symbol, which is a schematic representation of the sun wheel used in Hinduism, along neopagan lines, Romanian ultranationalists viewed it as a version of the Christian symbol of the cross. In the 1920s, when Romanian ultranationalist movements were not yet dominant, Jewish newspapers published a number of academic debates discussing the meaning of the swastika in the Romanian context. My paper focusses on the Jewish press from Cernăuți, a town in Northeastern Romania with a significant Jewish population and cultural activity, but also an ultranationalist stronghold. It examines how educated Jews interpreted the swastika, giving it worldly or religious meanings. It argues that this was part of the intellectual process of rationalising the Romanian ultranationalists’ irrational hatred of the Jews, as well as a way of coping with the increasingly violent antisemitic climate.
Operation Velehrad: Czech Nationalism, Communism, and Catholicism in Moravia
In 1950, as Communist officials in Czechoslovakia placed parish priests under surveillance, police imprisoned members of religious orders, and newspapers decried the Pope as the tool of capitalism and imperialism, Party activists organized and promoted an official pilgrimage to the Velehrad cathedral in eastern Moravia, a well-known place of Catholic pilgrimage in an area known for its religious conservatism. Since the nineteenth century, the pilgrimage had been strongly associated with both local folk culture and practice as well as traditions of Catholic internationalism and pan-Slavism. Through its association with Saints Cyril and Methodius, Velehrad connected this peripheral region to a Czech national narrative and to the broader Slavic and Christian world. This state-sponsored pilgrimage, which functionaries named “Operation Velehrad,” was intended to demonstrate that the new Communist regime respected religious belief, honored local traditions, defended national sovereignty from capitalist encroachment, and sought international cooperation. It was a media event at multiple levels: local functionaries distributed fliers and posters in Moravian villages, regional and national newspapers ran lavishly illustrated spreads featuring crowds of priests and believers listening intently to Communist leaders, and publishing houses produced brochures in multiple languages publicizing the speeches and declarations made at the multinational conference of Christian clergymen that preceded the pilgrimage. By co-opting a symbol of both local and international significance, Communist party leaders attempted to shift Catholic believers’ loyalties towards the new regime and its socialist allies. Operation Velehrad reveals both the local and international dimensions of nationalism under Communist rule.
Chair: Jonathan Hearn
Anti-Western identity as a key element of the national idea in modern Russia
After the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, any hope for improving Russian-Western relations was lost for good and all. The success of the Crimea annexation boosted presidents Putin’s legitimacy to the record level of 83% approval level within the country. To maintain the political elite’s support and the unity among the Russians a new national idea was proposed by the government – anti-westernization. Not only patriotic courses were introduced in schools, but more importantly, pro-government media fully focused on nationalist propaganda through contrasting Russian values against the Western ones. It is important to highlight that TV remains the main source of information for most Russian people, which is why it plays a significant role in shaping the identity of its audience. The campaign for constitutional reforms of 2020 which was named ‘Protecting the memory of ancestors’ became an illustrative case of the state media identifying Russians against the West. The question which emerges today is will this new national idea spread by the media help to prolong the legitimacy of Putin’s regime among Russians?
The media reinterpretation of history, national identity, and the system of values: Russia’s state news agencies at the service of Putin’s new identity politics (2014 – 2021)
Russian strategic documents, both devoted to national security and its particular aspects such as information security, pay much attention to mass media. Mass media is considered an instrument to implement the policies of the Russian Federation authorities.
Since 2014, Russian media coverage has increasingly contained elements of Putin’s new identity politics. Much attention is devoted to creating Russia’s new official history. The image of other states, in particular Western liberal democracies, is also subject to reinterpretation. In such a way, the media is trying to promote ‘traditional Russian values’. The media coverage also aims to showcase the uniqueness of Russia’s history, culture, and tradition.
The materials from two Russia’s state news agencies, RIA Novosti and TASS, published between 2014 and 2021 have been analysed for this presentation. This analysis has allowed us for the extrapolation of the main traits of the nationalist character of media coverage: 1) the reinterpretation of historical facts; 2) these aspects of Russian culture and tradition that are incompatible with, and are presented as surpassing, the Western culture; 3) the values considered so-called spiritual foundations or traditional values distinguishing Russian society from other societies and integrating it despite its ethnic diversity.
The result of this study is the assessment of the extent to which Russian media complete the tasks assigned to them in Russian strategic documents in terms of ensuring national security by its information and ideological influence, which strengthens social and national integrity under the conditions of ethnic and social tensions in contemporary Russia.
Chair: Sabina Mihelj
Sounds like Greek: radio programmes for the Greek Gastarbeiter in West Germany between propaganda and resistance (1960-1974)
As the historian Roberto Sala argues, the so-called “ether war” was an integral part of the propaganda struggles between East and West. As part of the bilateral labor recruitment agreement between West Germany and Greece in 1960, many Greek workers migrated to Germany in the 1960s and 1970s. From the early years of the recruitment, the Greek ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested that the embassy in Bonn should send approved material to the West German radio stations in order to compete for the attention of workers. Indeed, a radio programme in Greek was hosted in the Bavarian Radio since 1964 and it soon became an arena for heated debates on what is and what should be Greek. The military dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974) made matters worse and the tensions escalated, while radio served as a bulwark against authoritarianism.
National broadcasters and transnational radio audiences in Southern Africa, c. 1960-1990
This paper analyses the transnational impact of national radio stations on politics in Southern Africa from the 1960s to the 1990s. I argue that in the context of the region’s protracted liberation struggles, state broadcasters sought to transcend national boundaries and to win regional audiences as a tool of ‘soft power’ by using powerful short-wave transmitters. Settler colonialism and national liberation entered into a noisy and prolonged media war, only comparable in its intensity and duration to the Cold War battle to control the airwaves over Eastern Europe. This period also coincided with an exponential boom in the sales of cheap transistor sets from the early 1960s which transformed radio from an elite luxury to a mass medium. Radio Republic of South Africa, the Zambian Broadcasting Service and the Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation were the key players in this contest. International stations such as the BBC and Radios Moscow and Peking, alongside the so-called guerrilla radio stations that were established by liberation movements had limited impact but iconic status. With such a wide range of foreign stations on offer, audiences developed a distinctively cosmopolitan listening culture that subverted the attempts of nation states to retain the firm control of the media that had characterised the colonial period. My paper concludes that the combination of regional ideological conflict, short-wave transmission and the rise of the transistor weakened the hold of nation states on the region’s media landscape and gave rise to a transnational media culture that prefigured the later internet age.
Towards a Japanese soundscape: National identity, sound, and mediatic ambience in post war Japan.
In 1958, Toshiba released the album ‘Tokyo its people and sounds’ making use of the medium of sound to describe ‘something of Tokyo’. Nearly forty years later, the Ministry of the Environment released the ‘100 Soundscapes of Japan’ which aimed to capture sounds that had ‘meaning or significance’ and to preserve the sonic environment in the face of rapid change. Toshiba’s album was aimed at an overseas audience and produced and recorded by Ryuji Kono, a professional recording engineer. By contrast, the 1997 soundscapes project received more than 700 recordings from around the country, many of them made by amateurs. Both projects combined the abstract notion of national identity with the diverse sounds of everyday life in post-war Japan. They highlight a sonic everyday nationalism that developed around greater opportunities for personal consumption, domestic and international travel, and changing understandings of the nature of sound itself. During the four decades that separate the two projects, the emergence of youth consumers, the rise of a mass magazine market and mass advertising created a particular historical and cultural context within which sound and practices of listening created a kind of sonic national identity. The notion of a ‘Japanese soundscape’ emerged out of this mediatic ambience. This paper examines the role of the traditional print media as it incorporated the sounds of everyday life in post war Japan into the networks of meanings, symbols, images, and discourses at the core of the imagined community.
Chair: Andi Haxhiu
Discursive Strategies of Pan-Iranist Identity Construction on Twitter: How Ordinary Iranians View Iranshahr as Utopia
Padin Fazelian and Pourang Zarif Karimi
Iranian users discursively discuss their nation as Anderson’s (1983) imagined community on the emerging influential public sphere, Twitter. As #Iranshahr, referring to Greater Iran and implying territorial nationalism beyond the existing borders of Iran, is gaining momentum, this study aims to explore the dispositions that bearers of Pan-Iranism ideology share collectively. Through the lens of person-to-world construction of national identity, we applied a set of contextually relevant keywords, hashtags, and heuristic operators to build a dataset of 1236 tweets with Twitter API. These tweets constitute the everyday in-vivo utterances of Pan-Iranism sympathizers since the first popular commemoration of Cyrus the Great Day at Pasargadae. We developed a program in Delphi for high-quality manual coding of lexemes and syntactic devices, grouping similar schemes and strategies, and visualization of frequency and network of employed strategies. Firstly, each tweet is examined through the lens of relationship building: the perception of one’s Self, the Greater Self, or of the Other. Secondly, the discourse entities built on each of these relationships are identified. Thirdly, following Wodak’s (1999) framework, each tweet is linguistically analyzed against personal, spatial, and temporal references. Personal references such as ‘my homeland’ are particularly insightful on how individuals construct their sense of belonging to their imagined greater nation. Fourthly, each tweet is critically analyzed to reveal the argumentation schemes and strategies. The prevalent strategies of sameness, difference, continuity and origin are discussed. The findings illuminate how Pan-Iranism nationalism constructs a common territory, culture, past, present and future, and symbolic figures.
Poetry, nationalism and political Islam in Iran: The case of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei, a senior Islamic cleric and minor poet, has been ruling Iran since 1989. This paper analyzes the perceived roles of Persian poetry in relation to Iranian nationalism and political Islam, with reference to Khamenei’s speeches and actions in the period 2005-2021. This period covers the two two-term presidencies of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2013) and Hassan Rouhani (2013-2021) in Iran.
Poetry plays a far more prominent role as medium in Persian culture and identity politics than in most Western cultures today. Khamenei’s views are positioned within discursive traditions and practices related to anti-imperialist struggles, Islamic martyrdom, Shi’i mysticism and Iranian nationalism. In his speeches, he also engages with the classical pre-Islamic and Islamic cultural heritage and the transregional Persian sphere of influence, generated by shared practices and networks of religiosity, statecraft and trade.
The paper identifies ten cultural and political roles and effects of Persian poetry in Iran, as articulated and promoted by the Supreme Leader and his office. In Khamenei’s view, poetry serves to preserve Persian cultural legacies, to re-invigorate memories of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War, to promote particular models of political Islam and to cultivate Shi’a Islam. In addition, poetry serves to strengthen the legitimacy of rulers, to unite diverse groups in the population of Iran, to evoke group pride, to create a culture of resistance against perceived forms of imperialism, to attack perceived enemies, and to shape the legacy and memory of the Islamic Republic.
The interaction between nationalism, religion and poetry as medium can also be seen in three performative events or series of events in which Khamenei played a role: the annual commemorations of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1989), annual televised meetings with Khamenei involving quasi-court poetry, and the state media response to the assassination of general Qasem Soleimani by US forces in January 2020.
Iran’s dual Islamic and republican political order provides a layered field for the interactions between nationalism and political Islam. Nationalism as a signifier only partly accounts for or covers diverse forms of identity politics in Iran. Contesting imaginaries and subjectivities illuminate some of the interactions and partial or contradictory claims and trade-offs between Iranian nationalism, Shi’a doctrines, political Islam and a revolutionary social order in the official ideology and institutions. Persian poetry continues to be a major influence in shaping and interacting between such imaginaries and subjectivities.
The emergence of nationalism in media at the time of crisis
In January 2017 due to a lethal fire, Plasco, a landmark building in Tehran collapsed. Some months later, a terrorist attack in the Iranian Parliament was carried out by ISIS. This article aims to examine and compare how nationalist attitudes emerged through reactions in the social media toward the incidents of Plasco, the symbol of modernization, and Parliament as the republicanism symbol. Qualitative content analysis is applied as the method of study. The comments on related posts on the Facebook page of BBC Persian provide the main source of data. Through analysis, five indicative referrals are created that show how nationalism was raised: Homeland, Patriotism, Irredentism, National Honor, and Adversary Others. In statements on Plasco news, a kind of unifying national identity relying on the historical glorification of the Iranian nation is traced. This identity focuses on the old symbols and legitimates sacrifice for preserving these symbols. On the other side, comments on the Parliament attack present a strong and dynamic process of making adversary outsiders. National Identity in this section is not historical, but more concentrated on the contemporary political and militaristic power of the Iranian state. In this part, referring to the background of BBC in the biased coverage of news, many comments mention how media promotes a special form of nationalism (here the Shia nationalism). Despite their disparate provenance, confronting with reflections of non-Iranians, the crisis of Plasco and Parliament offers Iranian commentators a homological collective identity and a sense of belonging to a united nation called Persia.
Chair: Eline Ceulemans
Nationalisms in Portuguese Imperial Public Sphere
Isadora de Ataíde Fonseca
This paper discusses the role of press system in the promotion and mobilization of nationalist ideologies in Portuguese Colonial Empire. Throughout the nineteenth century, an Imperial Public Sphere performed a central role in socio-political dynamics of Portuguese Empire. The press published in Portugal and in its colonial territories composed an Imperial Public Space of discussion and conflict regarding mainly liberalism and political participation, economic development and colonial administration. Through the press system, imperial, colonial and native elites expressed competitive orientations of nationalist ideology. For instance, the press published from Lisbon was focus in a “Portuguese nation” that was ‘pluricontinental’ and ‘multisecular’, with a ‘civilizational mission’ to develop ‘indigenous people’, also considered as ‘Portuguese people’. With this perspective, Portuguese Nationalism implied and included imperialism and colonialism. In colonial territories, the settlers’ social forces through newspapers were chiefly expressing a regional nationalism, an orientation that claimed the cultural origin of Portuguese nation, that supported the Portuguese Imperial ideology and the regional/local peculiarities of each colony. At the same time, indigenous elites in colonial territories manifested dualities, with some groups revealing a nationalism critical of colonial exploitation and others claiming proto-nationalists’ ideologies. In sum, in the context of the Portuguese Empire and of an Imperial Public Sphere, we can point out different varieties of nationalist ideologies: Portuguese imperial nationalism, Portuguese colonial nationalism, regional nationalism and proto-nationalism. Regarding these varieties, the paper introduces a case-study that discloses the discussion of nationalisms in Portuguese Imperial Public Sphere through the voice of the press of Lisbon (Gazeta das Colónias, 1924-1932) in its relations with colonial press in Angola, Sao Tome and Prince, Mozambique and Macao.
From the Ultimatum to the Great War – the press and popular adherence to Portuguese republican nationalism (1890-1916)
Teresa Maria Sousa Nunes
Portuguese republicanism, and the party founded officially on 1876, emerged as relevant political force in the 1880s through the incorporation of a nationalist ideological component, based on the uncompromising defence of national values associated with the preservation of the colonial empire. This premise constituted the basis of a discourse characterized by simplified dichotomy between the republic, identified with the nation, and the monarchy, connoted with the bankruptcy of patriotic values was broadly published by the republican press until October 1910 Revolution. A similar pattern was observed between 1914 and 1916, a period of internal debate on the directions to take in the face of the outbreak of war in Europe. In both contexts, as well as during the republican revolution, a correspondence was verified between popular mobilization, the assumption of political positions by urban populations and the ideological ideals transmitted by the Portuguese republican press.
This proposal aims to analyse the dynamics of correlation between republican newspapers and the demographic fabric of urban areas, the preferential context of the affirmation of Portuguese republicanism. In particular, intends to address the following topics:
The impact of republican press on popular demonstrations against the British Ultimatum and the Portuguese monarchy, in 1890;
Revolution and republican newspapers, October 1910;
The persuasion mechanisms of the press and the formation of public opinion in favour of Portuguese belligerence in the Great War.
E1: Digital nationalism in China
Chair: Gertjan Willems
Mapping digital nationalism in China
Xiaoyu Zhang and Delia Dumitrica
Nationalism, which is a common sentiment of coherent identity and sense of belonging to a nation, is a product of Imagined Community(Anderson,1983).It encompasses not only geopolitics, the cultural identity , but also the default emotionally projection of all citizens within given boundaries. However , the fact is either Top-down nationalism or the Bottom-up popular nationalism (Zhao,2013) is closely linked to the patriarchal society and consistently provides the masculinity with politic venue. Given the truth that men-controlling ideologies that are ubiquitous from state consciousness to the underlying grassroots culture and digital nationalism,women naturally become the Other marginalized both in real life and in the rambling filmic narratives. Within this “mainstream” media narrative logic, Chinese American director Wayne Wang , whose works heavily portrayed different female images, offers an additional perspective on nationalism from women realms in a dominantly patriarchal society.Based on this background ,this article will choose the films The Joy Luke Club(1993) and The Princess of Nebraska (2007), in both films,Wayne Wang maximizes the women experience and draws on the function of memory to create potential links with nationalism.Through comparative analysis and text-based studies , this article argues that the female images in his films constructs a new identity through imagination, memory, namely,elements mainly representing the past, thus constructing an emotional connection with the nation;besides, such nationalism in Wayne Wang’s films are fraught with instability due to the abstraction and ambiguity of past memories.
China’s Digital Nationalism: Everyday Nationhood and Chinese Digital Media
Abstract: In recent years, the surge of populist politics and nationalism has affected many parts of the world. It also provoked a rise in scholarly interests in nationalism and related topics. Clearly, digital technologies today play an important role in the recent wave of nationalism. However, as much research has already explored the more overt nationalist manifestations online (e.g., Boulianne et al., 2020; Fuchs, 2020), the banal and everyday reproduction of nation is also worth scholarly attention. As Mihelj and Jiménez-Martínez (2021) point out, the formation of national digital ecosystems is one of the key mechanisms that promotes reproducing everyday nation. China, in this regard, can be a unique example. Research on digital nationalism in China tends to focus on digital governance or protests (e.g., Liu, 2018), but overlook ordinary individuals and in what ways China’s unique digital ecosystem influences their perceptions of nation through everyday engagement. Drawing the insight from banal and everyday approach (Skey & Antonsich, 2017), my research seeks to understand in what ways people in China sustain national identity and belonging and what role digital media play in this process. As everyday national reproduction seems difficult to be evident (e.g., Hearn & Antonsich, 2018), I adopt the media diary method with follow-up interviews, which aims to understand people’s everyday media practices and capture their taken-for-granted perceptions about nation and social life.
The Representation of China as a Nation from the Diplomatic Strategy in Social Media
The role of media in the formation of nations or nationalism is often emphasized (Anderson 1983); as the impact of media on our everyday life increases, its impact on the evolution of collective consciousness and the formation of an imagined community increases as well. After 40 years of development, China’s economic strength in the world has been greatly enhanced. In the meanwhile, the Chinese government is paying more attention to the “image” of China in international engagement in the news and the “national complex” derived among the Chinese people. This article tries to examine the diplomatic strategy Beijing has employed in the representation of China s a nation in modern social media and the influence thereof on public opinions. Take the case of Sino-us trade disputes as an illustration, through process tracing, we identify and study the key diplomatic events, the debates in the social media, and how the Chinese people’s opinion (especially people in China) on the matter are directed by the state media. Through this process, we explore the relationship between media and nationalism in the 21st century.
E2: Theoretical perspectives
Chair: David Landon Cole
Everyday Nation Branding: Understanding Nations through the Lens of Ordinary People in the Digital Era
Yunyi Liao, Michael Skey, and Sabina Mihelj
Existing research on nation branding in media and communication studies tends to mainly focus on top-down practices associated with states, companies, and branding experts. This has led to a lack of concern for bottom-up practices of nation branding generated by ordinary people. To address this gap, this study offers a novel perspective by focusing on how nation branding is conducted by ordinary people on digital platforms, highlighting the significance of individual nation branders in crafting and communicating a nation brand in the digital era.
This paper introduces the theory of ‘everyday nation branding’, which refers to the practices of promoting or presenting a nation initiated by ordinary people in their everyday life in digitalisation. It also develops a typology for a better understanding of everyday nation branding, by looking at dimensions of form, positionality, platform, support, and audience. The empirical analysis focuses on the countries of Japan and China, due to the popular phenomenon of everyday nation branding in these two nations. Two cases – ‘Abroad in Japan’ and ‘Liziqi’ – are employed to explore how these nations are represented and promoted in different forms (e.g., explicit/implicit nation promotion) and across different platforms (e.g., YouTube, Instagram and Weibo). A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods (content analysis and multimodal discourse analysis) is used to examine how stereotypes, social media platforms, and official national narratives are entangled with the representation and promotion of a nation by ordinary people.
Nationalism and digital communication technologies: Meta-analysis of a growing field of study
Junki Nakahara and Saif Shahin
The digitalization of information and communication technologies has coincided with a spurt in nationalist sentiment around the world. These two developments are seemingly at odds with each other: after all, ICTs are supposed to herald a “post-national” future. Yet, scholars have drawn a theoretical link between digital communication and nationalism. Mihelj and Jiménez-Martínez (2020) identify various top-down mechanisms through which the internet and related technologies reproduce the “world of nations.” Shahin (2021) adopts a bottom-up approach to study nationalism in everyday online interactions, arguing that “user-generated nationalism” is not only banal on platforms like Twitter but is also conflated with and employed to “banalize” racial, religious, and partisan discriminations.
This study takes stock of the state-of-the-art in this field of research. We present a systematic meta-analysis of scholarship that either explicitly uses terms such as “cyber nationalism,” “digital nationalism,” or “online nationalism,” or describes itself as a study of nationalism with a focus on the internet, cyberspace, and new/social/digital media. A search of multiple academic databases reveals 222 such articles, which will form the sample of our study. The meta-analysis will chart broad trends as well as specific arguments emerging from this scholarship, trace its evolution over the years, draw attention to its theoretical and methodological leanings as well as geographical and linguistic predilections. In doing so, it will also distinguish blind spots in the literature and develop an agenda for future research, with emphasis on the possibilities of interdisciplinary collaboration and theoretical and methodological innovation.
Social media and nationalism research: a posthuman approach
My research assesses how Chinese national identity is discursively (re)generated by multifarious socio-political actors on the Chinese Internet. National(ist) discourses are common on China’s web. Nevertheless, much more stress has been placed on their political dimension, which neglects other equally important dimensions constitutive of their more discursive nature. A further investigation into how Chinese national(ist) discourses are (re)shaped online on an everyday basis by diverse socio-political actors is crucial, which can contribute to not only deeper understanding of Internet-mediated Chinese national sentiments beyond over-emphasis on their more passionate, political-charged facet but also richer insights into the socio-technical ecology of the contemporary Chinese digital (and physical) world. My research questions are:
1) What Chinese national(ist) discourses are quotidianly mediated on Chinese digital platforms?
2) What are the roles of different socio-political actors especially ordinary users in discursively (re)generating Chinese national identity/-ies on the Chinese Internet? To what extent do these actors present differing or even conflicting understandings of the Chinese-ness?
3) What socio-political relations, structures and mechanisms are revealed from the discursive (re)production of Chinese national identity/-ies online? To what degree do they reflect offline realities and developments?
I adopt a discourse-analytical approach and an ethnographic methodology. My ‘fieldsites’ are two China-based digital platforms, Sina Weibo and bilibili. My data collection methods are virtual ethnographic observations on everyday national(ist) discussions on both sites and in-depth online qualitative interviews with key actors identified from observations in discursively (re)producing Chinese national identity on each platform. Critical discourse analysis is employed to analyse data.
Chair: Hanno Brand
Free, Frisian, and Viking: Frisian Identity and the Remediation of the Past
In the course of the twentieth century, the glorified image of Viking-Age Scandinavia exerted an increasing attraction on intellectuals and nation builders in remote parts of Europe, especially those which self-identified as peripheral, marginalized, and “northern”. In the Dutch province of Fryslân, the cultivation of a Frisian national identity went hand in hand with an antagonizing process of self-contrastation vis-à-vis the urbanized heartland in the West of the country. Fueled by these anti-Holland sentiments, the adoption of Nordic identity models could serve to create alternative narrative molds in which to pour the Frisian past. In this contribution, I will chart this process of cultural “nordification” from its initial phase in the writings of Frisian Scandinavophiles to contemporary remediations of Frisian history in popular culture and public exhibitions. In this context, special attention will be paid to the reception history of the pagan king Redbad (d. 719) and his modern transformation from ‘God’s enemy’ to beloved national icon.
Frisian Language Media in the Interwar Yers
The number of Frisian language periodicals grew spectacularly between the two World Wars, even more than in the period of expansion after World War II. During these interwar years, the dissemination of Frisian literature and language was further enhanced by the radio. Although the broadcasts in Frisian were part of the Dutch national programmes and generally lasted only a quarter of an hour or less per week, they managed to reach a wide audience throughout the Netherlands. Like Dutch society of that period, all social life in the province of Friesland in the Netherlands was segmented according to beliefs and convictions and divided into so-called pillars: Roman Catholics, Protestants (with several subcategories according to their denominations), Liberals and Socialists, to name the most important ones. This ‘pillarization’ led to a diversification of ideas concerning Frisian nationalism. My presentation examines to what extent this pillarisation, as expressed by the Frisian media, had productive or counterproductive effects on the Dutch government’s implementation of pro-Frisian policies.
Periodicals as vehicles of language ideology: the case of Tony Feitsma
PAPER ABSTRACT Nationalism and Media
Prof. dr. Anthonia Feitsma (1928-2009) was one of the most important actors both in Frisian linguistics and in the Frisian language movement of the twentieth century. As an adolescent, she adopted the ideology of the most radical branch of the Frisian movement of her day, viz. the (leftist) Frisian National Union (Frysk Nasionael Boun). Moreover, she decided to study Frisian linguistic and literature in order to contribute in a scientific way to the emancipation of the Frisian language. She was a major reformer of both Frisian linguistic and literary studies and of the Frisian national movement. Moreover, she rescued the Frisian National Party (Fryske Nasjonale Partij, 1961) from remaining still born in 1962. Because of her role, she became a highly controversial figure in Frisian society, both with the traditional champions of the Frisian language movement, the leading linguists, and the opponents of the Frisian movement. Her main achievement was an ideological one: she helped the Frisian langugage movement to break away from the remnants of traditional romantic nationalism (based on the idea of Frisia as an old and ‘pure’ peasant community) and to adopt more scientific sociological and psychological insights, leading to the new concept of ‘Frisian identity’. This concept is still basic in the debate on the future of Frisian language, culture and community.
In her career as a language activist, peridiocals played a key role. First of all, she became acquainted with the Frisian language movement as a teenager, living outside Frisia, because her parents kept a library for other Frisian expats and in that capacity received the current Frisian magazines. Next, after her student years, she became first a regular contributor and tehn an editor of the periodical De Stiennen Man (1958-1979), published the Frysk Nasionael Boun. This twoweekly magazine commented on all and any topics that concerned the Frisian language movement, giving ample space for Feitsma’s opinions and her polemic with those who thought otherwise. Finally, after a conflict with the publishers of De Stiennen Man, she started her own magazine Fryx (1980-1991). Here, we see her ideas on how to communicate and to propagate the basic concepts of her particular language ideology reaching a logical endpoint. Apart from her contributions to Frisan ideological peridicals, Tony Feitsma regularly wrote (and was regularly written about) in Frisan daily newspapers. On the one hand, she heavily criticized these (Dutch-language) newspapers, on the other hand se knew how to use them for practical items of the Frisian language movement, such as the position of Frisian in primary and secondary schools, the future of Frisian linguistics and the Frisian Academy and Frisian society in general.
Dr. Liuwe H. Westra is working on a biography of Tony Feitsma as a fellow of the Frisian Academy.
E4: Latin America
Chair: Joana Duyster Boreda
Mediating National Contestation: Place Branding and Protests in Latin America
Classic studies on the media and the nation, such as those by Deutsch, Anderson and Billig, have predominantly focussed on how the media –understood as technologies and organisations– may foster national cohesion and agreement. Yet, as observed by some (Mihelj and Jiménez-Martínez, 2021), developments in communication technologies have facilitated that more individuals and organisations from outside the state, as well as outside national boundaries, may communicate their own versions of national identity, thus inducing conflict and contestation.
This paper focusses on one specific area of mediated contestation, namely the frictions between nation branding and protests. The former refers to a series of promotional efforts aiming to construct and communicate state-sanctioned versions of national identity to advance predominantly economic goals. Significantly, although there is a growing body of research on the topic, scarce attention has been paid to what happens when these initiatives are contested or undermined by protesters whom, also using the media, claim to speak on behalf of the nation.
This paper will examine these issues by looking at recent episodes of protest in Brazil and Chile. These episodes confirm the limitations of centralised efforts seeking to control the communication of national identities, with alternative versions of these identities circulating in and through the media. Nonetheless, and despite their differences, both authorities and protesters coincide in struggling over the ‘content’ but not the ‘form’ of the nation, arrogating to themselves the role of legitimate representatives of the nation and perpetuating the latter as a key articulator of social life.
Nationalism and oil in Mexico: THE 2013 energy reform debate in media.
Josafat Morales Rubio
In Mexico, oil has been intimately linked to nationalism since the nationalization of the industry in 1938 (Morales, 2020). In 2013, President Enrique Peña Nieto sent an energy reform initiative that, for the first time in more than 70 years, allowed private capital investment in the sector. With the collaboration of the Partido Acción Nacional, Peña Nieto had the necessary parliamentary majority to carry out the reform. However, due to the importance of oil in the Mexican social imaginary, it was necessary a promotional campaign to convince the Mexican population of the convenience of the reform. Thus, the Mexican government spent close to 1,181 million pesos promoting the reform through various media, such as television, radio, print media, and social networks. With fewer resources, the Mexican left also began to promote its proposal, focusing mainly on social networks. For their part, the so-called opinion leaders and experts on the subject arduously debated the convenience of both proposals.
For almost five months, the oil issue, powerfully charged with nationalist elements, was at the center of the Mexican political debate, becoming what Michael Billing calls “hot nationalism” (Billing, 1995). The arguments presented by the government, the opposition, and the media were more nationalistic than technical, making this period an ideal time to analyze the impact of oil on Mexican nationalism, the subject of this paper.
Chair: Meredith Carbonell
‘British values’ and transgender rights: hegemonic frames in British news media
Alice Spaccasassi and Christopher Cannell
British values’ and transgender rights: hegemonic frames in British news media
British news media discussions about transgender rights often have frames that imply a transgression of ‘British values’. We argue, using Billig’s analysis of ideological rhetoric, that British nationalism, unselfconsciously “banal” as well as hegemonic, is the source of these frames and has aided in abetting increased hostility to, and silencing of, transgender people in Britain.
We look at press coverage of the BBC’s investigation on the Stonewall diversity scheme and the 2021 LGB Alliance Conference. Observing this coverage we see how two opposing advocacy groups are portrayed in line or in opposition to ‘British values’, and as a result how transgender struggles for legal rights and bodily autonomy are portrayed negatively within Britain’s “dominant hegemonic viewpoint”.
Our findings fit into a theoretical rubric combining Hall’s “encoding/decoding” of “hegemonic viewpoint” and Billig’s “syntax of hegemony”. Further, while these theories usually approach the deictic, indexical language of belonging, (e.g. ’we’, ’us’, ’them’), in the above cases this is supplemented and sublimated to even more subtle signs of alienation.
These signs frame the defence of ‘British values’: ‘toleration’ and ‘protection’ of the ‘vulnerable’. This delimitates who falls in the category of ‘oppressed’. In excluding transgender people from this category, in the above cases specifically transgender women, they are ostracised as ‘oppressors’ and made alleged transgressors of these ‘values’, rendering them a national Other.
Further, the hegemonic ‘British values’ frame structures legitimate discourse and argument in discussions of transgender rights. This creates greater space for reactionary viewpoints than for transgender voices.
What else could dissent look like? A view from Singapore
As a concept, protest is heavily delegitimized in Singapore. As a result of ‘race riots’ that occurred in 1964, immediately before independence in 1965, the danger of unregulated protest is inscribed into the foundational narrative of the nation. Protests and demonstrations were effectively outlawed in the country until 2008 when a small area called Speakers Corner was exempted from the law to allow outdoor public demonstrations. The informal injunction around protest as disorderly and counter-productive, however, remains. One of the first social movements to take advantage of the relaxation of the laws in 2008 was the LGBT movement, Pink Dot. Pink Dot has grown to become the largest LGBT movement in Singapore since then. Despite existing as a movement meant to protest the inequalities that LGBT people face in Singapore, it has been careful to distance itself from the concept of protest – regularly insisting explicitly that it is not a protest whilst also embracing national symbols and dominant discourses around family. In this paper, I mine this apparent disjuncture. The disavowal of protest, I suggest, is embedded into Singapore’s national narrative which means that unlike sites in the global North such as the UK or the US, protest as a concept is less salient in ‘doing’ dissent and resistance. I focus on visual media representations of Pink Dot to show how this movement in the global South achieves its ends of registering dissent and challenging extant gender and sexual inequalities that minoritized sexualities face without the spectacle of protest typically expected in the global North.
F1: Cinema 3
Chair: Dirk Rochtus
Documentary Melodrama: ‘Family Instincts’ in Latvian Cinema (1991–2021)
The term ‘family’ and its possible departures of its meaning in the socio-political context of Latvia, especially in recent years, has been semantically complex. The family, both social and juridical, has had a significant presence in the Latvian cinema, in fact, since its beginnings, especially in the last 30 years. It is possible to say that in almost every film we will see the conflict between parents and children, the absence of authority and symbolic orphanage, the inability of intergenerational understanding or some other archetypal relationship structures and fables.
Thomas Elsaesser wrote that the family melodrama is iconographically tied to a certain place – most often a family or kin’s home, or a shared space. It is often a confined space into which the ‘surrounding world’ enters with the actions and attitudes of agents. In addition to the sociological description, there is also an ideological one – in the case of Latvian cinema, the designation of a place is synonymous with the state in its broadest sense. There are many examples of this, not just fiction films.
This report is a continuation of the author’s article on the problems of the national cinema in the collective monograph Latvian Cinema: New Times. 1990–2020. The family and its discourse is an important concept (and its practice) that shapes nationalities and imaginary communities. Analysing the examples from the past decades, it will be seen how the melodramatic modalities have formed in the Latvian documentary cinema and the attitude towards family institution has been shaped.
Commercial Nationalism and Popular Lithuanian Cinema: (Hi)Stories from Eastern Europe
As Zala Volcic and Mark Andrejevic highlight in an anthology ‘Commercial Nationalism: Selling the Nation and Nationalizing the Sell’, nationalism is a commodity that sells very well, and in the era of neoliberal capitalism, it is becoming common for politics to intertwine with commerce, and for profit-seeking actors to instrumentalize nationalist sentiments. Commercial nationalism thus highlights two tendencies, one of which, the state increasingly uses commercial techniques of self-promotion for diplomatic purposes, to attract foreign investment, or for local national mobilization. At the same time, by using nationalism and patriotic emotional ideas, commercial media seeks to generate profit. These trends are particularly pronounced in Eastern Europe, where post-Soviet neoliberal reforms have mingled with processes of nation-building. Popular Lithuanian cinema is a relatively new and hitherto understudied phenomena marked by commercial imperatives, its creators are quite willing to participate in the processes of dissemination of the dominant culture of memory, and the great narrative of the nation. Therefore, this paper analyses how popular Lithuanian cinema participates in the processes of imagining the nation, constructing collective identity, and contributing to the (re)construction of national(ist) myths. The textual analysis of the films leads to the conclusion that the historical films released in the last decade actively reproduce not only simplified images of the past or historical myths rooted in the popular imagination, but also ‘correct’ conjunctural historical narratives which respond to the needs of the grand national narrative and political elite.
Idea of the Nation in Ukrainian Cinema after 2014
In modern Ukrainian cinema began a new stage of its development, there is a tendency to reveal the problem of national identity. Among important aspects is the rethinking of Ukrainian history, the cultural past that was lost during the Soviet period. That became one of the tasks of the Ukrainian cinema, which began to develop independently in the post-Soviet period. Historical events of 2014, i.e., the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea, became a factor that changed the vector of development of Ukrainian cinema. These legislative initiatives have allowed Ukrainian cinema to begin actively develop and produce content that resonates with the public, raising the question of the formation of Ukrainian identity and the development of Ukrainian history, which has long been forgotten by Soviet bans. In particular, the film industry began to play the role of popularizer of Ukrainian history, i.e., to fulfill the task of restoring historical memory to a society that was banned to oblivion during the Soviet period. Thus, the cinematography contributes actively as one of the significant media into the cultural discussion of the national idea in nowadays Ukraine.
Chair: Xosé Manoel Núñez Seixas
The Assemblage of Nationalism, Populism, and Misogyny in Chinese Digital Vigilantism
In recent years, there has been an increasing number of cases where Chinese citizens are named and shamed online for insulting China. To understand how such nationalistic digital vigilantism manifests on Chinese social media platforms, the author selects four high profile cases between 2017 to 2021, conducts critical discourse analysis on collected relevant Sina Weibo comments, WeChat public account articles, and state media reports. The public and media discourses of these cases demonstrate a mixture of nationalism, populism, and misogyny taking place in the digital vigilantism assemblage. The author argues that targets in such incidents experience intersectional vulnerabilities for being female social/intellectual elites who are perceived objectionable in mainstream Chinese values such as patriotism. Due to the temporality of the assemblage formation, such intersectional vulnerability is unpredictable and with severe consequences, potentially resulting in self-censorship and intellectual women’s constant fear of being victimized by nationalist, populist, and misogynistic DV assemblages in China.
Pictures of power: women’s political imagination in the decolonisation of Zimbabwe, 1960 to 1980
Historians are increasingly concerned with how media contributed to the construction of nations. Scholars have pointed to the lack of bottom-up approaches and the lack of historical analysis into the making of meaning through print media in nationalism. Professor of Theology, Adrian Hastings observed that what is still missing in Zimbabwe’s nationalist history is a serious consideration of the central figure in the church-state history – Bishop Abel Muzorewa. He was both leader of the political party, African National Council (ANC) and the first African Bishop of the United Methodist Church (UMC), formerly the American Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC). He became the first African Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in 1979 after winning the country’s first-ever universal suffrage election.
Both ANC and UMC ideologies were given political expression through a monthly Methodist print newspaper called Umbowo (Witness) which remains understudied. In my proposed presentation, I will provide insights into how this newspaper instigated an important shift in Manyika political theology – the process of how politics and theology rationally inform each other. Women have often been regarded as passive observers in African political nationalism. This presentation will challenge this narrative by investigating the immediate realities that informed the expressions of African Christianity and their simultaneous political implications. It will show how political mobilisation was influenced by Umbowo under Muzorewa’s UMC.
This presentation will utilize John Lonsdale’s theory of moral ethnicity, a concept of how political community is made, to analyse African women’s agency in political and nationalist discourse in Zimbabwe.
“Völkisch” Women in Dis/Order? Gendered Media Discourse and the Unwanted Politicization of German Nationalist Women in Habsburg Central Europe around 1900
From the 1880s onwards, an extended body of German Nationalist educational and instructional literature vehemently addressed women in Habsburg Central Europe. A mass of journal articles, poems or novels elaborated different female duties concerning body images, consumption, cultural and historical education or other aspects of everyday life. It is full of nationalist images of women as “cultural” and “physical reproducers of the nation” (Nira-Yuval Davis) or designs the female body as metaphorized “border of the nation” (Avtar Brah). Within such media discourse, recurring complaints about women’s identities “in disorder” are highly present and serve as a starting point for my contribution.
I will deal with the gender order in this specific type of media and analyze its connex to the (unwanted) politicization of female protagonists of the “völkisch” milieu. In fact, women participated up to a high extent to the gendered media discourse as journalists, writers and authors and co-produced its rigorous racist and antisemitic codes or strictly gendered divisions of labour. My paper will elaborate the hypothesis that with their media activities German Nationalist female protagonists crossed the limited scopes of action which they themselves designed for women in public political discourse. They moved on a fine line between declaring their activities as “non-political” and simultaneously shaping themselves national gender politics. Recurrent complaints about “gender disorder” therefore could indicate not only an existing “national indifference” of the addressed women but also an ambivalence deeply inscribed into German Nationalist politics: obviously many “völkisch” female protagonists took their national duties so seriously that this led to an unwanted politicization, which the majority of the nationalized bourgeois milieu rejected for women.
Chair: Hanno Brand
Lithuanization of Adam Mickiewicz
The intelligentsia that participated in the establishing of the modern Lithuanian nation had to solve the dilemma of the most famous Polish-speaking Lithuania’s writer Adam Mickiewicz. Although in means of language Mickiewicz was a stranger, he was still considered as someone familiar due to his origins and the subjects of his literary works. At the beginning of the 20th century, especially during the interwar period, the political conflict between Lithuanians and Poles grew sharper, and the poet’s literary heritage became an object of rivalry between the nations. The integration of Mickiewicz to the Lithuanian literary canon was complicated by the fact that in the Polish culture he had already gained the status of a national prophet (wieszcz narodowy) in the 19th century.
Among the methods that served to highlight the Lithuanianness of Mickiewicz and justify his inclusion in the Lithuanian literary canon, the most important were these: 1) the Lithuanization of his name (Adomas Mickus, Adomas Mickevičius); 2) the selection of texts that was reasoned thematically and ideologically (the texts that were mostly translated into Lithuanian idealize medieval Lithuania’s times (“Konrad Wallenrod”, “Grażyna”)); 3) the ideologically reasoned editing and expurgation of Mickiewicz’s texts. In this paper we emphasize principally on this last – the most drastic – practice of Mickiewicz’s Lithuanization and thoroughly analyze “The Selected Works of Adam Mickiewicz” (ed. Mykolas Biržiška, 1927) applying the theoretical approach of sociology of literature.
The Awakening of Volksgeist: Dual Nationality and Nationalism in the Lithuanian Media
This paper is filling the scholarly gap by investigating the intersection between dual citizenship and the ethnic nationalist ideology in the Lithuanian media by employing the lense of banal nationalism as proposed by Billig (1995). Thirty years after the Lithuanian independence, it is important to investigate the forms of nationalism to understand whether it has reached the banal stage that is common in established democracies. To find the answer, a qualitative content analysis of news media articles is employed. It argues that two Lithuanian digital news media portals show signs of the nationalist ideology in their content on dual nationality. Additionally, this piece explains and gives examples of the contexts where nationalism flourishes in digital news media articles. It is demonstrated that the conventional scholarly understanding of nationalism can be further advanced by accepting that nationalism comes in a multiplicity of forms, rather than relying on the ‘banal’/‘hot’ nationalist dichotomy.
Linguistic nationalism in the virtual sphere and the sociolinguistic critique of nationalism
This paper present the results of an inquiry in modern-day linguistic nationalism in three ‘virtual spheres’, the Lithuanian, Norwegian and Serbian-language ones. The dataset of 184 expert articles in online media and more than 10000 anonymous comments was analysed to detect linguistic nationalism, analytically understood the idea that the borders of language and nation(-state) should overlap. The results reveals a striking amount of similarity in all three countries, which can be summarised shortly as such: linguistic nationalism is prevalent amongst all anonymous commentators, most non-academic language experts (such as teachers, translators) and professional linguists in Lithuania and Serbia. The only group of public commentators who fully rejects linguistic nationalism and employ alternative views of language were Norwegian academic linguists. The results are first explained in the light of the recent developments such as globalisation and post-socialist nation-building, but then also reinterpreted in the lenses of critical linguistics. Critical linguistics points to the fact that one should separate the notion of ‘language’ (without the indefinite article) as a system of communication and social index, from the notion of ‘a language’: an artificial product of European modernity, imagined as a homogenous separable unit on a map, something which has nothing to do with the empirical reality of language use. Interpreted in this way, the results form the basis of a sociolinguistic theory of nationalism and are further used criticise the simplistic view of language employed in theories of nationalism, namely those of Etienne Balibar, Benedict Anderson, Ernest Gellner and Anthony Smith.
Chair: Joep Leerssen
Windscreens as sites for competing Turkish nationalisms: Kemalists vs Islamists
Michael Billig’s banal nationalism (1995) has been employed by many scholars to account for the reproduction of nationhood in everyday life. Banal nationalism shows us how nationalism spreads invisibly in contemporary societies. It also allows us to consider the ways in which everyday nationalism is reproduced by individuals. This paper employs the concept of banal nationalism aiming to analyse the competing nationalisms in Turkey; official nationalism or Kemalist nationalism, named after the founding father of the modern Turkish Republic and that of Islamist nationalism. The former, has been strong supporter of Western type of nation state. For the latter western nation state is an alien construct and has been battling to restore the Islamist values.
The AKP’s attempt to re-structure politics and society is accompanied by another battle, a battle over the symbols. Prohibiting the official celebrations of national days, instead, replacing them with religious celebration, the Islamist government has been targeting the symbolic presences of Kemalism in public spaces. One of the ways in which this antagonism manifested is through symbols placed on windscreens. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s images and signatures on the one hand and Islamists/Ottoman symbols on the other.
This paper reports on the individuals’ reappropriation of these symbols through short interviews with these car owners.
Under the Red Flag of Twitter Profile Pictures: The Rise of Exclusionary Nationalism against Refugees in Turkey
From “print capitalism” à la Anderson to today’s social media tools, nationalism became more visible for centuries through discursive channels. In other words, nationalism has entered the agenda of the media for centuries, and its symbolic usage among distinct media tools paved the way for the consolidation of a loyalty tie to a nation among its members who will never know each other. Therefore, different media tools owned a mission for exacerbating nationalism under certain conditions, such as under certain menaces against the unity and purity of the nations. In this paper, I aim to highlight the importance of Twitter in Turkey in the last migration waves of Afghan refugees. There is a certain polarization and dichotomy among citizens of Turkey vis-à-vis the acceptance of Afghan refugees. Exclusionary nationalistic side targets a total expulsion of the refugees from Turkey, even the earlier refugees like the Syrians, for preservation of the Turkish nation against “Others” by referring to socio-economically motivated reasons. They started a campaign, and they use Turkish flag as a circle on their Twitter profile pictures, and “I do not want refugee in my country”-“say stop silent invasion” are written in this red flag. I will thematically analyse certain tweets that were written by the owners of the red flag Twitter accounts, and I aim to show how social media affects nationalistic polarization within the Turkish society. Then, I will demonstrate certain refugee-centred conflicts in the society after the exacerbation of nationalism through tweets.
A Shelter, a Destination, a Vision: Ottoman History in Turkish Islamist Women’s Journals
From their first issues in the early 1980s to the present day, Islamist women’s journals in Turkey have been spiritually guiding their pious readers throughout social changes, transitions, and turmoils as well as in their personal life journeys. In the midst of the rapid pace of rural to urban migration, right and left wing political movements, and the processes of modernization and Westernization in the country in the 1970s and 1980s, the emergence of these journals was addressing a need for building and disseminating the idea of a new identity of Islamist women. References to Ottoman history have been an integral part of this vision. While relatively small nationalist and Islamist groups were raising claims of Ottoman heritage as part of Turkish identity in those decades, it became a dominant part of the Islamist and nationalist neo-Ottomanist discourse of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) since 2007. This paper is based on the research project, which studies how neo-Ottomanism is reproduced and presented in different Islamist women’s journals and magazines in the AKP period. The research aims to understand and emphasize the creative agencies of the women editors and authors of the publications in reproducing, aestheticizing, and popularizing neo-Ottomanism. Particularly, the study asks how authors and editors of these publications visually and rhetorically mediatize nationalist historical narratives by interlacing them with Islamic nostalgia, and what the production of the discourse and mediatization process tell us about the gendered nature of neo-Ottomanism and its cultural manifestations.
Chair: Jonathan Hearn
21st Century Hollywood Science Fiction Films as China’s Global Nationalistic Propaganda
This paper argues that 21st century Hollywood science fiction films function as global nationalistic propaganda for country of China. As China is the second largest territorial box office behind North American, it is a significant theatrical release destination for Hollywood film such as the Transformers series (2009-2014), Pacific Rim (2013), Robocop (2014), The Martian (2015), Arrival (2016), and Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019). In order for films to be imported into China, they must pass government censorship regulations, often beginning during the drafting of the script, and abide by the Film Industry Promotion Law of the People’s Republic of China, which was drafted in light of President Xi’s statement, reaffirming Mao Zedong and Vladimir Lenin, that art serves politics.
Archival research of Chinese government documents and laws that regulate China’s domestic and imported film industry identified their strategies and tactics for using global cinema as nationalistic propaganda to support China’s public diplomacy effort of ‘telling China’s stories well’ as part of China’s ‘going global’ initiative. A textual analysis of 21st century Hollywood science fiction shows how their content presents both China and the Western world in ways that show China as a world leader whose government, citizens, or ideologies either directly save the world or provide the turning point for success, how collectivist values exceed individualism, and promote China as the most advanced technologically capable country. Such storylines only began when the Chinese box office became economically important and they project China’s soft power goals of presenting their ‘correct view of history, nation, country and culture’.
This paper is submitted for an online session only.
Water, Earth, Fire, Air: Banal Nationalism and Avatar: The Last Airbender
The media is an important path by which nationalism and national ideology are communicated, helping to form and shape people’s sense of national identity. In Benedict Anderson’s (2006) Imagined Communities he identifies fiction as being one of the areas where such nationalist frames can be communicated to people. This paper wishes to look at how children’s cartoons can be a powerful source of embedding nationalist assumptions from an early age, by looking at Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel The Legend of Korra, a popular show that first aired on Nickelodeon in 2005 and 2012 respectively. In the show, the world is divided into four discrete nations, the Fire Nation, Earth Nation, Water Nation and Air Nation, each of which confers a particular ‘bending’ ability on the people (e.g. Fire Nation citizens manipulate fire, Water Nation citizens water etc.) Whilst there are challenges to nationalist ideas within the show, however, it nonetheless embeds certain ethnonational assumptions: that only members of particular nations are capable of wielding the elemental power with no possibility of others doing so (with the exception being the Avatar who can control all four). Drawing on Billig’s (1995) concept of banal nationalism I intend to explore how the show makes use of certain assumptions about nations, and peoples, in a critical manner, that nevertheless continues to communicate core tenets of national ideology: that there are particular people that are matched to particular nations; and draw wider conclusions about how children’s media communicate and embed these ideas.
Popcorn heroism: Screen entertainment as banal nationalism
“Remediation” – the adaptation of narratives or icons from one medium of expression to another, e.g. from novel or theatre to opera, film, or Netflix series – is an important element in the perpetuation of 19th-century cultural nationalism post-1918. As national narratives and icons are remediated in the 20th/21st century, they move from high-prestige media and audiences to more popular-commercial mass entertainment: cinema, TV, streaming services (as well as well graphic novels and the musical). In the process, such spin-offs, while maintaining a widespread social presence, become diffuse and “banal”.
Movies like Braveheart, Maharana Pratap (India 2012) or Legenda o Kolovrate (Russia, 2017); musicals like Soldaat van Oranje (Netherlands, 2010 and still running); TV productions like Payitaht: Abdülhamid (Turkey, 2017 ff.): bereft of cultural canonicity, these productions are politically camouflaged as “banal” and culturally as “trivial”. Largely disregarded by critics or historians, they recycle and reinvigorate national-historicist narratives and ideals as per the original model of Sir Walter Scott, but in vastly different genre conventions and ideological (populist) proclivities.
Besides boosting a fresh resurgence of national hero-worship, such mass-media remediations range, in their nationalist affect and effect, from the re-recycling of cultural classics (the Azerbaijani Ali and Nino, the Norwegian Birkebeinerne) to the sentimental and traditionalist celebration of national harmony and rootedness (Downton Abbey).
The proposed lecture builds on the insights of the SPIN/ERNiE project http://show.ernie.uva.nl/movies, and aims to identify the virulent contemporary afterlife of romantic cultural nationalism in the “banal” camouflage of modern, global, mass-entertainment media.
G1: World Fairs
Chair: Athena Leoussi
Latin American exhibition architecture at the world fairs (1867–1937)
Beginning in 1851, Latin American countries sought to project the image of a “modern nation” on the international stage of the world fairs, combining universal notions of progress and civilization with country-specific elements. However, despite the rhetoric of international understanding and peaceful cooperation prevalent at the fairs, these events were also pervaded by the geopolitical realities of the time. Latin America’s ambivalent position between the European colonies and the great powers became especially visible in the facades of their national pavilions, introduced in the scope of the 1867 Paris fair. Either they could obtain recognition by celebrating the “authentic” through pre-Columbian-style buildings –thereby risking marginalization for their “exoticism”– or they could emulate “European civilization”, while risking cultural invisibility, as was frequently the case with pavilions inspired by the neoclassical canon. In this presentation, I will give an overview of Latin American exhibition architecture between 1867 and 1937, when the world fairs became one of the most influential mass media. Besides the official perspective, as reflected in catalogues and government reports, I will focus on the agency of certain individuals, material aspects, as well as processes of negotiation and knowledge transfer. Thus, even pavilions designed and built by foreigners were never mere imitations of European moulds, but more likely the product of complex negotiations within a “space of global knowledge”; i.e. the globalized cultural system of the world fairs with its numerous international congresses and various kinds of transnational encounters.
The transnational construction of national identities at World Fairs: Cultural isomorphism through an early visual mass-medium, 1867-1939
World Fairs were one of the most influential mass media between 1851 and 1939. The Paris Universal Exposition of 1900, for instance, attracted fifty million visitors and was extensively reviewed in newspapers and illustrated weeklies around the globe. World Fairs appealed to all five senses, but were primarily a visual medium. The first international expositions focused on industrial products and scientific inventions, but they also played a crucial role in the transnational construction of national identities. Since 1867 participating countries were supposed to erect their own national pavilion in order to show the highlights of their patrimony, while the introduction of ethnographic villages slightly later also enabled the display of their ethnographic riches. This process has primarily been studied through case studies of individual exhibitions, countries or pavilions, leading to a very fragmented overall picture. However, there were many similarities that can be studied as a process of isomorphism. Sociologists connected to World Society Theory have shown how a process of uniformization is visible when studying the institutions of the post-1945 nation-states. This mechanism, however, can also be detected in the construction of national identities at World Fairs, where countries learned from each other through mimesis, competition, professionalization and – in the case of colonies – imposition. In my paper, I will show how classifications, exhibition practices, building blocks for national identities and modes of representations were increasingly standardized, while a typicality effect induced countries to select the most extraordinary aspects of their national heritage in order to be attractive to visitors.
G2: Diasporic media
Chair: Andi Haxhiu
The Origins of Armenian Nationalism in the United States and the American Armenian Press (1880s-1920s)
The paper examines contending forms of nationalisms or ethno-nationalisms within the Armenian community itself as they appeared in the American Armenian press from the 1880s to the 1920s. This study contributes to a number of areas—for example, diaspora/ethnic studies, the literature on ethnic press, “long-distance nationalism,” “print capitalism,” and the scholarship on the Armenian community in the United States. Among the conference themes, the study offered in this paper would be considered under “Media and nationalist propaganda,” “Media and everyday nationalism,” and “Media, nationalism, and ethnicity.” Approximately forty Armenian daily, weekly, monthly papers/journals were published in the United States during the period under consideration. This paper examines the extent to which such media propagated nationalism or nationalist ideologies. Employing content analysis of a sample of Armenian-language newspapers (eg, Hayk) and English-language papers (eg, Armenia journal), this paper identifies two contending intellectual currents in the development of Armenian nationalism in the United States. The Armenian-language papers stressed “Old World” Armenian nationalism (for example, cultural nationalism), while the English-language papers focused on the imperatives of functional and cultural integration in the “New World,” and in so doing promoted “cultural congruence” between Armenian and American values, while Armenian community leaders lobbied for favorable U.S. foreign policy towards the homeland.
Mobilizing “everyday”: the role of online ethnic networks in minority radicalization The case study of the Russian-speaking internet users in Germany
This talk addresses one major area in nationalism studies that has been rarely explored, namely, how social networking sites (SNS) contribute to shaping individual pathways to mobilization and formulating ethnically based claims. Particularly, it focuses on how everyday engagement with online “ethnic” networks might shape the way how minority and diaspora members perceive and co-produce ethnic boundaries, thus leading to mobilization and potential “radicalization” along with these mobilizing (or “strong”) ties. It argues that SNS can function as self-organized political communities that can reproduce mobilizing rhetoric and create a shared homogenized discourse with commonly acceptable discriminatory stigma. By applying a networked approach to the study of minority mobilization, this paper intends to shed light on individual pathways to radicalization, as well as scrutinise a bottom-up perspective on nationhood construction practices that are common in cyberspace among minority/diaspora members.
The proposed project intends to investigate these questions based on the case study of various aspects of the everyday co-production of the far-right and right-wing rhetoric among Russian-speaking residents in Germany, both in online and offline settings. Starting from 2013, some of these minority residents have been engaging with occasional acts of violence against other people with a migrant background. After the so-called “refugee crisis” of 2015, many joined the anti-refugee protests across the country that ranged from 15,000 to 50,000 people. The same Russian-language residents expressed their voting preferences for the right-wing party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). The case presents a perfect laboratory for tracing the development of diasporic mobilization along ethnic identities as it allows us to both tracing how the broad sense of ethnicity, based on linguistic and perceived cultural traits related to the Soviet experience, has been constructed and racialized along the constructs of “Whiteness”.
Based on the netnographic analysis of the three online groups – forum “Germany in Russian” with more than one million participants, Odnoklassniki group “Russian Germans stand for the AfD” and several Telegram chats; this paper argues that in 2015-2018 the Russian-language SNS have become the major platforms for reproducing the user-generated reflections on right-wing populism and Islamophobia. Due to perceived privacy, minimal censorship, and immediate reaction from other users, these platforms have mirrored offline mobilization. Online conversations in forums and chats have been often amplified by the popularity of authoritarian propaganda of the Russian government, which, since Russian involvement in the Syrian conflict in 2015, tends to portray refugees as marginal, illegal, and uneducated, or the spread of bots—fake social media accounts that aim at addressing the specific topics of discussions. The mobilization along the lines of these online networks later led its users to manifest their positioning on the streets, and even engage with violence against the newcomers. The same channels for mobilization were later used in 2020-2021 with the spread of anti-Covid rhetoric and related conspiracy theories, when some of the Russian speakers started organizing rallies against the newly introduced measures.
Socio-political Influence of Lemko Media in North America in the 20th and 21st Centuries
The aim of the paper is to analyze the influence of pro-Ruthenian, pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian media on the socio-political functioning of the Lemko diaspora in North America.
The difficult situation in the Lemko region was the main reason for the emigration of the Lemkos. They went to the Balkans, Germany and Australia. However, they most actively cultivated their traditions and religion in the United States of America and Canada.
Both in their homeland and later in the “new world”, the Lemkos were not a homogeneous community in terms of national identity. The Lemkos from the East Galician centers created three political orientations: Old Ruthenian, Muscovite and Ukrainian. There were also religious disputes between the Lemkos, as some of them were Orthodox and some were Greek Catholic. Both national and religious animosities were transferred to the USA and Canada. Lemkos established secular and church organizations and created newspapers that were carriers of their political views and influenced the Lemko communities. Until the present day, i.a. two organizations: the pro-Ukrainian Organization for the Defense of the Lemkivshchyna and the pro-Ruthenian (at one time pro-Russian) Lemko Association. In the 21st century, both of them adapted their activities to the prevailing trends: they run profiles in social media, publish video materials on-line, digitize their magazines. Currently, all Lemko organizations are struggling with similar problems: the lack of young leaders or Americanization. However, there are still communities that uphold the memory of the traditions and culture of their ancestors, also through the media.
Chair: Bruno de Wever
Everyday Digital Covid-19 Nationalism
The purpose of this article is to investigate digital nationalism in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has transformed borders in the Nordics from being largely symbolic to practically closed. The effect of closed borders has been immense in places such as the twin city Tornio-Haparanda in the Torne valley, located right at the Finnish-Swedish border. The twin city shares a joint city center, sewage treatment, district heating, museum, rescue service and sport facilities over the state border. Covid-19 has dramatically changed the everyday lives of people in this area. When Finland closed its borders, it created a distinct Finnish and Swedish part of the twin city for the first time in modern history, separating families, friends and businesses. The specific aim of this article is to identify how “ordinary citizens” in Tornio-Haparanda participate in the construction of everyday nationhood online during the pandemic. Material is collected in public social media groups for locals (such as ‘Debatt Haparanda’ on Facebook) through online ethnographic methods and show how the pandemic is creating a new emphasis on nationality in the twin city. The analysis puts together insights from and adds to the fields of everyday nationalism, digital nationalism and the growing research area of Covid-19 nationalism.
Keywords: borders, Covid-19, (digital, everyday, Covid-19) Finnish, nationalism, pandemic, Swedish, Torne valley
The Life of the Nation: Narratives during the Covid 19 State of Emergency in the Slovenian Press
International law provides for the possibility of derogation from state obligations to respect human rights in the event of a “public emergency threatening the life of the nation”, to the extent that the exigencies of the situation make it absolutely necessary, and in a temporary, limited and supervised manner. The most recent example of an emergency was the Covid 19 pandemic, in which governments across Europe restricted many basic human rights and freedoms. This paper presents narratives about human rights derogation in relation to ” the ‘life of the nation’ as they appeared in Slovenian right-wing and left-wing media communication from March 2020 to March 2021. Using content analysis as the primary message-centred methodology, the paper critically reflects on the ‘life of a nation’ at the ontic level – i.e. in relation to a range of issues, perspectives, meanings, beliefs, values, objects and processes located across diverse societal and institutional levels. The paper also touches on the ontological level of analysing the “life of the nation” by reflecting on its social, political, ideological and ethical dimensions that have emerged through media narratives.
The Western ‘Other’ and the Chinese National Self in the Pandemic Era: Exploring How ‘the West’ is Discursively Constructed in Chinese Covid-19 News Coverage
China’s semi-colonial past under Western imperialism is an important source for contemporary Chinese nationalism. The West has become the ‘Other’ to the Chinese national ‘Self’, but the narratives of the Western ‘Other’ and the Chinese ‘Self’ are complex and multi-layered. The West represents progressiveness in contrast to China’s ‘under-developed’ status. At the same time, China’s sense of superiority grows with a booming economy. Western criticism against China is interpreted as a resurfacing of imperialism, but the Chinese state also promotes Sino-West cooperation. Different discursive imaginations of the West are emerging in China. It’s necessary to explore them in the COVID-19 pandemic, the period with a worsening Sino-Western relationship, to understand China’s self-identification today. Therefore, I will focus on these emerging conceptions of the West in post-COVID China through critical discourse analysis evident in People’s Daily, also known as the ‘mouthpiece’ of China’s government. The Chinese media system is ‘party-state’ dominant, and news media is the premier device of Othering. I will look into the coverage of ‘the West under the COVID-19 outbreak’, from March 11, 2020, when WHO declared a pandemic, over a 12 month period. The paper will present the methodology, sample, and preliminary findings. Discussion would be around how media representation of the West helps construct nationalist narratives in which the ruling party legitimizes itself. The findings might include what the China-West dichotomy looks like in Chinese official outlets, and eventually, its relation to the ‘party-state’ version of nationalism and China’s national identity in the pandemic era.
Minority Language Media (MLM) and minority-majority relations during the COVID-19 pandemic
Sergiusz Bober, Valentina Cola, and Craig Willis
A growing research output concerning the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the establishment of a firm consensus highlighting the fact that despite its universal nature, it affects different sectors of society in unequal measure. This is particularly salient with regard to minority groups, due to their frequently inferior economic status, linguistic marginalisation, geographic peripherality or relative insensitivity of majority populations. In this context, the proposed paper intends to answer the following overarching research question: How the pandemic has been affecting the sector of minority language media (MLM) in terms of minority-majority dynamics? This is going to be approached through a series of detailed research angles qualitatively addressing such aspects as (a) content produced in relation to such issues, (b) linguistic justice, (c) cross-border situations (where relevant), (d) fluctuations of media consumption between minority and majority groups concerning MLM. The study will be based on an original empirical dataset consisting of in-depth interviews with MLM practitioners, as well as experts observing the field from the scientific perspective, and the analysis of the journalistic content made available by relevant MLM outlets. In terms of linguistic spheres, the paper intends to cover MLM outlets operating in such contexts as Frisian in the Netherlands, Irish, Italian in Croatia, German in Denmark, Swedish in Finland, Welsh etc. Importantly, those include linguistic communities both with and without a kin state. Finally, the analysis follows a pluralistic approach to the MLM formats, and consequently considers print and social media, television, radio and websites.
Chair: Xosé Manoel Núñez Seixas
Between Official and Vernacular Memory: Mediated Representation and Remembrance of Han Migration to Xinjiang in Museum Photographs and Family-owned Albums
This abstract is based on one of the chapters of my Ph.D. project, entitled Between official and Vernacular Memory: Mediated Remembering of Han Migration to Xinjiang. The project focuses on photography as a means of mediating memories of Han migration to Xinjiang, China, and examines two different social contexts of remembering, namely the family and the museum. The Han Chinese who reside in Xinjiang are largely descendants of internal migrants who came to Xinjiang from the inland provinces of China after 1949, and who now constitute simultaneously a national majority and a regional minority (alongside the Uyghurs, who constitute the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang). In contrast to much of existing scholarly and popular discourse, which presents the Han Chinese in Xinjiang in terms of their role as ‘frontier constructors’ in Chinese nation building, my project seeks to uncover a more complex mnemonic landscape, rooted in diverse social identities and experiences of the Han Chinese in Xinjiang, and to reveal how Han Chinese memorize their resettlement between ‘frontier construction’ and ‘personal life survival’. Through qualitative interviews with 15 multigenerational Han families, organized around the discussion of their family-owned photographs and photographs displayed in the Xinjiang Agricultural Reclamation and Military Museum, I investigate the role photography plays in the formation and circulation of vernacular and official memories. The presentation will present the results of my analysis of photographic representations of Han migration in family albums and the museum, using a combination of quantitative content analysis and qualitative semiotic analysis.
More than a Costume: Hanfu Fever and the Discourses on Chinese Cultural Nationalism and Identity
The rise of ‘Hanfu Fever’ has been one of the recurring trends on Chinese social media, with the number of Hanfu enthusiasts exceeding two million in 2018, which in turn has created an industry worth $156 million. This coincides with a wider discussion over the shape of China’s identity, which has been marked by an emphasis on the uniqueness of Chinese identity as well as presenting China as a civilizational entity rather than simply being a nation-state, as codified by Liu Mingfu’s The China Dream and Zhang Weiwei’s China Wave. All of these indicate a more exceptionalist tone as well as presenting a cultural rather than a political form of Chinese identity.
The purpose of this paper is to explore the rise of the Hanfu movement in China and the wider trends it has been expressive of. This was examined through the framework of cultural transmission to explore the political, social, and demographic trends that have underpinned the movement. As a result, it was found that the growth of ‘Hanfu Fever’ has been driven by Chinese millennials who grew up in the period of China’s economic development. This has bestowed them with confidence in expressing their unique identity. These have been expressive of a growing discussion over the future of China’s global identity as well as the influence of China’s millennials in shaping political and social trends in China and beyond.
Imagining ‘Taiwanese compatriots’ in the Chinese mainland: Growing up with mediated autobiographical memories of Taiwan
Taiwan and the Chinese mainland have been separated from each other since 1949 with limited ways to interact. In this situation, media become a primary channel for Taiwanese and mainland Chinese people to know the other side. For mainland Chinese people, Taiwan is made meaningful largely through the mediation of various media forms against the backdrop of China’s patriotic education campaign started in 1994. While dominating discourse tends to frame Taiwan as part of China and Taiwanese people as ‘compatriots’, media (especially digital media) serve as a multidirectional reference point where this nationalist understanding can be reinforced, negotiated or contested. Drawing on interviews and focus groups with mainland Chinese young people who grow up with both the rise of Chinese nationalism and the development of digital media, this paper investigates how they rely on different media to make sense of Taiwan during their growth and how these mediated autobiographical memories of Taiwan contribute to their imagination of ‘Taiwanese compatriots’. Uses of ‘old’ and ‘new’ media in their lives are reviewed in relationship to ‘Taiwanese compatriots’ as the dominant ideology. The paper finds that sources from different media together show a multisided Taiwan, which does not necessarily overturn but indeed complicates the unidirectional and nationalist idea of ‘Taiwanese compatriots’. The journey to discover this multisidedness is also a journey of growing up and developing media literacy competencies. Therefore, the implications of media on nationalism should be understood on the dimensions of personal growth and media consumption through time.
Chair: Meredith Carbonell
Nationalism, Propaganda and the Concept of ‘Free Readers Association of Nigeria’ as a Metaphor for Media at the Grassroots
Nigeria gained independence in 1960, courtesy of newspaper press-driven nationalism. The first newspaper Nigeria was Iwe Irohin published in 1857 under the independent Egba kingdom and lasted till 1867. It was followed by Anglo-African in 1863 published by Robert Campbell in Lagos. The Lagos Times and Gold Coast Advertiser published in 1880. But the first radical nationalist newspaper in practical terms to come into existence was the West African Pilot founded in 1937 by Nnamdi Azikiwe who later became Nigeria’s first President. This was followed by other radical nationalist newspapers all of which jointly drove colonial Nigeria to independence. But then bearing in mind that the fundamental objectives of the press are to inform and educate through critical and constructive delivery of information, ideas, thoughts and opinions on defined subject maters, the fundamental question arises, how were these newspapers able to generate the nationalist heat that subsequently forced Great Britain to grant Nigeria independence, given that the rate of literacy then was still very low? It is against this background that the present paper intends to address the role of free newspaper readers popularly nicknamed members of Free-Readers-Association-of-Nigeria in the dissemination of news and information which became critical to nationalist struggles. The Free-Readers-Association-of-Nigeria (FRA) include those who are mainly jobless, literate, semi-literate or illiterate but could not afford the newspaper who often gathered around the newspaper stands to peruse through the headlines and subsequently engage on heated arguments and analyses over the news items and related national issues.
Making hate normal. The role of media in Rwandan genocide
1994 marked an important turning point in Rwanda’s history, as it saw the near extermination of the Tutsi minority at the hands of Rwanda’s Hutu majority. But what mobilized an entire ethnic group to commit such heinous crimes? The role of media has attracted a lot of attention and research in relation to this question. Media, especially radio, is noted to have played a persuasive as well as logistical role in the incitement of violence. However, further study reveals that it did so in the context of other general and local factors such as reinforcing government messages and the rhetoric of genocide that had already been introduced by other sources. Both the ethnic conflict and the genocide, indeed, represent a result of an overlap of different cleavages (economic, social, ethnic, political). In this way, radio operated in a pre-existing framework and further promoted the genocide but it did not instigate it on its own. Furthermore, as official sources and interviews with listeners of the radio reveal, radio broadcasts were actively debated and reflected upon by their audiences, meaning that the audience was not always convinced by the messages they were receiving. However, drawing on the pre-existing framework, the radio broadcasts’ genocide propaganda was able to form the norm, and while resisting the propaganda may not have been impossible, it certainly was hard. It is through this role of routinization and normalization of the genocide, therefore, that the media made its greatest mark.