Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 1998

Nations, Culture and Politics in Europe

Main Disciplines: Social Anthropology, Sociology
Lecturer: Professor Joseph R. Llobera
Institution: University College, London, UK
Dates: 3. - 7. August 1998

Both Marxism and structural-functionalism failed in their prediction that national and ethic identities were on the wane, and that a universalistic type of ideology was the requirement for an advanced industrial society, be it of a socialistic or of capitalist type. The present fin de siècle offers a rather puzzling picture, with the modern state being undermined both upwards (in the direction of unions or federations of states) and downwards (by the dissolution of empires or multinational states). If anything, what appears to be at stake is the resilience of ethnic and national identities at a time of major technological, economic political and cultural developments. The main aim of the course is to map out the key factors that account for the persistence of national identity.

The course starts by discussing how national identities may be explained. It then shows how national identities persist in a post-modern landscape, discussing whether national sentiments are an irreducible phenomenon. The course then covers topics such as: The territory and politics of language. The stuff that culture is made of. History and the construction of national memory. Religion ? an ersatz nationalism? The course winds up by discussing whether nationalism lead inevitably to conflict and violence, and whether the nation state has a future, seen in the light of the present efforts to unify Europe.

Basic Readings

The lecturer
Joseph R. Llobera lectured in sociology and social anthropology at Goldsmiths College (University of London) to 1996, and he is currently a Visiting Professor of Anthropology at University College, London, where he received his PhD in 1978. He has done fieldwork in Catalonia and Barbados, as well as historical research in England, France, Germany and Catalonia. He has published extensively in the area of the history of the social sciences, anthropology in Europe and nationalism. He recently published The God of Modernity. The Development of Nationalism in Western Europe (London 1994), and co-edited The Anthropology of Europe (London 1994).