It is arguable that today it is commonly, if subconsciously, accepted that nationality is the most important aspect of one's identity. Whether it is a national sports team, a national representative at Eurosong, a national author…etc. one's nationality has become the most basic marker of identity. It would be logical then to assume on this basis that having a nation expressed in territorial terms would of the highest priority, and some might even say that this feeling of nationalism and self-determination is an inherent right of all peoples. What is unclear, however, is how these nations come to define themselves, and why they feel they must define themselves in a specific way. For many nations today these questions are taken for granted because they haven't had to defend them (in their lifetime of course, almost all nations at one point or another have had to “assert” themselves). Today we have certain common markers of identity that distinguish us from other nations and make us unique. These criteria are most commonly seen to be language, religion, a shared history, a common goal, and a common culture (including literature, music, food, mythology, sport, symbols…etc.).
[...] It is evident from these two cases that markers of identity such as language, culture, religion and others are manipulated by individuals or groups because of selfish ambitions and interests through nationalist movements and can cause a formation of a whole new national identity. With the European Union making bigger and bigger steps toward integration it is likely that one day we will see a “United States of Europe” that will be achieved through the work of governments in creating a new artificial European identity that will nonetheless become as real [...]
[...] This has also been taken even further to describe the Catholic Irish as a different race, completely separate of the English which served to distinguish one from the other even further making one group inferior the Irish in their duties as servants, much like the slaves in the United States justify dominance of one over the other” (lecture 5.2 However it is quite clear today that the Irish and the English are not separate races, which makes religion most cogent marker of difference [ ] and now the only one left” (lecture 5.3 During the Irish fight for Independence religion was used as a clear marker of difference between the two groups because Catholic became interchangeable for Irish and Protestant for English. [...]
[...] I would like to explore two such nationalist movements, in Ireland and Bosnia, which show how national identity is defined by nationalist movements rather than the other way around. Since its annexation by Britain in 1801 (and varying forms of rule ever since the 12th century), Ireland has been fighting for independence from that same nation, and it is this preoccupation with its relationship with Britain that defines the case of Irish nationalism. The Irish nationalist movement stems from a conflict in several of the markers of identity including (but not limited to) religion and language. [...]
[...] However, much of the folklore, music, and literature was invented specifically to stir people and stimulate feelings of ‘Irishness' because ordinary citizens are very receptive to emotional arguments (and cultural aspects are very emotionally- based) that above all create a feeling of differentiation between ‘us' and ‘them.' Another very similar case of identity-forming as a result of a nationalist movement can be seen in Bosnia roughly between 1991-1996, beginning with the break-up of Yugoslavia. Bosnia, as well (most) of the rest of the Balkan region has at (almost) every point in history been dominated and oppressed, most ‘famously' by the Ottoman Empire, then the Austro-Hungarian Empire etc. [...]
[...] While the Latin alphabet was the official alphabet of Bosnia, the Cyrillic alphabet was also taught in every school to every child so that upon moving throughout Yugoslavia (Bosnia to Serbia to Macedonia to Montenegro to Croatia ) every citizen of Yugoslavia would be able to read every sign and every billboard. With the beginning of nationalist rhetoric and more specifically, the war, the teaching of Cyrillic was stopped and all signs within Bosnia written in the Latin alphabet. This way, every time one saw the Cyrillic alphabet one would inevitably think of the ‘other' and choose not to believe the newspaper, or brochure, or warning in Cyrillic. [...]
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