The course takes place in a semi-intensive fashion over a number of weeks beginning in January and through Martch 2023, in Vienna.
Over its twelve sessions we will examine the usefulness of certain key ideas drawn from the anthropology and sociology of nationalism. Through a series of ethnographic examples we consider problems of political relativism vis-à-vis the 'invention of tradition' literature and then the particular form nationalist movements and conflicts take. At this point we take our first look at the Romani case – considering tradition, history and the commemoration of WW2.
We then broaden the focus to consider what some once thought of as ‘aberrant’ forms of nationalism and considering the nature of ‘religious nationalism’ in South Asia, and the fit or lack of fit of received theoretical models: both Gellner and Anderson link nationalism to the disenchantment of the world/secularism - does the experience of South Asia undermine their stance? Ethnographies of ethnic riot are then considered as a field in which empirical, field or historical research profoundly alters a priori wisdom. This part of the course concludes with an extended reflection on the comparative study of the history of racism and the nature modern racisms in the USA and Europe – a key component of human rights’ discourses.
In the final sessions we turn to questions of race, stratification and ethnicity in Europe, focusing on the Roma case, but including discussions of Islamophobia and headscarf bans. The course concludes with a pair of broad discussions of fashionable notions of 'identity politics' and even more fashionable claims of ‘intersectionality’ asking what has been achieved when politics becomes a struggle for 'identity' and ‘voice’ in a world structured only by 'power'. We also examine the history of persecution of Roma in the mid twentieth century as well as new anti-Romany politics in many countries of the EU.
This course is complementary to courses offered in the Romani Studies program and may profitably be taken together. It is also offered to Sociology/ Anthropology students providing a detailed look both at the anthropology of ethnicity and the lived experience of Romani minorities.