The Construction of Belongingness to an Imagined Nation State – Contradictory Narratives and Ambivalent National Identities in a Globalized World

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Thomas KUEHN, IPU Berlin, Germany, Germany
Katrin VOIGT, International Psychoanalytic University Berlin, Germany
While some discourses already claim a post-national era in times of globalization, current nationalistic tendencies on the political level in various western countries provide a different picture. For an increasing amount of people, nationalistic narratives seem to present an important identity frame within a globalized world.

The electoral success of the populist right-wing party AfD (13%) within German parliamentary election 2017 is just one of many illustrations of such tendencies. Reflecting on national identity and different constructions of belongingness to the nation state becomes a more and more critical issue for German politics and the related public discourse.

In order to understand these tendencies, we regard it as important to analyze national identity from a combined structural and subjective perspective.

Based on several qualitative interview studies on national identity conducted by the authors in Brazil and Germany, the authors want to line out different narratives of belonging to a nation in a globalized world. It’s striking that competing and contradictory narratives often can be found within one interview with the same person, reflecting uncertainties and ambivalences regarding the contemporary meaning of national identity, citizenship and belonging to nation states. The same person in different social and discursive contexts might stress or neglect the importance of the nation state.

We will analyze how these ambivalent accounts of belonging are fundamental for the construction of different social identities in our contemporary globalized world. Focusing on different social imaginaries and representations of the nation state allows us to explain why nationalism and transnationalism are in fact no contradicting phenomena, but rather coexisting forms.

Calling for a post-national era alone does not end exclusion, rather, the structure of narratives of belonging have to be understood in order to find more inclusive forms of social community.