Throughout most of the 20th century ethnic identity and nationalism were seen as diminishing in importance, a consequence of globalization (e.g. multinational corporations' labor strategies), transnational forces (e.g., labor migration, refugees), the end of colonialism, the strengthening of the nation-state, the increase in democracy and importance of citizenship, the development of supra-state institutions (the U.N., the European Union), and the spread of modernity throughout the world.
Clearly, this prediction was wrong. This assignment asks you to explore the reasons why.
Choose two or three cases. These may be countries (e.g., Jamaica), or ethnoracial or religious groups (e.g., Indonesian Muslims; the Kurds). Then choose a process or processes that can be seen to directly or indirectly foster the maintenance (or emergence) of strong ethnic/national sentiments and behaviors characterizing your cases. Examples include multiculturalism (e.g., official multiculturalism in Canada), new social movements based on identity ("identity politics", e.g. the American Indian Movement), politics (e.g., electoral politics, language rights legislation in Spain or Mauritius), culture and heritage recovery projects (e.g., the Celtic movement in Ireland, Scotland or France; language recovery projects), ethnic/national/religious conflict (e.g., the Philippines, Iraq, Syria), transnationalism and globalization (e.g., the effects of the United Fruit Company's policies in Panama on local indigenous populations), neoliberalism (which opened up spaces for ethnonational mobilizing in many countries), neo-colonialism, and migration (voluntary or involuntary). This list is not exhaustive.
One of your cases can come from class readings.
You will be halfway to the finish line when you have chosen your cases and process(es). Part of this assignment's purpose is to help you sharpen your skills with respect to identifying cases, locating scholarly sources, and designing and presenting a cogent, convincing argument.
Nora, and I will work with each of you to make sure you've got a good plan. But you need to make the initial choices. If you're stumped, the course readings may provide an inspiration, especially those at the beginning (e.g., the examples in Eriksen or Maybury-Lewis). Or the "Supplementary Readings" might suggest a topic. Or talk with/write to Nora or me.
Be sure to discuss your choice(s) with one of us as soon as you have chosen them.
Example 1: Examination of ethnic identity and nationalism in two Caribbean countries, looking at the development of an ideology supporting the formation of pluralist nations. This essay might look at how the notion of "nation" has been de-coupled from its usual meaning of a single "people" in these countries. Your conclusions would not claim to speak for the entire Caribbean area, but you certainly could suggest some generalizations that would likely emerge from additional research.
Example 2: The rise of ethnic/national identity in two or three of the former Soviet republics or in Eastern Europe when these countries were under Soviet control.
Example 3: The emergence of indigenous rights movements in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Argentina, or Chile (or almost any other Latin American country).
There are hundreds of possible topics. As always, it's best to pick cases you're especially interested in.