Varieties of Nationalism in Postcolonial, Neoliberal and Hetero-Patriarchal Times
In recent times, narratives of ‘nationalism’ have presented as paradoxically unifying and dividing discourses in many parts of the world. Characterized by a call to an ‘authentic’ form of national identity, these narratives invoke both cultural and economic logics, often in seeking to justify a range of authoritarian practices (Kaul, 2021). In this Section, we consider how to expand the notion that there exist today ‘varieties of nationalism,’ that are characterized by both similarities and differences in terms of their relationships to legacies of colonialism and (white) imperialism, neoliberal logics and capitalist market-making, and the gender ideology of hetero-patriarchy.
Nationalist movements and regimes differ in how they invoke the ideals of an imperialist (race-caste supremacist) past or a postcolonial future. In India, appeals to ‘the postcolonial’ imply a cultural hankering for an imagined bygone era of ‘traditional’ family values, the maintenance of caste/race/gendered hierarchies and a religious supremacy. These elements are brought together under a unified vision of a single, temporal past – a glorified religious past (Chowdhury, 2014).
In Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America, this postcolonial yearning to reclaim ‘tradition’ takes the form of defying ‘gender ideology’, which is represented as a corruption of culture inflicted by the ‘West’ to disrupt (often Catholic) middle class family values (Gago, 2020). While on the surface such nationalist movements and regimes appear to reject all capital and knowledge which is ‘not-local’, such as by promoting programs such as ‘Make in India’ (Kaul, 2019) or through contentions such as ‘the IMF is abortion’ (Gago, 2020), their strong ties to neoliberal individualization are made clear time and again in their policy practices.
Nationalist movements are by no means confined to formerly colonized contexts. Formerly imperialist nations have also witnessed appeals to return to an imagined past in ways that are deeply entangled with neoliberal ideology. Scholars have observed that such movements and regimes are characterized not only by an interweaving of the imperial/postcolonial with neoliberal logic, but also by misogyny (Kaul, 2021), which is found in the violent and threatening remarks of leaders of such regimes (Ellis-Peterson, 2018). Further, policy declarations in such regimes also produce gendered and other forms of oppression – be they anti-abortion laws (Berer, 2017), femicide (Gago, 2020), bans over the bodily autonomy of (minority) women (Mogul & Gupta, 2022) or cries to end supposed ‘legal terrorism’ in the form of seeking anti-dowry or anti-domestic violence rehabilitation (Singh, 2011).
What forms of ‘nationalist’ power have been realized––or have now become imaginable––as a result of heteropatriarchal, postcolonial neoliberal nationalist narratives? What situated forms of oppression and co-optation persist through the dissemination of such logics? What is new about the individual responsibility, isolated agency and atomic ‘agents’ who are the subjects of such imagined or actual regimes (Davies, 1991)?
The following Panels explore various accounts of the rise of right-wing nationalism and their specific invocation of the ‘postcolonial’ as well as their moves towards individual responsibility, a politics of austerity and a re-institutionalization of hetero-patriarchy (Brown, 2015).
1 Neoliberalism and postcolonialism: (Un)likely allies?
Chair: Nitasha Kaul
This Panel explores how neoliberal and postcolonial discourses become interlinked in the production of contemporary nationalisms.
2 Feminist and postcolonial critiques of neoliberalism
Chairs: Patricia Purtschert and Anukriti Dixit
This Panel focuses on the critiques of neoliberalism developed from feminist and postcolonial philosophies and the imagination of alternative socio-economic systems.
3 Epistemic justice in rising neoliberal and nationalist governmentalities
Chair: Muneeb Ul Lateef Banday
Neoliberal nationalisms rely on the producing market and national past logics into the governing forms on legibility. This Panel explores how alternative logics can be investigated and realized.
4 Anti-feminist backlash in neoliberal-nationalist regimes of power
Chair: Madeleine Pape
The emergence of the dominance of neoliberal regimes of power has been accompanied by severe forms of backlash against feminist and gender knowledge and organizations. This Panel explores why such backlashes become important for neoliberal nationalist regimes and the way forward for counter-struggles.
5 Religion and neoliberal regimes
Chair: Erez Levon
Postcolonial neoliberal nationalisms often rely on dominant religious narratives to emphasize their parochial outlook and to normalize exclusion and hatred for ‘others’, within and outside the boundaries of the particular country. This Panel examines how religion and neoliberalism reinforce each other, what their delinking can entail, and how such projects can bear fruit.
6 Militancy in postcolonial neoliberal times
Chair: Elizabeth Mesok
With neoliberal logics becoming the basis for international relations and nationalism, human rights are ignored within the nationalist imagination, and are are made subservient to market ideology within international relations. This Panel will deliberate on the formations of militancy-nationalism-coloniality.
The Section brings together transnational experts studying contemporary forms of nationalism, thus offering opportunities for solidarity between the Global North and South. Section Chairs therefore seek in particular Papers from scholars facing direct or indirect forms of militarism.
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