The 2017 Jean Blondel PhD Prize for the best thesis in politics has been awarded to Verena Wisthaler (University of Leicester and EURAC Research) for her thesis Immigration and Collective Identity in Minority Nations: A longitudinal comparison of Stateless Nationalist and Regionalist Parties in the Basque Country, Corsica, South Tyrol, Scotland and Wales.
Verena’s thesis evaluates stateless nationalist and regionalist parties’ identity constructions between 1992 and 2012.
How do these parties construct national identity in a context of rising immigration?
Do these parties consider migrants and diversity as an integral part of minority nations?
The dissertation deals with these questions in a longitudinal study and with a comparative perspective on the stateless nations. Taking a qualitative approach, it analyses the parties’ discourses on immigration and their policies on migrant-integration.
Verena shows that the parties take different approaches to immigration and the construction of the nation in times of rising immigration. She explains these different approaches by carving out the specific political institutional relations between the state and the minority nation on the one hand, and the conflict-free societal relations between the minority nation and the state majority living within the minority nation on the other. All parties instrumentalised the immigration discourse to differentiate themselves form their national governments and to strengthen their own strategic interests.
'Verena's thesis argues persuasively that a sort of ‘instrumental nationalism’ based on civic and territorial markers facilitates identity construction. This allows for the inclusion of diverse immigrant groups – but this diversity is always constructed against the central state.
Her thesis, which covers party analysis and studies on immigration and integration, generates timely and innovative knowledge, and opens up new paths in comparative political science analysis. A pleasure to read, Verena's problem-driven thesis makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of urgent societal and political problems.'
Verena will receive her award during the Joint Sessions of Workshops at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, in April 2018
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Mary Farrell Plymouth University
Petra Meier University of Antwerp
Ferdinand Müller-Rommel Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Clara Egger University of Grenoble
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Keywords: Comparative Politics, Identity, National Identity, Nationalism, Political Parties, Regionalism