Literature, Partition and the Nation-State: Culture and Conflict in Ireland, Israel and Palestine

Literature, Partition and the Nation-State: Culture and Conflict in Ireland, Israel and Palestine

Literature, Partition and the Nation-State: Culture and Conflict in Ireland, Israel and Palestine

Literature, Partition and the Nation-State: Culture and Conflict in Ireland, Israel and Palestine

Synopsis

This study offers an extended study of the social and cultural legacies of state division in Ireland and Palestine. Focusing on the period since the 1960s, when the original partition settlements in each region were challenged by Irish and Palestinian nationalists, Joe Cleary's book contains individual chapters on nationalism and self-determination; on the construction of national literatures in the wake of state division; and on influential Irish, Israeli and Palestinian writers, film-makers and public intellectuals.

Excerpt

In many contemporary theories of nationalism, cultural and communications media are ascribed an important function in developing and maintaining a sense of national consciousness and national sentiment. These theories provide the conceptual basis that can help to explain why the development of a national literature is always an important dimension of the modern state-building project. Like national museums, national broadcasting services, national galleries and national newspapers, national literatures are a stock assumption of the modern nation-state. They serve multiple functions, which extend to both domestic and international audiences. the construction of national literatures usually involves processes of linguistic standardisation and canon selection designed to promote the sense of a shared national culture overarching 'subsidiary' regional, religious, ethnic, gender or class differences. For domestic audiences, therefore, national literatures help to create a sense of a shared cultural inheritance and a sense of a common destiny. in the international arena, they allow nation-states to establish cultural credentials that in turn allow them to secure full political recognition and to compete for cultural status and prestige.

For most contemporary theorists, nationalism is an essential element of modernisation, an ineluctable feature of the transition from agrarian to industrial or from pre-capitalist to capitalist society. Modern industrial or capitalist economies require the state, and the state in turn can operate successfully only if it can develop and be maintained by a common, accessible, written culture. According to Ernest Gellner, 'nationalism is, essentially, the general imposition of a high culture on . . .

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