National Cultures at the Grass-Root Level

National Cultures at the Grass-Root Level

National Cultures at the Grass-Root Level

National Cultures at the Grass-Root Level

Synopsis

The major dilemma this volume addresses is the function of national identity in a modern society, for despite the trend towards globalization, the world continues to be riddled with national conflict.

Kloskowska begins by looking at the controversy between two competing concepts of the origin of the nation - political and ethnic. She examines the central issues of the argument, and in particular, the characteristics and effects of ethnic differences on personal identity and the appropriation of national culture. Her theories are based upon autobiographies by individuals belonging to various national minorities in Poland and other areas where ethnic borders are blurred. The group studied included mostly young intellectuals: Ukrainians, Belarussians and Silesian-Germans. She examines the national attitudes of the various countries the ethnic minorities have been forced to live with. In her conclusion, Kloskowska takes the view that national cultures are either 'open' or 'closed' and stresses the importance of participating in more than one cultural medium.

National Cultures at the Grass-Root Level is rich in information on contemporary theories of the nation, on its origin, character and future, and offers a deep insight into the complex and often ambiguous reality of national attitudes.

"the book addresses important questions and provides much-needed empirical materials." American Journal of Sociology

Excerpt

At the close of the twentieth century the problems of the nation and nationality are once again at the center of attention among social scientists and humanists. Empirical and theoretical studies of national phenomena are multiplying rapidly, especially in the United States and Great Britain. Princeton University is the leading center of these studies in the United States. The interests of theoreticians reflect the practical importance of national problems in the life of societies all over the world. There is a certain paradox connected with this practical side of the subject: On the one hand, the world today is striving for unity and as a matter of fact already is linked together by a network of political, economic and information relations. However, the rebirth of old and the birth of new centrifugal tendencies of national separation and self-affirmation accompany this tendency.

This phenomenon encompasses both Europe, uniting on new principles, and Africa, entering the phase of transformation from ethnic communities into modern national states that are grappling with the problems of tribal groups contending for political and cultural supremacy. The bloody internal conflicts of Burundi, Rwanda, and Somalia, the dramatic processes of the disintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the struggle of the successors of the Soviet Union to suppress the drive for sovereignty of the Caucasian and Asiatic countries are examples of much wider processes, albeit not always so drastic in form.

Given the intensity and nature of these developments, one can understand the enthusiasm with which many scholars of different scientific orientations take up the problems of the nation and nationalism. In the background of contemporary events, however, is the memory of German, Italian and Japa-

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