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Cultures of Nationalist Militancy

Research presentation

Cultural History Workshop, University of Cambridge

​This paper examined the interaction of  culture and nationalist militancy, more specifically the intersection of the two in the context of the Long 1968 period in the West.

Theorists, in my experience, indulge a great deal in the speculation of what elements of culture dispose people (even predispose people) to violently advocate for secession from a given state. Debates about whether it is language, or religion, music or cuisine, literature or clothing, or any combination of these and other elements of ‘culture’ are what inevitably lead one group to feel so different from another that they believe that they must be governed by their own entity, are nine-tenths of what is to be read about nationalist groups. This is most particularly true for what are often defined as ‘ethno-nationalist groups’ i.e. groups who observers believe to be motivated by non-political and non-economic reasons in their quest for a new nation-state.

​However, there is another element to militant separatists that has to do with culture, something not often explored: the internal culture of the groups themselves. While it is true that these nationalists devoted themselves to the preservation of what they believed to be an immutable national culture, their defence of that culture also led them to create their own institutional cultures that I find fascinating and enlightening, and which is shared in this paper.