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Essays on Kurds

Historiography, Orality, and Nationalism


Amir Hassanpour

The essays in this collection offer robust theoretical analysis of language and cultural rights, class and gender, policy and politics, history and historiography, nation and nationalism, and Marxism. They continue to remain original to a vast array of debates and contestations in these areas. The book includes unpublished pieces and some key contributions that are most relevant to the contemporary debates on theory and method of nation/nationalism, and the struggle of national minorities for sovereignty, cultural and political rights. Each chapter provides original data and are written over a span of decades, but significantly, they offer a radical break with the colonial, orientalist, and nationalist traditions of knowledge production. This book is an exemplary exploration of nation and nationalism in a Marxist dialectical, historical materialism.

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9 Nation and Nationalism



Marxism emphasizes the class nature of nations and nationalisms, anchoring them in the emergence of the bourgeoisie in the process of transition from feudalism to capitalism.1 Gender is missing in this theoretical claim. Feminism highlights the gendered nature of nations, considering them to be a form of patriarchal organization of society.2 In this theorization, class is generally overlooked.

Marxism seeks the elimination of nations and nationalism in the process of socialist revolution leading to a classless communist society. While feminism emphasizes the patriarchal nature of capitalism, the dismantling of patriarchy is usually not premised on the dismantling of the nation.

Marxism’s interest in theorizing nation and nationalism is informed by its project of radically transforming the world and replacing class society, divided into numerous nations, with communism, conceived as a classless human society not fragmented by nationalism and national borders. Attachments to nation and ethnicity, as well as religion, tribe, territory, language, and gender, are treated as predicaments of class society, which Marx called “prehistory” (Marx 1970, 22). ←217 | 218→The consciousnesses, identities, or particularities rooted in these cleavages are tied to class relations and serve the reproduction of these relations within the socioeconomic formation to which they belong (e.g., feudalism, capitalism, and socialism). Nations are a relic of the past, not the cornerstone of a new society.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Marxists detest nation(alism) both ideologically and theoretically. Politically, however, nationalist movements are assessed according to three interrelated considerations: (1)...

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