Pandemic Nationalism

What does the pandemic reveal about perennial moral dilemmas between individual and societal interest, as well as the national and the global interest? In our introductory essay for the special issue on Pandemic Nationalism Ned Whalley and I suggest that while nationalism has unquestionably helped overcome collective action problems within state borders, it has undermined them at the global scale. The most clear example has been the abject failure of international organizations to coordinate an appropriate response. We then present the contributions of this special issue published in Nationalities Papers.

The first article by Florian Bieber, published online in April 2020, outlines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nationalism around the world.

The second article by Erin Jenne, published in 2022, uses political artwork to show how different images of the idealized sovereign community were employed to justify divergent pandemic policies. The ultimate failure of both models provided space for alternative leaders and models of national protection.

The third contribution by Siniša Malešević, published online in October 2020, argues that the onset of Covid-19 has been associated with the dramatic expansion of global conspiracies. But instead of interpreting this as a reliable sign that nation-states and nationalisms have lost their dominance Malešević shows that many global conspiracies in fact reinforce nationalist ideas and practices and, in this process, foster the perpetuation of national imagined communities.

The fourth contribution by Paul Goode, David Stroup, Lisa Gaufman, published online in May2020, discusses how in unsettled or uncertain times, like the COVID-19 pandemic, the everyday practices which maintain our sense of national identity become heightened. During such crises, the ordinary and unnoticed routines that structure everyday life are thrust into the spotlight as people seek a return to national normality.

The fifth contribution by Jakub Wondreys and Cas Mudde, published online in October 2020, looks at far-right responses to the pandemic, noting that the far right itself is both more heterogenous and more mainstream than ever before. Right-wing politics is far from monolithic, and its discourses on the pandemic have exhibited substantial variation.

The sixth contribution by Prerna Singh, published online in October 2021, delineates how through the pandemic, right-wing, populist, exclusionary nationalist governments have further exacerbated “us versus them” divides. But points out that nationalism has also played a more constructive role during the pandemic.

The seventh contribution by Jonathan Parker, published online in March 2021, focuses on secessionist movements in the UK, Spain and Belgium, and argues that whether or not a secessionist movement benefits from the pandemic is highly contingent on contextual factors, including the performance of state-level governments in responding to the pandemic and the relative autonomy of regional governments during the response.

The eighth and final contribution to this special issue by Hynek Böhm, published in 2022, evaluates the impact of the pandemic on various aspects of the daily lives of the inhabitants and institutions of both parts of a town divided between Czechoslovakia and Poland.

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