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Murray Hill, Manhattan
275 Madison Ave St #2114
Btwn E 39th & 40th Streets
New York, New York 10016
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Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 12

Flexible Reschedule Policy: This provider has flexible, free rescheduling for any-in person workshop. Please see the cancellation policy for more details

What you'll learn in this society class:

Long regarded as the stuff of 19th century romanticism and 20th century warfare, nationalism is resurgent on the global stage. Despite—or, perhaps, because of—globalization, instant communication, and the seeming erosion of state supremacy, ideas about national sovereignty, national economies, and the preservation of national character have gained greater purchase at the ballot box. 

Moreover, though historians widely agree that the division of peoples and states into nations is a decidedly modern phenomenon, nationalism is often regarded as the “natural” political order. Why is this the case? And how can examining the history of nationalism shed light on its continued salience?

This course will offer an introduction to nationalism in both historical and theoretical terms. Drawing on an assortment of sources, students will examine the material conditions that made it possible to conceive of political identity in national terms. We will ask: How did people come to think of themselves as naturally divided into distinct nations, and why has such thinking become so pervasive? What types of identity existed prior to the age of nation-states? What is the relationship between national identity and the institutions of the modern state, from the public school to the army? What are the fault lines between nationalism, patriotism, and other forms of civic association? Is nationalism necessarily exclusionary or chauvinistic? 

Finally, we will examine how a range of contemporary issues are threatening the logic of nationalism as a form of identity and type of statecraft—from ethnic and religious difference to the limits of sovereignty in the face of mass atrocities, and problems like climate change that require coordination on a global scale.

Readings will include selections by Johann Herder, John Stuart Mill and Ernst Renan in addition to canonical studies by E.J. Hobsbawm, Ernest Gellner, Benedict Anderson, and Eugene Weber, among others. Students will also examine more recent attempts to Make Nationalism Great Again alongside the critical reception such efforts have generated.

There *is* no physical Brooklyn Institute. We hold our classes all over (thus far) Brooklyn and Manhattan, in alternative spaces ranging from the back rooms of bars to bookstores to spaces in cultural centers, including the Center for Jewish History, the Goethe-Institut, and the Barnard Center for Research on Women. We can (and do) turn any space into a classroom. You will be notified of the exact location when you register for a class.

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Refund Policy

Note: This provider has a temporary cancellation policy for COVID-19 related cancellations which is as follows:

We'll grant full course credit up to the start of the first class. After the first class we can offer 75% course credit; after the second 50%; and after the third 25%.


Original cancellation policy (non-COVID-19):

Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.


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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (21)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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