Dr. Alastair Renfrew, Durham University
Thursday, November 12, 2015
112 Katz, 4:15 – 5:30 p.m.
Nationalism has always been a contradictory and problematic issue for progressive politics, provoking an inconsistency at the level of political theory that is matched only by the often chaotic reality of political practice. This lecture will argue that the contemporaneous emergence of ‘bourgeois’ nationalism and a world market in the second part of the nineteenth century was far from coincidental and, moreover, that this overlooked and misunderstood convergence provides a model for contemporary responses to globalization. Contrary to the twin assumptions that transnational political problems necessarily require transnational solutions and that the nation State is becoming increasingly irrelevant, civic nationalism has never been more important as a basis for political organisation. Contemporary Scotland is offered as an exemplary case, demonstrating how a politics driven by the apparently limited terms of ‘national self-determination’ might become a model for broader political resistance to the assumptions of our precarious ‘New World Order’.
Alastair Renfrew is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Durham University. His main area of research specialization is literary and critical theory, particularly Mikhail Bakhtin and the so-called Russian Formalists; he has also taught and published on Russian and Soviet Cinema and on Russian and Scottish Literature. He is author of Towards a New Material Aesthetics (Legenda, 2006) and Mikhail Bakhtin (Routledge, 2015), and co-editor of the collection Critical Theory in Russia and the West (Routledge, 2010); he is currently working on projects on Lenin and on Dialectics and Dialogics.