Martin, “Nationalism and religion; collective identity and choice”

Martin, David.  2014.  Nationalism and religion; collective identity and choice: the 1989 revolutions, Evangelical Revolution in the Global South, revolution in the Arab World.  Nations and Nationalism 20(1): 1-17.

Excerpt: Let me restate my primary focus in this lecture. I explore the dialectic between the autonomous powers of religion and nationalism, and between collective identity and choice, in my three revolutionary transformations. I am canvassing three contemporary transformations to query how far nationalism remains the main game in town in the light of major transnational religious movements and in the light of the transnational and personal imaginaries of young people with access to the internet. The revolutions of 1989 look like evidence for the resilience of ethno-religion as a vehicle of collective identity, although there were also major outcrops of inner conscientious dissent at work in combination with transnational religious influences, notably the Catholic Church. Evangelical Christianity in the Global South looks like personal choice and a collective transnational identity on a collision course with nationalism, including nationalist religion: the Catholic Church in Latin America, and in Africa and Asia the nationalist constructions and postcolonial mobilisations of intellectual and political elites. At the same time, there have been intermittent alliances between Evangelicalism and nationalism. As for the Arab revolutions, it depends on who is doing the looking. Some see them as nationalism disguised, others as religion taking over from nationalism as the vehicle of collective identity, though with a significant margin of pluralism, inwardness and maybe choice.