Last week discussion of the role of nation proved personally challenging. Having struggled with determining where the nation was situated in a previous post, and with great thanks to Dr. Lawson’s metaphor, Sebastian Conrad’s Globalisation and the Nation in Imperial Germany further helped develop this thought. With regards to German history, Conrad argues that there is a tendency to examine how nations developed into modern states first, and then as a result participated in international and global politics. Conrad’s modifies this, however, and describes a process in which the nation/nationalism developed alongside globalization. Rejecting the development of the nation as a consecutive process, the two play off one another and engage in a reciprocal relationship. The two become dependent on one another rather than functioning as autonomous structures. Borders were created as both a product of and reaction to increasing global exchange, “The process of globalization was characterized not only by cross-border interactions; it is also contributed to the creation and consolidation of these borders.” This type of relationship helps to evaluate the significance and role of borders; they indicate how the nation is ever-present, but demonstrate the underlying and ongoing interaction of people, ideas, and institutions that necessitated their existence.
It is refreshing to see that Conrad does not dismiss the nation, but works with a transnational approach that views the nation as formed from global influences. Drawing upon the example of Germany’s “globalised labour market”, Germanisation and German character emerged in response to cross-border interactions of culture and identity with Polish workers. The need for Germans to define themselves in respect to Polish and East European exchange suggests a dynamic that posits the transnational resting on the global. As global exchange occurs and the movement of people facilitates transnational discourse, the nation is able to be conceived out this development between global and transnational. Mobility is one of the main characteristics of globalization, and plays an important role is challenging how societies perceive themselves. It creates a global awareness/consciousness that allows the nation to then be constructed. Though further discussion can be said on the interplay of nation, global, transnational, Conrad demonstrates how the nation can, and I would argue should, be contextualized by global ideas and processes.
Conrad, S. Globalisation and the Nation in Imperial Germany (Cambridge; New York: 2010)
Tyrrell, I. Transnational Nation, United States History in Global Perspective since 1789 (Basingstoke: 2007)