chapter  10
Pages 34

Over the course of the past fifteen years or so, and-for very obvious geopolitical reasons-especially since 1989, there has been something of an obsessive return to the subjects of nationalism and the nation-state in Western-based cultural, historical, and social scientific scholarship. The scope and suddenness of contemporary developments-the collapse of historical communism, the end of apartheid, the cataclysm in Rwanda, etc.—were nowhere predicted and tended to catch everyone unawares. Despite this-or precisely because of it, perhapsmost of the contemporary studies of nationalism have continued to be pitched quite unreflexively upon the terrain of the unambiguously First Worldist interpretation that has been predominant since at least 1918. Nationalism, that is to say, has been seen as constituting a kind of return of the repressed. The sheer destructiveness of developments in Rwanda, Liberia, Chechnya, the Caucasus, and in what only a few years ago was still Yugoslavia, has been taken to reveal a fundamental truth about nationalism in general: not merely that it is chauvinistic, but also that it only ever results in the violent intensification of already existing social divisions.