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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1998, Vol. 1 No. 2 .


Citizenship and National Identity
TK Oommen ed

(London: Sage, 1997)
324pp. Index. Bibl. Hb.:.
ISBN 0-8039-9358-7. 25.00.


Although there is now quite a substantial literature on issues to do with citizenship and national identity, this volume stands out for the breadth of its geographic and conceptual coverage. In addition to giving a succinct overview of the main themes of the book, Oommen's introduction provides an explanation of the central conceptual categories used throughout the case studies that follow. The second chapter, by Alfonso Alfonsi, focuses on Western Europe where most cultural and ideological conceptions about citizenship and nationality were first formulated. Far from being a settled question in this part of the world, the issues have recently moved back to centre stage as a result of the enormous political changes in the former communist countries to the East as well as the further development of the European Union. Further detailed analysis on nationhood and the national question in the former Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Eurasia, and the extent to which the legacies of Soviet ideology and institutional structures are being played out in the contemporary era, is provided by Rogers Brubaker in the third chapter.

The fourth chapter moves even further east to Japan. Here, Takashi Miyajima considers the increasing demographic pluralism of Japan's population due to immigration against a background ideology that emphasizes a culturally and racially homogeneous nation. Citizenship and national identity in India is Oommen's special field and here we find a discussion of a range of problems emanating from issues such as religion and, to a lesser extent, language and other bases of identity formation. Olasope O. Oyelaran and Michael Olu Adediran have the difficult task of summarizing some of the main problems and issues confronting the 54 countries of the African continent without over-generalizing. Bassam Tibi navigates through the intricacies of Middle Eastern issues by focusing on religious fundamentalism. Finally we come to the Americas. James N. Rosenau's 'turbulent world' theme reappears in this volume through an analysis of contemporary American responses to international developments; Elisa P. Reis provides a case study of Brazil's crisis of authority and solidarity; and Azril Bacal gives a more general account of how the continuing salience of race and ethnicity has effected the politics of citizenship and national identity in Latin America more generally. In summary, this is a broad-ranging collection which attempts to provide contemporary case-study analyses embedded in historical context and with an overarching conceptual and theoretical framework.


Stephanie Lawson, University of East Anglia



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