Michael Billig presents a major challenge to orthodox conceptions of nationalism in this elegantly written book. While traditional theorizing has tended to the focus on extreme expressions of nationalism, the author turns his attention to the everyday, less visible forms which are neither exotic or remote, he describes as `banal nationalism'. The author asks why people do not forget their national identity. He suggests that in daily life nationalism is constantly flagged in the media through routine symbols and habits of language. Banal Nationalism is critical of orthodox theories in sociology, politics and social psychology for ignoring this core feature of national identity. Michael Billig argues forcefully that wi
Chapter 2: Nations and Languages
Nations and Languages
It was an insignificant item, tucked away on an inside page of a British daily paper, the Guardian. It was not even that page's main story. ‘Flemish leader calls for split’ was the headline. The item, written by the paper's correspondent in Brussels, reported that the leaders of the main Flemish parties had issued a declaration which “has stunned the French-speaking political parties”. They had declared that Belgium should be split into a loose confederation of two independent states – Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia. Special arrangements should be made for “the small German-speaking community in the east of Belgium”. Hitherto, reported the paper, Flemish demands for separation have “been restricted to small nationalist and far-right groups”. The Belgian government ...