Many scholars have considered Nazism as a political phenomenon that far exceeded classic national ideologies; that has begun to change in the last decade. The insight that much of the Nazi rhetoric, including its violent imperial component, drew on traditional German national conservatism and even nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century liberal rhetoric, now helps explain the support that the Nazi party and its political projects, including genocide, garnered in German society. Moreover, in many states – France, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and others – the Holocaust unfolded in large part due to the visions, interests, and policies of local governments. In these cases, nationalism played a significant role, far greater than that of Nazi ideology. Furthermore, anti-Jewish violence in these states figured as part of the more comprehensive wartime policies of ethno-national “homogenization” that targeted other groups and “internal enemies.” In some of the colonial and postcolonial genocides and cases of mass violence, the role of nationalism is even more evident, as, for example, in Rwanda. And one of the debates in the field focuses on the extent to which settler-colonialism – in many cases driven by nationalistic sentiments – is inherently genocidal.
This workshop aims to contribute to recent research on the complex links between the emergence of the international system of nation states and modern genocide and mass violence. This discussion is of particular importance in Israel, where national narratives of both Jews and Palestinians frame much of the public and scholarly discussion on the Holocaust and its links to modern genocide and mass violence, including in Israel/Palestine; looking beyond, above, and below these narratives remains an urgent task.
Some thirty scholars from around the world – including advanced graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and senior scholars – will gather to discuss this central issue in Holocaust and Genocide Studies: nationalism and the nation state as analytical concepts in understanding genocides and mass violence (including the Holocaust) and the ways in which collective narratives about genocide and mass violence crystallize in competition, responding to and shaping one another, and, in some cases, framing exclusionary and violent political discourses.