The clamour of nationalism

Race and nation in twenty-first-century Britain

By Sivamohan Valluvan

The clamour of nationalism


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2614-6
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.00
  • Published Date: July 2019
  • BIC Category: Nationalism, Ethnic minorities & multicultural studies, Early 21st century c 2000 to c 2050, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Nationalism & Patriotism, Society & social sciences / Political ideologies, Society & social sciences / Sociology, Society & social sciences / Nationalism, Sociology, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Society & social sciences / Cultural studies


Nationalism has reasserted itself today as the political force of our times, remaking European politics wherever one looks. Britain is no exception, and in the midst of Brexit, it has even become a vanguard of nationalism's confident return to the mainstream. Intellectual attempts to account for nationalism's resurgence have however floundered. Desperately trying to read nationalism through one overarching cause - as capitalist crisis, as cultural backlash, or as social media led anti-Establishment politics - these accounts have proven woefully inadequate. This book argues that the only way to understand nationalism is through nationalism itself. To understand it as the key force of modernity that calls upon all existing ideological traditions in asserting its appeal: whether it is liberal, conservative, neoliberal or left-wing. This ideological clamour that characterises today's British nationalism requires both recognition and theorisation. A meaningful understanding of new nationalism must reckon with the ideological range animating it and the deeply hostile aversion to different racial minorities that pervades its respective ideologies. Drawing on a variety of cultural and political themes - ranging from Corbyn's dithering, the cult of Churchillism, the neoliberal fixation with a 'point-system' immigration policy, the muscular secularism of Richard Dawkins and friends, fears that the white working class have 'become black', and even simply the strange appeal of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones - this book provides a dazzling but always detailed study of how nationalism is the politics of today only because it is a politics of everything.


'Valluvan has written a brave and ambitious book. Its strength lies in its analytical sophistication, its teasing out of the various strands of the dominant ideologies of our time.'
Krishan Kumar, Contemporary Sociology

'With a rare intelligence, The clamour of nationalism reopens and re-situates debates over nationalism. Valluvan examines its relation to racism and its shortcomings as a vehicle for progressive or radical reconstruction. Along the way, he skewers the idiocy of Left nationalisms and enumerates the depressing developments unfolding across Europe. This urgent survey conveys the shocking discovery that the aggressive pathology of Britain's brexit is not, in fact, Britain's alone.'
Paul Gilroy, author of There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack and After Empire

'At once erudite and entertaining, this book rattles along with the urgency of a thriller, filling your head with new insights, jokes and take-downs along the way. You won't read a better account of the strange resilience of nationalism in our time.'
Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London

'Sivamohan Valluvan has written a nuanced, carefully articulated, and admirably clear analysis mapping the "new nationalism" gripping our times, its racial and xenophobic articulations as well as the intersections of its neoliberal and neoconservative prompts, inspirations, and expressions. Written in the spirit of Stuart Hall's and Wendy Brown's work, Valluvan focuses especially on contemporary Britain but in ways more widely resonant. A compelling account advancing and deepening our comprehension of the driving issues facing us today.'
David Theo Goldberg, University of California

'As nationalism rises to a fever pitch across the political spectrum, Valluvan pulls no punches in arguing against the brutal politics of border walls, migration raids and retrograde patriotism. His work is a light in dark times.'
Eleanor Penny, Senior Editor at Novara Media and Online Editor at Red Pepper Magazine

'Amid the nationalist reflux of Europe and North America, pundits caught unawares have reached for reductive off-the-shelf analyses. They treat nationalism as the mere expression of something more familiar and reassuring: the economy, class, or voter stupidity. Sivamohan Valluvan's astute, elegantly cussed study takes nationalism seriously. Here, nationalism is not written off as a reflex, but treated as a vehicle for the complex demands of diverse constituents assembled across the political spectrum. A vehicle for collective wishing and dreamwork. This, coupled with its ability to define the non-belonging outsiders against whom the nation can be roused, is exactly what accounts for its uncanny capaciousness, its ability to hegemonise the political terrain after a period of relative abeyance. He also warns the Left, parts of it too easily seduced by the song of nationalism, or by facile explanations of nationalism as a mere expression of familiar discontents, against acquiescing in this hegemony.'
Richard Seymour, author of Corbyn: The strange rebirth of radical politics

'The clamour of nationalism's achievement is not in its desire to explain why nationalist parties are on the rise (there are other books that have tackled this question),[1] for questions still pervade [...] Sivamohan Valluvan's success is his ability to tackle these various strands to reveal an upsetting tapestry: race and the Nation-State are intimately interwoven. Drawing extensively on both past and present sources, Valluvan provides a contemporary analysis of Arendt's famous line (quoted above) as it relates to how racism operates in the political arena today.'
Tarek Younis, Dark Matter, February 2020

'Valluvan's analysis is an essential guide through some complex theoretical and empirical arguments...As a relative stranger to this literature I found Valluvan's energetic tour refreshing and inspiring. For any criminologist persuaded by the merits of Southern criminology it is essential reading.'
Theoretical Criminology



Introduction: mapping the nation
1 Theorising the nation
2 Notes on two red herrings: progressive nationalism and populism
3 Valuing the nation: liberalism, Muslims and nation-state values
4 Conservatism and mourning the nation
5 Unholy alliances: the neoliberal embrace of nation
6 Left problems: the left and welfare state nationalism
Conclusion: absences and futures



Sivamohan Valluvan is an Assistant Professor in the department of Sociology at the University of Warwick

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