Journal article

Autochthony and activism among contemporary Irish Nationalists in Northern Ireland, or: if ‘civic’ nationalists are ‘ethno’-cultural revivalists,what remains of the civic/ethnic divide?

  • Zenker, Olaf Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, Switzerland
Published in:
  • Nations and Nationalism. - 2009, vol. 15, no. 4, p. 696-715
English This article argues for dissolving the civic–ethnic dichotomy into several analytical dimensions and suggests ‘autochthony’ and 'activism’ as two such alternatives. It does so by first presenting a case study of Irish language revivalism and identity discourses in the North of Ireland, in which locals turn out to be both ‘civic’ nationalists and ‘ethno’-cultural revivalists. The article then advocates treating these aspects as belonging to two distinct dimensions: the first is concerned with the causal logic underlying the reproduction of nationhood in terms of autochthony, while the second specifies different forms of activism aimed at (re)constituting the nation. Finally, reinterpreting the empirical case in terms of these two dimensions, it is shown that the type of activism is dependent on the specificities of ‘threats’ to the nation rather than on the underlying type of autochthony, which further substantiates the necessity to disambiguate the civic–ethnic distinction.
Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines
Département des sciences sociales
  • English
Anthropology, ethnography
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