Comparative Perspectives on Patriotism under Occupation in the Second World War

Saturday, January 6, 2018: 11:30 AM
Columbia 11 (Washington Hilton)
Aviel I. Roshwald, Georgetown University
A pitfall of most modernist approaches to nationalism has been the teleological assumption underlying the stark contrast they draw between a non-national pre-modernity and a nationalism-infused modernity. Their deconstruction of nationalist myths has tended to hinge on assigning a relatively recent date to the appearance of fully fledged nationalism. The point has been to call into question essentialist readings of identities across the historical longue durée. Yet in their zeal to highlight the difference between the fluid and hybrid identities of yesteryear and the totalizing claims of modern nationalism, these theorists have—perhaps unwittingly—contributed to the assumption that, once consolidated, nationalist consciousness is forever fixed in place. This paper seeks to counter this tendency by exploring the extreme fluidity latent within any framework of nationhood, as illustrated by the shifts and fissures in conceptions of the patriotic under conditions of wartime occupation. The analysis will focus on four cases—France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Thailand—of countries that fell under Axis-power control during the Second World War. What they have in common is that they all involve countries whose governments and/or senior administrators remained at least initially in place under Axis hegemony, establishing a potential institutional locus for the definition and dissemination—and alienation—of patriotic attitudes and values under the circumstances of occupation. These leaders were initially left with at least some limited measure of autonomy in their interactions with the occupiers as well as in their relationship with their own citizenry. I am interested in exploring how variations among political cultures, as well as among contingent choices and initial conditions of occupation, may have contributed to differences in the ways debates and conflicts over their choices played out over time in each case.
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation