Everyday Nationalism in Unsettled Times: In Search of Normality during Pandemic

22 Feb 2021

(Nationalities Papers) Abstract: Pandemics and other crisis situations result in unsettled times, or ontologically insecure moments when social and political institutions are in flux. During such crises, the ordinary and unnoticed routines that structure everyday life are thrust into the spotlight as people struggle to maintain or recreate a sense of normalcy. Drawing on a range of cases including China, Russia, the UK, and USA, we examine three categories of everyday practice during the COVID-19 pandemic that respond to disruptions in daily routines and seek a return to national normality: performing national solidarities and exclusions by wearing face masks; consuming the nation in the form of panic buying and conspiracy theories; and enforcing foreign policies through social media and embodiment. This analysis thus breaks with existing works on everyday nationalism and banal nationalism that typically focus on pervasively unnoticed forms of nationalism during settled times, and it challenges approaches to contentious politics that predict protest mobilization for change rather than restoration of the status quo ante. In highlighting the ways that unsettled times disrupt domestic and international structures, this work also presents a first attempt to link everyday nationalism with growing work on international practices.

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Co-authors: David R. Stroup and Elizaveta Gaufman