Age of Rages: Nationalisms
Webinar 5: Whither Civic Nationalism in South Asia?
Terri-Anne Teo is a Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She holds a PhD in Politics and an MSc in International Relations from the University of Bristol, UK. Her research interests include multiculturalism, citizenship, migration and identity politics. Her most recent publications include a monograph titled Civic Multiculturalism in Singapore: Revisiting Citizenship, Rights and Recognition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), a co-edited volume titled Postcolonial Governmentalities: Rationalities, Violences and Contestations (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2020) and journal articles in Global Society and Asian Studies Review on multiculturalism and perceptions of meritocracy in Singapore respectively.
Whither Civic Nationalism in South Asia?
Civic nationalism is the antidote to ethnic nationalism. If the latter mainly uses language and religion to justify nationhood, the former emphasizes a political creed to promote a common citizenship. Civic nationalism works best when states institute well-calibrated policies that disregard race, ethnicity, and language as primary markers of identity and instead emphasize shared practices and values rooted in patriotism and the rule of law. When properly instituted, civic nationalism does not minimize a particular group’s identity. Instead, it celebrates the group’s unique features as part of the state’s ethnic tapestry. To do so, the principles of pluralism and secularism are vital. While some South Asian leaders may have sought to create secular and pluralist states, the region’s more influential countries today are mired in majoritarianism rooted in religious nationalism. The economic, demographic, and environmental challenges these states stand to face will only entrench the majoritarian mindset undergirded by ethnoreligious nationalism.
Neil DeVotta received his doctorate in Political Science from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001 and was awarded the University of Texas Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award in Social Science, Education, and Business for 2000-01. He joined Wake Forest University in 2009, prior to which he taught at Michigan State University, Hartwick College, and the University of Texas at Austin. His research and teaching focuses on South Asian security and politics, ethnicity and nationalism, ethnic conflict resolution, and democratic transition and consolidation. He is the author of Blowback: Linguistic Nationalism, Institutional Decay, and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004) and Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalist Ideology: Implications for Politics and Conflict Resolution in Sri Lanka, Policy Studies 40 (Washington D. C.: East-West Center, 2007) and also editor of Understanding Contemporary India, 2nd edition (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2010) and An Introduction to South Asian Politics (2016). His publications have appeared in numerous journals, including Nations and Nationalism, Journal of Democracy, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Pacific Affairs, Asian Survey, Asian Security, Civil Wars, Journal of International Affairs, and Contemporary South Asia. His current research examines democratic erosion due to the rise of soft-authoritarian regimes. He has consulted for various sources, including the United States Department of State, Freedom House, and Bertelsmann Stiftung.
Vineeta Sinha is Professor and teaches at the Department of Sociology, at the National University of Singapore and is currently the Head of the Department. She holds a Masters in Social Science from the National University of Singapore, and a Masters of Arts degree and a PhD from the Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests include of Hindu religiosity in the Diaspora, intersections of religion, commodification and consumption processes, interface of religion and materiality, religion-state encounters in colonial and post-colonial moments, formation of concepts and categories in the social sciences, Eurocentric and Androcentric critique of classical sociological theory, pedagogy and innovating alternative teaching practices. Her publications include the following books: A New God in the Diaspora? Muneeswaran Worship in Contemporary Singapore (2005, Singapore: NUS Press and Nordic Institute of Asian Studies); Religion and Commodification: Merchandising Diasporic Hinduism (2010, London: Routledge); Religion-State Encounters in Hindu Domains: From the Straits Settlements to Singapore (2011 Dordrecht: Springer); Singapore Chronicles: INDIANS (2015, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings); Food, Foodways and Foodscapes: Culture, Community and Consumption in Post-Colonial Singapore (Co-edited with Lily Kong, 2015, Singapore: World Scientific Press); Sociological Theory Beyond the Canon (co-authored with Syed Farid Alatas, 2017, London: Palgrave-Macmillan) and Southeast Asian Anthropologies (Co-edited with Eric Thompson, Singapore: NUS Press, 2019). Her articles on diaspora Hinduism and history and practice of Sociology, have been published in the following journals: Religion Compass, Material Religion, International Sociology, International Journal of Hindu Studies, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Current Sociology, Australian Religious Studies Review, Journal of Contemporary Religion and Contributions to Indian Sociology. She is currently Associate Editor of The Sociological Quarterly, Co-Editor of the Routledge International Library of Sociology and an Editorial Board Member of American Ethnologist .