Dissertation: Lainer-Vos, Irish and Zionist Transatlantic Networks

Lainer-Vos, Dan. Nationalism in Action: The Construction of Irish and Zionist Transatlantic National Networks


Proquest Dissertations And Theses 2008. Section054, Part 0626 421 pages; [Ph.D. dissertation].

United States — New York: Columbia University; 2008.

Publication Number: AAT 3373778.


***** Abstract (Summary) *****

This dissertation treats nation building as a practical organizational accomplishment. It examines encounters between Irish Americans and Jewish Americans and their respective homelands to understand how national movements establish cooperation between the different "fragments" that constitute the nation.

Part One introduces the theoretical framework. Part Two examines a technology developed to secure financial resources for the nation. It compares and contrasts the Irish and Israeli attempts to float national bonds in the US in 1920 and 1951 respectively. Sold as a mixture of a gift and an investment, the Irish bond drive aggravated the relationship between Irish and Irish Americans.

The Israeli bond, on the other hand, combining similar elements, was instrumental in establishing cooperation. It functioned as a boundary object thereby nourishing cooperation without consensus. The comparison highlights the importance of organizational technologies for the making of nations.

Part Three explores the technologies developed to secure national attachments in the diaspora. Specifically, it examines the construction of national attachments in "Massad," a Jewish American summer camp, and an Irish American Gaelic Athletic Association. Attempting to endow diasporic subjects with a sense of belonging, national entrepreneurs constructed these sites as liminal places. In the Jewish case, "Massad" functioned as a simulation of Zionism.

This simulation allowed campers to believe that others, in Israel, experience wholesome national belonging. In the Irish case, the means to secure national attachments was competition. The regulation of matches generated a sense of friendly rivalry among teams representing different counties thereby fostering a sense of Irishness.

Studying nationalism as a practical accomplishment highlights the role of concrete organizational technologies in regulating relationships between the groups that make up the nation. Diversity within the nation is not necessarily an obstacle to nation building. Rather, the crux of nation building is the orchestration of difference. Nation building does not rely on the existence of taken-for-granted categories but on the establishment of cooperation without consensus. The concept of simulation clarifies that national subjects do not necessarily ignore or discount the importance of internal differences. Rather, national simulations allow subjects to make sense of their difference from within the nation.

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