There are numerous perspectives about how the formulation of Gender and National Identity should be defined. Commonly the scholars like to throw light on the matter that there is a strong need to conciliate social matters into the matters of personal identity. The personal identity of a person is created inside the constraints in which the person is tied and social framework within which the person is living (Mayer, 2012). Such processes can be enacted through some ways, and among them, some prominent ways are to use communication and construction of self-narration and various accounts. While one goes through the process of construction of the various accounts, they take into account some existing structures at a bigger level, and then they try to fit these structures together to locate where their self is situated (Mayer, 2012). It has been proved through research that a person does not always reveal his true-self rather he adapts to situations and contexts, which sometimes also depends on who are they confronting and what is the occasion. Such phenomenon is referred to as having a coherent self. For a person to be easily constituted into the mechanism and be understood as an important social being, the necessary element is that coherence in his identity (Webster, 1998).
Identities whether individual or collected are situated in social and cultural categories and different contexts in an overlapping manner having no clear distinction among them (Webster, 1998). Identity is defined or expressed regarding the already existing cultural labels, contexts, and concepts. It thereby generates contextualized and variable categories so that identity can be easily understood and conveyed through communication of any sort. Studies have shown that how people develop specialized versions for their nationality and gender identity (Webster, 1998).
The construction of identity occurs within a range of constraints such as discursive, symbolic and material constraints that exist there and which shape the nature of self-presentation and subjectivity in a more social context. However, the categories of the identity cannot be specifically isolated from each other as without one the other cannot be defined or understood. The reason for it is the categories not being mutually exclusive (Berger and Lorenz, 2008). They overlap each other, and one cannot be separated from another. In other words, one of them cannot exist without the other. The national identity of a person is shaped by the position of his gender in a national context. On the other hand, the gender identity has got little to do with the cultural as well as national conceptions about the person being a male or female (Mayer, 2012). It is not something new to know that nationality and gender are intertwined in a complex of identity categories such as religious and political beliefs, ethnicity, race, and class. These are the categories which converge to create subjectivity and identity (Berger and Lorenz, 2008). In the following discussion, there are identified and discussed some of the links that exist there between the gender and nation conceptions.
The Nation as Gendered
History has witnessed that each nation that has lived on this earth has not only made male and female identities but also assigned some values to them based on their nature and characteristics (Berger and Lorenz, 2008). They have given birth to discourse, slangs, vocabulary, terminologies, analogies, and metaphors such as “Mother Earth,” “motherland,” “fatherland” and that women are physically weak and more emotional while men are physically strong and tough. It is not possible to calculate the effect of such notions on the national identities of the contemporary world (Mottier, 2000). It has been proved through research that a person does not always reveal his true-self rather he adapts to situations and contexts, which sometimes also depends on who are they confronting and what is the occasion. However, such notions can be effectively applied to the modern day politics.
Nationalist projects and national identity are the most appealing elements towards the collective narration of nation and national memories. Such narratives are often seen to have differentiated the roles of man and a woman in the society. The concept of private and public spheres comes to the spotlight of this discussion now. Common identification of men is linked with the public sphere or the civilization and of the women is linked with the private sphere or nature (Mottier, 2000).
The conception of Masculinity/Femininity
The conception of being a male or a female is subject to national and cultural ideologies of the people (Mottier, 2000). However such conceptions are then shaped by some social and historical factors which include: political regimes, religion, and cultural traditions. Such expectations and factors affect relations between genders and their relative positions within local and national context. According to Mayer (2012), men and women are symbolic, cultural as well as biological producers of the nations. He has also described how the roles, duties, and rights of men and women are structured as well as he states that they are subjective and experienced differently in different national contexts (Mayer, 2012).
Citizens, Duties, and Rights
Connected to this ideological dimension is the formal allocation of citizenship rights and duties. Gender differentiation emerges across different national and institutional contexts (e.g., political, civil and social), and reflects the relationship of the individual to the state in question. Again, this relationship is likely to be influenced by both national ideologies, and the individual’s particular location within these structures (Mayer, 2012).
Race and National Identity
According to Etienne Balibar the view that nationalism and racism and opposite to each other is completely wrong (Balibar and Wallerstein, 1991). He argues the racism is an expression characterized by nationalism. According to him, it is rather indispensable to the construction of nationalism (Balibar and Wallerstein 1991, p. 54). Colonizing nations in the history would deal with the internal class and caste problems through the creation of racialized immigrant, or they would produce underclasses space in those areas where such problems were more of acute nature. Nations of Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth century tried and succeeded in using anti-semitism as a scapegoat. They tried to weld together such nations which were formerly considered as racially pure to put impurity in them.
According to Balibar racism is strongly tied to the concept of nationalism. It started back in those times where nations and states were trying to take control of population movements. Given a great territory, they were shaped people as an ethnic and a political entity. Just like racism, nationalism also needs to involve inclusion as well as exclusion. They do not only complement each other but also has the characteristics to presuppose each other. Speaking of which one cannot simply claim that nationalism is a good or a normal ideology because in certain cases it can become a racist ideology (Balibar and Wallerstein, 1991). The best example for that is the Nazis of Germany who were not only nationalists but also fascist. These two ideas are fundamentally connected to each other. Nationalism comes between particularity and universality. It is considered as universal because it gives the notion of human rights such as uniform citizenship; everyone holds the right to be considered as a nation; all nations possess the right of existence (Mottier, 2000). It can also be stated that nationalism is liberatory. On the contrary, it is particularist because it tends to focus on one specific nation and speaks for the wellbeing of that nation only. It oppresses the minorities and potential nations in the vicinity. So, it can be stated that nationalism is repressive in nature (Mottier, 2000).
Racism redefines and overstates this uncertainty. It might appear to be odd to guarantee that racism has a humanist, Universalist measurement, yet Balibar contends that inside racism there exists the same uncertain strain amongst comprehensiveness and identity (Balibar and Wallerstein, 1991). Racism, or all the more decisively ‘hypothetical racism,’ includes universalism in different ways. It includes a procedure of classification of humanity, partitioning and hierarchizing the species, yet also along these lines addressing where solidarity lies. It conjures certain universals, for example, ‘common’ human animosity or inclinations to wed ‘one’s own.’ In whole, hypothetical racism offers the conversation starter of the idea of the human species, its beginnings, and its fate. Then again, racism is likewise particularist in the way it answers this inquiry and in its subsequent prohibition and persecution of specific classifications of individuals (Balibar and Wallerstein, 1991).
Racism can thus reform itself into super nationalism where the notions of national heritage are refigured, and the culture is converted into more power wanting. Racism can be integrated with nationalism to oppress minorities existing in the nation. According to Mosse, on reaching to a certain height nationalism is converted into racism (Wade, 2001). The difference between the people is no more for identification. One can argue that the idea of human identification was chance variation, but that idea is long gone when the nationalism is heightened.
Balibar establishes a questionable symmetry between racism and nationalism. According to the universalism of nationalist idea, it is believed that everyone has a right to live and exist on the other hand the universalism of racism contends that everyone has the right to have racial purity. These two ideas simply cannot be aligned. They hold out against each other. In Columbia, there is a just comprehensive angle to this philosophy which holds out the guarantee of change through race blend for people and the country: everybody can be a contender for blend and subsequently good and social elevating. In the meantime, obviously, it is a profoundly oppressive belief system and practice, since it depends on the possibility of the inadequacy of blacks and indigenous people groups and, by and by, of victimisation them (Balibar and Wallerstein, 1991) Mestizaje was, and is, regularly seen as a worldwide wonder, something that connections Latin American countries (and to some degree non-Latin Caribbean countries); yet there is additionally a progressive system of blended countries, as per the level of blending and where this places every country on a worldwide size of whiteness (Balibar and Wallerstein, 1991).
Ang and Stratton (1998) in their article writes that racism and nationalism interpenetrate which means that they are not mutually exclusively rather there is a lot common in them. According to her when a close look is given to such systems of classification and ideologies along with Hindu caste system and kinship, it is observed that they all possess distinct similarity or unity of human substance. They create relatedness among themselves as they share the common resources. Nature, which is defined as a human substance is not present there just by itself. Rather it is created by the people. As a matter of fact, nations and races can be constructed by people as well. However, “blood”, which is the determinant of purity and non-purity of races among the human beings is an also a human element (Ang and Stratton, 1998). There are complex ideas which approve or disapprove the interaction such as sex, friendship, and marriage with people of other races. Some races are highly reluctant to have any interaction of any kind because in their opinion doing so could impurity their race or bloodline. They avoid any contamination that could lead to race impurity or loss of purity. However, the interaction and intersection of nations, races, and kinships are due to the common basis they have in the characterization of related of human beings (Ang and Stratton, 1998).
However, there can arise a conflict between the conception of race and nation. According to Williams the conception of races is seen naturally different no matter all being of it being grounded on one notion of humanity (Mottier, 2000). This system of classification lacked an important element that is racial identity and nationalism. The Hindu caste system is ultimately derived from Brahma. Racial diversity has posed a threat to the US nationalists as the United States in the present era has become the most diversified nation of the world as it contains people from almost all the ethnic groups and all the nations of the world. Here Williams tries to diverge from the viewpoint of Balibar as his view was racism has the aspect of universalism. However, it can be said that this matter is easy to resolve as racism possesses common humanity at a certain level. Based on that one can derive that sex between races is productive to the humanity even if it is highly disapproved in various contexts of history (Balibar and Wallerstein, 1991).
Mayer, T. ed., 2012. Gender ironies of nationalism: Sexing the nation. Routledge.
Webster, W., 1998. Imagining Home: Gender,” race,” and National Identity, 1945-64. Psychology Press.
Berger, S. and Lorenz, C., 2008. The contested nation: Ethnicity, class, religion and gender in national histories.
Ang, I. and Stratton, J., 1998. Multiculturalism in crisis: The new politics of race and national identity in Australia. TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, (2).
Mottier, V., 2000. Narratives of National Identity: Sexuality, Race, and the Swiss” Dream of Order”. Revue suisse de sociologie, 26(3), pp.533-558.
Wade, P., 2001. Racial identity and nationalism: a theoretical view from Latin America. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 24(5), pp.845-865.
Balibar, E and Wallerstein, I., 1991. Race, Nation and Class: Ambiguous Identities, London: Verso