Panel and Paper Accepted for ISA 2012 in San Diego

I am thrilled to report that I will be attending next year’s annual International Studies Association Conference in San Diego as a panel chair and presenter. This conference brings me full circle from my first ISA conference in San Diego in 2006, when I was doing my Master’s degree at the University of British Columbia, to what I hope will be my final year as a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University in Chicago.

The panel, entitled “Nationalism, International Recognition, and Domestic Legitimacy,” will will take place on the first day of the conference, Sunday, April 1, at 1:45 p.m. Participants include senior and junior scholars as well as advanced graduate students who have an interest in the place of nationalism in global and domestic politics. My paper, “Security or Identity? State and Homeland in Israeli Politics and Public Opinion” will draw on the research I have been conducting over the last year in Israel. I have included abstracts for the panel and my own paper after the jump. My colleagues’ abstracts can be viewed through the ISA conference website panel link here.

Panel: Nationalism, International Recognition, and Domestic Legitimacy

In a world of putative nation-states, nationalism may be used by states to both secure international recognition of their inviolable right to self-determination and unify the domestic body politic under a single purposeful collective identity. However, if nations are “imagined communities,” it is hardly obvious that states should be entitled to such recognition or that domestic publics will affirm such official renditions of the “national interest.” These challenges are particularly acute when the state is faced with domestic opponents who dispute the authority and legitimacy of the governing regime and receive international backing for their aspirations either to break away from the state or assert control in their own right. Whether the longstanding China-Taiwan and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, continued inter- and intrastate conflicts in the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, or the relatively new crises in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, each party has turned to national identity as a means to mobilize popular support, claim international legitimacy for their cause, and challenge the national vision of opposing parties. This panel examines how and why states and opponents turn to these nationalist mobilization strategies and under what conditions they are likely to be successful in the domestic and international arenas.

Paper: Security or Identity? State and Homeland in Israeli Politics and Public Opinion

This paper investigates why Israel has been willing to withdraw from some disputed territories and not others over the course of the Israeli-Arab peace process. In particular, it focuses on how traditional Jewish narratives of homeland and popular public discourse on national identity have shaped Israeli attitudes toward territorial compromise. These constructions of national identity, rooted in historical, cultural, and religious bonds to the Land of Israel, have been instrumental in determining the location and territorial boundaries of the State of Israel. Utilizing survey data and controlled individual-level experiments administered to diverse populations across Israel, it is found that publics are less susceptible to elite rhetorical manipulation than commonly assumed by nationalism and ethnic conflict scholars. Rather than being “agenda setters,” political elites’ rhetorical scope for popular mobilization, particularly on issues of national identity and homeland, is strongly constrained by pre-existing public knowledge. Although politicians may stir domestic nationalism over international territorial disputes, the claim that such lands are integral to the historic national homeland have only gained traction where this is already believed to be the case. Only by understanding these sources of public opposition to territorial compromise, it is argued, will long-term conflict resolution be possible.

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