Between nationalism and humanitarianism: The glocal discourse on refugees

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Abstract

The public and researchers alike view global/humanitarian and local/ national logics as based on different, and even contradictory, regimes of justification. In this paper, however, I argue that these logics are complementary in the case of refugees. By asking 'who is a refugee?' within the Israeli case study, I empirically ground the claim that nationalism and humanitarianism should be grasped as Glocal. Content analysis of the Israeli case reveals how the Israeli establishment 'translates' the universal notion of humanitarianism. Humanitarian discourse does not offer an answer to the refugee problem by invoking a universal identity, nor is it just a euphemism for particularistic interests. On the contrary, the humanitarian logic is in fact based on the national order, and does not attempt to replace it. The political meaning of the term 'refugee' is an endless transcription of the national logic, and thus cannot be cosmopolitan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-205
Number of pages21
JournalNations and Nationalism
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Humanitarianism
  • Israel and glocality
  • Nationalism
  • Palestinians
  • Refugees

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