BLOOD AND BELONGING

JOURNEYS INTO THE NEW NATIONALISM

Ignatieff, well-known in British TV as the smooth host of cerebral talk shows and political documentaries, takes on what he calls the rising tide of ``ethnic nationalism.'' There are two kinds of contemporary nationalism, says Ignatieff, ``civic'' and ``ethnic,'' the first based on a common perception of shared law, and the second—derived from the German romantics—based on blood kinship. With its susceptibility to race hatred, the second appears to be exploding in a world no longer stabilized by an imperial order that once held local nationalists in check. That fact given, the present book's strength is that it follows a highly personal itinerary through places the author himself has either lived in or has a vested personal interest in. This gives the chapters on Yugoslavia (where Ignatieff stayed for two years as a child), Ukraine (he is the descendant of Ukrainian emigrants), and Quebec (he is a Canadian citizen) a poignancy that those dealing with Germany, Kurdistan, and Northern Ireland lack. There are delicious moments in these chapters. Revisiting the Highway of Brotherhood and Unity in Croatia, Ignatieff finds all the highway signs painted over; peeling back the decal that reads ``Lipovac'' (a Croatian town), he sees the sign for Serbian Zagreb beneath it. He is witty on the subject of Communist soap and the little men with briefcases who represent the bold new face of entrepreneurial capitalism in Ukraine. And the interviews with individuals are nicely drawn: Mikola Horbal, the hero of the Ukrainian independence movement; Tito's fellow-revolutionary, Djilas; and sundry folk on the ground. The book's weaknesses, though, derive from the same qualities. The anecdotal touch leads to off-hand meditations and a glib self-importance. ``If anyone has a claim to being a cosmopolitan, it is me.'' Travels through a newly emerging old world, then, with a suave character.

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-374-11440-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1994

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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