In praise of Rogers Brubaker
There are some authors that simply make a change in the field of their work. Such is the fate of Rogers Brubaker, probably the most influential contemporary theorist of nationalism, ethnicity, belonging and related matters. The changes he has instigated are precisely because in addition to addressing occurrences of the social world, Brubaker discusses the way they are framed in the analytical discourse.
While he might leave an impression of a cabinet intellectual who just throws around words and contemplations, Brubaker derives a lot of his conclusions on the ages of fieldwork he conducted in Europe. The fieldwork and the ethnographic approach to research has in fact made him very sensitive to the beholder’s aspect of concepts that social science usually considers collective and robust.
Brubaker is an author who in a very elegant manner has proposed that we talk about nationalism and related matters without using the term ‘identity’ [and he provides a personal example in his work by staying away from that useless and vague word]; he thoroughly argued that ethnicity is a form of cognition rather than a personal feature; he proposed that Diaspora is also a state of mind rather than a category of people; and in his latest articles he tackles more elaborately belonging, membership and the nation-state, as well as economic nationalism in the time of crisis. Just look at his explanatory note on the term “nation-state”:
Brubaker’s works are accessible for free on his Bepress account. Even though I risk becoming sort of a zealot regarding his contribution, I strongly recommend to students, researchers as well as occasional readers to go through his bibliography.