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No. 39, May 2012 - Fachbereich Translations-, Sprach- und ...

No. 39, May 2012 - Fachbereich Translations-, Sprach- und ...

tish nationalism is of

tish nationalism is of an overwhelmingly civic, open and pluralistic type". Neither is it simply "non-civic and closed", but there is – for Leith and Soule – "a far more delicate interplay" between the two. (13) There is indeed, but none that this book comes to grips with. This is partly due to a repeatedly unconvincing logic, as in the conclusion of the passage on social changes in Chapter Two: "Clear differences arose [between Scotland and England] in political offerings, outcomes and opportunities as nationalism became a constant political and electoral force." (24) What about the other direction: because of the social changes nationalism increased and found more support in public? Chapter Three investigates party manifestos for British General Elections from the 1970s, in order to illustrate "how the nationalist-unionist issue has changed over the last forty years in Scottish politics" (37), looking at their "appeals to a sense of national identity (Scottishness or Britishness)", their stance on the nationalist-unionist debate and the "sense of 'them' and 'us'" they create. (38) This work is done in the context of the Comparative Manifesto Project, whose coding scheme is employed for measuring individual statements within the context of all texts of a party or period. (42ff. Surprisingly, the website of the Project, (, where one finds the codebook and, after registration, the data used, is not mentioned. The same happens again in Chapter Five with material from the Scottish Social Attitudes Surveys, where important websites, such as or are not given, and where again "a numerical measurement" is seen as being sufficient, which, however, it clearly is not. (83)) Additional categories were created for this particular investigation, resulting in "sixty-three discrete categories, across seven domains" listed in the Appendix. (43) The domains are: 1. External Relations. 2. Freedom and Democracy. 3. Political System. 4. Economy. 5. Welfare and Quality of Life. 6. Fabric of Society. 7. Social Groups. (168) Unfortunately, one does not learn how these categories were actually determined, and one also wonders why, e.g., the subcategories of the political system are 'Decentralisation', 'Centralisation', 'Government efficiency', 'Government corruption' and 'Government effectiveness and authority'. (168) Many other possibilities exist and make as much or even more sense, so one would have liked to hear more of the reasons for this selection. But the categories provide some interesting results, such as the fact that in the domain 'Fabric of Society', dealing with "social harmony or law and order", this "was one of the least considered areas within the manifestos during the 1970s and 1980s", when the SNP paid much attention to it. This changed in later decades. (44f) The reasons why the SNP and the Liberal Democrats have put their greatest emphasis on the domain 'Freedom and Democracy' are evident: devolution and independence are discussed here as well as individual rights and freedoms. It is not surprising that the Conservatives have been against devolution, but who knows that devolution was also not significantly dealt with in the 1997 Labour manifesto? (45) There is no surprise in the result that parties have generally moved "towards the centreright" (48), in their attitudes to devolution and nationalism (51-58), nor in the fact that the political landscape has "changed significantly during the past forty years" due to the importance of the SNP, nor in the projection of each party of both a political and a national identity for prospective supporters. (59) Chapter Four's topic of "Nationalism's Metaphor" uses the same material but with a focus on how the parties actually construct Scotland. This "look at the linguistic phenomenon of the metaphorical personification of the nation and its banal discursive manifestations" (62), however, does not really have a sound basis, nor does it provide convincing results and reveals the main shortcomings of this book. While the 'banal' element has its origin in Billig's Banal Nationalism (1995), every discussion of metaphor, and clearly Lakoff's and Johnson's, shows that a linguistic perspective only is not sufficient, though it might provide an important start-

ing point. In the discussion of metaphorical personification (62-4), one is surprised to find no references to ancient Greece or Rome when the long tradition of this rhetorical device is pointed out. But the foreshortened historical perspective is irrelevant. What is really disturbing is the separation of "a metaphor in actual language" and "the conceptual aspect of metaphor". (65) The two can, of course, be separated and sometimes are, especially for analytical purposes, but in a discussion of the usage and effects of metaphor it is far more relevant to see the inseparable links between the two. This weak understanding of metaphor (which quite generally remains on a lexical level) is again dramatically revealed in the answer to the question, "what is it that Scotland […] is referring to? The answer is so commonsensical that it need not be made explicit – it is Scotland the place and its people". (66) Anthony P. Cohen has strongly pointed out that the answer is not as banal as this but is, in fact, far more complex, precisely because the conceptual aspect of metaphor is addressed. Leith and Soule who explicitly wanted to avoid monolithic "unifying conceptions" (11) here present exactly such a concept without being aware of it, simply because they do not at all see the cognitive dimensions of metaphors. This is not an acceptable basis for their investigation of party manifestos since 1999. I nevertheless expected the results to be better than this weak basis might suggest, but this is unfortunately not the case. The authors' limited perspective is revealed when they again monolithically claim that "Landscape is a particularly exclusive definition of the nation" (73) and "Landscape is a non-civic element". (74) Even if they have not watched Professor Iain Stewart's intriguing BBC series 'Making Scotland's Landscape' (2010), it is by now common knowledge that wherever one is, the landscape one encounters is made by human beings, nothing natural. It is clearly a civic element like everything else in a culture, and it is also not exclusive, as people not born in a country may nevertheless enter it and live there. Some people may regard such a territory as a "sacred bounded place", but that is their emotional construction, not the political nor even the cultural reality. To speak of Scotland as "a 'beautiful country'", as the SNP 2003 manifesto did, may be said "to flag the homeland in patriotic and dramatic terms", but it is also an aesthetic term and again clearly not one that could really be called 'non-civic', as it expresses the evaluation of civic human beings in precisely definable civic contexts. (74) Such contexts, however, are never significantly taken into consideration at all by the authors. All references to Scottish culture are in the same simplistic way seen as "non-civic articulations of Scottish nationalism". (75) It becomes evident here that the criteria applied are far too one-sided, indeed monolithic to an extent that reduces the results to the banal finding that personification is used repeatedly. And what is then put forward as a way beyond what has been detected, namely that the "characterisation of Scotland's features is not a simple case of being predominantly civic and non-civic" (75), is something most readers would have said long ago. The description of "A Multiple Personality" that combines both civic and non-civic conceptions of Scottish nationalism thus comes far too late (75-8) and is still based on unsound concepts. Do the authors really think that a football match belongs in "a cultural context" (79), but civic nationalism, democratic institutions, elections (80) etc. do not? They evidently do. And which modernists do they know that really convincingly "emphasise that in Scotland nationalism is not something that politicians can manipulate by pushing the appropriate emotional buttons"? (79) I certainly do not know a single one of them, and if I did, I would not take them seriously. But this book does, and it suffers from an insufficient understanding of its key elements, in particular of discourse, metaphor, and narrative. Discourse analysis investigates the key contexts of discourses but is here limited to the one-sided definitions of civic and non-civic nationalisms that, yes, one finds in discussions on Scotland, but this is not a sufficient reason for adopting them, nor for ending the book with the kind of suggestion to go beyond this distinction that is put forward here. Scottish Studies Newsletter 39, May 2012

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