Blood and Belonging Essay - Critical Essays

Blood and Belonging

Michael Ignatieff’s BLOOD AND BELONGING: JOURNEYS INTO THE NEW NATIONALISM is a companion book to a BBC documentary series he produced which was broadcast in the United States on PBS. It concerns his travels through six regions of the world wrecked by nationalist passions. As such, BLOOD AND BELONGING is at once an informed meditation on political forces transforming the international scene, and a highly personal quest for meaning in a freshly disordered world.

Ignatieff sees himself as the antithesis of a nationalist, calling himself a cosmopolitan. A descendent of Russian aristocrats, who grew up in Canada, was educated in the United States, and works in Great Britain, Ignatieff dreams of a world order where individuals could live and flourish wherever they desire, regardless of state and ethnic boundaries. He found himself surprised and disturbed by the efflorescence of nationalism around the globe following the end of the Cold War.

To better understand this trend, Ignatieff explored a handful of distinctive nationalist movements. In Croatia and Serbia, he negotiated the treacherous battle lines of a fratricidal war between peoples who speak the same language and lived for years together in amity. A visit to Germany highlighted the difficulties Germans are having in defining a viable national identity in the wake of reunification. Similar problems face the Ukrainians, a nation reborn after hundreds of years of integration with Russia. In...

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