Page 1


OGUNYEMI, CHRISTOPHER BABATUNDE 1 INTRODUCTION Post-nationalism is a contemporary discourse in academic circle. It became a concept which comes out after nationalism. Nationalism simply depicts the idea of strong interest for one nation in art, science, politics and in other worldviews. However, nationalism is reflected in many human facets as it moves in time and space. According to the nationalism project, so many issues about this concept were raised, however: There are four core debates which permeate the study of nations and nationalism. First among these is the question of how to define the terms "nation" and "nationalism." Second, scholars argue about when nations first appeared. Academics have suggested a variety of time frames, including (but not limited to!) the following: •

Nationalists argue that nations are timeless phenomena. When man climbed out of the primordial slime, he immediately set about creating nations.

The next major school of thought is that of the perennialists who argue that nations have been around for a very long time, though they take different shapes at different points in history. While postmodernists and Marxists also play in the larger debates surrounding this topic, the modernization school is perhaps the most prevalent scholarly argument at the moment. These scholars see nations as entirely modern and constructed.

It should not be surprising that the third major debate centres on how nations and nationalism developed. If nations are naturally occurring, then there is little reason to explain the birth of nations. On the other hand, if one sees nations as constructed, then it is important to be able to explain why and how nations developed. Finally, many of the original "classic" texts on nationalism have focused on European nationalism at the expense of non-western experiences. This has sparked a debate about whether nationalism developed on its own in places like China, or whether it merely spread to non-western countries from Europe. (quoted from the national project site).

I would say that post-nationalism got its foundation from nationalist tendencies which people carry along into art “after” the birth of nationalism. Writers portray their ethos in a way to reflect the post nationalist cry. Some female writers attempt to revisit myth and rewrite the creative tradition in order to substantiate the need for a change and in order to satisfy the yearnings of globalisation. Postnationalism

has been projected among the recent trends that give pre-eminence to globalisation among other recent theoretical framework that concerns man and society. The concern raised by Buell shows that postnationalism among other theories are brainchild of the contemporary literary discourse. He opines that: For some decades now, discourses of terminal lament and epochal change have multiplied. We have heard about the destruction of our common culture, the death of literature, and the end of nature; and we have been experiencing the social transformations wrought by such phenomena as disorganized capitalism, late capitalism, flexible accumulation, post-industrialism, the service economy, the post-scarcity economy, the information age, the third wave, postcoloniality, postmodernity, postnationalism, and globalization. For some, we are witnessing no less than the emergence of posthumanity or, still more urgently, ultra-humanity. These claims represent ends of narratives, fragmentations of master narratives, and increasingly globalist extensions of master narratives; they span a discursive range from the mandarin-academic to the populistcounterculture. Of late, in the popular arena, an accident of chronology has added a still further popular term to this mix, the proclamation of the twenty-first century as a key turning point in our collective history(Nationalist Postnationalism 548-591).

My concern in this work is to examine what constitutes postnationalism and use some selected poems of Irish poets to demonstrate how this theory has gained frequency in the literary circle with the contribution of writers, critics to the scenario. The question of identity is well celebrated in post -nationality because writers use their works to typify various experiences they perceived to have these nationalistic feelings for freedom and for revisiting myth making. 11

POST-NATIONALITY AND THE QUESTION OF IDENTITY IN THE CANON OF IRISH POETS. Seamus Heaney’s essay “The Sense of Place� (1977) visualizes post nationalism because it reflects a movement to revive the Irish cultural movement, language determination and the zeal re-create the Irish native tradition in a manner that would establish a distinct identity for the people. The essay calls for a concerted effort to make a modern Irish poetry, literature which would incorporate modern Irish proverbs, new metaphor which is deeply rooted in historical restoration of the Irish people. The same experience is found in Nigeria and South Africa. However, series of Irish poetry have been channelled towards the area of postnationality and the establishment of distinct Irish identity which give the people a new meaning in their interactions with the society and with the sociocultural heritage in Ireland. These poems have been addressing identity, sense of

art, literature, creativity painting and arts generally. The nature of capitalism and imperialism on the people were addressed quite succinctly. In “Canon James O Hannay’s ‘Pays a Return Visit to the Old Rectory’, ‘Westport, County Mayo’, ‘8 October 2000’, the poem demonstrates that a change has come for the new Island and the people to move away from the grip of spirituality to the world of commerce in order to satisfy the yearnings of post nationalistic tendencies and globalisation. The poet is creating the impression that a change in values would situate buoyancy in economy and interpersonal development of the Irish people.“Bogland” opens this way, We have no prairies/to slice a big sun at evening/everywhere the eye concedes to encroaching horizon, is wooed into the Cyclops” eye…The poet is calling for a new direction of cultural reawakening in all ramifications because that is the basis for social, economic and political development which would make the Irish people more competitive in the scheme of things. Poems reflect themes of postnationalism: “Anachorism” and “Anachorism 1944” are typical examples of poems that centre on identity. This identity can be known as post nationalist identity because it shows that identity is not a stable thing which foresees what is going to happen. Similarly that is what Derek Mahon wants to say in “The Travel Section” that demands for new awareness and addresses the question of identity. The poem sarcastically cautions by saying that “ill scrap my European brain, /run wild like a young colt on the open plain-/ or sort of postliterate. Huck- Finns child of nature/ or existential citizen of the future,/an idealistic rustic, rancher, architect, /hunter, /fisherman,/ gambler, above all party and sect”(lines five to ten). The poem calls for the abandonment of irrelevant ways of life in order to situate a more developed manner that gives the Irish people new nationalistic feelings for place and purpose. The same idea Gerard Delanty reflects in the article entitled “Habermas and Post-National Identity: Theoretical Perspectives on the Conflict in Northern Ireland” (1996) when “Habermas”s critique of national identity is centrally concerned with rescuing the notion of citizenship from the model of nationality. He argues that in the broader vision of history citizenship was not always tied to a concept of national identity. The original concept of popular sovereignty, as developed by Rousseau does not refer to some substantive will which could owe its identity based on a normative deficit since it did not involve active democratic legislation along deliberative lines” (24-25).

This essay is a reconstruction of post national identity in order to give it a universal appeal and relevance in relations to the socio-economic development of the people. That is why the many issues have been said by critics concerning the need to eschew irrelevant preoccupations in the understanding of the Irish literature. Prominent is the Essay entitled Irish Nationalism: Themes in of Survival and Transcendence in Modern Irish Literature� which summarily recaps that: Much debate has gone into the question of exactly what is Irish literature. Must it be written in Gaelic or, if it's written in English does it lose its purity by being translated through the language of the former oppressor? Obviously, this paper does not attempt to address this issue directly but in my choice to focus on the theme of Irish nationalism and its centrality to modern Irish experience I am suggesting an approach and definition that might be more to the point, more descriptive of actual Irish experience than proscriptive of abstract notions and categories. Because of his idealism, Yeats may have failed to grasp some political realities but he did understand other real and profound processes such as the notion of transformation. He believed in the Irish instinct for the centre, that in their faith in their own experience and the fact of their survival, their culture had the power to reflect and recreate their continuity. Given the current popularity of all things Irish/Celtic, he was right. The much touted Irish obsession with the past is simply the logical condition of any decolonized nation whose history is yet to be made or is being made as we speak and modern Irish literature, one chapter in an overarching cultural narrative, both reflects this myriad and multi-level process and is the social space in which Ireland's regeneration and transformation can be worked out, again and again. Such a process is the heart that circulates the life-blood of a culture and the dominant theme of nationalism that Irish literature explores and reflects in all its facets is proof of the culture's continuing vitality. (quoted from the cyberpat site)

The proper configuration of the Irish experience for the post nationalist drive would make the Irish experiment in language, culture, philosophy and identity more clearly manifested because it gives room to the proper understanding of the Irish ethos in new myth remaking. To sum up, postnationalism and the question of identity has led to the cultural and literary transformation of the Irish sociopolitical and economic revisiting because it makes the Irish writers, poets to evolve the Irish experiment in the world of globalisation.

WORKS CITED Buell, Fredrick 1942- Nationalist Postnationalism: Globalist Discourse in Contemporary American Culture. American Quarterly- Volume 50, Number 3 September 1998 p 548-591. Delanty, Gerard “Habermas and Post- National Identity: Theoretical Perspectives on the Conflict in Northern Ireland”. Liverpool: 1996. “Irish Nationalism: Themes of Survival and Transcendence In Modern Irish Literature” “Nationalism Project”. Seasmus, Heaney, Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978. London. Fabes, 1980 Christopher Babatunde Ogunyemi is an Assistant Professor of English in Joseph Ayo Babalola University in Nigeria.


Post-nationalism is a contemporary discourse in academic circle. It became a concept which comes out after nationalism. Nationalism simply d...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you