The Luminary Postgraduate Magazine Lancaster University

The De-Construction of Masculinism in the Two Contemporary Nationalist Schools of Thought: Primordialism and Modernism

Rahaf Aldoughli


One may reduce the preoccupations of national literature into two universal schools of thought; the primordialist and the modernist conception of the nation.1 The universal theoretical debate between the two schools of thought is mainly based on two different conceptions; organic/natural or civic/modernist.2 Primordialists view the nation as formulated by blood ties and kinship. This organic perception asserts that the nation is a ‘given’ and a natural extension of the family. However, the modernist school suggests that the modern concept of the nation has generated out of certain process of modernisation such as industrialisation (see Gellner), democracy (see Kohn 1954), print-capitalism (see Anderson), or state (see Breuilly). In surveying the theories of these two dominant schools, it becomes obviously apparent that their perspectives lack any gender consideration (men over women in the discourse and imagination surrounding nation).

Whilst the burgeoning scholarly literature on this topic suggests a growing commitment to exposing the ways nationalist narratives are underpinning a radicalised gendered imagining. However, the originality of this paper lies in proposing a new way in assessing the characterisation of each nationalist thinker thoroughly in terms of the usage of language and the conceptual nationalist ideas that overtly expose the long-standing disadvantage of women in the two dominant schools of thought; primordialism and modernism.

Thus, the aim of this paper is to examine the questions of how the notion of nation has been narrated, considering whom is doing this narration and to who the narration is addressed. In order to answer these questions, my analysis will be based on investigating this bias in discourse propagation through language and the absence of women in that ‘imagining’ by the prominent contemporary nationalist thinkers. I will address this masculinism in the writings of four theorists; two from the primordialist camp, Isaacs and Geertz, and two from the modernist school, Kohn and Anderson. Hence, this paper intends to address the nexus between nationalist appropriation of narration and the masculinist language of its writers that denies a specific gender its natural place in it.

Situating Gender in Narrated Nations

While examining these two schools of thought, the constructions of masculinism can be overtly detected in their theorisations of the nation. The conception of national identity can be traced in the way the narrative of the nation is structured, which is highly a reflection of normative masculinity. Within this context, an overview of how nationalist narrative has been contextualised from a feminist perspective is essential for the assessment of how national identity is constructed, emphasised and contextualised by the formation of language.

It might be argued that given the time these texts were written that it is part of the tradition of the writing style to use the term ‘man’ as a substitution of ‘human being’. However, the effect of this use on the perception of national identity is huge and significantly relating women to the domain of irrelevance. This is not to be considered a ‘mere semantic hairsplitting’, but rather ‘provide one illustration of the ways nations are gendered-casually, implicitly, subtly’ [and ]… to make it clear that men are the natural proprietors of the nation, women are, at best, an afterthought’ (Hogan, 5). 

In relevance to the above, feminist scholarships on the construction of masculinism in the nationalist discourse expose the implication of this writing tradition on the inclusion of women in the political arena. As Susan Moller Okin argues:

it must be recognised at once that the great tradition of political philosophy consists, generally speaking, of writings by men, for men, and about men. While the use of the supposedly generic terms like “man” and “mankind”, and of the allegedly inclusive pronoun, “he”, might lead one to think that philosophers have intended to refer to the human race as a whole, we do not need to look far into their writings to realise that such an assumption is unfounded (1980, 5).

Okin further asserts that ‘the dangerous ambiguity of such linguistic usage in a patriarchal culture…proceed to exclude women’ (1980, 5).

Sheila Rowbotham goes further to illuminate that this exclusion in language is a reflection of women’s absent image and voice from history. In her own words, she explains:
as soon as we learn words we find ourselves outside them. To some extent this is a shared exclusion. The word carries a sense of going beyond one’s self, theory carries the possibility of connecting and transforming in the realm beyond self. Language conveys a certain power. It is one of the instruments of domination. It is carefully guarded by the superior people because it is one of the means through which they conserve their supremacy’ (1973a, 32; see 1973b).

On the same track, Cynthia Enloe’s demonstration of the affinity between women’s missed image and the construction of nationalism is highly reflective of the fact that nationalism has ‘typically sprung from masculinissed memory, masculinised humiliation and masculinised hope’ (1990, 45). This masculine imagination of the nation is further implied in the masculinist language structured by the most dominant nationalist theorists. Maurica Berger et al, argues that, ‘the formation of gender differences in language-that is, the ways in which categories of the masculine and the feminine are defined by and eventually ingrained in language-most often produces a rigid and fictive construction of reality’ (1995, 3-4). In this sense, this fixity of masculine language in the writing of the nationalist narrative constitutes ‘the assignable difference between masculine and feminine’ (Lyotard and Clarke, 9) and further postulates the masculinised perception of how a nation is/should be imagined.

Another important observation proposed by Joan W. Scott (1993), who masterfully demonstrates that the challenges of the problem of writing the history of the ‘other’, the history of ‘difference’, has gone unquestionable and become unthinkable. This linguistic bias can be traced in the writings of most contemporary theorists, by which their masculine language has become a naturalized given (397). He contextualises the authority of masculine writing infused with presenting one dimension of ‘experience’ and excluding the ‘other’ which is in turn reflected in the production of national identity (412). Hence, this subjective ‘authority’ reflected in the theorists nationalist language and perspectives have alienated the other (women), and more importantly produced masculine biased mainstream (403, 405). On the same track, Homi Bhabha’s influential book Nation and Narration (1990), laid the foundation for a new substantive tool in analysing the nation, right in the introduction he states: ‘Nations, like narratives, lose their origins in the myths of time and only fully realize their horizons in the mind’s eye’ (Bhabha, 1).

In this sense, the national narrative is intimately the domain of an idealised masculine mainstream (Mayer, 2000, 9-11). As Jean-Francois Lyotard and Deborah J. Clarke, illustratively suggest that ‘writing is a fact of virility’ (1978, 9). Therefore, language portrays a form of power, the missing representation of women in the language of nationalist narrative further juxtaposes the deep emphasised masculine theorisation of nation. Hence, in the light of these observations, the masculinist terms used by the chosen theorists (Isaacs, Geertz, Anderson and Kohn) have formulated a biased perception of nationalism in the contemporary nationalist thought that is based on recognising men as the sole definers of the nation.

Harold R. Isaacs (1910-1986)

His book Idols of the Tribe (1975) provides a detailed analysis of the function of the primordial ties in formulating the group ethnic identity (36). In the light of the changing political circumstances, Isaacs offers an original reconsideration of the ‘essential characteristics’ shared between members of the group. He enlisted five essential characteristics that define the identity of a given group: body, name, language, history and origins, and religion. Although his core aim is to approach these identifications within the new political change, yet still the question of gender is systematically ignored.

Before surveying the definition of each characteristic, it is essential to look at how Isaacs defined the ‘basic group identity’. He claims that the group identity is composed of ‘the ready-made set of endowments and identifications that every individual shares with others from the moment of birth by the chance of the family into which he is born at that given time in that given place’ (emphases added, 38). This definition highlights three essentialist notions of the primordial theorisations of the nation. First, Isaacs argues that these shared characteristics are universal and given; second, he points at the naturalised inheritance of these ties through being born to this ‘family’; third, and most importantly, this definition illuminates the linguistic masculine bias detected in Isaacs’ language through using the pronoun ‘he’ in a way that shuns women from being included or considered. Furthermore, paradoxically, whilst Isaacs affirms the identification between ‘family’ and the ‘group’, the question of women is completely ignored.

On the same track, this failure to recognise women’s ethnic contribution to the formulation of the group identity is overt in his argument of the ‘shared physical characteristics’ (38). He argues that among the initial set of inherited identifications with the given group is the ‘parental genes-skin color, hair texture, facial features’ (38). However, the term ‘parental’ cannot be but a reference to the father as overtly in his reference to the new-born child into the group (39).

Starting with what Isaacs called ‘primary’ physical identification; ‘the body’ (46), it is considered the most fixed given characteristics compared to others. He argues: ‘the body is the most palpable element of which identity-individual or group is made. It is the only ingredient that is unarguably biological in origin, acquired in most of its essential characteristics by inheritance through the genes’ (46). In addition to this definitive conception of the centrality of the body to the construction of the ethnic identity, Isaacs also claims that features such as ‘skin color’ plays central role in ‘shaping’ the identity of a given group. On the other hand, in order to preserve these ‘physical sameness’ (63), Isaacs argues that a preoccupied notion of ‘purity’ is condoned and practised by the sanction of intermarriages that threatens these ‘physical sameness’ (63). However, despite the overt relation to women in reproducing this indispensable physical feature, Isaacs exclusively considers this ‘ancestral’ inheritance as unrelatedly feminine by not demonstrating women’s role in these physical formulations (46).

The second symbol of identity is the ‘name’, Isaacs defines the name as the ‘most literal, and most obvious’ (71). It’s meaning is related to the acquisition of language and the construction of thought (71). Moreover, the name does not only represent the individual personal identity (75), but it also holds a set of social, political and historical dimensions of the whole given group (79). However, one cannot deny the fact that the meaning of names are composed of a specific version of a specific culture. They have an essential dimension in signifying the cultural formation of a given group. Hence, it can be argued that since names serve as codes of a specific ideological and cultural perceptions, women cannot be marginalised from being part and parcel in contributing to the socio-cultural meaning of the name which in turn serves as a symbolic identification of the whole group.

One further substantial strand to Isaacs’s set of primordial ties, is language. According to traditionalist theorists, language serves as the most connoted identification of ‘the self and the development of individual personality’ (94). It is another cultural expression that defines the identity of the group (99). The significance of language is debated by Isaacs in the bond between the child and his mother-tongue. From the outset, this feature is signifying the gender bias of Isaacs’s theorisation. He states: ‘the mother tongue [is] among the earliest sounds a child hears…It conveys to him some of the first sensations, emotions, and meanings that he begins to experience’ (emphasis added, 93). This definition, of course, is highly significant, in which it demonstrates two infused realities of Isaacs’s approach. First, although arguably language is referred to as ‘mother’ and further the experience of its acquisition is identified with ‘motherhood’, but he ignored the roles of women in preserving it. Second, and more importantly, Isaacs’s linguistic use of the pronoun ‘he’ is highly suggestive of his gender bias.  

On the same track, the fourth primordial characteristics analysed by Isaacs is ‘history and origins’. Again, the mother-child experience is masterfully juxtaposed with the group’s relation to past. He states: ‘The connection to the past, hardly less than umbilical itself, is made at almost the same instant the actual cord between baby and mother is cut’ (115). These words are significant in further emphasising Isaacs’s masculine bias against women, for whilst the use of motherhood is importantly denoting to the essentiality of women in formulating the identity of the group, on the other hand, it highlights the intended marginalisation of women in nationalist narratives.

Finally, religion is another definitive feature in a given group. It is a cultural identification inherited from the past (144). It serves as a ‘bond and a tradition’ preserved by the community in order to be shared among other members (145). Again, Isaacs disregards the centrality of women in transmitting and preserving religion through generations, which in turn leaves the impression that women’s invisibility is heightened and emphasised.

In addition to the stated characteristics Isaacs’s contextualisation of the transition from the tribe to the nation, also provides an essential characteristic of the masculine nature of his theorisation. Again, the question of women in the new defined political order is missed. In this regard, the nation in Isaacs’s perspective is theorised as an expression of ‘powerful primordial associations projected from one’s own birth and one’s own parents’ (172). The term itself ‘the nation’ is further connoted by Isaacs as ‘motherland’ and in Latin ‘to be born’ (172); hence the very absorbed notion of the nation in Isaacs’s theory has gender implication, yet it is ignored and marginalised.

Therefore, there is an oddly paradoxical relation between Isaacs’s notion of ethnic identity and the question of women. On the one hand, these primordial characteristics play central role in defining the ‘inwardness’ of the individual in the group (45), yet this naturalised notion of the given identity cannot be separated from women’s genetic and cultural role in reproducing the identity of the group. Furthermore, throughout the exploration of the five defining primordial ties, one can notice that the question of gender has been systematically neglected. This bias is further heightened by the excessive use of the pronoun ‘he’ which is juxtaposed with identifying the experience of mother-baby relationship to the formation of the primordial ties. Hence, in the light of this apparent paradox, exploration of the set of primordial ties has been pursued by Isaacs with discriminative masculine and gender biases

Clifford Geertz (1926-2006)

The primordial perspective of the origin of nations postulates that nations are given and natural, this is further illustrated by one of the pioneering primordial figures, Clifford Geertz, who encapsulates that the primordial phenomenon:

stems from the givens…of social existence. [Moreover], one is bound to one’s kinsman, one’s neighbour, one’s fellow believer, ipso facto; as the result not merely of personal affection, practical necessity, common interest, or incurred obligation, but at least in great part by virtue of some unaccountable absolute import attributed to the very tie itself…For virtually every person, in every society, at almost all time, some attachments seem to flow more from a sense of natural-some would say spiritual-affinity than from social interaction (1994, 31).

This naturalised perception of the nation is continued in his other books. For example, the title of his book The Interpretation of Culture (1993) is highly suggestive and denoting ‘culture’ as the most determining factor in formulating the nation. However, Geertz defines culture as ‘webs’ that spun the ‘man’ (5).

It could be argued that Geertz is not different from other theorists, his notion of the primordial ties and importantly the conception of culture is masculinist. A detailed chapter in his book called: ‘The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man’ presents an illustrative connotation between the ‘man’ and the perception of culture. In more clear words, Geertz states:

what man is may be so entangled with where he is, who he is, and what he believes that it is inseparable from them. It is precisely the consideration of such a possibility that led to the rise of the concept of culture and the decline of the uniformitarian view of man (1993, 35).

The nature of this notion bears a close relationship to the development of the idea of culture as merely depends on man’s conception of the nation. Instead of conceiving the notion of culture as related to women who play central role in reproducing and transmitting it from generation to generation, they are completely disregarded. Therefore, the ultimate meaning of culture in Geertz’s assumption is problematically reduced and limited to the naturalization of masculine bias.

Another functional factor in constructing the dimension of culture is customs, which is described by Geertz as sufficiently represented by men (1993, 37). Oddly enough, the tradition of custom and dress is usually preserved by women as they are bearers of the ‘spirit of collectivity’ (Yuval-Davis, 45), yet Geertz presents the cultural perception as affected solely by men.

Modernist Thinkers
Hans Kohn (1891-1971)

Hans Kohn, in his book The Idea of Nationalism: A Study in its Origins and Background (1945) provides a detailed analysis of the origin of nationalism. His interest lies in analysing the roots of modern nationalism, without ignoring the ‘universal’ impact of nationalism on other parts of the world. In spite of his assertion that nationalism can be detected in the past (3), Kohn argues that in an age of revolutions (the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) the rise of nationalism cannot be unlinked to the growth of democracy and industrialism. Therefore, Kohn suggestively illuminates that the transformation from old ‘separate civilisations’ to the modern notion of nations can be attributed to the ‘ever-quickening and ever-widening process of acculturation, economic exchange, and intensification of communication’ (vii).

Kohn defied the naturalised conception of the nation, and rather affirms that it is ‘a product of the growth of social and intellectual factors at a certain stage of history’ (6). Rather, Kohn masterfully defines two fundamental factors to the formulation of modern nations: the objective factors such as a common geographical and political territory that is the state, and on the other hand that in order to formulate ‘nationalities’ there should be an ‘active corporate will’ that conceptualises the modern notion of nationalism (14-15). On the same track, Kohn criticised further the primordial based definition of nation on ‘blood and race’ and explicitly states: ‘to base nationality upon "objective" factors like race implies a return to primitive tribalism. In modern times it has been the power of an idea, not the call of blood that has constituted and moulded nationalities’ (emphasis added, 16).

Within this context, the correlated question is whose this ‘idea’ is envisaged by? How is it imagined, constructed and represented? And more importantly to whom is it addressed in Kohn’s nationalist writings? In order to answer these questions, there is a need to look at how Kohn conceived the rise of the nation & nationalism. First, it must be argued that Kohn’s theorisation is influenced by Renan’s subjective conception of the nation. He affirms that the most essential factor in the formation of the nation is ‘a living and active corporate will’ (15) and a ‘political organisation’ that encompasses its members. It is quite noticeable that Kohn’s extensive use of ‘man’ is part of his theorisation, he argues that:

nationalism is a state of mind, permeating the large majority of a people and claiming to permeate all its members; it recognises the nation-state as the ideal form of political organisation and the nationality as the source of all creative cultural energy and of economic well-being. The supreme loyalty of man is therefore due to his nationality, as his own life is supposedly rooted in and made possible by its welfare’ (emphasis added, 16).

Kohn deduced that nationalism is a psychological phenomenon that is legitimised by the will of the majority to live together. However, a close reading of his theorisation exposes his masculinist perception of the nation as formulated by the will of men.

Another illuminating definition of the rise of nationalism is that it is ‘a state of mind, an act of consciousness’, which since the French Revolution has become more and more common to mankind. The mental life of man is as much dominated by an ego-consciousness as it is by a group consciousness’ (emphasis added, 10-11). Within this context, these definitions explicitly illustrate Kohn’s bias against women; it is clear that the imagining of the nation is restricted to man’s consciousness and mind, and what postulates the nation is a right exclusively given to men. 

To this end, two fundamental phenomena can be summed from Kohn’s theorisation; first, in spite of Kohn’s opposition to the primordial identifications; blood, culture, and language, as the basis of the formulation of the nation,  in his criticism he never refers to the role of women in defying this ‘purified’ notion of the nation perceived by the traditionalist. Second, his suggestive idea of the formulation of the nation as grounded solely in the will and the ego of the ‘man’, as shown earlier, importantly implies his masculine distinct imagination, infused and heightened by his ultimately masculinist language.

Benedict Anderson (1936- )

Not essentially different from Kohn’s modernist perspective, Benedict Anderson’s influential idea ‘imagined communities’ is strikingly similar to Kohn’s perception of the nation as a political organisation existed in the man’s mind. Anderson’s conceptualised notion of the nation is emanated by solidarity of ‘brotherhood’ (153). He provides an illustrative definition of the nation as ‘an imagined political community-and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign’ (5). He further conceived the nation as ‘a deep, horisontal comradeship’ and continually asserts that ‘it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings’ (7).

These definitions, therefore, are coercively masculine in ways that eliminate any theoretical consideration of gender. Directly related to this are the questions surrounding the imagination of the nation; by whom is it imagined, and to whom does the imagining relate? In order to answer these fundamental questions, I need to examine Anderson’s argument of the demoted cultural ‘certainties’ (36) of the nation before it is ‘imagined’, and how he theorised the nation as an imagined, cultural product. Arguably, according to Anderson, nationalism is defined as ‘cultural artefacts’ (4) which in return laid the foundation for the emergence of imagined nation as a mere cultural production. This consideration is impressive in the light of the manly construction of the nation as grounded on the masculine prowess.

More worryingly, Anderson’s insistence on the masculine construct of the nation is overt in his argument that once the nation is imagined it established its links between ‘fraternity and power’ (36). Hence, Anderson’s argument is based on the belief that the rise of the modern conception of the nation is essentially based on the interlinked principles among masculinity, authority, and further contextually identified with the notion of ‘patriotism’ (141), and the dying for one’s country (144).

Among the most predominant masculine encapsulation of the nation in Anderson’s perception is the centrality of the ‘Unknown Soldier’ as an underpinning force in the ‘national imagining’. The Unknown Soldiers are a way of the constructed ‘national imaginings’ stirred up by Anderson as a mere masculine representation of the nation and nationality, that those strong soldiers had sacrificed themselves for the country/ the feminised body (9). Furthermore, Anderson argues that the emblems of the Unknown Soldiers signify ‘the cultural roots of nationalism with death’ and on the other hand, its relation arbitrary with ‘immortality’ (10). This cultural significance of the sacrifices of men in constructing the national imaginings of the nation is prominent in Anderson’s analysis of the nation. He is further emphasising this contingent nexus in his conclusive remarks that the nation is only remembered of its dead sons, those who sacrifice for their fatherland (205-6), which significantly concludes that women have no place within this heroic context presented by the patriot man.

Moreover, Anderson remarkably signalled the interrelation between the rise of ‘imagined nations’ to the effect of the rapid economic change and increasing communication, and most importantly the impact of ‘print-capitalism’ which triggered the essence of deep personal reflection related to others (36).  He further advocated the ‘intellectual communication’ among the intelligentsia who propagated a particular imagining of the nation (140). In this sense, this notion further asserts the masculine role elaborated by these intelligentsia in imagining the nation.

On the same track, Anderson attributed the birth of imagining the nation is only wherein certain ‘cultural conceptions…lost their axiomatic grip on men’s minds’ (emphasis added, 36). In other words, the very initial process of imagining the nation, according to Anderson, was historically initiated by men. In this regard, Anderson argues that the theoretical debate of the historical origin of the ‘imagined’ nation encompass the decline of three fundamental masculine cultural conceptions. The first notion is that a certain ‘particular script language’ is believed to have an advantaged access to the ‘ontological truth’ (36), however, Anderson asserts the centrality of language and its rootedness in the past and he further argues its ‘naturalisation’ implication but never attributed its preservation to the ‘mother’ (144-145).

This conceptualised notion of the language is further juxtaposed with Anderson’s reference to the bond between mother and language, but never mentioning women’s impressive contribution, he states: ‘What the eye is to the lover-that particular, ordinary eye he or she is born with –language-whatever language history has made his or her mother-tongue-is to the patriot. Through that language, encountered at mother’s knee and parted with only at the grave, pasts are restored, fellowships are imagined, and futures dreamed’ (154). The significance of these wordings lie in the paradox implied in Anderson’s notion of language as, on the one hand, a cultural production of imagining the nation, yet disregards the role of the mother.

Another demoted cultural conception that led to the possibility of ‘imagining the nation’ (36) is the disbelief in the naturalised conception of social hierarchy, and the claim that the dynastic order is divine. On the one hand, Anderson eliminated any conceptual recognition of the familial hierarchal bond among members of the family and emphatically ignored what he estimated elsewhere of how family was historically perceived as ‘the domain of disinterested love and solidarity’ (144). Within this context, he neglected the social hierarchy presented within the family between the man and the woman. Moreover, paradoxically, in spite of Anderson’s awareness of the centrality of the ‘dynastic marriages’ in the formulation of fused populations (19-20), his theorisation of imagining the nation completely lacked any consideration of gender (19-20).

Third, and most importantly the notion that ‘the origins of the world and of men [is] essentially identical’ (36) indoctrinated masculinise affinity between the origin of men and the world. This, however, is not to be distinguished when most of Anderson’s cultural conception of the emergence of nationalism is enunciated by a hegemonic masculine ideology.

To sum, although Anderson’s perception of nationalism is very influential in generating original theoretical notions on the rise of nations and nationalism, but in the light of the above observations, it can be added that his theorisation is confined exclusively to the masculine-imagining of the nation. Even when the assumed impact of ‘print-capitalism’ is reproducing cultural conceptions of the nation, he eliminated the influentially rapid development of communication to the writings of ‘intelligentsia’ (140) and not to the fact that more women become illiterate accordingly and that their national role might be more significantly in need to be reconsidered. 


In the light of the above illustrations, the contextualised interrelation between nationalism and the ‘missed’ representation of women within nationalist discourse (the writings of Isaacs, Geertz, Kohn, and Anderson) has been substantiated by the two contemporary schools of thought; primordialism and modernism. In this sense, the obsessive representation of the nation as a community of men, imagined for and by men has modelled the normalised masculine identity of the nation.

There can be no denying the fact that this empowered masculine identification between the nation and men is a reflection of what Tamar Mayer (2000) so masterfully states as ‘nationalism is the exercise of internal hegemony’ (2000, 1). While this hegemonic masculinisation of the nationalist narration constructs gender-stereotypes, the nation within these narratives is becoming ‘gendered and radicalised’ (Anthias and Yuval-Davis, 127).

However, it is essential to note that this alliance between nationalism and gender bias has been deconstructed by prominent theorists.3 Anne McClintock (1991) significantly indicates that ‘all nationalisms are gendered, all are invented, and all are dangerous’. According to McClintock, nationalisms are dangerous in the sense ‘that they represent relations to political power and to the technologies of violence’ (1991, 104-105). Moreover, Mosse argues that ‘nationalism had a special affinity for male society and together with the concept of respectability legitimised the dominance of men over women’ (67). Therefore, after the exploration of the narrative in the nationalist discourse, we are faced with the question of repressed women. The exclusion of women that demonstrates the ‘reconsolidating centralised control of authority…including gender privilege’ (Pettman, 138).

To conclude, this masculine bias traced in the dominant theorisations of nations & nationalism cannot be a ‘coincidence’, but rather stemmed from a ‘male-defined’ world where women are obscured in ‘brotherhood’. Not to underestimate the excessive masculinist language used in the nationalist narrative, which is a revelation of the ‘intense rejection’ of women in history, furthermore, a reflection of how they are trapped in a world constructed and represented predominantly by men (Rowbotham 1972, 11). In this sense, this ‘invisibility’ underpins a distorted image of the nation confined to a masculinised propagation in nationalist discourse (1972, 12).

Hence, throughout this paper, it has been argued that constructions of the dominant theorisations of nations & nationalism, masculinity and gender biased language are not distinct realms in the narrated nationalist discourse; nor can their influence on creating a masculinised national identity be ignored or not examined. Rather, their relation to each other, though conflicting and contradictory- have invented an authoritative male-dominated imagination of the nation. Such articulations of the absence of gender theory and the imposition of masculinist language, detected in the four contemporary national theorists have articulated a macho-categorisation of the nation.


1 For further reading on this historical theoretical debate between these two universal schools, see Anthony Smith (1999); John Breuilly (1996); Michael Ignatieff (1994).

2 The contingent nature of the field, can be found in the writings of the founding fathers; Ernest Renan, Johann Gottfried Herder, and Johann Gottlieb Fichte. These philosophical thinkers perceived the origin of the nation differently and highlighted different ideological tools that formulate and construct the ideology of nation’s belonging. Arguably, the conceptualised views of these thinkers have been the ideological roots of the two emerged dominant schools in theorising nationalism; primordial/civic origin of the nation.

3 For further reading see: Claudia Koonz, Mothers in the Fatherland, p. 21; Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather, pp. 2-6; Victoria De Grazia, How Fascism Ruled Women: Italy, 1922-1945, pp. 2, 5-6; Tamar Mayer, Women and the Israeli Occupation: the politics of change, pp. 1-15; R. Radhakrishnan, ‘Nationalism, Gender, and the Narrative of Identity’ in Nationalisms and Sexualities, pp. 77-95 (p.78); Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract, p.4; and Jennifer Heuer, ‘Gender and Nationalism’ in Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview 1770-1880.

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Yuval-Davis, Nira. Gender & Nation. London: SAGE Publications, 1997.

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