Defining Nationhood

deadline for submissions: 
November 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Harry Olufunwa/ Journal for Theatre and Cultural Studies, vol. 3
contact email: 

In an age in which the centripetal forces of multilateralism are being challenged by the centrifugal pressures of populism, nationalist agitation and the rediscovery of indigenous forms of collective identity, what exactly is nationhood?

Once defined as the enhanced awareness of one's exclusive nationhood, and laden with associated emotional impulses of pride and belonging, conventional ideas of nationhood are being challenged as never before.

The African continent, with its history of colonial rule and neo-colonial appropriation, has always conceived of nationhood in all its maddening ambiguity. Its constituent countries recognize the essential artificiality of the nation, given that most of them are stitched-up colonial contraptions put together for administrative convenience. They are painfully aware that ostensibly more attractive alternatives exist, as ethnic loyalties continue to compete with still-developing ideas of national affinity and patriotic pride. They understand that concepts of what a nation is, why it exists, and how it functions are acutely-contested terrain that are struggled with, argued about and, tragically, fought over.

Rather than proffer definitions of what nationhood is or is not, would it not be perhaps more appropriate to think about the various manifestations nationhood can take, mediated by culture, history, politics, technology and other influences? Should non-Western political entities start to think about alternative concepts of what a nation for them? Are there appropriate ways to respond to the upsurge of nationalist xenophobia in the West, re-assertive nationalisms in the East, and renewed ethnic and religious isolationism in Africa and parts of Asia? Where does the staunchly optimistic multilateralism of the UN, the EU and the AU and various non-governmental organisations fit into all of this?

The third volume of the Journal for Theatre and Cultural Studies will be looking closely the vexed question of defining nationhood in the 21st century and the ways in which these issues are depicted and discussed in literature and in performance.

We are looking for insightful papers from Literature, Drama, Cultural Studies and other relevant disciplines which examine the complex manifestations of nationhood in the 21st century. Issues to be treated may include, but are not limited to the following:

• the often-ambivalent relationship between nationhood and the arts

• indigenous concepts of nationhood

• nationhood and the multi-ethnic  state

• notions of a paradoxically inclusive nationhood transcending the old categories of race, ethnicity and other primordial affinities

• reconfigurations of nationhood

• nationhood's protagonists – the larger-than-life individuals who personify the nationalist impulse.


Submissions should come with 200-word abstracts, must not be longer than 6,000 words (including Abstract, Works Cited and Notes), typed in Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced, and should follow the MLA Handbook (7th Edition) in-text format. All submissions should be sent to not later than Thursday, November 30th, 2017, and should come with a formal declaration that they are not under consideration elsewhere. For further information, please contact Dr. Harry Olufunwa at, or call/text 234-8037180425 or 234-8059734905.