Special Issue "Nations in Time: Genealogy, History and the Narration of Time"

A special issue of Genealogy (ISSN 2313-5778).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 July 2018

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Atsuko Ichijo

Department of Politics, School of Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Kingston University, Thames KT1 2EE, UK
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Interests: Atsuko Ichijo is Associate Professor, Department of Politics, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University, UK. Her research is on the issues related to nationalism and modernity including theories of nationalism, nationalisms of the British Isles and Japan, European integration, the normative claims of nationalism, sovereignty, citizenship. She is a member of the editorial team of Nations and Nationalism and has acted as an international expert for the European Commission for several occasions.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Like any other human community, one of the fundamental roles nations play is to embed individuals in a particular point in time and space. In other words, nations and nationalism, an organisational principle of social life, work to provide individuals with a sense of who they are and where they belong. While nations are not the only form of community to serve human kind in this manner, they are the most privileged due to their intricate relationship with the nation-state, the dominant form of political organisation.

The ways in which nations and nationalism give shape to and maintain awareness and consciousness of time to members of nations and the importance of interpretation of the past in maintaining nations have been widely examined in the study of nations and nationalism under various headings including the use and abuse of history, the distinction between official and ‘ethno-‘ history, nations without history and so on. Building on these works, the special issue aims to examine the specificity of genealogy as way of comprehending time in the formation and maintenance of nations and in articulating nationalism. In other words, what does genealogy bring to nations and nationalism that history, chronology, myths or legends do not?

The term genealogy immediately suggests ancestry, which in turn suggests some form of blood relationship. In the study of nations and nationalism, the reference to blood relationship is linked to the understanding of ethnic nationhood, which is often seen as problematic in the liberal democratic normative framework. But is this the only contribution genealogy makes to the study of nations and nationalism? The special issue invites contributions to investigate the relationship between nations and time focusing on the characteristics of genealogy as a way of making sense of time and the past.

There are a number of questions to be addressed including:

  • What does genealogy provide in the formation and maintenance of nations that history and other forms of narrating time and the past do not?
  • Is the significance of genealogy limited to the formation and maintenance of ethnic nations? How would genealogy work in a civic nation?
  • Does the significance of genealogy vary across time? Is its significance eroded with modernisation/democratisation/secularisation?
  • What are the factors that privilege genealogy in narrating the nation’s life? Would genealogy in describing the nation be more important in societies which are heavily influenced by Confucianism, for example? Would the rise of a middle class with interest in family history strengthen the position of genealogy as a main way of understanding the nation’s past?
  • When does genealogy, or family history, of a nation become a history which is shared publicly? Examining genealogies (i.e. critical junctures) of national identity or national political community.
  • How do different paradigms of national community (primordialist, liberal-democratuc, etc.) mobilize the idea of the nation-as-genealogy or family history?
Dr. Atsuko Ichijo
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Genealogy is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • nations
  • naitonalism
  • genealogy
  • history
  • dealing with the past
  • ethnic vs civic nationhood
  • time consciousness

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Time, Kinship, and the Nation
Received: 26 March 2018 / Revised: 24 April 2018 / Accepted: 24 April 2018 / Published: 29 April 2018
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There remains both a great deal of confusion over the nature of kinship and an inappropriate resistance to understanding the nation as one form of kinship, specifically, territorial kinship. Although one finds the relatively early and occasional analysis of the nation in terms
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There remains both a great deal of confusion over the nature of kinship and an inappropriate resistance to understanding the nation as one form of kinship, specifically, territorial kinship. Although one finds the relatively early and occasional analysis of the nation in terms of kinship, for example, by Lloyd Fallers, anthropologists, including paradoxically Ernest Gellner, have avoided understanding nationality in this way. Despite Anthony Smith’s attention to ethnie, those associated with nationalism studies have also generally avoided analyzing the nation in terms of kinship, as can be seen by the ill-informed hostility to the category “primoridal”. This article rectifies this mistake by re-examining the category of kinship, along both its vertical, temporal axis and horizontal, geographical axis, with attention to nationality in general and, in particular, in antiquity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nations in Time: Genealogy, History and the Narration of Time)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Pan-Africanism: A Quest for Liberation and the Pursuit of a United Africa

Abstract: Our paper examines the place of Pan-Africanism as an educational, political, and cultural movement which had a lasting impact on the on the relationship between liberation and people of African descent, in the continent of Africa and the Diaspora. We also show its evolution, beginning with formerly enslaved Africans in the Americas, to the colonial borders of the 1884 Berlin Conference, and conclude with the independence movements in Africa. For formerly enslaved Africans, Pan-Africanism was an idea that helped them see their commonalities as victims of racism. That is, they realized that they were enslaved because they came from the same continent and shared the same racial heritage. They associated the continent of Africa with freedom. The partitioning of Africa at the Berlin Conference (colonialism) created pseudo-nation states out of what was initially seen as an undivided continent. Pan-Africanism provided an ideology for rallying Africans at home and abroad against colonialism, and the creation of colonial nation-states did not erase the idea of a united Africa. As different African nations gained political independence, they took it upon themselves to support those countries fighting for their independence. The belief, then, was that as long as one African nation was not free, the continent could not be viewed as free. The existence of nation-states did not imply the negation of Pan-Africanism. The political ideas we examine include those of Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, Kwame Nkrumah, Muammar Gadhafi, and Thabo Mbeki. Pan-Africanism, as it were, has shaped how many people understand the history of Africa and of African people.

Title: Kyrgyz genealogies and the Kyrgyz nation

Abstract: Over the course of the 20th century Kyrgyz have developed multiple genealogies for the nation that appear in different contexts and forms. A national sanjyra (genealogical tree, Ar. shajara) describes three lineages descending from the apical ancestor Dolon Bii. The epic hero Manas and his descendants are considered as other founding ancestors. Finally, historical narratives about the Kyrgyz state describe 2200 years of history. These different accounts exist in a fluid relationship to each other: all are useful, but there is little consensus about how they fit together, nor much concern about the lack of a coherent overall narrative. They are considered true without definitive coordination in time. The present article will examine variants on these accounts of national history, and various efforts to situate them in time and place. Other narratives about descent and history, including that of Tengrism and those connecting Kyrgyz to people known from archeological materials, written sources, and legends such as the Saka, Huns, or Wusun will also be sketched, and contrasted with accounts that differentiate Kyrgyz from nearby and historical peoples of Kyrgyzstan such as Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Sogdians and Mongols. Finally, the profound differences of these national imaginings from the practical uses of kinship, alliance and lineage in everyday Kyrgyz life will also be described, in order to show that lineages have important social meanings with only loose connections to these ideological state imaginaries widely elaborated as Kyrgyz collective history.

Title: ‘In War Time: Dialectics of Descent, Consent and Conflict in American Nationalism.’

Abstract: ‘I was in the Third South Carolina, when we got our quietus on the crest of Cemetery Hill. What a scene that was! I can see it now. I was twice in among your people, and twice back among my own; but how, I can no more tell than fly.’

(Silas Weir Mitchell, In War Time, 1885)

The United States, according to American sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset writing in 1963, was ‘the first new nation.’ Further, its status as a nation of immigrants, physically and powerfully symbolised by the Statue of Liberty in Brooklyn Harbor, has served America well over the years in respect of its often challenged but just as often repeated national narrative as asylum of the oppressed, a land of liberty and equality for all. As such, it may be assumed, or at least anticipated, that genealogy, history and the narration of time might play out rather differently in an ostensibly civic nation such as the United States. Genealogy has certainly never been overtly referenced in presidential proclamations. The evidence suggests, indeed, that America has, since its political inception as a separate state in the eighteenth century, sustained an uneasy tension between its third president, John Adams’ invocation of the nation as one ‘of laws and not of men,’ and its sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln’s later evocation of it as one comprising individuals united across both time and space by a combination of historical conflict and emotive genealogy: ‘bonds of affection,’ as Lincoln phrased it, ‘mystic chords of memory stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land.’

In order to probe the civic nationalist lineaments and limitations of America’s particular approach to locating the nation in time and in tradition, this paper deploys a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis to interrogate three specific national, and nationalist discourses that have been of significance to the United States since its colonial beginnings. First, the identification of America as the New Israel in the New World; the attempt to inscribe the nation into spiritual, Biblical time. Second, the racial and ethnic distinctions that America deployed as its civic version of ethnic genealogical determinants in order to construct and sustain a coherent narrative of national lineage and thereby embed its citizens in time and space. And, finally, the role that conflict has served as both central core and historical framework for both the narration and the collapsing of time in the world’s first, new, civic nation.

Title: National and other Collective Identities: Time, Origin and Narration

Abstract: Collective identities as for example nations are social phenomena with concrete—both political and social—effects in society, but a fundamental part of their constitution takes place through narratives about the collective. The existence of the collective identities thus depend on drawing boundaries between the collective 'we' and the 'others' as well as on disseminating coherent ideas about the fundamental identity of the 'we'-group among the members of the very same collective, and among the 'others' for that matter. These narratives thus constitute a privileged entry for investigating how collective identities are constructed and legitimized in a discourse that places the collective in time, that is, with a coherent and logical narrative about the past and a trustworthy projection into the future.

In the paper I plead for the usefulness of the concept ‘historical master narrative’ as developed by Alan Megill (1995, 1998) and operationalised and Konrad Jarausch and Martin Sabrow (2002) as an analytical tool for investigating how national history is constructed. After an initial discussion of the concept, I concentrate on two adjoining concepts because they are suitable for approaching the core of the master narratives. On the one hand, the French historian Pierre Nora's concept of "memory sites" (1984-1992) and, on the other, the German historian Reinhart Koselleck's concept of continuity (2000) because they both in a very direct way represent or relate to the master narrative and thus give access to key elements of it. They are thus very useful for analysing how a sense of connectedness with the community through time is created; that is how a sense of continuity with certain distant epochs is conveyed and how, on the other hand, a sense of discontinuity with other periods is favoured.

Jarausch, K.H. and M. Sabrow (2002). “‘Meistererzählung’—Zur Karriere eines Begriffs”. In K. Jarausch and M. Sabrow (eds.), Die historische Meistererzählung Deutungslinien der deutschen Nationalgeschichte nach 1945. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht: 9-32.

Koselleck, R. (2000). Zeitschichten. Studien zur Historik mit einem Beitrag von Hans-Georg Gadamer. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp.

Megill, A. (1995). “‘Grand narrative’ and the discipline of history”. In F. Ankersmit and H. Kellner (eds.), A New Philosophy of History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 151-173, 263-271.

Megill, A. (1998). Recounting the past. “Description”, explanation and narrative in historiography. American Historical Review, 94: 627-653.

Nora, P. (ed.) (1984-1992). Les lieux de mémoire, 7 vol. Paris: Gallimard.

Title: Forging common origin in the making of the Mexican nation

Abstract: The Mexican nation has been built by the state. This process began with the independence from the Spanish Crown in 1810. It took a century, 1910, at the end of the Mexican revolution to bring about nation-building through the roads of modernity, education, social mobility and communications (Gellner, 1983). This process also involved the formulation and dissemination of a national identity to forge a community that shared common elements, i.e., social cohesion. This is the focus of the article. In the first decades of the twentieth century, the intellectuals of the time sought how to give common origin to the new community that emerged from the revolution. The myth of origin (Smith, 1986) is the starting point, therefore, we will focus on the composition of this myth that dates to colonial times and refers to the union of an indigenous woman, Malintzin, and the conquistador Hernán Cortés. Like all myths, it is a mixture of fiction, reality and fantasy, but it has prevailed with impetus to this day, as the public school continues to reproduce the common origin of Mexicans in the crossbreeding. More than a century of mestizaje, real or fictitious, indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples have begun to question the capacity of this common origin since it invalidates the origins of many other ethnic communities, especially in the current phase of the nation-state, which refers to the recognition of cultural diversity.

The article discusses the complementarity of ethnic information (Smith) disseminated through state-run public education (Gellner). Next, we will review the content of the myth, since it is the reference to propagate the idea of common origin through different generations. The myth is propagated by official means and is mostly perceived by society, due to its high symbolic content that is well reflected in popular pictorial representations, so we include a description of this iconography of ancestry that is usually represented in a couple, woman and man, accompanied by their descendants, Mexicans (La Leyenda de los cromos, 2000). The final part of the article will refer to the state of the famous founding couple in the imaginary of some indigenous intellectuals and students who hold their own ethnic myths of foundation, or origin.

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