New Internationalist Issue 277
The material that follows has been provided by New Internationalist
From this month's editor
You've got to write a really international editor's letter in an issue about nationalism, my colleagues told me. Remember that our readers are Canadian, Australian, Indian, Kenyan, American...
Well I tried. I tried comparing the passions roused by sport to those of nationalism. No good - too Brit. I went home and wrote about the struggles I have had with my own Anglo-Dutch identity. They wouldn't like that either - too European. And the one about the Scottish woman I interviewed about Scottish nationalism in Glasgow; well, it was just too - Scottish.
I just can't do it. As soon as I start writing personally about anything to do with national identity it comes back to Europe, which is where I come from.
Which is probably also why the many fascinating books I have read on the subject during the course of my research were all abstract, academic - and in the third person. They were also almost all by men, which confirms my theories about the links between nationalism and war and my prejudices about boys and war toys.
But I enjoyed commissioning this magazine: so many people felt strongly about their own national identity, and each story and each context shed a different light on the whole. I felt confirmed in my suspicions that this was one of the most important issues facing our world today. I was spell-bound by Ikaweba Bunting's vision of an Africa without boundaries. It was good to have extensive if expensive telephone conversations about feminism and nationalism with Urvashi Butalia in India (see link) and equally fascinating discussions with Maggie Murray ([email protected])of Format Photographers who helped me to cook up the idea for the front cover over a delicious Japanese lunch.
Having ideas on nationalism is one thing - and everyone seems to have them, from our Pakistani neighbour to John Major, 'our' Prime Minister (there, I've gone and done it again) - but writing about it personally is quite another. This is especially true if you not only see yourself as an internationalist (as I do), but are writing on supremely international issues (what could be more international than nation-states?) and what is more, work for the New Internationalist.
So sorry, folks. I've failed you all. An internationalist keynote? OK. An internationalist editor's letter? Forget it.
Nikki van der Gaag
for the New Internationalist Co-operative
©Copyright: New Internationalist 1996