for autonomous sociology

Surviving Sociology in Egypt and Elsewhere

Mona Abaza interviews me on openDemocracy:

There’s a school of thought that says it doesn’t matter whether nations are real, because people behave as if they are. But false beliefs can have very destructive effects: think of witch trials, or the denial of climate science. Belief in nations is dangerous because, since they’re imaginary, you can say whatever you want about them and no one can prove you wrong…

Strangely, although nationalism is a pervasive social phenomenon with immense effects everywhere in the world, it’s not a central preoccupation of sociology or any of the dominant social science disciplines. The most prestigious sociology journals rarely publish papers on nationalism. Instead, the study of nationalism is relegated to an academic backwater called nationalism studies, which is dominated by apologists for nationalism rather than critics of it.