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Making time for national identity: theoretical concept and empirical glance on the temporal performance of national identity

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Abstract

Despite global, economic, technological and social transformations, nationality has remained an influential identity category. It still forms the basis for collective self-determination, political sovereignty and sense of belonging. This article puts forward the concept of ‘Chrono-Work’ to offer a critical approach to national identity. Employing temporal and performative perspectives, the concept addresses the conditions for establishing and constructing national identity. Drawing on Judith Butler's performance theory, it is suggested that performance of national acts loads national identity with meaning through the construction of a chronological narrative. To complete the theoretical picture, a case study of ‘Chrono-Work’ among the Jewish settlers on the Golan Heights in Israel is offered. It is shown that national identity is constantly performed through temporal strategies that aim at achieving a chronological order. Therefore, it is suggested that national identity is not given, but rather is the result of continuous ‘Chrono-Work’.

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