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Arendt Studies

Volume 4, 2020

Samuel Piccolo
Pages 153-175

Coming into the Country
An Arendtian Analysis of Nationalism and Narrative

This article is about nationalism from an unlikely perspective: Hannah Arendt. Though Arendt is famously no supporter of nationalism, I argue that her writing on narrative provides an illuminative way of examining the phenomenon. In the first section, I build upon Arendt’s narrative theory—and Leah Bradshaw’s analysis of it—to develop a distinction between narratively true stories and false ones, or reveries. I argue that while Arendt’s work on the matter often pertain to the tales of individuals, the thought is transferable to the stories of nations. In the latter half of the paper, I turn these two questions on to instances of contemporary nationalism. Section two is on England, and section three is on Israel. I do not suggest that my conclusion about these case studies are definitive, but I do hope that their inclusion in this paper helps to demonstrate how Arendt’s philosophic analysis could be turned on the world.