Self-Sacrifice in UN Peacekeeping Operations

Bolivian soldier prepares to fire

Bolivian soldier prepares to fire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Miyu Fujihara

In Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson talks that the self-sacrifice for the nation comes from the idea of disinterestedness one feels for the nation and that this is similar to the sense that one feels for the family. People cannot choose where to be born and thus that it is natural that people feel strong connection to it, which one can’t control or change.

In other words, people imagine there’s a fatality to belonging to one’s nation and that nation can represent and express that person as well. Also, Anderson states that people cannot feel tied as much to those international organizations that seek for certain interests, like Amnesty International, because one can get out of these community whenever she/he wants to, unlike the relationship between one and one’s nation.

When combined, these two ideas mean that the one cannot die for a non-nation, such as an international organization, because there’s no fatality between them. However, when looking at the history and the number of those who work for the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations, it seems that Anderson’s statement doesn’t necessarily apply.

In the UN peacekeeping operations, especially for military personnel, there is always a chance to lose their lives during the operations, but there are 97,000 uniformed military personnel from over 110 countries and this system has been maintained ever since 1948. This explains that a number of people are willing to work for the UN peacekeeping operations. In other words, many wish to foster world peace even by risking their lives for the UN peacekeepers’ aim, which is to help countries suffered from conflicts to create a condition for peace. It is again clearly contradicting the idea that Anderson’s has. These personnel can sacrifice themselves to sustain world peace, not necessarily to protect their countries.

Nonetheless, on the uniform that they wear during the operation has name of their own nation like Japan, Brazil and the United States and so on, apart from the symbol of the UN and the blue helmet. At this specific point, it does not make sense to have the name of nation seen. If they are truly working for the UN and have so called “UN identity” believing in world peace, not representing their own nations, only should the UN symbol be on it.

This leaves questions that why they hope to join the UN peacekeeping programs while risking their lives, and also why they do not forget to belong to a certain nation. In my opinion, as Anderson says, people cannot sacrifice for nothing but their own nation, and this is why they still want to have their national symbol on them when they know they might die at any time to show their nation-ness. Borrowing Anderson’s words, by doing so, they change the operations disinterested from interested.

References

Anderson, Benedict. 2006. Imagined Communities. London: Verso Books.

The United Nations. (n.d.). The United Nations Peace Keeping. Retrieved from the United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/issues/women/

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Adolescence and migration: Struggling to fit in

by Tomoka Adachi

Currently in global society, there is a comparatively broad definition referring to people who leave their home country and immigrate overseas as global citizens. An increasing number of transnational migrants have been challenging such concepts of the nation-state (Ohno,S 2008). The term immigration is not unfamiliar at all and has even been highlighted in recent years as more issues have been discovered.

Immigrants can be broadly categorized by generation, based on the period of time in their lives that they moved to the host country. In the more precise language of social-science research, the term second generation is usually reserved for those children of immigrants who are born in the host society, while the children who arrived at a young age and thus receive part or all of their schooling in the new society are called the 1.5 generation, a term invented by the sociologist Rubén Rumbaut (Alba & Waters 2011).

Adolescence is one of the most significant steps in the formation of self-identity. There are  outcomes internally and externally for children who migrate at a younger age. In the first place,  immigrant children have to get used to the new environment in the receiving countries, while apart from other close family members, peers and friends in the home country. Homesickness may appear in numerous forms as the result of the diversity of language usage, diet, customs, school system, and citizens from different ethnic groups. All those features certainly depend on the culture and social similarity and differences between the receiving country and home country.

Nevertheless, the efforts immigrant children should take is because they are disadvantaged under many conditions. They are considering who they are and what they tend to be, whether to change or not in the receiving countries as heavily affected by the relation to their surroundings. While at the same time still requires the recognition from people around. Youth immigration demanded changes to the social identity and culture identity in the social and culture environment. The youth may cope with the psychological pressure produced by such dissonance by seeking to reduce conflict and to assimilate (literally, to become similar) within the relevant social context (Rumbaut 1994). However, the invisible pressure which forced assimilation may lead in another direction, in a  reaction of refusing to fit in. For the 1.5 generation, the possibility of segmented assimilation happens in most cases.

In addition, when it comes to 1.5 generation regarding to assimilation, children more or less have the concept of certain social and culture value of their home country, so that it becomes  more of a challenge to define self-identity in the receiving countries. The border and notion of national identity in relation to citizenship belongings blurs.

Furthermore, the reality is that the mass of society tends to offer limited options to classify immigrants. Categories by questioning whether to belong to one culture or not, to socially belong to our culture or outside of our culture. Hence, the lack of social recognition for those who culturally maintained in the middle, such as the 1.5 generation, led those people to fill in the gap and to struggle to connect their self-identity to nation-state citizenship in order fit in the current social position.

References

Alba, R & Waters, MC. (2011) “The Next Generation: Immigrant Youth in a Comparative Perspective Dimensions of Second-generation Incorporation. New York: NYU Press.

Ohno, S. (2008) “Transnational Citizenship and Deterritorialized Identity: The meaning of Nikkei Diasporas’ Shuttling between the Philippines and Japan.Asian Studies 44(1):1-22.

Rumbaut, RG. (1994) The Crucible within: Ethnic Identity, Self-Esteem, and Segmented Assimilation among Children of Immigrants. International Migration Review 28(4):748-794.

South Korean citizenship and military service

South-Korean military musician

South-Korean military musician (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Yoon Jee Hyun (JeeJee)

South Korea, an unstable peninsula under the idea of democracy, has continuous anxiety on the never-ending possibilities of warfare with the Communist country of North Korea. Due to this country’s precarious diplomatic situation with its neighbor, having a strong military system is a highly significant governmental role to achieve in South Korea. In order to have a concrete military system, male Korean citizens have to serve in the army for about 2 years, except in the cases of fourth-generation only son, child patriarch, persons with disease, and persons who have foreign citizenship. Once a male person has “South Korean citizenship”, it is his fate to enlist in the army.

From the reading of “Citizenship and Immigration: Multiculturalism, Assimilation, and Challenges to the Nation-State”, Bloemraad, Korteweg, and Yurdakul define ‘citizenship’ in four different dimensions: legal status, rights, political participation, and a sense of belonging. Simply to identify citizenship firstly as a legal status means people can get citizenship status by their own birth place or parental origins or through naturalization process. Citizenship as rights grants authorities such as basic rights to the people from the state while individual has to obligate state’s set rules. Citizenship in terms of political participation is that people are privileged to actively participate politically to shape the nation whereas the state itself can govern its people within its territory boundaries. Lastly, people have ‘in-group’ feelings by sharing the same community under the suggested definition of citizenship as sense of belonging by Bloemraad and her co-authors. All these four different dimensions integrate altogether; the notion of citizenship can be enhanced and can be advanced.

In case of South Korean citizenship, I think the emphasized meaning of citizenship as ‘rights’ plays an important role. The nation (South Korea) provides rights to its citizens such as rights to a basic education and rights to be able to live in a healthy environment. Vice versa, South Korean government can impose rules to Korean citizens that people should and have to follow. This both-way obligation process related to rights of citizenship could facilitate military service system in South Korea.

In other words, under the status of ‘Korean citizenship’ and male gender, the people are obliged by governmental law to protect their family, friends, and the nation through entering 2 years of military service.

Reference

Bloemraad, I., A. Korteweg, & G. Yurdakul. Citizenship And Immigration: Multiculturalism, Assimilation, And Challenges To The Nation-State. Annual Review of Sociology34, 153-179.

Refugees and assimilation

Map showing destination countries of refugees ...

Map showing destination countries of refugees /asylum seekers (= people fleeing abroad) in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Naresh Kumar

Different countries receive thousands of refugees every year. All of them come from different religions, cultures, and share different moral values that makes them identical in the host countries. Many are vulnerable to the crimes and human rights violations in the host country. They try to assimilate themselves in the society but instead of being accepted, many end up being the victims of different crimes (Ferenchik, 2012). Assimilation is always seen in an optimistic way with eventual integration of newcomers and it is expected that the process will end over time when foreigners and natives are merged (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001).

However, the facts about victimization are ignored. The situation is even worse in the developing and underdeveloped countries, where refugees find it very hard to integrate into the host society. Refugees who migrated to different countries are asking for help to keep up their culture, language, religion, and other things, to keep up their identity. If we look at the numbers then it is global south that holds so many refugees. The number is increasing everyday. It is the responsibilities of the international community to provide support for the refugees and help them integrate in host countries.

Poverty, crimes, discrimination, human rights violations are some of the issues in societies that holds refugees. Coping with uprootedness, adversity, and assimilation into new social landscapes has always been a challenge. There is always a clash between different cultures, religious values, political ideologies, etc. After the end of the Cold War, nation states have carried out more restrictive policies, which makes it difficult for refugees and asylum seekers to enter the host country.

The rise of nationalism is another issue. In different countries in Europe, immigrants are becoming victims to so called “national movements”, which is simply to push back foreigners and immigrants out of the host country. The European Union only grants EU citizenship to citizens of member states, which is described as “fortress Europe” by many advocates of refugee rights.

The Global South lacks the ability to provide basic needs and lacks to assure certain rights, whereas those who can looks away from the issues. Europe is the only continent which receives thousands of refugees every year, but integration into the society depends on one’s abilities of language and education levels. Refugees who enter into different societies of different countries are not well protected. Their voice is less heard and are constant victims of crimes and human rights abuses.

 

References

Ferenchik, M. (2012, June 19). Nepali refugees struggle with life in city. Retrieved from http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/06/19/nepali-refugees-struggle-with-life-in-city.html

Portes, A., & Rumbaut, R. G. (2001). Legacies: The story of the immigrant second generation. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Colonialism and Modern Day Expats in Southeast Asia

by Adelle Tamblyn

I was five when my father got expatriated to a coal mine in the middle of the jungle in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Moving from a cosmopolitan environment (Sydney, Australia) with a population of a few million, to a tight-knit community of Westerners (predominantly) in a population of approximately 150 people in an expatriate setting was a complete contrast of lifestyle. In Sydney, we were an average, middle-class family. In East Kalimantan, however, we lived a life of luxury. We were a fairly isolated community, but in no way deprived: our town had its own elementary school, commissary, mess hall, and a restaurant that everybody called “the cafe”, as well as complete, free access to a pool, a golf course, squash and tennis courts, and a man-made beach with sailing boats. The town we lived in was specifically built for expatriate employees of the coal mine, about 40 minutes away from other towns, some of which were starkly different to our own. The isolation of our town, as well as a community of seemingly affluent expatriates brought about a new type of employment opportunity to the local community: as maids, cooks and gardeners. Through this setting of Western owner and Indonesian server, it set a tone of race relations that, in the minds of some, placed the expatriate higher on the racial hierarchy than the Indonesian community.

In his book Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson refers to colonial racism in a chapter entitled “Patriotism and Racism” (p. 150). Anderson states that in colonised communities, colonisers felt a sense of “inherited superiority”: in an imagined community away from home, the Englishmen were to the “natives” what English lords were to Englishmen, thus heightening “antique conceptions of power and privilege” (p. 150). In this way, I believe that modern-day expatriate communities and colonised communities can be paralleled: in line with Anderson’s description of heightened senses of superiority among colonisers, the same can be said of expatriates in a tightly-knit community, in which the expatriate—in a dichotomy of wealthy and white, and a worker for white people and local—may begin to imagine him or herself as superior to the local community. Such a mindset worked to distance the Western expatriate community away from the Indonesian community, creating an imagined sense of “we” and “them”, creating, as Anderson describes, a “solidarity among whites” (p. 152).

As with the misconduct, adultery and even violence that ensued in colonial empires, the similarly isolated environment in the expatriate community allowed for deviance and foul-play amongst some expatriates: behaviour that would surely not be accepted back home. Not only did this colonial community effect have an impact on adults: taking sociological cues from their parents, some children became accustomed to the idea that they, too, were superior to the local community. One example of adolescent deviance involved the baiting and killing (involving stoning and running over) of wild dogs. Another incident involved one adolescent who acquired a BB gun and fired at Indonesian civilians.

Making local workers in a modern-day expatriate community setting only helped to create two separate, imagined communities that is reminiscent of colonist communities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A tightly-knit expatriate peoples, set next to a work-hungry local community in Indonesia gave birth to class differences divided among race. As Anderson aptly states, racism forms within national boundaries, and helps to justify “domestic repression and domination” (p. 150).

French citizenship or the anti-communitarianism

by Marin Enault

By studying immigration in the United States, I noticed how much the vision of the migrants was different compared with France’s vision. The history of both countries being completely different, it seems that it influences the conception of the immigration. It seems interesting to compare sociologically these two ideologies as well as their result.

Countries as the United States, Australia or New Zealand built themselves thanks to the colonizing immigrants. This special past is important in the idea which these countries have of immigration: Immigration is always massive, wished, checked and presented as a strength. The multicultural society of the United States is described as a wealth, responding to a logic of market.

The public policies that control the immigration’s flow according to certain criteria: countries, languages, professional qualifications… This “chosen” immigration policy entails the creation of ethnic communities, sharing the same characteristics. In the US we can speak about South American, Asian or Black communities, which are themselves divided into an infinity of national or cultural communities. It is a large-scale communitarianism: the immigrants live parallel existences while sharing the same nationality.

European countries, in particular France, have a different immigration culture. Even if the number of immigrants is important (nearly 160,000/year), France sees the communitarianism as something bad, as a failure of the integration. Partially because this country is the heir of a long republican tradition, France pursues the dream of “republican messianism”: the French nation is one and indivisible: the origin, the color and the culture of an emigrant disappear since he becomes French. So the French state refuses to see ethnic communities on its territory, simply French citizens, without any other criterion of distinction.

To describe this ideal, Ernest Renan spoke about a “national project”, a nation based on the “will to live together”. However, today this myth seems unrealistic : it seems that the French nation, in spite of its historic will, does not integrate any more her immigrants as well as the native-born French people. Although the theory of the communitarianism is always refused by the political elite, ethnic groupings nevertheless built up themselves. The migrants, due to the lack of economic integration, live in the same poor suburbs areas. The myth of a “French-style” citizenship collapsed: the secularism loses its sense when the school holidays are based on the Christian calendar while in certain high schools the majority of the students are Muslim.

France always ideologically refused the creation of subgroups within the French citizenship, however it turns out that the economic reality does not allow any more the same integration for all.

To convince itself, it is enough to look at the exam’s results of the Parisians elite’s high schools compares to the very close high schools, considered as difficult, where the students are mainly sons of immigrants. Not recognizing communitarianism doesn’t makes it disappear, quite the contrary.

References

Costa-Lascoux, Jacqueline : « L’intégration « à la française » : une philosophie à l’épreuve des réalités »

Renan, Ernest. « What is a Nation? »