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Sinews of the Nation: Constructing Irish and Zionist Bonds in the United States

ISBN: 978-0-7456-6265-7
240 pages
January 2013, Polity
Sinews of the Nation: Constructing Irish and Zionist Bonds in the United States (074566265X) cover image
Fundraising may not seem like an obvious lens through which to examine the process of nation-building, but in this highly original book Lainer-Vos shows that fundraising mechanisms - ranging from complex transnational gift-giving systems to sophisticated national bonds - are organizational tools that can be used to bind dispersed groups to the nation.

Sinews of the Nation treats nation-building as a practical organizational accomplishment and examines how the Irish republicans and the Zionist movement secured financial support in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. Comparing the Irish and Jewish experiences, whose trajectories of homeland-diaspora relations were very different, provides a unique perspective for examining how national movements use economic transactions to attach disparate groups to the national project.

By focusing on fundraising, Lainer-Vos challenges the common view of nation-building as only a matter of forging communities by imagining away internal differences: he shows that nation-building also involves organizing relationships so as to allow heterogeneous groups to maintain their difference and yet contribute to the national cause. Nation-building is about much more than creating unifying symbols: it is also about creating mechanisms that bind heterogeneous groups to the nation despite and through their differences.
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Acknowledgments vi

Abbreviations viii

1 The Organization of National Attachments 1

2 Moneymaking and Nation Building 19

3 Gifting the Nation 29

4 National Gift Giving in Crises 56

5 Making National Bonds: Floating the Irish and Israeli Loans in the United States 73

6 Making and Unmaking National Attachments: The Failure of the Irish Bond and the Success of the Israel Bond 98

7 Heterogeneity, Indeterminacy, and the Construction of National Interests 129

Conclusions: Nation Building as an Organizational Accomplishment 154

Notes 171

References 195

Index 207

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Dan Lainer-Vos is assistant professor of sociology and the Ruth Ziegler Early Career Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of Southern California.
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"Dan Lainer-Vos brings insight and new knowledge to one of the important ways nationalism and nation-building remain vital amid the global connections of today's world. Transnational fundraising supports national projects and sustains national ties. The Zionist and Irish examples are rich and informative in themselves and also the basis for advancing knowledge of broad significance."
Craig Calhoun, London School of Economics and Political Science

"A unique take on the voluminous literature on nationalism and national identity. Lainer-Vos locates nation-building in diaspora communities that send money home to their national states that are engaged in highly contentious nationalist struggles. The idea of looking at the strength of national identity in the homeland and the diaspora through the lens of contributions to bond drives is original and compelling. Lainer-Vos unites economic sociology and political sociology in a novel way. The choice of the two cases, Ireland and Israel, is apt. Sinews of the Nation, impeccably researched and well written, injects new life into a well trodden field."
Mabel Berezin, Cornell University

"How are nations built? Drawing from Irish and Zionist experiences, Dan Lainer-Vos' Sinews of the Nation demonstrates the crucial role of monetary transactions in forging national movements. With style, compelling arguments, and fascinating evidence, Lainer-Vos sets up a novel research agenda. A welcome contribution to political and economic sociology."
Viviana A. Zelizer, Princeton University
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