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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 04 May 2014

Mark Tully examines the bonds that bind nations. What makes a nation, and how can different homelands be brought together in a single entity? And is nationalism a good or a bad thing?

Mark chooses a reading from Rabindranath Tagore who maintained that expending our energy on building a nation diverts us from higher pursuits; and another from Virginia Woolf who felt, as a woman, excluded from British notions of nationhood. On the other hand, words from Pope John Paul II about Poland, his home country's, struggle for independence from Soviet domination suggest a positive side to nationalism, if people search for what they have in common rather than stress what divides them.

And Mark talks with historian, Ananya Vajpeyi who concludes that that search should go deep into the past, and that India is an example to the world of how people of different religions, ethnicities and cultures can live side by side in one nation.

The presenter is Mark Tully. The readers are Fiona Shaw, Brian Cox and Frank Stirling.

The producer is Adam Fowler
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Music Played

11 items
  • Image for Ralph Vaughan Williams

    Ralph Vaughan Williams Allegro Moderato from Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus

    Performer: Hallé Orchestra. Performer: Sir John Barbirolli (conducted).

    Vaughan Williams: Sinfonia antartica - Elgar: Cockaigne, EMI

  • O! Caledonia by Sir Walter Scott

    Scott’s emotional love poem to his homeland

  • Nationalism in India by Rabindranath Tagore

    Tagore’s criticism of nationalism and the very idea of the nation state.

  • Image for Carl Nielsen

    Carl Nielsen Allegro from Symphony No. 4 ‘The Inextinguishable’

    Performer: Berliner Philharmoniker. Performer: Herbert von Karajan (conducted).

    Nielsen: Symphonie No. 4; Sibelius: Tapiola, Deutsche Grammophon

  • Image for [traditional]

    [traditional] Amar Sonar Bangla

    Performer: Gopal Chandra Sen.

    Abismaraniyo Rabindrasangeet Volume 1, Saregama

  • Kenyan Culture: The National Struggle for Survival by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

    Ngugi writes forcefully against cultural imperialism in Kenya.

  • Image for Youssou N'Dour

    Youssou N'Dour New Africa

    Joko - From Village To Town, S.M.A.L.L.

  • Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf

    Woolf describes how she sees herself as belonging not to a nation, but to the whole world.

  • Image for The Police

    The Police One World, Not Three

    Ghost In The Machine, B00009NJFO

  • Address to the United Nations General Assembly in 1995 by Pope John Paul II

    Pope John Paul II tackles the question of nationalism

  • Image for Carlos Chávez

    Carlos Chávez Sinfonía India (Symphony No. 2)

    Performer: Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar. Performer: Eduardo Mata (conductor).

    Orbon, Villa-Lobos, Estevez, Chavez, Dorian Recordings


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