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Who Do You Imagine You Are?

Who Do You Imagine You Are?

Who’s American? Who’s Italian? How about Hungarian, German or Polish? Questions of nationalism and national identity are at the heart of the political changes sweeping Europe and the United States these days.


But what makes a person a member of a particular nation? Identities are always at some level imagined, but what people choose to focus on differs widely from country to country, according to a recent study by Pew Research. A few findings:

  • 52% of Hungarians see place of birth as the most important attribute of national identity, while only 13% of Germans say the same.
  • 84% of Dutch say being able to speak the national language is very important to being truly part of the nation, but only 59% of Italians share this view.
  • 56% of Poles believe sharing national customs and traditions is central to national identity, while just 26% of Swedes agree.
  • In the US, a large majority (70%) believes speaking English is important to being truly American, but only 45% see culture and tradition as a central national attribute.

Defining national identity is tricky enough — creating policy around that is another act entirely. What do you think is the most important criteria for national identity? Share your thoughts and we’ll happily publish a line or two.

Meet Alessandra Cominetti, a recipient of MIT Technology Review Magazine's Innovators Under 35 award. As a lab technician at Eni's Research Centre for Renewable Energy in Novara, Alessandra has devoted her career to finding new solutions and materials to optimize solar energy. Much like the serendipitous encounter that resulted in her employment, her eagerness and willingness to try new things allowed her to stumble upon a material for the creation of portable solar panels.

Watch her remarkable story on the latest episode of Faces of Eni.

"If [the election] is very close and it ends up in the courts, that kind of protracted situation I think will lead many Americans to believe that it was an unfair election." Rick Hasen, election law expert and author of Election Meltdown, lays out some of the worst-case scenarios for Election Day, ranging from unprecedented voter suppression to dirty tricks by foreign actors. The conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. The episode begins airing nationally in the US on public television this Friday, October 30. Check local listings.

"No election is conducted perfectly, and elections have all kinds of problems.We're going to have more problems because we're running an election during a pandemic." Election law expert Rick Hasen cautions that both campaigns could misconstrue honest mistakes in the administration of this week's national election as nefarious acts. The integrity of the election, he warns, could be compromised by human error and the unprecedented challenges posed by a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Hasen's especially concerned about key states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

With COVID increasing in France, Germany, Spain, and elsewhere, has Europe lost control of the pandemic?

Well, I wouldn't say lost control, but clearly it is a very worrying situation. With COVID increasing virtually everywhere, we see a new wave of semi-lockdowns... it's not as bad as it was in the spring... with the hope of being able to contain the surge during the month of November. Let's wait and see.

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An extended conversation with Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former top State Department official under President Obama and the CEO of the think tank New America. Slaughter spoke with Ian Bremmer about how a "President Biden" could reshape US foreign policy.

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