Political Philosophy and Nationalism
Summary and Keywords
Theoretical debates for a better definition of nationalism have played a key role in understanding the core issues of history, sociology, and political sciences. Classical modernist theories of nationalism mainly synthesized former sociological and historical approaches with a political science perspective. Within the classical modernist perspective, the necessity and importance of transformation from traditional culture and society to a horizontal one in the agenda of modernization was characterized as a universal consequence of industrialization. Some of the foremost complexities and problems involved in the classical and contemporary studies of nation and nationalism include the logic of dualization; the definition of nationalism with reference to its substantive and paradigmatic nature; and whether it is possible to concretely construct a universal theory of nationalism. Both classical and contemporary theories of nations and nationalism can be postulated with reference to two major theoretical sides. Universalist theories of nations and nationalism focus on the categorical structure of nationalism in conceptual grounds while being associated with (neo)positivistic methodological points of departure. On the other hand, particularist theories of nationalism underline the immanent characteristics of nations and nationalism by going through nominalism and relativism in methodological grounds. Considering the conceptual, epistemological, and theoretical contributions of “postclassical approach to nationalism” in the 1990s, three major contributions in contemporary nationalism studies can be marked: the increasing research on gender, sexuality, and feminist social theory; the framework of “new social theory” or “critical social theory”; and the discussions derived from political philosophy and normative political theory.
Keywords: nationalism, classical modernist theories, contemporary nationalism studies, dualization, universalist theories, particularist theories, critical social theory, political philosophy, political theory
Study of nation and nationalism has been one of the most challenging themes in the social sciences. Since the early classical modernist studies on nationalism, theoretical debates for a better definition of nationalism have played a key role in understanding the core issues of history, sociology, and political science. Accordingly, the roots of nation and nationalism, the role of social/industrial/cultural transformation or modernization in the emergence and practice of nationalism, and the effects of hegemonic power structures and struggles within or for the nation-state have been critical in this respect.
The rise of identity and difference debates in our era, on the other hand, has diversified not only the critiques but also the future demonstrations of modern nation-states. At the center of these critiques and demonstrations, the idea of nationalism and nation(hood) as its form-determination has attracted primary attention. With reference to the contemporary debates on democracy, difference, and cosmopolitanism, and as a conclusion of the emergence of new categories such as postmodernism, multiculturalism, politics of difference and recognition, or radical pluralism, the scope of nationalism studies has changed considerably.
As one of the foremost discussed subjects of social and political theory, nationalism has had a contingent structure. The contingency of nationalism has not only effectuated the development of interdisciplinary perspectives in conceptual and methodological grounds but has also provided an eclectic framework to most theoretical approaches. Considering the eclectic characteristics of theoretical contributions, it is merely possible to entirely segregate major theoretical positions within the study of nations and nationalism. With a general overview of the main conceptual, methodological, and theoretical points of interest, however, perspectives on nations and nationalism can be differentiated with reference to their emphasis on either particularity or universality in general.
By going through the recent debates over “particularism versus universalism,” both classical and contemporary theories of nations and nationalism can be postulated with reference to two major theoretical sides. Universalist theories of nations and nationalism, in this differentiation, can be mentioned as perspectives primarily focusing on the categorical structure of nationalism in conceptual grounds while being associated with (neo)positivistic methodological points of departure. By going through the study of modernity, modernization, and transformation, in general the main theoretical emphasis of these perspectives has been on constructing a universal theory of nationalism. Particularist theories of nationalism, on the other hand, have primarily underlined the immanent characteristics of nations and nationalism by going through nominalism and relativism in methodological grounds. With their interest in the immanent structure or essence of nations and nationalism, particularist and nominalist approaches have focused on both the ethno-cultural authenticity and perennial roots of nation(hood) on the one hand, and revealed the ethnic basis of nationalism on the other.
The particularity versus universality debate in general can be seen through a short overview of the history and development of nationalism studies. From the first philosophical discussions to the contemporary normative theories of nationalism, the foregoing approaches in the field have been mainly differentiated through the particular subjectivity or universal objectivity of nations and nationalism. In general, besides the dual emphasis on either particular or universal characteristics of nations and nationalism, classical and consolidationist theories of nationalism have been primarily associated with classificatory and explanatory reasoning. Yet, with the current employment of alternative methodologies in contemporary social theory and as a result of the increasing focus on identity, difference, and democracy, a critical view on nations and nationalism has also come forward.
From a critical perspective, in this regard, the study of nations and nationalism roofs a considerable ground for interpreting modernity in general. The role of nationalism as a dialectical idea in modernity can be defined with reference to three points. First, as a dialectical idea nationalism has revealed an immanent perception of ethnocultural being which has been of primary importance even for perennial understanding of coexistence. Second, nationalism has provided the normative boundaries of the modern nation-states and has been an apparatus for the consolidation of cohesion in modernity with its relation to categorical impartiality while defining nation(hood) in civic grounds. Third, nationalism has revealed a synthetic structure including both particular and universal permutations in which the modern international system prospers.
As a consequence of the recent debates in contemporary social and political theory, therefore, the trimorphous characteristic of nationalism has been criticized from diverse angles. With the contemporary employment of critical and normative approaches in nationalism studies, ethno-cultural, civic, and cosmopolitan permutations of this dialectical idea have been revised. Accordingly, within the contemporary theoretical revisionism of nationalism studies, dialectical permutations of nations and nationalism are primarily considered with reference to the debates on ethnicity, democracy, and cosmopolitanism in general. The major emphasis of this study, in this regard, is to interpret nations and nationalism by interpenetratively focusing on both classical and contemporary perspectives in the field. Therefore, by going through some of the most discussed debates in political philosophy such as identity, difference, citizenship, democracy, and cosmopolitanism, this essay primarily aims to introduce an overview of the classical and contemporary nationalism studies and intends to underline the main discussions and future directions in the field.
Preface to Nationalism Studies: An Overview on Classical Perspectives
The roots of nationalism studies date back to the mid nineteenth century. With the impacts of nineteenth century historiography, the first theoretical attempts on nations and nationalism were mostly partial and far from being analytical. The early interest in nations and nationalism in this period was primarily associated with historical, ethical, and philosophical concerns (Özkırımlı 2000:12; Lawrence 2005:17). As a consequence of the development of “national historiographical traditions,” Heinrich von Treitschke’s partial approach on German state and nationalism, Lord Acton’s pragmatic critique of nationalism, Ernest Renan’s emphasis on French nationalism as a universal idea, and John Stuart Mill’s perspective on the importance of nationality contributed to the emergence of the first historical and ethical discussions in the study of nations and nationalism (Lawrence 2005:24–32).
Emile Durkheim’s and Max Weber’s approaches to the national question, on the other hand, can be seen as the first sociological contributions, which formed the sociological basis of a universal theory of nations and nationalism. Neither Durkheim nor Weber wrote directly on nationalism. However, Durkheimian and Weberian analyses of social structure, individual agency, and state revealed the need for a more comprehensive analysis of the national question. As a reflection of the development of functionalism on the importance of modernity and modernization in the construction of national structure and activity, nationalism became a critical topic within the context of the social sciences. With their positivistic and teleological emphasis, Durkheimian and Weberian sociological contributions on structure and agency effectuated the later development of classical modernism as one of the foremost theoretical approaches in nationalism studies.
During the first half of the twentieth century, the main emphasis was posited on the ethical structure and historical practice of nationalism. Within this period, Marxist critiques of nationalism were limited with the partial point of view of classical determinism except for Otto Bauer’s original emphasis on “national characteristic” (Lawrence 2005:46). On the other hand, beginning with the first half of the twentieth century, the study of nationalism has started to become a distinct field of theoretical interest. The works of Carleton Hayes (1926; 1955) and Hans Kohn (2005) during the interwar period symbolized the “beginning of modern, theoretical attempts to analyze and understand the phenomenon of nationalism per se” (Lawrence 2005:84). After periods of dominance of the historical perspective with the works of Carleton Hayes and Hans Kohn – early founding fathers of nationalism studies as a separate field – and the following debates on decolonization, beginning with the second half of the twentieth century a major shift in nationalism studies emerged as a result of the intense contributions in sociology, political science, and anthropology. As a consequence of the large-scale scholarly effects of this turning point in nationalism studies, the ascendancy of the historical perspective was replaced by an interdisciplinary approach mainly revealing the origins and spread of nations and nationalism (Özkırımlı 2000:12–13). Under this framework, the conceptual debates on nations and nationalism primarily formulated upon the analysis of modernity, which has been designative for differentiating the primary theoretical positions in classical nationalism studies.
The analysis of nationalism as a by-product of modernization attracted widespread attention especially in the 1950s and 1960s. In this period, Durkheimian and Weberian approaches to modernity critically played a major role in the emergence of a universal theory of nationalism. Under the methodological and conceptual effects of functionalism and modernism, while Weberian readings of nationalism were focusing on the precedence of agency, the Durkheimian perspective was formulated through the analysis of structure. Due to the impacts of Durkheimian and Weberian analyses of modernization, for the first contributions to the classical theories of nationalism, actions and structures that lead to the emergence of nationalism had to be examined with respect to the functional roles they played. In general, modernist theories of nationalism have posited their main emphasis on the objective and universal characteristics and intended to introduce generalizable and classificatory models for the diverse accounts of nations and nationalism.
The first theoretical position seeking to construct a universal theory of nationalism, therefore, can be mentioned under the framework of classical modernism. Being associated with Durkheimian and Weberian analyses of structure and agency, classical modernist theories of nationalism mainly synthesized former sociological and historical approaches with a political science perspective. For structural functionalist readings of nation and nationalism, the task of sociological analysis must identify the parts and their functions in order to reach a coherent understanding of the social system as a whole (Lawrence 2005:134). In this regard, the modernist approach to nationalism has been crystallized in its persistence on the functional roles played by nationalism in modern society.
The paradigm of modernization, in this perspective, reveals the analysis of structural factors such as socioeconomic system, advanced industrialization, and cultural homogeneity. Similar with other functional forms of modernization and industrialization, nationalism is to be considered as a functional by-product of the modernization paradigm. Within the classical modernist perspective in nationalism studies, the necessity and importance of transformation from traditional culture and society to a horizontal one in the agenda of modernization was characterized as a universal consequence of industrialization. Classical modernist accounts of nations and nationalism, therefore, have been primarily associated with universalism while analyzing the foundational role and impact of structure and agency in general.
Paralleling with the much known emphasis on transformation in Daniel Lerner’s (1958) The Passing of Traditional Society, Karl Deutsch’s (1966) contribution on the primacy of communication in the analysis of nation and nationalism can be seen as another important perspective focusing on the process of modernization. It can be argued that the modernist methodology of functional analysis in the study of nation and nationalism has always had a broad component varied from the primacy of communication to the transformation of societies from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft. Beside the emphasis on transformation in classical modernist perspectives, the first attempt to underline the philosophical significance of nationalism as a contingent philosophical and political contribution of the Enlightenment can be seen in Elie Kedourie’s Nationalism (1993), which was originally published in 1960. For Kedourie, nationalism can be seen as a historically contingent modern political doctrine, which was constructed as an accidental culmination of diverse ideas and philosophical approaches (Lawrence 2005:129).
Nationalism in the classical modernist approach is primarily defined as “a political principle, which holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent” (Gellner 1983:1). According to Ernest Gellner (1964; 1983) – the pioneer of the classical modernist approach – nationalism can be mentioned as a natural concomitant of the modernization process. By designating the nation as the new form of identification and differentiation in the process of modernization, nationalism has had a major role in the construction of both political and cultural cohesion in modernity through the employment of institutionalized language, centralized education, and enhanced public communication. Nationalism in Gellnerian analysis, therefore, has to be seen as an unavoidable result of the “adjustment in the relationship between polity and culture” within the wave of modernization which cannot be separated from functional prerequisites such as “universal literacy and a high level of numerical, technical and general sophistication” (Gellner 1983:35).
The very idea of industrialization, which also engendered nationalism, accordingly required a state formation “co-extensive with society” and relied on the monopolization of the legitimate and central culture, language, and the monolithic educational system (Gellner 1983:140–1). In Gellnerian analysis, therefore, nationalism can be best defined with reference to its role in industrialization and modernization. Nationalism, in this perspective, played the key role in the process of transformation from horizontal traditional society to modern industrial society. Gellner’s analysis on the importance of modernization at this point reflects a pragmatic point of view initially focusing on the structural basis of nationalism, which was fundamental for the construction of modern society and state. For Gellner, “nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist” (Gellner 1964:168).
Perspectives paralleling with classical modernism on the foundational importance and role of modernization or industrialization processes varied from consolidationist approaches to constructionist analysis. In general, arguments referring to the consolidation of classical modernism can be analyzed through diverse reflections of key modernist approaches. Under this framework, consolidationist views differ from their emphasis on economic factors to their stress on the role of political/state elites or from their insistence on the modern construction/invention of national sentiment/culture to the analysis of power, hegemony, and state. Beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, early theoretical contributions to classical modernism were criticized from a considerably varying spectrum. While taking nationalism as a modern phenomenon similar to classical modernist perspectives, the theoretical corpus of studies in this period also included a close focus on the importance of political process or agency and an emphasis on the role of political elites or economic factors in nation formation.
Both the conceptual and the theoretical framework of the classical modernist approach was revised or rejected from diverse approaches especially beginning in the 1970s and 1980s. Although the modernity of national formation and nationalism was generally conceded, three major perspectives formed the theoretical contributions. First, the consolidationist perspective intended to revise the functionalist basis of classical modernism by enlarging the focus by incorporating the state system in the analysis. A second approach in this period was the constructionist studies of nationalism, which primarily introduced a critical focus on the questions of particularity, capitalism, and hegemony. A final approach in this period was ethno-symbolism, which underlined the particular and authentic perenniality or the symbolic identity base of modern nation formation while conceding the modernity of nationalism. The consolidationist and constructionist perspectives revised and enlarged the scope of the classical modernist approach. The rise of ethno-symbolism in nationalism studies, however, marks a paradigm shift in nationalism studies.
In consolidationist approaches, the main features of nationalism have been discussed with reference to their objective, foundational, and universal characteristics. At this point, John Breuilly’s comparative analysis of political modernism in the context of the modern state can be seen as a contemporary contribution to the consolidation of Gellnerian modernism. According to this perspective, nationalism “is best understood as an especially appropriate form of political behavior in the context of the modern state and the modern state system” (Breuilly 1993:1). Breuilly’s focus on the context of the modern state and the struggle for controlling the state power is associated with diverse historical and sociopolitical conditions in which nationalism has emerged. Clearly affiliated with the Gellnerian paradigm, this perspective has attracted widespread attention within comparative studies of nationalism.
For the constructionist theories of nationalism, on the other hand, beside the objective and universal features, the process of subjectification should be emphasized with reference to the very idea of modernity. However, the analysis of subjectification depends on diverse aspects of modernity at large. For Benedict Anderson (1996), the leading figure in the constructionist approach, nationalism can be best defined with reference to the subjective transformations in modernity. By its relation to the evolution of capitalism, nationalism has been associated with a major shift in the perception of time. With the impacts of print capitalism and as a conclusion of the modern construction of space, the shift in the perception of time also contributed to an ontological change in the basis of collective identity, which was functionalized by nationalism.
Constructionist theories of nationalism, therefore, mainly integrate a critical understanding of modernity by underlining its particularistic essence. In this regard, beside Anderson, other (neo-)Marxist oriented constructionist perspectives define nationalism as the medium of essentialism and an apparatus of particular essences which have always been at the heart of the very idea of modernity and capitalism. Tom Nairn’s work (1981; 1997) focuses on the relation between specific historical processes of capitalism and hegemonic or antagonistic characteristics of nationalism, Eric Hobsbawm’s (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983; Hobsbawm 1990) emphasis on the invention of tradition in modernity as a political apparatus for domination, and Michael Hechter’s (1987; 1995; 2000) Gramscian emphasis on the categories of hegemony, antagonism, and internal colonialism can be mentioned within this framework.
With its emphasis on the role of essentialism and subjectification in modernity, the constructionist approach has been mostly focused on the critique of particularity and authenticism behind the universal and abstract characteristics of nations and nationalism. The focus on particularity in constructionist perspectives, on the other hand, is relatively different from the nominalist accounts of the importance of perennial or primordial roots of nations and nationalism. The codification of particularity in constructionist perspectives has been related to the general critique of modernity while particularity has been a fundamental basis for defining nations and nationalism in medievalist, primordialist, or ethno-symbolist perspectives.
Particularist critiques of the universalist paradigm in nationalism studies, therefore, can be differentiated according to their varying emphasis on the codification of particularity. Considering theories of nationalism specifically, the primordialist, medievalist, and ethno-symbolist schools can be mentioned as primarily particularistic approaches. The role of perennial particularities and the importance of ethno-symbolic practices are of primary importance for these perspectives. Being associated with one of the most discussed issues in nationalism studies, these particularistic approaches have mostly been criticized for their emphasis on the primordial or perennial characteristics of nations and nationalism.
Modernity of nations and nationalism in particularistic approaches has been critical while differentiating the major theoretical discussions. For the primordialist perspective, which was effective in partial and historiographical literature, the nation is a natural form of human coexistence while nationalism reflects a political doctrine of self-awakening. While mentioning particularistic accounts on nations and nationalism, in this regard, historical perenniality and modernity play the key role. Unlike the partial and essentialist characteristics of primordialist accounts, medievalist and ethno-symbolist perspectives primarily mark the modernity of nations and nationalism. However, both medievalist and ethno-symbolist readings of nation and nationalism have had a close focus on the preexistence of nations before modernity, the longue durée. Therefore, it is possible to observe a similar tendency in both medievalist and ethno-symbolist studies of nation and nationalism. Like ethno-symbolist readings of nation and nationalism, the medievalist approach attaches importance to the premodern existence of particular authenticities that have over the centuries been fueling the idea of nation and nationalism.
Criticizing classical and consolidationist modernist argumentations in nationalism theories, particularist theories of nationalism have been mainly associated with the analysis of historical, cultural, or sentimental relativities. Beside medievalist or primordialist approaches insisting on the existence of nations and national politics before modernity, ethno-symbolism has been the most influential perspective in particularist theories of nationalism. While conceding to define nationalism as a modern political idea, doctrine, or ideology, theorists such as Armstrong, Hutchinson, Hastings, and Smith underlined the crucial role and importance of the longue durée in order to reach a better understanding of not only nations but the national sentiment in general (Lawrence 2005:161).
Beside the critical analysis of particularity through subjectification within the constructionist perspective, the most comprehensive analysis of particularity has been contributed by the ethno-symbolist approach. Pioneered by Anthony D. Smith (1971; 1986; 1991; 1995; 1998; 2001), ethno-symbolism contributed a critical shift in both conceptual and theoretical grounds as a major critique of classical modernist approaches in nationalism studies. According to this perspective, the sense of solidarity in nationalism cannot be totally explained by only referring to modernization. Social and political cohesion primary to nationalism does not have to be homogeneous or ideological at the same time. Rather, nationalism can also be understood as a reformist recodification of premodern communality forms such as kinship, religious or authentic solidarity, or belief systems in general. With its close reference to the premodern ethnic symbolisms and rituals behind modern national identity, the ethno-symbolist approach introduces a comprehensive analysis of “myth–symbol complexes” through the category of ethnie. For ethno-symbolism, premodern symbol–myth complexities still constitute the national sentiment in both social practices and nationalist politics, and fuel the modern characteristics of nationalism.
The employment of the ethnic past and the ongoing attributes in particular historical meta-narratives, symbolisms, and rituals has been of primary importance for ethno-symbolist readings of nation and nationalism. In this regard, with an objection to the modernist definition of nationalism as an apparatus for industrial or economic cohesion and homogeneity, ethno-symbolism considers nation and nationalism as historically embedded categories. In other words, according to this perspective, the historical and relative particularity of nations represents a state of order in which nationalism emerges as the politics of such particular consciousness. Thus, historical ethno-cultural consciousness and relative or authentic particularity are defined as key concepts associated with both nation and nationalism. In order to interpret the particular significance of nationalism in this regard, the perennial and ethno-symbolic structure of nations has to be considered with reference to the longue durée (Armstrong 1982:283–99).
Ethno-symbolist accounts of nationalism studies symbolize a theoretical perspective, which tries to unite diverse approaches. According to Smith, for instance, “various competing approaches can eventually be reconciled to produce a general theory of nationalism” (Lawrence 2005:161). Though Smith’s optimism considers the possibility of a general theory of nationalism, the ethno-symbolist perspective in general is fundamentally particularist because of its nominalist framework. The ethno-symbolist school of nationalism studies, in this regard, can be defined as a methodologically, conceptually, and theoretically particularist perspective rather than being synthetic in classical nationalism theories.
Considering the main lines of differentiation in nationalism studies, it is merely possible to argue the existence of purely paradigmatic approaches. Although reaching a universal theory of nationalism has been a primary rationale behind the theoretical interest in nations and nationalism, the course of particular relativity has been mostly effective in classical nationalism studies. On the other hand, while conceiving classical theories of nationalism, major theoretical issues in enhancing nations and nationalism can be mentioned with reference to three points specifically. The first main discussion in classical nationalism studies has been about the definition of the nation. While defining the nation, history and modernity were considered as critical lines of differentiation between diverse approaches. From partial and historiographical perspectives to universalist and particularist theoretical contributions, the main point of interest has been dependent on either historical perenniality or modern structure while defining the national form. Unlike the primordialism of partial and historiographical perspectives in early nationalism studies, with the employment of sociology, political science, and anthropology an interdisciplinary approach primarily focusing on the roots and emergence of the nation prospered. Referring to the modern structure of national belonging with close focus on the social, political, and economic transformation and industrialization, most of the classical theories conceded on the modernity of the nation.
For the modernist approach in classical nationalism studies, the national form initially symbolizes a constructed or invented identity structure. As a necessity of the industrialization process, accordingly, the construction of an abstract but cohesive identity going beyond the particular differences that formed the premodern identity was inevitable. In order to understand the course of modernization in this perspective, three source of modernism can be mentioned: economic, political, and social/cultural transformation (Özkırımlı 2000). The first point to be underlined is economic transformation. According to economic structure and transformation centered modernism, the nation as a modern construction reflects a specific historical process of capitalism (Nairn 1981; 1997; Hechter 2000). Being associated with the idea of progress and development, therefore, the nation symbolizes a necessary functional formation of economic transformation and industrialization while nationalism refers to a political apparatus of hegemonic domination. A second form of modernism, while defining the nation on the other hand, initially underlines the role of political transformation. Within this perspective, the nation reflects an instrumental form (Brass 1991), symbolizes an invented category (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983; Hobsbawm 1990), or refers to a political form that cannot be separated from the analysis of the modern state (Breuilly 1993). The third form of modernism, while defining the nation on the other hand, refers to the primary role of social and cultural transformation. Within the process of industrialization, both power and culture were standardized and specialized in a modern context. Considering the high level of standardization, centralization, social mobility, and communication, as a result, culture became a central fundamental for defining human coexistence in the form of the modern nation (Gellner 1964; 1983). The role of social transformation in the construction of modern nations, in this regard, can also be defined as a “cultural artifact of a particular kind.” Unlike the universality and inherence claims of nationalism, therefore, the nation is an imagined community which is supposed to be sovereign and universally inherent (Anderson 1996).
The modernity of the nation as a universal and contextual ground for human coexistence and collective identity has been a critical discussion in nationalism studies. Nation, in the ethno-symbolist perspective, can be defined as “a named human population sharing an historic territory, common myths, and historical memories, a mass, public culture, a common economy and common legal rights and duties for all members” (Smith 1991:14). Unlike modernist perspectives in nationalism theories, particularity centered analyses of nations and nationalism primarily refer to the symbolic importance of premodern identity formations. According to the ethno-symbolist approach, the nation reflects a modern structure that primarily refers to the re-codification of perennial identity markers such as ethnicity, kinship, or religion. The process of national becoming, however, has followed diverse roots. The first root in nation formation is related to developments in political, cultural, and administrative realms such as the formation of a “bureaucratic state,” extension of citizenship, and paralleling economic and cultural revolutions. A second root in nation formation, on the other hand, primarily depended on “vernacular mobilization,” which is associated with the increasing role of intellectuals and professionals in the process of modernization. Unlike the centralization and specialization concerns of the idea of the modern “bureaucratic state,” the role of “vernacular mobilization” within the process of nation formation refers to “vertical ethnies” on which the effects of the bureaucratic state was indirect compared to the role of “organized religion” in society. Nation for the ethno-symbolist approach, therefore, rises upon either the centralization, specialization, or cohesion promises of the modern “bureaucratic state” in political, economic, and cultural grounds; or the alteration of the role of ethnicity and organized religion among the intelligentsia (Özkırımlı 2000:178–9). In general, when defining the nation, the ethno-symbolist approach concedes the primary role of the process of modernization especially with respect to the role of administrative revolution on nation formation. However, unlike the classical modernist objectification of the universal characteristics of the nation, the ethno-symbolist view also underlines the constitutive symbolic legacy of premodern ethnic communities (ethnies) and their perennial identification markers.
The second line of discussion in classical nationalism studies has been on the understanding, definition, and classification of nationalism itself. Similar to the emphasis on the origins of the nation, underlying assumptions when defining nationalism are varied in an interdisciplinary spectrum including history, sociology, political science, anthropology, and philosophy. Within this interdisciplinary framework, major approaches on the definition of nationalism can be underlined with respect to five points: (1) as a feeling, (2) as an identity, (3) as a political ideology or political doctrine, (4) as a social movement, and (5) as a historical process (Hearn 2006:6–7). First, nationalism can be defined as a pattern, or at best as a feeling. According to this definition, being associated with both personal and collective feelings, passions, and emotions, nationalism refers to the social, cultural, and political codification of sharing a common sentimental ground. The particularity of sharing a common emotional ground in this regard has been one of the key characteristics when defining nationalism. Second, definition of nationalism reveals the psychological basis and structure of nationalism. Nationalism, in this regard, primarily refers to the personal and collective understanding of not only the self but the other. In order to differentiate the particularity of the nation, nationalism has to focus on the social, cultural, and political forms of identification and alterity. According to psychology centered analyses, therefore, “while the social divisions and attendant labels of nationalism may be viewed as socially and historically contingent, the need to anchor the self in relation to others is a necessity” (Hearn 2006:6). Third, nationalism has been defined as an ideology or as a political doctrine. Being one of the most accepted definitions in nationalism studies, the concept of ideology refers to the substantive structure of nationalism in general. As a substantive ideology or political doctrine, therefore, nationalism reflects a worldview primarily based on the inherency of nations. Fourth, nationalism can be defined as a social movement. According to the behaviorist conceptualization of nationalism, social action can be observed with respect to its phenomenal structure. As a social movement, in this regard, nationalism can be defined with reference to diverse forms of social action and agency. Finally, nationalism can be defined as a historical process (Hearn 2006:6–7). Being conceded by most of the classical approaches, the definition of nationalism with respect to a historical process primarily reflects an emphasis on industrialization and modernization. For both the modernist and ethno-symbolist approaches in classical studies, therefore, nationalism has played a critical role within the process of modernization.
Nationalism can be analyzed by referring to both of these rationales. In Anthony Smith’s words, nationalism can be defined as “(i) the whole process of forming and maintaining nations, (ii) a consciousness of belonging to the nation, (iii) a language and symbolism of the nation, (iv) an ideology (including a cultural doctrine of nations), (v) a social and political movement to achieve the goals of the nation and realize the national will” (Smith 1991:72). Smith’s definition, at this point, can be complemented with the existential characteristic of nationalism. Including both emotional and categorical/rational grounds, nationalism also refers to a cohesive perception of identity and alterity. From the view of critical social theory, on the other hand, nationalism primarily reflects a hegemonic apparatus of capitalism and cannot be separated from domination–subordination debates. In general, within the classical theories of nationalism, it seems merely possible to mention a common and mostly accepted definition of nationalism.
A final but mostly discussed differentiation in nationalism studies has been about the diverse permutations of nation(hood) and nationalism. In general, both classical perspectives on nations and nationalism have reflected a tendency on the comprehensive classifications of nation(hood). Within these approaches, nation has been analyzed as an ethnic community, which is primarily based on ethno-cultural authenticity or as a civic normative form of cohesion that primarily reflects a categorical and abstract identity structure. Primarily based on the early partial and historiographical contributions, the classification of national communities as “ethnic versus civic nations” reflects a Janus-faced dichotomization of “Eastern versus Western” type stereotyping. Considering the definition of nationalism, on the other hand, the differentiation of “ethnic versus civic nationalism” underlines a practical necessity related to enormously relative resemblances of nationalism in different societies and in diverse conditions. In other words, there has generally been a practical necessity behind referring to classificatory definitions in nationalism studies. Although nation formation and nationalism have been generally accepted as the by-products of modernization and industrialization processes in classical nationalism studies, extreme relativity of ethnic and cultural practices also entails to incorporate the course of particularity within the analysis. Therefore, while defining the nation, both ethnic and civic permutations are of primary importance.
From a perspective including both particular and universal permutations of nation formation and nationalism, nominal structure of ethno-cultural identification and categorical context of civic identity or cohesion can be mentioned concurrently. Despite the relative characteristics of culture, in this regard, for all sorts of nationalism “the nation is a form of public culture and political symbolism, and ultimately politicized mass culture, one which seeks to mobilize the citizens to love their nation, observe its laws and defend their homeland” (Smith 2001:35). The ethno-cultural basis of nationalism implies two diverse forms of cultural determination. First, the ethnos of nationalism refers to infra-political particular identity. Second, the role of culture within this structure refers to the first phase of subjectification, which can be defined as the realm of particular consciousness in both social and political ways. The perception of the nation therefore captures variations of individual and collective consciousness. In Hugh Seton-Watson’s words, “a nation exists when a significant number of people in a community consider themselves to form a nation, or behave as if they formed one” (cited in Canovan 1998:54). Perception of the national belonging, on the other hand, depends on varying forms of imagination confronting face-to-face relations of pre-national ethnic communities (Anderson 1996).
The categorical structure of nationalism, on the other hand, reveals its universal form-determination (nationhood) within the form of civic political community. In this regard, with reference to the categorical imperative of nationalism, “the nation is defined by its ambition of transcending particular belongings by means of citizenship and of defining the citizen as an abstract individual, without particular identification and qualification, over and above all concrete determinations” (Schnapper 1998:35). Practicality of objectification through civic identification, on the other hand, mainly depends on the existence of an overlapping consent that forms the civic structure of nationalism. With reference to Ernest Renan at this point, the categorical-transcendent and intersubjective structure of nationalism can be best defined with reference to a “daily plebiscite.” According to Renan, the ontological structure of nations basically depends on consent and is effectuated by a desire to continue a common life. Therefore, considering the codification of the consent within the civic form of nationalism, a nation exists in the process of a “daily plebiscite, just as an individual’s existence is a perpetual affirmation of life” (Renan 1996:53). Categorical consent in this regard implies a comprehensive form of “self-alienation” through civic transcendence and depends on the idea of abstract political community in modernity.
Fundamental Problems and Difficulties Encompassing Classical Nationalism Studies
After mainly emphasizing major positions in nationalism studies, some of the foremost complexities and problems involved in the classical and contemporary studies of nation and nationalism can be summarized with reference to three interrelated categories. One of the major problems in nationalism studies can be emphasized as the general tendency to the logic of dualization. The logic of dualization in nationalism theories has been practically existent for both conceptual and theoretical contributions, most usually while strictly differentiating universal and particular permutations of nations and nationalism. Ethnic and civic permutations of nations and nationalism in this segregation are seen as distinctively diverse categories. The most acknowledged dualisms such as “ethnic versus civic,” or “ethno-centric versus polycentric,” or “Eastern versus Western” have been related to either an essentialist or foundationalist logic of reductionism, but most comprehensively classificatory reasoning. In general, associated with a tendency to concrete dualisms, this sort of classificatory reasoning reflects a totalizing search for an Archimedean fulcrum in the analysis of nations and nationalism.
One of the major inconveniences in the classical studies of nation and nationalism, therefore, can be characterized as the tendency to reductionist and dualistic definitions. Attached with the problem of essentialism and foundationalism in defining nationalism, the logic of reductionist dualism has been one of the most untouched issues. Shared by both universalist and particularist approaches, reductionist dualism necessitates defining nation and nationalism under the rubric of a Janus-faced metaphor, which can be seen in the differentiation of ethnic and civic components. On the other hand, this Janus-faced categorization has been related to broader dualisms in social sciences such as ratio versus body, state versus individual, public versus private, or universal versus particular in general. The absolute certainty introduced by the classical studies of nationalism, in this regard, can be seen through the logic of exclusive classifications and dualistic reductionism. However, an argument to coherently understand nations and nationalism by going through the dualization of ethnicity and the idea of civic public is questionable. From a critical perspective, therefore, neither individual nor collective selfness/identity can be interpreted through perpetual oppositions between reason and sentiment or ratio and body, which have been employed by the Cartesian logic of dualisms.
The second critical complexity in nationalism studies has been about the definition of nationalism with reference to its substantive and paradigmatic nature. Nationalism has almost commonly been defined as a substantive political doctrine or a paradigmatic ideology until the recent contributions focusing on a normative theory of nationalism and the rise of sub-discourse perspectives derived from critical social theory. In classical perspectives, nationalism is primarily considered as a stable category, a by-product of modernization, a sociopolitical apparatus of power struggles, and a crude issue of hegemonic domination–subordination structures. Additionally, for most of the classical studies, nationalism has had a substantive structure, which cannot be intermingled with other political ideas such as liberalism, republicanism, patriotism, Romanticism, or cosmopolitanism. As a result, contingency of nationalism has been merely emphasized by classical nationalism studies. In other words, a general tendency to an absolute substantivity claim in the classical analysis of nationalism disables any comprehensive attempts to analyze nationalism not only as a contingent and synthetic political idea but as an ontological fulcrum for the construction of both identity and difference in modernity.
In general, not only the definition of ethnicity but also the conceptualization of the nation as a modern civic phenomenon is problematic in classical nationalism studies. From a critical perspective placing the primary emphasis on the mutual interpenetration of all particular and universal fundamentals, however, nationalism can be analyzed as an immanent but transcendental idea. The problem of definition in classical theories, generally, lies at the reading of modernity. Unlike the arguments and definitions introduced by foundationalist or essentialist approaches in classical studies, however, modernity does not represent a shift from the ethnic past but reflects a systematic recodification of the ethnie in the private realm as a daily fueling background of the abstract political community and transpolitical humanitarianism. While considering the classical approaches, in this regard, it is merely possible to observe any propensity for synthetic analysis of nations and nationalism as contingent categories or processes.
When defining nationalism, the most common approaches in classical studies emphasize nationalism as an antagonistic or ideological form of power politics on the one hand, and analyze nations as zones of perpetual conflict on the other. The problem of defining nationalism as a totally substantive and stable political fulcrum and conceptualizing the nation as the realm of antagonistic power struggles can be argued as not only reductionist but also essentialist or foundationalist. As an example of the foundationalist position at this point, Ernest Gellner (2006a:416) mentions that “on the way to the establishment of nation-states, each providing a single political roof for a single shared culture, conflicts occur, often of great severity, concerning just which of the pre-existing cultures are to be granted a state, or which of the pre-existing political units are to be granted a culture as its ward and its raison d’être.” Considering nationalism as a movement seeking a state of politics in which cultural and political units converge can be seen as the underlying emphasis of this definition. In this definition, major emphasis is placed on regarding nationalism as an antagonistic doctrine or ideology demanding and requiring that “the ethnic group and the political must be congruent” (Gellner 2006b:422). As for an essentialist counterpart of foundationalist modernism on the other hand, ethno-symbolist accounts focus on the particularity of nationalism especially in their definition of nation by referring to premodern essences from a perennialist perspective.
A final and more comprehensive question in nationalism studies can be mentioned as whether it is possible to concretely construct a universal theory of nationalism. As a reflection of methodological consistency problem and theory versus practice detachedness, a universal theory of nationalism has been problematical while considering the relativity of identity formulations and their particular expressions in diverse groups. Likewise the problem of dualization and definition: attempting to construct a universal theory of nationalism provokes an imbalanced focus on either particularity or universality. At this point, modernist and ethno-symbolist typologies mostly introduce meta-theoretical argumentations while primarily emphasizing either universal or particular permutations of nationalism. The constructivist approach to nationalism, on the other hand, has had a minor effort in introducing a typology of nationalism, yet has intended to discuss structural bases of nations and nationalism by going through the critique of subjective particularity and essentialism. With the rise of the normative theories in contemporary nationalism studies and the replacement of meta-theoretical argumentation by the analysis of sub-discourses, classical typologies seeking a universal theory of nationalism has become more questionable.
On the other hand, difficulties derived from theoretical and practical detachedness can be seen as an extension of terminological, methodological, and theoretical inconsistencies at this point. Considering the absolutist or relativist paradigmatic analyses in classical studies, the logics of classificatory reasoning and theoretical reductionism have been intertwining with a compelling disagreement over the subjective or objective characteristic of nation and nationalism in general. Although it seems certainly common to assume nationalism as a modern political argumentation, the classical and contemporary literature on the study of nation and nationalism seems to miss one of the most critical methodological argumentations in political philosophy: the diversified and interpenetrative role of the unity of theory and practice in interpretation.
Parallel with the expansion of sub-discourse terminologies in contemporary social sciences, however, there has been a clear spread of definitions in nationalism studies. With the recent employment of sub-discourse categories in nationalism studies and as a consequence of the contributions from normative political theory, the legacy of endemic and problematic definitions of classical theories has become more complicated and confusing on the one hand, but revised with more synthetic argumentations on the contingency problem on the other. As a major implication of the terminological chaos that has always been endemic to nationalism studies, the main attempts in definition have been accompanied with the question of “what is nationalism?” On the other hand, formulation of the major question within classical studies under the rubric of “what” has reflected the general logic of explanatory reductionism and classificatory reasoning in the field. In this regard, the reductionist, absolutist, and dualistic nature of the answers given to this question has been part of a general problem of definition in classical nationalism studies and a critical filtration of terminology has become necessary not just for methodological or theoretical concerns but for the possibility of a better understanding of contemporary practices and future demonstrations.
Contemporary Debates and Theoretical Innovations in Nationalism Studies: An Overview of the Future Possibilities
Since the first manifestations of nationalism, this complex and synthetic idea has been undertaken in an enormously varying spectrum. Although nationalism has mostly been considered as one of the most powerful and unique ways of identity politics with its explicit or implicit practices, the idea standing behind the veil of such praxis has also been analyzed in many respects. Being one of the most questioned issues of nationalism studies, the sources and evaluation of this idea have been studied within an interdisciplinary perspective, yet the employment of critical social theory and normative political theory in the field is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Major positions in nationalism studies can be roughly defined through their primary focuses on either particularity or universality. The particularity versus universality debate in nationalism studies, on the other hand, does not lead to fully coherent differences in theoretical positions. All major approaches to nationalism have stressed both particularity and universality, yet with differentiating and varying points of departures. However, until the recent contributions from critical social theory and normative political theory, it has been rarely possible to argue an alternatively synthetic interpretation of nations and nationalism coherently focusing on the philosophical contingency of nationalism.
Since the emergence of new conceptual, methodological, and theoretical approaches in the 1990s, the “postclassical approach to nationalism” has been designative in the field. Considering the conceptual, epistemological, and theoretical contributions of “postclassical approaches,” three major points can be marked. The first line of new contributions in contemporary nationalism studies has been the increasing research on gender, sexuality and feminist social theory. With the employment of feminist social theory, the relation between gender and nationalism has been critically analyzed with respect to ideology, patriarchal structure, or the question of civic equality. A second contribution in contemporary studies, on the other hand, can be mentioned under the framework of “new social theory” or “critical social theory” including critical theory, postcolonialism studies, cultural studies, or theories of postmodernism. A third new line of discussions in the postclassical approach, on the other hand, is the recent contribution derived from political philosophy and normative political theory (Day and Thompson 2004:12–14).
Considering both epistemological and theoretical innovations in postclassical studies of nations and nationalism, the role of critical social theory and normative political theory has been designative. Contemporary studies on nation and nationalism have been most likely attached with the debates on particularity (Vincent 2002). Although, it is possible to observe argumentations derived from paradigmatic absolutism or universalist neo-consolidationism in contemporary studies, increasingly, debates over subjectivity, difference, and particularity have attracted great importance. For instance, postmodernist approaches to nationalism “primarily aimed to deconstruct the very concepts themselves and to critique the work of former theorists” (Lawrence 2005:198). Postmodernist contributions to the study of nation and nationalism in this regard, are primarily associated with deconstructivist criticism with their epistemological emphasis. With the employment of critical social theory, in general, meta-theoretical argumentations of classical nationalism studies are replaced by the analysis of sub-discourse categories. The replacement of meta-discourses with sub-discourses, therefore, has provided a considerable gap between classical or consolidationist theories and contemporary studies of nationalism. While classical approaches were primarily seeking universalizable theoretical definitions and substantive conceptualizations with reference to objective reality, most of the contemporary perspectives have been generally problematizing the universalizability argument and mainly focusing on the contingent relativity and subjective analysis of nation and nationalism.
As a consequence of the employment of normative political theory in nationalism studies, there has been a clear emphasis on the analysis of nation(hood) as a contextual form of sociopolitical coexistence and an increasing consideration of the contingency of nationalism. Within this postclassical theoretical spectrum, new conceptualizations of normative political theory on nationalism such as liberal nationalism or cosmopolitan nationalism, or interrelated theories of liberal multiculturalism as a Hegelian reflection of public recognition or differentiated citizenship debates have contributed to a more contingency based understanding of nation and nationalism. Additionally, with the effects of these perspectives, studies of nation and nationalism have been associated with democracy and difference based analyses of modern nation-states. Increasing focus on identity and difference studies in contemporary political theory and political philosophy, in this regard, has contributed to the emergence of a more contingent, synthetic, and critical tendency on the primacy of autonomy, self-determination, and recognition in nationalism studies.
Considering the primary debates in postclassical nationalism studies, three major points can be mentioned: (1) the role of particularity, (2) the relation between nationalism and democracy, and (3) analysis of nationalism with reference to cosmopolitanism, globalization, and supra-nationalism. The role of particularity while defining nations and nationalism plays a key role considering the normative theoretical contributions in the postclassical period. The employment of the ethnic past and the ongoing attribute in particular historical meta-narratives in these approaches composes symbolic effectiveness of nationalism which has been intermingled with the political spectrum. In this regard, historical and ethno-cultural consciousness forms relative or authentic particularity of national belonging. The codification of relative and particular essences, accordingly, has always been related to the existential realm of nationalist exaltation.
Within the classical perspectives, the ethno-cultural form of nationalism has often been related to the authenticism of German Romanticism. Accordingly, with reference to the romantic aestheticism of cultural nationalism, the role of culture in nationalism is generally conceptualized as a substantive ideology or an essentialist form of political belonging. In line with the conception of “cultural nationalism,” “ethnic nationalism” is regarded within absolute negation to the category of “civic nationalism.” In this differentiation, ethnos and demos of nationalism are dichotomized with reference to their particularistic and universalistic features. With the employment of normative political theory in the postclassical period, on the other hand, the main line of questioning has been the normative understanding of “civic nationalism” as a basis for liberalism and an antidote for ethnic or cultural nationalism. Considering the contemporary contributions in normative political theory, therefore, in the case of “civic nationalism,” culture is to refer an anti-essentialist and universal political form. Particularity of nationalism, on the other hand, underlines the relative and immanent structure of the nationalist ethnos on the one hand, and forms a political basis of civic cohesion in modern democratic societies on the other.
Considering the role of particularity while defining nations and nationalism in the postclassical period, two major categories have played the key role. First, the particularity basis of nationalism implies the ethnic structure. As a particular basis of both identity and alteration ethnicity forms a pre-categorical basis for nationalism. A second distinctive characteristic of the particularity of nations and nationalism has been its relation to culture. The structure of both social and political culture in a society provides the immanent basis for categorical identity (citizenship). Cultural forms of nationalism, therefore, refer to the immanent structure of nation(hood) formation, and provide a sensual apparatus for nationalism depending on particular symbols, myths, and values. The immanent structure of cultural determination is primarily an intra-subjective basis for both individual and group identity.
The codification of culture on the other hand is a relative phenomenon depending on the particular characteristics and historical praxis of ethno-cultural groups. In this regard, the role of culture in modernity has been analyzed through its political reflections on the role of cohesion in modernity. The situation of culture in modern political life, in this regard, underlines “decisions regarding official languages, core curricula in education, and the requirements for acquiring citizenship, all of which involve diffusing a particular national culture throughout society and all of which seek to promote a particular national identity based on participation in that national culture” (Kymlicka 1997:57). According to postclassical approaches, therefore, particular ethno-cultural forms of affiliations cannot be separated from the political continuum of political and public recognition that has been of primary importance in democratic societies. The question of particularity, in this regard, has been clearly associated with a broader analysis of modern democracies by going through the debates on identity, difference, and recognition in contemporary political theory.
The second major innovation in postclassical approaches is the research on the relation between nationalism and democracy. Being mostly associated with the debates over particularity, contemporary contributions to nationalism studies in normative political theory have also been focused on the universality of nationalism by referring to the comprehensive scale of the universal rights. The analysis of universality in postclassical nationalism studies, therefore, is instructive in understanding three major debates on contemporary democracy and nationalism: (1) The construction of the political Subject by nationalism through objectification and intersubjectivity; (2) universality of “the political” in the demos of nationalism as an impartial and democratic “empty space” (Lefort 1986); and (3) the correlative structure of liberal rights and equal respect politics in the civic structure of nations and nationalism.
By going through postclassical debates, the civic structure of nationalism can be defined as the realm of public subjectification and as a politically transcendent phase of inter-subjective relations. The political Subject of nationalism, therefore, is politically constructed through civic objectification and abstraction. The political Subject in classical studies, on the other hand, implied a universal category of culturally “disengaged selfness.” With reference to the Kantian roots of universal self-determination, this categorical identification has been defined as the universal and noncontextual basis of nationalism. Therefore, unlike the particularity of ethno-cultural self-definition, categorical “interpretation of the other” has been the transcendent and universal permutation of national form-determination within the civic public. With the rise of the politics of identity/difference/recognition, on the other hand, the relation between particularity and universality while interpreting nations and nationalism is revised by postclassical perspectives. Not only the perspectives in critical social theory but the approaches in normative political theory revealed the contingency of both particular and universal permutations of nationalism while analyzing its relation to democracy.
Considering the contributions in normative political theory, the relation between democracy and nationalism, which has been mostly defined with reference to “civic nationalism,” has been seen through a liberal rationale of maintaining the rights and goods of all co-nationals (Smith 2001:41). The role of ethno-cultural identification and particularist authenticism in this perspective is redefined by two major normative argumentations excerpted from debates over liberal nationalism. On the one hand, a normatively consequentialist understanding of liberal nationalism is introduced with reference to the liberal “good” and universal rights. Second, the ethno-cultural basis of nationalism is analyzed from a multicultural perspective. For both of these liberal perspectives on nationalism, the particular role and effectiveness of ethno-cultural affiliations could not be underestimated and must be taken under granted by universal rights. This is an impulsive necessity of relating nationalism and democracy. By this, a balance between the protection of national cultures and national self-determination could be attained. In this regard, for most of the positions in contemporary normative theories, nationalism has to be redefined with an insight on the debates over democracy, difference, and recognition (Tamir 1993; Kymlicka 1999; Miller 1999).
A major contribution of contemporary normative political theory to nationalism studies in recent years, therefore, has been about the increasing focus on the possibility of democratic congregation, though without underestimating the significant role of ethno-cultural and civic identification or alteration as the interpenetrative permutations of nationalism. Conceptual and theoretical research on nationalism has witnessed a dramatic change with the emergence of the new categories such as postmodernism, multiculturalism, politics of difference and recognition, or radical pluralism. Recent studies on nationalism, in general, have reflected a considerable and critical focus on the philosophy of nationalism, the eclectic characteristic of this idea contingent to liberalism, republicanism, or communitarianism, and mostly underlined the systemic structure of nationalism subsuming ethno-cultural, civic, or cosmopolitan permutations of identity within the nation-state (Tamir 1993; Canovan 1998; Nielsen 2000; Kymlicka 2001; Moore 2001a; 2001b; Vincent 2002). Unlike the classical and consolidationist perspectives, contemporary studies of nationalism mostly highlight the need for democratic political redefinition and the practice of the category of difference in modern nation-states by referring to the contingent characteristics of nationalism. In this regard, not only the analyses of the contingency of nationalism but also the debates over subaltern public recognition, minority and indigenous rights, national self-determination, and the universal right to secession have been taken up in a more comprehensive perspective focusing on the eclectic structure and praxis of nationalism.
Third, theoretical innovation in postclassical nationalism studies can be marked with reference to diverse permutations of transcendentalism. Despite the common view on the evaporation of the nation-state, it is paradoxically shared by many contemporary studies that nationalism is reemerging and strengthening as one of the most critical issues of our time. Obviously, at the very core of this paradoxical contribution there lie two misunderstandings. First, the nation-state is not dying but differentiating and it is unlikely to be shied away quite easily. Second, because its role in modernity has never disappeared or lessened, nationalism cannot be coherently treated as a recently reemerging or reinvented category. Contemporary debates on the transcendental structure of nationalism, in this regard, cannot be separated from the analysis of the nation-state with regard to cosmopolitanism, globalization, and supranationalism.
As a relatively recent subject of nationalism studies, nationalist cosmos has been mostly defined with reference to legal or moral cosmopolitanism in postclassical approaches. Moral cosmopolitanism can be defined as a value-based doctrine defending autonomy, equality and responsibility of human beings, while legal cosmopolitanism is primarily focusing on “designing social, political, and legal institutions specially fit to carry out the core requirements of moral cosmopolitanism” (Couture 2000:267). Within this differentiation, moral identity of human beings has been attached to a nominal understanding of the “self” and the “other” which cannot be separated from ethno-cultural particularities. The legal phase of this identification on the other hand, underlines the possibility of enhancing universally designed procedural or categorical structures to practically ensure the moral claims of cosmopolitanism.
A second primary debate in postclassical approaches considering transcendentalism can be summarized under the framework of globalization, g-localization, and supranationalism. As a consequence of the increasing effects of globalization, two sorts of pressures on the political, social, and legal framework of the nation-state have occurred. On the one hand, critical categories of the modern nation-state such as sovereignty or legitimation have been under question with reference to the pressuring effects of emerging socioeconomic and political structures such as global nongovernmental organizations or supranational political bodies like the European Union. Being mostly associated with the critique of classical internationalism, current debates on the effects of globalization have provided a comprehensive critical spectrum for the analysis of not only the nation-state but nationalism. A second theoretical innovation considering the analysis of transcendentalism in recent literature, on the other hand, has been about the increasing role of localization as a complementary process of globalization. In line with the debates on difference and recognition in contemporary political theory, the conceptualization of the nation(hood) and the increasing role of nationalism as a reflection of identity politics have attracted considerable attention in postclassical approaches to nationalism.
After summarizing some of the foremost theoretical innovations in postclassical approaches to nations and nationalism, at this point it would be helpful to underline some future demonstrations in the field. Considering the future directions in nationalism studies, the role of autonomy would be designative in line with the debates on universal minority rights and interventionism. Although most of “the concerns about the privileging of autonomy are overstated” (Kymlicka 2001:208), the connection between individual autonomy and national self-determination obviously remains unsolved and untouched in nationalism studies. However, from a perspective considering individual national autonomy, self-determination, and recognition as contingent derivatives or systemic anchors of modernity, the relation between nationalism, liberalism, republicanism, and cosmopolitanism has also become critical for a better understanding of nationalism. Critical debates on the definition of individual and communal autonomy between liberals and communitarians in contemporary political theory discloses the difficulty of categorizing diverse perspectives on autonomy. Accordingly, political codification of the individual and communal autonomy may be a primary point of departure for future contributions to nationalism studies.
Contemporary research on particularity or universality especially encompasses the debates over substate nationalisms, minority rights, or subaltern counter-politics in general. Although the answers given to the questions of individual and group autonomy vary interestingly in existing theories, a more intense focus on the contingency of nationalism would possibly lead to a coherent understanding of individual and communal identity, or provide a more comprehensive interpretation of the moral and legal normativity of nation formation or nationalist exaltation in both sociocultural and political grounds. The contingency of nationalism, therefore, has the potential to be carried out for further research in political theory in line with a close focus on the morality of nationalism. Further analysis of the moral philosophy of nationalism, on the other hand, would possibly effectuate the rise of alternative methodological positions in nationalism studies. Analytical perspectives and hermeneutical readings of nations and nationalism, at this point, would be considered as primary points of departure in epistemological and methodological grounds. In this regard, critically mentioning and balancing the interrelated characteristics of subjectivity based contemporary perspectives and objectivity centered classical studies would be one of the key priorities for future directions in nationalism studies.
Considering future directions in nationalism studies, another key priority can be mentioned under the framework of the democratic consolidation of the nation-state. Being associated with the debates on the politics of difference and recognition, the role of subaltern public politics, in this regard, has the potential for being a more designative subject in nationalism studies. Another possibility for future demonstrations would be an intense focus on secessionism. The question of secession has been a critical subject in political theory since the rise of identity, difference, and recognition debates in the 1990s. The central question at the core of the secessionism debate can be marked as to whether is it possible to enlarge a more comprehensive understanding of national self-determination in universal terms. Considering the problem of nominalism in both classical and contemporary approaches to nationalism, on the other hand, the definition of nation(hood) and nationalism by interpenetratively referring to their particular and universal permutations would be more effective for further discussions.
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Links to Digital Materials
Nationalism Project. At www.nationalismproject.org, accessed Apr. 29, 2009. Nationalism Project is a very useful collection of resources on the study of nations and nationalism. This site includes book reviews, bibliographies, leading web links, and a wide range of scholarly information on nationalism while providing key definitions and conceptualizations in classical and postclassical studies.
Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN). At www.lse.ac.uk/collections/ASEN/index.html, accessed Apr. 29, 2009. Founded in 1990 at the London School of Economics and Political Science, ASEN is an international and multidisciplinary network of scholars interested in ethnicity and nationalism. ASEN’s web site provides and stimulates current debates on ethnicity and nationalism through the organization of seminars, workshops, lectures, and conferences and provides links to the leading journals of ASEN which publish research on ethnicity and nationalism, such as Nations and Nationalism and Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism.
Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN). At www.nationalities.org, accessed Apr. 29, 2009. One of the most acknowledged associations in the study of nations and nationalism, ASN provides an interdisciplinary framework for the study of ethnicity and nationalism. ASN’s web site provides resources for understanding the historical and contemporary issues in an interdisciplinary framework and includes links to the well-known journals of the association such as Nationalities Papers and Ethnopolitics.
Warwick Debates on Nationalism. At www.lse.ac.uk/collections/gellner/Warwick0.html, accessed Apr. 29, 2009. This site provides the Warwick debate held on Oct. 24, 1995 at Warwick University. As one of the most known intellectual debates on nationalism between the two leading figures in the field – Ernest Gellner and Anthony D. Smith – this debate has been of primary importance to differentiate the major positions and arguments within the classical approaches to nations and nationalism.
H-Nationalism. At www.h-net.org/∼national, accessed Apr. 29, 2009. The web site of this H-Net discussion group provides an interdisciplinary forum and encompasses not only classical and contemporary theoretical and methodological discussions but historical approaches and case studies on nation(hood), national formation, and nationalism.
Consortium of Minority Resources (COMIR). At http:/lgi.osi.hu/comir, accessed Apr. 29, 2009. Mainly associated with the debates over democratic governance, minority rights, multicultural politics, and ethnic relations in Central and Eastern Europe, and in the Commonwealth of Independent States, COMIR provides a virtual library, practical databases of full-text academic documents, and resource packs for practitioners.
Association for Research on Ethnicity and Nationalism in the Americas (ARENA). At www.cas.sc.edu/arena, accessed Apr. 29, 2009. As a new international organization aiming to broaden the debates on nationalism by going through the experience of the Americas, ARENA provides information on related seminars, lectures, and conferences in the field through its web site.