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The Formation of Ethnic and National Identities  

Liah Greenfeld and Nicolas Prevelakis

Nationalism is the worldview of the modern world. It is based on three fundamental principles: it is secular; it sees the members of the community defined as a nation as fundamentally equal; and it presupposes popular sovereignty. Modern ethnicity, that is, ethnic identity, is the result of ethnic nationalism. One can classify nationalisms into three major types: the individualistic-civic type, as seen in England, the United States, and a few other countries, though it remains a minority in the world; the collectivistic-civic type—also a minority; and finally, the collectivistic-ethnic type, which is found in most of the nations in the world. This third and last type is what is usually referred to as “ethnic identity” in the modern world. These types of nationalism seldom exist in their ideal form. Typically, one will find a combination of elements from different types. Their relative importance may vary from one period to another, or within the same period and among different social strata. The case of Greek nationalism illustrates this point. It also represents a clear example of the causal role of nationalism in shaping ethnic identity. The seeds of ethnicity emerged in the first decades of the Greek state, though it was only in the middle of the nineteenth century that Greek nationalism took its definite ethnic form. This evolution can be seen in two areas: the emergence of Greek irredentism, and the construction of Greek historiography.


Conflict and Nationalist Frames  

Marie-Eve Desrosiers

In the context of nationalist and ethnic struggles, framing refers to strategic communication aimed at changing perceptions and behavior, such as persuading members of a group to unite and fight or their opponents to demobilize. The concept and theory behind framing stem from sociology, and in particular American social movements theory, where they have helped reconcile an interest in the construction of identities and “meaning work” with the study of structures that favor participation in collective endeavors. Framing not only unpacks the processes behind this form of strategic communication through notions such as alignment and resonance, but it has also produced extensive scholarship on types of frames that foster mobilization and the socio-psychological keys they play upon in so doing. Framing theory has also focused on some of the elements contributing to the success—or lack thereof—of communication aimed at persuasion. Considering that participation in crises and conflicts is an extreme form of mobilization, framing has, since the mid-2000s, made headway in conflict studies, where scholars have turned to framing processes to shed light on how people can be convinced to rally around the nationalist or ethnic flag and even take up arms in their group’s name. More recently, framing-centric approaches have been used to shed light on frames deployed in conflicts of a religious nature, as well as in the study of radicalization and the ideological or ideational framing behind it. The future of framing theory with regards to identity-based conflicts depends, however, on scholars’ ability to produce framing concepts and theoretical insights specific to conflict studies able to federate the community or researchers adopting the approach to study armed violence. As growing research on armed conflict turns to understanding the links between national and local realities, framing theorists may in addition benefit from greater attention to local frames and framing dynamics, and how they relate to the broader, elite-driven frames more commonly focused on in the study of armed violence. Finally, though so far little explored, framing proponents may stand to gain from engaging with literature using survey experiments or other promising quantitative approaches that have also sought to generate insights into ethnic relations or government representation and policy regarding crises and war.


Race, Ethnicity, and Nation  

Polly Rizova and John Stone

The term “race” refers to groups of people who have differences and similarities in biological traits deemed by society to be socially significant, meaning that people treat other people differently because of them. Meanwhile, ethnicity refers to shared cultural practices, perspectives, and distinctions that set apart one group of people from another. Ethnic differences are not inherited; they are learned. When racial or ethnic groups merge in a political movement as a form of establishing a distinct political unit, then such groups can be termed nations that may be seen as representing beliefs in nationalism. Race and ethnicity are linked with nationality particularly in cases involving transnational migration or colonial expansion. Anthropologists and historians, following the modernist understanding of ethnicity, see nations and nationalism as developing with the rise of the modern state system. This culminated in the rise of “nation-states,” in which the presumptive boundaries of the nation coincided with state borders. Thus, the notion of ethnicity, like race and nation, developed in the context of European colonial expansion, when mercantilism and capitalism were promoting global movements of populations at the same time that state boundaries were being more clearly and rigidly defined. Theories about the relation between race, ethnicity, and nationality are also linked to more general ideas concerning globalization and populist nationalism.


Canadian Foreign Policy in Historical Perspective  

Kim Richard Nossal

The field of Canadian foreign policy is often characterized as multidisciplinary. An examination of the evolution of the literature on Canadian foreign policy over the course of the 20th century reveals a field that grew slowly during the two decades after World War I but developed substantially after World War II when Canada’s involvement in global politics shifted substantially when governments in Ottawa rejected a return to interwar isolationism and embraced internationalism. The Canadian foreign policy literature that developed in the 30 years after World War II was dominated by historians and “historically minded political scientists.” This pattern changed with the massification of the Canadian university system, with political scientists dominating the literature after the 1970s. However, the burgeoning literature in the field has been marked by considerable theoretical and methodological diversity, more undisciplined than multidisciplinary.


Methodological Developments in Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Migration Research  

Victor Asal, Stephen Shellman, and Tiffiany Howard

In terms of methods, researchers working in nationalism, ethnicity, and migration have used everything from broad historical narratives to automated coding and event data analysis. Traditionally, narratives were the dominant methodological approach implemented to study these areas. The narrative approach allowed for explication of groundbreaking theoretical arguments generating testable hypotheses, the deep inspection of particular areas of the world or particular issues with richness of detail and process, and the investigation of a small number of cases. In addition, the use of formal theory to explore issues related to nationalism, ethnicity, and migration also has a long tradition. Formal theory allows for the construction of concise decision making models that force the researcher to be explicit about key assumptions made regarding preferences and the political structure involved. The formal theory approach has encouraged greater specificity from the arguments formed by scholars of nationalism, ethnicity, and immigration and has generated important theoretical insights. Finally, the most rapidly expanding approach to the study of nationalism, ethnicity, and immigration over the past two decades has been statistics. Statistical analyses offer the advantage of being able to bracket confidence intervals around the causal inferences one makes and to more formally control for a variety of competing factors. As statistical technology and training have become more common, the use of statistics has grown substantially.


Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Colonialism  

Mehmet Sinan Birdal

International relations theory has much to gain from studying ethnicity, nationalism, and colonialism. Research on nationalism has produced important theoretical contributions to constructivist approaches in international relations. Similarly, postcolonial theory can contribute to international relations theory by exploring aspects of identity construction that are neglected in studies with exclusive focus on Western states. For example, postcolonial theory can be used in the study of ethnic conflict by combining both aspects of identity construction and strategizing, and how research on ethnicity and nationalism and postcolonial studies can benefit from closer dialogue. Moreover, postcolonial studies raise important epistemological and normative questions that need to be taken seriously by international relations scholars. Postcolonial and subaltern studies question the knowledge claims made by area studies by criticizing their representational strategies of colonialism and the postcolonial situation. They pose a challenge for international relations as a discipline by questioning the knowledge–power nexus. They assert that the presumably “scientific” accounts of the non-West carry the ideological baggage of colonialism. What is needed therefore is to account first for the historical representation of the non-West in Western scientific discourse and produce a critique of this knowledge system as a legitimating and administrative discourse in the service of colonialism.


Devolution, Regional and Peripheral Nationalism  

André Lecours

Social science scholars have repeatedly predicted the demise of regional (or peripheral) nationalism, from the late nineteenth century to the post-World War II period and in the 1990s. However, all suggestions about the death of regional nationalism have been proven wrong. On the contrary, nationalist movements in the West have not only survived advanced capitalist development in liberal democratic contexts but have thrived as well. In the developing world, decolonization gave rise to a variety of regional nationalist movements that frequently spiraled into violent conflict and secessionist attempts. To deal with regional nationalism, states often turned to devolution, resulting in the implementation of various schemes of autonomy, most of which came under the guise of federalism. Three trends characterize the literature on regional nationalism and its management through devolution: a change in the way regional nationalism is viewed; a transformation in the type of political, institutional, and constitutional response scholars have suggested toward regional nationalism; and a willingness to accept, or even favor, secession as a possible solution to conflict in multinational and/or multiethnic countries. At the same time, there are at least two challenges in the study of regional nationalism and its management: objectivity and the need to develop a greater comparative perspective.


Political Philosophy and Nationalism  

Ruhtan Yalçıner

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.


Nationalism, Citizenship, and Gender  

Joyce P. Kaufman and Kristen P. Williams

Nationalism and the nation-state are both intimately connected to citizenship. Citizenship and nationalism are also linked to gender, as all three concepts play a key role in the process of state-building and state-maintenance as well as in the interaction between states, whether overtly or covertly. Yet women do not figure in the analysis of nationalism and citizenship in the mainstream literature, a gap that feminists have been trying to fill. By interrogating gender, along with the notions of masculinity and femininity, feminist international relations (IR) scholars shed light into the ways that gender is socially constructed. They also investigate the historical process of state formation and show where women are located in nationalist movements. Furthermore, by unpacking the sovereign state, feminist scholars have argued that while mainstream IR views the state as a rational, unitary actor, states are actually gendered entities. Two kinds of feminist literature in IR in regards to the state can be identified: women and the state (how women are excluded in terms of the public–private divide, and through citizenship), and gender and the state (gendered states). In general, feminist scholarship has led to a more complete understanding of the gender-citizenship-nationalism nexus. Nevertheless, some avenues for future research deserve consideration, such as the political and cultural exclusions of women and others in society, the inequalities that exist within states, whether there is such a thing as a “Comparative Politics of Gender,” and the concept of “global citizenship.”


Argentinian Foreign Policy  

Federico Merke and Gisela Doval

If one could characterize Argentina's foreign policy in a single sentence, one could say that its typical feature has been its constant change. Throughout the country’s history, its foreign policy has alternated between Global North and Global South focuses, isolationism and international cooperation (or antagonism) , while also being just as ideologically varied. The reasons for this inconsistency are numerous and reflect the country’s unique domestic politics and international position. Economic vicissitudes and changing Great Power politics at the end of the Cold War have forced the Southern Cone nation to remain flexible in balancing its broader relations with those more regional while implementing mixed neoliberal and statist policies to maintain relative internal order.


Teaching Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Studies  

Craig Douglas Albert and Mary Frances Rosett Lebamoff

A review of syllabi from members of the ethnicity, nationalism, and migration studies (ENMS) section of the International Studies Association shows that “teaching ethnic conflict” covers has several parts: the classical literature, main themes used in the classroom, including theories of ethnicity/nationalism, causes of ethnic conflict, responses, and regions of the world. One of the most prevalent themes in classical texts is identity formation. EMNS professors appear to focus on three approaches: primordialism, instrumentalism, and constructivism. It is assertable that each approach has dominated the discipline at specific times. While one approach may be the focal point of ENMS, each coexists with the others. The next most widely used topic in ENMS classrooms is theories of ethnic conflict. Ethnic conflict studies focus on in-group/out-group relationships and how the two conflict. Migration is also studied within the framework of ethnicity and nationalism, which may be attributed to their many interconnections. For example, the harsh treatment of ethnic minorities within a state may result in mass expulsion, ethnic cleansing, war, and even voluntary exile by the oppressed group. Government oppression may include mass violence, but also economic discrimination. This may result in ethnic peoples outside of their traditional homeland seeking asylum in another state that is friendlier to them.


The Sociology of the State: The State as a Conceptual Variable  

Yale H. Ferguson and Richard W. Mansbach

The “state” is the theoretical and empirical bedrock of the international relations field, yet it is a hotly debated concept and is routinely defined to suit the normative and/or empirical ends of scholars and practitioners. It is thus a conceptual variable. The state has so many “meanings” and connotations that the term must be carefully defined every time it is used. Perhaps the most that can be said, with any degree of certainty, is that today the sovereign state has a recognized status in international law, continues to be an important identity symbol for many citizens, and is the focus of citizen demands for the provision of collective goods. Beyond such a statement, the going gets far more difficult. Different “schools” of social science theory view the state with different lenses. Whether the concept of state has any applicability to polities that predated early modern Europe is dubious. In any event, the state and all its variants were contingent products of particular times and European space, and states have continued to adapt and evolve over the centuries to such an extent that the “modern” state bears little resemblance to its Westphalian predecessor. Indeed, modern states themselves evince such a remarkable diversity that they have little in common with one another except sovereign legal independence. That status, in turn, is not to be confused with “real” independence, which has become increasingly evident in our present-day substantially globalized world. The traditional “inside/outside” distinction offers little consolation to state decision makers who find the “outside” severely constraining their capacity to offer their citizens security and welfare. The state’s “crisis of authority” has only worsened with the spread of illiberal populist nationalism and the “return of geopolitics.”


Modernity and Nationalism  

Jonathan M. Acuff

The question of the historical origins of nations and nationalism has long been the subject of vigorous debate among scholars. Indeed, there has been no interdisciplinary convergence among historians, sociologists, and anthropologists regarding the exact timeline of the emergence of nations and nationalism. Much contemporary international relations (IR) and political science scholarship relating to nations is primarily divided between two opposing assumptions: a relatively simplistic “ancient hatreds/modernist” dichotomy versus primordialist and other kinds of claims. This disagreement over the historical origins of nationalism influences both the ontological notions governing the nature of modernity and nations, as well as important epistemological implications as to the selection and interpretation of variables. Modernists argue that nationalism is the product of the specific effects of the modern age, dating roughly to the late Enlightenment or to the French Revolution specifically. They also emphasize the role of the international system in the forging of national identity. Primordialists and ethnosymbolists have advanced their own theories of nationalism, but most contemporary IR scholars favor the “modernist” paradigm. However, it is necessary to evaluate a larger literature beyond the modernist corpus in order to tackle questions such as whether modern nations are more conflict-prone than their more aged ethnic counterparts, or whether structural changes in the international system since the end of the Cold War have opened a window of opportunity for irredentist claims for nascent nations.


Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa  

Patrick R. Ireland

Migration has had a strong impact on the interplay between ethnicity and nationalism in sub-Saharan Africa. The ethnic map of Africa is the outcome of a lengthy history of comings and goings. Before the European conquests, Africa was not populated by clearly bounded, territorially grounded tribes or ethnic groups in the Western sense. Instead, the most prominent characteristics of precolonial African societies were mobility, overlapping networks, multiple group membership, and the context-dependent drawing of boundaries. Colonialism later shaped, even created ethnic identities, contributing to Africans’ difficulties in adhering to Western notions of nationalism. Afterward, with the postcolonial state taking up its mantle, ethnic loyalty continued to overpower national identity. Local ethnic associations have since acted as a substitute for national citizenship, and ethnic belonging for national consciousness. Three countries can help demonstrate this interplay of ethnicity, nationalism, and migration in sub-Saharan Africa: Côte d’Ivoire, together with the homeland of many of its migrants, Burkina Faso, in West Africa; South Africa, together with the homeland of many of its migrants, Lesotho; and Botswana in Southern Africa. They show that, even across very disparate countries and regions, a common trend is visible toward official attempts to subsume internal ethnic differences under a form of nationalism defined partly by excluding those deemed sometimes rather arbitrarily to be external to the polity. This process has implicated non-African immigrant-origin communities, such as Indians and Lebanese, and has hampered the development of migrant integration policies and led to challenges related to social cohesion.


Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration in the Middle East  

Zeynep Sahin

Since the second half of the 1940s, the Middle East has experienced intense migrations. In 2005 alone, the region received a total of approximately 6 million refugees. Migration flows to and from the Middle East have been linked to nationalist movements and ethnic conflicts. However, these relations have received little attention from scholars. Scholarly work on migration in the Middle East that has accumulated between the early 1950s and the late 1980s falls into two broad categories in terms of subject matter: Jewish migration to Israel and the Palestinian refugees, and migrations to labor-short countries of the Gulf and Europe. New trends in the literature on migration in the Middle East can also be identified, including those relating to the gender aspects of migration, population displacement and resettlement, return migration, and the relationship between migration and security. Although the field has made significant progress—the scope of the literature with respect to subject matter has broadened from the 1980s onward, and the methods used by scholars have become more sophisticated over the years—there are some shortcomings that need to be addressed. A number of important issues, such as citizenship or economic dynamics, remain unexplored. Since labor migrations to and from the Middle East are central to economic development, a focus on the evolution of migration may shed light on numerous relevant themes.


Gender Issues in Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration  

Craig Douglas Albert

Until recently, the role of women in nationalism and governance has received little scholarly attention, perhaps because men have historically exercised near exclusive control over nations and states. This is ironic because it is women who create the nation/state. The intersection between gender and nationalism can be broken down into three categories. The first category is women as biological reproducers of the nation. The second category includes women participating centrally in the ideological reproduction of the collectivity and as signifiers of ethnic/national differences. The third category involves the idea of gendered militaries and gendered wars. Women also affect the structure and power relations in the international arena as victims of various international crimes that have traditionally gone unnoticed because of the bias towards male dominance. One example is mass rape. National identity created through the construction of woman as nation allows women to be a target of war. The idea that women are symbols of national territory and identity makes targeting them a main tactic used by enemy groups. In the area of human rights, most conceptions stem from Western visions, which do not always mesh with local, tribal, or non-Western citizens. For women's rights truly to exist, human rights focus must change because it has been constructed with a male bias and understanding.


Geographic Insights Into Political Identity  

Emily Gilbert and Connie Yang

Moving away from the conventional geopolitical analyses of territory, states, and nations, geographical research is now focused on the ways that political identities are constituted in and through spaces and places at various sites and scales. Many geographers attend to how power gets articulated, who gets marginalized, and what this means for social justice. Poststructuralist theory problematized the fundamental premise that the literal subject is resolutely individual, autonomous, transparent, and all knowing. Feminist and critical race scholars have also insisted that the self is socially embedded and intersubjective, but also that research needs to be embodied. There are four prominent and inherently political themes of analysis in contemporary geographical research that resonate with contemporary events: nation states and nationalism; mobility and global identities; citizenship and the public sphere; and war and security. Geographers have critically examined the production and reproduction of national identity, especially salient with the rise of authoritarianism. Geographers have also focused on the contemporary transnationalization of political identity as the mobility of people across borders becomes more intensive and extensive because of globalization. Consequently, globalization and global mobility have raised important questions around citizenship and belonging. Rethinking war and the political, as well as security, has also become a pressing task of geographers. Meanwhile, there has been a growing attention to the political identities of academics themselves that resonates with a concern about forms of knowledge production. This concern exists alongside a critique of the corporatization of the university. Questions are being raised about whether academics can use their status as scholars to push forward public debate and policy making.


Global Democracy  

Raffaele Marchetti

Global democracy is a field of academic study and political activism concerned with making the global political system more democratic. This topic has become a central area of inquiry for established literatures including political philosophy, international relations (IR), international law, and sociology. Along with global justice, global democracy has also been critical to the emergence of international political theory as a discrete literature in recent decades. Global democracy is particularly concerned with how transnational decision-making can be justified and who should be entitled to participate in the formation of global rules, laws, and regulations. As democratic nations increase trade among themselves, policies like isolationism and nationalism make far less sense. Borders blur through free trade agreements and the creation of economic zones. As nations begin to take the interests of their partner nations into consideration when drafting laws and regulations, global democracy begins to take shape. However, due to globalization, the supposed alliance between democracy and the nation-state has come unstuck. The expansion of global connections has functioned in close cooperation with increased efforts to govern global affairs. Many scholars argue that increased transnational activity undermines national democracy. On the contrary, global democrats share the view that individuals should collectively rule themselves—to the extent that decision-making power migrates beyond the state, democracy should follow.


Public Opinion in Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration  

Adam Luedtke

Ethnicity, nationalism, and migration are popular topics in many academic disciplines, but research on public opinion in these areas has suffered from a lack of good data, disciplinary fragmentation, and a dearth of studies that engage one another. This is evident in the case of public opinion survey research undertaken in the world’s hotspots of ethnic conflict. As a result, ethnic conflict scholars have had to rely on proxy measures or indirect studies to test “opinion” towards ethnicity and nationalism in the developing world. In the developed world, however, there is more to work with in terms of opinion measurements. A prominent example is the European Union’s “Eurobarometer” surveys, which gauge attachment to and identification with “Europe” and the individual nation. Research on national identity and ethnic conflict has often been the starting point for theories of public opinion regarding immigration. A common finding is that there is a weak connection (if any) between opinion and policy on the immigration issue. Several areas need to be addressed as far as research is concerned. For example, the picture of xenophobic hostility in rich countries must be understood in a context of general changes in word migration patterns, with some emerging economies also experiencing high levels of immigration, and concurrent anti-immigrant public opinion. Two shortcomings of the literature also deserve closer attention: a focus on developing-to-developed country migration; and a lack of analyses that combine push and pull factors, to measure their relative causal weight in terms of bilateral immigration flows.


The Ethnic, Nationalist, and Religious Roots of Terrorism  

Josephine Squires

Terrorism has been described variously as a tactic and strategy, a crime and a holy duty, as well as a justified reaction to oppression and an inexcusable abomination. Nationalist terrorism is a form of terrorism motivated by nationalism. Nationalist terrorists seek to form self-determination in some form, which may range from gaining greater autonomy to establishing a completely independent, sovereign state. Nationalist terrorism is linked to a national, ethnic, religious, or other identifying group, and the feeling among members of that group that they are oppressed or denied rights, especially rights accorded to others. But while terrorism has more often been based on revolutionary politics, there has also been an increase in terrorist activity motivated by religion. Terrorist acts done in the name of religion typically aim to enforce a system of belief, viewpoint or opinion. The validity and scope of religious terrorism is limited to an individual’s view or a group’s view or interpretation of that belief system’s teachings. There are some researchers, however, who argue that religion should be considered only one incidental factor and that such terrorism is primarily geopolitical. Meanwhile, ethnic violence refers to violence expressly motivated by ethnic hatred and ethnic conflict. The minimum requirement for ethnic tensions to result in ethnic violence on a systemic level is a heterogeneous society and the lack of a power to prevent them from fighting.