Federalism, defined as a form of government that strives to unite different socio-economic and cultural contexts into one political institutional framework, has a long history. Federalism requires a constant negotiation between local identity and federal integration as well as a new demarcation between the federal identity and the outsider. Since Antiquity, this political structure has undergone to a wide range of transformations that have both strengthened and threatened its existence. Recent political events, e.g. the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, highlight once more the tensions, failures and potential of federal constitutions, both in cases where these exist or The persistence of this precarious balance from the ancient to the modern states shows the potentiality and the risks of federalist structures.

This conference, generously supported by the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, aims to explore possible links between federal states in Antiquity and today. It assumes that, despite the different historical contexts that are responsible for the formation of distinct federal systems, there are recurrent themes, which affect and influence federalism in both periods. By inviting papers that are connected to three of these recurrent themes, i.e. identity in federal states, their workings, and their ideology, the conference hopes to spark debate and provide new insights into continuities and discontinuities between ancient and modern forms of federalism.

Proposals are invited for 20- to 30-minute papers on topics relating to these three aspects of federalism. More specific topics for discussion may include, but are not limited to:

  • the influence of local identity on federal politics
  • the failure and/or success of federal states
  • institutions of federal states
  • the individual within federal states
  • the philosophy of federal states
  • the direct influence of Greek federations on their modern counterparts

Please submit an abstract of no more than 400 words and a short bio to Elke Close at E.Close@ed.ac.uk by 2 June 2017. For further enquiries about the conference, please contact Kasper Swerts (kswerts@exseed.ed.ac.uk), Alberto Esu (Alberto.Esu@ed.ac.uk) or Elke Close.

The Working Group on “State-Building Nationalism in Multinational Democracies” within the XIII Congress by the Spanish Association of Political Science and Administration (AECPA) to be held in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia (Spain), between 20th and 22nd September 2017, is now accepting paper proposals.


To many authors, dual identities are the key factor guarantying stability in multinational democracies. This, however, depends on the existence of leaders who willfully choose to accommodate instead of polarize these dual identities. In these multinational contexts, however, the politicization of identities has traditionally become the basis of peripheral nationalisms and their demands regarding self-government, self-determination and even political independence.

This Working Group will focus on the behavior of state-wide political actors within multinational democracies characterized by the politicization of identities and increasing demands by peripheral nationalisms. Possible research questions include: How do state-wide political parties answer the demands of the peripheral nationalisms? Do they explicitly try to maintain the unity, stability and continuity of the state, or do they limit themselves to banal nationalist practices? Do they apply restraining measures o do they accommodate peripheral nationalisms? Do they mainly use reactive or proactive strategies? How do current state-building nationalisms try to build/strengthen national identity and loyalty to the state in the face of the peripheral nationalist challenges? What are the consequences of the different strategies employed?

This Working Group is open to theoretical as well as empirical studies. Case studies, focusing either in Spain or any other multinational democracy, as well as comparative papers are equally welcome. Paper in both Spanish or English will be accepted.

Proposals for the Working Group “State-Building Nationalism in Multinational Democracies” should be received before March 22th 2017, and should be submitted through the Congress webpage. Please contact the chair, Antonia Ruiz (amruiz@upo.es), if you need help or have any doubt.

A reminder: if you do not have an AECPA account you must register first. You may do so as a user (needed to be able to submit proposal) or an associated member (paying the corresponding fees). Use this link to register:


After registering you can login to your account and send a paper proposal. Use this link to send a proposal:


Select the group you want to submit to, in this case GT 2.6. Nacionalismo estatal en democracias plurinacionales.

Looking forward to your papers…!

CfP The personal and emotional dimension of nationhood in European history (19th century to WWII)

31 May – 1 June 2017 Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany

CfP deadline: 15 March 2017

Convenors: Xosé M. Núñez Seixas (LMU), Maarten Van Ginderachter (Antwerp University) and Andreas Stynen (NISE, Antwerp)

This workshop welcomes case studies with a historical dimension from across the field of the humanities and the social sciences. The aim is to publish an edited volume with an international academic publisher or a themed issue of an international academic journal.

Successful applicants will have their accommodation costs completely covered and their travel expenses reimbursed. In exchange, participants will give the right of first publication to the organizers of the workshop.

Please send a 500 word abstract of your paper and a short academic biography of 5 lines to Maarten.VanGinderachter@uantwerpen.be; x.nunez@lmu.de; and andreas.stynen@nise.eu. Deadline is 15 March 2017. You will be informed of our decision by 15 April 2017.

Call for Papers

For over two decades the individual construction and personal, emotional experience of nationhood has been at the centre of scholarly attention in the fields of ethnography, sociology, political geography and social psychology. This so-called ‘affective turn’, closely related to the new history of emotions, has also been described as a shift towards the study of personal nationalism (Anthony Cohen), embedded nationalism (Jonathan Hearn) or embodied nationalism (Anne Mcclintock). These and other scholars do not merely conceptualize nationhood as a collective category construed in opposition to a national ‘Other’, but also as a personal sense of belonging predicated on emotional experiences, and reproduced by individuals in manifold dimensions of their daily life.

Benedict Anderson famously asked “why [do nations] command such profound emotional legitimacy”, but historians have only recently begun tackling this question. The paradox is that “the most personal of subjects – human feelings” has yet to be dealt with on the level of individual experience, partly because both the history of emotions and that of nationalism have generally only studied the most articulate social groups. (Matt & Stearns)

Thus, the workshop’s central issue is a variation on Katherine Verdery’s basic question: how did Europeans become national in the past? How did they draw on nationhood to construct their own sense of self? How did they invest a generic social category that was available to them in public life with personal meaning? How was it linked to their own emotional experiences? The workshop is specifically interested in applying these questions to the 19th and the first half of the 20th century.

Possible topics of enquiry include:

  • the transnational dimension, e.g. displacement of prisoners of war, expats and migrants who are forced to position themselves in revealing ways
  • autobiography, ego-documents and national identification
  • the impact of family and friendship ties, of moments of crisis, etc.
  • Saul/Paul conversions in nationalist/anti-nationalist autobiographies, or individuals who experienced a change of national loyalties in the course of their lives

Possible questions to ask are:

  • how can one generate evidence of emotions connected to nationalism, especially among ordinary people, with the available sources?
  • which emotional triggers might move individuals from a position of ‘indifference’ to active national engagement / consciousness?
  • what role do notions of loyalty, honour, sacrifice, kinship, love (and hatred) etc. play in transferring emotions to the national sphere?

This workshop is coordinated by the POHIS-Centre for political history of Antwerp University, funded by the ‘International Scientific Research’ program of the Research Foundation of Flanders, in cooperation with Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and NISE.

The ASEN Conference is the highlight of the Nationalism Studies year, and will be held in London 27-28 March 2017.


The evening prior to the conference sees the Annual Ernest Gellner Lecture, which this year will be delivered by John Hutchison (LSE) on the topic of Nationalism and War.

John is well known to colleagues at Edinburgh through his long-standing and excellent work in this area, and also as a former external examiner to our Masters programme.

The lecture will be held at 18.00 on Sunday 26 March at Birckbeck University, Malet St., London.

Entry to the lecture is free and unticketed.





The 27th Annual ASEN Conference will be held on Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 March at the London School of Economics.



You can find full details about the conference CFP, keynote line up, registration etc at www.asen.ac.uk



A seminar co-sponsored by our friends at the Centre for Canadian Studies and by the Citizens Nations and Migration Network, with clear relevance to Nationalism Studies:

Strange Bedfellows? Attitudes toward religious minority symbols in Quebec
Speaker        Luc Turgeon (University of Ottawa)

Date             Thursday 24th November
Time            1pm – 2.30pm
Location       Project Room, 50 George Square, Edinburgh
There will be a sandwich lunch at 12.30pm prior to the presentation. Please RSVP at this link to let us know if you are coming, so we can plan how much food to order: http://whoozin.com/DEP-DDG-XPRA 


Trump? Fascism?

Many commentators – particularly on the left – are throwing accusations of ‘fascism’ at US President-elect Donald Trump.

In this measured and thoughtful blog Jane Caplan considers whether this is a useful analytical term ..

Trump and Fascism. A View from the Past



Rogers Brubaker is an American sociologist and has been a professor at the University of California Los Angeles since 1991. His works focus on ideas of social theory, immigration, citizenship, nationalism, and ethnicity. His early works Citizenship (1992), Nationhood in France and Germany, and Nationalism reframed: nationhood and the national question in New Europe (1996) sought to analyse nationalism in Europe from a historical and comparative perspective. His subsequent analytical essays collected in Ethnicity without Groups (2004) sought to develop alternatives to the predominant analytical approaches to the issues of ethnicity, race and nationalism, and applied his approach to the collaborative Nationalist Politics and Everyday Ethnicity in a Transylvanian Town (2006). His book, Grounds for Difference (2015) identifies and engages with three prominent contexts for the politics of difference: the return of inequality, the return of biology, and the return of the sacred; and his most recent work Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities (2016) seeks to rethink race and ethnicity to the lens of the transgender experience, with the aim of emphasizing the malleability and arbitrariness of racial classification.  


What is the role of commemoration ceremonies? 

According to Brubaker, the creation of a National Day is part of the historization of a nation, in which the date of such commemorations is linked to a constitutive event in the “national history”. Take for example the 1848 revolutions, in particular the Hungarian rebellion against the Austrian Empire.

Brubaker presents two models of interpretation. In the “desacralized” model, the Hungarian revolution is part of the liberal Pan-European movements against Old Regimes. In the “sacralized model,” the rebellion is nothing more than the struggle for liberation. In that sense, the role of commemoration ceremonies is to support political ideologies. Nowadays, this rebellion can be mobilised as a tool for or against European integration.

What can explain the birth of nationalistic claims in a plural society?

Brubaker’s “triadic nexus” describes the relationship among national minorities, nationalizing states, and external national homelands. This relationship is sometimes conflictual but can also not be. Additionally, the relationship is very interdependent; responsive and interactive; and mediated. Brubaker uses his triadic nexus to discuss the breakup of Yugoslavia.

National minority: The definition of a national minority varies and can range from attempts to introduce the minority language into aspects of the government and education/administration or to full-fledged claims for independence, depending on how deeply it perceives itself to be oppressed.

Nationalizing state: This is a dynamic situation in which the state is not yet a nation-state but might aspire to be one day through efforts such as homogenizing language and culture, improving the economy, etc. The nationalizing state does not have to articulate that it wants to become a nation-state, but rather it simply needs to be perceived by the national minority and/or the external national homeland to be considered as such. If the minority is attempting to assert its rights, the nationalizing state may consider it disloyal and increase its nationalistic policies.

External national homeland: Nationhood extends across territorial boundaries and the homeland feels responsible not only for its own citizens but also for those “ethnic conationals” living in other states. The extent to which the homeland intervenes varies.  

What is the difference between Race, Ethnicity and Nationalism?

Brubaker thinks the literature on Nationalism issues tends to be essentialist. Despite the fact that recent researches have a more multidisciplinary scope, scholars tend to consider ethnicity, race and nations as “static groups.” Brubaker does not give a clear definition of these three terms. According to him, the fundamental research object is the understanding of a definition. He explains that a notion such as ethnicity has to be understood as dynamic and cognitive. To understand ethnicity, one needs to observe the practices of a group, which can change over time, thereby changing the classification of the group. The intersubjective perception of the group depends on everyday narratives such as the words that we use to describe objects.


With Brubaker we revisit the idea of ethnic vs. civic understandings of nationhood. In Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany, he describes the French understanding of nationhood to be ‘state-centred and assimilationist’, whilst the German understanding is described to be ‘Volk-centred and differentialist’ (Brubaker, 1992:1). He discusses a number of reasons why this difference came about, including geographical, political and cultural circumstances.

In France, the nation is conceived in relation to the state’s institutional and territorial frame. The unitarist, universalist and secular definitions of nationhood and citizenship, which stem from the revolutionary and republican past, reinforce the essentially political understanding of nationhood already present in the ancien régime. Yet, whilst French nationhood is constituted by political unity, cultural unity is a major aspiration, which is why political inclusion entails cultural assimilation, both for regional cultural minorities and immigrants.

In contrast, national feeling in Germany predates the nation-state, and is not originally a political idea, nor linked to the abstract idea of citizenship. Instead, it is an organic cultural, linguistic, or racial community. Thus nationhood is understood in ethnocultural terms (based on blood, descent and ancestry), not as a political fact. The Volksgeist is constitutive of nationhood, while the state, though important, merely lends to its expression.

These differences result in a stark contrast when it comes to citizenship ascription. Whilst in France, citizenship is ascribed to most persons born on French territory, even if of foreign parents (ius soli), Germany used to ascribe citizenship only on the basis of descent (ius sanguinis). In his 2001 article The return of assimilation, Brubaker mentions the changes introduced in 1999 in Germany, through which this principle was liberalised. Henceforth, citizenship is attributed to children born in Germany to foreign parents, under the condition that at least one parent resided legally in Germany for at least eight years.


In various instances, Brubaker emphasizes his aim to present a perspective on concepts as nationalism and ethnicity that moves away from scholars who ‘defined the axes of debate on nationalism in the 1970s and 1980s’. Brubaker confirms this aim once again in his article on the construction of ethnicity, race, and nationalism (Brubaker 2009), as he argues that these core concepts must not be analysed as separate classifications that only work in bounded ethnic and racial groups, and nations.

Brubaker criticizes Smith, Gellner and Anderson for their ‘macroanalytic’ theories of nationalism: “[Their focus on] long-term formation of nations involves profound socioeconomic, political, and cultural transformations; but once formed, nations are treated as static, substantial entities” (ibid: 30).


A contemporary issue that can perhaps be analyzed using Brubaker’s triadic nexus is Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea, an area of Ukraine that has historically been populated by ethnic Russians. Russia has often been perceived as taking an active “homeland” stance towards its ethnic conationals in Ukraine. In 2009, ethnic Russians living in Crimea held anti-Ukrainian protests. In 2013, Ukrainian President Yanukovych failed to sign the Ukrainian-EU Association Agreement, leading to more protests. By 2014, Yanukovych had fled the capital amid protests, and Russian President Putin stated they needed to work to return Crimea to Russia and that Russia had a right to protect Russians in Ukraine. However, how much of this was fueled by political reasons rather than the actions of a genuine national homeland “protecting” its people?  

The Ukraine Russia Conflict Explained –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdxG-fLv0vI


  1. Do you think Brubaker’s critique on the stasis of Smith, Gellner and Anderson is justifiable? Discuss.
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying ethnicity without groups, as Brubaker advocates?
  3. Does the role of commemoration ceremonies change over time? What are some examples where the context and meaning of the ceremony might have changed?