Archive for April, 2009

The European University Institute’s Max Weber Programme has an eclectic collection of working papers.

Of interest to students of nationalism is a recent paper noting the ‘dilemma’ of nationalists within stateless nations: that is whether to pursue outright independence, autonomy or federalism:

Jaime Lluch (2009), ‘National Identity and Political Identity: Resolving the Stateless Nationalists’ Dilemma’, EUI Max Weber Programme Working Paper

Available:  http://cadmus.iue.it/dspace/bitstream/1814/10528/1/MWP_2009_02.pdf

The internal political tendencies making up national movements tend to bifurcate or, at times, trifurcate, into two or three basic nationalist orientations: independentist nationalism, autonomist nationalism, and federalist nationalism. Stateless nationalists therefore face a fundamental political dilemma. While all nationalists pursue nation-affirming and nation-building goals, they have three fundamental political identities to choose from. The general expectation is that a nationalist would seek to align her nation with a state, but in the contemporary world, we find many nationalists who do not seek their own state, and instead seek an autonomous special status or the status of a constituent unit within a federation. This article seeks to explain how nationalists go about resolving their fundamental political dilemma. Rejecting deterministic accounts of nationalism, this article argues that stateless nationalists are distinguished by having concentric political identities: they have a political identity that reflects their sense of national identity and belonging, and they have another that reflects their preferred political/constitutional orientation vis-à-vis the central state. The argument evinces the importance of political factors in explaining how stateless nations’ nationalists resolve their dilemma. My argument points us towards a revalorization of the primacy of political factors in understanding the origins of the contemporary internal variation in the political and constitutional orientation of stateless nations’ national movements. Nationalists adopt these various orientations as part of an overarching political strategy, in the course of performing a balancing act between economic, political, and cultural factors.

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Imagining Spain

Jan/Feb’s New Left Review carried a fascinating review, by Ronald Fraser, of Henry Kamen’s recent book Imagining Spain: Historical Myth and National Identity (Yale UP, 2008).

You can access the article at:


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An excellent article in March’s Political Studies which unpicks and evaluates some of the reasons for the SNP breakthrough in Scotland in 2007 (and indeed for Labour’s relatively dismal performance). Details and abstract as follows:

Robert Johns, James Mitchell, David Denver and Charles Pattie, ‘Valence Politics in Scotland: Towards an Explanation of the 2007 Election’, Political Studies 57 (1), pp207-233

In this article we use evidence from the Scottish Election Study 2007 to build an explanation for the narrow SNP victory in the Holyrood election. The theoretical focus is on valence models of voting, which are increasingly important in Scotland following dealignment and ideological convergence in the party system, and as Scottish governments flex their executive muscle. Exploring the valence battleground reveals mixed but overall negative evaluations of Labour’s performance in government, and suggests advantages for the SNP on issue competence, leadership and party image. Modelling party choice at the individual level shows that key valence variables – performance evaluations, economic competence and party image – have strong and significant effects, unlike hitherto prominent factors like religion, class and national identity. Constitutional preferences are important too, but their effects suggest a further valence link: the SNP’s strong showing among voters seeking further devolution but opposed to independence is due in large part to its credentials as a battler for Scottish interests. In contrast, Labour’s stand against ‘more powers’ may have tarnished its own reputation on that score. We conclude that the SNP edged home by persuading enough voters that it had a positive agenda for governing Scotland within the current constitutional arrangements, and that it could deliver on that agenda.

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Recent research seeks to ‘move beyond’ the civic/ethnic dichotomy of understanding national identity. A recent contribution to this debate, using empirical evidence relating to several ethnic groups in Ukraine, proposes a fourfold typology. Details and abstract as follows:

Holley Hansen & Vicki Hesli, ‘National Identity: Civic, Ethnic, Hybrid, and Atomised Individuals’ , Europe-Asia Studies 61 (1), pp1-28

We challenge the civic-ethnic dichotomy drawn by previous authors and propose a four-category typology of identities based on out-group tolerance and in-group attachment. Drawing from work on national identity formation and nation-building, we test hypotheses about the processes that cause individuals to adopt one identity over others using survey data based on representative samples of five ethnic groups in Ukraine. We find that the effects of socialisation processes vary greatly depending upon ethnic group. Our results challenge some long-held assumptions about the potential destabilising effects of ‘ethnic’ identities and the degree to which ‘civic’ identities correspond to values and behaviours supportive of democracy.

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An interesting debate in England over the status of St George’s Day (24th April). In most recent years such ‘debate’ as there has been has involved little more than defensive editorialising in the Daily Mail, and the Sun splashing a double pager (usually featuring Barbara Windsor) on the best of English (which invariably bears a remarkable resemblance – beating the Nazis, the local pub, fair play and friendy policemen – to the best of British).

2009 has witnessed a little bit more George-related debate, and the Archbishop of York today urged that the day be made an official holiday to promote and celebrate “an all-embracing England, confident and hopeful in its own identity”



This follows London Mayor Boris Johnston’s decision to hold a week long celebration of St George – a heroic stand, according to an admiring Mail, against the legions of looney Politically Correctness:


However, much to the Mail’s disgust there was little episcopal appetite in the Church of England to mark the day by ringing church bells:


Perhaps inevitably the BNP’s London Assembly ‘fuhrer’ has claimed credit for the extreme right for Johnston’s policy:


Meantime one Midlands council recently cut funding for a popular annual St George’s Day parade after evidence emerged that  loyalist and neo-fascist groups were using the event to promote their own agendas:


The question is, I guess, how a diverse nation like England can celebrate its own day (and i don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t) without opening opportunities for those who wish to deny and attack that diversity?

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Happily, nationalism seems to be the publishing flavour of the month. The latest issues of Ethnic and Racial Studies (32/4) is a special issue on nationalism and national identities. Happy reading!

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Just a quick note of congratulations to Per Becker who – I belatedly notice – has an article on the Iraq war in the latest issue of N & N. He is a former student of the Nationalism Studies MSc and discussed this paper with many of us. Delighted to see that it has finally been accepted. Hope this serves to encourage other students to publish their excellent work.

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The latest issue of ERS is devoted to matters of interest to this blog. Details are as follows – happy reading!

Special Issue: Nationalism and National Identities This new issue contains the following articles:


Introduction: Nationalism and national identities    

Authors: Martin Bulmer; John Solomos           


Accounting for separatist sentiment in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the North Caucasus of Russia: a comparative analysis of survey responses

Authors: John O’Loughlin; Gearóid Ó Tuathail (Gerard Toal)       


From National-Catholicism to Democratic Patriotism? Democratization and reconstruction of national pride: the case of Spain (1981-2000)

Author: Jordi Muñoz          


‘Exclusive recognition’: the new dimensions of the question of ethnicity and nationalism in Turkey

Author: Cenk Saracoglu       


The politics of war memory in radical Basque nationalism

Author: Diego Muro           


The patrimonial state and inter-ethnic conflicts in Nigeria

Author: Ukana B. Ikpe        


Basque-Atlantic shores: ethnicity, the nation-state and the diaspora in Europe and America (1808-98)

Authors: Fernando Molina; Pedro J. Oiarzabal         


How master frames mislead: the division and eclipse of nationalist movements in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

Author: Lawrence P. Markowitz

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Anyone following the recent events in Northern Ireland, where dissident Republicans appear to be attempting to kickstart some kind of ‘strategy of tension’, might be interested in two stories.

The first is the trenchant attack on the dissidents – dismissed as ‘micro groups’ – by Sinn Fein’s official organ An Phoblacht:


The second is evidence of moves towards Loyalist decommissioning:


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