Liah Greenfeld’s approach to nationalism looks at the processes of modernisation, specifically the construction and reproduction of ideas and symbols as a driving force of nationalism, pinpointing its origins in the economic and democratic development of English society. She argues it is often an elite project which strives to achieve popular sovereignty and equality.
An interesting case study is Quebec, which was recently recognized by the Canadian government as ‘a nation within a united Canada’.
The area now known as Quebec was first settled by the French and later came under English rule. The Quebec Act of 1774 allowed the French living under the English Empire to practice their religion, speak the French language and implement French Civil Law.
Quebec nationalism has a history almost as long as the province itself, developing in opposition to English Canada and its growing influence and power. The link below provides an interesting background on the development and history of Quebec nationalism.
Between 1960 and 1966, Quebec underwent a process of modernisation, moving away from its traditional conservative and religious roots to a more open, liberal and secular society. This social and economic transformation, called the Quiet Revolution, sparked the modern nationalist movement in Quebec that has had both violent and political manifestations, as well as calls for a sovereign independent Quebec state. The attached link provides a good overview of the Quiet Revolution and its impact on Quebec nationalism.
The Quiet Revolution can be seen as an example of a rapid process of modernisation, in which symbols and images of Quebec as a distinct and sovereign nation separate from the rest of Canada were developed and politicised. Elements of Greenfeld’s concepts of ethnic, civic and collective nationalism can be seen within the example of Quebec. Is then the next step, following Greenfeld, the establishment of a popular sovereign state?
In 2006, the Canadian Parliament passed a bill recognizing Quebec as a nation within Canada.
What is the significance of this recognition of Quebecers as a nation? Can you have a distinct nation within a state?
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