Nationalism and Regionalism

The murky definitions of states versus territories versus boundaries has caused me much confusion throughout the semester.  However, chapter seven not only helped to define a nation and a region in an easy to understand way, but it also helped to further solidify the concept of what a state is.  Nations play a key role in the formation of official nation-states.  Also, one single state can host more than one nation due to the presence of multiple regional identities and territories.  Nationalism is described as being a political force that unites individuals towards a mutual goal.  Those individuals who identify with nationalism usually share a similar culture or political view.  The stronger this united identification is, the stronger the presence of nationalism.  In this chapter, term nationalism is defined as being both ’emancipatory’ and ‘repressive.’  The emancipatory element of nationalism is demonstrated through movements towards liberation.  The repressive element of nationalism is demonstrated through the extreme example of genocide.  This is due to the fact that extreme nationalists feel resentment to those who are not members of their culture or do not share their political views.  It is a sad, but an all too common mentality that humans possess to fear what is they do not understand, and oftentimes fear can turn into hatred.  Overall, unlike the political unit of a state, a nation is a space which encompasses a particular culture.  A nation can exist throughout multiple states, like the nation of the Kurds; or, multiple nations can exist inside of one state like the Flander and the Wallonia nations inside of Belgium.

Many different perspectives of nations were introduced in this chapter.  The primordial perspective states that it is a natural human instinct to form nations.  Whereas, the ethno-symbolist perspective states that nations are formed during the modern era as a result of the human patterns of production and communication.  The modernist perspective states that the nation-state is formed before nations came into existence.  Therefore, nations are the result of state sovereignty.  The modernist perspective was further explained as the result of mass education because the official language used for education causes individuals to use that language as a method of communication, and as a result, jobs and lives are built around a distinct linguistic area.  However, the imagined nation is created as a result of large communities being formed based on a common culture or language, but the majority of the members of this nation will never know each other.  If a nation is ‘imagined’ then it is reasonable to acknowledge that the individual identities within this nation will differ greatly, which causes the nation to constantly be in a process of change and revision.  This is due to the fact that identities are regional in addition to being national.

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