Chapter 7 deals with nations and the power that a nation can have on the people who reside within its borders. Nationalism can be both a good and a bad thing where as nationalism can inspire liberation from oppression (American Revolution) or can be a source of violence in the form of genocide (Rwanda). The opening definition of a nation hits hard but the part that I like most about it is the very beginning where it states that a nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. When I hear this I instantly think of the events of 9/11, where after the event a nation rallied under one flag and was brought together in mourning and remembrance of what terrorism can do.
The book discusses three perspectives of a nation and they are primordial, ethno-symbolist, and modernist. The first perspective which is primordial looks at nations as being a part of humanity. Every human is apart of a nation and these nations have been in place since the beginning of time. This perspective is much more real and allows for people to touch and see the differences between groups of people. This view is one of extremist and is widely rejected as the cause for the birth of nations. Instead a more social, cultural, and economic approach is preferred to explain why nations became real things. Within this view we see an idea of ethno-symbolist perspective emerge. This approach is what it sounds like; it is based on ethnic ties as being the basis for the formation of nations. The six characteristics of an ethnic factor are name, common ancestry, shared history, common culture, similar “homeland”, and solidarity for significant sectors of the population. In contrast to these ideas of nationalism is the modernist perspective which believes that nations did not exist prior to the creation of the modern state. Instead of focusing on pre-existing human communities, this idea looks at the idea that nations emerged after the presence of state sovereignty.
Nationalism is not just perspectives; it must be practiced in the real world. Even with the lines on a map that we currently have there are still places in the world that do not have international recognition as nations or places within other nations that are themselves nations of their own. The best example of this is the break up of the former Yugoslavia. This former soviet territory was once made up of six different “nations” which all had different economic and cultural identities. The break up of one country into six highlights three important factors in regards to a rise in political nationalist movements. The first is that economic differences can lead to fractures between different groups of people, the second is that certain groups can seek to oppress other groups where as in the example of the book Croatia and Slovenia had economic success where as the rest of the country suffered and because of that they were subjugated to cultural oppression, the last is due to this oppression these states sought sovereignty. Now this is at a large level of the scale in terms of nationalism. Scaling down the argument we see regionalism as being a much smaller idea. We see here three more perspectives that each try to identify how regions form. The first is pre-scientific which looks at regions as a spatial unit used to represent data, the second is discipline-centered which looks at regions as a result of research and not natural causes; this perspective sees regions as the result of academic processes, and the final one is the critical perspective which sees regions as a social construct. The best example of regional is the Basque region in Spain and France. An area which claims autonomy located within two separate countries.