Nationalism and Regionalism

Chapter 7 explains how the understanding of the concept of a nation has changed over time, along with explaining nationalism and regionalism. There are three common perspectives used when viewing the concept of nations: primordial, ethno-symbalist, and modernist perspectives. The primordial perspective holds that nations have existed since the dawn of humanity, being hard-written into human DNA. This perspective fell out of favor, just like the the toothbrush mustache, because it became associated with Hitler. From ethno-symbolist perspective, nations arose from earlier ethnic communities. According to Anthony Smith, in order to become a nation, a community needs six things: a collective proper name, a myth of common ancestry, shared historical memories, one or more differentiating features, a specific home land, and a significant sense of solidarity. The last perspective, modernist, says that nations did not exist at all until the creation of the modern state.

Nationalism is basically trying to make the borders of a state match the borders of a nation, again highlighting the importance of boundaries and territories in political geography. There are two subtypes of nationalism, ethnic and civic. In civic nationalism, the state tries to build up a nation, while ethnic nationalism is a social movement undertaken by an established nation through political means. The authors give examples of both peaceful and violent nationalism in order to prevent the word from acquiring a negative connotation.

Much like the nation, there are three perspectives from which to view the concept of the region. According to the pre-scientific method, regions are merely spatial units used to represent data. The discipline centered perspective views regions are being created inadvertently by the research process. The critical perspective, which is the one most commonly used by political geographers, holds that regions are socially constructed. Jan Mansvelt Beck used a critical perspective in his paper about the differences in the Basque nation caused by the different regions it occupies.

Understanding nations, nationalism, and regionalism all require taking a critical perspective and reflecting on what historical and cultural events lead to the creation of a nation.

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