Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home  > Nations & Nationalism  - What is a Nation?  > Civic Nationalism & Ethno Nationalism - False Opposites?


Civic Nationalism & Ethno Nationalism
- False Opposites?

"...So-called civic nations like France, Canada, and the United States may have become relatively open societies that offer citizenship rights to all peoples, but they did not start out that way. In each case, they began with restricted core communities -- be they white or Catholic or British or European -- and expanded outward. As a result, when we urge nationalists, say in Bosnia or Kosovo, to follow our example and found nations solely on the basis of shared political principles, we are in fact urging them to do something that we never did ourselves..." Bernard Yack, July 2000

False Opposites in Nationalism: An Examination of the Dichotomy of Civic Nationalism and Ethnic Nationalism in Modern Europe - Margareta Mary Nikolas, 1999

"This study is an examination of the exercise of nationalism as the assertion and/or reassertion of the mutual (political) sovereignty of a community in the form of a nation-state. My thesis aims to explore two theoretically different routes and forms of exercise of nationalism focusing specifically on modern Europe. These two routes are civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism. This classical dichotomy, I agree, is a misleading division for though the two are theoretically separate, in practice they are collaborators in the journey towards nationhood and in the pursuit of the establishment of a nation-state.

For nationalism to be successful it must involve an interplay of the principles of both civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism, rather than these components acting as mutually exclusive concepts. The nature of this interplay will be examined throughout the thesis and the collaboration will be explored via the two competing perspectives: that held by the modernists and that proposed by the ethnicists, both operating within the framework of modernity. The key distinction between the two is their focus and the point at which they identify a group imagining themselves as a community and society. Their respective cases will be critically examined with respect to those elements that determine that an interplay occurs....

No exercise of nationalism is the same, but they are all an exercise of the one phenomenon. Nationalism is an interplay of civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism and all their characteristics. The civic and the ethnic demonstrate two broad categories of concentration, but neither is exclusive. They are analytically different, but each nation, or group of people that consider themselves a nation and practise nationalism, carry elements of both. Just as the ethnicist and modernist theories are not complete on their own, so too their correlated ideals of the ethnic and the civic are not complete either. Neither is sufficient on its own to forge a nation. A civic nationalism must crystallise the ethnic components of its members in order to provide vigour and appeal to the nationalism, and thus be able to succeed onwards towards the establishment and perpetuation of nationhood. Likewise, ethnic nationalism must institutionalise to realise its goals. Ethnicity transmitted by culture carries with it the tools and in some cases the foundations of new nations they do not work on their own however and are not the root of the nationalism. Nationalism is a modern phenomenon that should not exclude the persistence of ethnicity as a popular motivation that fuels it..."

The Nation in Ukraine's History Textbooks: A Civic, Ethnic or Cultural Cast? -  Jan Germen Janmaat

"In our increasingly smaller world of internet, call centres in India, distant travels and ongoing European integration it is easy to overlook countervailing trends that have occurred in the past 15 years. Not far from Western Europe, new countries have come into being, creating new borders that have posed obstacles to travelling, international trade and the transfer of information and that can thus be said to have made the world larger instead of smaller. Of course, we are referring here to the disintegration of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union into a plethora of new, much smaller states. Many of these states have never been independent before. Faced with unaccustomed and therefore unpredictable populations, the governing elites of these states are likely to feel insecure about the continued existence of their states as independent entities. They deem it essential to equip their populations with feelings of patriotism and loyalty to the state and its institutions, as that would, in their view, be the only effective vaccination against popular unrest and political instability."

The Myth of the Civic State: Hans Kohn Revisited: Civic and Ethnic States in Theory and Practice - Taras Kuzio, Yale University April 2000

"..(the) division of nationalism into ‘good Western civic’ and ‘bad Eastern ethnic’ reflects both an intellectual arrogance and an idealisation of pure civic and ethnic states that do not exist in practice...Contemporary Eastern nationalism looks and feels peculiar to those in the West because of a time gap between the ethnic nationalism that permeated the West in the early stages of its national state formation and the ethnic nationalism found in some parts of the East today. As Canovan says, ‘It is unfortunately the case that a nation that is peaceful, secure and a favourite site for liberal democratic politics now usually has a past that no liberal democracy can comfortably look into’.. To what degree can we historically define Western states as ‘civic’ if they disbarred people from integration into their communities on grounds of gender, race or ethnicity, all of which occurred prior to the twentieth century. Using Kymlicka’s definition Kohn’s five states could not be defined as ‘civic’..."

Ethnic or Civic Nation?: Theorising the American Case - Eric Kaufmann

"...The United States has often been viewed by ethnicity and nationalism scholars as the quintessential civic nation historically defined by its commitment to eighteenth century liberal ideology. This paper takes issue with such a perspective. Instead, the United States, for nearly its entire existence, is shown to be an ethnic nation characterized by non-conformist Protestantism and pre-Norman, Anglo-Saxon genealogy. This self-styled 'American' ethnie sought to reshape the nation in its own image and saw its destiny in Puritan, millennial terms. Faced with large flows of non-British immigrants, the 'Americans' employed techniques of Anglo-conformity in an attempt to transform the newcomers into 'WASP's. When this process was viewed as inadequate, movements of cultural nationalism and immigration restriction developed which resulted in the institution of a set of boundary-defending practices that began in the 1920's and continued into the 1960's. Developments in the 'West' have since ushered in the era of liberal civic nationhood in which the U.S. has participated. In this manner, America's shift from ethnic to civic nationalism is not exceptional, but instead reflects a broader value shift in Western culture..."

Ethnic - Civic Nationalism - Bibiliography - Eric Kaufmann
Supra Ethnic Nationalism - the Case of Eriteria - Redie Bereketeab, 2002
The Myth of Civic Nationalism - Bernard Yack, July 2000

"...So-called civic nations like France, Canada, and the United States may have become relatively open societies that offer citizenship rights to all peoples, but they did not start out that way. In each case, they began with restricted core communities -- be they white or Catholic or British or European -- and expanded outward. As a result, when we urge nationalists, say in Bosnia or Kosovo, to follow our example and found nations solely on the basis of shared political principles, we are in fact urging them to do something that we never did ourselves..."

Ethno-nationalisms in Europe  - Xavier Crettiez, Professor of Political Science at the University of Versailles St Quentin, 2002

"...Ethno-nationalism is about all the communities that consider themselves as “little nations” without states, communities wishing for some international recognition or a greater autonomy from the states they belong to. So, I will not deal with regions the identity of which is not based on ethnic claims but rather on economic grounds, as it is the case with many German länders. Such is the case also with many Euro-regions bereft of any identity claim since they gather together a few decentralized communities on the sole basis of trade (for instance the cooperation agreement between the German Bade-Wurtenberg and the French Rhône-Alpes County in 1986). Far from it, the Basque or the Lombard country, Ulster, Corsica, Flanders, are regions which claim cultural as well as linguistic, political and economic specificity. This claim for peculiarity very often entails difficult relationships with the center and accusing the “Oppressing State” is a constant rhetoric among nationalists. The “imperialist” state is charged with a supposed indifference towards its peripheries, and is accused of exploiting the resources of these regions, or, on the contrary, of imposing too heavy a taxation..."

Nationalism and the Case of Distorted Liberalism - Ofer Castro Cassif

"...Contemporary scholars of nationalism often claim that nationalism is a protean doctrine, as distinct nationalisms define their relevant nations as such by employing different criteria: in some cases the nation is defined as a linguistic group, sometimes as a cultural body, a race, a collective with common history and so forth. However, it seems that the common denominator of all nationalisms, and therefore the nature of nationalism in general, applies to their conception of the nation as a sort of extended family...by ‘nationalism’ I do not refer to theories of nationalism but to actual nationalist movements and thinkers. ... I believe, there is a big gap between ‘real-world’ nationalism and the understanding of nationalism by ‘academics sympathetic to it’.

Ethno Nationalism & Fiji - Ayuz Nizar Mukadam, September 2005

"Fiji has been noted for its problems with racial tensions. Previous analyses have focused on the role of the Fijian elite in propagating racial tensions against the Indo- Fijian community. Therefore, this thesis endeavoured to find out, how do ordinary Fijians feel about ethno-nationalism? Are they active players in spreading such

Anthony D: Smith in a lecture at the University of Copenhagen, Amager, May 2004

When is a nation? Nationalists traditionally argue that (their) nations are timeless phenomena that have existed since time immemorial. Theoretical approaches to the phenomenon of nationalism could be divided into perennialist, modernist and ethno-symbolic. Perennialists argue that nations have existed for a very long time, though they take different shapes at different points in history. The dominant perspective on nationalism in history and the social sciences is, however, the modernist one, which treats nations as modern constructs, the products of the new conditions that have changed the world since the Enlightenment and the French and American revolutions. But modernist views are as theoretically problematic and historically questionable as the perennialist perspective, which they supplanted. An alternative ‘ethno-symbolic’ approach reveals the various forms of the nation in history, and seeks to supplement the rather linear historical question, ‘when is the nation?’ with the more recurrent and sociological problem of ‘when is a nation?’. The latter question invites us to delineate different starting points and patterns of nation-formation in terms of ideal-type constructs, while an emphasis on the role of ethnic myths, memories, symbols and traditions helps us to explore the processes and routes by which nations are formed in different epochs and continents."

Two Perspectives on the Relationship of Ethnicity to Nationalism: Comparing Gellner and Smith - Huseyin Iskisal , 2002

"...the first modern states, namely Britain and France, (had) been founded around a dominant ethnie. Thus, because Britain and France were the dominant colonialist powers, they influenced their colonies as well as other communities with their Anglo-French state-nation model. ...historical priority of the Anglo-French state-nation model presented a basic model for the rest of the world how a national society and national state should be formed and sustained..."

Difference without Dichotomy: An Examination of Nationalism in Ireland and Quebec, since 1780 - Catherine Frost, McMaster University 30 May 2003

"A review of nationalist thinking in Ireland and Quebec over the past two hundred years reveals two contrasting formulations of the nationalist argument associated with distinct historical periods. One formulation (prominent from the late eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century) focused on securing “good government” through knowledgeable governors with a stake in the affairs of a given population. The other (prominent from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century) focused on defining and upholding a “national character” that would distinguish and sustain this population. This paper argues that despite their initial similarity to civic/ethnic or political/cultural dichotomies of nationalism, these two formulations are in fact closely related; that they share a common concern with representation; and that the second formulation grew out of the first as the national concept was put into practice. Rather than a dichotomy of nationalism, then, this evolution suggests a thesis/antithesis relationship and raises the possibility of an eventual synthesis in nationalism."

 Dravidian Movement in Tamil Nadu: The Views of Marguerite Ross Barnett - Sachi Sri Kantha, 2007

"...Having postulated a conflict between ‘primordial’ and ‘civil’ sentiments it is an easy step for politicians and social scientists to argue for the substitution of one (civil ties) for the other (primordial ties)... But is one form of nationalism traditional and the other modern? .. What are the distinguishing characteristics of the two nationalisms? Why does one nationalism, with its attendant locus of political identity develop and not the other? What is the relevant level of analysis of these two nationalisms? In the process of modernization will territorial nationalism inevitably replace cultural nationalism? If modernity and cultural nationalism are defined as in opposition to each other how do we understand the resurgence of cultural nationalism (and the definition of cultural variables as the relevant determinants of political identity) in many post-industrial societies?.."

Ethno-nationalism from a psychiatric perspective - The Mass Psychology of Ethnonationalism by Dusan Kecmanovic Plenum Press, New York 1996. - Review by  Jasna JozElic & Gorana Ognjenovic

"... What forces make people so committed to their ethno-national groups to a degree where they ignore everyone else’s concerns, the rights and interests of people of other ethnicities? What is the psychological and anthropological basis for ethno-nationalism? Why and how do people attain and follow blindly nationalist attitudes and beliefs? Nationalism is followed blindly, argued for academically, and ‘exercised’ because it defines the most suitable reaction to social pressure. It provides an opportunity for coping with feeling of personal insufficiency, as well as social insufficiency – an inability of getting along with the ones who are different from oneself. Maybe its most appealing characteristic lies in its capability of providing an arena on a grass roots level for a socially approved exercise for aggression of various kinds. It is the perfect instrument of escape from ones own individuality and the possibility of redefining self-worth by ones dissolution into the masses... The final point Kecmanovic draws in this landscape of eternal madness is that as an idea nationalism is generally an elite phenomenon while in practice it is a mainly mass phenomenon..."

Ethno-Nationalism versus Civic-Nationalism - Sri Lanka’s Predicament - Professor Laksiri Fernando, 25 June 2007

"..What I mean by civic nationalism is that kind of nationalism which could unite all or greater majority of the citizens of a polity irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion or any other such distinction. Any other such distinction can be language, caste or even gender..."

'Dominant Ethnicity' and the 'Ethnic-Civic' Dichotomy in the work of A. D. Smith.

"Arguably the fulcrum of Anthony Smith's research is the ethnie-nation link. One axis of this debate is represented in the early contributions to this special issue, namely, what are ethnies, when did they arise, and what has been their historic relationship to nations. A second - perhaps more contemporary - offshoot of this thinking is the role played by ethnicity within nations in the so-called 'modern' period up to the present time. This is the main problematic with which this article will concern itself. Within this framework, two strands of research recommend themselves. These include a) the place of dominant-group ethnicity within contemporary nations; and b) the nature of the 'ethnic versus civic nation' conceptual dichotomy and the dialectic between these two ways of constructing nationalist arguments..."

Nationalism, East and West: Civic and Ethnic Conceptions of Nationhood -Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism, 18th Annual Conference, April 2008

"It has long been standard in the field of nationalism studies to classify nations according to which principle serves to unify the nation. The distinction between the Western, political type of nationalism and the Eastern, genealogical variety of nationalism as systematised by Hans Kohn in 1944 has been used, extended, and adjusted by scholars to conceptualise a framework of “inclusive” nationalism based on citizenship and territory and “exclusive” nationalism based on common ethnic ties and descent. This conference seeks to assess the continuing relevance of this dichotomy in its various forms: its contribution to theoretical work on nationalism, its usefulness for historical interpretation, and its value for contemporary policy-making."

Ethno nationalism in the Contemporary World. Walker Connor and the study of nationalism, Ed. Daniele Conversi: Review by Stephen Barbour
On Ethnosymbolists, Primordialists, and Modernists - John Breuilly Interview for H-Nationalism

"I do not think the distinction civic/ethnic is very useful if seen in terms of different types of nationalism which is used to group specific cases. That is how it originally worked in the form Hans Kohn presented it, of western and eastern nationalism. For powerful arguments against the distinction used in that way there is an article by Oliver Zimmer, as well as an essay by Rogers Brubaker republished in his book Ethnicity without Groups."

Ethno-Nationalism during Democratic Transition in Bulgaria: Political Pluralism as an Effective Remedy for Ethnic Conflict - Bistra-Beatrix Volgyi

"Following the collapse of communism in the 1990s in Central and South- Eastern Europe, the region has not only undergone a difficult period of economic and political transition, but also has witnessed the rise of ethno-nationalism in several states, along with problems of national identity, state formation and the exclusion (or extermination as in the Yugoslav case) of minorities. Nationalism may adopt a variety of forms simultaneously - ethnic, cultural or civic, where either one of these forms or a mixture of elements from the three, may predominate in a state over time, influenced by politico-economic realities, elite behavior, party coalitions, international interests and ideological influences, as well as societal attitudes. Nationalism in its ethnic variant has led to the alienation and violation of minorities’ rights, and its supporters have advocated the creation of ethnically homogenous states. Proponents of cultural nationalism have attempted the assimilation of national minority ‘low cultures’ into the dominant national ‘high culture.’ On the other hand, civic nationalism has mobilized people in Eastern European states towards the common goals of democratization and protection of human rights (individual or group/minority rights). The concern over the spread of ethno-nationalism in various countries of the region has not been, as it is commonly argued, a result of the unleashing of historical primordial forces previously ‘frozen’ by communism, but rather has been invoked by political elites to fill an ideological vacuum or to mobilize public support in times of political, economic or national identity crises in a quest for the conquest or preservation of political power.."

Ethnonationalism: Fears, Dangers, and Policies in the Post-Communist World

In the post-Communist world as in centuries past, ethnonationalism has played an important part in both domestic and international politics. Its role has been evident in the outbreak of violent conflicts, the creation of new states, and the revision and attempted revision of interstate borders. Ethnic doctrines and perceptions have also influenced, and in some cases dominated, political outlooks and have affected decision-making on security and other issues.Specifically, ethnonationalism has fueled the fears and suspicions that currently beset relations between the Russian Federation, the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, and the states of eastern Europe. As a result, ethnonationalism is widely perceived as one of the major threats to security in Europe today.


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