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It is nationalism which engenders nations, and not the other way around

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european union
IEP Paris

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  1. Introduction
  2. The interchangeably terms often used
  3. How can we justify the existence of a nation?
  4. The meaning of 'nationalism'
  5. Language as a basis for nationhood
  6. Bibliography

This essay will argue the case in favour of the statement that ?it is nationalism which engenders nations, and not the other way around.? Ironically, the difficulties in doing so are also encountered by those who disagree with the statement. In the first place, there has yet to be any real consensus reached among historians on the question. Secondly, definitions of the terms ?nationalism? and ?nation? vary from one source to another, and thirdly, a large proportion of this debate relies on the context in which the argument is made, i.e. the time-frame and historical references used.

[...] To consider it as the organ of social activity ad cooperation, as the bond of social classes and a means for their integration: this is something of which most of us have only the remotest notion.'[18] There was of course political motive behind this, directed unsurprisingly against the French. While the philosophes had always been frustrated by language barriers and their incongruence with a world where communication between all peoples knew no bounds, Herder emphasized the role of a national language as nation's soul or spirit.?[19] This idea of purity of culture was echoed in his central idea of Volk the ?metaphysical entity defined as that which produces a particular language, art, culture, set of great men, religion and collection of customs.? Indeed there was a huge surge of nationalist sentiment even in the world of art, where there was a new abundance of paintings that depicted the great German forests and Gothic architecture. [...]

[...] 6-8 for his explanation of the two terms: Nation, it is said, is a human group that may or may not control its own state; while a state is a political organization that may or may not correspond to all of one, and only one, nation.? George Schwab, ?State and Nation: Toward a Further Clarification,' in Michael Palumbo and William O. Shanahan ed., Nationalism: Essays in Honor of Louis L. Snyder (Westport and London, 1981) Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism and Modernism (London, 1998) Ernest Renan, ?What is a Nation?' Ernest Gellner. [...]

[...] In general, though, it is acceptable to assume that nationalism was ?primarily a principle which holds that the political and national unit should be congruent.'[11] There are many or different types of nationalism and nearly every historian seems to have created their own chronology of its development. ?Nationalism? as Carr understands it, has gone through at least three distinct periods in which it carried different meanings. Özkirimli suggests there are four: the first being eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when the idea of nationalism was born?.[12] In this case we are dealing with what Snyder (1954) classified as ?Integrative Nationalism (1815-71). [...]

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