Nationalism, Ethnicity and Self-Determination: A Paradigm Shift?

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    An ongoing paradigm shift is giving birth to a more multidimensional understanding of the relationship between nationalism, sovereignty, self determination and democratic governance. A common element across the various versions of the new paradigm is the dispersal of democratic governance across multiple and overlapping jurisdictions. Governmental processes are no longer seen as discrete, centralised and homogenous as in the old nation-state model, but as asymmetrical, multilayered and multicultural, with devolution into multiple jurisdictions. These changes have hardly affected the two main conceptual frameworks that dominate the study of nationalism, Modernism and Ethnosymbolism. As a result, they risk becoming irrelevant to the new forms of national self determination, asymmetrical governance and shared sovereignty. Modernism and Ethnosymbolism insist that nationalism seeks to equate the nation with a sovereign state, while in reality the overwhelming majority of nations are stateless and unable to build nation states, as they often inhabit territories shared with other nations. The paradigm shift occurs precisely with the realisation that nation state sovereignty is no longer a feasible solution to the demands of stateless nations. Ethnosymbolism is in a much better position to adapt to the paradigm shift provided it abandons the claim that the nation state is the best shell for the nation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)319-332
    Number of pages14
    JournalStudies in Ethnicity and Nationalism
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


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