What is Nationalism?


There are four core debates which permeate the study of nations and nationalism. First among these is the question of how to define the terms "nation" and "nationalism." Second, scholars argue about when nations first appeared. Academics have suggested a variety of time frames, including (but not limited to!) the following:

It should not be surprising that the third major debate centers on how nations and nationalism developed. If nations are naturally occurring, then there is little reason to explain the birth of nations. On the other hand, if one sees nations as constructed, then it is important to be able to explain why and how nations developed. Finally, many of the original "classic" texts on nationalism have focused on European nationalism at the expense of non-western experiences. This has sparked a debate about whether nationalism developed on its own in places like China, or whether it merely spread to non-western countries from Europe.

In this section of The Nationalism Project you will find a collection of quotations from prominent scholars of nationalism. Of course, individual quotations are not a substitute for reading the important books being cited, but I hope that you will find this resource a helpful introduction to the scholarly views of nations and nationalism.

If you would like to suggest further additions to this section, please contact me.