Nationalism and Democracy

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Nationalism and Democracy resemble a couple in a stormy marriage. In the origin of (Western) democracies, the two were symbiotic: democracy often implied the imagination of a nation. Vice-versa, nationalism in its historical shape also implies the liberation of the people from authoritarian rule, and the introduction of self-rule. Nevertheless, nationalism today is often characterised as the enemy of (liberal) democracy. In the course of the transition towards democracy, (ethnic) nationalism often appears as a side-product, leading to civic conflicts and/or ethnocracies, rather than democracy. This course scrutinises the connection of nationalism and democracy. Thereby, it makes a tour d’horizon of several political science perspectives on nationalism. It starts with authoritarian political regimes, and the role of nationalism in the course of the transition towards democracy. It discusses why the introduction of democratic rule can lead to’ mobilisation along ethnic lines, and/or ethnic conflict. It looks at the rise of nationalist parties and populism, both in established democracies and democratising states. And it analyses to what extent public opinions and political cleavages are linked to the nation. Last but not least, the course analyses which models of democracy are best suited for multicultural societies, looking at political institutions and minority rights. The course is based on empirical research from contemporary multicultural regimes. The readings and class discussions combine a diversity of substantial arguments with empirical insights, and both quantitative and qualitative scholarship.


Pre-requisites : open for students enrolled in Nationalism Studies (core course) and for students enrolled in Political Science & IRES (elective), other programs: previous knowledge of social science methods required