Nations and Nationalism: Introduction to Nationalism Studies

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The course serves as a comprehensive introduction to the study of nationalism. Its main objective is to familiarize students with the key analytical tools that make possible the systematic and comparative examination of the different manifestations of nationhood related social and political issues. The course will explore the main contemporary theories and approaches, analyze key concepts and discuss classical debates in the study of nationalism. In addition, it will also provide students with a structured overview of the main disciplinary and interdisciplinary methods used in the study of nationalism, taking stock of both top-down macropolitical as well as bottom-up microsociological approaches.


In the first classes, we will discuss why and how nationalism is still an important moving force in contemporary politics and why its scholarly study is still relevant. We will use the departmental field trip to Budapest (as well as a separate visit to the Haus der Geschichte Österreich in Vienna) to experiment with ‘grounded research’ approaches and study the representation/construction of national history in museums, struggles over national memory in urban spaces, manifestations of banal nationalism and everyday nationhood. We will then critically engage with the major systematic typologies of nationalism, examine how key concepts, such as ‘nation’, ‘nationalism’, ‘ethnicity’, 'identity', ‘race’ and related terms are used by different authors and within different disciplines. In the next thematic section of the course, we will discuss the main theories (modernism, constructivism, primordialism, postmodernism) that provide generic frameworks to explain nationalism. Next, we will briefly examine how nationhood and ethnic symbolism are reproduced in contemporary nationalist discourse, politics and daily life. We will examine the intersection of nationhood and commerce, explore nationalist narratives in pop culture and discuss the phenomenon of national indifference. In the last three classes, we will focus on contemporary nationhood related debates and explore populist nationalism, online diaspora nationalism and the implications of ancestry DNA testing on ethnic politics, nationalism and national identity.


Students registered for this course are expected to attend classes and participate in in-class discussions. All students must read all the readings, and give a presentation on recommended readings. In-class presentations should sum up and critically analyze the argument of the assigned readings. Presentations are expected to contextualize ideas by drawing on literature not listed in the syllabus, and students are encouraged to assess the implications of the presented theories through relevant case studies. In addition, students are also expected to design and present a group project using grounded research during the Budapest field trip and/or the visit of the Haus der Geschichte Österreich in Vienna.

Seminar paper requirements


Students are to prepare a final paper (4,000 – 6,000 words plus bibliography) on a subject connected to the topics discussed in the course. All students are requested to submit a short and preliminary paper proposal (300-500 words) so that the course instructors can help their project with comments and suggestions. In the paper, students are expected to put forward a short but original hypothesis and discuss a specific case by applying the theories and methods learned in the course. Both normative papers, empirical/institutional analysis of individual cases, and comparative analysis of nationalist politics are welcome. Papers should include the critical and comparative analysis of class readings on the topic and include ideas on the applicability of the readings. Papers submitted after the deadline will be marked down by half of a letter grade every three days. All written assignments must be submitted by e-mail (please cc the teaching assistant as well) in Microsoft Word format.


Seminar papers are evaluated according to a number of criteria including the

a, scholarly relevance of the research;

b, the relevance and adequacy of the research methodology;

c, critical use of a wide range of literature and theories;

d, originality of the argument;

e, consistency and coherence of the argument;

f, form and language of the presentation.


Course evaluation


Class participation and activity:                     10%

In-class presentation:                                      25%

Group project presentation:                            10%

Final paper:                                                     55%