Transformation of Nationalist Ideologies and State-Formation, 1492-Present

Sahan Savas Karatasli, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

This paper discusses the transformations in the forms and ideological content of state-led nationalism and state-seeking nationalist movements from 1492 to present. The conceptual-theoretical framework turns attention to the structural contradictions of strategies utilized by rulers to secure the loyalty of its citizens within their territories. The paper shows that each strategy by state elites to maintain the loyalty of its citizen/subjects and to secure the territorial integrity of their states had limits; and hence produced a reaction by political movements that aim to reform/oust the existing state or establish an independent state. The dialectical relationship between state-led nationalist strategies for securing loyalty and state-seeking nationalist movements struggling for independence has been the driving force behind the changing notions of the term "nation", varying practices of "nation-building", and transformation in the ideological content of "nationalism" throughout world history. Historical cases explore (1) how state-building strategies around religion (e.g. the use of Catholicism and the Spanish Inquisition by the Catholic Kings of the Spanish-Habsburg Empire) in the early 16th century, and the application of the cuius region eius religio principle contributed to the rise of religious proto-nationalist movements (such as Protestant nationalist movements) in Europe, (2) how state-led nationalist strategies invented by Charles I during the English Civil War and by Absolutist rulers of the 17th century (and the dissemination of the Hobbesian image of nation represented in the body of the sovereign) led to the rise of civic and popular forms of nationalist conceptions; (3) how nation-building strategies that focus on linguistic unity – which became widespread around the 19th century - contributed to the reactions by ethno-linguistic groups and produced ethno-linguistic forms of nationalism. The final section discusses emergent forms of nationalism in the 21st century through the application of this theoretical frame and historical observations.

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 Presented in Session 90. Ideologies and Political Formations