Nationalism (851-0595-00)

Nationalism (851-0595-00)

This course introduces nationalism as a historical process with its roots in European history. The contemporary aspects of nationalist politics within the international system will also be covered.

Nationalism is one of the most salient phenomena in the contemporary world. Yet it remains an under-theorized topic in International Relations. This course attempts to fill this gap by integrating nationalist and ethnic phenomena into the core of IR theory. It does so by going back to the historical roots of the phenomenon. Conceived of as a macro-historical process constituting a new actor type - the nation - that sometimes, but not always, coincides with the state, nationalism has changed the logic of world politics at least since the French Revolution. In order to understand this transformation, however, it is necessary to understand the way that state-formation unfolded in early modern Europe.

Once the historical and conceptual roots of nationalism have been traced, the attention turns to its manifestations and consequences in the contemporary international system. The last part of the course applies the findings of the first part to issues in the contemporary world, including decolonization, the end of the cold war, post-communist politics, ethnic conflict, supranational integration, pan-nationalist movements and their relationship to religion and terrorism. The ultimate goal is to bring together these diverse phenomena under a common conceptual umbrella, which could ultimately serve as a spring board for a thorough rethinking of IR theory.

Time: Wintersemester 2004/05; Wednesday 10:00-12:00
Room: HG E 33.1

Course schedule

Required books

Gellner, Ernest. 1983. Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Breuilly, John. 1993. Nationalism and the State. 2nd ed. Chicago: Chicago University Press.


Prof. Dr. Lars-Erik Cederman (D-GESS)
ETH Zurich Center for Comparative and International Studies
Seilergraben 49
8092 Zürich
Telephone: 01-632 67 59


Kimberly Sims
CIS, Room E 3.0