Nations, Nationalism, National Identity: New Dimensions in Academic Discourse

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2015-59-11-91-102

I. Semenenko,  Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (

Acknowledgements. This article was prepared with financial support provided by the Russian Science Foundation [research grant 15-18-00021, “Regulating interethnic relations and managing ethnic and social conflicts in the contemporary world: the resource potential of civic identity (a comparative political analysis)”]. The research was conducted at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), RAS.

Abstract. Analyzing discourses on interethnic relations can contribute to a clearer understanding of the focal points of tensions in contemporary political communities sharing a common territory and common political institutions. These discourses represent the complex of problems related to nation-building and are generated both in the public sphere and in academic discussion. As such, they often develop separately one from the other. Assessing the current academic discourse on nations and nationalism, on nation-building and the nation-state, on citizenship, cultural diversity and interethnic conflict can contribute to the formation of the agenda of a politics of identity aimed at building a civic nation. Memory politics deserve special attention in this context, as the interpretation of historic memory has today become a powerful instrument that political elites can use to consolidate the nation and, in different contexts, to politicize ethnicity and deepen cleavages in existing nation-states. The affirmation of a positive civic (national) identity is a reference framework for modern democratic societies, and it is in meeting the challenges of politicizing ethnicity that political priorities and academic interests meet. However, the current domination of politics over academia in this conflict prone sphere contributes to its radicalization and to the formation of negative and exclusive identities that can be manipulated to pursue elitist group interests. Evaluating models of political organization alternative to the ones known today (such as “the nation-state”) does not aspire to “write off” the nation, but this can help to come up with visions and ideas politics can take up to overcome the conflict potential that contemporary societies generate over ethnic issues.

Keywords: academic discourse, interethnic relations, nation-state, nation-building, nationalism, ethnicity, ethnic (ethnopolitical) conflict, national identity, civic identity, identity narratives, citizenship, political nation

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For citation:
Semenenko I. Nations, Nationalism, National Identity: New Dimensions in Academic Discourse. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2015, vol. 59, no. 11, pp. 91-102.

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