National Identity and Political Identity: Resolving the Stateless Nationalists' Dilemma.

Working Paper, Max Weber Programme

The internal political tendencies making up national movements tend to bifurcate or, at times, trifurcate, into two or three basic nationalist orientations: independentist nationalism, autonomist nationalism, and federalist nationalism.


Stateless nationalists therefore face a fundamental political dilemma.  While all nationalists pursue nation-affirming and nation-building goals, they have three fundamental political identities to choose from. The general expectation is that a nationalist would seek to align her nation with a state, but in the contemporary world, we find many nationalists who do not seek their own state, and instead seek an autonomous special status or the status of a constituent unit within a federation.


This article seeks to explain how nationalists go about resolving their fundamental political dilemma.


Rejecting  deterministic accounts of nationalism, this article argues that stateless nationalists are distinguished by having concentric political identities:  they have a political identity that reflects their sense of national identity and belonging, and they have another that reflects their preferred political/constitutional orientation vis-à-vis the central state.


The argument evinces the importance of political factors in explaining how stateless nations’ nationalists resolve their dilemma.   My argument points us towards a revalorization of the primacy of political factors in understanding the origins of the contemporary internal variation in the political and constitutional orientation of stateless nations’ national movements.  Nationalists adopt these various orientations as part of an overarching political strategy, in the course of performing a balancing act between economic, political, and cultural factors.  





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