What are Nation States?
Why are there so many separate countries?
Humans have always partitioned
space to separate themselves from
other human groups
This is similar to other species (think of
a dog marking its territory)
The creation of territory is the basis
for political organization and action
Most states are recognized as such by other states, and their
territory is respected: they are governed by a recognizable
body, with rules for the administration of the state.
What state do you live in?
Who recognizes your state?
What is the body that governs your state?
Individuals are therefore tied to a state and subject to its rules
A Nation is not the same as a state. A nation is
Cultural group which is based on variables such as
Language – Example:
Religion – Example:
Ethnicity – Example:
These factors give people a sense of identity.
A State is
Formally defined political territory
Clearly Defined Set of Instutitions
Including Rule Making and Enforcement
Claims Exclusive Jurisdiction over all the people and activities
within the state.
A Nation State state is a combination of both…
A Clearly defined cultural group (nation) occupying a defined
territory (a state)
How did the Nation State arise?
Required the concept of Nationalism (belief that the
nation and the state should be the same), and that there
is no other appropriate way to delimit a nation state. It is
therefor the natural political unit.
It has also been argued that nationalism also means
All members of the nation have the right to live within the
the borders of the state.
That it may be inappropriate for other national groups to live
within the borders.
The gov’t must be in the hands of the dominant group.
In 19th Century Europe, Nationalism became the dominant
criteria for defining a nation in the 19th century. Before
that, most people tended to just accept whatever empire or
leader was in charge.
What caused this to change???
Four possible explanations for the emergence
of the nation state:
Response to political philosophers, especially
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
Desire to be closer to people of similar cultural
Transition from feudalism to capitalism
People who benefitted from the means of
production wanted a stable state (Marxist
Collapse of local communities (because of
industrialization) and the need for coordination
of a larger group
I am Jean Jacques
Rousseau, and I
Not all states are Uni-National
Despite the rise of nationalism, the world has many
examples of multinational and bi-national states.
What are some examples? Why do they meet this
Multi and Bi-National States
African countries whose boundaries were
drawn by Europeans without considering
African national cultural groups.
Many multinational state are unstable in
Bi-national states include Canada and
Belgium, both of which suffer internal
stresses due to differing political desires of
dominant cultural groups.
Cultural Sub Nationalism
Cultural Sub Nationalism
When the entire population of
the state is not bound by the
same sense of nationialism, but is
split among local primary
This can lead to civil war or
Example: Sri Lanka’s civil war
just ended in 2009. The LTTE
wanted to create a separate
independent state in the
North. India became involved
sending troops into Sri Lanka.
Sub-nationalism is one of the centrifugal forces that pull
nation apart, as compared to centripetal forces (like a
strong sense of nationalism) which tend to bind a state
Sub-nationalism has led to strong authoritarian rulers in
some states, especially Africa, who argue it is the only
way to keep the country intact.