Nationalism, Exclusion and Violence: A Territorial Approach
By John Robert Etherington
Volume 7, Issue 3, pages 24-44
Nationalism can be understood as a doctrine of territorial political legitimacy, in the sense that demands for national self-government necessarily involve claims over a given territory. Such claims are ultimately justified by establishing a relationship of mutual belonging between the nation and ‘its’ territory. This makes nationalism intrinsically exclusionary and potentially violent, since purely civic nations become impossible in practice. Shared political and social values on their own fail to bind nation and territory together, and as such the nation’s ‘home’ might be anywhere, and thus, in a world of competing political claims over territory, nowhere. Ethnic elements of national identity are therefore necessary if an exclusive relationship is to be established between the nation and ‘its’ territory. These arguments are illustrated by analysing a series of nationalisms that have been traditionally considered to be ‘civic,’ such as those found in the United States, Canada and England.
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