Nationalism and State Sovereignty

The concept and reality of nationalism and state sovereignty, rooted in the west and bound up in its rise and impact as a dominant civilization, are now, owing to accelerating globalization, causing conflict worldwide, and are in fact challenging and complicating the very dominance taken for granted by the west in the modern age.

This module explores the phenomena of nationalism and state sovereignty, both as concepts and realities, in our contemporary globalized age.  The first four lessons include a structured, close analytical reading and discussion of designated aspects of assigned primary sources, with the instructor incorporating and elaborating the students’ ideas to flesh out the given lesson’s conceptual outline, and to provide a thematic transition to the next lesson. In the last two lessons, students make graded, group PowerPoint presentations on contemporary examples of conflict between national sovereignty and the pressures brought to bear by an external state authority.

1. Explain the modern understanding of the terms “nation,” “nationalism,” “state,” and “sovereignty.”
2. Trace the historical origins of the nation or nation-state, and the emergence of nationalism in the world.
3. Describe in abstract terms the basic interplay and connections, the tensions and conflict, between the nationalism and sovereignty of the contemporary nation-state and the pressures, demands, and exigencies imposed by global forces.
4. Demonstrate a fundamental knowledge of at least one contemporary situation (one may choose from Georgia/Russia, Turkey/European Union, Ireland/European Union, Tibet/China, Iran/United Nations, Pakistan/United States, for example) in which a nation-state’s sovereignty and sense of national pride clash with external forces.

Testimonial from a Piloter of the Nationalism and State Sovereignty Module

Click to view this video with subtitles.