ETHNICITY, NATIONALISM, AND NATION-STATES
Ethnicity, nationalism, nations, and nation-states were, and still remain, one of the most
powerful and emotionally charged political, social, ideological, and cultural forces of the last two
Practically all, or almost all, major events in the world history during the last two hundred
years: revolutions and counter-revolutions, the emergence of modern nation-states, colonialism, the
two world wars and numerous regional and local wars and conflicts that are still going on in different
parts of the world, national-liberation movements, decolonization process, and many others, were in
one way, or another, connected with nationalism, or were influenced by nationalism.
Ethnic groups and ethnicity
All over the world individuals have multiple identities. In contemporary societies, in addition
to identities based on kinship, an individual may be a member of a political party, a trade union, a
golf club, a religious congregation, and so on. One of almost universal identities is the ethnic one,
connected with perceived roots of shared culture and history. The word “perceived” cannot be
With regard to ethnicity, social reality is simply what people believe.
are self-conscious collectivities that perceive themselves different from other
similar ones. They have some specific cultural characteristics which serve segregation functions, and
their members claim common descent and/or shared historical experience.
Just like anything else in a society,
are not natural. They are social
constructs. Ethnic groups are products of intergroup relations. If there were only one human group