From Empire to Nation-State: The Nation in Europe Since 1789

CEU code: 
IRES 5126
CEU credits: 
ECTS credits: 
Academic year: 
Start and end dates: 
22 Sep 2008 - 19 Dec 2008
Stream/Track/Specialization/Core Area: 
European Studies



In the context of the expansion of the European Union, the relinquishing of state sovereignty has become a basic – if contentious -- assumption of European politics; at the same time, within this “United States of Europe” we see the acceleration of nationalist movements that, in the extreme cases, move towards secession and the creation of new countries based on the national principle (Kosovo, e.g.). This course seeks to better understand this aspect of contemporary European politics through an excursus into the history of the nation-state and its evolution since the French Revolution in 1789. In the process, we explore the issue of the extent to which present-day international relations within Europe reflect historical legacies, among others the effects of the disintegration of four multi-national empires after World War I and the creation of dozens of new nation-states in its aftermath.




Europe today is characterized by the contradictory simultaneous processes of integration and disintegration. In the context of the expansion of the European Union, the relinquishing of state sovereignty has become a basic assumption of European politics. At the same time, within this “United States of Europe” we see the acceleration of nationalist movements that, in the extreme cases, move towards secession and the creation of new countries based on the national principle (Kosovo, e.g.). The central assumption of the seminar is that these contradictory processes can be illuminated through examining historical legacies – namely, the rise of the nation-state and the disintegration of four multinational empires in the early 20 th century. Thus, the course seeks to better understand trends in contemporary European (dis)integration through an excursus into the historical evolution of three related themes: “Nation,” “State” and “Empire.”


The seminar is divided into five sections. First, we study critical theories of nationalism to help us better understand the concept of “nation” and the development of its political significance in the European context. Second, we examine the way in which “nation” melded with the separate idea of the “state” in the formation of the European nation-state. Third, we look at the latest developments in the field of “empire studies” to gain an understanding of how the imperial theme is useful for the analysis of contemporary European politics. Fourth, we briefly consider the challenges facing the nation-state in the 21 st century, asking about the extent to which the European experience reflects broader global processes. Finally, we devote the last six seminar sessions to an empirical analysis of post-Cold War European politics in light of the theories previously discussed.




The course seeks to provide students with a strong understanding of:


The main theoretical approaches to the study of nationalism and the evolution of the concept of “nation” in Europe

The development of the (nation)-state as the central actor on the European international arena

The conflicts between the national and imperial ideas in Europe throughout the last two centuries

The impact of historical legacies on contemporary European politics.



By the end of the course students will:


Critically engage with the debates on nationalism, the evolution of the nation-state, and the past and future of empire in Europe

Acquire a firm understanding of the ways in which historical legacies have shaped political outcomes in Europe

Apply their knowledge of the theories on nationalism, the evolution of the nation state and the idea of empire in the analysis of empirical cases.




1) Seminar participation: 20%


2) Two take home midterms: 25% each


3) Final exam: 30%


Breakdown of assignments:




The class is in combination lecture/seminar form. Normally, the instructor will present a short lecture and then open the class to discussion. During the discussion, students are expected to actively contribute to the debate; the instructor’s role is primarily to moderate and put the discussion in a broader context, helping you to tease out the main themes of the readings. To facilitate this process, before the start of each class, students are asked to submit up questions prepared for the day’s discussion, based on the reading. The students should submit one question per article assigned. The questions must be sent to the instructor by email before the start of the class.


As part of the participation grade, students will be asked to do one class presentation of no more than ten minutes, on a topic that will be determined during the course of the introductory seminar.


Attendance counts towards the participation grade. Students may miss three seminar sessions without presenting an excuse; after the third absence a written note from a doctor must be submitted to the instructor to avoid downgrading.


Two Take Home Midterms:


The take-home exams will be in essay format. Students will be asked to write several essays in response to questions posed about themes of the course specified in advance. The purpose is to demonstrate that the students are able to understand, assess and evaluate the competing theories we will examine over the semester, and present their own, well-argued, point of view.


Final Exam: Format to be determined


NOTA BENE(a)! PLAGIARISM WILL RESULT IN A “FAIL” GRADE FOR THE RELEVANT ASSIGNMENT. If you are not sure of what constitutes plagiarism, you may a/ consult the instructor, b/consult your CEU student handbook, and c/consult the academic writing center.


NOTA BENE(b): The instructor reserves the right to change the course content at any time during the semester, depending on the needs of the specific students taking the course.


NOTA BENE (c): As a rule, no extensions for exams are granted except in exceptional circumstances. Being stressed about exams/papers for other classes does not count as a reason to change the exam dates for this seminar. Nor do travel plans.




Seminar 1: Introduction




Seminar 2: The Primordialists: “Nations Have Always Been There”


J. Hutchinson and Anthony D. Smith, eds., Nationalism: A Reader (Oxford University Press, 1994). Excerpted writings by Renan, Stalin, and Geertz, 15-21; 29-34.


Anthony D. Smith, Theories of Nationalism (New York: Harper and Row, 1971), 153-191.




Walker Conner, Ethnonationalism: The Quest for Understanding. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 196-209.


George Schöpflin, “Nationalism and Ethnicity in Europe, East and West,” in Charles A. Kupchan ed. Nationalism and Nationalities in the New Europe, (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1995) 37-65.


Anthony Smith, The Ethnic Origins of Nations (Oxford, UK: Blackwell., 1986).


Seminar 3: Modernization Theory on Nations and Nationalism


Anthony Smith, Nationalism and Modernism: A Critical Survey of Recent Theories of Nations and Nationalism (London: Routledge, 1998), 1-24.


E. J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 101-130.




Ernest Gellner Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983), 1-7; 53-62.


Miroslav Hroch, Social Preconditions of National Revival in Europe Ben Fowkes, trans., ( New York: Columbia University Press, 2000).


Tom Nairn, “ Scotland and Europe,” New Left Review 83 (January-February 1974): 57-82.


Seminar 4: Constructivist Theories


Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1991), 1-46.




Rogers Brubaker, Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany ( Cambridge, MA:


Harvard University Press, 1992).


Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).


Prasenjit Duara, “Historicizing National Identity, or Who Imagines What and When” in Geoff Eley and Ronald Grigor Suny, eds. Becoming National: A Reader ( New York: Oxford University Press), 150-177.


Peter Sahlins, Boundaries: The Making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989), 133-167.




Seminar 5: The (Nation) – State: Definition and Evolution I:


Max Weber, “What is a State?” in Bernard E. Brown and Roy C. Macridis, eds.


Comparative Politics: Notes and Readings (Wadsworth: Belmont et al, 1996).


Theda Skocpol, “Bringing the State Back In,” in Brown and Macridis.


Martin Sicker, The Genesis of the State (New York: Praeger, 1991), 1-16.




Christopher Pierson The Modern State (London: Routledge, 1996).


Perry Anderson Lineages of the Absolutist State(London: Verso, 1974)


Seminar 6: The (Nation) – State: Definition and Evolution II: Before the State


Martin Van Creveld The Rise and Decline of the State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 1-58.



Evans, Peter Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation (Princeton: Princeton University Press)


Gianfranco Poggi The Development of the Modern State: A Sociological Introduction (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1978).


Seminar 7: The (Nation) – State: Definition and Evolution III:


Mathew Horsman and Andrew Marshall After the Nation State (London: HarperCollins, 1994), 3-22.


Hagen Schulze States , Nations and Nationalism (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1996), 197-230.




Aradhana Sharma and Akhil Gupta, Eds. The Anthropology of the State: A Reader ( Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2006)


Seminar 8: The (Nation) – State: Definition and Evolution IV:


Mathew Horsman and Andrew Marshall After the Nation State (London: HarperCollins, 1994) , 23-40


Hagen Schulze States , Nations and Nationalism (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1996), 264-302.



************************EXAM No. 1 ***********************************








Seminar 9: Defining the Concept…What are Empires, Anyway?




Ilya Gerasimov, Serguei Glebov, Alexander Kaplunovskii, Marina Mogilner, Alexander Semyonov, “ In Search of New Imperial History” Ab Imperio (2005/1), 33-56




Mark R. Beissinger, “ Situating Empire ” Ab Imperio (2005/3), 89-95








Alfred Rieber, “ Changing Concepts and Constructions of Frontiers: A Comparative Historical Approach” Ab Imperio (2003/1)




Seminar 10: HOLIDAY




Seminar 11: Defining Empire, II




Ann Laura Stoler, Carole McGranahan, “Refiguring Imperial Terrains,” Ab Imperio, 2006/2




Seminar 12: Defining Empire, III




Jeremy Adelman, “ An Age of Imperial Revolutions” Ab Imperio, 2008/1




Alexander Semyonov, “ Empire as a Context Setting Category” Ab Imperio, 2008/1



Zygmunt Bauman, “ In the Court Where Multi-Ethnic Polities Are on Trial the Jury is Still Out” Ab Imperio, 2008/1








Ronald Grigor Suny, “ Studying Empires” Ab Imperio, 2008/1




E.J. Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire: From 1750 to the Present Day (New York: Pelican, 1968)




Seminar 13: The Imperial Instinct in the Nation State




Hagen Schulze States , Nations and Nationalism (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1996) , 230-264












Seminar 14: Challenges I: Economic Globalization




Benjamin Barber, Jihad vs. McWorld ( New York: Ballantine Books), 23-33




Thomas Friedman, Lexus and the Olive Tree, Chapter 9








George Soros, “Toward a Global Open Society,” The Atlantic Monthly, Jan., 1998.




Peter Drucker, “The Global Economy and the Nation-State", Foreign Affairs, Sept-Oct.1997.




Seminar 15: Challenges II: Economic Globalization and Economic Policy




Friedman Lexus and the Olive Tree: Chapter 5




Martin Wolff, "Will the Nation-State Survive Globalization?", Foreign Affairs, January/February, 2001.








Richard N. Haass, "Sovereignty", Foreign Policy, September/October, 2005.




Gus Tyler, “The Nation-State vs. the Global Economy”, Challenge, March/April, 1993.




Seminar 16: Challenges III: Rise of Nationalism, Again: The Nation-State in Multi-Cultural Reality




Amitai Etzioni, “The Evils of Self Determination,” Foreign Policy, Winter, 1992-1993.




Graham Fuller, “Re-Drawing the World’s Borders,” World Policy Journal, Spring, 1997.








Amy Chua, “Globalization and Ethnic Hatred,” World On Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability ( New York: Doubleday, 2003), 229-258




Michael Lind, “In Defense of Liberal Nationalism," Foreign Affairs, May-June, 1994.




Gidon Gottlieb, "Nations without States", Foreign Affairs, May-June, 1994.




****************************EXAM No. 2 ********************************






Seminar 17: Collapse of USSR and its Aftermath:




Marc Beissinger Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State( Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 147 – 199.








Ronald Grigor Suny “ Socialism, Post-Socialism, and the Appropriately Modern: Thinking About the History of the USSR”Ab Imperio 2002/2




Lieven, Dominic. ' Russia as Empire: A Comparative Perspective.' In Reinterpreting Russia. Edited by Hosking, G.; Service, R. Edward Arnold, 1999.




Yuri Slezkine, “The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or How a Socialist State Promoted Ethnic Particularism,” Slavic Review 53, 2 (1994): 414-452.




Mark R. Beissinger “ Rethinking Empire in the Wake of the Soviet Collapse” Ab Imperio 2005/3




Seminar 18: Collapse of Yugoslavia and its Aftermath




Neil A. Abrams “ Nationalist Mobilization and Imperial Collapse: Serbian and Russian Nationalism Compared, 1987-1991 - 2” Ab Imperio 2002/2








V. P. Gagnon, The Myth of Ethnic War: Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s ( Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004)




Timothy Garton Ash, History of the Present ( New York: Random House, 2002)




Tim Judah, Kosovo: War and Revenge ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).




Sabrina Petra Ramet, Balkan Babel: The Disintegration of Yugoslavia from the Death of Tito to Ethnic War ( Boulder, CO: Westview, 2002).




Seminar 19: Versailles Redux: Belgium and other Unexpected Problems




Montserrat Guibernau, “Nationalism and Intellectuals in Nations without States: The Catalan Case” Political Studies 48, 5 (2000): 989-1005




Jose J. Jimenez Sanchez, “Nationalism and the Spanish Dilemma: The Basque Case” Politics&Policy 34, 3 (September 2006): 532-555.








Tony Judt, Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century ( New York : Penguin Press, 2008), especially chapter on Belgium.




Seminar 20: Self-Determination on Europe’s Periphery




Charles King, "The Benefits of Ethnic War: Understanding Eurasia's Unrecognized States," World Politics, 53 (2001): 524-552. HAND OUT








Rebecca Chamberlain-Creangã, “ The “Transnistrian people”? Citizenship and Imaginings of “the State” in an Unrecognized Country”Ab Imperio 2006/2




Svante E. Cornell, Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus ( Richmond: Curzon, 2001).




Mathijs Pelkmans, Defending the Border: Identity, Religion, and Modernity in the Republic of Georgia ( Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006).




Seminar 21: Europe as Empire?




Jan Zielonka Europe as Empire: The Nature of the Enlarged European Union ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 140-191








James Hughes and Gwendolyn Sasse “Monitoring the Monitors: EU Enlargement Conditionality and Minority Protection in the CEECs,” Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe (JEMIE), No. 1 (2003), 1-36.




Tesser, Lynn M. “The Geopolitics of Tolerance: Minority Rights under EU Expansion in East-Central Europe,” East European Politics and Societies, 17, 3 (2003).



Anthony Pagden, “There Is a Real Problem with the Semantic Field of Empire…”Ab Imperio, 2005/1




Seminar 22: Europe as Empire? Concluding Thoughts




Artemy Magun “ The Concept and the Phenomenon of Empire in the Contemporary World” (paper presented at ASN-Sciences Po conference on Empires in Paris, July 2008)




Jurgen Habermas The Post-National Constellation: Political Essays ( Cambridge, MA: Polity Press, 2001), 38-57.








Tariq Modood and Pnina Werbner, The Politics of Multiculturalism in the New Europe(New York: Zed, 1997).






********************FINAL EXAM***************************************