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The Identity of Nations

ISBN: 978-0-7456-2662-8
248 pages
January 2008, Polity
The Identity of Nations (0745626629) cover image
What is national identity? What are the main challenges posed to national identity by the strengthening of regional identities and the growth of cultural diversity? How is right-wing nationalism connected to the desire to preserve a traditional image of national identity? Can we forge a new kind of national identity that responds to the challenges of globalization and other deep-seated changes?

In this important new book, Montserrat Guibernau answers these and other compelling questions about the future of national identity. For Guibernau, the nation-states traditional project to unify its otherwise diverse population by generating a shared sense of national identity among them was always contested, and was accomplished with various degrees of success in Europe and North America.

Such processes involved the cultural and linguistic homogenization of an otherwise diverse citizenry and were pursued by different means according to the specific contexts within which they were applied. At present, the impact of strong structural socio-political and economic transformations has resulted in greater challenges being posed to the idea that all citizens of a state should share a homogeneous national identity.

Diversity is increasing, and plans for further European integration contain the potential to generate significant tensions, casting greater doubt on the classical concept of national identity.

As a result, we are faced with a set of new dilemmas concerning the way in which national identity is constructed and defined. The book offers a theoretical as well as a comparative approach, with case studies involving Austria, Britain, Canada and Spain, as well as the European Union and the United States of America.

The Identity of Nations will be essential reading for advanced students and professional scholars in sociology, politics and international relations.

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  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • 1. What is national identity?
  • Identity
  • National identity
  • The dimensions of national identity
  • Constructing national identity
  • Challenges to a homogeneous national identity
  • National identity and citizenship
  • Finding new common enemies
  • Media and education
  • 2. National identity, devolution and secession
  • The rise of modern Quebec nationalism
  • Accommodating Quebec
  • Canadian nation building: Trudeau’s vision
  • Failed attempt to recognize Quebec as a ‘distinct society’ within Canada
  • Quebec nationalism: a recurrent phenomenon
  • Canadians: For federation in spite of dissatisfaction with the government
  • Spain: symmetric devolution
  • Britain: asymmetric devolution
  • Does devolution promote single or multiple identities?
  • Does devolution foster separatism?
  • 3. The impact of migration on national identity
  • What is an ethnic group?
  • Ethnicity and the nation state
  • Immigration, citizenship and national identity
  • Integration models: ghettoization, assimilation and multiculturalism
  • The birth of Austrian national identity
  • Austria’s migrants: origin and numbers
  • Migrants’ contribution to the economy
  • On Austria’s internal diversity: autochthonous minorities and immigrants
  • On Austria’s special relationship with South Tyrol
  • Migration: ‘cultural enrichment’ or ‘cultural threat’?
  • Immigrants as permanent ‘outsiders’: the FPÖ
  • 4. On European identity
  • The cultural frontiers of Europe
  • On what divides Europeans
  • On what unites Europeans
  • Towards a European identity?
  • On how Europeans regard the EU
  • The EU: a ‘non-emotional’ identity
  • Challenges to a EU identity
  • 5. Rethinking American Identity
  • The melting pot metaphor
  • African-Americans: an unresolved question
  • Native nationalism in the USA
  • European-Americans: The new ethnicity
  • What does it mean to be American?
  • 6. Reactions to the end of ‘pure’ national identities
  • Globalization as a transformation agent
  • The new radical right and identity in Western Europe
  • The Dream of a ‘white Europe’
  • Against immigrants
  • For ‘pure’ national identities
  • Against multiculturalism
  • Ethnopluralism: a response to ‘too much diversity’
  • 7. National identity versus cosmopolitan identity
  • Cosmopolitanism: a multi-level theory
  • On global culture
  • On cosmopolitan culture
  • On cultural cosmopolitanism
  • Cosmopolitanism: a Western theory
  • On cosmopolitan identity
  • ‘National’ versus ‘cosmopolitan’ identity
  • Cosmopolitanism versus nationalism
  • On cosmopolitan nationalism
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
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Montserrat Guibernau isProfessor of Politics at Queen Mary, University of London.
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  • Scholarly book by solid author that answers compelling questions about the future of national identity
  • Examines the decline of nationalism and national identity associated with the nation state, and the emergence of new forms of nationalism outside and within its boundaries
  • Illustrative examples drawn particularly from Europe and North America - case studies include Canada, Spain, UK, Austria, the EU and America
  • Cross-cutting themes include the future of multiculturalism and the possibilities of cosmopolitanism
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"While processes that challenge national identities in today's apparently global world are well detected and exemplified, Guibernau warns us that we are still far from understanding the internal dynamics of renegotiations of the meaning of these identities. Clear definitions, rich sources of data and a careful selection of relevant case studies all make this volume a good starting point for such investigation."
Political Studies Review

"Guibernau paints a broad panorama of national identities and their political mobilization in North America and Western Europe and argues for a “cosmopolitan nationalism” that reconciles moral universalism with a sense of national belonging. The Identity of Nations is an important and thoughtful contribution to current debates on multiculturalism, the rise of the radical right and the relation between national, European and global identities."
Rainer Bauböck, European University Institute, Florence

"Montserrat Guibernau brings together a vast experience of the study of nationalism and national identity. Since her original work on Nations without States, based upon her experience of her native Catalonia, she has gone on to study these topics in a variety of situations, especially in the United Kingdom and Canada. This book brings together her perceptive conclusions."
John Rex, University of Warwick

"The Identity of Nations is a trenchant analysis of the nature of national identity and contemporary challenges to its continued primacy by a scholar with impeccable credentials."
Walker Connor, Middlebury College

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