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Articles in Nationalism

GeoCurrents Editorial: Recognition for Iraqi Kurdistan and Somaliland

By Martin W. Lewis | September 16, 2015 | 13 Comments

(Note: GeoCurrents is a non-partisan blog devoted to providing geographical information, particularly in reference to current global events. On rare occasions, however, opinion pieces are posted on the site. This is one of those occasions. As I regard this issue as extremely important, this post will remain at the top of the GeoCurrents page for at least the next week.)
Now …

Kurdistan and Balochistan: Is National Self-Determination a Left/Right Issue?

By Martin W. Lewis | September 9, 2015 | 9 Comments

I have been wondering for some time how the issue of self-determination for so-called stateless nations fits into the standard, one-dimensional political spectrum. Historically, those on the left have been more favorably disposed to “national liberation struggles” than those on the right, who have more often advocated stability and the maintenance of the geopolitical status quo. By the same token, …

My Error on Ukraine’s Political Divisions

By Martin W. Lewis | October 15, 2014 | 13 Comments

Several months ago, I posted an article and a map on GeoCurrents in which I divided Ukraine into a “nationalist” region and a “Russian-oriented” region. In retrospect, it seems that most of the area that I had designated as “Russian-Oriented Ukraine” does not actually fit that category. Despite the fact that a few pro-Russian demonstrations have occurred in a number …

Ukrainian Regionalism and the Federal Option

By Martin W. Lewis | April 4, 2014 | 41 Comments

Like many other pundits, David Frum fears that Vladimir Putin is plotting to transform Ukraine into a weak federation and then transform some of its federal units into de facto Russian dependencies. As he argues in a recent Atlantic article:
In the weeks since Russian forces seized Crimea, Vladimir Putin’s plan for mainland Ukraine has become increasingly clear: partition. Putin’s ambassadors …

Casamance – harmonious name, discordant reality

By Claire Negiar | February 26, 2014 | One Comment

The Casamance has long been a region in limbo, caught between worlds: today trapped between Senegal and The Gambia, it was subject to both French and Portuguese colonial efforts before the border was negotiated in 1888 between the French colony of Senegal and Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau) to the south. The settlement resulted in Portugal losing possession of the Casamance, which was at the time the commercial hub of its colony.

Seek and Thou Shall Fiend: French Satirical Maps

By Claire Negiar | February 1, 2014 | 5 Comments

As any tourist who has traveled to France knows, the French are master critics. But they tend to spare nobody in the line of fire—not even their own compatriots. In the series entitled “La carte de France vue par ses habitants,” the French website offers a variety of satirical mappings of the divisions of France as seen by inhabitants of some of its main geopolitical and cultural hubs: Paris, Marseilles, Toulouse, Brittany, and Normandy.

Explaining the Rapid Rise of the Xenophobic Right in Contemporary Europe

By James Mayfield | July 22, 2013 | 258 Comments
Copyright James Mayfield

The last three decades have witnessed a remarkable rise in xenophobic, deeply conservative, and even extreme right-wing parties across much of Europe. Whereas thirty years ago most xenophobic parties failed to even pass the 5% minimum voter threshold that is typically required to enter government, they now constitute as much as ~28% of the parliament in countries like Austria, and arguably have reached the ~70% level in Hungary. Hoping to understand these surprising changes in the European political climate, this post will briefly analyze the characteristics of the xenophobic right as of 2013, underscore the diversity of xenophobic parties, and try to explain some of the patterns encountered when the far-right takes hold, as well as their exceptions.

Bavarian Separatism and the Franconian Issue

By Martin W. Lewis | September 28, 2012 | 6 Comments

Bavarian separatism, a long-standing if still rather minor political movement, is finally getting some attention in the global media, thanks to the recent publication of Bayern kann es auch allein (or Bavaria Can Also Go It Alone), a book described by Canada’s Maclean’s as a “191-page polemic covering a range of standard Bavarian complaints about the present German (and European) political order and a paean to the benefits and glories that await an unfettered Free State of Bavaria.”

The On-Going Japan Sea/East Sea Naming Controversy

By Martin W. Lewis | June 22, 2012 | 15 Comments

The South Korean government was severely disappointed by the April 2012 meeting of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), as the global body responsible for standardizing the world’s maritime place-names declined to change the name of the sea sandwiched between Korea and Japan. The IHO will continue to refer to this stretch of the ocean as the “Sea of Japan,” a …

Mapping Language and Politics in Latvia

By Martin W. Lewis | April 12, 2012 | 4 Comments

A comment from a GeoCurrents reader last week mentioned the linguistic situation in Latvia, where almost 40 percent of the population speaks Russian rather than Latvian as a first language. As it so happens, Latvia recently held a referendum on whether to elevate Russian to the status of a second official language. The election attracted a large turnout, more than …

Cartography, Slovenian Nationalism, and Its Limitations

By Martin W. Lewis | April 11, 2012 | 5 Comments

Cartography has long been an important tool for nationalism, as nationalist activists have used mapping to help establish the foundations of their national communities in the public mind. In the case of 19th century Slovenian nationalism, struggling against the Austrian Empire, cartography was particularly important; Peter Kozler’s famous map of the Slovene Lands, published in 1854, helped establish the idea …

Scotland’s Past and Future Mapped

By Martin W. Lewis | April 6, 2012 | 23 Comments
British Isles 400 CE Map from Talessman's Atlas

The best on-line source of maps of pre-modern world history is Thomas Lessman’s Talessman’s Atlas of World History, hands-down. Lessman’s maps are well designed, aesthetically pleasing, and comprehensive. I have posted a magnified detail of his map of the world in the year 800 CE, depicting the British Isles. I do this in part to show the level of specificity …

Dreams of a Circassian Homeland and the Sochi Olympics of 2014

By Martin W. Lewis | January 27, 2012 | 6 Comments
Map of the Circassian Republics in Russia

The resurgence of Circassian identity in recent years faces daunting obstacles. Many Circassians believe that the long-term sustainability of their community requires a return to the northwestern Caucasus, but both the Russian state and the other peoples of the region resist such designs. Circassians are thus focusing much of their efforts on global public opinion, building a protest movement in …

Historical Clues and Modern Controversies in the Northeastern Caucasus: Udi and Ancient Albania

By Martin W. Lewis | January 23, 2012 | 32 Comments
Map of Hurrian Kingdoms, 2300 BCE

The Caucasus is rightly called a “mountain of languages.” Linguistic diversity reaches its extreme in the Russian republic of Dagestan and adjacent districts in northern Azerbaijan. The nearly three million inhabitants of Dagestan speak more than thirty languages, most of them limited to the republic. Such languages may seem inconsequential to outsiders, mere relict tongues of minor peoples. Yet a …

Mega-Nationalist Fantasy Maps of the Balkans

By Martin W. Lewis | December 1, 2011 | 19 Comments
YouTube Maps of Greater Hungary and Greater Slovakia

YouTube videos of “greater countries,” which imagine the glorious expansion of existing states, have a distinct geographical distribution. The vast majority of these hyper-nationalistic fantasies come from the region stretching from Pakistan to Hungary. Although a number of “greater” countries outside of this area have been proposed, few are supported at the popular level by YouTube productions. Greater Morocco, for …

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