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Articles in Nationalism

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 …

Greater Turkey Vs. Greater Iran

By Martin W. Lewis | November 24, 2011 | 24 Comments
Map of Greater Turkey and Greater Azerbaijan

 Visions of a Greater Iran, discussed yesterday, come into conflict with other imaginings of geopolitical enlargement, particularly that of “Greater Turkey.” Harsh debates are posted under maps of hoped-for state expansion. The following exchange, accompanying a YouTube clip proselytizing for Greater Iran, typifies the more civil end of the argument spectrum:
 Azerigull: Long live Greater Iran, Empire of Iran. To all …

Afghanistan and the Ethnolinguanymic State

By Martin W. Lewis | November 12, 2011 | 46 Comments
Map of Ethnolinguanymic States

A recent GeoCurrents post noted that Afghanistan is not a nation-state, lacking the requisite solidarity. Yet the very name of the country might lead one to expect a relatively high level of cohesion derived from a common ethnic background. To coin a term, Afghanistan is an “ethnolinguanymic state”—that is, a state named after a dominant ethnic group that speaks a …

Lozi (Barotse) Nationalism in Western Zambia

By Martin W. Lewis | September 15, 2011 | 6 Comments
Map of Barotseland; Lozi Kingdom at Its Height

The deeper roots of dissatisfaction in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip (discussed in the previous post) extend to the colonial dissolution of the Lozi Kingdom of Barotseland. Centered in what is now western Zambia, Barotseland was one of the strongest indigenous polities of southern central Africa, controlling a broad swath of territory that encompassed the Caprivi Strip

Greater Syria and the Challenge to Syrian Nationalism

By Martin W. Lewis | April 2, 2011 | 8 Comments
Map of Greater Syria

Syria faces challenges to its geopolitical integrity beyond those posed by its religious and linguistic diversity. Like Iraq, it owes its statehood and geographical boundaries largely to the actions of European imperial powers in the early 20th century. Modern Syria essentially covers the area grabbed by France from the Ottoman Empire after World

Libya’s Tribal Divisions and the Nation-State

By Martin W. Lewis | February 27, 2011 |

Unlike the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, that of Libya has a strong tribal component. When key tribal leaders rejected his regime, Muammar Gaddafi’s power began to evaporate from large segments of the country.
The phenomenon of tribalism in oil-rich Libya has caused some confusion in the media. A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor

Nationalism and Language in Egypt

By Martin W. Lewis | February 16, 2011 | 3 Comments

Those who doubt that the recent uprising in Egypt will lead to a stable democracy often cite the poor state of democratic governance in Iraq. Those optimistic about Egypt typically counter by contrasting democracy as imposed by a foreign conquest with democracy as derived from a popular uprising. Equally pertinent is Egypt’s

Russian Xenophobia and the History of the Finnic-Speaking Peoples

By Martin W. Lewis | January 31, 2011 | 2 Comments

Hostility toward foreigners is a major problem in Russia today. Xenophobic attitudes are common across a broad segment of the population, and violent assaults by skinheads and self-styled neo-Nazis on individuals perceived as foreign are common. People from the Caucasus region, stereotypically linked with organized crime and Islamic extremism, are often singled out

Contested Regionalism in Andalusia, León, and Asturias

By Martin W. Lewis | September 3, 2010 | 3 Comments

Controversies over identity and territory in Spain are not limited to the Catalan- and Basque-speaking areas. Calls for regional autonomy, nationality recognition, and even national status are being voiced elsewhere, too. Andalusia in southern Spain is one such place. Some seek to enhance the autonomy of Andalusia as a whole, while others seek to

Catalonia: Nationality or Nation?

By Martin W. Lewis | September 2, 2010 |

The Spanish policy of preserving national unity by devolving power to the regions faces three main challenges. First, some groups remain unsatisfied, pressing for enhanced self-rule or even outright independence. Second, members of several smaller unrecognized groups seek to hive off their own autonomous communities. Third, the borders of the existing autonomous communities poorly correspond

The Nation, Nationalities, and Autonomous Regions in Spain

By Martin W. Lewis | September 1, 2010 |

In everyday speech, “nation” and “nationality” are largely synonymous terms. “Nationality,” my desktop dictionary informs me, is “the status of belonging to a particular nation.” In Spain, however, the Spanish equivalents of the two terms have come to convey distinct meanings through political fiat. The official differentiation of the Spanish nation from several distinct Spanish

The Limits of French Nationalism

By Martin W. Lewis | April 12, 2010 | 2 Comments

France is often regarded as a model nation-state. Its national identity is pronounced, its government has long claimed to represent the national will, and its state structures are strong and centralized. But even in France, the nation-state remains an incompletely realized ideal. France’s colonial holdings and overseas department most clearly challenge the identity of state

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