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Seduced by the Map, Chapter One: The Seductive Nation-State Model (Part 1)

Submitted by on September 6, 2022 – 2:19 pm |  

Seduction is not necessarily a bad thing.[1] That which is capable of seducing is by definition attractive. So it is with the standard world model. A political order based on a stable set of equivalent states, each representing its citizens and seeking to provide them with security and other benefits, is a deeply attractive prospect, whatever the countervailing draw of cosmopolitan globalism may be. Moreover, genuine progress has been made toward realizing this vision. Many countries do function more or less effectively as nation-states; not a few governments do strive to advance the well-being of their people. More important, the creation of an encompassing global community composed of such states, if only for the purpose of interceding between squabbling members and enhancing global concord, is embraced by millions as a boon for both humanity and the environment. As ineffective as the United Nations may sometimes be in practice, it would be dangerous to deny the value of its peace-keeping interventions or its rules and procedures for international engagement.

The problem lies in our tendency to mistake what is effectively a diplomatic vision for a description of realty. Having become accustomed to a fixed world map, we are ill-prepared for the anomalies of sovereignty that pop up everywhere once we look more closely. Three provisions of the standard world model in particular work together to cloud clear seeing: first, its representation of the terrestrial world as cleanly divided into a set of functionally equivalent countries; second, its erasure of virtually all polities other than those recognized as sovereign states;[2] and third, its suggestion that all sovereign states are nation-states. The last may have caused the most mischief. Many countries are not and have never been functional nation-states. Our stubborn investment in this idea makes it ripe for abuse by tyrannical regimes, which can claim to represent the will of their nations simply by virtue of the model’s presuppositions.[3]

The present chapter lays out and critiques the standard global model by probing its key terms: nation, state, country, and sovereignty. Given the fraught nature of each of these concepts, the scholarship fairly bristles with disagreement; even a brief overview such as this one must deal with debate at every turn. Academic arguments have been relegated to the endnotes where possible, but thorny definitional thickets come with the territory.


What Is a Nation-State?

The nation-state model is ubiquitous across the globe, employed by governments, embraced by the media, and disseminated by educational establishments. Since minor variations can be found from country to country, we will focus here on the version used in the United States. While world political maps that reflect this model look like straightforward depictions of geopolitical reality, this global vision is more prescriptive than descriptive. It represents the world as it would be if it accorded with the norms of the international community in general, and of the U.S. foreign-relations establishment in particular.

The identification of every sovereign country as a nation-state is the cornerstone of this model. According to the Cambridge Dictionary,[4] a nation-state is simply another term for an “independent country.”[5] The full concept, however, is more specific, positing an exact correspondence between the state (i.e., an organized government exercising sovereign political power over a clearly demarcated territory) and the nation. The latter term properly refers to a group of people – “the people,” in many formulations[6] – who believe that they form a collective entity that is, or should be, represented by a sovereign government of its own. A vast body of scholarship carefully distinguishes the state from the nation.[7] Yet this distinction is routinely ignored in public discourse. The conflation of state and nation is encoded in the very name of the United Nations, whose “nations” are often little more than aspirations. In practice, the UN is a collection of sovereign states, many of which have never rested on solid national foundations and several of which do not even exercise effective sovereignty over their lands. The idea that all independent countries are nation-states istenacious: so entrenched that no amount of evidence can dislodge it from our verbal and visual codes. Like the erroneous idea that medieval European thinkers viewed the world as flat,[8] it persists despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. While this is far from the first attempt to kill this zombie idea, it will surely not be the last.[9]

The vexed concepts of “nation” and “nationalism” have generated massive historical debates. As Benedict Anderson wrote more than a quarter-century ago, “it is hard to think of any political phenomenon which remains so puzzling and about which there is less analytic consensus.”[10] “Primordialists” see the nation as originating in ancient kingdoms that were cemented by ethnic ties;[11] “modernists” counter that it emerged only with the French Revolution, or even in the nineteenth century.[12] Although the extreme primordial view is now deemed untenable by most historians, many scholars still stress the deep-seated ethnic foundations of many nations. Anthony Smith convincingly dates some national sentiments in Europe to the late fifteenth century, arguing that durable groups united by historical myths form the core populations of many successful nations.[13] It is essential to note, however, that some of these early “nations,” Poland and Hungary in particular, were essentially aristocratic conceits that for centuries did not encompass the peasantry.

Rather than engage in this debate on conventional terms, I focus elsewhere. For even if some nations do have deep roots, the nation-state norm per se is a strikingly novel development. As Cornelia Navari notes, “it was only in 1918 that any government made being a nation-state the basic criterion of political legitimacy.”[14]

A prime test of what we might call “nation-stateness” is the effective identification of citizens[15] with the country in which they live. Normatively, people will regard their nation-state as their legitimate guarantor of security, their ultimate legal arbiter, and the main vehicle for their political aspirations, regardless of whether they support its specific government and policies at any given time. Yet in practice, almost every country on earth harbors significant groups of people who deny their state’s legitimacy, reject its demands on their loyalty, and claim to belong to a different nation that lies within or beyond their state’s boundaries. Rarely are such claims recognized officially; Bolivia is exceptional in having constitutionally declared itself to be a plurinational state.[16] In this view, Bolivia’s Spanish-mother-tongue population is seen as forming one nation — sometimes called the “Camba nation”[17] by its own separatists in the eastern lowlands — whereas the peoples who speak Quechua, Aymara, and other indigenous tongues constitute separate nations of their own within the same country. Following this logic, the Bolivian constitution lists no fewer than 36 official languages (including several that have gone extinct.)[18]

Bolivia’s official embrace of plurinationalism is recent and insecure, reflecting the newfound political power of its historically marginalized indigenous majority. But Bolivia is hardly alone in encompassing multiple nations within its borders. According to one Wikipedia article, seventeen of the world’s countries are multinational states.[19] This list could easily be lengthened, since most members of the United Nations contain populations that claim to form nations in their own right.[20] Even the United States, with its dozens of recognized indigenous nations, does not qualify as a nation-state in the strictest sense.[21] How exactly should we understand nation-stateness in such a context?

One way to resolve this quandary is to accept that “nationhood” can coalesce at more than one spatial level. As Guntram Herb and David Kaplan elaborate, identity takes shape at multiple scales.[22] A person can readily identify with both an ethnic nation (say, Catalunya) and a political-territorial nation (Spain).[23] Yet national identities at different scales do not always cohabit benignly. Most Catalan nationalists, for example, take umbrage at the idea that they also belong to the Spanish nation. By the same token, state authorities often object to the use of overtly national terminology by restive groups. The Catalans are not constitutionally allowed to define themselves as a full-fledged nacion, being permitted to refer to themselves only as a nacionalidad (nationality).[24] In a word, the concept of the nation, in political practice if not in scholarly discourse, tends toward exclusivity. While individuals might embrace several national identities at once, states typically seek more rigid formulae, effectively making people pick a side.[25]When Gavin Newsom, governor of California, declared his state to be a nation-state in the midst of Covid-19-related tussles with the federal government in early 2020, bemusement was the main reaction. Newsom was soon forced to admit that his pronouncement was not meant to be taken literally but was a rhetorical flourish, meant to convey “a sense of [California’s] scale and scope.”[26]

A more productive way to approach this question may be to adopt a historical vantage point, viewing the geopolitical order as a continual work-in-progress. The nation-state is often contrasted with earlier forms of political organization that were meant to vanish from the map with the transition to modernity: tribal associations, city-states, city leagues, confederations, multinational empires, and so on. Yet these alternative arrangements linger on in important ways. What is Singapore if not a city-state? That it also functions as an effective nation-state only shows that these categories are not mutually exclusive, defined as they are on different grounds (territorial scope, in the case of the city-state, and common identity in that of the nation-state). At the other end of the spectrum are the remnants of the great early modern empires. The world’s largest country, Russia, is explicitly structured as a multinational federation, as reflected in its official name: the Russian Federation. According to Christopher Coker, Russia actually forms a “civilizational state,” as does China, based on their own official rhetoric.[27] Both Russia and China are heirs to early modern empires and can be viewed as functioning even today in an imperial manner – but so too can France and the United States. It is difficult to square the position of such an entity as American Samoa – officially an “unincorporated and unorganized U.S. territory” – in the nation-state model; the best way to make sense of this “anomaly” is to acknowledge it as an enduring remnant of empire.[28]

Development of the Nation-State Idea

If, as these examples suggest, the nation-state is better understood as an aspirational norm than an accomplished fact, it behooves us to consider where that norm came from and how it caught on. Its intellectual lineage is largely European, although influenced by Europe’s encounter with different political traditions found in other parts of the world.[29] The ethno-linguistic concept of the nation is often thought to have originated with the works of Johann Gottfried Herder in the late eighteenth century. Herder conceptualized the nation in cultural terms, but his followers would soon politicize the concept.[30] Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) politicized the German ethno-nation obsessively, arguing that the very purpose of education should be “to bend the will of the young to the will of the nation.”[31] The resulting “state-seeking” construction of the nation gained traction during the Napoleonic turmoil in the early nineteenth century and found partial realization with the unification of Italy and Germany in the 1860s and 1870s.

Over roughly the same period, an alternative national ideal emerged, taking the French Revolution as its touchtone. In this version, “the people” of an existing state, regardless of ethnic considerations, should band together to claim sovereignty for themselves and thus achieve self-governance. A state so constituted would rest on the consent of the governed, thus ideally call for democratic governance.[32] As James Sheehan notes, such a fundamental reinvention of the state would, if successful, greatly enhance its power: “As the French example made clear, a state that was able to draw on the voluntary support and active participation of its members could mobilize resources – economic, political, and above all military – that greatly exceeded the capacities of the old regime.”[33] The “civic nationalism” developed in late eighteenth-century France applied most readily to western European countries that were characterized by relatively low levels of ethnolinguistic diversity—and to their former colonies in the Americas, which were able to exclude their various indigenous and enslaved[34] populations from their initial nation-building projects.

In the polyglot empires of the Habsburg, Romanov, and Ottoman dynasties, in contrast, the idea of civic self-governance across the entire state had less appeal, especially among members of politically marginalized minority communities. Instead, ethno-national separatists pushed hard to create new states of their own. The resulting ethno-nationalist projects took considerable intellectual effort. Folk songs and tales were assiduously gathered, historical narratives elaborately crafted. Many people had to be explicitly taught to see themselves as members of an ethnicnation. Even in the face of such efforts, resistance—and apathy—remained widespread. [35] As Tara Zaha documents in her study of “national indifference” in the Czech-German borderlands, as late as the 1920s, both Czech- and German-speaking parents often sent their children to families that spoke the other language to ensure that they achieved full bilingualism.[36] Nationalist stalwarts railed against such practices, arguing that they amounted to the “kidnapping of the nation.” But as John Connelly reminds us, most people in east-central Europe readily accepted nationalist teachings. In the Dual Monarchy of the Habsburg Empire, German and Hungarian elites generally disdained members of the other ethnic groups and many even hoped to extinguish their languages, thereby generating a heightened “crisis frame” for ethnonational secessionists.[37]      

Despite any misgivings and resistance on the ground, the varied strands of nationalist thought spread rapidly outside Europe. Japanese leaders embraced the nation-state ideal as part of a package of Western-derived political ideas and practices after the Meiji Restoration of 1868.[38] In Latin America, the spread of commercial printing and government-sponsored education nurtured national sentiments in the non-ethnically based states that had emerged out of anti-colonial revolutions of the early nineteenth century.[39]

Gaining momentum at the turn of the twentieth century, the nation-state dream caught fire in one anti-imperial movement after another. The post-WWI settlement, Erez Manela’s “Wilsonian Moment,”[40] marked the intellectual high point of ethnic nationalism. But the simultaneous “Leninist Moment” had related effects.[41] In the immediate postwar years, self-determination for hitherto stateless ethno-nations became the watchword of the day. This process entailed an intensive and hotly contested use of ethnographic maps.[42] The new international order, as framed by the leaders of the newly founded League of Nations, would be one of self-conscious, territorially expressed nations linked together in international cooperation. As expressed in a League of Nations convention on nationality law, humanity should be cleanly divided, with everyone enjoying membership in one self-determining nation and one nation only.[43]

Such rhetoric obscured deeper contradictions. The most prominent European members in the League of Nations were also imperial states, with extensive – and indeed newly enhanced[44] – overseas holdings. Far from trying to undermine imperialism, the League sought to legitimize it by subjecting it to a modicum of international oversight.[45]Most Western writers at the time argued that only European states, along with their North and South American off-shoots and a few modernizing Asian countries, could constitute nations that were worthy of self-government.[46] In practice, limitations were also placed on several aspiring European nations. Some were regarded as too small to form viable states; in others, geopolitics trumped language in the drawing of new boundaries; and a few defeated states (Hungary in particular) were territorially punished, losing much of their ethnonational lands to neighboring countries. Beyond that, the omnipresent mixing of ethnic groups across the European heartland—where urban enclaves often differed markedly from their rural neighbors—made the delineation of truly ethno-national states well-nigh impossible.[47] Attempts to make the landscape match the map – often through what would later be called “ethnic cleansing” – resulted in a surge of stateless people, among other human rights catastrophes, exposing the contradictions baked into the League of Nations charter.[48]

As the 1930s progressed, the survival of empires in the new world of nation-states, along with mounting statelessness and the emerging horrors of hyper-nationalism, led a number of political thinkers to envision alternatives to the state-based order. As noted by Mira Siegelberg, some concluded that complex confederations, marked by “multilayered government, with a palimpsest of legal jurisdictions,” would allow people “who did not feel that they shared the same history to share a common territory.”[49] In the immediate post-WWII period, however, the individualized state was firmly reinscribed. As Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt specified in their Atlantic Charter of 1941 (an essential UN precursor document), “hopes for a better future of the world” were to be based on the sovereign self-government of each nation, each identified with a specific state.[50] As Siegelberg pithily notes, the Charter “proclaimed a conception of world order premised on the centrality of sovereignty and the state.”[51]

The subsequent post-WWII settlement was thus much like that of WWI, but with subtle differences. The League was dead, but a similarly constituted enterprise, the United Nations, took its place. The individual nation-state would remain the cornerstone of the global political order, but with ethno-national considerations quietly downplayed. In the redrafting of the map of Europe in 1945, most new borders were baldly based on geopolitical calculations, territorially rewarding the victorious Soviet Union at the expense of a vanquished Germany, in contravention of the Atlantic Charter.[52] In this geopolitical re-engineering, ethnic considerations were strictly secondary.[53]

Such realpolitik did not mean that the nation-state ideal was abandoned. On the contrary, it now began to globalize explosively. Well before the war, anti-imperial activists had embraced national self-determination, finding encouragement in the brief “Wilsonian moment.” But what was “the nation” in such a context? Over most of the colonized world, imperially imposed boundaries cut across those of the ethnic groups that constituted the potential nations of ethno-nationalist discourse. Even though such boundaries were usually denounced as artificial lines imposed from afar, erasing them in favor of a more authentic alternative was seen as too fraught and difficult. As a result, most new countries appearing on the map between 1946 and 1975 would be based on the colonial geography. The fact that a state like Nigeria had no indigenous historical grounding did not mean that it could not turn itself into an effective nation. Doing so, however, would take serious work.

In some parts of the colonized world, ethnic nationalism had more political salience. In mainland Southeast Asia, for example, activists sought independent states based on pre-colonial kingdoms that had been closely associated with their leading ethnolinguistic groups. The post-war reformulation of nationalism thus required major accommodations. Aung San and other key Burmese nationalists, for example, now had to express regret for their “obsolete” prewar slogan, “Our race [ethnicity], our religion, our language.”[54] The newly independent Union of Burma, they promised, would be a pan-ethnic nation founded on civic principles. But, as explained by Robert Cornwell, the fact that they had been persecuting the Karen and other minority groups just a few years earlier, in concert with imperial Japan, made such promises ring hollow.[55] As it turned out, Burma would be effectively run as an ethno-national state. Not surprisingly, that generated deep resentments—and multiple, long-lasting ethnic insurgencies—among its minority populations. Changing the country’s name to the ostensibly more inclusive “Myanmar” in 1989 had little ameliorative effect.[56]

[1] Although most dictionary definitions of “seduction” stress its negative qualities, the Oxford English Dictionary lists as its fifth definition, “seductiveness, alluring quality.”  OED On-Line

[2] This point is forcefully made by Alexander Murphy (1997, p. 257): “one of the most notable features of Western social science between 1945 and the early 1970s was the tendency to treat the state as the only territorial unit of great significance in industrialized societies.”

[3] As John Agnew (1994, p. 59) argues, the nation-state construct “seems innocent enough, except that it endows the territorial state with the legitimacy of representing and expressing the ‘character’ or ‘will’ of the nation.”

[4] See the Online Cambridge Dictionary. The definition can be found here:  NATION-STATE | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary

[5] According to the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary, a nation-state is “(more generally any independent political state.)” OED On-Line

[6] As Bernard Yack (2003, p. 35) points out, “…we tend to use the worlds ‘nation’ and ‘people’ interchangeably, in both ordinary and scholarly language.”

[7] To be sure, not all scholarship on the subject maintains this essential distinction. Scholars as insightful as Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson (2012), for example, use the term “nation” as a simple synonym for “independent country,” as is reflected in the title of their important book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. Revealingly, such terms as “nation” and “nation-state” do not appear in the book’s index.

[8] Russell 1991.

[9] Devastating criticism of the model’s key components are so common that we cannot possibly do them justice. Here we would only highlight Robert D. Kaplan’s essay on “The Lies of Mapmakers,” in which he advised his readers to “consider the map of the world, with its 190 or so countries, each signified by a bold and uniform color,” and then went on to bemoan the fact that “this inflexible, artificial reality staggers on, not only in the United Nations but in various geographical and travel publications…” (2001, p. 38).

[10] Anderson (1996, 1). Similarly, Timothy Baycroft and Mark Hewitson (2006, p. 1) contend that the simple question “what is a nation” has yet to receive a satisfactory answer.

[11] See, for example, Roshwald (2006). Roshwald’s prime example of ancient nations is that of the Jews, but he also argues that “The ancient Greeks provide another striking example of national identity as a vital political, cultural, and ideological force in the ancient world” (p. 22).

[12] A prime example of the modernist thesis is found in Gellner’s Nations and Nationalism (2006 [second edition, original 1983]), which stresses the importance of industrialization. Eric Hobsbawm, another key modernist theoretician of the nation and nationalism, argued that the nation, “belongs exclusively to a particular and historically recent period,” and can only exist in the context of the modern territorial state (1990, p. 9).

[13] Smith (1986, pp. 11, 16, 212). See also Gat (2013). Although a number of nation-states arose around ethnic cores that long predated the industrial period, many successful nation-states have nothing in the way of an ethnic core, whether preexisting or recently invented. I generally concur with Patrick Geary’s counter-contention that nationalist ideology has led many to overplay the historical rooting and ethnic cohesion of European states, although I suspect that he engages in hyperbole of his own in arguing that “the history of Europe’s nations … has turned our understanding of the past into a toxic waste dump, filled with the poison of ethnic nationalism” (2002, p. 15).

[14] Navari 1981, p. 14.

[15] Citizenship is a surprisingly vexed concept, as each country can select criteria for citizenship in any way that it sees fit, and many do so in a highly restrictive manner; see Kochenov 2019. The term “national” is a more fitting if less evocative term, as it refers to all persons under the jurisdiction of the country in question.

[16] “The Transition from a Nation State to a Plurinational State,” by Jubenal Quispe, in Bolivia Rising, June 29, 2007. The transition from the nation state to a plurinational state

[17] “Bolivia’s Separatist Movement,” by Teo Ballvé. Nacla, September 25, 2007.

[18] For a list of the official languages, see Article Five of the Bolivian constitution, available at:

[19] These supposed multinational states are as follows: Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Madagascar, Montenegro, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. See “Multinational State”

Not surprisingly, other entries in this crowd-sourced encyclopedia regard all independent polities as nation-states. The article on “Westphalian Sovereignty,” for example, describes state sovereignty as “the principle of international law that each nation-state has sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs, to the exclusion of all external powers, on the principle of non-interference in another country’s domestic affairs, and that each state (no matter how large or small) is equal in international law.”

[20] Anatoly M. Khazanov is worth quoting in this context: “Many alleged nation-states are simultaneously characterized as multiethnic states, states with plural or multicultural societies, and so on. In fact, in addition to stateless nations, there are states without nations, that is, states that in the modern sense lack any nations at all. At best, these might be characterized as ‘nation-states to be’ but only if one wants to demonstrate a good deal of optimism” (2003, p. 80).

[21] The nation-state status of the United States is also potentially challenged by the resurgence of national identity at the constituent-state level. Roughly a third of the residents of the most populous state in the union have so lost faith in the American project that they want to secede, at least according to “Calexit” polling in 2017. (“Support for California Secession Is Up, One Poll Says,” by Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2017.

[22] Herb and Kaplan 1999.

[23] Smith 1986, p. 166.

[24] This distinction is specified in the Spanish constitution: “The Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards; it recognizes and guarantees the right to self-government of the nationalities and regions of which it is composed and the solidarity among them all” (Section Two): CONSTITUTION

[25] See the discussion in Fukuyama (2018, p. 169). A charged example of nesting claims and counter-claims to national identity is found in China, a polity that historian Peter Perdue describes as the “multinational Chinese nation-state” (2010, p. 4). Such a seemingly oxymoronic turn of phrase signals Perdue’s disagreement with the official stance of the People’s Republic of China, which posits a singular Chinese nation encompassing all ethnic groups that have ever lived within the current boundaries of the People’s Republic of China – including those that formed their own non-Chinese states in the past. In 2007 the PRC went so far as to ban South Korean historical dramas that (correctly) portrayed the two early Korean (or partially Korean) states of Goguryeo and Balhae, which held lands in what is now northeastern China, as Korean rather than as Chinese. (See “The China-South Korea History War,” by Martin W. Lewis, June 11, 2010. GeoCurrents: The China-South Korea History War). Similar tensions underlie controversies surrounding the national positions of the Tibetans and Uighurs.

[26] “Is California a Nation-State?” by Jill Cowen. New York Times, April 14, 2014.

[27] Coker 2019.

[28] Owing to the geopolitically anomalous situation of American Samoa, its residents have been classified as “nationals” but not “citizens” of the United States. In December 2019, a U.S. federal court ruled against this denial of citizenship, but the case remains under appeal. (

[29] Graeber and Wengrow (2021, 30-31) argue that the “idea that every government should properly preside over a population of largely uniform language and culture” is ultimately rooted in the Enlightenment’s encounter with China, as mediated through the works of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. They more generally argue that Enlightenment-era ideas about individual autonomy and self-determination that would play a major in the subsequent development of the liberal nationalism were rooted in the European encounter with indigenous North American societies.

[30] Several scholars have argued that Herder did occasionally make political claims for the nation, or that political claims were latent in his works. See Patten (2010) and van Benthem van den Bergh (2018).

[31] The quotation is from Kedourie (1960, 84).

[32] Sheehan, forthcoming

[33] Sheehan, forthcoming, p. 38.

[34] Although the enslaved people of African origin came from a wide array of ethnolinguistic groups, both their ethnic identity and indigenous languages were essentially erased in the process of enslavement and relocation.  Much of this was done though the mixing of slaves of diverse backgrounds in plantations and other labor sites. Certain ethnically distinct cultural markers and practices did persist, however, such as the largely Yoruba rituals of the Candomblé religion in Brazil.

[35] As Kedourie (1960, p. 119) noted, “So far from being part of the Polish nation, the peasants of Galicia and Russian Poland manifested complete indifference, and in some cases active hostility, to the Polish nationalists who came from the ranks for the gentry…”

[36] Zaha 2008.

[37] Connelley 2020, p. 24.

[38] Ravina 2017.

[39] Anderson 1983.

[40] Manela 2009.  As Wesley Reisser puts it, “The imperial state model prevailed prior to World War I, but following the war, the concept of the nation-state … dominated.” (2012, p. 11).

[41] As Terry Martin notes, “Lenin and Woodrow Wilson were the two great propagandists for the right of nations to self-determination” (1998, p. 859). The supposedly self-governing national republics of the new Soviet Union, however, were to be firmly subordinated to the Kremlin, with ethno-nationalist rhetoric employed mostly to help incite revolution; see Herman 2017, p. 208.

[42] Altic 2016. As Altic (2016, o. 184) notes, “Therefore, when assessing the actual ethnic composition of the population in a particular area, the Inquiry never relied on maps from a single source alone, but was constantly comparing the data it had received from all the interested parties. Their efforts to cope with this plethora of information, often quite contradictory, were exemplified in the fact that the Inquiry compiled, for their own purposes, a catalogue of all ethnographic maps of the Balkans (the list was 38 pages long!).”

[43] As specified in the Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Law of 1930: “Being convinced that it is in the general interest of the international community to secure that all its members should recognise that every person should have a nationality and should have one nationality only; Recognising accordingly that the ideal towards which the efforts of humanity should be directed in this domain is the abolition of all cases both of statelessness and of double nationality.” The document in question can be round at UNHRC’s “Refworld” website:

[44] The League of Nations awarded extensive former lands of the Ottoman Empire to the United Kingdom and France as “mandates.” Although Britain and France were supposed to administer these lands for the benefit of their indigenous populations, they were in effect governed as colonies.

[45] Pedersen 2015, P. 4.

[46] Pedersen 2015, p. 72 especially. As Susan Pederson further demonstrates, some League leaders thought that Britain and France could create nationalities in their new Middle Eastern mandates (colonies) but not in their new “uncivilized” African territories (2015, p. 72).

[47] This problem was stressed by Elie Kedourie (1960, pp. 115, 118).

[48] Siegelberg 2020.

[49] Siegelberg 2020, pp. 170-171.

[50] See “The Atlantic Charter,” reproduced on a North Atlantic Treaty Organization webpage:

[51] Siegelberg 2020, p. 160.

[52] The Atlantic Charter had expressed opposition to “territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned.”

[53] Reisser 2012, p. 175.  Although a number of countries, notably Poland, became far less ethnically diverse than they had been, that was largely the result of the genocidal Nazi horrors combined with both the forced post-war exodus of Germans and the loss of Polands eastern lands to the Soviet Union.

[54] Cornwell 2020, p. 89).

[55] Cornwell 2020.

[56] Both the Burmese terms “Bama/Bamar” and “Myanma/Myanmar” originally referred only to the dominant, Burmese-speaking ethnic group. After 1989, however, ‘Myanmar” was redefined to refer to all indigenous ethnic groups in the country—excluding the Rohingya, who were deemed non-indigenous.


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