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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Nations and Nationalism (PGSP11146)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis postgraduate seminar is taught in conjunction with the Sociology Honours course of the same name, with which it shares a parallel structure of weekly topics and readings. The course aims to examine major modes of explaining nationalism, and to relate nationalism to other key themes in sociology. The seminar topics explore the relationship between nationalism and modernity, ethnicity, civic and ethnic nationalism, language, religion, class, gender, its regulation and globalisation.
Course description This postgraduate seminar is taught in conjunction with the Sociology Honours course of the same name, with which it shares a parallel structure of weekly topics and readings. The course aims to examine major modes of explaining nationalism, and to relate nationalism to other key themes and topics. The seminar topics explore nationalism in relation to modernity and ethnicity, to its ethnic, civic and civil characters, to language and religion, class and gender, and ethnic conflict and globalisation.

Outline Content

1. INTRODUCTION: CONCEPTS AND PERSPECTIVES: Until very recently the social sciences overlooked nationalism. Why was this? We also explore the basic attitudes or approaches that are often taken toward the subject of nationalism, the underlying assumptions about what kind of thing it is, which often predetermine our understandings. What kind of phenomenon is nationalism? An objective process, or a subjective feeling? Is it rational, or irrational? Good, or evil?
2. NATIONALISM AND MODERNITY: The most dominant theory is that nationalism is an effect of modernity, and modernisation. Many have stressed the roles of industrialism and capitalism in the rise of nationalism, seeing these as underlying causes. The most important of these is Ernest Gellner. Other theorists have placed greater emphasis on the rise of the modern state and the struggle to gain and maintain power and legitimacy. We will examine the various arguments for these contending explanations, as well as criticisms of them.
3. NATIONALISM AND ETHNICITY: Another major line of argument sees nationalism as arising out of processes of ethnicity. This poses various questions: are the roots of nationalism 'pre-modern'? how is 'ethnicity' related to 'culture'? why is kinship such a common metaphor in the construction of national identity? We will examine these kinds of questions.
4. ETHNIC, CIVIC, AND CIVIL NATIONALISM: Hans Kohn famously drew a distinction between western and eastern nationalism. This dichotomy has since been joined by distinctions between 'civic' and 'ethnic' nationalism and between 'liberal' and 'illiberal' nationalism. This section critically examines these dichotomies and asks, how useful are they to conceptualizing nationalism?
5. NATIONALISM AND RELIGION: Religion has often (but not always) been central to nationalism. We will try to understand why religion has provided the organizational and ideological context for so many nationalist movements, and examine the hypothesis that nationalism can be viewed as a modern, secular form of religion. The substantive focus is on the applicability of Hasting's theory and the relationship between nationalism and contemporary Islam and Hinduism.
6. NATIONALISM AND LANGUAGE: Like religion, language has often (but not always) been central to nationalism. We will consider the functional and ideological roles that language plays, and ask why it is so fundamental to identity, and why it serves as a powerful metaphor for communal membership and identity.
7. NATIONALISM AND CLASS: Nationalist movements are often attributed to machinations of Úlites on the one hand, and the aspirations of the masses on the other. However, close inspection almost always reveals the crucial role of interstitial, middle classes, including intellectuals, professionals, academics, bureaucrats, etc., groups often associated with 'civil society'. We will examine the role of class processes, and especially middle classes, in nationalism.
8. NATIONALISM AND GENDER: There has been increasing interest in recent years in the relationship between gender and nationalism, and the neglected role of women in national processes. This includes the gendered symbolisation of the nation, the alteration of gender relations by the nation-state, and the active role of women in nationalist movements. We explore these themes.
9. NATIONALISM AND ETHNIC CONFLICT: The advent of democracy and the process of democratization have been correlated with nationalist violence. Genocide in Darfur, Rwanda and Bosnia and the fragile peace in Macedonia and Northern Ireland are cases in point. The aim is twofold: to examine explanations for the incidence of nationalist violence and to assess whether it is possible to moderate nationalism, exploring the various strategies that have been employed.
10. NATIONALISM AND GLOBALIZATION: To conclude we will try to tie together some of the themes we have covered by considering the relationship between nationalism and 'globalization'. What are the implications of globalization for nationalism, liberalism, and sovereignty? Is nationalism declining? on the rise? or the same as it ever was? Does multiculturalism transcend, or reinforce nationalism? Is nationalism becoming 'postmodern'? These kinds of questions will be explored.

Students attend the lecture hour of the undergraduate honours course across the ten weeks of the course. There are additional optional video presentations, which complement the lecture programme, and which take place immediately following lectures in weeks 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9.
The two hour postgraduate seminar meets biweekly in weeks 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10. The seminar programme examines, in-depth, key themes in the study of nationalism, covering the ten course topics, mixing both theoretical issues, and substantive case material. Seminars will primarily involve student led presentations and discussions guided by the organiser, based on assigned readings.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) All students are required to submit a 4000 word essay. The essay requires students to examine one of the ten course topics (or one not covered in the course but agreed with the course convener), to offer a review of the essential literature, identifying key debates and contentions.
Feedback All essays are electronically marked and moderated, and given extensive feedback comments. Students are invited to submit an essay abstract and outline to receive feedback in advance of submitting their essay, that they can feed into the final essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students will be able to draw on theoretical understandings of nationalism to understand complex, substantive case material.
  2. Students will improve their ability to present complex material succinctly, and to discuss it at length.
  3. Students will develop an in-depth knowledge of a major topic within the field of nationalism studies.
  4. Students will develop their independent research skills, in particular surveying literatures and developing thematically organised bibliographies around chosen topics.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Michael Rosie
Tel: (0131 6)51 1651
Course secretaryMr Joe Burrell
Tel: (0131 6) 51 3892
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