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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2000, Vol. 3 No. 2 .


European Nations and Nationalism: Theoretical and historical perspectives
Louk Hagendoorn, Gy?gy Csepeli, Henk Dekker and Russell Farnen (eds.)

Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000
546pp. Index. Hb.: 57.50; ISBN 0-7546-1136-1.



"?nationalism is very challenging subject of study, but then again, the greater the challenge, the higher the probability that the subject of discussion will be interesting (even timeless) one, which nationalism surely is (p.512)."

The question of nationalism is important and fascinating especially in the current era. State power, citizenship and ethnic minorities are thought of and discussed in the many European nation-states. The authors of the book under review aimed to produce a comparative study of European nations but while this became technically impossible a book of case studies was launched. It has to be said that in a way the first goal also was achieved because, at least for me as a reader, the book provided much information from different historical, social and political contexts in which nationalism has survived and flourished in Europe. In other words, even without strict cross-comparisons the book made me realise the great diversity on which the European nation-state structures are laid on.

The book contains seventeen chapters out of which the first and the last provide general theoretical discussions and the rest focus on the different case studies on nation-states in the European context, or maybe we should say the formation of these nationally framed units. All the case studies provide an overview to the historical development of a state, economic and social transformation, political structure and the issues around citizenship, state and nationalistic symbols. The case studies are provided from post-communist states such as Poland and Ukraine to the Nordic countries such as Sweden and some of the leading countries of contemporary Europe such as Britain, France and Germany. The great variety of examples provided is advance of this book.

European Nations and Nationalism, however, does not provide in-depth analysing of nationalism. In terms of theoretical approach the book could be much better. I would argue the usefulness of this book for the students and teachers of nationalism. The case studies, instead, give short and easy overviews of different nations and nationalisms for any reader. In terms of ethnic conflict research one of the main ideas this book provided for me was that any nationalistic conflict needs to be seen in its context. There cannot be a solution, not least because the essence of the issues and structures involved varies depending heavily on the context.


Anna-Kaisa Kuusisto: University of Tampere, Finland



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