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icono de curso

Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict


Credits: 4 ECTS

First semester

Elective Courses




Nationalism—pronounced dead already by many commentators, whether by Marxists, neoliberals, and cosmopolitans—continues to exert major influence, even in a world characterized by expanding transnational connections, global-local interactions, and an ever increasing global flow of goods, people, and ideas. In fact, contemporary world society remains profoundly nationalized. National states, whose legitimacy derives from the nationalist principle of self rule, continue to be the dominant form of political organization and cultural identification around the globe. Almost in a mirror image, state-challenging forces, whether secessionist parties or ethnic autonomy movements, contest dominant understandings of nationhood and often advance their own alternative understandings of national identity. And many, if not most of the current ethnic conflicts, ranging from Israel/Palestine to East Timor to Kashmir, are to an important extent motivated by struggles over the boundaries of national inclusion.

This course is about the rise and resilience of nationalism, and its role in conflict and war, but also in other fields, including economic development and public goods provision. Accordingly, the course will explore contrasting perspectives on why nationalism proliferated around the globe and how it became institutionalized as a dominant source of political organization, collective identification, and ethnic exclusion. Building on these insights, the course reviews different approaches that link nationalism to conflict and violence, and explores different theoretical arguments about the origins and contours of ethnic conflict across a variety of contexts. Another focal point are possible implications of nationalism and ethnic conflict for state building, but also for trajectories of economic and social development. The course also discusses the insights and limitations of arguments about the “new nationalism” and examines new patterns of nationalist exclusion organized around claims for gender equality and gay rights.


  • Class participation 10%
  • In-class research project presentation 25%
  • Short blog/media piece 20%
  • Final research paper 45%.

Competences, learning outcomes and teaching activities (PDF)