Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Mark R. Thompson
Nationalist movements are (often utopian) political campaigns to “build” nations that correspond to state boundaries. “Nation” is notoriously difficult to define, and “nationalists” often attempt to convince or force people to assume identities about which they were previously unaware of or with which they may be uncomfortable. Attempts to make nations congruent with state boundaries often fail; in many cases, such attempts result in efforts to claim national homogeneity by ignoring or oppressing other ethnic or national groups within the territory of the “nation-state.” This entry discusses problems of definition, varying historical conditions, and the continuing political relevance of nationalist movements. The failure of most nation-building projects in modern history raises the question of why nationalist movements have long been so influential and, in many parts of the world, remain so today. The belief that every nation should have a state—and that every state should be a nation—has been the ...