Nations Without States: Political Communities in the Global Age

The nation has become one of the most contested concepts of our times. The multifarious definitions of the nation focus on cultural, political, psychological, territorial, ethnic, and sociological principles according to different scholars, politicians, and political activists willing to shed some light into such a disputed term. Their lack of agreement suggests a major difficulty in dealing with such a complex phenomenon. The crux of the matter probably resides close to the link which has been established between nation and State, and to the common practice of using the nation as a source of political legitimacy. To be or not to be recognized as a nation entails different rights for the community which claims to be one, since being a nation usually implies the attachment to a particular territory, a shared culture and history, and the vindication of the right to self-determination. To define a specific community as a nation involves the more or less explicit acceptance of the legitimacy of the State which claims to represent it, or, if the nation does not posses a State of its own, it then implicitly acknowledges the nation’s right to self-government involving some degree of political autonomy which may or may not lead to a claim for independence.