Southern European and Non-European Perspectives on the State-Level and Supranational Permutations of Nationalism

Berlin - Alte Nationalgalerie 05, Berlin Germany, April 18, 2011 | © Courtesy of Daniel Mennerich/Flickr.
Berlin - Alte Nationalgalerie 05, Berlin Germany, April 18, 2011 | © Courtesy of Daniel Mennerich/Flickr.

As the European Union finds itself between the forces of globalization and nationalism, a look at the history of collective national and supranational identities can prove to be instructive.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.


As Tchavdar Marinov in his 2009 book on the Paths of Macedonian Supra-Nationalism (1878–1912) has indicated, nationalism can be conceived of not only on the national scale, but also on the supra- or infra-national one, especially if one considers the European and Ottoman Empire at the turn of the twentieth century:

This, and the hitherto mentioned cases actually reveal the shifting boundaries of Macedonian self-identification and the multiple regimes of its exclusivity, vis-à-vis other identity options. Although Bulgarians by national selfidentification and supra-nationalists as a political theory, the local revolutionaries ironically created some of the premises that the specific political setting after the First World War transformed into a more influential Macedonian nationalism, decisively generalized in federal Yugoslav Macedonia. Therefore, the idea that the Macedonian national ideology and identity was created by political fiat is as misleading as is theoretically ignorant the question of since when exactly a Macedonian nation has existed.

Likewise, Virginie Mamadouh in her 2017 article has argued that national and supranational institutions tend to reproduce national stereotypes, rather than paying attention to their dynamic, shifting character:

Much of the literature on critical geopolitics pertain to representations (despite a renewed interest in material political geographies, see in Agnew et al 2015). In these geopolitical representations, and the geographical imaginations from which they derive, stereotypes are important elements. They are shortcuts to represent the Self and/or others. Geographical imaginations, i.e. imaginations of the world and its inhabitants, consist of geopolitical representations produced, reproduced and circulated in geopolitical discourses. They express specific configurations of the nexus between power and space, between geography and politics, underlining how power (regardless of the exact definition and understanding of power one uses) comes into being through spatial practices, how space can be an instrument of power but at the same time structures power relations, while it is in turn shaped by the outcome of these power relations. In other words, power and space are co-constitutive of each other, both materially and ideationally (Dodds 2007, Rosière 2007, Dodds et al 2013, Agnew et al 2015, Van der Wusten & Mamadouh 2015, Flint 2017 for introductions in different languages).

In this respect, as Bilge Fırat argues in one’s 2009 article, supranational entities, such as Europe, can be stereotyped in their turn, especially by external nations, e.g., Turkey, in the context of a hoped-for enlaregement of the European Union:

Since the 1990s European integration has evolved into a new phase of public interest with successive cycles of eastern enlargement of the EU in the post-1989 era, through which the Union became the sole political economic power bloc in the wider European region. In its initial formulation in the 1940s, economics and politics were the key means for European integration, and their primacy continue to define the prospect of the European project as a political and an economic venture to an extent. Today, however, there are forces within the wider region acting to make European integration less about politics and economics, but more about culture –a transformation in which the EU appears as the primary actor, agent and beneficiary (Shore 2000; Wilson 1993, 2000). Hence, in Europe at large, ‘sovereignty’ and ‘identity’ constitute core concepts in integration programs as impelled from above, such as in the halls of national and EU-level governments, and sites of contestation of the European project from below, particularly at the regional level (Balibar 1998; Hedetoft 1994, 1997; Schlesinger 1992; Shore 2006; Stråth 2000; Wilson 1993, 1996, 1998).

In his 2018 piece, Hernan Tesler-Mabé also explores “the problem of identity at the national and European levels historically and sociologically, exposing the liberal thread that runs through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries” to argue that

this connection illustrates that the initial efforts to construct the nation in the early nineteenth century and a supranational Europe more than a century later can be understood asidealistic liberal projects that have failed due to the populist turn upon which their success depends, leaving the cultural elites behind both projects in a shared loneliness.


Featured Image Credits: Berlin – Alte Nationalgalerie 05, Berlin Germany, April 18, 2011 | © Courtesy of Daniel Mennerich/Flickr.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Southern European and Non-European Perspectives on the State-Level and Supranational Permutations of Nationalism," in Open Culture, 07/04/2018, https://oc.hypotheses.org/928.

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