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4. Ethnicity, Culture, and Race

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In this module, we think about the interaction between the concepts of ethnicity, culture, race, and nationalism, focusing in particular on: (i) the difference between an ethnic group and a nation; (ii) the fact that ethnic conflict can be nationalist (e.g. the civil war in South Sudan) or non-nationalist (e.g. the Lebanese civil war) in nature; (iii) the fact that the suppression of ethnic minorities can be nationalist (e.g. the treatment of Bosnians and Croats in Yugoslavia, Tamils in Sri Lanka, etc.) or non-nationalist (e.g. the treatment of enslaved people in the American South) in nature; (iv) the fact that while some secessionist movements can be violent (e.g. any ethno-nationalist civil war), most are non-violent (e.g. the campaign for Scottish independence), though some nationalist movements may contain both violent and non-violent elements (e.g. Irish Republicanism); (v) the various reasons unrelated to ethnicity why a group might want to secede from a larger political unit, such as better control of resources (e.g. Katanga in the Congo) or historical oppression (e.g. the Baltic states seceding from the USSR); (vi) the different ways that nationalist movements can be ‘resolved’ short of a full secession, e.g. creation of autonomous regions, devolution, power-sharing, etc.; (vii) the concept of race as a marker of ethnic difference, alongside other cultural makers such as religion or language; (viii) the extent to which ‘race’ is a constructed as opposed to an innate characteristic, e.g. the fact that the Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda see themselves as racially distinct; and (ix) the difficulty of ascertaining what a conflict is really about, i.e. the fact that some ethnic differences may be unrelated to the real nature of the conflict.


In this course, Professor Eric Kaufmann (Birkbeck, University of London) provides an overview of Nationalism. In the first module, we define some of the key terms – ‘the state’, ‘ethnicity’, ‘the nation’ – as well as considering the question of whether the nation is by definition a modern phenomenon. In the second module, we think about some of the different types of nationalist movements, including unificatory, secessionist and irredentist movements, as well as the various forms of cultural nationalism. In the third module, we consider the usefulness of the distinction between ‘ethnic nationalism’ and ‘civic nationalism’ (a typology described by Hans Kohn in The Idea of Nationalism, 1944), before turning in the fourth module to the interaction between nationalism and the concepts of ethnicity, culture and race. In the fifth module, we think about how readily nationalism combines with other ideologies, before moving on in the sixth module to consider the effect globalisation is having on the nation state and nationalism.


Eric Kaufmann is Professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth (2010), The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America (2004), The Orange Order (2007) and Unionism and Orangeism in Northern Ireland since 1945 – with H. Patterson (2007). He is co-editor, among others, of Political Demography (2012) and Whither the Child: Causes and Consequences of Low Fertility (2012), and editor of Rethinking Ethnicity: Majority Groups and Dominant Minorities (2004). An editor of the journal Nations & Nationalism, he has written for Newsweek International, Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines, and blogs at Huffington Post. His current ESRC grant, affiliated with the think tank Demos, examines white working-class responses to diversity in the UK. He may be found on twitter at @epkaufm.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Kaufmann, E. (2020, December 31). Nationalism - Ethnicity, Culture, and Race [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Kaufmann, E. "Nationalism – Ethnicity, Culture, and Race." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 31 Dec 2020,