Nationalism and Political Theory

Course Description: 

The course intends to approach the topic of Nationalism from the perspective of Political Theory. After more history oriented viewpoints, the course will focus on different concepts contemporary political theory is using – like modernization, totalitarianism, democracy, transformation. The aspect of multi-level and cross-cutting identities will be discussed as well as the impact of recent trends in international relations – especially the question of the declining role of the nation state under the auspices of globalization.

The focus will be on the following questions:

  • the historical role of nationalism;
  • functional changes of nationalism and of the nation state;
  • the (wrong?) predictions of the foreseeable end of nationalism;
  • the competition between different (national and other) identities;
  • democracy between exclusion ("ethnos") and inclusion ("demos");
  • rise and decline of the "nation state";
  • the possibilities of "multiculturalism";
  • the consequences of globalisation.

The course follows two general directions:

  • An introduction into the key concepts and discourses in the field of (especially contemporary) Political Theory (like democracy, state, political culture, post-modernism, etc.)
  • Systematic links between Political Theory and the different expressions of nationalism with particular emphasis on contemporary phenomena
Learning Outcomes: 

The students should be enabled to view the different key aspects of nationalism from different view points of Political Theory (like state, modernization, totalitarianism, democracy, transformation, peace, multiculturalism, et al).


The students are expected to


-         participate actively in all classes. This requires preparation by reading the designed texts;


-         give (at least) one presentation. The presentations schedule (who, what, and when) will be decided in the second week;


-         write a term paper (appr. 3500 words) to be delivered at the end of each of the term.


The students are asked to contact me whenever they need further information or special advice via e-mail. The grades will be based on the quality of the term paper (50 percent), the overall participation (25 percent), and the quality of the presentation (25 Percent).