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2019.06.28

 What exactly is a nation? According to author Walker Connor, people tend to use the terms “nation” and “nationalism” interchangeably. For example, “nation” is popularly used to refer to a country, or to the entire population of a state without regard to its ethnic composition, as when the people of the United States are called a nation. In its original usage, argues Connor, nation refers not to a political state but to a group of people with a common ancestry.   “Nationalism” therefore means a person's identification with and loyalty to his or her own nation―not to his or her country. An emotional attachment or loyalty to one's state and its political institutions is more properly termed “patriotism.”   In true “nation-states” in which the populace is ethnically homogeneous, nationalism and patriotism reinforces each other. In such cases, the state is popularly perceived as the political expression of the nation. However, most states are not nation-states, but multinational states. A multinational state, says Connor, is a country that contains at least two significant ethnic groups. In 40% of all states, there are five or more such groups, and a few states, such as Nigeria, contain more than 100 groups.    Most states have an ethnic or “national” group that is politically, culturally, and numerically dominant. Not surprisingly, state institutions tend to reflect the interests of that element. In true nation-states, this is an unifying factor. But in multinational states, ethnic minorities are pressing for greater cultural and political autonomy, including demands for the use of their own language and the teaching of their own history, Statewide institutions are increasingly being pressured to reflect their state's multinational character.

        

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