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   Course Title    National Identity in Post-Communist Context : Problems and Solutions
Lecturer    Romana Careja
Institution    Babes Bolyai University
Country    Romania

Beginning from Offe’s well-known proposition on the triple transition, the course will explore the implications of identity problems in the current development of ex-communist countries, the conflicts they tend to generate and the solutions searched for. The issue of identity is an extremely complex one and answering the questions on national identity means taking political decisions about who is belonging to the nation and who not, how to define citizenship and what are the rights of citizens. These political (and presumably rational) decisions tend to be counterweighted by nationalist appeals.

The course aims at developing interdisciplinary knowledge and competencies of students. It deals with a plurality of issues of primary importance for the region, the main features of which are their reciprocal determination and the tension between the strong emotional side of the issues involving national identity and the need for a detached approach.

The first part of the course will be dedicated to creating a theoretical framework. Concepts such as citizenship, ethnicity, identity, national identity, nationalism and globalization will be defined, and discussed in details. Further relationships between them will be presented and analyzed as well.

The second part of the course will narrow the focus to Central and Southeast Europe. Attention will be devoted particularly to the historical context of nationalism in the Balkans and how different political-institutional settings dealt with the problem of several ethnic identities within the same territory. Further on, the impact of the political decisions (non-decisions) taken before 1989 on the current situation will be discussed.

The third part of the course will be devoted to types of conflicts related to ethnic, national, and cultural identity that exist in the area. It will involve analysis from the perspective of implications on civil society, political society, and international players.

The fourth part of the course will be dedicated to the search for solutions. The students will be presented several solutions like decentralization, formulating of legal guarantees of national identity, autonomy, independence, development of a plurality of identities, human rights and so on, all of which will be discussed with examples and counter examples.

This course is based on a comparative approach combined with case analysis. The proposed case studies are Romania, Hungary, Czecholslovakia (Czech Republic, Slovakia), Poland, Baltic countries and the former Yugoslavia.

Structured as such the proposed course represents a continuation of a course on Transitions to democracy – taught to third year undergraduates. This course offers the basics in the field of transition, while the proposed course on national and ethnic identity offers a detailed perspective on one of the most interesting aspects of transition in former communist countries.


There are a number of compulsory texts explicitly indicated for each week. Besides these, the bibliographical list includes supplementary titles for those who have further interest in topics and issues covered in the course. The books can be found in the library of the Faculty of Political Science or in the library of The Foundation for an Open Society. The articles and excerpts from books will be gathered in a reading package which will be offered to you.


Students will be required to read the compulsory texts for each week. Every meeting will start with a presentation given by the lecturer. Students are expected to ask questions and are strongly encouraged to present their understanding and experiences and formulate them in a scientific framework.

By the end of the semester, the students are expected to write a analytical paper, evaluating both the theoretical framework acquired during the course sessions and their own readings and understanding.

During the semester students will be required to give presentations and write a short essay. The topics of the presentations and the essay’s deadline will be announced at the beginning of the semester.


Short essay (4-5 pages) – 20%

Final essay (10-12 pages) – 40%

Presentations – 10 %

Discussions – 30%


û compulsory readings

p strongly recommended readings

Week 1.

Introduction. Presentation of the course

Week 2.

Definitions and concepts.

û Girasoli, Nicola, National Minorities: Who are they? Budapest: Akademiai, 1995.

û Verdery, Katherine. "Whither ‘Nation’ and ‘Nationalism’?" in Balakrishnan, Gopal (ed.) Mapping the Nation, pp. 226-234. London and New York: Verso, 1996.

û Waldron, Jeremy. ‘Cultural identity and Civic responsibility’ in Citizenship in Diverse Societies, ed. Will Kimilicka and Wayne Norman, pp. 155-174. Oxford University Press, 2000.

û Kellas, James G. The Politics of Nationalism. New York: MacMillan, 1998. Chapter "Ethnicity and Human Nature" pp. 11-27.

û Pieterse, Jan Nederveen. "Deconstructing/reconstructing ethnicity". Nations and Nationalism 3(3) 1997.

p Preece, Jennifer J. National Minorities and the European Nation-States System. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1998. Chapters "What is a National Minority"" and "Why are National Minorities a Subject of European International Relations?" pp. 14-52.

p Anderson, Benedict. Imagined communities. Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. London-New York: Verso, 1991, pp. 1-8.

p Hobsbawm, E.J. Nations and Nationalism since 1780, 2nd edition, Cambridge-New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992, pp. 1-13.

Week 3


û Kellas, James G. The Politics of Nationalism, New York: MacMillan, 1998. Chapters "The Evolution of Nationalism" pp. 43-64, "Ethnic and Social nationalism" pp. 65-88.

û Brown, David. "Why is the nation-state so vulnerable to ethnic nationalism?" Nations and Nationalism 4(1), 1998, pp. 1-15.

û Smith, Anthony D. ‘The Ethnic Sources of Nationalism’ in Ethnic Conflict and International Security, ed. Michael E. Brown, pp 27-42. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.

p Snyder, Jack and Karen Ballentine. ‘Nationalism in the Marketplace of Ideas’ in Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict, ed. Michael E. Brown, pp. 61-96. Cambridge, MA – London: MIT Press, 1997.

p Eriksen, Thomas Hylland. "Ethnicity versus Nationalism," in Journal of Peace Research 28 (3), 1991: 263-278.

Week 4

Central and Eastern Europe. General Overview

û Sfikas, Thanasis D. and Christopher Williams (eds.). Ethnicity and Nationalism in East Central Europe and the Balkans.Sydney: Ashgate. 1999.

û Brunner, Georg. Nationality Problems and Minority Conflicts in Eastern Europe. Gutersloh: Bertelsmann Foundation Publishers. 1996.

p Shugar, Peter F. and Ivo John Lederer. Nationalism in Eastern Europe. Seattle & London: University of Washington Press. 1994.

Case studies – problems/ conflicts

Week 4


û Gallagher, Tom. Democracy and Nationalism in Romania, 1989-1998. Romanian translation, published by ALL Publishing House, Bucharest. 1999. Especially Chapters 5 to 9, pp. 166-380.

p Gallagher, Tom. Romania after Ceausescu: the Politics of Intolerance. Edinburgh University Press. 1995.

Week 5


û Ishiyama, John J. "Strange bedfellows: explaining political cooperation between communist successor parties and nationalists in Eastern Europe." Nations and Nationalism 4(1): 61-85, 1998.

û Mediansky, Fedor. ‘National Minorities and Security in Central Europe: The Hungarian Experience’ in Nationalism and Postcommunism, ed. A. Pavkovic, H. Koscharsky, A. Czarnota, pp. 101-120. Sydney: Dartmouth. 1995.

p Bacova, Vera. ‘Slovaks and the Hungarian Minority living in Slovakia: Who attacks and who defends?’ in Ethnicity and Nationalism in East Central Europe and the Balkan, pp.143-167. Sydney: Ashgate. 1999.

Week 6

Baltic countries

û Plakans, A. ‘Democratization and political participation in post communist societies: the case of Latvia,’ in The Consolidation of Democracy in East Central Europe, K.Dawisha and B.Parrott (ed). Cambridge University Press. 1997.

û Krickus, Richard J. ‘Democratization in Lithuania,’ in The Consolidation of Democracy in East Central Europe, K.Dawisha and B.Parrott (ed). Cambridge University Press. 1997.

û Raun, Toivo U. ‘Democratization and political development in Estonia, 1987-1996,’ in The Consolidation of Democracy in East Central Europe, K.Dawisha and B.Parrott (ed). Cambridge University Press. 1997.

p Hesli, Vicki L. et al. "The sources of Support for separatism: public opinion in three Soviet Republics." Nations and Nationalism 3(2): 201-229. 1997.

Week 7

Yugoslavia and successor countries I

û Jansen, Stef. ‘Against cultural anesthesia: Identity, nationalism and modernity in former Yugoslavia,’ in Ethnicity and Nationalism in East Central Europe and the Balkans. Thanasis D. Sfikas and Christopher Williams (eds.) . 1999

û Godina, Vesna V. The outbreak of Nationalism on former Yugoslav territory; a historical perspective on the problem of supranational identity. Nations and Nationalism 4(3): 409-22. 1998.

û Sekulic, Dusko. The creation and dissolution of the multinational state: the case of Yugoslavia. Nations and Nationalism 3(2): 165-179. 1997.

Week 8

Yugoslavia and successor countries II

û Pavkovic, Aleksandar. ‘Intellectual Dissidence and the Serb National Question,’ in Nationalism and Postcommunism, ed. A. Pavkovic, H. Koscharsky, A. Czarnota, pp. 121-140. Sidney: Dartmouth. 1995.

û Radan, Peter. Secessionist Self-determination: the Cases of Slovenia and Croatia in Nationalism and Postcommunism, ed. A. Pavkovic, H. Koscharsky, A. Czarnota, pp. 141-157. Sydney: Dartmouth. 1995.

Week 9

Reading week

There are no readings assigned for this week. However, students are asked to use this free week to catch up with the readings and prepare the proposal for the final essay. The proposal is due next week.


Week 10

A. Federalism

û Maiz, Ramon. Democracy, federalism and Nationalism in Multinational States. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 5 (3-4): 35-60. 1999.

û Ordershook, Peter and Olga Shvetsova. Federalism and constitutional design. Journal of democracy 8 (1): 27-42. 1997.

p Smith, Graham. Sustainable Federalism, democratization and Distributive Justice in Will Kimlicka and Wayne Norman (ed) Citizenship in Diverse Societies, pp. 345-365. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Week 11

B. Autonomy

û Safran, William. Spatial and Functional Dimensions of Autonomy: Cross-national and Theoretical perspectives. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 5 (3-4): 11-34. 1999.

Week 12

C. Secession

û Baubock, Rainer. Why Stay Together? A Pluralist Approach to secession and federation in Will Kimlicka and Wayne Norman (ed) Citizenship in Diverse Societies, pp. 366-394. Oxford University Press, 2000.

û Hazelton, William. Ending violent ethnic conflicts: separation or sharing as options for negotiation. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 4 (3): 102-119. 1998.

Week 13

D. Institutions

û Ishiayama, John. Institutions and ethnopolitical conflict in Post-communist politics. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 6 (3): 51-67. 2000

û Ayres, R. William and S. Saideman. Is separatism contagious as the common clod or as cancer? Testing international and domestic explanations. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 6(3): 91-113. 2000.

Week 14

Concluding overview

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