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Nationalism Reframed is Rogers Brubaker’s attempt to clarify in present terms the reemergence of nationalism in Central and
Eastern Europe that many had thought was a thing of the past. Looking at both the rise of nation-states from the interwar period and more recent examples like the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the
Soviet Union, Brubaker warns the reader to be wary of generalizing and promises to deliver a more in depth study of the most recent wave of nationalism. Although Brubaker certainly delivers on his promise of a thorough analysis of the rise in nationalism in
Europe in the later half of the 20th century, his thesis that the nationalism of the late 20th century differs from the previous “state-seeking and nation-building nationalisms” does not clearly emerge from his difficult prose.

Despite difficulties in proving his overall thesis, Brubaker does present several ideas that encourage the reader to look at nationalism in different ways: one, the “triad relational nexus” is a unique way to explore nationalism from the perspective of the national minority, the nationalizing state and the external national homeland; two, his comparison of Russian and Serbian views of their former unions – the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, respectively – with that of the other nations that comprised those unions. Brubaker successfully shows that a dyadic view of the fighting between Serbia and Croatia will not sufficiently explain the situation as well as a triadic view that takes into account the national minority (Croatian Serbs), the nationalizing state (Croatia) and the external national homeland (Serbia). Brubaker also raises an excellent comparison of the similarities between Russian and Serbian views of their former unions as belonging to them and without significant boundaries and that of the other less dominant nations, which thought of the unions as a whole of several parts.

Brubaker concedes that his book is to be interpreted as a series of essays and not a “monograph,” however, his effort still feels disjointed. His carefree use of the terms nation and nationalism and other derivations serve to perplex the reader at times and confound the point he is trying to make. That being said, Brubaker does ultimately offer a unique and fresh look at the current expression of nationalism in Europe, but ultimately fails to explain how the nationalism that has emerged from the break up of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union is remarkably different from previous “state-seeking and nation building nationalisms.”

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