Archive for the ‘Brubaker’ Category

Brubaker Revisited

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Kraman: Reading Response #4, September 27, 2007

Maria Bucur and Nancy M. Wingfield, eds. Staging the Past: The Politics of Commemoration in Habsburg Central Europe, 1848 to the Present, West La Fayette, IN: University of Purdue Press, 2001.

Jeremy King, “The Nationalization of East Central Europe: Ethnicism, Ethnicity, and Beyond.” and

Cynthia J. Paces, “Religious Heroes for a Secular State: Commemorating Jan Hus and Saint Wenceslaus in 1920s Czechoslovakia.”

Jeremy King concludes his article with a quote from a recent Rogers Brubaker article to the effect that the search for a single theory of nationalism is misguided because the theoretical and political problems associated with nationhood and nationalism are multiform and varied.

Cynthia J. Paces concludes her article with surprise and disappointment that the secular, rational, and elite Czech nationalists – particularly Tomáš Masaryk – used the somewhat mythical Bohemian heroes, Jan Hus, a rebellious Roman Catholic priest and martyr, and good King Wenceslaus, an orthodox Roman Catholic martyr as key elements in the Brubakian nationalizing process for the Czech people in the 1920s. (more…)

Ammon Shepherd – Response to Brubaker

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

My first response to Brubaker is not so professional, I suppose. I am truly amazed at how many times a person can write a derivative of the word ‘nation’ in 22 pages. He must be up in the thousands.


Rogers Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the national question in the New Empire.

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Kateryna Duncan

In this book, Rogers Brubaker deals with the question of nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He compares the newly created states to those that were created after the Great War and concludes that nationalism remains a central issue. The author divides his book into two parts, first deals with theoretical aspect and the second develops historical and comparative aspects. Brubaker focuses his study around a “triadic model”, which distincs three forms of nationalism: nationalizing nationalism, transborder nationalisms, and the one caught in between the two are the national minorities. In general, the book is very confusing at times, it is difficult to follow his thought especially in the first half of the book. The sentences are too long and the language is hard to understand.
He argues that Soviet Union institutionalized multinationality, by creating fifteen republics inside the union based on nationality. Moreover, the fact that, for example, Ukrainians lived in the Ukrainian Republic, distinguished them from other nationalities living in the Soviet Union, that, in the long run contributed to the Union’s demise. “Institutionalized definitions of nationhood, …, not only played a major role in the disintegration of the Soviet state, but also continued to shape and structure the national question in the incipient successor states” (p.23). This point is not very convincing, he does not disregard other contributing factors to the demise of the USSR, but he does not give them great importance either. (more…)

Week 1 Response – Brubaker

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Rogers Brubaker’s Nationalism Reframed is written in attempt to challenge some of the older theories posited by experts on the subject of nationalism. His attempt to “reframe” nationalism throughout the book may be seen as an attempt to discuss what nationalism actually is in the context of post-Communist Europe and Eurasia. At the end of the introduction, Brubaker asserts: “Nationalism is not a ‘force’ to be measured as resurgent or receding. It is the heterogeneous set of ‘nation’-oriented idioms, practices, and possibilities that are continuously available or ‘endemic’ in modern cultural and political life.” (Brubaker, 10) It is in this assertion that Brubaker orients himself with other established theories and challenges them with deft analysis.


Nationalism Reframed

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Nationalism Reframed

In Nationalism Reframed Rogers Brubaker sets out to discuss the ways in which the term “nationalism” is defined and in the long run understood. The author wants us to look at not how much nationalism there is, but rather what kinds of nationalism there are, and how we should define these kinds of nationalism.

He sets up for us in the book his triad of nationalism. He will focus on the nationalizing state, the national minority population and the national homeland. Within this triad he hopes to dissect how these differing types of nationalism work together while in the long term feed off of, and interact with each other. The author uses different historical examples throughout the text in the hope of fully proving to us that nationalism is a term that we should look more closely at in our quest to understand society. One ‘nation’ that he focuses on is that of Polish state between the World Wars. He focuses on the way Poland dealt with the national minority populations within its borders. These minorities belonged nationally to Poland, but ethnically to their native groups, or their external national homelands. He looks at how these two differing ideas of nationalism interact within this specific collection of people. (more…)

Nationalism Reframed

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Beth Gryczewski

Brubaker, Rogers. Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the National Question in the New Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” –Einstein

When I think of the word nation, I think of a body of people who share common goals, a common purpose, perhaps a common language, and a government or some sort of legal system. I think that what Brubacker is trying to do is valuable, but he seems to make the issue of nationhood (or what it means to be a nation) more complicated than it needs to be.

Brubaker engages in an interesting investigation into the meaning of nation and nationhood. He analyzes the nations and nationhoods of interwar Poland, Germany, and Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and demonstrates where these nations went wrong in dealing with “national” ethnic minorities, (especially Poland). Then he tries to apply this new idea (or new understanding) of nationhood to an analysis of what he calls “New Europe”, in an attempt to understand the plight of 1) those people who share an ethnicity with one nation, but who live outside the boundaries of their homeland, 2) those ethnic minorities who may be oppressed or repressed even though they live inside the borders of their own homeland, and finally 3) of “nationalizing” nations that are newly independent. Brubaker’s analysis is valuable in terms of understanding or even manipulating these three categories of nations that are applicable today in “New Europe” (the former Yugoslavia, especially). (more…)

Rogers Brubaker’s Nationalism Reframed

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

In Nationalism Reframed, Rogers Brubaker offers an interpretation of nationalism that mixes theory and case studies in a new way. He begins with a general discussion of nationalism and, then, moves on to several examples in central and Eastern Europe. Crucial to his theory is what he calls the triadic or relational nexus, with which he describes the relationship between a dominant nationalism within a state, similar national groups in other states, and minority national groups. The state tries to support and influence its nationalist kin outside its borders, which creates tension with neighbor states. It also tries to suppress national minorities within its own borders. In Brubaker’s German example, Prussian nationalism became dominant over Austrian nationalism in the late 19th century in the German Reich (pg. 114). Later, Germans looked outside of their borders to connect with their German brethren, who were nationalist minorities in other states such as Czechoslovakia.

A difficulty I had with Brubaker’s book, which I think is perhaps inevitable given his subject matter, is his theoretical language. He begins chapter one, for example, with this sentence: “Most discussions of nationhood are discussions of nations.” (pg. 13) He continues that nations are understood as substantial, real entities, and that we take their existence for granted. Then, he mentions studies and theories that reject that nations are “real, substantial entities.” I do not understand the distinction he is making. I suspect he means there is a difference between theorizing about specific nations that exist or have existed such as Yugoslavia and Poland vs. nations in general or in theory only. With the latter, one can discuss general attributes or trends that all nations experience such as the tendency for one nationalist group to dominate the entire state. Regardless, as I read the book, I kept thinking that there must be clearer ways to explain Brubaker’s ideas. (more…)

Rogers Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the national question in the New Europe.

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Lessia Shatalin

In Nationalism Reframed, Brubaker focuses on the ‘existing nationalisms’ of the Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia, a region that was occupied by the Ottoman, Habsburg and Romanov Empires before the end of World War I. He draws comparisons between nationalisms of the interwar years and post-Communism nationalisms. The book consists of two parts, in the first part Brubaker develops an analytical framework for the discussion of nationalism in the post-Communist Europe and Eurasia and in the second part the author discusses the parallels between the inter-war and the nationalisms of the present. He argues that “we should focus on nation as a category of practice, nationhood as an institutionalized cultural and political form, and nationness as a contingent event or happening” (p. 21).

Brubaker develops a theory of a triadic nexus that defines three distinct nationalisms: nationalizing nationalisms of the newly independent states, transborder nationalisms of external national homeland and caught in between the two are the national minorities. He explains his theory on the example of the breakup of Yugoslavia. Apart from introducing the triadic nexus, Brubaker develops an interesting argument as to the nature of the break up of the Soviet Union. He argues that Soviet Union was a multinational state, that not only “tolerated but actively institutionalized the existence of multiple nations and nationalities” (p.23). In doing so the Soviet leadership prepared the way for its own demise. This is a rather controversial argument as in order to explain the break up of the Soviet Union one needs to examine the declining economic system of the Soviet Union and look at the political factors as well as the military decline. And of course at perestroika and glasnost. Nationalist movements and nationalisms existed in Soviet republics before 1991, but the Soviet Union seemed to stand strong. The fact that the Soviet Union broke up into republics that were established by it and the fact that the borders of the republics were left practically undisputed should be attributed to the fact that the Soviet leadership institutionalized nations within the borders of the republics.

Nationalism Reframed

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Nationalism Reframed, by Rogers Brubaker, examines the styles and characteristics of nationalism. Brubaker believes that nations should be viewed as categories and that nations do not need to be recognized to understand nationalism. Brubaker uses the Soviet Union as an example of how nationhood can be institutionalized and how this nationalism affects the successor states today. He also looks at the relationship between national minorities, nationalizing states, and external national homelands. These “elements” are interrelated according to Brubaker, and can lead to unrest between competing groups. Brubaker uses the breakup of Yugoslavia to demonstrate the interplay between these “elements” that he has defined. The sociological arguments made by Brubaker are backed up by historical examples.

This book provides ample background for the study of nationalism, both historically and sociologically. Brubaker provides sufficient support for his arguments in each of the essays and uses a wide variety of sources. While Brubaker gives a generally in-depth analysis in each of his essays, he does not seem to “bring it all together” in the end. Still, his essays serve to provide a backdrop for further discussion. Additionally, the book is laden with many sociological terms and can be a bit convoluted for non-sociology students. While the book is readable for a student of history, the main arguments seem more geared for a student of sociology. Still, for the history students, this book provides a unique view on the concept of nationalism and gives a fairly solid historical backdrop.

first post

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

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. (more…)