Realism about Missing Systems
Scholars of nationalism have paid little attention to the dilemma of the dominant nation in multinational states. Unlike immigrant societies, multinational states contain one or more territorially concentrated peripheral nations distinct from the dominant nation (e.g., Spain, India). Typically, dominant nations identify with the state as a whole and do not assert their narrower nationalism (e.g., Castilian, Hindu). Building on Linz’s and Stepan’s concept of state-nation, this chapter examines the causes of the emergence of dominant nation nationalism (Serbian, Russian) and its role in different patterns of state dissolution (violent vs peaceful) in the Yugoslav and Soviet cases. While ethnic federalism played a causal role in both cases, the different paths taken by Russian and Serbian particularism must be explained by a combination of factors (institutional; historical legacies encoded in myths and collective memories; ressentiment). A further expansion of the range of comparison beyond democratic state-nations is called for.
Thomson-Jones, Martin. “Realism about Missing Systems.” In The Scientific Imagination, edited by Arnon Levy and Peter Godfrey-Smith, 75-101. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.
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