Politics in Minutes (2016)

Ethnic nationalism

Nationalism is not defined by national borders and can take a variety of forms. Any social group is defined by the thing or things its members have in common, and national identity is strongly linked to the idea of common characteristics. Ethnic nationalism is a form of nationalism that defines the nation in terms of a shared heritage, both as a common ancestry and a common culture, which together are often known as ethnicity.

Ethnic identity has a long history, defining the differences between tribal groups from which our nations have evolved, and on very basic level are based on kinship or ‘blood relationships’. Consequently, there is often a racial element in any form of ethnic nationalism. Allied to this, however, is the notion of heritage: the culture, customs, religion and language of a society. And because ethnicity has evolved organically over a long period, it is deeply rooted in societies, transcending national borders, and so is sometimes at odds with political ideas of nationality.