Framing the national question in central and eastern Europe: a quadratic nexus?

Smith, D.J. (2002) Framing the national question in central and eastern Europe: a quadratic nexus? Global Review of Ethnopolitics, 2(1), pp. 3-16. (doi: 10.1080/14718800208405119)

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This paper stems from research on the ‘national question’ in Estonia during the past decade – the relationship between the restored Estonian Republic, its large, mainly Russophone ‘non-titular’ population and a Russian state which has reserved the right to defend the rights of so-called ‘compatriots’ residing in the non-Russian republics of the former Soviet Union (Smith 1997). At first sight, the Estonian case apparently constitutes a clear example of what Rogers Brubaker has famously termed the ‘triadic nexus’ – the dynamic interaction of three forms of nationalism which has informed the politics of the post-socialist states. Estonia’s citizenship and language policies, for instance, are commonly depicted as ‘nationalising’ measures intended to restore a unitary nation-state. These policies have been condemned both by the Russian Federation and by representatives of ‘Russian-speaking’ political parties and organisations within Estonia, who continue to argue for a bi-national or multi-national variant of statehood (Vetik 1999). In the course of my own research, however, it has become clear that the bases of Brubaker’s theory can be questioned on a number of counts. What follows is therefore a critical analysis of the ‘triadic nexus’. Above all, I argue, Brubaker neglects the crucial role of international organisations such as the EU, NATO, the OSCE and the Council of Europe in shaping the post-communist identity politics of Central and Eastern Europe. In this regard, I suggest it would be more apt to talk of a quadratic nexus linking nationalising states, national minorities and external national homelands to the institutions of an ascendant and expansive ‘Euro-Atlantic space’. I will attempt to illustrate what I understand by the ‘quadratic nexus’ by making reference to the Estonian case.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Smith, Professor David
Authors: Smith, D.J.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Central and East European Studies
Journal Name:Global Review of Ethnopolitics

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
349421Ending nationalism?The quest for cultural autonomy in inter-war EuropeDavid SmithArts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB)16232/1SPS - CENTRAL & EAST EUROPEAN STUDIES