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Opening of the Centre for the Study of Nationalism in Copenhagen

Last Friday, the new Centre for the Study of Nationalism (CSN) opened at Copenhagen University. The Director of CSN is Professor Ulf Hedetoft, who is also the chairman of the board of Lund University’s Centre for European Studies.
Photo of Ulf Hedetoft
Professor Ulf Hedetoft, Director of the newly opened Centre for the Study of Nationalism at Copenhagen University

The overall aim of the new Centre for the Study of Nationalism is to engage critically with the modern and contemporary nation-state, whose components have come to define the structure of the modern world and its prevailing identities. The CSN’s describes the background like this:

Some time ago, the nation-state was generally regarded as moribund, overtaken by globalization, Europeanization or some other form of transnationalism, but today most people realize that this is not true. The world still consists of nation-states and the international system is largely based on the idea of national sovereignty. In addition, the resurgence of the radical right and the rise of populism have recently made the claims and attractiveness of nationalism abundantly clear, though in new forms and with new implications for the future of the global order.

At the opening seminar, Professor Michael Herzfeld from Harvard University, gave a keynote speech on “Global Populism and the Dangerous Echo of European Nation-Building". He ended on a serious note but with an optimistic undertone.

-    Before attacking intolerance, he said, we need to become tolerant ourselves and honestly engage in the debate. This is the essence of civility, and the only way we can seriously avoid a further spreading of the extreme nationalism.

The CSN will focus its ambitions, resources and activities on producing research that contributes to scholarly debate, education and outreach on the conundrums that the nation-state leaves us with: 

  • the role of its historical paths
  • the interactions between sovereignty and international collaboration
  • the relevance of its borders
  • the relationship between homogeneity and multiculturalism
  • the tensions between singular and multiple citizenship
  • the connection between nationalism and civilization and between nationalism and populism
  • the increasing rejection of non-Western migrants
  • the discourses defending national belonging and cohesion
  • the relationship between national elites and the people
  • the different types of nationalism – not least 'peripheral nationalism', as represented by e.g. secessionist attempts in Catalonia and the Basque country in Spain, or Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq: 'ethnic groups' pursuing dreams about their own state and trying to secede from their current political structures, and
  • the increasing divide between rational and affective approaches to the meaning of ‘my country’.

The Centre for European Studies at Lund University welcomes the CSN as an important new addition to the scholarly community in the Öresund region, and looks forward to future cooperation. 

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Centrum för Europaforskning

Ekonomihögskolan vid Lunds universitet
Box 7080, SE-220 07 LUND

info [at] cfe [dot] lu [dot] se