Symposium Series: Reconsidering Nations and Nationalism

Written on February 17, 2010 by Felicia Appenteng in Arts & Cultures & Societies



Symposium Series, Winter Semester 2010

with Dr. Rolf Strøm-Olsen, Professor of Humanities

Sala Capitular, Segovia Campus, IE University

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010-02-17 18.30-20.00


Reconsidering Nations and Nationalism



Writing in the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes, the subject of our first Symposium, simply assumed that there was such a thing as nations, that “English” or “French” were self-explanatory categories of political and social identity. But what makes someone “English” or “French?” This question plagued thinkers starting in the late eighteenth century and remains an actively debated question today.


Our second Symposium tackles the big questions of nationalism from both a historical and theoretical perspective. Using the influential and controversial work by Ernst Gellner, Nations and Nationalism, as a starting point, we’ll ask whether the concept of the nation is, in fact, a modern construction, a result of economic forces (as Gellner argued) that serve to coalesce identities into national categories. We will consider several crucial questions around the topic.


  • Does nationalism manufacture difference between ethnic and linguistic groups and did Western colonialism accelerate the development of nationalist identities?
  • What are the contradictions between nationalism and liberalism, between closing borders to reinforce identities versus opening borders to expand prosperity?
  • What role has the media played in reinforcing nationalist identities?
  • In an age of economic and political globalisation, do we have to redefine our concept of what the nation means?


To confirm your participation and to receive the readings, please send an email to ArtsHumanities@ie.edu, with the subject ‘Symposium.’

Prof. Rolf Strøm-Olsen received his doctorate in History from Northwestern University and is a professor of Humanities at IE University.


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