On the European Tradition of Nationalism and its National Codes

  • Gertjan Dijkink University of Amsterdam
Keywords: Nationalism, National Myths, National Codes, Discourse, History of Europe, Civil Rights, Territorial Unity, International Status


In its mature form nationalist discourse combines three concepts or principles: freedom (or civil rights), territorial unity and international status. This particular combination constitutes the strength of nationalist thought rather than the separate idea of territorial unity (the correspondence of cultural and political unit) alone. This article draws attention on the one hand to the connection between heritage and individual dignity and on the other hand to the role of international relations in the development of nationalist discourse in Europe. National myths in the 19th century appeal to these concepts and usually to more than one at the same time. Nevertheless, the dominance of some themes allows to distinguish between the countries of Europe on the basis of their most salient national myths. The hypothesis is proposed that this distinction can be connected with divergent political attitudes toward supra-national developments (European integration).


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