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The Symbolic State: Minority Recognition, Majority Backlash, and Secession in Multinational Countries

October 21, 2022 @ 12:00 pm 1:00 pm

The Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies of the George Washington University invites you on Friday, October 21 from 12:00 noon until 1:00 pm (EST) to a virtual event on “The Symbolic State: Minority Recognition, Majority Backlash, and Secession in Multinational Countries” with authors Karlo Basta and Eleanor Knott and moderator Harris Mylonas.

In this timely book, the author argues that when minority nations in multinational states press for more self-government, they are not only looking to protect their interests. They are asking to be recognized as political communities in their own right. Yet satisfying their demands for recognition threatens to provoke a reaction from members of majority nations who see such changes as a symbolic repudiation of their own vision of politics. Secessionist crises flare up when majority backlash reverses symbolic concessions to minority nations. Through a synoptic historical sweep of Canada, Spain, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, The Symbolic State shows us that institutions may be more important for what they mean than for what they do.

Karlo Basta is Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh and co-director of the Centre on Constitutional Change. Dr. Basta works on the comparative politics of nationalism with a focus on multinational states. He has written on institutional formation and change in multinational systems, the consequence of that change for political stability, and the politics of nationalist conflict and secession. His work has been published in Comparative Political Studies, Political Psychology, Publius, Nations and Nationalism, and other scholarly journals.

Eleanor Knott is a political scientist and Assistant Professor in Qualitative Methodology in the Department of Methodology, LSE. Her current research interests include the politics of identity and citizenship (predominantly in post-Soviet space) and qualitative research methods, primarily ethics of research. She has published in Perspectives on Politics, Qualitative Research, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Citizenship Studies and Democratization, among others. Her first book—Kin Majorities: Identity and Citizenship in Crimea and Moldova—was published with McGill University Press in 2022.

Harris Mylonas is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University and editor-in-chief of Nationalities Papers. He is a the author of The Politics of Nation-Building (Cambridge University Press, 2012), and co-editor of Enemies Within: Fifth Column Politics in Comparative Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2022; w/ Scott Radnitz) and The Microfoundations of Diaspora Politics (Routledge, 2022; w/ Alexandra Délano Alonso). Mylonas is currently co-authoring a book with Maya Tudor on Varieties of Nationalism (under contract with Cambridge University Press) and working on another single-authored book tentatively entitled Diaspora Management Logics. His work has also been published in the Annual Review of Political Science, Perspectives on Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Security Studies, European Journal of Political Research, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Territory, Politics, Governance, Nations and Nationalism, Social Science Quarterly, Nationalities Papers, Ethnopolitics, as well as various edited volumes.

Please click here to RSVP. This event is on the record and open to the media. The zoom link for the event is available here:  https://gwu-edu.zoom.us/j/94292925474?pwd=S241Y0h0NG9HK1ViRVFwcGN3RUxXUT09