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Untangling liberal democracy from territoriality: from ethnic/civic to ethnic/territorial nationalism

Nations and Nationalism

Published online on


--- - |2 Abstract The term ‘civic nationalism’ as it is used today in nationalism studies is misleading because it combines territorial collective identity with liberal‐democratic values. As such, for example, it does not provide much insight into the comparison of Azerbaijani and Georgian concepts of national identity. Azerbaijan, arguably an authoritarian country, has used unconditional citizenship by birth on territory (jus soli) and refused to naturalize Azeri co‐ethnics from Georgia. Georgia, seemingly a developed liberal democracy, hasn't practiced any jus soli, has bestowed citizenship on Georgian co‐ethnics abroad and refused it to its ethnic minorities. These two cases testify to the need to revise the term ‘civic nationalism’, inapplicable to many, especially non‐Western, empirical cases of national identity. By establishing distinct historical narratives based on premodernist sources, the article argues that the ethnic/territorial tension is premodern, which explains why civic nationalism has a premodern (territoriality) and a modern (liberal‐democratic values) component. Territorial collective identity, in its contrast to an ethnic one, has deep historical roots and needs to be separated from the overall umbrella of civic nationalism. Such an approach resolves many current theoretical objections to ethnic/civic dichotomy, a ubiquitous, but still insufficiently understood, heuristic tool. - 'Nations and Nationalism, EarlyView. '