--- - |2 Abstract This article argues that Karl Renner's multinational model for the Austrian‐Hungarian Empire is an alternative model for contemporary a‐territorial, multinational and federal arrangements. Nations, in his view, should act as intermediary bodies between the relevant communities and the state. His concept of ‘subjective public law’ combines principles that most authors find mutually exclusive: individual rights, choice over one's national cultural membership, non‐territorial administration of national communities and overseeing of equal collective rights by the state. Neither Staatsnation nor Kulturnation, the model is a combination of the two under the auspices of a federal state combined with a strong theory of individual and collective rights. I provide the reader with a comprehensive intellectual biography of Karl Renner, as I argue that an understanding of the man himself, his political pragmatism and his statism are crucial to comprehending this theoretical position. Throughout his life, Renner was a German nationalist, held a strong nostalgia for the Habsburg Empire and voted in favour of the Anschluß. His concurrent careers as a scholar and as a politician account for a series of contradictions. I argue however that these can be reconciled and explained by a careful comparative reading of his scholarly work and his political statements. - 'Nations and Nationalism, EarlyView. '