World Politics

Research Article

Nation-Building or Nation-Destroying?

Walker Connora1*

a1 State University of New York Brockport

Scholars associated with theories of “nation-building” have tended either to ignore the question of ethnic diversity or to treat the matter of ethnic identity superficially as merely one of a number of minor impediments to effective state-integration. To the degree that ethnic identity is given recognition, it is apt to be as a somewhat unimportant and ephemeral nuisance that will unquestionably give way to a common identity uniting all inhabitants of the state, regardless of ethnic heritage, as modern communication and transportation networks link the state's various parts more closely. Both tendencies are at sharp variance with the facts, and have contributed to the undue optimism that has characterized so much of the literature on “nation-building.”

Walker Connor is Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York at Brockport. He is currently working on a book on ethnic nationalism.

* This article is an expanded version of a paper presented at the Seventh World Congress of the International Sociological Association, held at Varna, Bulgaria, in September, 1970.