article review I am attaching here an example of how a review article is written. I am assigning the topic for the review article, which is quite straightf

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I am attaching here an example of how a review article is written. I am assigning the topic for the review article, which is quite straightforward and the most useful one to learn how to write a review article. 

As I have mentioned in class, it consists of two main parts. In the first part you present the debate in the literature about the topic (this is the most important part) in the second part you present your criticism (agreeing or not and which perspectives you find more convincing). 

Structure of the assignment: Times New Roman, 1.5 space between lines, and 2000 – 2500 words long. 

The topic for the review article: Present the debate on the advantages and disadvantages of presidentialism 

The argument is straightforward: You have the important article by Juan Linz (part of the mandatory readings) and another article by Mainwaring and Shugart that presents the opposite view. You summarize the debate and the argument in the literature based on these two readings. You can refer to the third reading by Fukuyama et al., that explains the cases of presidentialism in Asia. 

Harris Mylonas, ‘State of Nationalism (SoN):

in: Studies on National Movements 8 (2021).

State of Nationalism (SoN): Nation-Building


George Washington University

A new approach to the study of nation-building: onset,

process, outcome

Nation-building refers to the policies that core group governing elites

pursue toward non-core groups in their effort to manage social order

within state boundaries in ways that promotes a particular national

narrative over any other. Such policies may vary widely ranging from

assimilationist to exclusionary ones.1 Moreover, the content of the

national narrative or constitutive story varies dramatically from case to

case.2 The systematic study of the process of nation-building intensified

following the Second World War primarily in relation to decolonization

movements and the associated establishment of postcolonial

independent states around the globe.3 However, the field was initially

dominated by assumptions and logics developed based on European

experiences with nation-building.

We would not be that interested in nation-building were it not for its far-

reaching impact on state formation and social order, self-determination

movements, war onset, and public goods provision. The desired outcome

of nation-building is to achieve social order and national integration. 4

Nation-building, when successful, results in societies where individuals

are primarily loyal to the nation. This process of national integration

facilitates military recruitment, tax collection, law enforcement, public

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

| 2 Harris Mylonas

goods provision and cooperation.5 There are also negative aspects of this

process as well including violent policies, at times chauvinistic

nationalism, even cultural genocide. When nation-building is either not

pursued or is unsuccessful it leads to either state collapse (through civil

war and/or secessionists movements) or to weak states.6 In fact, many

civil wars or national schisms can be understood as national integration


Nation-building has been conceptualized in a variety of ways. For the

purposes of this review essay, I focus on an overlooked distinction in the

study of nation-building: works that focus on the onset, those studying

the process, and finally the ones that try to account for the outcome:

success or failure. While there is overlap between these fields, each

approach is focusing on a different question. Studies of onset are

preoccupied with when, where, and why does nation-building take place
to begin with. Works that focus on process are exploring the alternative

paths to nation-building that could or have been taken. Finally, studies

concentrating on the outcome analyze the societal consequences of the

various paths to nation-building. Distinguishing between onset, process

and outcome allows us to avoid several methodological pitfalls when

testing arguments. For instance, oftentimes a theory focusing on onset is

mistakenly tested on outcomes. We should not expect arguments aiming

at explaining variation in nation-building policies, i.e., focusing on

process, to also explain success or failure, i.e., outcomes. Similarly, once

we internalize the importance of this distinction, we can be more careful

in articulating our scope conditions. For example, if a place did not ever

experience nation-building efforts then it probably should not make it

into the universe of cases of studies that are trying to account for

outcomes of nation-building policies. This theoretical move will help

scholars unearth the linkages between aspects of nation-building and

important effects such as military recruitment, civil war onset, or public

goods provision.

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

Harris Mylonas 3 |


For scholars like Anthony Smith, nation-building can be traced to the

ethnic origins of a particular core group.8 Nation-states without pre-

existing ethnic content face a problematic situation because without it,
‘there is no place from which to start the process of nation-building,’ as

Smith put it .9 In the early 1990s, Barry Posen proposed an alternative

argument for the onset of nation-building in his ‘Nationalism, the Mass

Army and Military Power’.10 Posen identifies imitation of advantageous

military practices as the mechanism that accounts for the spread of

nationalism and the adoption of nation-building policies. Given the

anarchic condition of the international system, states either adopted this

new model to match external threats or perished. This critical juncture

accounts for the spread of nationalism through nation-building policies,

initially in the army. Eric Hobsbawm locates the source of states’ interest

in spreading nationalism mainly in the need of new or increasingly

centralized states to find new sources of internal legitimacy.11 Similarly,

Michael Hechter locates the origins of nation-building in the transition

from indirect to direct rule identifying different types of nationalism:

State-Building Nationalism, Peripheral Nationalism, Irredentist

Nationalism, Unification Nationalism, and Patriotism.12 In a more recent

article, Darden and Mylonas suggest that state elites pursue nation-

building policies only in parts of the world that face heightened

territorial competition, particularly in the form of externally backed fifth



Before we dive in the theoretical debates in this category, I should note

that the theoretical underpinnings of the theories discussed here have

been influenced by some seminal case studies.14 Three main causal

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

| 4 Harris Mylonas

pathways lead to national integration according to scholars who focus on

the process of nation-building. The central debate is between those that

understand nation-building as an outgrowth of structural processes

taking place in modern times – industrialization, urbanization, social

mobilization, and so forth – and those that highlight the agency of

governing elites that pursue intentional policies aiming at the national

integration of a state along the lines of a specific constitutive story. The

third causal path emphasizes how bottom-up processes can reshape,

reconceptualize, and repurpose nation-building trajectories.

Structural accounts understand nation-building as a by-product of

broad socioeconomic or geopolitical changes. Karl Deutsch’s classic

argument that modernization opens up people for new forms of

socialization constitutes the core of this approach.15 For Deutsch the

process of social mobilization led to acculturation in a new urban
environment, facilitated social communication, and ultimately caused

assimilation and political integration into a new community. Works by

Benedict Anderson and Ernest Gellner could be categorized as being part

of this modernization paradigm.16 Posner’s empirical work tracing

linguistic homogenization in Zambia serves as an illustration of such

structural arguments.17 But there are several other types of arguments

that highlight the importance of other structural aspects of modernity.

Adria Lawrence suggests that disillusionment with the French empire –

in places where the French administration failed to extend equal rights

to its colonial subjects – led to the abandonment of mobilization solely

for equal rights.18 Disruptions/triggering factors (in the form invasion,

occupation, or France’s decision to decolonize) then offered

opportunities for mobilization that account for the variation in the

patterns of nationalist mobilization across the empire and within

particular colonies. Dominika Koter suggests that in the Sub-Saharan

African context citizens developed national identities through

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

Harris Mylonas 5 |

impersonal comparisons with neighbors during the post-colonial period

despite the information-poor setting.19

Other scholars see nation-building as a top-down process. Clearly,

these accounts that emphasize the top-down aspects of nation-building

are developed and tested in cases where nationalism has already been

introduced and dominated the political imagination of at least the ruling

elites. Moreover, some of the processes discussed by modernization

theorists are prerequisites for most of the top-down nation-building

arguments to unfold. One of the first scholars to criticize modernist

accounts for leaving elites’ agency out of their accounts was Anthony

Smith.20 According to Rogers Smith, we should try to explain the social

mechanisms of nation-building and identify political goals that motivate

elites initiating and directing these mechanisms.21 Soviet policies of

ethnofederalism and affirmative action were particularly consequential
instances of state-planned nation-building policies in the twentieth


Andreas Wimmer builds on the work of Fredrick Barth and describes the

means of ethnic boundary making such as discourse and symbols,

discrimination, political mobilization, coercion and violence.23 McGarry

and O’Leary have offered an accessible overview of different strategies

available to state elites in this pursuit,24 yet scholars have also sought to

explain why policy choices vary across states,25 across non-core groups

within the same state,26 across different parts of the same country,27 and

across historical periods.28 Some authors have argued that state

strategies are strongly shaped by historical legacies.29 Nation-building

strategies have also taken violent forms.30 In fact, a few authors have

noted that in ethnically diverse states, the introduction of democratic

mass politics can actually lead to violent national homogenization.31

Han and Mylonas try to account for variation in state-ethnic group

relations in multiethnic states, focusing on China.32 They argue that

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

| 6 Harris Mylonas

interstate relations and ethnic group perceptions about the relative

strength of competing states are important – yet neglected – factors in

accounting for the variation in state-ethnic group relations. In particular,

whether an ethnic group is perceived as having an external patron

matters a great deal for the host state’s treatment of the group. If the

external patron of the ethnic group is an enemy of the host state, then

repression is likely. If it is an ally, then accommodation ensues. Given the

existence of an external patron, an ethnic group’s response to a host

state’s policies depends on the perceptions about the relative strength of

the external patron vis-à-vis the host state and whether the support is

originating from an enemy or an ally of the host state. They test their

theoretical framework on the eighteen largest ethnic groups in China

from 1949 to 1965, tracing the Chinese government’s nation-building

policies toward these groups and examining how each group responded

to these various policies. All in all, these top-down accounts are better

calibrated to account for the form that nation-building practices take

compared to the modernization scholars that see nation-building as a by-

product of other processes.

Another approach to nation-building refocuses our attention on

situations in which nationhood emerges as an active force in political life

through various forms of bottom-up actions by ordinary people.

These bottom-up processes of identification are treated as independent

causes, but they are also structured, and are themselves restructuring a

particular historical and institutional context that gives meaning to

social action.33 Lisa Wedeen is interested in how seemingly quotidian

social practices create and reproduce a sense of national belonging even

in the absence of a strong state, applying her argument to Yemen. 34

Michael Billig’s work on banal nationalism – referring to the everyday

representations of the nation aiming at reproducing a shared sense of

national belonging – is also pertinent here, since pride in victory in

sports or prominence in cultural affairs could be the source of a bottom-

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

Harris Mylonas 7 |

up nation-building process.35 In the African context Crawford Young

suggested that the arbitrary territorial borders have been internalized

over time, thus becoming a primary component of national identity.36

Authors of this strand implore us to think about the nation not as a thing

with fixed relevance and meanings but as one of the possible outcomes

of partially contingent social processes of identification.37 Dominika

Koter argues that electoral outcomes have consequences for national

identification.38 She finds that the election of one’s co-ethnic increases

the sense of belonging to the nation.

Isaacs and Polese have put together a special issue published in

Nationalities Papers on nation-building in Central Asia focusing both on

the efforts of ‘the political elites to create, develop, and

spread/popularize the idea of the nation and the national community’

and ‘the agency of nonstate actors such as the people, civil society,
companies, and even civil servants when not acting on behalf of state

institutions.’39 Thus, they suggest a more dynamic understanding of the

nation-building process, with elites proposing and implementing

policies which are, in turn, accepted, renegotiated, or rejected by those

targeted by them.

Finally, Darden and Mylonas offer a conceptually and theoretically

reflective discussion of the challenges and limitations of externally

promoted nation-building.40 They argue that effective third-party state-

building requires nation-building through education with national

content. Nation-building, however, is an uncertain and long process with

a long list of prerequisites, making third-party state-building a risky


A conceptual clarification is in order here. Journalists, policy

commentators, as well as several scholars have recently used the term

‘nation-building’ in place of what the U.S. Department of Defense calls

‘stability operations.’ In other words, they often use the term ‘nation-

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

| 8 Harris Mylonas

building’ to signify ‘third party state-building,’ efforts to build roads and

railways, enforce the rule of law, and improve the infrastructure of a

state. This literature grew following the terrorist attacks on 11

September 2001 and the US attempts at state-building in Afghanistan

and Iraq.41 But, state-building and nation-building, although related, are

analytically distinct concepts. Nation-building refers to the development

of a cultural identity through constitutive stories, symbols, shared

histories, and meanings. To be sure, state-building can and often does

influence the national integration process over the long term, just as the

existing patterns of national loyalties may facilitate or hinder state-

building projects.


Important works also exist that try to account for the success or failure

of nation-building projects. For instance, Keith Darden’s stand-alone

forthcoming work points to mass schooling as a mechanism that explains

both the initial fluidity and the consequent fixity of national identities.42

Darden’s argument is that in countries where mass schooling with

national content is introduced to a largely illiterate population for the

first time and it is implemented on more than 50% of the population,

then the national identity propagated in this round of schooling will

become dominant. He proposes a few mechanisms for this effect,

including western style formal schooling, status reversal within the

family, and consequent gatekeeping to keep their children aligned with

their initial national identity. Darden and Grzymala-Busse have shown

that mass schooling with national content is a particularly effective

strategy of inculcating the population with national loyalties that can

endure long periods of foreign-sponsored authoritarian rule.43 Balcells

finds supports for Darden’s argument in the Catalan case.44 Despite

similar initial conditions, Catalan national identity is not salient in

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

Harris Mylonas 9 |

French Catalonia today because the first round of mass schooling with

national content took place under French rule. In contrast, mass

schooling in Spain was introduced in Spanish Catalonia during a period

of Catalan nationalist upheaval.

Sambanis et al. argue that favorable outcomes in interstate wars

significantly increase a state’s international status and induce

individuals to identify nationally, thereby reducing internal conflict.45

Thus, leaders have incentives to invest in state capacity in order to solve

their internal nation-building problems. The key assumption here is that

strength depends to a great extent on nationalist sentiment. An

important implication of their model is that the ‘higher anticipated

payoffs to national unification makes leaders fight international wars

that they would otherwise choose not to fight.’ The authors illustrate

their argument and test its plausibility through a thorough case study of
German unification after the Franco Prussian war.

Vasiliki Fouka has recently argued that discrimination against German

immigrants in the US led these immigrants to pursue assimilation efforts,

i.e. change their names and seek naturalization.46 However, in another

article she finds that forced assimilation policies, such as language

restrictions in elementary schools, had counterproductive effects.47 In

particular, those individuals that were not allowed to study German in

several U.S. states following WWI, were less likely to volunteer in World

War II, more likely to practice endogamy, and to give German names to

their children. These articles are part of a broader project where Fouka

tries to identify the types of initiatives that contribute to or hinder

immigrant incorporation.48 She tests her intuitions studying the

integration programs during the Americanization movement. Overall,

she finds that nation-building policies that increase the benefits of

integration are successful in promoting citizenship acquisition, linguistic

homogeneity, and mixed marriages with the native-born. Conversely,

prescription-based policies – where a reward is tied to a specific level of

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

| 10 Harris Mylonas

effort – are either ineffective or counterproductive. However, this is an

approach that may not travel in contexts where assimilation cannot be

assumed as the government’s intended outcome for all non-core groups

in a country.49

Andreas Wimmer’s latest book asks: Why does nation-building succeed

in some cases but not in others? For Wimmer successful nation-building

manifests itself in having forged ‘political ties between citizens and the

state that reach across ethnic divides and integrate ethnic majorities and

minorities into an inclusive power arrangement.’50 He operationalizes

successful nation-building through the degree of ethnopolitical inclusion

in a country’s power structures and citizens’ identification with their

nation-state. The crux of the argument is that state centralization in the

nineteenth century – in turn a product of warfighting, in Europe,

topography facilitating state control ‘where peasants could not escape’,51
elsewhere, combined with population density high enough to sustain a

nonproductive political elite at the end of the Middle Ages – facilitated

the conditions for the linguistic homogenization of populations and the

construction of central governments able to provide public goods. These

two factors, along with the presence of civic society that spans

ancestral/ethnic divisions, both lead to successful nation-building. The

most exogenous part of Wimmer’s argument is that variation in

topography and population density explain the success of initial state

building efforts. But could there be an alternative argument that

accounts for variation in initial state- or nation-building efforts? Darden

and Mylonas argue that a threatening international environment leads

to state capacity and public goods provision in the form of nation-

building policies (in particular public mass schooling) that in turn, when

successful, account for variation in linguistic homogeneity and national

cohesion.52 Comparing cases with similar levels of initial linguistic

heterogeneity, state capacity, and development, but in different

international environments, they find that states that did not face

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

Harris Mylonas 11 |

external threats to their territorial integrity were more likely to

outsource education and other tools for constructing identity to

missionaries or other groups, or to not invest in assimilation at all,

leading to higher ethnic heterogeneity. Conversely, states developing in

higher threat environments were more likely to invest in nation-building

strategies to homogenize their populations.

Amanda Robinson focuses on Africa and attempts to evaluate the impact

of modernization and colonial legacies on group identification utilizing

survey data from sixteen African countries.53 She is focusing in particular

on national vs. ethnic group identification. Robinson’s findings are

consistent with the classic modernization theory. Living in urban areas,

having more education, and being formally employed in the modern

sector are all positively correlated with identifying with the nation above

one’s ethnic group. Further, greater economic development at the state
level is also associated with greater national identification, once

Tanzania is excluded as an outlier.

Depetris-Chauvin, Durante, and Campante focus on sub-Saharan Africa

and find that national football teams’ victories in sub-Saharan Africa

make national identification more likely, they boost trust for other

ethnicities in the country, and also reduce violence.54 Blouin and Mukand

examine the impact of propaganda broadcast over radio on interethnic

attitudes in postgenocide Rwanda.55 They exploit the variation in

government’s radio propaganda reception due to Rwanda’s

mountainous terrain. They find that individuals exposed to government

propaganda decreases the salience of ethnicity, increases interethnic

trust, and willingness to interact face-to-face with non-co-ethnics.

Dominika Koter puzzles over the existence of national identification in

the absence of traditional nation-building projects and asks: what is

driving national attachment in Africa?56 For Koter ‘the process that

results in individuals identifying with their nation is nation-building.’

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

| 12 Harris Mylonas

Which places her squarely in the ‘outcome’ group of scholars. However,

Koter points out that Robinson’s finding that wealthier countries report

higher levels of national identification worked on the third round of the

Afrobarometer survey data but the correlation vanishes in subsequent

four rounds of the surveys (rounds 4 through 7). In fact, the relationship

appears to be skewing in the opposite direction as more countries were

surveyed. Koter zooms in on Ghana and proposes an alternative pathway

to understanding national identification, suggesting that national

integration is an accidental by-product of shared experiences and

distinct country-level trajectories which allow contrast with other

national communities. In particular, Ghanaian national identity is most

consistent with the role of socio-political developments in the country,

rather than cultural factors or state-led nation-building.


The field of nation-building has developed tremendously in the past two

decades, but more empirical interdisciplinary work, involving

economists, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and political

scientists, remains to be done. In particular, work that involves cross-

regional comparisons and perspectives will push our theories in a

direction that can account for global patterns rather than rehashing the

European experience and assumptions. Moreover, a more conscious

effort thinking of onset, process, and outcomes as distinct stages when

theorizing nation-building will move the field forward by improving our

causal identification strategies.

This review is part of
The State of Nationalism (SoN), a comprehensive guide

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

Harris Mylonas 13 |

to the study of nationalism.
As such it is also published on the SoN website,

where it is combined with an annotated bibliography
and where it will be regularly updated.

SoN is jointly supported by two institutes:
NISE and the University of East London (UEL).
Dr Eric Taylor Woods and Dr Robert Schertzer

are responsible for overall management
and co-editors-in-chief.


1 H. Mylonas, The politics of nation-building: Making co-nationals, refugees, and
minorities (Cambridge, 2012); Z. Bulutgil, The roots of ethnic cleansing in Europe
(New York, 2016).

2 See A. Smith, Stories of peoplehood: The politics and morals of political
membership (Cambridge, 2003).

3 R. Emerson, From empire to nation: The rise to self-assertion of Asian and
African peoples (Cambridge, MA, 1960).

4 A. Wimmer, Nation Building: Why some countries come together while others
fall apart (Princeton, 2018).

5 R. Bendix, Nation-Building and Citizenship: Studies of Our Changing Social Order
(Berkely, 1964).

6 K. Darden & H. Mylonas, ‘Threats to territorial integrity, national mass
schooling, and linguistic commonality’, in: Comparative Political Studies 49/11
(2016), 1446-1479.

7 G. T. Mavrogordatos, Stillborn republic: Social coalitions and party strategies in
Greece, 1922-1936 (Berkely, 1983).

8 A. Smith, ‘State-making and nation-building’, in: J. Hall (ed.), States in History
(Oxford, 1986), 259.

Studies on National Movements 8 (2021) | State of Nationalism

| 14 Harris Mylonas

9 A. Smith, The ethnic origins of nations (Oxford, 1986), 17.

10 B. Posen, ‘Nationalism, the mass army and military power’, in: International
Security 18/2 (1993), 80-124.

11 E. Hobsbawm, Nations and nationalism since 1780. Programme, myth, reality
(Cambridge, 1990).

12 M. Hechter, Containing nationalism (Oxford, 2000).

13 Darden & Mylonas, ‘Threats to territorial integrity, national mass schooling,
and linguistic commonality’.

14 Bendix, Nation-Building and Citizenship; S. Lipset, The first new nation: The
United States in historical and comparative perspective (New York, 1967); E.
Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen: The modernization of rural France, 1870-1914
(Stanford, 1974); S. Harp, Learning to be loyal: Primary schooling as nation
building in Alsace and Lorraine, 1850-1940 (DeKalb, IL, 1998); P. Magocsi, The
shaping of a national identity: Subcarpathian Rus’, 1848-1948 (Cambridge, MA,
1978); Mavrogordatos, Stillborn republic; I. Banac, The national question in
Yugoslavia: Origins, history, politics (Ithaca, 1988); C. Jelavich, South Slav
nationalisms: Textbooks and Yugoslav union before 1914 (Colombus, OH, 1990);
I. Livezeanu, Politics in Greater Romania: Regionalism, Nation Building and
Ethnic Struggle, 1918-1930 (Ithaca, 1995).

15 See K. Deutsch, Nationalism and social communication: An inquiry into th

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