Nationalism as legitimation: the appeal of ethnicity and the plea for popular sovereignty

Uriel Abulof*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Walker Connor is seemingly both a primordialist and a modernist: Nations emanate from basic human sentiments but emerged in late modernity. Is this not an aberration, a contradiction both conceptual and causal? Connor, a champion of academic clarity, obviously thought not, and he was right. What accounts for Connor's unique take on nationalism, and why, for many, does it still seem odd? The answer to both quandaries, I argue, lies in Connor's own unique splice: He effectively delved into, and fused, two thorny matters that most scholars shy away from, let alone try to bring together: human nature and legitimation. Both underpin his remarkable scholarship and its solitude standing. I explore both facets: first, Connor's take on human nature; then, more extensively, his analysis of legitimation – via ‘popular sovereignty’ and ‘self-determination’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-534
Number of pages7
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • ethnic nationalism
  • modernism
  • political theory of the nation
  • primordialism


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