Prof. Liah Greenfeld

Liah Greenfeld (Photo)
University Professor and Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and Anthropology
Boston University
United States

Globalization of Nationalism

This plenary lecture will address the nature of nationalism: national consciousness, national identity, and the organization of communities as nations – that is, as sovereign communities of fundamentally equal members, however the membership is defined. Connecting nationalism to modern democracy, liberal and authoritarian, and examining its relationship to political ideologies of the last two and a half centuries, left and right, socialism, communism, classical liberalism, populism, fascism, and feminism, among others, it will attempt to demonstrate that nationalism lies behind modern politics, in general, essentially defining modern political culture.

It will, next, analyze the reasons for the continued appeal of nationalism in the context of an increasingly open world, attributing this appeal to the dignity with which nationalism endows personal identities of common people. Globalization, it will argue, though usually seen as the opposite of nationalism, is, in fact, a product of nationalism and, to the extent that world is becoming unified, it is becoming unified in the shared – national – consciousness, paradoxically drawing countries into ever more intense competition for international dignity, or prestige.

To conclude, the lecture will focus on the most striking contemporary example of the globalization of nationalism – its penetration, after decades of failed efforts to achieve it on the part of the Chinese government, into the colossal population of China.  


Liah Greenfeld has studied nationalism in England/Britain, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, the USA, and most recently China. She is the author, among numerous other publications, of the nationalism trilogy: Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity; The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth; and Mind, Modernity, Madness: The Impact of Culture on Human Experience (Harvard University Press, 1992, 2001, 2013). Upon the publication of Nationalism, she has emerged as a preeminent authority on the subject, a distinction repeatedly reinforced by the appearance of the remainder of the trilogy, three volumes of collected essays in English, Catalan, and Spanish, her most recent books on the subject, Advanced Introduction to Nationalism (Edward Elgar, 2016) and Nationalism: A Short History (Brookings Academic Press, 2019), and Globalization of Nationalism: Political Identities around the World, which she edited for the European Consortium for Political Research in 2016. A University Professor and Professor of Political Science, Sociology, and Anthropology at Boston University, she has taught in Distinguished Visiting Professor capacity in Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia. Her work has appeared in numerous languages.