Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethnonationalism, is a form of nationalism wherein the nation and nationality are defined in terms of ethnicity, with emphasis on ethnocentric approach to various political issues related to national affirmation of a particular ethnic group. The central theme of ethnic nationalists is that "nations are defined by a shared heritage, which usually includes a common language, a common faith, and a common ethnic ancestry". It also includes ideas of a culture shared between members of the group, and with their ancestors. The theorist Anthony D. Smith uses the term "ethnic nationalism" for non-Western concepts of nationalism as opposed to Western views of a nation defined by its geographical territory. Diaspora studies scholars extend this non-geographically bound concept of "nation" among diasporic communities, at times using the term ethnonation or ethnonationalism to describe a conceptual collective of dispersed ethnics.


The central political tenet of ethnic nationalism is that ethnic groups are entitled to self-determination. The outcome of this right to self-determination may vary, from calls for self-regulated administrative bodies within an already-established society, to an autonomous entity separate from that society, to a sovereign state removed from that society. In international relations, it also leads to policies and movements for irredentism to claim a common nation based upon ethnicity. In scholarly literature, ethnic nationalism is usually contrasted with civic nationalism. Ethnic nationalism bases membership of the nation on descent or heredity, often articulated in terms of common blood or kinship, rather than on political membership. Hence, nation-states with strong traditions of ethnic nationalism tend to define nationality or citizenship by ''jus sanguinis'' (the law of blood, descent from a person of that nationality), and countries with strong traditions of civic nationalism tend to define nationality or citizenship by ''jus soli'' (the law of soil, birth within the nation state). Ethnic nationalism is, therefore, seen as exclusive, while civic nationalism tends to be inclusive. Rather than allegiance to common civic ideals and cultural traditions, then, ethnic nationalism tends to emphasise narratives of common descent. Some types of ethnic nationalism are firmly rooted in the idea of ethnicity as an inherited characteristic, for example black nationalism or white nationalism, often ethnic nationalism also manifests in the assimilation of minority ethnic groups into the dominant group, for example as with Italianisation. This assimilation may or may not be predicated on a belief in some common ancestry with assimilated groups (for example with Germanisation in the Second World war). An extreme version is racial nationalism. Recent theories and empirical data suggest that people maintain dual lay beliefs about nationality, such that it can be both inherited biologically at birth and acquired culturally in life.


Herodotus stated the main characteristics of Greek identity: kinship in blood, speech, religious worship, and customs. Ethnic nationalism is present in many states' immigration policies in the form of repatriation laws, including Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Serbia, Turkey, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Romania, and Russia, provide automatic or rapid citizenship to members of diasporas of their own native ethnic group, if desired. In Malaysia, the Bumiputera principle recognises the "special position" of the Malays provided in the Constitution of Malaysia, in particular Article 153. However, the constitution does not use the term bumiputra; it defines only "Malay" and "indigenous peoples" (Article 160(2)),"Part XII: General and Miscellaneous, Constitution of Malaysia (Articles 152–160)"
''helplinelaw.com''. Accessed 30 May 2007
"natives" of Sarawak (161A(6)(a)),Part XIIA: Additional Protections for States of Sabah and Sarawak, Constitution of Malaysia (Articles 161 – 161h)
''helplinelaw''. Accessed 30 May 2007
and "natives" of Sabah (Article 161A(6) (b)). Certain but not all pro-bumiputra policies exist as affirmative action for bumiputras, for NEP is racial-based and not deprivation-based. For instance, all Bumiputra, regardless of their financial standing, are entitled to a 7 percent discount on houses or property, including luxurious units, whilst a low-income non-Bumiputra receives no such financial assistance. Other preferential policies include quotas for the following: admission to government educational institutions, qualification for public scholarships, marking of universities exam papers, special bumiputras-only classes prior to university's end of term exams, for positions in government, and ownership of businesses. Most of the policies were established in the Malaysian New Economic Policy (NEP) period. Many policies focus on trying to achieve a bumiputra share of corporate equity, comprising at least 30% of the total. Ismail Abdul Rahman proposed this target after the government was unable to agree on a suitable policy goal. In German nationality law, citizenship is open to ethnic Germans. According to the Greek nationality law, Greeks born abroad may transmit citizenship to their children from generation to generation indefinitely. this is also true in the case of the Philippine nationality law which, has conferred Philippine citizenship on children born after 15 October 1986, with at least one Philippine citizen parent.

See also

* ''Asabiyyah'' * Composite nationalism * Conservative Revolutionary movement * Degeneration theory * Diaspora politics * Essentialism * Ethnic democracy * Ethnocentrism * Ethnocracy * Herrenvolk democracy * Hindutva * Historiography and nationalism * Identity politics * Nihonjinron * Nationalization of history * List of irredentist claims or disputes * Stateless nation * Zionism



* * * * *

Further reading

* Armstrong, John. ''Nations before Nationalism'' (1982
excerpt and text search
* Breuilly, John. ''Nationalism and the State'' (2nd ed. 1995
excerpt and text search
* De Benoist, Alain. "Nationalism: Phenomenology & Critique." ''Counter-Currents.com'', 16 May 2012. * De Benoist, Alain. "On Identity." ''Telos'', Vol. 2004, No. 128 (Summer 2004), pp. 9–64
Telos pageonline text
* De Benoist, Alain. ''Vu de droite: Anthologie critique des idées contemporaines'' (2002)
* De Benoist, Alain. ''Les Idées à l’endroit'' (1979)
text search
* Esman, Milton J., and Itamar Rabinovich, eds. ''Ethnicity, Pluralism, and the State in the Middle East'' (1988) * Gurr, Ted Robert, and Barbara Harff. ''Ethnic Conflict in World Politics'' (1994
* * Jones, Larry Eugene & Retallack, James, eds.. ''Between Reform, Reaction, and Resistance. Studies in the History of German Conservatism from 1789 to 1945'' (1993)
text search
* Kramer, Lloyd. ''Nationalism in Europe & America: Politics, Cultures, and Identities since 1775'' (2011
* Mohler, Armin. ''Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918–1932'' (1972)
excerpt and text search
* * * * * * Sunic, Tomislav. ''Postmortem Report: Cultural Examinations from Postmodernity''. Shamley Green, UK: The Paligenesis Project, 2010. * Venner, Dominique. ''Le Siècle de 1914. Utopies, guerres et révolutions en Europe au XXe siècle'' (2006)
text search
{{DEFAULTSORT:Nationalism Category:Ethnic conflict Category:Ethnicity in politics Category:Ethnocentrism Ethnic Category:Political theories Category:Politics and race