Liberal Nationalism and the Sovereign Territorial Ideal

NOOTENS, GENEVIÈVE: art1] (2006), « Liberal Nationalism and the Sovereign Territorial Ideal », Nations and Nationalism, vol. 12, no 1, pp. 35-50.


Even if most liberals nowadays recognise that liberalism depends on some nationalist justification of popular sovereignty and state boundaries, they still underestimate the consequences of the fact that the sovereign territorial ideal is at the heart of the modern state. Therefore, their normative stance either oscillates between fairness and stability requirements (Kymlicka) or is built on a distinction between self-rule and self-determination that contradicts the normative import of the modern idea of the nation (Tamir). However, there exist counter-traditions that may be helpful in challenging the assumption on behalf of the sovereign territorial state. National cultural autonomy is one of these; it is used here to show how starting from different premises, one may escape the ‘statist assumption’ and work out a political framework which would be fairer to minorities.

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