The problems caused by ethnic nationalism

by Naoko Yamada

There are 2 kinds of model of nationalism; Ethnic nationalism and Civic nationalism. Ethnic nationalism is principle in which belonging to the nation is rooted in descent, and it is related to race and language.  On the other hand, Civic nationalism is the principle in which belonging is tied to rights and a Universalist, voluntary political membership. Japan is nearly homogeneous nation, so almost Japanese distinguish Japanese and foreigner by their looks and language. Therefore the model of ethnic nationalism describes Japan. Now, conflicts caused language as symbol of ethnic nationalism have happened in the world. I’d like to describe about the problems caused by Ethnic nationalism thinking about 3 cases of EU.

In July 2010, a mass demonstration by self-governing body of Catalonia to advocate independence from Spain was held in Barcelona, Spain. Millions of people took part in this demonstration, and they required protection of their language and their culture. 4 kinds of different languages exist in Spain, especially Catalan was object of persecution and Catalan people are persecuted politically and culturally. They consider themselves as aggregate which has different culture and autonomy, and so they go on with movement of independence.

In 1945 Polish was authorized as the language of Poland, in addition using languages of ethnic minorities as official language was prohibited. Therefore policy of an innate respect for cultural assimilation was adopted in Poland. Then, academic meeting about the language of Polish was held in Poland at its participation to EU. In this meeting main discussion became the topic about cultural exchange, on the other hand, possibility of loss of identity by influence from other language was discussed. Not only language of ethnic minority but also the language of country is facing to the loss of its identity because of affiliation to EU.

From 19th century, a lot of Turkish people have worked in Germany as immigrants. Most of them don’t speak German and live in Germany without German. German people think that Turkish should become familiar with German customs, so needless to say, German people want them to speak German. The point of view likes “If Turkish work in Germany, they should be German” causes this problem.

Multiculturalism has expanded, and the problems of language and citizenship have changed to more complex. The problems Catalonia and Poland show us the importance of language as identity. Moreover the problem between Germany and Turkey show the importance of language as citizenship. Ethnic and Civic nationalism have exclusive aspect.


Kenjiro, S. (2005). 欧州諸国の言語法(欧州統合と多言語主義).Tokyo: Sangensya.

Kouji, O. (2011). エティック国際関係学.Osaka: Toshinsya

Yasuteru, O. (2010). EUの言語教育政策. Tokyo: Kroshio


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