Seated woman speaking at an FRN event while other attendees listen attentively

Nations and Nationalism: Past and Present

Nationalism—and the organization of the globe into a patchwork of territorial nation-states, each with a unique social or cultural identity—is such a taken-for-granted feature of contemporary life that it is easy to forget that nations did not exist for most of human history. And yet, despite many predictions of nationalism’s imminent demise—Albert Einstein quipped famously that it was an “infantile disease” that humanity would eventually outgrow—nationalism remains perhaps as powerful an ideological force as ever, in the United States as elsewhere.

This seminar will examine a range of foundational questions about the emergence of nations and nationalism in world history: What is a nation, and how has national identity been cultivated, defined, and debated in different contexts? Why did nationalism emerge when it did? Who does nationalism benefit, and how do different social groups compete for control over national identity and ideology? The series will begin by offering an overview of the origins and spread of nationalism in the late 1700s and 1800s and conclude with some thoughts about the resurgence of nationalism in Great Britain and the United States in the 21st century. Along the way, we will consider a number of specific examples of nationalism from different regions around the world.

Background info on Network Seminars

When & Where



Application Deadline

Seminar Schedule. Seminars run Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with a midday communal lunch. Seminar conveners may adjust the class schedule in response to participant needs. Special events may also be held during the program’s Peak Week. Participants are required to attend the full week of seminar meetings.

Seminar Materials. Eligible participants are provided with all required seminar materials (books, articles, laboratory equipment, and entrance fees).

Accommodations & Meals. Limited housing accommodations are provided to participants who live more than 50 miles from the program site. All admitted participants are provided with some meals during the program period.

Application Procedure. Applicants should submit the completed application along with all of the following:

  • A statement of intent that indicates how the seminar participant will apply what is learned at the home institution
  • A current CV
  • A letter of support from either the division dean or department head, who is well-acquainted with the applicant’s area of research
  • Their institutional liaison officer’s signature