Guest Lecture – Analyzing “Nations” and Nationalism: From Real Groups to the Categories of Practice

A guest lecture by Andrej Findor Ph.D. on the concept of nations and nationalism was held at AAU on Wednesday, Oct. 16. Findor is an assistant professor at the Institute of European Studies at Comenius University in Bratislava. He has written a book, a dissertation and several articles on the understanding of the concept. The guest lecture was organized as part of the late intake “Nations and Nationalism” class, and its students made up the vast majority of listeners.

The lecture challenged the popular understanding of what a nation is, and explained why creation of it is a process, not an one-time event. “Nation” is not a group of people who share elements such as cultural values and history, although this definition was the one students came up with when asked about their opinion.

A definition proposed by Findor is that a nation in its modern sense is an “institutionalized form” – it is an “imagined community.” There are many tools for “imagining” a nation, such as educational tradition tuned to national principles. Institutions use such tools in order to sustain a nation, which can result in use of propaganda.

“My favorite author [on the subject] is Rogers Brubaker, he’s a Professor of Sociology,” says Findor. “He talks about nations as category of practice.” Category of practice means that the concept of a nation is made out of personal experiences of people who believe to be a part of it, and many times agenda-setting institutions. In order to truly understand the concept, it is necessary to keep a distance from category of practice by conducting research and proper analysis.

The students appreciated that the lecture took a form of discussion instead of being a chain of facts.