Centre for the Study of Nationalism

The Centre for the Study of Nationalism engages critically with the modern and contemporary nation-state, whose components have come to define the structure of the modern world and its prevailing identities.

Some time ago, the nation-state was generally regarded as moribund, overtaken by globalization, Europeanization or some other form of transnationalism, but today most people realize that this is not true. The world still consists of nation-states and the international system is largely based on the idea of national sovereignty. In addition, the resurgence of the radical right and the rise of populism have recently made the claims and attractiveness of nationalism abundantly clear, though in new forms and with new implications for the future of the global order.


Nationalism, nationalization, citizenship, sovereignty: these and similar terms are increasingly salient in political and academic agendas, public discourses and private concerns about the condition and future of the nation-state and its international environment as manifested in in questions of populism, borders, unification, segregation, and secession.

The return of nationalism in new formats

Some time ago, the nation-state was generally regarded as moribund, overtaken by globalization, Europeanization or some other form of transnationalism, but today it is obvious that this is not true – and probably never was. The world still consists of nation-states and the international order is largely based on the idea of national sovereignty. The resurgence of the radical right, the rise of populism, anti-immigrant and anti-foreign discourses and stereotypes, and the struggle of nations (within or across existing states) to acquire an independent political structure have made the claims and attractiveness of nationalism abundantly clear. The idea of the nation-state and the dreams connected with it are still very much with us and provide a framework for political ambitions, security, as well as daily lives, but without carrying the modernizing promise of economic improvement, civic progress and political trust that it once did.

Globalization and transnational processes have changed the environment of nations and states, and unprecedented divisions and cleavages have appeared between defenders of the historical ‘national culture’ on the one hand – the so-called populists – and on the other liberalists and globalizers, who perceive the interaction between their nation-state and the remaining world in more dynamic and flexible terms. Although occasionally misconstrued, the view of this latter group is not anti-nationalist. Most people in fact are still, in the terms coined by Michael Billig, ‘banal nationalists’, but the environment in which their nationalism plays out and the hopes pinned to the future of the nation-state have dramatically affected cultural, symbolic and political forms of national expression, leaving the issue variously defined and often inadequately understood.

Aims and objectives

The Centre for the Study of Nationalism will focus its ambitions, resources and activities on producing research that contributes to scholarly debate, education and outreach on the conundrums that the nation-state leaves us with: the role of its historical paths; the interactions between sovereignty and international collaboration; the relevance of its borders; the relationship between homogeneity and multiculturalism; the tensions between singular and multiple citizenship; the connection between nationalism and civilization and between nationalism and populism; the increasing rejection of non-Western migrants; the discourses defending national belonging and cohesion; the relationship between national elites and the people; the different types of nationalism – not least 'peripheral nationalism', as represented by e.g. secessionist attempts in Catalonia and the Basque country in Spain, or Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq: 'ethnic groups' pursuing dreams about their own state and trying to secede from their current political structures; and the increasing divide between rational and affective approaches to the meaning of ‘my country’.

We are less concerned with the longue durée of ‘nations’, understood as collectivities that date back several thousand years, and whether or not clans, tribes and kinships are akin or similar to modern nations. Instead, we want to engage critically with the modern and contemporary nation-state, whose components – nation and state, formal and informal groups, individual and institutional actors, in different patterns of interaction – have come to define the structure of the modern world and its prevailing identities. Not to the exclusion of other forms of belonging, but as a superordinary feature, whose potential is found in all manner of desperate and, some would argue, anachronistic reactions (e.g. Brexit, Orbanism, Catalonian independence, Erdogan's Ottoman visions, the Krimean annexation, Trumpist Americanism, the Venezuelan crisis, and other manifestations of illiberal or liberal nationalisms).

Relations and approaches

Nationalism and national identity politics are also increasingly visible in the attempts of diasporic communities to reproduce – in different ways and based on a multitude of cultural and political interpretations – national spaces and rituals outside the core national territory. We are thus occupied with issues pertaining to nationalism and national identities and their entangled relations with religious identities, migratory processes, European integration, imperialist ambitions, capitalist structures, populist reactions, diasporic dreams, conceptions of borders, democracy and citizenship – and the directions in which such processes shape trajectories for the future.

We will pursue these aims through research projects, networks, seminars, conference participation, guest programs and the like, and we will seek to influence public debates, both nationally and internationally, through a multitude of knowledge-sharing activities.

Nationalism and national identity as general reference points lend themselves superbly to multi- and interdisciplinary approaches, and as far as concrete theories, data sampling and methodological preferences go, the Centre for the Study of Nationalism assumes an eclectic and open position, whilst stressing the importance of integrating cultural, social, historical and political aspects of issues under investigation.

Core faculty and steering committee


Associate faculty


  • Torkel Brekke, professor, Oslo University
  • Ismar Dedovic, PhD, Saxo Institute, UCPH
  • Jens Tang Kristensen, associate professor, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, UCPH
  • Rouzbeh Parsi, program director, Foreign Policy Institute, Sweden
  • Bo Petersson, professor and advisor to the vice chancelor, Malmö University
  • Matthew Dal Santo, PhD (Cambridge) and former postdoc (Saxo)
  • Turid Nolsøe,  PhD fellow, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication
  • Hans-Jörg Trenz, professor, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication,  UCPH
  • Ahmed Abou El Zalaf, SDU
  • Erik Sporon Fiedler, PhD student, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, UCPH
  • Tóra Djurhuus, PhD student, Department of English, Germanic and Romance Languages, UCPH
  • Simon Cecchin Birk, PhD student, Department of English, Germanic and Romance Languages, UCPH

Recent publications

Catharina Raudvere

Raudvere, Catharina: Contested Memories and the Demands of the Past: History Cultures in the Modern Muslim World (Islam and Nationalism in Europe and the Muslim World). Ed. Catharina Raudvere. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Raudvere, Catharina:  “After the War, before the Future. Remembrance and Public Representations of Atrocities in Sarajevo”, Muslim Pilgrimage in Europe (Routledge Studies in Pilgrimage, Religious Travel and Tourism) ed. Ingvild Flaskerud and Richard Natvig. London: Routledge. 2017.

Raudvere, Catharina: Nostalgia, Loss and Creativity. Political and Cultural Representations of the Past in South-East Europe (Modernity, Memory and Identity in South East Europe) Ed. Catharina Raudvere. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Gabriella Elgenius

Elgenius, G.: ‘Ethnic Bonding and Homing Desires: The Polish Diaspora and Civil Society Making’. In Jacobsson, K. & E. Korolczuk (eds.), Civil Society Revisited: Lessons from Poland. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2017

Elgenius G.: ‘Socio-Political Integration Through Diaspora Organisations and Civil Society Initiatives. In Anthony Heath (ed.), Social Integration: London: The British Academy for the Humanities and Social Science, 2017.

Elgenius, G., and Rydgren, J.:   ‘Frames of Nostalgia and Belonging: The Resurgence of Reactionary Ethno-Nationalism in 'Sweden’. Special Issue on Far Right Movements, European Societies, 2018.

Elgenius, G.: ‘Deconstructing the History of Nationalism: the Cultural Turn and post-structuralism’. In Berger and Storm (eds.), Writing the History of Nationalism. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.

Janus Mortensen

Lønsmann, Dorte and Janus Mortensen. 2018. Language policy and social change: A critical examination of the implementation of an English-only language policy in a Danish company. Language in Society, 47(3): 435–456. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404518000398

Mortensen, Janus. Forthcoming. Beyond language change: ELF and the study of sociolinguistic change. Anna Mauranen and Svetlana Vetchinnikova, eds. Language Change: The Impact of English as a Lingua Franca. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mortensen, Janus. 2017. Transient multilingual communities as a field of investigation: Challenges and opportunities. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 27(3): 271–288. https://doi.org/10.1111/jola.12170 

Mortensen, Janus and Spencer Hazel. 2017. Lending bureaucracy voice: Negotiating English in institutional encounters. In Markku Filppula, Juhani Klemola, Anna Mauranen, and Svetlana Vetchinnikova (eds.), Changing English: Global and Local Perspectives. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 255–275. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110429657-014

Janus Spindler Møller

Møller, Janus Spindler. 2018. Recognizing languages, practising languaging. In Jürgen Jaspers and Lian Malai Madsen, eds. Critical Perspectives on Linguistic Fixity and Fluidity: Languagised Lives. London: Routledge, 29–52.

Møller, Janus Spindler. 2018. ‘You Black Black’: Polycentric norms for the use of terms associated with ethnicity. In Karel Arnaut, Martha Sif Karrebæk, Massimiliano Spotti and Jan Blommaert, eds. Engaging Superdiversity: Recombining Spaces, Times and Language Practices. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 123–146.

Jes Fabricius Møller

Møller, Jes Fabricius: Grundtvig, Danmark og Norden. In Skandinavismen: Vision og virkning. red. / Ruth Hemstad ; Jes Fabricius Møller ; Dag Thorkildsen. Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2018.

 Møller, Jes Fabricius: Die Domestizierung der Monarchien des 19. Jahrhunderts. In Vom Olymp zum Boulevard: Die europäischen Monarchien von 1815 bis heute – Verlierer der Geschichte?. red. / Benjamin Hasselhorn ; Marc von Knorring. Duncker & Humblot, 2018.

Juliane Engelhardt 

Engelhardt, Juliane: Der Radikale Pietismus in Dänemark-Norwegen und ihre deutsche Beziehungen. Historische Zeitschrift, Band 306, Oktober 2018

Engelhardt, Juliane: Den sorte tro i lysets tidsalder: Luthersk pietisme i den tidlige oplysningstid (1670-1750). Religion. Tidsskrift for Religionslærerforeningen for Gymnasiet og HF, nr. 4, december 2017.

Lisa Villadsen

Villadsen, Lisa: “Fy, skam dig ikke! Skam som sanktionerende og sanktioneret følelse i den offentlige debat”. Rhetorica Scandinavica 2018 (in print).

Villadsen, Lisa: "Doxa, Dissent, and Challenges of Rhetorical Citizenship: “When I Criticize Denmark, It Is Not the White Nights or the New Potatoes I Have In Mind”". Javnost: The Public 24 (3) 2017.

Villadsen, Lisa: “Rhetorical Citizenship: Studying the Discursive Crafting and Enactment of Citizenship” w. Christian Kock. Citizenship Studies 2017.

Marie Maegaard

Maegaard, Marie. Forthcoming. Standardization as Sociolinguistic Change. In Marie Maegaard, Malene Monka, Kristine Køhler Mortensen and Andreas Stæhr, eds. Standardization as sociolinguistic change – a transversal study of three traditional dialect areas. London: Routledge.

Mortensen, Kristine Køhler and Marie Maegaard. Forthcoming. Meeting the Greenlandic people – mediated intersections of colonial power, race and sexuality. Discourse, Context and Media.

Marie Sandberg

Andersen, Dorte, Kramsch, Olivier T. & Sandberg, Marie: Inverting the Telescope on Borders that Matter: Conversations in Café Europa. In: Where are Europe’s New Borders: Critical Insights into Contemporary European Bordering, ed: Anthony Cooper, Oxford, UK: Routledge, 2017.
The book was previously published as a special issue of Journal of Contemporary European Studies.

Sandberg, Marie & Melchior, Marie: ’EUROP’: House of European History mellem paneuropæisk og postnational erindringspraksis. Kulturstudier, nr. 1, vol. 6, 2018.

Marie Riegels Melchior

Melchior, Marie Riegels (in press, 2019): ”Digital Fashion Heritage. Understanding europeanafashion.eu and Google Cultural Institute We Wear Culture”, in: Marco Pecorari (ed), special issue of Journal of Critical Studies in Beauty and Fashion

Melchior, Marie Riegels (2019): “Danish fashion: History, Design, Identity” (translated from English to Russian), in: Fashion Theory. Journal of Dress, Body and Culture (Russia), issue 51, pp. 33-46. 

Melchior, Marie Riegels (2019): “Doing Danish Fashion: On national identity and design practices of a small Danish fashion company”, in: Joanne Eicher & Brent Luvaas (eds.): The Anthropology of Dress and Fashion. A Reader, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 219-227. (re-print from original publication in Fashion Practice vol. 2, issue 1, 2010: 13-40).

Melchior, Marie Riegels & Marie Sandberg (2018): ”EUROP’ – House of Euorpean History mellem paneuropæisk og postnational erindringspraksis”, i Tidskriftet Kulturstudier (http://tidsskriftetkulturstudier.dk/).

Melchior, Marie Riegels & Anne Folke Hemmingsen (2018): “Fashion in heritage. Museums, remembrance and uses of the past”, i: Jahrbuch für Europäische Ethnologie, s. 31-38.

Martha S. Karrebæk

Karrebæk, Martha S. Forthcoming. Pigs and pork in Denmark: Meaning change, ideology and traditional foods. Signs & Society

Karrebæk, Martha S. and Narges Ghandchi. 2017. The very sensitive question: Chronotopes, insecurities and Farsi heritage language classrooms. Pragmatics & Society, 8(1): 38–60. https://doi.org/10.1075/ps.8.1.03kar

Karrebæk, Martha S. and Janus Spindler Møller. Forthcoming. Languages and regimes of communication: Children’s struggles with norms and identities through chronotopic work. In A.P.C. Swanenberg and S. Kroon, eds. Chronotopic Identity Work: Sociolinguistics analyses of cultural and linguistic phenomena in time and space. Routledge.

Karrebæk, Martha S. and Özgün Nergiz. 2019. Language ideologies, the soft g, and parody in the Turkish mother tongue classroom. Multilingua. Online ahead of print. https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2018-0086

Nils Holtug

Breidahl, Karen Nielsen; Holtug, Nils; Kongshøj, Kristian: Do Shared Values Promote Social Cohesion? If So, Which? Evidence From Denmark. In: European Political Science Review, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2018.

Holtug, Nils: Identity, Causality and Social Cohesion. In: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Vol. 43, No. 7, 2017.

Tine Damsholt

Damsholt, Tine:‘I didn’t think I would be emotional until I started saying the oath’ – emotionalizing and ritualizing citizenship. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 2017. Published Online 13 November 2017
DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2017.1389038

Damsholt, Tine: “Når blot alle de dejlige nydanske viser, der myldrede frem, havde genlydt i vore skoler, marker og skove”. Patriotisk fællesskab og national selvforståelse i sang. I: Fællessang og fællesskab. (Stine Isaksen red.). s. 69 -93. Videncenter for sang, Herning, 2018

Ulf Hedetoft

Hedetoft, Ulf: Review of M. Ehala, Signs of Identity. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 2018.

Hedetoft, Ulf: Kronik [Op-ed],  Weekendavisen, June 8-15, 2018: ’Populismens tid’ [’The Age of Populism’].

Hedetoft, Ulf: ‘A near-existential dilemma: the European national template, the accommodation of diversity and the nationalist backlash’. National Identities, Fall 2018 (in print).


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