The Symbolic State

Minority Recognition, Majority Backlash, and Secession in Multinational Countries. CoG Event
Friday, 21 January 2022 - 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
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Contact person: 
Anna Bogic
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Free of charge
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Book launch presented by the Centre on Governance and the Federalism and Multilevel Governance Research Network

When minority nations in multinational states press for more self-government, they are not only looking to protect their interests. They are asking to be recognized as political communities in their own right. Yet satisfying their demands for recognition threatens to provoke a reaction from members of majority nations who see such changes as a symbolic repudiation of their own vision of politics. Secessionist crises flare up when majority backlash reverses symbolic concessions to minority nations. Through a synoptic historical sweep of Canada, Spain, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, The Symbolic State shows us that institutions may be more important for what they mean than for what they do.


Karlo Basta is Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, and the co-director of the Centre on Constitutional Change.


André Lecours, Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, and Research Director at the Centre on Governance.