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Minority Nations in the Age of Uncertainty

Minority Nations in the Age of Uncertainty: New Paths to National Emancipation and Empowerment

Alain-G. Gagnon
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 176
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    Minority Nations in the Age of Uncertainty
    Book Description:

    For thirty years, Alain-G. Gagnon has been one of the world's leading experts on federalism and multinational democracies. InMinority Nations in the Age of Uncertainty, he presents an articulate and accessible introduction to the ways in which minority nations have begun to empower themselves in a global environment that is increasingly hostile to national minorities.

    Comparing conditions in Quebec, Catalonia, and Scotland, Gagnon offers six interrelated essays on national minorities, processes of accommodation, and autonomy and self-determination within a modern democratic context. Based on a long career of scholarly study and public engagement, he argues that self-determination for these "nations without states" is best achieved through intercultural engagement and negotiation within the federal system, rather than through independence movements.

    Already translated into fifteen languages from the original French,Minority Nations in the Age of Uncertaintyis an essential text on the theory of multinational federalism and the politics of minority nations.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2125-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    James Tully

    Professor Alain-G. Gagnon has been studying and writing on minority nations within federal states for over thirty years. He is one of the leading and most-respected authorities on Quebec, Scotland, and Catalonia as minority nations within their respective federal states. He is a Quebec political scientist, a comparative political scientist, and a political theorist of nationalism and federalism. His research, teaching, support for graduate students, and public activities have deeply shaped the academic and public discourse in Quebec and the rest of Canada. Moreover, his comparative work has been influential internationally, especially in Scotland and Catalonia.

    Minority Nations in the...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction: National Cultures, Democracy, and Legitimacy
    (pp. 3-15)

    This book develops three major arguments. First, the survival of minority nations is tenuous despite an ostensible shift, in global politics, towards the politicization and enshrinement of diversity; minority nations now live in an age of uncertainty. Second, current approaches to the management of diversity and to national emancipation are limited in scope. On the one hand, an overreliance on the value of federal institutions obfuscates the persistence of homogenizing and undemocratic political practices and, ultimately, a tacit acceptance of the unattainability of the federal culture. On the other hand, national mobilization vested in a homogeneous conception of identity and...

  6. 1 Linguistic Diversity, Language Policy, and the Limits of Federal Accommodation
    (pp. 16-33)

    Federalism is a multifaceted tool: it is a mechanism for managing conflict, an instrument that helps mediate conflicting political agendas, and a shield meant to protect the rights and identities of territorial and non-territorial minorities. One of federalism’s primary objectives is to balance the demands and interests of political units that are both sovereign and integrated in such a way that no unit or political community is left out of the policymaking process and that the national majority is prevented from unilaterally imposing its will on minority populations; accordingly, federalism allows for the evolution of distinct territorial majorities and, concomitantly,...

  7. 2 New Challenges for Multinational States: Globalization and Competing Citizenship Regimes
    (pp. 34-43)

    In and of itself, one phenomenon – globalization – has markedly contributed to the uncertain future of minority nations. Indeed, globalization is one of the foremost threats to the continued existence and growth of minority nations. In 2014, this threat is more important than ever as the economic benefits of globalization are almost uncontested, while the negative cultural impacts of this phenomenon are all but ignored.

    One of the deleterious effects of globalization comes in the form of how the concept has been appropriated by officials in the governments of multination states. Political elites who work at the heart of...

  8. 3 The Pillars of Quebec’s New Citizenship Regime: The Informal Constitution and Interculturalism
    (pp. 44-54)

    With the release of the Parekh report in Britain³ and the Bouchard-Taylor report in Quebec,⁴ it behoves us to imagine new ways of living together in multinational states such as Canada, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Intercultural dialogue became a rallying cry in Europe with the publication of theWhite Paper on Intercultural Dialogue: Living Together as Equals in Dignity,⁵ so much so that Europe even chose to name 2008 the year of intercultural dialogue. The intercultural project has also made an appearance in Japan, where scholars and public intellectuals have begun to explore the links between globalization and conviviality;...

  9. 4 From Containment to Empowerment: Moving towards Positive Autonomy
    (pp. 55-71)

    In debates on decolonization, philosophers relied heavily on the works of Isaiah Berlin and, in particular, his distinction between negative and positive liberty. While this distinction yielded many debates among philosophers, comparativists largely overlooked these exchanges. In the pages that follow, I bring the concepts of negative and positive freedom into the discussion on minority nations and use it to shed new light on the realization of political autonomy in Canada, Spain, and multinational federations writ large.

    For Berlin, negative liberty (i.e., freedom from) corresponds to the absence of constraints, interference, and domination, whereas positive liberty (i.e., freedom to) suggests...

  10. 5 Towards Multinational Federalism: Moving beyond the Integration-Accommodation Dyad
    (pp. 72-81)

    Several models have been developed in order to respond to the needs of political communities. Consociationalism, federalism, and territorial and cultural autonomy are among the main institutional arrangements that are proposed for accommodating national pluralism.² In this chapter, I highlight the reasons why territorial autonomy is currently experiencing some significant setbacks in the Western world and making no real progress elsewhere.³ I also want to propose a way out of this predicament. First of all, I will explore the contradictory way in which governments and international organizations have blown both hot and cold with respect to the treatment of national...

  11. 6 Rethinking Intercommunal Relations in Canada
    (pp. 82-93)

    Solutions for reconciling different communities often vary in accordance to power relations, as well as economic and political interests. With respect to political tensions between Quebec and Canada, we find several distinguished authors who have contributed to the present debate. Of note, among others, are the reflections of Roger Gibbins, Jane Jenson, Will Kymlicka, Guy Laforest, Kenneth McRoberts, Alain Noël, and Benoît Pelletier. In an edited volume by François Rocher and David Schneiderman,Beyond the Impasse, Towards Reconcilation,² almost all options for dealing with Quebec–Canada tensions were taken into consideration except for the idea of secession, which was excluded...

  12. Conclusion: Embracing a New Politics of Dignity and Hospitality
    (pp. 94-100)

    Minority nations live in an age of great uncertainty. This age is characterized by the creation of a global market and economic standardization, by a rising tidal wave of cultural Americanization, by the decline of political literacy and civic engagement, by a growing uniformity between formerly distinct societies and cultures, and by the continuing atomization of the individual. Taken together, these phenomena constitute an unprecedented threat to the cultural and identitary survival of minority nations. Thus, there is a pressing need for these nations to reassert themselves and to resist the homogenizing imperatives of the age of uncertainty.

    In this...

  13. Appendix: The Dignity of Catalonia
    (pp. 101-104)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 105-130)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 131-150)
  16. Name Index
    (pp. 151-152)
  17. Subject Index
    (pp. 153-158)