Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethnonationalism, is a form of nationalism wherein the nation and nationality are defined in terms of ethnicity, with emphasis on an ethnocentric (and in some cases an ethnocratic) approach to various political issues related to national affirmation of a particular ethnic group.
The central theme of ethnic nationalists is that "nations are defined by a shared heritage, which usually includes a common language, a common faith, and a common ethnic ancestry". Those of other ethnicities may be classified as second-class citizens.
The theorist Anthony D. Smith uses the term "ethnic nationalism" for non-Western concepts of nationalism as opposed to Western views of a nation defined by its geographical territory. Diaspora studies scholars extend this non-geographically bound concept of "nation" among diasporic communities, at times using the term ethnonation or ethnonationalism to describe a conceptual collective of dispersed ethnics.
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The central political tenet of ethnic nationalism is that ethnic groups are entitled to self-determination. The outcome of this right to self-determination may vary, from calls for self-regulated administrative bodies within an already-established society, to an autonomous entity separate from that society, to the institution of ethnic federalism within a multi-ethnic society, to a establishing an independent sovereign state removed from that society. In international relations, it also leads to policies and movements for irredentism to claim a common nation based upon ethnicity, or for the establishment of an ethnocratic (mono-ethnocratic or poly-ethnocratic) political structure in which the state apparatus is controlled by a politically and militarily dominant ethnic nationalist group or a group several ethnic nationalist groups from select ethnicities to further its interests, power and resources.
In scholarly literature, ethnic nationalism is usually contrasted with civic nationalism. Ethnic nationalism bases membership of the nation on descent or heredity, often articulated in terms of common blood or kinship, rather than on political membership. Hence, nation-states with strong traditions of ethnic nationalism tend to define nationality or citizenship by jus sanguinis (the law of blood, descent from a person of that nationality), and countries with strong traditions of civic nationalism tend to define nationality or citizenship by jus soli (the law of soil, birth within the nation state). Ethnic nationalism is, therefore, seen as exclusive, while civic nationalism tends to be inclusive. Rather than allegiance to common civic ideals and cultural traditions, then, ethnic nationalism tends to emphasise narratives of common descent.
Some types of ethnic nationalism are firmly rooted in the idea of ethnicity as an inherited characteristic, for example black nationalism or white nationalism, often ethnic nationalism also manifests in the assimilation of minority ethnic groups into the dominant group, for example as with Italianisation. This assimilation may or may not be predicated on a belief in some common ancestry with assimilated groups (for example with Germanisation in the Second World war). An extreme version is racial nationalism.
Recent theories and empirical data suggest that people maintain dual lay beliefs about nationality, such that it can be both inherited biologically at birth and acquired culturally in life.
Ethnic nationalism is present in many states' immigration policies in the form of repatriation laws. Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Serbia, Turkey,: 33 Estonia, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Romania, India, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Taiwan and Russia, provide automatic or rapid citizenship to members of diasporas of their predominant ethnic group, if desired.
In Malaysia, the Bumiputera principle recognises the "special position" of the Malays provided in the Constitution of Malaysia, in particular Article 153. However, the constitution does not use the term bumiputra; it defines only "Malay" and "indigenous peoples" (Article 160(2)), "natives" of Sarawak (161A(6)(a)), and "natives" of Sabah (Article 161A(6) (b)). Certain but not all pro-bumiputra policies exist as affirmative action for bumiputras, for NEP is racial-based and not deprivation-based. For instance, all Bumiputra, regardless of their financial standing, are entitled to a 7 percent discount on houses or property, including luxurious units, whilst a low-income non-Bumiputra receives no such financial assistance. Other preferential policies include quotas for the following: admission to government educational institutions, qualification for public scholarships, marking of universities exam papers, special bumiputras-only classes prior to university's end of term exams, for positions in government, and ownership of businesses. Most of the policies were established in the Malaysian New Economic Policy (NEP) period. Many policies focus on trying to achieve a bumiputra share of corporate equity, comprising at least 30% of the total. Ismail Abdul Rahman proposed this target after the government was unable to agree on a suitable policy goal.
In German nationality law, citizenship is open to ethnic Germans. According to the Greek nationality law, Greeks born abroad may transmit citizenship to their children from generation to generation indefinitely.
More extreme forms of ethnic nationalism have been identified as a cause of various genocides and episodes of ethnic cleansing. In his 2005 book The Great Game of Genocide, historian Donald Bloxham argued that the Armenian genocide "represents a clear logic of ethnic nationalism when carried to its absolute extreme in multinational societies".
- Composite nationalism
- Conservative Revolutionary movement
- Degeneration theory
- Diaspora politics
- Ethnic democracy
- Herrenvolk democracy
- Historiography and nationalism
- Identity politics
- Identitarian movement
- Ketuanan Melayu
- Nationalization of history
- List of irredentist claims or disputes
- Stateless nation
- International Romani Day
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