Economic Change and the National Question in Twentieth-Century Europe

By Alice Teichova; Herbert Matis et al. | Go to book overview

Introduction
Alice Teichova, Herbert Matis and Jaroslav Pátek

The twentieth century has been called 'the age of extremes' 1 as well as the cruellest and bloodiest century in the history of mankind. Its course was crucially influenced by nationalism combined with racism. During its history, nationalism, intrinsically connected with the national question, manifested itself in diverse forms in various countries and regions at different times. While there are a good many publications on nationalism, including its political, cultural and religious background, the economic dimension of the national question has been little examined. In the last analysis there lurks the demanding problem of mediation. That is, essentially, the problem of identifying and comprehending the interconnections between political, ideological and economic spheres.

The problem has very rarely been addressed and this volume attempts to draw attention to the need to study it. There can be no doubt about the enduring significance and the immense historical impact of the national question, 2 which, we realise, concerns European as well as nonEuropean populations. But, in order to achieve a feasible geographical scope and timescale, this volume deals with the national question in the light of economic change in European countries in the twentieth century. It contains twenty case studies on nations and nationalities in countries spanning Europe from west to east — Ireland to Russia — and south to north — Greece to Estonia. Applying a multifaceted approach by taking into account such aspects as the state, national identity, language or religion, the authors investigate the relationship between economic activity and the national question in the twentieth century.

The political landscape of Europe does not permit a neat division of countries into those with a nationally homogeneous population and those with nationally mixed populations. Such divisions have, indeed, never existed as states are dispersed throughout Europe either with linguistic and ethnic majorities, or small ethnic minorities, or bilingual, multilingual and/or multiethnic populations.

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