Relationship Between Nationalism and the Economy Explored in Fetzer’s New Book

A new book co-edited by CEU International Relations Professor Thomas Fetzer probes the connection between nationalism and the economy, a relationship largely ignored in the academic study of both subjects. Nationalism and the Economy: Explorations into a Neglected Relationshipwhich was published in January, collects articles discussing what Fetzer and co-editor Stefan Berger call “the nationalism-economy nexus.”

“This book is a series of first investigations to see if we can bring nationalism in to the political economy debate and bring the economy into the nationalism debate,” said Fetzer. “We worked together with researchers active in this area of study to gather existing research, while also asking how we could create a more systematic understanding of how nationalism is expressed in the economic realm.”

Fetzer noted that the field of nationalism studies currently fails to look at the economy in a meaningful way. “Little attention is paid to the ways nationalism is expressed through the economic domain. The only emphasis placed on the economy is as an external cause in one way or another responsible for the rise of nationalism. Similarly, arguments concerned with economic globalization tend only to look how globalization reinforces or reconstitutes nationalism,” said Fetzer.

The study of political economy is similarly stunted in its engagement with nationalism as an ideology with impacts on the economy. “While the concept of economic nationalism has indeed been discussed since the interwar period, it doesn’t directly confront nationalism. That term tends to serve as a stand-in for protectionism and the way governments interfere with liberal economic principles,” said Fetzer.

This previously unexplored nationalism-economy nexus is what Fetzer’s book addresses. Each chapter to the book varies in subject and disciplinary approach, largely because this area of study is not yet fully developed. One contribution looks at how the Zionist movement and the state of Israel used land regimes in nation-building processes, another at the nationalization of specific products and everyday consumption, and another about nationalism as a form of political communication and nation branding.

Although some vital questions about the relationship between nationalism and the economy receive initial investigations in the book, Fetzer said that many more require even further study.