5 Histories and geographies of the nation-state

The so-called Nation State … is … only an increment of the general insecurity and menace … and the hunt for happiness will never be greater than when it must be caught between today and tomorrow.

(Nietzsche quoted in Kaufmann, 1974: 166)

Questions of language are basically questions of power.

(Chomsky, 1979: 191)

Les nations ne sont pas quelque chose d'éternel. Elles ont commencé, elles finiront.

(Renan in Thiesse, 1999: 12–13)


In contemporary Europe issues in language, identity and conflict relate in large part to the idea and the reality of the nation-state. In this chapter the centrality of language to the modern nation-state and the ethnic and civic dimensions to its identity ...

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