Chapter 13 Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Nations, States, and Nation-States A. Logistics



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Chapter 13
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do:
Nations, States, and Nation-States
A. Logistics
Students’ Time Requirements

Activity 1: The Rise of Nationalism and the Fall of Yugoslavia

Readings 60–90 minutes

Fill-in-the-blanks 60–90 minutes

Activity 2: Iraqaphobia

Readings 90–120 minutes

Fill-in-the-blanks 90–120 minutes
The fill-in-the-blanks activity works very well as an in-class group project. It helps for students to be able to discuss the questions and readings with other students. If so, it is absolutely essential that students read the assigned articles in advance of the discussion. They will need to consult the readings to find pertinent passages, but if they are reading it for the first time during group work, they will either not finish or not contribute. I remind my students of this fact several times in the days leading up to the project.
If students don’t finish during class, they can finish at home.
If done in groups in class, you may wish to suggest that a different student act as recorder for each block of questions. Also, assign a different student to be the discussion leader/gatekeeper to keep the discussion on track and prevent any single individual from dominating the discussion. A third student could function as timekeeper. See the Chapters 11 and 14 role-playing activities for further discussion of these tasks.
Remind students that Balkan and Middle East politics are always changing and can become outdated quickly. We have done our best to bring things up-to-date as of late Spring,2013. If something major occurs after publication that changes any of the answers, the website will provide an update.
It helps to emphasize to students that as boundaries change, what was once ethnonationalism (intrastate) can become irredentism (interstate), and vice versa. They need to apply these terms to the boundaries that were in place at that time.
In the 2nd edition, we made the activity a little easier by listing the readings and figures that contain the answers for each section. In the 3rd edition, we went one step farther by making sure that the answers can be found in sequential order in the readings. We have also marked with an * those answers that require a little extra thought and cannot be answered simply by reading it in the articles.
Those using the Wiley Plus version of the 6th edition will have a link to the passage in the text where answers can be found. Those using the Book Companion site for the 6th edition can find an annotated set of readings with the location of the answers highlighted. This will make it easier for the instructor to circulate in class while the students are working and be able to point them in the right direction.
B. Lesson Plan
I. Broader context of crises (without overlapping with the activities)


  1. Breakup of Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, tearing down of Berlin Wall, reunification of two Germanies, Québec separatism

  2. End of Cold War

II. Political geography terminology



  1. State = country

      1. Independent

      2. Defined boundaries

      3. Internationally recognized

      4. Sovereignty over land and people within boundaries

      5. Gray areas, including colonies

  2. Nation = cultural group

    1. Based on Latin natio, meaning “born, nation, race, species, or breed”

    2. Common ancestry (mythical or actual)

      1. See themselves as a group

      2. Largest such group (larger than family, clan, tribe)

    3. Common religion (usually)

    4. Common language

    5. Accepted ways of behavior

    6. Political consciousness

    7. National homeland

      1. Regional autonomy

    8. Examples (most not covered in chapter):

      1. Tibetans

      2. Pushtuns

      3. Flemish and Walloons

      4. Basques

      5. Germans

      6. Chechens

      7. E. Timorese

      8. Tamils

      9. Kashmiris

      10. Scottish/Welsh/Irish

      11. Inuit

      12. Navajo

  3. Nation-state

    1. State’s territory = national homeland

    2. Political-geographic ideal

    3. Nation-states are the exception rather than the rule

III. The geography of nations and states



  1. What happens when nations and states don’t match up?

    1. Multistate nation versus multination state

  2. Ethnonationalism

    1. Occurs in multination states

    2. A minority nation contained within a state dominated by another nation

    3. Strong feelings of being different from the other nation

  3. Separatism

    1. Desire to have their own state

    2. Some actions taken to achieve that goal

  4. Secession

    1. When a nation breaks off into an independent state

  5. Irredentism

    1. Occurs in multistate nations

    2. Homeland spills over into other state

    3. Desire to join together both parts of homeland into a single state

    4. Referred to as “Greater ____________”

    5. Name derives from Italia irredenta in 1870s

  6. Examples

    1. French Canada

    2. Israel/Palestine—both nations claim the same homeland

      1. Diaspora

      2. Refugees

      3. Current status of West Bank and Gaza

      4. Progress towards statehood (UN granted nonmember observer status to Palestine since 6th edition was written)

  7. Territorial organization

    1. Unitary State

    2. Federal State

      1. Lower level administrative units

      2. Work best for large, diverse, multinational states

      3. Examples of failed federations

      4. Raison d’être

IV. Terminological confusion



  1. U.S.A. not a union of independent states

    1. Note: The reason U.S. states are called “states” and not “provinces” is because the original thirteen colonies had the potential to all become “states” in the true sense of the word, but instead they “united” to form a country, and the name stuck instead of switching to the more geographically correct term of “provinces.” This explanation is not in the book.

  2. International is really interstate

  3. Interstate highways are really intrastate

  4. Nationalism is loyalty to one’s nation

  5. Patriotism is loyalty to one’s state

V. Introduction of exercise



  1. Southeastern Europe is a shatterbelt

    1. Boundaries frequently redrawn

    2. Caught between powerful empires or states

    3. Topographically fractured

    4. Crossroads of trade and migration

  2. Iraq is heartland of ancient empires

    1. Also a multination state

    2. Boundaries also were drawn by outside powers

    3. War did not occur due to ethnic conflicts, but over geopolitics

  3. Methods

    1. Synthesize information from a variety of sources

    2. International agencies value people with these skills necessary to disentangle complex situations—the world is not black and white!

    3. Relevance to your life

  4. Things to keep in mind when doing these activities

    1. If the activity is to be done in class, you MUST do the readings ahead of time

    2. Remember the difference between nations and states—don’t confuse the two.

    3. Nations do not necessarily have different religions and languages in every case.

    4. The conflict cannot be understood solely on the basis of nation and state geography. You must mesh this with history, economics, and world politics.

    5. Before the breakup, Yugoslavia consisted of republics. Figure out if these were nations, states, or provinces.

    6. As the state boundaries change, what was once ethnonationalism (multination states) can become irredentism (multistate nations). Always answer the questions with the existing boundaries of the time period in mind.

    7. Try to understand the points of view of all sides in the conflict. There can be no successful negotiations or solutions without being able to see the other point of view.

VI. Background on Yugoslavia and introduction of readings and exercise

        1. Optional instructor discussion to help understand the context

    1. fourth-century split of Roman Empire led to Catholic/Orthodox split

    2. Ottoman Empire dominated from fourteenth–nineteenth centuries

    3. Austro-Hungarian Empire in nineteenth century

    4. Soviet influence

    5. End of Cold War

VII. Background on Iraq and introduction of readings and exercise

1. Optional instructor discussion to help understand the context


  1. Iraq’s climate is desert

  2. Dominated by two rivers that flood in the spring, bringing life and/or death. Political control historically depended on water management.

  3. Cradle of civilization, ancient empires

  4. Islam

  5. Ottoman Empire

  6. British Mandate

VIII. Do the fill-in-the-blanks in class (or assign for homework).


IX. Discussion questions.
C. Answer Key
Because of the excessive length, the complete answer key and annotated readings are found at the end of this file.
D. Discussion or Essay Questions
Should the United States or Canada intervene in ethnonational wars (or civil wars) in other countries, and if so, when, under what circumstances, and in what way?
Why should students care about the Balkans?
How long should the U.S. or Canada keep peacekeeping troops in the Balkans?
Should the United States support its ally Taiwan if China tries to use force to reclaim it?
What effect do you think the European Union, NAFTA, and other “supranational” (actually suprastate) forms of cooperation and open borders will have on future ethnonational movements in those areas?
How is it possible that, on the one hand, countries are forming supranational organizations such as NAFTA and the European Union that require them to willingly give up sovereignty on economic, migration, and environmental policy, while at the same time in the same areas, ethnonationalism is tearing places into even smaller parts?
How small can a state be and remain viable? What determines viability for a “microstate?”
Should any nation, regardless of size or situation, be denied its right to self-determination?
The notion that the entire land surface of the planet (and some of its oceans) should be divided among sovereign states is a relatively new notion, traced by some political geographers to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The notion that people have the right of self-determination of government took hold in the late 1700s with the American and French Revolutions. The time at which people began to develop national consciousness has varied greatly and is under much debate, but in many areas did not occur until the nineteenth or twentieth century. Given the relatively recent rise of these nation and state ideas, should they necessarily form the basis of the international political system? Think outside the box and try to imagine another way of organizing political space.
Is the United States a nation-state? If not, why not?
Why do you think states in the United States are called states and not something more technically accurate? (The reason U.S. states are called “states” and not “provinces” is because the original thirteen colonies had the potential to all become “states” in the true sense of the word, but instead they “united” to form a country, and the name stuck instead of switching to the more geographically correct term of “provinces.” This explanation is not in the book.)
Are Americans, made up largely of immigrants and their descendants, a nation?
Are the Palestinians a nation? If so, when did they become one?
Is England a nation? A state? Neither?
Is the U.K. a nation-state?
What does nationalism mean to the Chinese? To a Tibetan?
Why didn’t the secession of Bosnia stop the fighting there?
What are the future prospects for Bosnia to hold together?
What other potential conflicts remain in the former Yugoslavia?
What contributing factors are likely to turn a minor ethnonationalism situation into a major separatist movement?
The breakup of the former Soviet Union has led to greater nationalism worldwide as individual ethnic groups express their desire for autonomy. Why did the breakup of the Soviet Union unleash the forces of nationalism and what are its long-term consequences in political geography terms?
What affect has the rise of nationalism had on the U.S. role in international affairs? How does this affect the U.S. military and U.S. foreign policy?
What affect has the rise of nationalism had on the United Nations (the number of members, its role in world affairs, the complexity of its mission)?
The U.S.-Mexico border is emerging as a culture region unto itself, with strong movements of ideas, products, culture, technology, food, music, and people, etc., across it on a seasonal and even daily basis. Many places along the border have more in common with their counterparts on the other side than with places well within the U.S. and Mexico. What do you think will become of the border region by 2100?
What were President Bush’s stated reasons for invading Iraq, and what were the unstated reasons?
Do you think that democracy can be imposed by armed intervention in a place that has never had a tradition of democracy?
If the stated goal of the U.S. is to create democracy in Iraq, what should it do if the Iraqis elect a radical Islamist regime with close ties to Iran? Should the U.S. respect the democratic will of the people?
In what ways does the United States benefit economically from the war and occupation of Iraq?
Since Vietnam, the United States has wanted to avoid wars that can turn into quagmires. Secretary of State Colin Powell proposed that the U.S. not engage in any war without a clear exit strategy. What is the exit strategy from Iraq, and what factors could make it difficult to achieve?
Historian Samuel Huntington argues that Islam and the West are engaged in a titanic clash of civilizations, and that there are conflicts erupting all around the edges of the Middle Eastern culture region where Islam is coming into conflict with non-Islamic cultures. Do you think that September 11 and the Iraq War can be explained in this way?
What factors will make it difficult for the U.S. to pull all military and administrative personnel out of Iraq after the war?
Should the U.S. recognize an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq?
How useful are the concepts of nations, states, ethnonationalism, and irredentism for understanding the current situation in Iraq? For understanding why the U.S. went to war in Iraq?
Do you think future historians will regard the 2003 war against Iraq as successful?
Compare and contrast the political geographies of Iraq and Yugoslavia.
In what ways is the study of history essential to understanding contemporary political-geographic crises?
Discuss: It is just a matter of time before Iraq breaks apart like Yugoslavia did.
What would be the dangers and rewards of allowing Iraq to splinter into separate countries?
What could be done to keep Iraq from breaking apart after U.S. and coalition forces leave?
E. Question Bank
1. True/False Irredentism is a movement by a minority ethnic group to break off from a country and form their own separate state.
2. True/False Irredentism can occur when a nation extends beyond the state in which they are the majority and overlaps into a neighboring state in which they are a minority.
3. True/False The initial breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s was primarily due to the forces of ethnonationalism.
4. True/False In contrast with nations, states are cultural regions based on actual or mythological common ancestry.
5. True/False To be a nation, the common ancestry of the people must be real and not just mythological.
6. True/False Yugoslavia literally translates into English as “land of the Southern Slavs.”
7. True/False A nation will often consider its ancestral territory a part of its homeland, even if they no longer occupy it.

8. True/False Jews and Palestinians have separate homelands within the state of Israel.

9. True/False As a result of the conflict in Yugoslavia, there is no longer a country on the map by that name.
10. True/False The Kurdish region is more properly considered a national homeland, not a state.
11. True/False If the Iraqi Kurds were granted independence, the resulting regions would be a nation-state.

12. True/False If the Shia government in Iran tried to “reclaim” the Shia region of southern Iraq on the basis of a common national religion, the situation would best be described as irredentism, not ethnonationalism.


13. True/False The desire for a “Greater Kurdistan” is an example of ethnonationalism, not irredentism.
14. True/False In Iraq under President Saddam Hussein, a minority nation was the dominant power and the majority nation was oppressed.
15. True/False The new Iraqi Constitution created a federal system of government.
16. Which of the following could today be considered a nation-state?

a. Serbia

b. Bosnia

c. Yugoslavia

d. Croatia

* e. Slovenia


17. A region caught between powerful forces whose boundaries are continually redefined is known as a:

a. irredentist state

b. non-nation-state

* c. shatterbelt

d. province with divided loyalties
18. Which of the following is a classic case of ethnonationalism?

a. British Columbia

b. Saskatchewan

* c. Québec

d. Maine

e. California


19. Which of the following multination states is the exception in that there is no major unrest as a result of strong ethnonationalistic feelings?

a. France

b. China

c. Israel

* d. Switzerland
20. A person who is outside of their country due to a fear of persecution and is unable or unwilling to return is a:

a. separatist

* b. refugee

c. foreigner

d. non-citizen
21. The division between Catholic and Orthodox Christians that runs through the middle of the Balkans was originally due to what historical event?

* a. the east/west split of the Roman Empire

b. the division of the Austro-Hungarian Empire

c. the advent of Nazi troops through part of the area in World War II

d. the advent of the Ottoman Empire through only half of the area
22. To help maintain the multination state of Yugoslavia between World War II and 1990, the presidency of the country rotated between:

a. various political parties based on popular elections

b. various political parties based on Tito’s personal choosing

* c. the six republics

d. the five major ethnic groups

e. the three major religions


23. The main minority nation within Macedonia is:

a. Croatians

b. Greeks

c. Serbians

* d. Albanians

e. Macedonians


24. A complete break-off of a region to form its own independent state is called:

a. ethnonationalism

b. regional autonomy

c. separatism

* d. secession
25. __________________ is a classic case of irredentism.

a. South Africa

b. Portugal

c. Québec

d. the Navajo reservation

* e. Somalia


26. The two nations that fought over Kosovo in 1999 were:

a. Serbians and Bosnian Muslims

b. Croatians and Macedonians

* c. Serbians and Albanians

d. Croatians and Bosnian Muslims
27. Ethnic cleansing implies:

* a. “purifying” an area by killing, threatening, or otherwise forcing out members of other ethnic groups

b. forcing members of other religions or speakers of other languages to adopt the religion of the dominant group

c. giving greater regional autonomy to a minority ethnic group

d. establishing camps where members of ethnic groups perceived to be “unhygienic” are forced into mass baths

e. redrawing of boundaries along ethnic lines


28. Which of the following is not part of the definition of a state?

* a. a common language

b. an organized economy and circulation system

c. sovereignty

d. a permanent resident population

e. defined boundaries


29. Kosovo:

a. is an independent country now

* b. is a subdivision of Serbia with a large Albanian majority

c. is one of the six former republics of Yugoslavia

d. has a predominantly Serbian population

e. is part of Romania claimed by Serbia


30. Which of the following states from the original Yugoslavia has the largest Muslim population in percentage terms?

a. Croatia

b. Slovenia

* c. Bosnia

d. Yugoslavia

e. Macedonia


31. Which of the following historical events is responsible for the existence of a substantial Muslim population in the former Yugoslavia?

* a. the Ottoman Empire

b. the division between the Eastern and Western Roman Empires

c. the Austro-Hungarian Empire

d. the U.S.-Soviet Cold War

e. the various Mongol tribes that swept across Europe as the Roman Empire collapsed


32. A political geographer would describe the aspirations of Bosnian Serbs to join their territory with that of the Serbian homeland in Yugoslavia as an example of:

a. ethnonationalism

b. ethnic separatism

* c. irredentism

d. ethnic cleansing
33. The “no-fly zone” over northern Iraq was imposed to protect ______________ from air attacks by ________________.

a. the Shia Arabs; the Kurds

b. the Sunni Arabs; the Kurds

* c. the Kurds; the Iraqi government

d. the Kuwaitis; the Iraqi government

e. the Sunni Arabs; the Shia majority


34. After the first Gulf War, the United States reneged on promises to support an independent Kurdish state primarily because of strong opposition by its close ally, ________, which has substantial Kurdish population of its own to deal with.

* a. Turkey

b. Iran

c. Saudi Arabia



d. Russia

e. Israel


35. Which country does not contain part of the ancestral Kurdish homeland?

a. Turkey

b. Iran

c. Iraq


d. Syria

* e. Afghanistan


36. The current boundaries of Iraq were drawn by:

a. the United Nations in 1991

b. the United States in 2003

c. the Ottoman Empire in the seventeenth century

* d. the British after World War I

e. Pablo Picasso, after drinking too much absinthe


37. Since gaining its independence, Iraq has been a:

a. nation

* b. state

c. nation-state

d. province

e. national homeland


38. What is the correct political geography term to describe what New Jersey, California, and Illinois are?

a. nation

b. state

c. nation-state

* d. province

e. colony


39. Which of the following provisions is not in the new Iraqi Constitution?

a. “Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation. No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.”

b. “No law can be passed that contradicts the principles of democracy.”

c. “Arabic and Kurdish are the two official languages for Iraq. Iraqis are guaranteed the right to educate their children in their mother tongues.”

* d. “The regional authorities have power to conduct their own foreign policy and national defense.”

e. “A quota on revenues from oil and gas should be defined for a specified time for affected regions that were deprived in an unfair way by the former regime or later on, in a way to ensure balanced development in different parts of the country.”


40. After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, U.S. credibility abroad has been undermined by the failure to find:

a. Saddam Hussein

b. Saddam Hussein’s hidden fortune

c. anyone willing to lead Iraq

* d. weapons of mass destruction

e. Ayatollah Khomeini


41. According to Galbraith, the most explosive unresolved territorial issue in present-day Iraq is:

* a. the city of Kirkuk

b. the ethnic division of Baghdad

c. the border with Kuwait

d. the border with Iran

e. the city of Fallujah


42. Which of the following is the best example of irredentism?

a. the British plantation system in Northern Ireland

* b. Germany’s WWII attempt to reunite its national homeland by incorporating portions of neighboring states

c. Québec’s movement to secede from Canada

d. the Navajo Nation has some regional autonomy within the United States

e. the city of Fallujah


43. What is the national language of Iraq?

a. Sunni


b. Persian

* c. Arabic

d. Kurdish

e. FORTRAN


44. Chaos in the Persian Gulf would disrupt world _______ markets and therefore the world economy.

a. copper

b. lithium

c. coal


d. food

* e. oil
45. Since the 1991 Gulf War and the imposition of the no-fly zones, the Iraqi Kurds have effectively operated under a form of regional _______, which allows them to govern their own internal affairs and teach their schools in their own language.

* a. autonomy

b. interdependence

c. unitary power

d. ethnic cleansing


46. After the 1991 Gulf War, the United States chose not to support the Shia and Kurd rebellions because of the worry that a fractured Iraq would create more _______________ in an unpredictable region.

a. religious fanatics

b. hostile governments

c. ethnic animosities

* d. instability
47. In 1990, Iraq invaded:

a. Iran


b. Pakistan

* c. Kuwait

d. Afghanistan

e. Israel


48. Which country did the United States support in the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988?

* a. Iraq

b. Iran

c. both of the above



d. neither of the above
49. Iraqi Kurds are predominantly:

* a. Sunni

b. Shiite

c. Orthodox Christians

d. Iranian

e. Kuwaiti


50. Iranians are predominantly:

a. Sunni


* b. Shiite

c. Orthodox Christians

d. Jewish

e. Kurdish


51. Iraqi Kurds live primarily in the _______ of the country.

* a. north

b. south

c. east


d. west

e. center


52. Kurdistan is a:

a. state


b. nation

* c. national homeland

d. nation-state

e. irredenta of Iran


53. What historical event is responsible for the divide between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims?
a. the creation of the state of Israel

b. the Crusades

c. the Shia were a creation of the British to divide the local religious community and therefore make it easier for the British to control them both

* d. a dispute over succession in religious leadership in the decades after Mohammed’s death

e. the division of the Ottoman Empire after World War I
54. The Kurds are a:

a. state


* b. nation

c. national homeland

d. nation-state

e. terrorist organization


55. Iraq’s first type of government, immediately after independence, was:

a. communism

* b. monarchy

c. democracy

d. colony

e. military dictatorship


56. Iraq became independent in what year?

a. 1850


b. 1991

c. 1954


d. 1970

* e. 1932


57. After World War I, control of Iraq was given to what country?

* a. Britain

b. France

c. Russia

d. Turkey

e. United States


58. What is the ancient name of the area presently called Iraq?

a. Palestine

* b. Mesopotamia

c. Judea

d. Thebes

e. Halicarnassus


59. Which of the following comes closest to qualifying as a nation-state?

* a. Portugal

b. Iraq

c. Canada

d. China

e. Israel


60. Which of the following does not define a nation?

a. common ancestry

b. common religion

c. common identity as part of a particular cultural group

* d. common citizenship within the same sovereign country
61. In this language map of the Indian subcontinent (http://www.worldgeodatasets.com/language/huffman/), the large island off the southern tip of India is an independent state called Sri Lanka. As the pink area on the language map shows, the Tamil language is spoken in northern Sri Lanka as well as the southeastern Indian province of Tamil Nadu. The Sri Lankan Tamils have historically clashed with the other Sri Lankans. Given their strong bond with the Indian Tamil population in Tamil Nadu and desire to unify with them, this political geographic situation is a case of:
a. a nation-state

b. unitarianism

c. ethnonationalism

* d. irredentism

e. immigration
62. The Kurds are a:

a. state


* b. nation

c. national homeland

d. nation-state

e. terrorist organization


63. Iraq’s first type of government, immediately after independence, was:

a. communism

* b. monarchy

c. democracy

d. colony

e. military


C. Answer Key
Annotated Answer Key to Activities 1 (Yugoslavia) and 2 (Iraq)


The correct answer is underlined after each question. Then, in the annotated readings, the source of the answer is highlighted in yellow, followed by the [Question number, in brackets]. For questions marked by a *, the answer cannot be found directly in the readings. In these cases, the appropriate sources from which the answer can be deduced is given after the answer, in blue. For these questions marked by a *, it goes without saying that one of the required sources is the definition of the key terms.

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