Friends or foes? migrants and sub-state nationalists in Europe

Jeram, Sanjay and Van Der Zwet, Arno and Wisthaler, Verena (2015) Friends or foes? migrants and sub-state nationalists in Europe. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. ISSN 1369-183X (

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How do sub-state nationalists respond to the growing presence of cultural diversity in their ‘homelands’ resulting from migration? Sub-state nationalists in Europe, in ‘nations without states’ such as Catalonia and Scotland, have been challenging the traditional nation-state model for many decades. While the arguments in favour of autonomy or independence levelled by these movements have become more complex, sub-state nationalist movements remain grounded by their perceived national community that is distinct from the majority nation. Migration to the ‘homeland’ of a sub-state nation, then, presents a conundrum for sub-state elites that we label the ‘legitimation paradox’: too much internal diversity may undermine the claim to cultural distinctiveness. We engage with three common intervening variables thought to influence how sub-state nationalists confront the ‘legitimation paradox’: civic/ethnic nationalism, degree of political autonomy, and party competition. Our overarching argument is that none of these factors have a unidirectional or determinate effect on the sub-state nationalism-immigration nexus, which is why the nuanced case studies that comprise this Special Issue are worthwhile endeavours.