Fernado López-Alves addresses the classic question “What is the Nation?” in his article “The ideological practice of nationality”, published by Historia Actual Online.
In this paper López-Alves argues that the archetypical question, “What is the Nation?” cannot be answered without serious examination of a semi-autonomous “ideological practice” connected to the conceptualizing, rather than the imagining, of nations. The paper claims that this contributes to resolve a number of puzzling paradoxes that lay at the core of research on the nation and national identity. The question of whether members of a nation share a consensual definition/image of their national community seems crucial to explain nationality. Literature has assumed that this is definitely the case and that such consensual view binds members of a particular nation together. This argument, however, overlooks important empirical evidence. Research shows that members of the same nation can in fact harbor serious disagreements as to the meaning of their national identity. People can believe that they share the same nationality but still envision “the nation” in very different ways. In addition, while people can disagree as to what to be a member of the nation may mean, they can still worship flag and country all the same.
Keywords: Nation, Nationality, Modernity, State, National Identity, Bureaucracy, Ideology.