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Primordialism to Nation-States

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Courtney Thomas

on 13 November 2017

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Transcript of Primordialism to Nation-States

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
Intro to World Politics Lecture 3
Before There Were States
States and nations are relatively new political inventions

There is no international system before there are states

For most of human history people lived in primordial kinship communities
Primordial Communities
Small groups of people linked by familial ties of blood and marriage
Governed by patrimonial rule
Confront resource scarcity
Focused on intergenerational survival
Disciplined by honor and shame in order to carefully control and husband resources
Dynastic Rule
Emperors, feudal lords, and monarchs each represent a form of dynastic rule over increasingly complex societies of strangers

This transformation takes THOUSANDS of years--most of "history"
Emergence of States
The 2nd Agricultural Revolution led to
More population growth
Need for more centralization
The rise of sovereign states across Europe
Paralleled by the rise of imagined political communities bound by culture, language, religion, and/or history
States, Nations, etc.
States: territories endowed with sovereignty and legal status in the international community to grant citizenship and govern
Nations: imagined community of people who believe they belong together and that they have the right to be ruled by a government legitimated by their consent
Nation-State: a nation governed by a sovereign state
Nationless States? Stateless nations?

International Society
Exists when “a group of states, conscious of certain common interests and common values, form a society in the sense that they conceive themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with one another, and share in the working of common institutions” –Bull

Historical Periods by Population
What Changed?
The 1st Agricultural Revolution
Surplus led to settlements and population growth
Societies of strangers linked to destiny but not by blood required new forms of governance and legitimacy to resolve conflict, defend territory, manage resources, and extract taxes/conscription
Dynastic rule perpetuated the rule of blood but in the name of dominant blood lines

Years of Change
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