Brubaker may be the freshest voice writing on issues of nationalism, ethnicity, and national identity. He brings to the post-Soviet and East European scene not only a deep knowledge of Western Europe but great conceptual imagination. For example, rather than working from the vast literature devoted to nationalism in search of a state, he crafts a set of ideas exploring nationalism once it has a state. More than that, he follows the three-way interplay among the national aspirations of the dominant ethnic group (the "core nation"), the pretensions of nearby homeland states newly concerned about co-nationals next door, and the often countervailing demands of still other local ethnic minorities. He predicts that few if any of the countries in Eastern Europe or the former Soviet Union will, in fashioning their new states, render ethnicity legally and politically irrelevant or, on the other hand, institutionalize it as the basis for sharing the state among two or more groups. The best to be hoped for, Brubaker suspects, will be ethnically self-conscious states that respect the rights of minorities. His impressive intellectual scaffolding, however, does not allow him to predict which or how many of the new states will do so.
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