The European Union Center of Excellence at the University of California, Berkeley presents a colloquium on:

The Specter of Separatism: Political Fragmentation in the European Union

April 11, 2012 – 370 Dwinelle – UC Berkeley

The last four decades have witnessed an acceleration of globalization processes that have knitted the world closer together. Yet, while in some respects the world is becoming a village, this village is increasingly fragmenting. In Europe, we see the same tension between concurrent trends of unification and fragmentation. The ongoing process of Europeanization within the E.U. has stirred reactions within several countries aimed at reversing the devolution of powers to “Brussels.” Even in core member states of the E.U., euro-scepticism is growing. In several countries, the current Euro-crisis has invigorated protectionist and nationalist discourses. Thus “more Europe” seems to strengthen particularism and nationalism at the level of member states. But also within these nations, “Europe” seems to have paradoxical effects on internal cohesion. On the one hand, increased European unification has not diminished the appeal of sub-state regionalist, nationalist, and separatist movements. On the other, these movements have taken the gradual devolution of powers to a higher European level as an argument that the nation state they are challenging has become obsolete. To name but some: Scottish, Flemish, Catalan, and Basque nationalists are fervently pro-European. What will the future have in store for them? What will happen if euro-scepticism keeps growing and their hopes for a pan-European counterbalance to the power of nation states evaporate? Will these movements opt for the path of open secession? The upcoming referendum on Scottish independence in 2014 will be an important test case.

This colloquium brings together a number of specialists on regionalism and nationalism in Europe to discuss the tension between unification and fragmentation in the context of the European Union. It caters to an audience interested in current European political and cultural affairs.

Organizing Committee: Jeroen Dewulf – University of California, Berkeley and Maarten van Ginderachter – University of Antwerp, Belgium

Colloquium Program

9.30 a.m. Official opening of the colloquium by Jeroen Dewulf and Jeff Pennington (Co-director of the E.U. Center of Excellence at UC Berkeley).

Introduction to Regionalism and Nationalism in the European Union

  • 10:00-10:45 a.m. Maarten van Ginderachter (University of Antwerp, Belgium): “Regionalism and Nationalism in Europe in an Era of Globalization”

Regionalism and Nationalism in Eastern Europe

  • 10:45-11:30 a.m. Zsuzsa Cserg (Queen’s University, Canada): “The Politics of Regionalization and the Fragility of Democracy in Post-communist Europe: Lessons from the Romanian Case”
  • 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. John Connelly (University of California, Berkeley): “Velvet Divorce: How Democratic Czechoslovakia Ignored Popular Sentiment and Self-destructed”

12:15-1:45 p.m. Lunch break

Regionalism and Nationalism in Western Europe

  • 2:00-2:45 p.m. Jeroen Dewulf (University of California, Berkeley): “The Flemish Movement: On the Intersection of Language and Nationalism in the Dutch-Speaking Part of Belgium”
  • 2:45-3:30 p.m. Xosé-Manoel Núñez (University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain): “Substate Nationalisms and Neo-Regionalisms within a Federalizing Democracy: the Case of Spain”

3:30-3:45 p.m. Coffee break

3:45-4:30 p.m. Andrew Hughes Hallett (George Mason University, Arlington VA; and University of St Andrews, Scotland): “The Practicalities of Fiscal Autonomy in Regional Government: Fiscal Federalism, Devolution and Independence in Scotland”
Regionalism and Nationalism in the E.U. Overseas Countries and Territories

  • 4:30-5:15 p.m. Eric Mijts (University of Aruba): “Multilayered Nationalism in the Dutch Caribbean: Conflicting Loyalties”

5:15-5:30 p.m. Concluding remarks by the colloquium organizers.


John Connelly – Velvet Divorce: How Democratic Czechoslovakia Ignored Popular Sentiment and Self-destructed

In retrospect the division of Czechoslovakia at New Year’s 1993 appears inevitable.  The languages and cultures of Czechs and Slovaks, though related, were distinct. The two peoples had never shared a state in common before 1918. And most Slovaks eagerly acceded to that state’s destruction in 1938/39. Yet before 1991 no one saw the split coming, and in fact, large majorities of both Czechs and Slovaks wanted to continue in some kind of unity.  Arguably the division has not been of clear benefit economically to either half. Why then did it occur?

John Connelly is Professor at the Department of History of the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in and teaches history of East Central Europe.  He has recently published a book on the revolution in Catholic teaching about the Jews in the 1960s entitled:  From Enemy to Brother (2012).

Zsuzsa Cserg – The Politics of Regionalization and the Fragility of Democracy in Post-communist Europe: Lessons from the Romanian Case

Since the beginning of the 1990s, European institutions provided incentives to post-communist states lined up for EU membership to soften state frontiers and introduce multi-level governance through the creation of cross-border and sub-state regions of development.  Central governments in Eastern Europe became interested in regionalization primarily as a way to gain access to EU developmental funds. Although not designed to weaken central states’ involvement in socio-economic development, the EU’s Structural Funds provided opportunities for regional and minority political activists to pursue greater institutional, material, and symbolic resources.  In Romania, a post-communist state characterized by a high degree of centralization and pervasive corruption, bottom-up claims for sub-state regionalization along historic-cultural lines became explosive in the political center.  Hungarian autonomy demands in the Szekler region became particularly divisive:  (1) dominant political elites in the state center played the ethnic card to delegitimize all culturally-framed self-governance demands in an effort to maintain a clientelistic centralized state structure, in which piecemeal bargaining took the place of more stable multi-level institutions of governance;  (2) Hungarian minority political elites engaged in vehement “ethnic outbidding” over the issue of territorial autonomy; (3) Hungarian kin-state activism intensified; and (4) mistrust increased at multiple levels of society and across state borders.

Zsuzsa Cserg is Associate Professor of Political Studies at Queen’s University in Canada.  Her publications have focused on the politics of language rights, majority-minority relations, kin-state and diaspora relations, and the influence of EU integration on nationalist political strategies.  She serves as a Vice President of the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) and Associate Editor of Nationalities Papers. She is the author of Talk of the Nation: Language and Conflict in Romania and Slovakia (2007).

Jeroen Dewulf – The Flemish Movement: On the Intersection of Language and Nationalism in the Dutch-Speaking Part of Belgium

Contrary to most other federal states, the current Belgian federal state did not develop as a federation of states that decided to join forces, but the other way around: it transformed from a politically centralized into a federalized nation. The result of this unusual and complex transformation, sometimes ironically referred to as the “Belgian Labyrinth,” cannot be understood without understanding the reasons leading to the development of the Flemish Movement and its impact as a powerful pressure group in Belgian politics. This presentation brings a detailed analysis of the Flemish Movement, its ideology, goals, achievements, and relevance to current political controversies. Special attention will be given to its transition from a cultural movement in the 1830s to a political pressure group in the 1870s and to its importance vis-à-vis the interconnection between language and nationalism that still today characterizes the political debate in Belgium.

Jeroen Dewulf is Queen Beatrix Professor in Dutch Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. In his research, he focuses primarily on Postcolonial Studies and European Studies. His most recent book publication is Spirit of Resistance: Dutch Clandestine Literature during the Nazi Occupation (2010).

Maarten van Ginderachter – Regionalism and Nationalism in Europe in an Era of Globalization

In the beginning of the 1990s some society watchers proclaimed the end of history and the death of the nation. After the fall of the Berlin wall and the implosion of the Soviet Union they believed that a post-national cosmopolitan identity would soon replace the out-dated nineteenth-century idea of national belonging. In support of their claim they could point to powerful globalization processes in general and to a European integration movement in particular. This post-national vision was soon contradicted by the violent resurgence of nationalism in Yugoslavia and the former Soviet republics. Easy though it may be to mock these predictions in hindsight, it is more productive to take them as a starting point to discuss the relationship between globalization/European unification trends on the one hand and nationalism/regionalism on the other hand. By way of introduction to the case studies of this colloquium, this contribution will frame the discussion in a more general, conceptual framework.

Maarten van Ginderachter is Associate Professor at the Department of History of the University of Antwerp. He has published widely on the themes of social democracy and national identity, most recently, with Marnix Beyen, Nationhood from Below: Europe in the Long Nineteenth Century (2012).

Andrew Hughes Hallett – The Practicalities of Fiscal Autonomy in Regional Government: Fiscal Federalism, Devolution and Independence in Scotland.

We review the economic case for devolving comprehensive fiscal autonomy to a regional or sub-national government. We demonstrate that not only will this maximize the accountability of the devolved administration for public spending decisions, thereby leading to efficiency gains. It would also equip the devolved administration with the economic powers required to raise the underlying rate of economic growth in the short to medium term, and raise productivity in the long term. The key part of the proposal, however, is to specify the supporting institutions needed to make this system work reliably and effectively. To give our argument context, we contrast these results with the current proposals to transfer limited tax powers to Scotland.

Andrew Hughes Hallett is Professor of Economics and Public Policy in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University and Professor of Economics, University of St Andrews in Scotland. He is Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and editor of the Scottish Journal of Political Economy. He has been advisor to the Scottish Government on economic policies in the UK, member of the Scottish Council of Economic Advisors. His research interests lie in international economic policy; coordination; fiscal policy; the political economy of monetary integration and institutional design; the theory of economic policy. He has acted as consultant to the World Bank, the IMF, the Federal Reserve System, the UN, UNESCO, OECD, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

Eric Mijts – Multilayered Nationalism in the Dutch Caribbean: Conflicting Loyalties

The dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on October 10, 2010 (10-10-10) has created a transition period for the partner “states” within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and, in a broader perspective, within the context of the E.U. Overseas Countries and Territories: new nations, new relations and new identities have to be constructed. The dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10-10-10, preceded by the secession of Aruba in 1986, is the result of decades of economical and political conflicts between the islands that were accompanied by an increase of insular nationalist and separatist feelings. Today, we witness a rise of conflicting regional and supra-regional loyalties in relation to other islands in the Caribbean, the Latin-American mainland, the United States, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the European Union. While in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, that have become special municipalities of the Netherlands on 10-10-10, the role of the European Union is expected to increase considerably; the future relationship between Aruba, St. Martin and Curaçao, that have opted for political autonomy, and the E.U. remains uncertain.

Eric Mijts is Dean of the Department of Law at the University of Aruba. His research is focused on language planning, multilingualism and social integration, culture and Postcolonial Studies in a Caribbean context. He is currently working on a monograph entitled The Situated Construction of Language Ideologies in Aruba.

Xosé-Manoel Núñez – Substate Nationalisms and Neo-Regionalisms within a Federalising Democracy: The case of Spain

Spain is today a typical example of polyethnic state where several ethnonationalist movements exist, which compete with state nationalism. Spain appears as an example of old-established nation-state that failed to become a fully homogenized national community during the long 19th century. However, the electoral results of ethnonationalist parties in the nationalist peripheries (Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia, to a more limited extent the Canary islands and other regions) do not allow to consider them to be fully hegemonic in their territories. Spain may also be considered as an imperfect multinational state, since the alternative national identities that emerged in some territories have not yet managed to definitively impose their social hegemony. Since the implementation of the State of the Autonomous Communities after 1978 new actors emerged -regional elites, “autonomist regionalisms”, mesoterritorial governments- within a decentralized territorial structure. This gave rise to peculiar and paradoxical dynamics of multiple ethnoterritorial concurrence, whose final results for the 21st century are unpredictable.

Xosé-Manoel Núñez is Full Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Santiago de Compostela. His research has focused on comparative nationalism in Spain and Europe, as well as on migration studies and cultural history of war (e. g. Patriotas y demócratas. El discurso nacionalista español después de Franco, 2010). He is currently working on a monograph (with Maiken Umbach) entitled Decentering Dictatorships: The Regional in Hitler’s German and Franco’s Spain.


  • The European Union Center of Excellence
  • The Institute of European Studies
  • The Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
  • The Department of German and Dutch Studies
  • The Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities
  • The Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation