Divided We Stand, United We Fall? Partition, Democracy, and Nationalism in Ireland and Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nationalism, untempered by limits, is a claim of right to power. By the end of the eighteenth century, the revolutionaries of America and France had replaced the sacred authority of the divine right of kings with that of"the people." Allying themselves to this new democratic authority, nineteenthcentury nationalists asserted the right to power over specified territories and districts. In many places, and especially in eastern and central Europe, imperial history left an irregular settlement pattern with communities of different languages and histories living in close proximity. As bureaucracy and literacy spread, the fight to control the language or religious content of public education and public service became the lightning conductors that galvanized whole populations into different political nations. The only possible outcome was a web of interconnected and competing claims to authority, each asserting a claim whose right was understood to be absolute and non-negotiable. Nationalism in these circumstances is not just like religion, it is religion
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-90
JournalBrown Journal of World Affairs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Feb 2000


  • Partition
  • Northern Ireland
  • self-determination
  • peace.


Dive into the research topics of 'Divided We Stand, United We Fall? Partition, Democracy, and Nationalism in Ireland and Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this