Andreas Wimmer

Nations and Nationalism, October 2011


This article reviews how major theorists of nationalism – from Ernest Renan to Benedict Anderson – have tried to come to grips with the puzzle that Swiss nationalism and the Swiss state present in view of the monoethnic states that surround it. I will argue that this puzzle disappears when assuming a political sociology perspective that highlights the networks of political alliances underlying nationalist movements and the power structure of recently formed nation-states. Studying an ‘outlier’ case such as Switzerland helps us to gain insight into the general processes and mechanisms at work in the rise of nationalism and the nation-state.