School of Social and Political Science

Virtual Book Launch- The Symbolic State: Minority Recognition, Majority Backlash, and Secession in Multinational Countries, by Karlo Basta

27 January 2022
15:00 - 17:00


This event will take place online, registration details below.



Book Cover Image


The nation-state is a double sleight of hand, naturalizing both the nation and the state encompassing it. No such naturalization is possible in multinational states. To explain why these countries experience political crises that bring their very existence into question, standard accounts point to conflicts over resources, security, and power. This book turns the spotlight on institutional symbolism.

When minority nations in multinational states press for more self-government, they are not only looking to protect their interests. They are asking to be recognized as political communities in their own right. Yet satisfying their demands for recognition threatens to provoke a reaction from members of majority nations who see such changes as a symbolic repudiation of their own vision of politics. Secessionist crises flare up when majority backlash reverses symbolic concessions to minority nations. Through a synoptic historical sweep of Canada, Spain, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, The Symbolic State shows that institutions may be more important for what they mean than for what they do.

Book web-site:


  • Professor Erin Jenne, Central European University
  • Professor Siniša Malešević, University College Dublin
  • Professor Anwen Elias, Aberystwyth University
  • Professor Michael Keating, University of Aberdeen


  • Professor Ailsa Henderson, University of Edinburgh


This event is co-sponsored with the Centre for Constitutional Change