School of Social and Political Science

Dr Karlo Basta

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Karlo Basta's photo
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Personal website

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Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

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Research interests

Research interests

Comparative politics, nationalism and national identity, ethnic conflict, state theory, institutionalism and institutional symbolism, federalism, secession, business and politics, time and events, mobilisation, European politics, interpretivism, discourse analysis, process-tracing

Topics interested in supervising

Comparative nationalism; power-sharing; federalism and identity; the role of time and temporality in social movement mobilization; institutions and institutionalism (particularly sociological and discursive approaches); business and politics

If you are interested in being supervised by Karlo Basta, please see the link below for more information:



  • 2012, PhD, University of Toronto
  • 2004, MA, University of Toronto
  • 2001, BA, York University (Canada)


I joined PIR in 2020 from Memorial University of Newfoundland, where I was associate professor (senior lecturer) in the Department of Political Science. While at Memorial, I held visiting positions at Pompeu Fabra University and the Institute for Self-Government Studies (Barcelona); Institute for Studies on Federalism and Regionalism at EURAC (Bolzano, Italy), where I was a Federal Scholar in Residence; University of Barcelona; and the Centre on Constitutional Change (Edinburgh). I am co-director of the Centre on Constitutional Change and co-convenor, together with Dr. Anwen Elias (Aberystwyth) and Dr. Paul Anderson (Canterbury Crist Church), of the UACES research network '(Re)Imagining Territorial Politics in Times of Crisis'.


I work on the comparative politics of nationalism, with a focus on multinational states. I research and write about institutional formation and change in multinational systems, the consequence of that change for political stability, and the politics of nationalist conflict and secession. I bring these themes together in The Symbolic State: Minority Recognition, Majority Backlash, and Secession in Multinational Countries, published in 2021 with McGill-Queen's University Press.

This work has led me down three new research paths. The first explores the symbolic dimension of federal and power-sharing institutions. I have published on this in Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Nations and Nationalism, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and Slavic Review. The second path is about political mobilization. I analyze how activists frame events and time in order to achieve radical political change. Publications on this theme have come out in Comparative Political Studies and Political Psychology. Finally, I am developing a comparative project on the role of business in the debates and outcomes of secession referenda. A chapter on this issue can be found in a volume on the strategies of secession, edited by Ryan Griffiths (Syracuse) and Diego Muro (St. Andrews).

I am opportunistic in my research – I employ whatever method I deem is best to answer a particular question. I find that familiarity with multiple sites of study produces the most insightful and original work. I have therefore conducted fieldwork in multiple settings (Spain, the UK, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Canada), often through repeated visits. This work has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of Toronto, and Institut d'Estudis de l'Autogovern.



The Symbolic State: Minority Recognition, Majority Backlash, and Secession in Multinational Countries. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2021.

Edited volume (with John McGarry and Richard Simeon). Territorial Pluralism: Managing Difference in Multinational States. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015.

Refereed Journal Articles

With Ailsa Henderson, "Multinationalism, Constitutional Asymmetry and COVID: UK Responses to the Pandemic," Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Vol. 21, No. 3 (2021): 293-310. 

"Time's Up!": Framing Collective Impatience for Radical Political Change, "Political Psychology, Vol. 41, No. 4 (2020): 755-770.

"Performing Canadian State Nationalism through Federal Symmetry," Nationalism and Ethnic Politics Vol. 26, No. 1 (2020): 66-84.

"The Social Construction of Transformative Political Events", Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 51, No. 10 (2018): 1243-1278.

"The State between Minority and Majority Nationalism: Decentralization, Symbolic Recognition, and Secessionist Crises in Spain and Canada", Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Vol. 48, No. 1 (2017); pp. 51-75 (*John Kincaid Best Article Award, Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations section of the American Political Science Association).

"Imagined Institutions: The Symbolic Power of Formal Rules in Bosnia and Herzegovina", Slavic Review, Vol. 75, No. 4 (2016); pp. 944-969.

With Lenka Bustikova, "Concession and Secession: Constitutional Bargaining Failure in Post-Communist Czechoslovakia", Swiss Political Science Review, Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016); pp. 470-490.

"Bosnia is (Not) Like Yugoslavia: The Structure of Grievances and Self-determination Claims in Multinational States." Politička Misao (Croatian Political Science Review), Vol. 52, No. 1 (2015); pp. 164-190; in Croatian.

"The State as a Symbol or a Means to an End: Internal Border Changes in Multinational Federations." Nations and Nationalism, Vol. 20, No. 3 (2014), pp. 459-480.

"Non-Ethnic Sources of Ethnofederal Institutions: The Case of Yugoslavia." Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Vol. 16, No. 1 (2010), pp. 92-110.

Book Chapters

"Business as a Political Actor: Mapping the Role of the Private Sector in Independence Referenda." In Ryan Griffiths and Diego Muro, eds. Strategies of Secession and Counter-secession. Lanham: ECPR Press, 2020.

"Sustaining Territorial Pluralism: The Political Economy of Institutional Change." In Karlo Basta, John McGarry & Richard Simeon, eds. Territorial Pluralism: Managing Difference in Multinational States. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015.

"Conclusion: The Continuing Relevance of Territorial Pluralism", with Richard Simeon in Karlo Basta, John McGarry & Richard Simeon, eds. Territorial Pluralism: Managing Difference in Multinational States. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015.

With Valérie Vézina, "Newfoundland Nationalism." In Matthew Kirby and Alex Marland, eds. Politics and Public Policy in Newfoundland. Kingston & Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014.

Staff Hours and Guidance

Tuesdays, 11am-12pm