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Fall 2011


Both ethnic nationalism and liberal civic nationalism exist with historical precedents in Bosnia­Herzegovina. Many elected elites privilege extremist ethnic nationalism. The power-sharing structure of the Dayton Peace Accords institutionalizes their influence and permits the current political stalemate. Further, a legacy of authoritarianism vitiates a political culture supportive of elite accountability and mass responsibility. Yet a nascent civil society witnesses to the past and potential future of liberal cosmopolitanism. This research includes interviews with leaders and members of civil society organizations to assess the impediments to and strength of civil society as a vehicle to promote civic nationalism. While interviewees acknowledge multiple impediments to the development of civil society and civic nationalism, they also perceive reasons for optimism. They contend the primary challenge to the development of liberal civic nationalism is not ethno-religious tensions but rather the legacy of authoritarianism. Moreover, people from diverse backgrounds already organize in response to various shared, practical problems. Cooperation in civil society presents a context for the development of civic nationalism. The challenge remains whether civil society and liberal civic nationalism can gain sufficient strength to counter political intransigence and virulent ethnic extremism.

Publication Title

Southwestern Journal of International Studies