Spotsalots's Reviews > Defining the Sovereign Community: The Czech and Slovak Republics

Defining the Sovereign Community by Nadya Nedelsky
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's review
Sep 04, 2011

bookshelves: czech, history

This study takes a historical approach in examining theories of sovereignty, employing the Czech and Slovak Republics as its contrasting case studies. Following a theoretically driven introduction that lays out existing debates on the nature of nationhood and theories of civic versus ethnic models of citizenship, Nedelsky examines the history of the Czechs and Slovaks from the nineteenth century to the present in order to assess whether differences in the Czech Republic's "civic" and the Slovak Republic's "ethnic" definitions of sovereignty are deeply rooted in Czech and Slovak culture or have been strongly influenced by the ideas of political elites. Nedelsky finds differences in national definition between Czechs and Slovaks as far back as the nineteenth-century "Awakeners" and argues that once these thinkers had defined the respective Czech and Slovak political-philosophical foundations, key elements of their thought did become widely accepted and remained resilient up to the present day. Nedelsky argues that despite the fact that authoritarian leaders achieved compliance with regimes "at odds" with these existing ideas, Czechs and Slovaks repeatedly return to their political-cultural roots with each return to autonomy, and that furthermore, socioeconomic development, equalization, and shared government during much of the twentieth century did not bring Czech and Slovak understandings of nation and sovereignty much closer together. Nedelsky concludes that while in practice neither the Czechs nor Slovaks treat certain ethnic minorities (Roma and Hungarians, respectively) as equal citizens, the Czechs' civic model of sovereignty offers safeguards to civil liberties that the Slovaks' ethnic model of sovereignty does not.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Dirk (new)

Dirk Sounds interesting. It's an interesting issue. If I had another lifetime or two I would want to read it. There are a lot of books like that.

message 2: by Spotsalots (new) - added it

Spotsalots Dirk wrote: "Sounds interesting. It's an interesting issue. If I had another lifetime or two I would want to read it. There are a lot of books like that."

I'm not going to claim that I found the book an exciting read, but that's partly because I don't really have a deep interest in political theory. It is clearly enough written and I'll be curious to hear what other readers of my acquaintance think.

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