North Africa's Spain: Peripheral national identities and the nation-state as neo-empire

Daniel Karell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When ethno-cultural heterogeneity exists and thrives within a nation-state, social tension and ethno-nationalist sentiments are not considered surprising. Yet in many nation-states, various native-born communities have diverse and potentially contradictory national identities without the desire for self-determination. In this paper, I explore the circumstances in which ethno-culturally distinct, peripheral communities may develop variants of the dominant national identity - ensuring that they remain excluded from the national narrative - yet remain part of the nation-state. To do so, I conduct a comparative analysis of the native-born Muslim communities in Spain's two North African exclaves. I find that most Muslims are Spanish citizens yet understandings of 'Spanish-ness' appear to vary between the exclaves. I use these findings to propose further steps for refining current conceptualisations of the nation-state, in an effort to better understand cases in which variations in the dominant national identity exist, but without ethno-nationalist sentiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-444
Number of pages22
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Ceuta
  • Citizenship
  • Electoral volatility
  • Empire
  • Melilla
  • National identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations


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