Nationalism Cosmopolitanism and Identity

Subject LAWS70427 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information, contact the Melbourne Law Masters office.

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Where States are mainly political and territorial entities, nations are more properly understood as communities of cultural relatedness. National identity and loyalty can be powerful; it can also intertwine or conflict with other collective identities such as class, race, gender and sexuality. Nationalism has played a part in the great political shifts and conflicts of the last few decades from the bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda to the populist revolutions of the Middle East. Australia, Europe and North America continue to struggle with the cultural diversity within their borders.

This subject will focus on the commitments, associations, philosophies and legal techniques – national and international – used to develop and contest national identities. Professor Karen Knop has written on these issues from the perspectives of public international law, private international law and citizenship theory, with an emphasis on the challenges of gender and cultural diversity.

Principal topics will include:

  • The phenomenon of nationalism
  • Various theories and manifestations of nationalism
  • The role of law, national and international, in the construction of cultural identity
  • Alternative forms of belonging and banishment, such as cosmopolitanism, tribalism, statelessness and global forms of citizenship.

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have a knowledge of key interdisciplinary perspectives on the phenomenon of nationalism, various theories of nationalism and relationships between national identity and other forms of collective identity such as class, race and gender
  • Recognize the relevance of these debates for the construction of cultural identity through law
  • Be familiar with a range of international legal concepts that distribute membership (such as statehood, nationality and statelessness, and the self-determination of peoples) or differentiate membership in a national community (such as rights specific to indigenous peoples or minorities)
  • Be familiar with selected areas of national law that distribute and differentiate membership in a national community, such as constitutional law and conflict of laws
  • Have the capacity to evaluate critically arguments for or analyses of alternative legal forms of belonging and banishment, such as cosmopolitanism, statelessness, and global forms of citizenship
  • Have the capacity to articulate the above knowledge and understanding in oral and written presentations

10,000 word research paper (100%) (28 August) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Visit the Melbourne Law Masters website for more information about this subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

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