Louw, Moira

Project title: Identity Crisis: The Relevance of National Identity in the 21st Century

Department: Political Science

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Oliver Schmidtke

"For years, the European Union was expected to facilitate the development of a “European identity” which overrode the national identities of its member states. But in the past few decades, support for nationalist-populist parties and nationalist governments has been growing in countries such as Hungary, Italy, and Poland. While Europe is more integrated than ever, nationalism is becoming increasingly important for determining communal belonging and collective identity in Europe.

Having spent the past year on exchange in the Netherlands and observed Dutch and EU-level elections as a (temporary) European resident, I have noticed how influential the idea of a national identity can be even in a seemingly ‘tolerant’ country. My travels, interactions with professors and fellow students, and personal experiences have increased my interest in understanding not only European identities, but the Canadian one as well.  In 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Canada the world’s first “post-national country.” Canada is often seen as a country which has successfully created an identity grounded in its diversity, rather than exclusive nationalism as we see elsewhere in the world. The idea of a national identity seems to be increasingly relevant in the European context, but does the same hold true in Canada? This research will analyze why the idea of a national identity is still relevant in Europe in the 21st century, and finish by considering implications for Canadian identity."