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The Nation-State

It was during the Renaissance that the great European national states were formed. The process was neither sudden nor by any means homogeneous, but was interwoven with the persistence of both small political units (as was the case in Italy) and real empires. The amazing geographical discoveries led, moreover, to the formation of great colonial empires, most notably those of Portugal and Spain. And it is expressly in the Spanish world that we can clearly see the formation of a modern national State along with the persistence of a multinational dimension, with a vast empire comprising both European and American territories. The birth of the national States is linked to a complex series of interwoven phenomena, such as the growing awareness of a population of its own national identity (and not on the strictly local level), or the establishing of a modern bureaucratic apparatus, which frequently constitutes the very heart of a State.

This journey backward in time toward the birth of the national State can provide us with elements for understanding the crisis it has undergone in the 20th and early 21st centuries through the progressive loss of sovereignty, with the great macro-economic decisions being taken by transnational organizations and powers, while the European Union struggles to become a great compact, supranational force.

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