What makes a nationalist? Nationalism in the Dutch press coverage of Macedonia, 1991-1995

M.F. van Duijnen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article sheds light on the use of the words ‘nationalism’, ‘nationalist(s)’ and ‘nationalistic’in the news coverage of three Dutch newspapers about Macedonia during the breakup of Yugoslavia. A review of 280 newspaper articles shows that nationalism is often associated with extremism and violence, and is selectively linked to specific national groups and movements.Drawing upon the social-scientific term ‘banal nationalism’, this study argues that the selectiveuse of words associated with ‘nationalism’ constitutes both a rhetorical tool and an implicit formof moral judgement.

More importantly, by focussing on this stereotype picture of nationalism,the media ensures that other nationalist phenomena, which do not fit this popular stereotype, are not discussed. Thus, a negative view of nationalist ideology leads to a ‘naturalization’ of thoseforms of nationalism that are deemed ‘non-extremist’. This paradox is explained both by the presence of ‘banal’ forms of nationalism in the West and the infamous ‘good guys - bad guys’distinction that crippled Dutch news coverage of the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61
Number of pages74
JournalTijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Nationalism
  • Yugoslavia
  • Macedonia
  • Balkans


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