Although scholars view the high valuation of territory as a core element of nationalism, they have never systematically examined the relationship between nationalism and territorial disputes from a global perspective. In this study, we explore the relationship between elite nationalism and territorial disputes by focusing on how nationalist sentiments held by leaders and elites with foreign policy decision-making powers significantly shape those leaders’ worldviews and policy preferences. Drawing on the literature on nationalism and territorial disputes, we argue that nationalism in leaders increases their likelihood of issuing aggressive policies regarding territorial issues by increasing the perceived value of territory and decreasing the perceived costs of engaging in territorial disputes. We hypothesize that nationalistic elites are more likely to initiate territorial disputes and less likely to settle them peacefully. Our analysis of territorial claims from 1901 to 2001 provides strong evidence for our arguments. We find that the more nationalistic elites are, the more likely their country is to initiate a territorial dispute. We also find that elite nationalism is associated with increased risks of settling territorial issues by military means and of experiencing fatalities as a result. We discuss these findings’ implications for East Asia and Southeast Asia.
About the Speaker
He is also the Director of Korea University’s Campus Asia Plus program that involves Nanyang Technological University, Peking University, Waseda University, and Korea University. He previously taught at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Sungkyunkwan University, before moving to his current post in 2020.
He teaches courses on Authoritarianism, Comparative Political Systems, Introduction to Game Theory, and Quantitative Methods for Political Science. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research explores authoritarian politics, the interactions between domestic politics and international relations, and other interesting topics in comparative politics and international relations, including gender and politics. His work has appeared in Comparative Political Studies, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Political Science Research and Method, and others.