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Thread: Nations in the Wizarding World

  1. #1
    Seventh Year Ravenclaw
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    Nations in the Wizarding World

    How does the Magical political map of the world differ from that of the Muggle world? This question came to my attention by this passage from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:

    The International Confederation of Wizards has had to fine certain nations repeatedly for contravening Clause 73. Tibet and Scotland are two of the most persistent offenders.
    This suggests that Tibet is its own independent nation with its own Magical government, though it is part of the People's Republic of China in the Muggle world. With that in mind, what countries do you think exist in the Magical world but not the Muggle world, and vise-versa?

    On a related note, how patriotic do you think witches/wizards are? Or is blood status more important than nationality?

    Tim the Enchanter

  2. #2
    Inverarity
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    A topic near and dear to my heart. The Confederation in my Alexandra Quick series is not the same as the United States, and its borders are not exactly the same either.

    I see wizarding governments as being "shadow ministries" that exist alongside Muggle nations, and wizards tend to identify with the culture they come from. However, I don't think wizarding nations would necessarily have firm borders the way Muggle nations do. There's no evidence that wizards have ever gone to war over territory. Nations define borders and fight over them because there are people and/or resources that they want to include within their borders. Such disputes are certainly possible between two wizarding cultures, but magical populations were no doubt historically much more mobile than Muggle populations, making them less tied to a particular region, and it would also be pretty hard to "lock down" a particular parcel of land or natural resource and keep wizards from another country away from it. Armies, walls, forts, and border patrols aren't much of an obstacle to wizards. So they'd have to come to an agreement in some other fashion, and defend themselves against trespassers in similarly unique ways.

    I think they would largely rely on the Muggles to secure territory, while seeing borders as somewhat "fuzzy" themselves. This also means they wouldn't be quite as nationalistic as Muggles tend to be. As far as we can tell, the Ministry of Magic governs all of Britain. There is no mention of separate Ministries for Scotland, Wales, England, and Ireland. You'd think that would have been mentioned during the war against Voldemort.

    There is that mention of Scotland being fined, though. So perhaps Scotland has some sort of status as a quasi-independent nation still under the Ministry of Magic.

    I think in some places, wizarding nations will be larger and more stable than the Muggle nations contained within their jurisdiction. (Africa comes to mind.) There may also be places where there are no "wizarding nations" -- wizards just live in isolation or in small groups, in a sort of tribal arrangement, and make their own accomodations with the Muggles. (Africa comes to mind again.) Places like Russia and China might actually have many wizarding nations that do not recognize the greater Muggle nation around them.

    It's too neat and implausible to think that everywhere there is a Congress or Senate or Parliament or dictator, there is a corresponding Wizengamot equivalent. I also question whether the International Confederation of Wizards really has global reach. I suspect it's more like the UN, except possibly even less capable of exerting its authority. Muggles formed the UN mostly because they were terrified of another World War, involving nuclear weapons, and because a few "superpowers" dominate global politics. What reason would there be for wizards in South America to care what wizards living in a different hemisphere think? Why would Chinese wizards let European wizards propose laws they must follow, or vice versa?

  3. #3
    JOHN91043353
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    Inverarity, I'm always impressed by your replies, they're always so well written and thoughtful.

    This suggests that Tibet is its own independent nation with its own Magical government, though it is part of the People's Republic of China in the Muggle world.
    I just wanted to add that during the QWC Transylvania is mentioned to have it's own National Quidditch team although it's only a rather small region in Romania in the Muggle world. This suggests that you and Inverarity is correct that Muggle and Wizard boarders are not the same.

    Well during the Quidditch Cup the wizards seemed patriotic enough, and we have those anti_French comments from aunt Murial, so some sort of patriotism as well as national prejudice exists, but I think blood status is considered higher and more important of those who actually care.

    MvH Johan

  4. #4
    hannah_the_seeker
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    hm...

    thats a really good question.

    i've always thought that muggles use continental, country, state, and county lines to differ from each other. Wizards seem to refer to the Ministers to differentiate from each other. For example, like John said, Translyvania is a region in Romania but they have their own Minster of Magic and national quidditch team.

  5. #5
    AurorKeefy
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    You know, it's peculiar that Scotland should have it's own distinct wizarding government, while Hogwarts - which is in Scotland - comes under the English ministry. Methinks J.K. Rowling didn't add up those factors.

    In general, however, I am inclined to agree with everyone else; that national boundaries are not necessarily the same for wizards and muggles. Certainly the canon examples cited above would appear to confirm this, at least to some degree. Perhaps Scotland and Transylvania do not have their own governments, relying upon the British and Romanian ministries respectively, but do hold some form of quasi-autonomous status. Not vastly unlike the present situation with Scotland and the UK now.

    The only other suggestions/points/questions I would offer up, are...

    1. The above examples cite situations where wizards split nations into multiple governments, but the reverse could also be true. Perhaps there are no wizarding governments for Algeria, Morroco and Tunisia - just one government for the North African State (or Algrocsia, if you'd prefer). Things can be joined as well as split. Indeed, judging by Durmstrang's wide selection of students, that seems like a distinct possibility.

    2. The examples used so far (and all canon ones I can think of) cite actual muggle acknowledged regions, such as Tibet and Wales. It seems far more plausible that wizards should have their own distinct areas and nations, depending, I suppose, on local relationships with muggles. (all of which seems to be an extension of Inverarity's point)

  6. #6
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    Thank you everyone for contributing to this interesting (not to mention fun) topic! I too think that wizarding governments would be established generally on cultural, ethnic, and linguistic lines, presumably creating more wizarding nations than Muggle ones.

    However, there are undoubtedly a few exceptions, like Britain. I now remember that in when Harry first visited the Ministry of Magic in Order of the Phoenix, the Department of Magical Games and Sports included the British and Irish Quidditch League headquarters, implying that Ireland is indeed under the jurisdiction of the British Ministry of Magic (as is Scotland and Wales).

    But generally, more or less culturally homogeneous nations like France or Spain would have their own ministries, though I can imagine the Basques having their own wizarding nation formed out of a little piece of both of those countries at the Muggle border. Same goes for other large minorities in countries all over the world, though there may be some strange exceptions like the one present in Britain.

    With this in mind, I think wizards would find nations founded on ideology rather than common heritage like the United States or the former Soviet Union to be rather alien. (Speaking of which, there's a plot bunny that I've been thinking about for some time, in which Josef Stalins tries to incorporate into the CCCP the various wizarding governments of Russia, the Ukraine, Siberia, etcetera.) However, I suppose this invariably raises this question:

    Do you think there are any wizarding nations founded on ideology rather than culture, language, etcetera? For instance, I happen to think that Grindelwald's Germany (the Zauberereich, as I call it) was envisioned to be a pan-wizarding state that transcended national/cultural allegiances.

    Here's another question: Where exactly is the headquarters of the International Confederation of Wizards? For some reason, I think it's in Luxembourg, but that's just me.

    Thanks again for all your replies. This really is a fascinating subject.

    Tim the Enchanter

  7. #7
    Merlynne
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    It's hard to divide countries based on their governments when we know so little about what the role of the Ministry is in wizarding culture, as well as how many tiers it has. I wonder if their governing system even follows the same logic as ours.

    The main goal from what I see of wizarding government is keeping the magical world hidden. It appears to play very closely with the muggle government, however (the impression I got from book 6 was that the Minister for Magic held domain over a separate ministry, but not a separate country, but more of a "nation within a nation" that is not constrained by geographic lines. Rowling described magical folk as a the wizarding "community," just like there are various ethnic communities within nations--but this nation has a unique history not tied to another geographic location.

    My opinion is that while nationalism is still present, regionalism is a stronger identity. Tibet may be a part of China on the Muggle level of governing, but the wizarding community uniquely divides itself. Still, I think internationalism would be strongest still. While the Muggle world as the European Union and similar organisations, the wizarding world has the International Confederation... Since travel is much more easily accessible, there is likely more travel and has been for a longer period of time, creating a deeper international consciousness than currently even in the Muggle world. National identity would be less important in comparison to regional identity, and the identity of being a part of a specific community: the magical community. Blood purity, I imagine, would stem more from the combination of those two: a profound and ancient connection to the magical community of a specific region (region defined loosely: Scotland, Tibet, Caribbean...)

    I see the magical ministries as being more regionally based: England, Scotland, Ireland, Transylvania as distinct regions on a magical political level. I don't doubt that wizards (maybe not the under-a-rock purebloods) would be very conscious of the Muggle borders and governments, though. That is to say, I don't think the national borders just melt away and are forgotten in the magical world: wizards seem to obey Muggle rules so long as it's not too much of a bother, in the interest of maintaining secrecy.

    As for English-run Hogwarts in Scotland: There's an American School of Paris. Why not. Maybe it was established before the distinction between the two ministries was made, but the English insisted on controlling it still, in return for Scottish children being allowed to attend, and then the other regions insisted on participation as well. Unless you prefer to believe there are other schools in the UK. (I like making excuses for JKR's "mistakes," and filling in the blanks. )
    And Durmstrang: in my fics, I've described the appeal of Durmstrang as being a pure-blood only school, so parents from various pure-blood communities would queue up to send their children there for a "solid, pure-blood education," regardless of background (hence Malfoys considering sending Draco there). A special school, united under the Russian language and pure-blood fanaticism in an iron-curtain-esque way. I imagine the pure-blood communities (in their hearts, or perhaps politically, the entire magical communities as well) in Eastern Europe to have held onto Russian aspects, being more delayed than the muggle world to cast off Russian supremacy (but that's just my choice of portrayal).

    As for the headquarters of the International Confederation of Wizards: I would hazard Antarctica, because it would be diplomatic, or it would rotate it's location: a building that could be magically transplanted anywhere.

    This is a fascinating topic. I couldn't resist.

  8. #8
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    Here's some more questions/thoughts that have come to mind...

    Do you think there are any incredibly violent Somalia-like places in the magical world to which absolutely no witch or wizard in their right mind would willingly go? If such turbulent places of advanced violent anarchy exist in the wizarding world, what is the reason for the instability? I think food might be a factor, since it cannot be created by magic according to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration.

    On a related note, how turbulent is the wizarding world as a whole? How often do you think dark wizards show up around the world to make everyone's life difficult?

    Lastly, to what extent to wizarding governments interact/cooperate with each other?
    I got the impression that they didn't much at all, judging by other European countries did nothing at all to intervene in the Voldemort wars, and the Order of the Phoenix had to enlist foreign support in secret (and apparently weren't very successful).

    Tim the Enchanter

  9. #9
    Inverarity
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    Do you think there are any incredibly violent Somalia-like places in the magical world to which absolutely no witch or wizard in their right mind would willingly go? If such turbulent places of advanced violent anarchy exist in the wizarding world, what is the reason for the instability?

    I think places that are dangerous for Muggles can be dangerous for wizards too. Unless they have some secret enclave where they are hidden from Muggles, I imagine wizards would not willingly go to Somalia, or the Congo. Baghdad might not be as popular as it once was either.

    Other places that might be "lawless" as far as wizards are concerned might be overrun by Dark creatures and/or Dark wizards. I think parts of Russia could be like that.

    On a related note, how turbulent is the wizarding world as a whole? How often do you think dark wizards show up around the world to make everyone's life difficult?

    I doubt Grindelwald was the first or that Voldemort was the last. But overall, the wizarding world seems to be at least as stable as our world (which may not be saying much...)

    Lastly, to what extent to wizarding governments interact/cooperate with each other?

    As I argued in my previous post, I think wizarding governments have much less incentive to cooperate than Muggle governments do. Other than preventing open hostilities or conflicts with Muggles, I don't think they'd have much need to interact on a governmental level.

  10. #10
    Merlynne
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    Do you think there are any incredibly violent Somalia-like places in the magical world to which absolutely no witch or wizard in their right mind would willingly go? If such turbulent places of advanced violent anarchy exist in the wizarding world, what is the reason for the instability?
    I think there would certainly be wizarding communities even in unstable areas of the world. I imagine the same sort of wizards would be attracted to such places as in the muggle world: despite the instability of the Middle East, tons of people interested in the culture travel there. "right mind" is a bit of a bad term, I find for those who travel to unstable places. Certainly, one wouldn't go there casually, but rather with intentions to help matters, aid work.
    Do you think that Muggle-born wizards would be identifiable/identified in places as such? I imagine the majority of the wizarding community would be pure-bloods with deep roots in these (more turbulent) regions, and perhaps they lack institutions for identifying and policing underage magic, especially coming from Muggle borns. I imagine in poorer or areas with a less established wizarding population, without a strong or organized Ministry, Muggle-borns might be forgotten/overlooked except when they threaten to expose the community by accident.

    On a related note, how turbulent is the wizarding world as a whole? How often do you think dark wizards show up around the world to make everyone's life difficult?

    Probably with about the same frequency as dangerous dictators, vigilantes, mass murderers, terrorists, show up in the muggle world. I figure some dark wizards would be contained nationally, while others might create international problems (Voldemort, Grindelwald). The story of Voldemort seems to mostly endanger Europe, particularly the UK. I can't see the Americas, Asia, etc being too concerned with him. I can only assume that the wizarding world is just as turbulent as the muggle world, except with greater means to destroy, and better means to protect.

    Lastly, to what extent to wizarding governments interact/cooperate with each other?

    On a functional level, I have to agree that there doesn't seem to be much of a need for constant interaction, except maybe in the sectors of trade (trafficking of magical goods, to be particular), the control of magical creatures (which would know no boundaries). I imagine there would be an international council to discuss such things, but since we don't see much of one being implemented in HP I can either assume that a) Voldemort was very contained within the UK, or specifically England, and foreign nations weren't too concerned or b) the council was non-existant or useless. Despite the fact that I believe that such a council would be extremely valuable, and dialogue between the wizarding communities internationally very important (as Dumbledore seemed to believe also, in placing emphasis on Charlie's placement as a contact in Romania), there doesn't seem to be much evidence for this. Therefore I must assume that despite the value of internationalism amongst magical communities, for the most part, beyond what is absolutely necessary economically and to uphold secrecy, wizarding states/whatever they order themselves into, are more or less isolationist and generally self-involved (in the simplest meaning of the words).

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