The European Association of Archaeologists has long fostered critical analysis of the relationship between archaeology and politics, particularly the politics of national, regional and supra-regional identities. Although the role of nationalism in the birth of archaeology as a discipline is well recognized, the events of the past few years – from the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, to the movement for secession in eastern Ukraine, and the rise of explicitly nationalist political movements across the continent – suggest that the (re)formulation of national identities is likely to continue to have major implications both for our interpretation of the past and for the practice of archaeology in the present. In light of this, the Archaeological dialogues editorial board organized a round table at the EAA meeting in Glasgow in September 2015 to explore the extent to which institutional, legislative and funding structures as well as political and cultural imperatives continue to bind our discipline into the construction of nationalist narratives, and this more or less in spite of long-standing critical debates within the discipline itself that for decades have problematized the relationship. Are we caught in a ‘can't-live-with-and-can't-live-without’ situation? While explicitly nationalist archaeologies have become almost obsolete in the European academies, we rarely contemplate the impact of nationalism on funding or the definition and protection of cultural heritage, for example. Several of the following papers suggest that without the nation state's involvement, the vicissitudes of global capitalism would result in a situation where it would be extremely difficult to adequately protect our ‘heritage’, however that is defined.