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The Nation in History: Historiographical Debates About Ethnicity and Nationalism [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Anthony D. Smith
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Book Description

Oct. 19 2000
In this thought-provoking new book, Anthony Smith analyses key debates between historians and social scientists on the role of nations and nationalism in history.

In a wide-ranging analysis of the work of historians, sociologists, political scientists and others, he argues that there are three key issues which have shaped debates in this field: first, the nature and origin of nations and nationalism; second, the antiquity or modernity of nations and nationalism; and third, the role of nations and nationalism in historical, and especially recent, social change.

Anthony Smith provides an incisive critique of the debate between modernists, perennialists and primordialists over the origins, development and contemporary significance of nations and nationalism. Drawing on a wide range of examples from antiquity and the medieval epoch, as well as the modern world, he develops a distinctive ethnosymbolic account of nations and nationalism.

This important book by one of the world's leading authorities on nationalism and ethnicity will be of particular interest to students and scholars in history, sociology and politics.


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Review

'Drawing examples from across the globe and providing succinct summaries of key ideas about nationalism developed by philosophers, sociologists and historians from Herder and Rousseau to Homi Bhaba and William McNeill, this is a stimulating and insightful essay by one of the foremost experts on nationalism studies today.' English Historical Review

"For thirty years, Anthony D. Smith has published extensively on the phenomenon of the 'nation' and has a global reputation in this field." History

From the Publisher

5 1/2 x 8 1/2 trim. LC 00-021080 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
I was greatly honored to have been invited by the Historical Society of Israel to deliver the 1999 lectures in memory of the late Professor Stern. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to Smith Jan. 2 2001
Format:Paperback
The text of this book is based on a series of lectures delivered by Smith in Jerusalem in May 1999. Although intended to be an analysis of theories of nations and nationalism in recent history and the historiography on this topic, the book also provide a good introduction as any to Smith's vast and important body of work on nations and nationalism. The chapters of this book offer an excellent summary of some of the main streams in contemporary nationalism theory and interesting critiques of them as well. Smith's own theory of the origins of nations is based on what he calls ethnosymbolism. Basically he sees modern nations as having their roots in previously existing ethnicities ("ethnies") and the associated traditions and customs, although he does not strictly adhere to the organic continuity of nations throughout history (a view generally held by nationalists themselves). Also, he emphasizes, quite correctly, the importance of myths, memories and especially symbols and their role in fomenting and maintaining a sense of common identity among the people unified in a nation. This often places him at odds with the major body of theorists who see the nation and nationalism as strictly political instruments or functions of economic change, even though Smith does not refute the validity of such arguments. Smith presents his arguments very clearly here, and this book is well worth reading.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to Smith Jan. 2 2001
By Edward Bosnar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The text of this book is based on a series of lectures delivered by Smith in Jerusalem in May 1999. Although intended to be an analysis of theories of nations and nationalism in recent history and the historiography on this topic, the book also provide a good introduction as any to Smith's vast and important body of work on nations and nationalism. The chapters of this book offer an excellent summary of some of the main streams in contemporary nationalism theory and interesting critiques of them as well. Smith's own theory of the origins of nations is based on what he calls ethnosymbolism. Basically he sees modern nations as having their roots in previously existing ethnicities ("ethnies") and the associated traditions and customs, although he does not strictly adhere to the organic continuity of nations throughout history (a view generally held by nationalists themselves). Also, he emphasizes, quite correctly, the importance of myths, memories and especially symbols and their role in fomenting and maintaining a sense of common identity among the people unified in a nation. This often places him at odds with the major body of theorists who see the nation and nationalism as strictly political instruments or functions of economic change, even though Smith does not refute the validity of such arguments. Smith presents his arguments very clearly here, and this book is well worth reading.
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