The Nation in History: Historiographical Debates about Ethnicity and Nationalism (The Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures)
Anthony D. Smith
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In the first theoretical analysis of historiographical debates about ethnicity and nationalism, Anthony Smith provides a probing account of historians' assumptions and explanations of nationalism in different historical epochs. Ranging broadly over the contributions and divergent perspectives of historians, political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists and others who have contributed to these fundamental debates, Smith codifies the most cogent responses that have been offered to three defining issues in this area: the nature and origin of the nation and nationalism; the antiquity or modernity of nations and nationalism; and the role of nations and nationalism in historical, and especially recent, social change.
Using the examples of Persia, Israel, and Greece for long-term illustrations, Smith also discusses ethnic and national identities in France, Germany, England, Yugoslavia, and elsewhere to illuminate the uses and the meaning of alternative theories, and ends with a convincing case for the value of his own ethno-symbolist approach.
good sign that it is now circling round nations and nationalism” (Hobsbawm 1990, 183). I shall return later to the owl of Minerva. For the moment we may ask, what exactly are these invented traditions and why do they exercise such a powerful appeal? Hobsbawm, Ranger, and their associates give as examples the rebuilding of the British Houses of Parliament in 1849 in the Gothic style; the modern (i.e., Victorian) provenance of the British coronation ceremony; the modern origin of the Scottish kilt,
antiquity or modernity of nations and nationalism forms the core of historiographical discussion and disagreements, and it has received new impetus from recent perennialist challenges to modernist orthodoxy. But it would appear that, despite their often insightful criticisms, the various versions of perennialism are unable to offer sufficient evidence, except in a very few instances, to undermine the basic modernist paradigm of nations and nationalism. Recently, we have seen a trend that seeks to
is largely immune to “rational” interest and political calculation. We are, in a certain sense, compelled by the attachments that spring from these attributes and formations. They stand apart from, and often above, the rational choices and the pursuit of material interests that characterize much of our lives. Among these attachments, those deriving from such cultural attributes as kinship and descent, language, religion, and customs, as well as historical territory, assume a prominent place; they
Yugoslav politics. Survey 25: 1–19. Schwarzfuchs, Simon. 1979. Napoleon, the Jews, and the Sanhedrin. London, Boston and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Seton-Watson, Hugh. 1977. Nations and states, London: Methuen. Shafer, Boyd. 1955. Nationalism: Myth and reality. New York: Harcourt, Brace. 169 Shafir, Gershon. 1989. Land, labor, and the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 1882–1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sherrard, Philip. 1959. The Greek East and the Latin West:
astounding erudition, whose knowledge was not restricted to specific periods or fields but who felt at home in all periods of Jewish history and no less so in classical and European cultures. Opening address to Professor Anthony D. Smith’s Jerusalem Lectures in History in Memory of Menahem Stern, 11 May 1999. Nationalism played a central role in Menahem Stern’s life. Identification with the rebirth of the Jewish nation brought his parents to the Land of Israel a short time before the outbreak of