NATION LIBRARY: Nations & Nationalism
- Ethnicity and Nationalism edited by Anthony D. Smith
- International Studies in Sociology and Social Anthropology, Volume LX
published by E.J.Brill, Leiden, New York, Koln, 1992 [ISBN 90 04 09609 4]
From the Introduction by Anthony D.Smith:
"... What, I think, distinguishes the last twenty years from earlier periods in
the study of nationalism is the growing convergence of two fields, which had
been formerly treated as separate: the study of ethnicity and ethnic community,
and the analysis of national identity and nationalism. The former had been
largely the preserve of anthropologists and social psychologists, and had
focused on small-scale communities, often in Third World areas. The latter had
been the province of historians, for whom the ideology (and ethics) of
nationalism was paramount. Nationalism was seen as a 'force', non-logical if not
irrational, one which swept away traditional barriers and ushered in a new era
of national conflicts and mass terror, a view reinforced by nationalism's
alleged role in two World Wars.
The ethnic revival in the West, starting in the early 1960s, led to a
reassessment of both 'ethnicity' and 'nationalism', and to the realisation that
they were, both as empirical realities and fields of study, intimately related.
The growth of support for Basque, Catalan, Breton, Flemish, Scots and Welsh
ethnic autonomy, as well as that of a host of smaller ethnic communities,
widened the concept of 'neo-nationalism' to include dimensions that had
previously been taken for granted or treated as nationalist rhetoric.
|It became clear that so-called 'nation-building' which
centred on the construction of national institutions by state elites,
favoured the integration and ultimate assimilation of ethnic minorities by
the culture of the dominant ethnic majority in each Western state.
with the reaction against bureaucracy and its mechanical rationalism, and
the rising tide of popular activism fuelled by a belief in authenticity and
subjective participation, scholars soon came to realise that, in the words
of Walker Connor, nation-building is also nation-destroying..
.... There is no way now to hold apart the earlier study of ethnic identities
and intermarriage patterns which prevailed in several parts of the world, from
an understanding of their political repercussions. Conversely, it is
increasingly difficult to investigate the patterns of nationalist activities and
secession movements without invoking underlying ethnic configurations....
A second trend which distinguishes the study of ethnicity and nationalism in the
last twenty years is the much closer attention given to its social background
and to the contribution of social groups and Classes...Of the social groups
which were more consistently involved in nationalist movements, the
intelligentsia have received particular attention.... Their key role is related
to the continuing importance of cultural concerns and cultural nationalism in
recent movements for ethnic autonomy and separatism....
A third development stems from some of the recent work in political
science.... on the consociational systems found in the democracies of certain
plural societies, such as Belgium, Holland and Canada.... Clearly, the question
of how polyethnic states can survive the centrifugal pressures released by
democratisation, while preserving their democratic gains, is one that raises
pertinent questions about the relationships between ethnicity, democracy and
....This raises the whole question of' the place of minorities (who may in fact
constitute numerical majorities) in plural states which are striving to create
or maintain a particular vision of' national identity...
....Finally, there is the recent trend in much of the scholarly work on nations
and nationalism to emphasise, not just their wholly modern bases, but their
peculiarly constructed and imagined quality... the nation itself has been
deconstructed and revealed as part of a nationalist discourse about 'imagined
community', and as a series of' 'invented traditions' in an era of' rapid change
and political mobilisation...
....The views expressed in this special issue represent several of the main
lines of enquiry and positions adopted in the current study of ethnicity and