The Antiquity of Nations
September 2004, Polity
In the first part, the author provides a sustained critique of
the theories of some of the main exponents of modernism, the
current orthodoxy in the study of nations and nationalism, tracing
its origins to the Eurocentric and evolutionist assumptions of
classical sociology. Part Two backs up this challenge through an
exploration of key historical and sociological issues. These
include the possibility of finding `nations' in antiquity, the
impact of war on ethnicity at various periods of history, the
long-term routes to nationhood and their modern consequences, the
nature and functions of `golden ages, and the impact of Romanticism
on nationalism. The result is a more rounded and penetrating
understanding of one of the most complex phenomena in the modern
The Antiquity of Nations will be essential reading for all scholars of nationalism and for all students taking courses on nationalism and ethnicity.
Introduction: Paradigms of Nationalism.
PART I. THEORY.
1. The Myth of the ‘Modern Nation’.
2. Memory and Modernity.
3. The Nation: Invented, Imagined Reconstructed?.
4. Nationalism and Classical Social Theory.
PART II. HISTORY.
5. Were There ‘Nations’ in Antiquity?.
6. War and Ethnicity.
7. The Origins of Nations.
8. The ‘Golden Age’ and National Renewal.
9. Romanticism and Nationalism.
- written by the world’s leading authority on nationalism
- provides a fresh interpretation of the character of modern nations
- provides a sustained critique of some of the main exponents of modernism
- explores key historical and sociological issues, such as the possibility of ‘finding’ nations in antiquity, the impact of war on ethnicity at various periods of history, the nature and function of golden ages, and the impact of Romanticism on nationalism.
Ethnic and Racial Studies
“Brings together seven essays by Anthony D. Smith hitherto
spread among different journals and an edited book. To these are
added two new essays and an excellent introduction ... The essays
have been carefully selected and written to produce a coherent,
unified and cumulative exploration of the importance of the
pre-modern past for the character of modern nations.”
British Journal of Sociology
“Whether you agree with him or not, Anthony D.
Smith’s interpretation of nationalism is a position that no
serious student of the subject can ignore. It is a powerful case
for the historical continuity of much of the national sentiment
that permeates the modern era. The book attacks the "myth of the
modern nation" and explores a range of critical issues, such as the
impact of war on ethnicity and the importance of Romanticism in
shaping many aspects of nationalism. This is a definitive and
elegant demonstration of the ethno-symbolist perspective on one of
the critical forces shaping the contemporary world.”
John Stone, Boston University
“Nationalism has its theoretician: Anthony D. Smith. In
this erudite work, he continues to advance our understanding of
nationalism by rightly recognizing that its theoretical
battleground is the history of nations. Here, the battle is
decisively engaged and won.”
Steven Grosby, Clemson University, South Carolina
“Lucid systematic and scholarly; further confirmation of
the centrality of the author in the analysis of nations and
David McCrone, University of Edinburgh
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