Why do people feel loyalty to a nation, as well as to family, region, class, and religion? When is a healthy sense of national identity transformed into virulent nationalism? What are the ethnic roots of so many contemporary conflicts? Can nations be created by design when colonial or multiethnic empires collapse? And what, exactly, is a nation? Such controversial questions are analyzed in this stimulating new text. Smith asks why the first modern nation-states developed in the West and considers how ethnic origins, religion, language, and shared symbols provide a sense of nation—even to the Basques, Kurds, and Tamils who are without states of their own. He illuminates his argument with a wealth of detailed examples: the divisions in the former Soviet Union, ethnic separatism within Europes, pan-Arab and pan-African movements, the successes and failures of nation-building on every continent. Throughout National Identity Smith stresses the positive as well as the pernicious aspects of strong national allegiances. A provocative final chapter considers the prospects of a post-national world. This will be of particular interest to ethnographers, students of international studies, historical sociologists, and political scientists.
About the Author
Anthony D. Smith is Professor of Ethnicity and Nationalism at the European Institute, London School of Economics.
“Questions surrounding the nature of nations and nationalism, and their distinctions from ethnic groups and enthnocentrism, have become major research themes in the past two decades. This analytical focus owes much to the work of Anthony Smith, one of the most prolific English-language authors exploring these issues. . . . Judged by the criteria established in the introduction, this book is a success. It is a highly readable, relatively brief overview of an extremely complex topic.” —Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism
“Smith’s National Identity makes a significant contribution to our understanding of nationalism.” —World Politics
“National Identity is an important step in establishing the contextual constraints of history and culture.” —Macro