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 eth-symbolist approach.
ANTHONY D. SMITH is Professor of Ethnicity and Nationalism at the London School of Economics. His most recent books are Nationalism and Modernism (1998) and National Identity (1991).