In The Antiquity of Nations, Anthony Smith offers a new interpretation of the character of modern nations.
Drawing on conventional wisdom, he argues for a deeper understanding of its character, based on an ethno-symbolic analysis of the myths, memories, symbols and traditions of pre-modern ethnic communities.
Based on his earlier work, the author seeks to balance the undeniable novel components of the nation with its ancient, deep-rooted and persistent attributes.
In the first part, the author offers 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 supposed Eurocentric and evolutionary assumptions of classical sociology.
The second part supports this challenge through an exploration of key historical and sociological issues.
These include the possibility of finding nations in ancient times, the impact of war on ethnicity at various periods in history, the long-term routes to the nation and its modern consequences, the nature and functions of the golden age, and the impact of romanticism on nationalism.
The result is a more complete and penetrating understanding of one of the most complex phenomena in the modern world.
The Antiquity of the Nations will be an essential reading for all scholars of nationalism and for all students taking courses on nationalism and ethnicity.