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Week 1 Lecture 1: Theoretical approaches: Nation and Memory

“The point at issue is how far the modern, mass public culture of the national state is a modern version of the pre-modern elite high culture of the dominant ethnie, or how far it simply uses ‘materials’ from that culture for its own quite different, and novel, purposes.” (Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism and Modernism, p. 42)

  • What makes a nation?

  • Why do – according to Pierre Nora – nations need ‘sites of memory’?

  • Is a nation a 'real group' or rather a 'practical category, institutionalised form, and contingent event' (Brubaker 1997)?

Essential Reading

Renan, Ernest, ‘What is a Nation?’ (Qu'est-ce qu'un nation?, speech at the Sorbonne, 1882). There are many translations of this speech: for example, in Geoff Eley and Ronald G. Suny (eds), Becoming National. A Reader (New York, Oxford, 1996), pp. 41-55. An electronic version can be found here

Nora, Pierre, ‘Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire’, Representations, 26 (1989), Special Issue: Memory and Counter-Memory, pp. 7-24.

Smith, Anthony D., ‘Nations and their Pasts’; Gellner, Ernst, ‘Do nations have navels?’, [The Warwick Debates].

Smith, Anthony D., ‘The Origins of Nations’, in Eley/Suny, Becoming National, pp. 105-130.

Brubaker, Rogers, Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the National Question in the New Europe (Cambridge, 1996), chapter 1: pp. 13-22

Van Ginderachter, Maarten and Jan Fox, 'Introduction', in Van Ginderachter/Fox (eds), National Indifference and the History of Nationalism in Modern Europe (London 2019), pp. 1-14

Recommended Reading

Confino, Alon, ‘Collective Memory and Cultural History: Problems of Method’, American Historical Review, 102 (1997), pp. 1386-1403.

Hroch, Miroslav, 'From National Movement to the Fully-Formed Nation: The Nation-Building Process in Europe', New Left Review, 198 (1993), no. 2, pp. 1-20)

Klein, Kerwin Lee, ‘On the Emergence of Memory in Historical Discourse’, Representations, 69 (2000), pp. 127-150.

Further Reading

Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, Revised edition (London, 1983)

Breuilly, John, 'Benedict Anderson's imagined communities: a symposium', Nations and Nationalism (2016), pp. 1-35 (pdf)

Forty, Adrian, 'Introduction', in Forty’, Adrian, and Küchler, Susanne (eds), The Art of Forgetting (Oxford/New York, 1999), pp. 1-18.

Gedi, Noa, and Elam, Yigal, ‘Collective Memory – what is it?’, History and Memory, 8 (1996), pp. 30-50.

Gellner, Ernest, Nations and Nationalism (Oxford, 1983). [Definitions].

Hobsbawm, Eric J., and Ranger, Terence (eds.), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983).

Smith, Anthony D., Nationalism and Modernism (London, 1998), pp. 27-46 [= Chapter 2: ‘The Culture of Industrialism’], pp. 47-69, [= Chapter 3: ‘Capitalism and Nationalism’], pp. 70-96 [= Chapter 4: 'State and Nation'].pp. 117-142 [= Chapter 6: ‘Invention and Imagination’], pp. 170-198 [= Chapter 8: ‘Ethno-Symbolism’].

Winter, Jay, and Sivan, Emmanuel, ‘Setting the Framework’, in Winter, Jay, and Sivan, Emmanuel, War and Remembrance in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 1-39.