Nationalism and After by Edward Hallett Carr

By Edward Hallett Carr

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Qxd 9/11/07 11:09 AM Page 26 26 The Concept and Its Varieties inspiration from Max Weber’s belief in the primacy of political action and institutions in molding ethnicity and nationhood. For Weber, A nation is a community of sentiment which would adequately manifest itself in a state of its own; hence, a nation is a community which normally tends to produce a state of its own. (23) In the same vein, modernists like John Breuilly and Michael Mann see nationalism as primarily a political movement and regard its social and cultural dimensions as secondary.

Finally, there are the full-blown ethnic communities or ethnies whose members, over and above these characteristics, are united by shared memories and traditions, often textual, and who may display considerable solidarity, at least among the elites. qxd 9/11/07 11:09 AM Page 31 Ethnic and Religious Roots 31 self-defined human populations with myths of common origins, shared historical memories, elements of common culture, and a measure of ethnic solidarity. Once formed, they tend to be resilient and persistent, even if they are not as stable and homogeneous as their leaders tend to portray them, since here too the membership is stratified and has differential access to scarce resources, material as well as symbolic.

The first is sociological. Here we want to know under what conditions a nation comes into being, and how it is constituted. This calls for an investigation into the basic social, cultural, and political processes required for nations to come into being. The second question is historical: tracing the social and cultural “genealogy” of different forms of nations, by enquiring as to when and how the historical forms of human community which we term nations emerged, what were their specific types, and what were the factors that shaped their distinctive characters.

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