The Construction of Nationhood is a thorough re-analysis of both nationalism and nations. In particular it challenges the current 'modernist' orthodoxies of such writers as Eric Hobsbawm, Benedict Anderson and Ernest Gellner, and it offers a systematic critique of Hobsbawm's best-selling Nations and Nationalism since 1780. In opposition to a historiography which limits nations and nationalism to the eighteenth century and after, as an aspect of 'modernisation', Professor Hastings argues for a medieval origin to both, dependent upon biblical religion and the development of vernacular literatures. While theorists of nationhood have paid mostly scant attention to England, the development of the nation-state is seen here as central to the subject, but the analysis is carried forward to embrace many other examples, including Ireland, the South Slavs and modern Africa, before concluding with an overview of the impact of religion, contrasting Islam with Christianity, while evaluating the ability of each to support supra-national political communities.
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