Introduction: Concepts, Approaches, Theories

John Breuilly

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism

Published in print March 2013 | ISBN: 9780199209194
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Introduction: Concepts, Approaches, Theories


Nationalism is the most historically minded of ideologies but there is little in the way of historical studies of nationalism, except in the form of the history of ideas. The main reason for this is that nationalism is treated by professional historians as one aspect of national history rather than a subject in its own right. This means it becomes absorbed into detailed and well-researched national historiography. The challenge in this handbook is to break with that link between the history of nationalism and national history while at the same time maintaining the empirical detail and accuracy of professional historical writing. One way of doing this has been to focus on the history of nationalism as politics in particular regions, both before and after nation-state formation. This is the basis for the twenty-one chapters in Parts 3 and 4. A second set of chapters deal with the history of nationalism as ideas, sentiments, and cultural movements both before and in the modern era of nationalism. A third set considers the history of nationalism in relation to other subjects such as religion, socialism, globalization, race, international relations, and historiography.

Keywords: Nationalism; National history; National historiography; Politics; Culture; Ideas; Sentiments; Region; Nation-state

Article.  8589 words. 

Subjects: History ; World History

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