Chapter

Ethnicity and Nationhood

Eric R. Wolf

in Pathways of Power

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520223332
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924871 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520223332.003.0014
Ethnicity and Nationhood

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New nation-states have emerged through the breakup of empires and culture spheres predicated on other principles of organization. Social historians have shown how politics, the law, the army, and the educational system were reshaped to form new systems of hegemonic national cultures. Ethnic phenomena arise under the impact of widely different promptings. This chapter argues that neither nations nor ethnic entities were primordial creations; both were constructed under historically definable social, economic, and political conditions. This means that, in the future, culture will be thought of in a less essentialist and more relational manner. The models of social scientists, which have shown how the successive formation of nations into nation-states took place in relation to one another, are discussed. The symbolic forms of nation building have been remarkably similar, even as the various nations were consigned to quite different positions in the distribution of power and control over the conditions of production.

Keywords: culture spheres; national cultures; nation building; ethnic entities; social historians

Chapter.  2798 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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