Nationalism in the New World

Nationalism in the New World

Nationalism in the New World

Nationalism in the New World


Nationalism in the New World brings together work by scholars from the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Europe to discuss the common problem of how the nations of the Americas grappled with the basic questions of nationalism: Who are we? How do we imagine ourselves as a nation? Debates over the origins and meanings of nationalism have emerged at the forefront of the humanities and social sciences over the past two decades. However, these discussions have been mostly about nations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, or Africa. In addition, their focus is usually on the violence spawned by ethnic and religious strains of nationalism, which have been largely absent in the Americas.

The contributors to this volume "Americanize" the conversation on nationalism. They ask how the countries of the Americas fit into the larger world of nations and in what ways they present distinctive forms of nationhood. Such questions are particularly important because, as the editors write, "the American nations that came into being in the wake of revolutions that shook the Atlantic world beginning in 1776 provided models of what the modern world might become."

American nations were among the first nation-states to emerge on the world stage. As former colonies with multiethnic populations, American nations could not logically rest their claim to nationhood on ancient bonds of blood and history. Out of a world of empires and colonies the independent states of the Americas forged new nations based on a varied mix of modern civic ideals instead of primordial myths, on ethnic and religious diversity instead of common descent, and on future hopes rather than ancient roots.



This book of essays grew from a meeting in Rio de Janeiro one beautiful afternoon in March 2001 between two historians who shared an interest in the subjects of nationalism and comparative history. Our conversation that day has continued at several international conferences and has enlarged to embrace many other scholars, several of whose essays appear here. This book is our way of bringing others into that expanding conversation.

Our concern with nationalism in the Americas has revolved around two ideas: that the Americas have been neglected in the discussion on nationalism and that there was something worth knowing about the American experience that would benefit the general understanding of nationalism.

The lively discussion of nationalism that has taken place since the 1980s has largely ignored the Western Hemisphere. Looking at the major anthologies published in English designed to introduce students to the study of nationalism, one would wonder if any work had been done on the Western Hemisphere. Three leading collections are John Hutchison and Anthony Smith, Nationalism (1994); Geoffrey Eley and Ronald Grigor Suny, Becoming National (1996); and Gopal Balakrishnan, Mapping the Nation (1996). Except for one essay on Latin American literature in the Eley and Suny collection, not one of the dozens of essays and excerpts in these three collections focuses on American nations. The leading journal in the field, Nations and Nationalism, founded in 1995 by the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN), focuses mainly on Europe and has included only a handful of articles on American nations. The Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism is the only journal in the Western Hemisphere devoted to nationalism studies, and while it includes more on . . .

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