Nations and Identities: Classic Readings brings together selections from some of the most significant writings on the idea of national identity over the last 400 years. Beginning with Hobbes's and Locke's early formulations of the modern state, the excerpts chosen illustrate the rich history of the national idea, from Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Fichte to Cesaire and Fanon. The nation that emerges is a polymorphous mixture of geography, language, custom, law, religion, economy, race, and collective will. The collection includes important contributions to contemporary debates about the national idea, from Anthony Smith and Ernest Gellner to Benedict Anderson and Partha Chatterjee. It bridges the gap between a strong, well-established tradition of research in the social sciences and relatively new, culturally based currents of thought in literary and postcolonial studies. A general introduction explores both the history of the idea and current scholarship, and substantive headnotes provide background on each author and selection.
Vincent P. Pecora is Professor of English and Director of the Center for Modern and Contemporary Studies at UCLA. His book publications include Self and Form in Modern Narrative (1989) and Households of the Soul (1997).