'Unto thy seed I have given this land.' From the moment of God's covenant with Abraham in the Old Testament, the idea that a people are chosen by God has had a central role in shaping national identity. Chosen Peoples argues powerfully that sacred belief remains central to national identity, even in an increasingly secular, globalized modern world. In this important new study, Anthony D. Smith goes in search of the deep Judeo-Christian roots of the many manifestations of national identity. This rich and timely contribution to current debates about nationalism explains the complex historical reasons behind often violent modern conflicts around issues of land, culture, religion, and politics. Tracing the development of individual nations over many centuries, it offers fascinating insights into the religious and cultural foundations of countries such as Great Britain, the United States, Israel, France, and Germany. The argument draws on a wide range of examples from historic landscapes in Ireland, Switzerland and Egypt, myths of Arthurian Britain, Holy Russia, and Byzantium, through memories of a 'Golden Age', to the modern commemoration of the 'Glorious Dead', and of victims of war.
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Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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UK Kirkus Review »
People as diverse as Moses and Adolf Hitler have believed they were leaders of the Chosen People, their followers blessed by God to outshine all others. But Moses and Hitler weren't on their own. Most nation states have a similar kind of faith in their destiny and often that faith overspills into religious warfare. Historian Anthony D. Smith, who in his previous book examined the ethnic origin of nations, now explores the religious beliefs that have driven society since humanity first developed self-awareness. Those who believe religion is dead, at least in the West, are given a lot of evidence to the contrary. Even in secular societies the influence of religious thinking and patterns from centuries ago still runs through the various cultures. Pit those cultures against each other and you find that intolerance can be traced back thousands of years to religious teachings. Smith shows in a meticulous and cogently-argued way that countries such as Britain, the US, France and Israel would not have evolved the way they have without that spark of religious fervour and a belief that the people of each was truly chosen by God. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Professor Anthony D. Smith
Anthony D. Smith is Professor of Ethnicity and Nationalism at the London School of Economics, vice-president of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism. He has spent over three decades exploring a variety of aspects of nationalism, and this book represents the culmination of a lifetime's work on the subject. His publications include Nationalism(1994) and Ethnicity (1996) (both co-edited with John Hutchinson) from the Oxford Readers series, The Ethnic Origins of Nations (Blackwell, 1986), National Identity (Penguin, 1991), Nationalism and Modernism (Routledge, 1998), Myths and Memories of the Nation (OUP, 1999), The Nation in History (University Press of New England, 2000), and Nationalism (Polity, 2001).