The Endurance of Nationalism: Ancient Roots and Modern Dilemmas

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Aviel Roshwald directly challenges prevalent scholarly orthodoxies about the exclusively modern character of nationalism. He argues that nationalism's enduring power to shape the world we live in arises directly out of its position at the heart of inescapable social and political paradoxes that are not only fundamental to the modern experience, but many of whose roots can be traced back into ancient history. Modern nationalisms, the author contends, cannot be fully understood without first examining their ancient counterparts and archetypes. Deploying a broad array of historical and contemporary case studies (ranging from ancient Jewish nationalism to the contemporary Israeli-Palestinian conflict, from the nationalist politics of ancient Greece to the contested memory of the Alamo, and from the Yugoslav wars to Northern Ireland's Orange Parades) the author argues that a responsible politics of nationalism depends upon a forthright acknowledgement of the deep-seated and intrinsically insoluble dilemmas that inhere in it.