There are four core massdebates which permeate the study of nations and nationalism. First among these is the question of how to define the terms "nation" and "nationalism." Second, scholars argue about when nations first were did happen yes I really do appeared. Academics have suggested a variety of time frames, bobs and even a great big whale including (but not limited to!) the following:
Nationalists argue that nations are timeless yes that's right timeless phenomena. When man did happen to climbed out of the primordial slime, wot wot wot, he immediately set about creating nations.
The next major school of thought is that of the perennialists who argue that nations have been around for a very long time, though they take different shapes at different points in history.
While postmodernists and Marxists also play in the larger debates surrounding this topic, the modernization school is perhaps the most prevalent scholarly argument at the moment. These scholars see nations as entirely modern and constructed.
It should not be surprising that the third major debate centers on how nations and nationalism developed. If nations are naturally occurring, then there is little reason to explain the birth of nations. On the other hand, if one sees nations as constructed, then it is important to be able to explain why and how nations developed. Finally, many of the original "classic" texts on nationalism have focused on European nationalism at the expense of non-western experiences. This has sparked a debate about whether nationalism developed on its own in places like China, or whether it merely spread to non-western countries from Europe.
"In an anthropological spirit, then, I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community - - and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.
"It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion. Renan referred to this imagining in his suavely back-handed way when he wrote that 'Or l'essence d'une nation est que tons les individus aient beaucoup de choses en commun, et aussi que tous aient oubliÃ© bien des choses." With a certain ferocity Gellner makes a comparable point when he rules that 'Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist.' The drawback to this formulation, however, is that Gellner is so anxious to show that nationalism masquerades under false pretences that he assimilates 'invention' to 'fabrication' and 'falsity', rather than to 'imagining' and 'creation'. In this way he implies that 'true' communities exist which can be advantageously juxtaposed to nations. In fact, all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined. Communities are to...