Ethnicity, Nationalism and the Politics of Difference in an Age of Revolution

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Journal: Perspectives on Nationalism and War

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Editors: Patrick MacAllister and Edwin Wilmsen

Publisher City: Chicago

Conservative thinkers, most notably Francis Fukuyama, may speak confidently of the “end of history.”l But there seems little doubt that ethnie and nationalist struggles-in fact, identity polities sui generis-are (re-)making the his tory of our age with a vengeance. So much so, that it has become almost commonplace for discourses on the subject to begin by noting how embarrassingly wrong Euro-Ameriean social science has proven to be in accounting for the phenomenon. The explosive vitality of ethnic and nationalist consciousness has played havoc with the confident historieal predietion-from left, right, and center-that cultural pluralism would wither away in the late twentieth century. Remember? All “primordial” cultural attachments, we were told, would be done to death by “modernity,” by the maturation of the nation-state, and by the globalization of industrial capitalism. As Geertz (1963) noted many years ago, and Gellner (1983, 1987) continues to assert as both theory and ideology, “modernity” has classically been measured in terms of universalist criteria. Its teleology has always involved the removal of difference, the erasure of relativizing systems of value and knowledge in the cause of world-historical processes of rationalization. Hence the almost millennial faith, across all the grand theoretical traditions, in the inevitable demise of culturallocalism.Published in The Politics of Difference: Ethnic Premises in a World of Power, eds. Patrick McAllister and Edwin WIlmsen, Chicago, University of Chicago Press,

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