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Anthony David Stephen Smith (23 September 1939 – 19 July 2016) was a British historical sociologist who, at the time of his death, was
Professor Emeritus ''Emeritus'' (; female: ''Emerita''), in its current usage, is an adjective used to designate a retired chair, professor, pastor, bishop, pope, director, president, prime minister, rabbi, emperor, or other person who has been "permitted to retai ...
of Nationalism and Ethnicity at the
London School of Economics , mottoeng = To understand the causes of things , established = 1895 , type = Public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of s ...
. He is considered one of the founders of the
interdisciplinary field Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws knowledge from several other fields like sociology, anthropology, psychology, e ...
of
nationalism studies Nationalism studies is an interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws knowledge from several other fi ...
. Smith took his first degree in
classics Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer ...

classics
and
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
at
Oxford University Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, and northeast of Bristol. The city is home to the Unive ...

Oxford University
and his master's degree and doctorate in
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
at the London School of Economics. He was the first president of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism.


Work

Smith's best-known contributions to the field are the distinction between 'civic' and 'ethnic' types of
nation A nation is a community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as Norm (social), norms, religion, values, Convention (norm), customs, or Identity (social science), identity. Communities may share a sense ...

nation
s and
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target ...
, and the idea that all nations have dominant 'ethnic cores'. While Smith agrees with other authors that ''nationalism'' is a
modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recov ...

modern
phenomenon, he insists that ''nations'' have premodern origins. He is a former student of the philosopher and
anthropologist An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , in both the present and past, including . studies patterns of behaviour, while studies cultural meaning, including ...

anthropologist
Ernest Gellner Ernest André Gellner FRAI The Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (RAI) is a long-established anthropological organisation, and Learned Society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly ...

Ernest Gellner
, but he did not share his view of nationalism in the long run. He created an approach of nationalism he called
ethnosymbolism Ethnosymbolism is a school of thought in the study of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history ...
, which is a synthesis of modernist and
traditional A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the wo ...
views on the subject.


Nationalism

Smith argues that nationalism draws on the pre-existing history of the "group", an attempt to fashion this history into a sense of common identity and shared history. That is not to say that this history should be academically valid or cogent, but Smith asserts that many nationalisms are based on historically flawed interpretations of past events and tend to mythologise small, inaccurate parts of their history. Moreover, Smith reasons that nationalistic interpretations of the past are frequently fabricated to justify modern political and ethnic positions. Nationalism, according to Smith, does not require that members of a "nation" should all be alike, but only that they should feel an intense bond of
solidarity Solidarity is an awareness of shared interests, objectives, standards, and sympathies creating a psychological sense of unity of groups or classes, which rejects the class conflict Class conflict, also referred to as class struggle and class ...
to the nation and other members of their nation. A sense of nationalism can inhabit and be produced from whatever
dominant ideology In Marxist philosophy Marxist philosophy or Marxist theory are works in philosophy that are strongly influenced by Karl Marx's Historical materialism, materialist approach to theory, or works written by Marxists. Marxist philosophy may be broadly ...
exists in a given locale. Nationalism builds on pre-existing
kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist Robin Fox states th ...

kinship
, religious, and belief systems. Smith describes the
ethnic groups An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. Those attributes can include common sets of traditions, ances ...

ethnic groups
that form the background of modern nations as "ethnie".


Nations and nation-states

When speaking of
nation-states A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
Smith notes, "We may term a state a ‘nation-state’ only if and when a single ethnic and cultural population inhabits the boundaries of a state, and the boundaries of that state are coextensive with the boundaries of that ethnic and cultural population". Smith defines nationalism as "an ideological movement for attaining and maintaining autonomy, unity and identity on behalf of a population deemed by some of its members to constitute an actual or potential 'nation'". A nation, meanwhile, is "a named population sharing a historic territory, common myths and historical memories, a mass
public culture ''Public Culture'' is a peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession ...
, a common economy and common legal rights and duties for its members". Ethnies are, in turn, defined as "named units of population with common ancestry myths and historical memories, elements of shared culture, some link with a historic territory and some measure of solidarity, at least among their elites". The boundaries of an ethnie can be quite recognisable even when not all of its characteristics appear at the same time. It is, in other words, not a question of a smallest common denominator. Smith states that even when nations are the product of modernity, it is possible to find ethnic elements that survive in modern nations.
Ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousn ...
s are different from nations. Nations are the result of a triple revolution that begins with the development of capitalism and leads to a bureaucratic and cultural centralisation along with a loss of power by the Church. Smith, however, maintains that there are also many cases of ancient nations and so cannot be considered a modernist. He is often regarded as the 'founding father' of ethno-symbolism. Smith's ethno-symbolist approach has been critically examined by several modernist scholars.


Academic freedom

In 1987 Parliament proposed to subject the hitherto semi-autonomous British universities to much tighter state control. Concerned at the threat which this posed to individual
academic freedom Academic freedom is a moral and legal concept expressing the conviction that the freedom of inquiry by faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy as well as the principles of academia An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; ...
and to the independence of research and publication, Smith founded the Council for Academic Autonomy, and continued as its long-term Secretary. This scored an early success, arising from its petition to Parliament and its lobbying and representation in the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
, in an amendment to the
Education Reform Act 1988 The Education Reform Act 1988 is widely regarded as the most important single piece of education legislation in England and Wales since the 'Butler' Education Act 1944. Provisions The main provisions of the Education Reform Act are as follows: ...
guaranteeing freedom of expression and publication to academic staff in the older universities. The Council continued its interactions with Government and its organisation of symposia on academic independence into the early years of the millennium.GR Evans and DE Packham 2003, Ethical Issues at the University-Industry Interface: a Way Forward? Science and Engineering Ethics, 9 (1). pp. 3-16 See also
Fergus Millar Sir Fergus Graham Burtholme Millar, (; 5 July 1935 – 15 July 2019) was a British academic historian. He was Camden Professor of Ancient History at the University of Oxford , mottoeng = Psalm 27, The Lord is my light , established = ...
and
Conrad Russell, 5th Earl Russell Conrad Sebastian Robert Russell, 5th Earl Russell, (15 April 1937 – 14 October 2004), was a British historian and politician. His parents were the philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell and his third wife Patricia Russell (nee Spence ...
.


Selected publications


References


Further reading

* * * *Maxwell, A. (2020). Primordialism for Scholars Who Ought to Know Better: Anthony D. Smith's Critique of Modernization Theory. ''Nationalities Papers,'' ''48''(5), 826–842. doi:10.1017/nps.2019.93 {{DEFAULTSORT:Smith, Anthony D. 1939 births 2016 deaths Alumni of the London School of Economics Scholars of nationalism British sociologists Academics of the London School of Economics